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  1. 9 likes
    It has been requested that ADI implement a reputation system for the forum. Previously, members would receive the title of Newbie, Member and Advanced Members solely based on the number of topics they posted or replied to however, this system does not accurately quantify the quality of the information posted. These titles have been changed to Newbie, Contributor and Active Contributor. We are also enabling a reputation system in which members can “like” posts that they think represents quality information worth highlighting to others. This system is adaptable so if it needs to be tweaked, it can be modified in some aspects to meet the needs of the community.
  2. 6 likes
    Jeff, Under a given set of conditions, there is an optimum cooking temperature and time to obtain the best quality of distillate and the best alcohol yield. I believe the question you have is about cooking small grains at high temperatures. There are a lot of ways to prepare grains for fermentation, but the simple goal of cooking is to gelatinize the starch granules, to make them available for hydrolysis by enzymes to convert to fermentable sugars but the complicated goal is to efficiently obtain proper gelatinization of starch, properly free up amino acids the yeast require, convert to fermentable sugars, reduce contamination and obtain a flavor extraction from the grains. The infusion mashing process we use, (simply cooking small grains at lower & proper temperatures), here at Wilderness Trail is designed around maximizing flavor first, energy second and time third. You do not have to boil your grains up to 210F and you certainly do not want to cook any of your small grains (wheat, rye, barley, malted barley, etc) in that range, again you can but it will not be the highest quality distillate you can obtain in the end if you do that. You can cook corn to 210F and it doesn't do much more than waste energy cooking it that high, part of the high heat is to sterilize the grains of bacteria and you take care of that around 190F and you only need to cook corn around 190F-185F for proper gelatinization, we cook our corn at 190F, it saves energy from going higher, we convert all of the available sugars and sterilize our grains, that is why you do it. For wheat the actual gelatinization range is 136F-146F but we start adding our wheat around 155-160F. For Rye the actual range is 135F-158F and we add and cook our Rye no higher than 160F for good reasons. Our Malted barley never goes in higher than 145F to preserve the enzymatic activity and to keep the grains intact. Think of it this way, gelatinization is like popping popcorn under water, its a dramatic change in the grains composition.. and throw in some smaller ductile grains like wheat or rye and you blow them apart under the same conditions as well as a lot of protein you don't want to break down. The reasons you do not cook grains beyond their proper gelatinization range is more about flavor than yield because if it is too rigorous, thermal decomposition of grain components will cause objectionable popcorn phenolic odors, yield is more impacted by poor grains, under cooking, poor conversion and yeast conditions. By using the infusion mashing process for small grains, you keep the branched chain amino acids and proteins in place with the grains that the yeast will use to properly make a flavorful result. If you boil your small grains, you are creating unbranched chain amino acids, degrading proteins and frankly blowing apart the flavor you are trying to extract. Small grains also get scorched very easy and there are Maillard effects that create all kinds of new chemicals from the high heat of small grains you don't want, plus why would you, the process doesn't require it. The yeast take these unbranched chain and Maillard effect's and turns them into higher alcohols (fusels) and other chemicals that alter the flavor and result of the beer & distillate. In short summary for our whiskeys, we cook our corn to 190F and hold that for 40 minutes, we cool to 160F by adding some water additions of the overall mashbill and add our wheat or Rye and hold that for 30 minutes, we add more water additions to get to 145F which is when we add our Malted Barley which rest for 30 minutes. We add the rest of our water additions for our ferm set and the chiller takes it down to 90F. We send that to our fermenters, which are set to hold at 85F for three day beer and 78F for 4-5 day beer. By shortening the initial cook of the total water, your initial cook is thicker, for us that is around 18 beer gallons and that allows you to use less energy to heat up the initial cook and reserve the rest of the water for cooling capacity as well as when you add your grains you are also using that to help cool your mash down. For example I mentioned we add our wheat at 160F but after the grains are added the temperature drops to around 150F+ and rest out to a little above 145F. We primarily make a wheated Bourbon but we also make a Rye Whiskey, which again even though the Rye will be the majority of grains, we still cook our smaller amount of Corn up to 190F and then cool it down to 160F before adding the majority of the mashbill of Rye. Infusion mashing is scientifically proven to offer a more flavorful distillate and smoother distillate, mainly for the reasons listed above. Shane Baker Co-Founder, Master Distiller Wilderness Trail Distillery
  3. 6 likes
    "Most customers aren't easily deceived for long don't care in an open market place." There, fixed it for you.
