Started in 2017, Fast Penny Spirits is an American-owned authentic Amaro brand. Through high quality and locally sourced sustainable botanicals, they are able to bring the level of quality that founder Jamie Hunt worked tirelessly to create. Fast Penny was also founded with doing good in mind. Through their Pretty Penny 3% giveback program, they work to empower women in business. They collaborate with nonprofits such as Off Their Plate and donate auction items to organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue and North Beach Elementary. This work has contributed to the pursuit of three key UN Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 5: Gender Equity, Goal 10: Reduced Inequality, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management
Fast Penny Spirits has created a uniquely regional Washington Amari drink created for and by its surrounding community, blending business savvy, culinary passion and personal convictions to trail-blaze as a woman-owned company in the business of spirits.
Fast Penny Spirits has created a product model that can be profitable commercially because of its commitment to helping both the Washington communities from whom they source their ingredients and their creation of a unique product. They focus on creating a great tasting Amaro with fresh ingredients and processes centered on sustainability. Further, Fast Penny Spirits publicly incorporates its support of local nonprofits and women-oriented causes through its donations, as by using percentages of event ticket sales and the giving of tours & tastings, helping to expand their network. Like-minded individuals and businesses in the community can help introduce their unique Italian Liquor with a Washington state flair, aiding in their success and fueling collaborations in the market.
In our interview with Founder & CEO Jamie Hunt, she spoke about how it all started. Coming from a digital and consulting background with a desire to create a great tasting and purpose-driven Amari, she talked about the circumstances around the beginnings of Fast Penny Spirits. “I started the company too, not just because I wanted to do something different and something I was passionate about, but I also wanted to give back more than I could as an individual, and I believe for profit companies can do amazing things...” Within this frame of mind she began to craft a distinctive Amaro recipe, going through a myriad of tasting tests and trials until developing their signature Amaricano.
Beyond the spirit, Fast Penny Spirits required more to flourish. Hunt describes, “… taking that drive and passion and pairing it up with some industry expertise was key to launching successfully.” Alongside her own expertise, Fast Penny Spirits was guided by fellow Co-Founder Holly Robinson, key to building business connections in the community.
The mission of Fast Penny Spirits has been the unbridled inspiration towards their positive impact. As highlighted, “Our mission is to produce the highest-quality, sustainable, and desirable Amari that infuse joy and empower community through consciously sourced ingredients from our region and around the world. ” In pursuit of this mission Fast Penny Spirits creates using both sustainable resources like an upcycled base to their spirit and fresh ingredients like black Oregon truffles collected by local “truffle dogs.” Beyond signifying the values of Fast Penny Spirits, commercially these processes speak for themselves; their signature drink, Amaricano, has been awarded ten times in the previous three years.
Jamie Hart began Fast Penny Spirits after a conversation with a bartender about American Amaro. Through her Sicilian Italian Heritage brewing spirits at home, and many trips to Italy, Jamie had much experience and knowledge with fine liquor. She felt that she could make an American Amaro that was true to the complexity and quality found in authentic Italian Amaro - and make a difference while doing it.
Fast Penny Spirits is based in Seattle, where Jamie is located. Her love of the Pacific Northwest also inspired her decision to start the brand. The Pacific Northwest is full of small-time farms producing inspiring and organic produce, as well as a multitude of wild-crafting ingredients. She started finding sources for ingredients and creating a long list of botanicals to experiment with. After creating a tincture for each, and many months of experimentation, Jamie began creating small batches. Before starting Fast Penny Spirits, she was an executive in the digital space for over 20 years, but found herself looking for something that felt more fulfilling to her interests and values. Soon, the nighttime passion project became Jamie’s full-time job. Fast Penny Spirits was founded under the framework of B Corp certification, with an impact-based business model in Mission, Designed to Give, and Toxin Reduction/Remediation.
Through Fast Penny Spirits work with nonprofits, and wide reach in sustainably sourcing their 45 botanicals, they have been able to influence other companies to follow their initiatives. They have grown faster than Jamie could ever expect, and through that, they are able to show that having a company that is based around making a positive impact through initiatives like B Corporations and the UN’s sustainable development goals can help a business succeed while doing good. By building their mission into the fabric of their company they are promoting their values through all of the work that they do. By donating tastings to community auctions, they gain value for exposure for their brand and mission while raising money.
In order to reduce waste within the industry, and transporting and processing emissions, their Amaro begins with upcycled grape spirits. All of their botanicals are sustainably sourced, ensuring that they will be there for generations to come. Producing Amaro in a way that respects what the earth gives us is to be authentic to its long, rich, Italian heritage. Fast Penny also reuses, repurposes, or recycles all of its distilling equipment, which helps reduce what gets sent to the landfill. All of their packaging uses recycled and sustainable materials, reducing the waste from factory to customer. Sustainability is considered in every part of their process, in ways big and small, which has helped Fast Penny achieve a liquor that honors the earth, without stealing from it.
Because Fast Penny Spirits chooses to operate with sustainability and community at the heart of their company, under their Amaricano brand the distillery has carved a unique niche in the alcohol industry. Using fresh ingredients that have been responsibly and environmentally sourced, the beverage taste has increased in quality. With these ingredients they have crafted two signature and high-quality American Amaros, a choice in product that have made their spirit distinct from other alcohol businesses in the U.S. The values of Fast Penny Spirits have commercially spoken for themselves; their signature drink, the Amaricano, has been awarded ten times in the previous three years.
Through Pretty Penny, their 3% give back program, they have further established a positive reputation in their community and introduced the artisan Amaro to like-minded people in the liquor market. The company is hoping to continue expanding its reach and its collaborations, working with a multitude of other alcohol manufacturers and experimenting with their products.
Fast Penny Spirits creates their product using intentionally sourced ingredients, blending sustainably sourced botanicals to make an amaro inspired by the environment. The distillery also uses non-GMO sugar, upcycled grape spirit to lower water waste, and eco-friendly packaging, along with a bevy of other business practices, all designed to prioritize a more sustainable future.
Through Pretty Penny, they give 3% of proceeds to causes they value, previously working with Jubilee Women’s Center, Black Girl Ventures Foundation, and Emerge Washington, along with other programs that support women. Pretty Penny is also currently working with Off Their Plate, a a 100% volunteer-run non-profit that addresses gender and racial inequity in the food industry, and has worked with organizations they deem doing important work in times of crisis, a prominent example being the Independent Restaurant Coalition during the Covid Pandemic.
Jamie Hunt, Founder & CEO
Keep this story going! Share below!
Seattle, WA, US
Business Website: https://www.fastpennyspirits.com
Year Founded: 2017
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Fast Penny Spirits shows how a company can both grow its product and principles by following a business model rooted in sustainability and community. The result of this endeavor has been the development of two award winning Washington inspired Amaro's that both satiate customers and serve the local community, drinks crafted with love, care, and sustainability in mind.