What’s in a name?

For those of you who have been following us for the last few months, you know that in March 2013 we went through a name change.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I think it sets up a nice reflection on both the old and new names, and why we needed to change.

In the fall of 2011 we incorporated as Legacy Distilling.  We really liked that name!  To us it was a great descriptor of what we wanted to create, and fit nicely with the spirits industry in the United States.  Legacy is a strong word and conveys something valuable, lasting, and personal.  We are setting out to build a company and brand that we hope will live up to those traits, so the name was kind-of a no-brainer.  We did a quick look around and didn’t see any other Legacy’s out there in the distilling world, so we went ahead and started operating under that name.

Then, in December 2012 we got a very nice letter from some lawyers for one of the big multinational spirits conglomerates, telling us that our company name was too close to the name they use for a cheap Scotch they make.  While we never planned to use the word legacy in our product names, they wanted us to abandon the name entirely.  We were pissed, so we called our lawyers and put them to work.

What they came back with was what we expected; the argument against our name was pretty weak.  They also told us that it didn’t matter.  The company we were up against, run by “business” people rather than folks like us, was known for suing and we could not afford a legal battle during our start-up phase.  With a bit more research, we came to find out that this company has a bit of a history of doing this to start-ups.  They know we can’t afford to fight, so they flex their wallets a bit and force us to comply with their demands.

So, we quickly got over our anger and got to work on a new name.  We knew that we wanted something fun, creative, and tied to the history of spirits and cocktails in the USA.  Fortunately, there is a lot of great history to pull from.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of other really creative people in the craft spirits industry that are doing the same thing as us.  We went though probably a dozen names before we found a few that were unique enough and still met our needs.

In the end, we settled on Painted Stave Distilling.  It is a historical reference to the prohibition era tactic of selling tickets to see some random item, and then the purchaser exchanged the ticket for a drink.  It is the modern day equivalent of giving out drink tickets at a fundraiser, though a hair less legal during its time.  It also references a part of a barrel, the stave, which connects with our interest in creating unique products through barrel ageing.  And the “painted” part opens us up to all sorts of creative uses; the stave can be painted differently for different products, etc.

So, in the end, we are super excited about our new name, even if we are still trying to figure out what to do with the shirts and banners with the old logo.

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