  4. 5 likes
    Introduction Over the last decade I have had the opportunity to help dozens and dozens of craft distillers with developing and designing their gins. I want to use this thread to help lay out some of the basic guidelines I learned, that make the production of great gin quite easy and straight forward. Over the coming days (and depending on comments and my time in the factory) or weeks, I want to get most of the information (if not all) that we give on our gin making courses across. Now, gin making has a wide set of variables. And a lot of people adhere to certain approaches. If ever you feel my approaches or opinions to be contrary to yours, let's turn this thread into a discussion, not a battle ground. I for one will not. Just sharing info, not trying to convince anyone. Use the info or not. It's here (or it will be) and I will share it so you can use it. A few things on gin. Basically, let's dive into procedures, herbs bills, distillation techniques. But I want to start with a general outline on taste. Just to make or introduce a starting point. When I make whiskey, I find the late heads, smearing into hearts, to be fruity. Front of mouth oriented. You taste them first and you taste them on your lips and the front of your tongue. The body, the grain, comes over after that. Hearts. Middle mouth feeling. Early tails, that smear into the last portion of hearts, have a nutty, root-like taste (if you give them time to develop) and are tasted at the back of your mouth towards the throat. Now, in my experience, the same holds true for a gin: it's the fruity bits that come over first, then the body, then the root-like, nutty flavors. So if you want to make a floral gin ... don't add root-like, nutty things to your gin recipe. And cut a bit earlier. If you want a full-bodied gin that lingers in your mouth and can be consumed neat ... do add those nutty, root-like components. And cut a bit later, since these tastes come over during the last part of the run. Okay, that was the introductionary post. More on herbs bills and aging gin and procedures in future posts! Regards, Odin.
  5. 5 likes
    I'l probably get blasted for this but... I get a never ending parade of people wanting to apprentice or work for free to "learn the craft". Basically you are asking to get for free what has taken me 25 years and a masters degree to acquire. So unless you offer some skill I happen to need or I'm short on bottling labor, I'm not super inclined to take your offer. In fact my standard response is to offer you training at $1000 per day; you pay me. Most small operations don't need any body, they need skilled bodies; we simply aren't big enough to afford the luxury in time or money. If you can't find a position in a distillery, try a brewery or winery to get a good feel for what we do. Which, by the way, is mostly cleaning. A science background is not absolutely required but it helps when problems arise. In a small operation, being able to handle any situation with creativity is key. Can you re-wire a pump or tweak a labeling machine? Mechanical aptitude often saves the day. Just having passion, or what you think is a good idea, does not make things happen; you must be able to follow through. I don't want to discourage you, but unless you bring some skill, most operations simply don't need you. End of rant.
  6. 5 likes
    Thanks for the kind words, guys. What AC-DC and 3d0g refer to is that we've known each other for years on multiple hobbyist distillation forums. Starting with the old Yahoo Distiller and New Distiller forums (where I may still be a moderator) grown out of New Zealand home-distilling legalization, international hobby distilling forums have been a huge factor in developing and disseminating the theoretical and applied information that all of us now take for granted. Shortly after the turn of the century, there was so much awful, dangerous, and superstitious distillation misinformation running rampant, that it was seriously difficult to get good facts about our science/art. The situation was so bad that I wrote "Making Fine Spirits" (Amphora Society) just to give the beginner some trusted facts and procedures he could build on. While I can't prove it, I'm betting that most of the artisan distillers here started with information, first-, second-, or third-hand, that we hammered the BS out of in the hobby forums. Truth be known, I'm kinda proud of all of our efforts.
  7. 5 likes
    Good idea bull, I'll post a few. I'll preface the pics with a very brief backstory behind our brand. Being located in Washington, PA, we're at the center of many of the events of the Whiskey Rebellion (I could hit the restored home and now national historic site of David Bradford, the leader of the rebellion, with a 9 iron from my front door). We went with a very colonial theme in our tasting room including a colonial fireplace back bar, the portrait of Alexander Hamilton (hanging upside down) above the fireplace, 1790's themed lighting fixtures, tables we made out of reclaimed barn wood and a separate dining room for private tastings and events.
