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Citrus Distillers creating private label spirits near Palm Beach

Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus Distillers of Riviera Beach Florida, an artisan still operation creating custom spirits for private labels.
Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus Distillers of Riviera Beach Florida, an artisan still operation creating custom spirits for private labels.
Robert Burr

Citrus Distillers, a small artisan distillery in Riviera Beach, Florida is appealing to aspiring liquor brands and private labels by offering a complete solution to those wishing to initiate their own brand of spirits.

The facility includes three custom copper and stainless steel stills and a temperature controlled fermentation lab. The maturation section features various types of oak barrels, French barrels, Cypress and many other tank technologies.

Offering to help start-ups build their brand of whiskey, rum, vodka or gin, Citrus Distillers offers payment plans and set prices -- as little as $3,500 to get started, plus $4.30 per bottle. Premium and Ultra Grade spirits are priced at a higher rate.

The process of developing a unique recipe and producing the liquid might take as little as 30 days, but typically takes three to six months to develop a brand -- taking great care with recipe testing and dealing with licensing issues.

Dustin Skartved is the master distiller at Citrus. His stated philosophy is to use quality products and processes in every step of the project, beginning with fermentation and distilling test recipes, graphic label design, licensing and label registration and bottling.

Dustin advises that marketing could be considered a critical part of this process and offers to help new entrepreneurs with product placement.

This master distiller believes the most important step is a proper fermentation. "The big difference in our fermentation process is the local ingredients like sugar cane, corn, honey and sweet Florida molasses," said Dustin. "Our fermentation cycle takes 7 to 8 days, longer than most -- and we use low ABV formulas to make our rum and other brands much smoother, with more flavor. A quick fermentation produces too many foul flavors. We're in no rush."

Among the private label brands working with Citrus Distillers are Arnolds Classic Vodka, Jello Fever pre-made jelly shots, Still No. 3 Whiskey and High Society Rum.

Another of the unique products produced at his distillation facility is Canes & Grains Citrus Flavored Rum, a dark, rich and robust spirit that evokes the style of Gosling's Black Seal Rum from Bermuda, with an added element of orange zest. It's a smooth rum that goes well with ginger beer to make a refreshing rum-and-ginger mixed drink.

Citrus Distillers also offers their own Distillers University classes with instruction ranging from calculating the perfect wash to distilling, bottling, marketing, licensing and spirit tastings.

Robert Burr is the National Rum Examiner. He publishes Rob's Rum Guide and hosts the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival and Rum Renaissance Caribbean Cruise, in addition to organizing the International Rum Expert Panel (RumXP).