A decade ago, there were 70 craft distilleries in the United States. This year, there are nearly 700 and that number is expected to grow to 1,000 in the next couple of years. Though you’d assume that this would result in high-end hooch becoming more readily available and easier to attain than ever before, distribution is still a major roadblock for most craft distillers.

Enter Ezra’s, the first national online retailer for craft distillers featuring curated editorial content. Based in Chicago and founded by twin brothers Adam and Parker Newman, along with Scott Reich, Ezra’s provides craft-spirit producers with a direct channel to consumers, offering another avenue for reaching curious drinkers outside of the traditional retailer and wholesaler route.

“For consumers, staring at a long wall of unrecognizable spirits does nothing to help with the buying decision,” said Parker. “By learning what goes into making a spirit, how that spirit came into fruition and getting a peek behind the scenes at the people behind each one, we hope to educate customers throughout the process so that they can make better decisions about what to try.”

The Newman Brothers

To help distillers connect with customers on a “craft level,” every product on the site is accompanied by photos, distiller history, and a detailed chronicle of how the spirit was made. At launch, the site will offer over 125 of the country’s best craft liquors, as well as the ingredients needed to complete the unique recipes that are featured on the site.

Added Parker, “We’re taking a holistic approach to the entire industry in trying to feature all aspects of the value chain from production to consumption. One of our goals is to give distillers a voice to directly inform potential consumers about their spirits and back story.”

Along with the e-marketplace, Ezra’s announced the opening of its flagship brick-and-mortar store in Lincoln Park which will serve as the company’s headquarters. The space will sell the craft spirits featured on the site, as well as craft beer, and will also act as the company’s distribution center; they will also host frequent tastings and demos.

Explained Parker, “The brick-and-mortar store is a great way for us to not only interact with our customers, but for our customers to interact with the brands we carry. Through direct interaction with our passionate client base, we learn something new about the craft spirits space from them every day. As a result, the physical store helps us to keep our ear to the ground and discover new, exciting products, distilleries and movements as soon as possible.”

Ezra’s will maintain its emphasis on content as way to connect with craft drinkers through The Swill, its online journal. The company will also source its content directly from the craft industry – the people who make it, the people who serve it, and the people who drink it.

“Moving forward, we look forward to continuing to work with writers and videographers who are passionate about the industry to deliver exciting content to our passionate clientele,” said Parker.

And if you’re still not sold on a craft spirits e-marketplace that’s launching simultaneously with a local store, here’s where their name came from:

“We were inspired to name the company after our co-founder Scott Reich’s 12 year-old mutt, Ezra, that he adopted from a shelter 5 years ago. Blind in one eye, missing more than a few teeth, but still maintaining a zeal for life, Ezra embodies the rugged and passionate nature of the craft spirit drinker.”

Sold.