  8. 4 likes
    Hi folks, I recently discovered that the ADI forum has a "no badmouthing" policy. This doesn't sound bad, but in practice it allows sponsors of the forum to have any content they don't like removed, even objective reviews. After recently posting a negative experience with one of the forum sponsors, my post was removed and I was threatened by the sponsor with a lawsuit. But in the meantime I was contacted by several other distillers who have had even worse experiences with this particular company. I now know there are numerous lawsuits in the works against this company, which appears to be in the business of taking deposits and providing faulty, late or no equipment to its customers. Because of ADI's forum moderation policy, there are no candid reviews of this company on the forum. Presumably if other people have shared similar experiences they have been taken down. If I had known about other people's experiences, I would not have done business with them. Since this is the primary place where distillers talk to each other, having the ability to share negative experiences is absolutely critical to the industry. I asked Bill Owens to consider changing this policy, and he has not responded, so I thought it wise to post it here. Either the ADI forum needs to change its policy to allow for open dialogue and reviews of its sponsors, or we need to open a new forum that is not censored in this way. Thanks, Joel Vikre
  9. 4 likes
    Masters in chemistry, while helpful, is far from necessary. What you really need is a process engineering consultant for about a year, a stellar marketing company, compliance officer, and CFO. Oh, and a shit-ton of money. Distilling is by far the easiest thing about running a distillery (and probably, after the first year, the most boring).
  10. 4 likes
    I don't agree with this, and it's not because I have a biased or vested opinion as an owner (after all, where you sit is where you stand.) Yeah yeah, easy money is over. Everyone with a first mover advantage that didn't parlay that into growth and investment has lost that opportunity. Are we talking about a small craft producer turning into a national brand? Hell, that's always been a long shot. Are we talking about new business failures and failure to launch? I don't think that's new, I think it's just becoming more visible through places like ADI, etc. Remember, 80% of startups fail on average. This business is no different. Like I said, that first mover advantage that might have lowered this rate to 60% - that's gone, but all that means is it's no different from trying to open up a franchise sandwich shop. First, I don't understand how you define or easily identify brand saturation in a market. From my position, if the market sufficiently fragmented such that smaller players are able to gain or retain enough market share to be viable, what does it matter the aggregate number of brands? How is it that the wine market is not sufficiently brand overloaded? I personally think that the Scotch section is incredibly confusing and cryptic, but it continues to grow. In addition, the bulk of the craft brand growth has been local/regional, with very few being in national distribution. There is no single national "shelf", unless you are a major national player, everything else comes down to the local shelf. And not even all of the local shelves, but the local shelves that matter. A single strong specialty spirits retailer can move more product in a month than dozens of nondescript mom and pop corner liquor shops. Why would you even bother to waste your time with the latter (more on this later). Is it about the ability to respond to market changes? Craft distillers can very rapidly adjust their business models to account for short-term preferential changes in the marketplace. We have the advantage of agility. If tomorrow, anchovy vodka was the next hot thing, most of us could be in the artisan anchovy vodka business relatively quickly. A national producer would not have similar agility. We have the advantage of being significantly more agile in the marketplace, this should not be overlooked. Also, are new entrants able to grow the size of the overall market themselves? You might think the question is a little bit silly, how can new market entrants grow a market that major players have trouble doing whilst spending tens, if not hundreds of millions in aggregate, on advertising? But I I think the answer is that they can, by virtue of being local, and by virtue of being experiential. IMHO, that word, "experiental" is going to be the key, and it's not going away. I think the last piece is the key differentiation that craft brands have over nationals, the ability to be experiential. But what the nationals can't do, is appeal to the experiential buyer at mass-scale. They can only be experiential in so far as their marketing material takes them. I don't think that translates into local market dynamics. Awareness is not experience. How can you ignore the demographic change that is driving this longer-term market shift? A shift which clearly has legs. Every retailer is incredibly focused on this. Every consumer service business is incredibly focused on this. Even the financial services industry is spending millions on this. And hell, who wants to be caught dead in a bank branch? What kind of "experience" is that? There are dozens and dozens and dozens of studies and articles talking about this paradigm shift, there are probably just as many consultancies that state that they have the secret keys to be able to navigate this. But, the fact is, nobody has figured this out yet. It's fair game. I'll just leave a few keywords and concepts here, which I think are really important to think about. This is not your father's Oldsmobile. Experience, not Things Authenticity, Sincerity, No Bullshit. Social (as in Conspicuous) Consumption In Collaboration, actually Listening Environmental and Social Conscience Local and Artisanal Obvious Passion Respect, and Respected Unique and Limited, not Mass Market and Undifferentiated I firmly believe that a new craft distillery entrant in a crowded craft market can absolutely destroy the incumbent players if they master this experience component, and can scale it. Let that be a warning to anyone sitting on their ass. A millennial marketing to a millennial will absolutely beat the pants off you. Are you still hanging onto that trope about your great uncle Cletus' secret recipe? Sorry, they don't give a shit about that. Doing a private spirits pairing at the hot local restaurant, with a custom menu designed by it's hot local chef? Pretty food, pictures plastered all over Instagram, now we're talking. Personally? I don't think this demographic is interested in mass market anything. It's about creative differentiation, limited availability, having a brand image that a demographic wants to be associated with. It's not about being able to spend massive marketing budgets either. It should be the national brands who are shaking in their boots.
