Crafting Premium Handcrafted Whiskey and a Unique Spirits Brand with Ted Dumbauld, USNA ‘81

Apr 22, 2024 | USNA

“You can sometimes convince somebody to buy a bottle of your whiskey the first time because of the story that you have, and I think we have a good story, but if the whiskey is no good, then they’re never going to buy another bottle. So the ideal combination is you’ve got a really good story and you’ve got a really great product.” -Ted Dumbauld, USNA ‘81

Ted Dumbauld is the Founder and CEO of SoNo 1420, an innovative, Double Gold award-winning distillery in South Norwalk, CT known for its ultra-premium brand whiskeys, vodkas, ready-to-drink vodka-based cocktails, innovative Threesome Ready-to-Mix Cocktails, and botanical gins. Before starting SoNo 1420, Ted was a successful investment manager of public and private securities and an aggressive and creative deal-maker. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and his Master of Science in Finance from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Ted’s inspiration for starting SoNo 1420 and what makes his product unique
  • How the special “1420 Finished At Sea” product offering is made
  • The key elements to building a successful spirits brand from scratch
  • The most important relationships Ted has related to sales and marketing
  • Ted’s most important goals for 2024 and the biggest challenges he is currently facing

Ted shares the challenges that are unique to the spirits industry as it is a three-tiered system made up of producers, distributors, and sellers. Because SoNo 1420 works with many different distributors to get its product out there, there is a lot of work involved when entering into a new market. As an emerging brand, Ted works hard to come up with creative ways to market his products so customers are familiar with them once distributors get them on the shelves in retail locations. We enjoyed speaking with Ted about what it takes to build a successful whiskey brand in the competitive spirits industry. Cheers to the growth of SoNo 1420!

Connect with Ted:

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Special thanks to Ted for joining me this week. Until next time!

-Scott Mackes, USNA ’01

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