  11. 4 likes
    Hi there, Here's a little booklet I wrote a few months ago on taste rich distilling. With a few typo's. Sorry for that. Not of native English tongue. Let me know what you think of it and if I should write a few more. Like on gin making, whiskey making, still design and operation, or whatever. As long as you can think of a few questions, me and my team can probably dive in. Regards, Odin. 33 Questions On Taste Rich Distilling.pdf
  12. 4 likes
    Mail merges are a dying art. Only the Nigerians seem to make the effort anymore.
  13. 4 likes
    We have a forklift. Cant imagine life with out it. We move barrels with it. And smoke cigarettes at the same time, and run with scissors.
  14. 4 likes
    Taste Development during the Run So, let's follow up on the first post. Taste, in a gin, pretty much follows in the footsteps of making brandy, whiskey or rum. Fruity notes at the beginning, body in the middle, root-like, nutty tastes at the end of the run. Weird, because we normally work with GNS, when making gin, so there shouldn't be "real" heads and tails, right? Right, but the molecules, associated with certain tastes, still follow the same rules. Fruity at the beginning, root-like at the end. Lime, lemon, orange peel come over early. Rooty and nutty herbs come over near the end. And if you want multi-dimensionality, a complex gin, you need both. It even gets more funny. Or interesting. Not only does the gin develop in taste as a whiskey or rum or brandy would ... even though you may use GNS to make your gin, you still need cuts. Cuts on a gin? Yes! A sorta Fores/Heads cut and a sorta Tails cut. Tails cut is easy. It is when you stop the run, because the later parts of the run just bring too much root-like tastes over (and they easily overpower the fruitiness of the beginning of the run). But a "Fores/Heads cut"? Yes, you need it. A small one. Only like 0.5 liters on a 250 liter charge. Maybe a liter in a 500 liter boiler charge of gin. The first (half a) liter. Why? This contains the very oily, excessive and harsh first juniper oils. You want to cut them out. I'll try to find a picture and add it to this thread. So you can see how these first juniper oils, that you want to cut out, look like. Really remarkable. A bubble of haze in a pint of alcohol. Not nice. Toss it. I can't find pics right now, but I'll dive in later. Important that you see it, so you can recognize it. All right, so how can we use cuts to perfect our gin? Well, if you are not satisfied with the amount of back of throat taste / root-like tastes ... you could cut a bit later, allowing for more nutty flavors to come over. Or if you feel you need a little less fruity notes ... well, you can dial the amount of fruit peel back ... or you can take a slightly larger "Fores/Heads cut". I am not saying one solution is better than the other, I am just informing you that by "gin cutting" you have an additional tool to perfect your gin runs. Something else you can use. If you make rum or brandy or whiskey, you can do a swift stripping run. Fast, low alcohol purity, lots of tastes blending in all over the place. Just so you get the picture: faster strips make for dirtier smearing of heads and tails into hearts. Same technique you can use with gin making. You don't strip, but you can vary power inputs on your distilling machine. If you go for higher energy inputs and higher output figures per liter, you will increase vapor speeds inside your column. High vapor speeds translate to more of the Tails oriented tastes to come over earlier. And they may be overpowering. The solution? Just throttle down and you will find the outcome less root-like, less nutty oriented. More florals coming over. Play with it: power settings. If you go too fast, taste becomes flat, one dimensional. Tune it down (by power management) and within just a few seconds, you may find the taste appealing again. Multi-faceted, interesting, complex. Playing with energy input, speed of run, and vapor speeds does not only allow you to make better tasting gin (lower speeds for better gin), it also allows you to go deeper into the Tails oriented department without the associated tastes becoming too overpowering. In other words: you can use more of the GNS to actually make more great tasting gin. End temperature based on gas temperature entering the column? Between 94.5 and 96 degrees C. The slower you go, on the last part of the run, the deeper you can go, without compromising on overal taste. Next? Lets dive into louched gins in the next post. Are they a failure ... or maybe a sign of actual distilling success? I'll try to find some time and dive in tomorrow or the day after. For after the weekend? A take on boiler vs. vapor infused gins! I know there's lots of opinions. I won't try to take sides, I will try to explain the pro's and con's. Regards, Odin
  15. 4 likes
    How the hell does one boil at 256 deg?
  16. 3 likes
    As bluefish says, use weight. For your calculation the only volume you should put into alcodens is 750 mL and the only temperature is 60 f (assuming you are TTB) Also, do not bother measuring the temperature of your bulk spirit. With mass that is irrelevant, and it has confused you because you have put that 73.54 f into Alcodens to calculate the 1072 bottles. 1674.8 lbs should have filled only 1066 bottles at 60 f. You have actually filled 14 more bottles than you should. What you have done is filled the bottles with 750 mL of spirit at 73.54 f instead of at 60 f. There will be less than 750 mL in the bottle which is part of the reason you ended up with extra bottles. Also, throw away that measuring cylinder. For one thing it is calibrated at 20c not 60f. (was the 80 proof you measured at 20 c? ) Parallel sided glass cylinders are not sensitive enough to read to fractions of a mL unless they are very skinny. Even so, I still can't see how your measuring cylinder was 11 mL out. Don't do your volume checks with a measuring cylinder, use weight. 750 mL of 80 proof at standard temperature (US) 60f weighs 712.34g. (in air for TTB calculations only) An easy way I use is to stack say 10 cases of empty bottles with caps on your scale. Fill them all then re-weigh. If they are cases of 6 X 750 mL then the lot should weigh 60 X 712.34 = 47.74 Kg (94.226 lbs) more than when they were empty
  17. 3 likes
    While much of what Joseph says is, and always was, true (operating capital management, marketing 101), I don't buy the bubble argument for one second. People have been saying the same thing about craft brewing for 20 years. It's still growing in volume nearly 13% year on year. Spirits are just getting started. Millennials re-wrote the markets for craft beer and wine, and they're about to do the same for spirits. They don't have the age statement bias of their parents. They're not afraid of trying new things (would you or I have ever tried a cinnamon whiskey - bleah!) They also crave experiences. So, putting capital into your location and tasting room may be FAR wiser than into name-brand copper in your stillhouse. There's also the international markets that are clamoring to experience US craft spirits. Know what an ounce of Stranahan's goes for in NL? 25€ The tired old shelf space argument never ceases to crack me up. Do you honestly mean to tell me your local liquor store had 10-12 beer coolers back in the 80s? Liquor stores are in the business of selling booze. If there's a market, THEY'LL MAKE SPACE. There's this absurdly tiny liquor store on my way home from work. Not even 500 sq ft. They are incredibly convenient though. I stopped in looking for my go-to beer (Trumer Pils) about a year ago. Of course they didn't carry it. I just mentioned to the owner that I was looking for Trumer. He said "I'll have it here next Tuesday". Now he didn't know me from Adam, but you know what? He somehow made space. Trumer Pils is always there and I pick up a six every week. 250 types of brown spirits? LOL. Have a look at the wine isle and imagine yourself in THAT market. Oh, and they're thriving. Sure, there will be some craft distillery closures. The days of "if I make it, they will come" are over. For every closure though, there will be 2+ more opening. And some of those will actually have a clue about marketing. FFS, High West just cashed out for $160M, selling whiskey they didn't even make!
  18. 3 likes
    It's very difficult to identify the specific bacterial strain from a pellicle photo, it could be a half dozen different bacteria. Can you describe the smell? Is it more acetic than usual? Do you smell any rancid, butter, body odor, or vomit? Any slime or ropiness if you stir closely below the surface? Just keep an eye on it and see if it begins to appear to be a mold, in which case remove it. I intentionally pitch specific strains of non-yeast bacteria in my rum fermentations to encourage specific ester formation, and I'm starting to work on mixed culture whiskey fermentations, with very good results. There are a handful of lactobacillus strains that I absolutely adore in whiskey and rum. Yes, I said that, and yes I intentionally "infect" fermentations. Every whiskey fermentation that doesn't boil after mashing is "infected" with numerous strains of bacteria. Grain is incredibly filthy from a microbiological perspective. Even some strains of Streptococcus can survive lower-temperature cereal mashes. Same for the rum distilleries, just a different set of bugs. In addition, you'll develop your own mix of strains that define your house/colonial bacteria profile. What I do is force a specific profile to match the outcome I am looking for. Let it ferment out, run it, it may be the most interesting rum you've made. Here are two of my favorite papers on the prevalence of specific bacterial strains in whiskey distilleries: http://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/micro/147/4/1471007a.pdf?expires=1483011394&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=3F2159A77F8BCEB870E570C224754586 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC126549/ And Rum: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1046/j.1365-2672.1998.00380.x/asset/j.1365-2672.1998.00380.x.pdf?v=1&t=ixabpopp&s=5841ec634998983c0b050add5b2dbeba52bd555c
  19. 3 likes
    Aging White Gin I think there are two topics here. First, the making, diluting, and bottling of gin, does that require any aging? Secondly, there is a big move towards barrel aged gin. I will start with the first question first ... and I will leave "barrel aged gin" for another post. White gin requires aging. Not much, but you can't just dilute it and bottle it and sell it. Well, you can, but you won't create the best tasting gin that way. A gin that's bottled right after it's been diluted to bottling strength has two issues: 1. It tickles on the tongue; 2. Taste is not integrated. The tickling of the tongue is a very good indication that a gin is not yet aged out. The tickling is caused by alcohol sucking water up water. Since alcohol is highly hydrofile or hygroscopic, that makes sense ... if you didn't give your gin enough time after diluting it to bottling strength. If you add water to your gin to bring it down from (for example) 70% to 45%, a process starts that I call "the marriage between water and alcohol". It is not an instant process. It is not a gentle process either. It is a process where some of the water gets dissolved into the alcohol. A process that creates heat (some), slightly lowers the total volume (total volume is lower than the volume of the original alcohol and water), and raises the proof a bit. All because water dissolves - over time - in alcohol. So here's the first trick in letting your gin age out: dilute it, then give it like five weeks for the marriage to take place. After this period, when you taste the gin, the tickle on your tongue is gone. The five week period also helps the different oils and tastes settle out. Please try it. Make your gin, dilute it, fill one bottle, open the cap on that bottle like every day, and taste is: - On day one (not coherent, tickly, is this the gin I wanted to make?); - After three days (nice, its moving in a good direction, wow, this is different shit!); - After five weeks (when you'll have reached your final taste profile). This test will teach you that you will achieve around 2/3rds of the final taste profile already after the first three days. It will also teach you that giving it more time really pays of. I know that waiting for five weeks can be a pain. You need more time to market, and you need more storage space. But in the end, if you want to make the best product, there is no escaping it. There are, however, a few tricks you can use to speed up the process. Here they are: 1. Use an ultrasonic cleaner (50 Watt per liter minimum and at 40 kHz) and give your gin like three ten minute treatments. It won't skip the five week rest period completely, but it will get you closer sooner. The process of especially water marrying to alcohol is sped up. And if you look in your ultrasonic cleaner, while doing it, you'll see for yourself that this process is not a gentle one: the liquids turn grey during the first part of the ultrasonification. 2. Use corks instead of caps on your bottles. A cork may allow for slight air movements in and out. If you allow for that, the process of water dissolving into alcohol can take place in the bottle. But if you have a hard capped bottle, the process of water dissolving in alcohol cannot take place, because its a process that shrinks total volume. A relative vacuum developing in the air pocket would prevent the water to dissolve properly. So ... with hard capped gin bottles, you may want to skip the white gin aging process a bit with ultrasonic treatments, or not and you wait five weeks before you bottle. The good news is: it will improve your drink hugely. And the fun thing is that if you did the tests I proposed, you'll recognize other gins as having had the appropriate amount of aging or not. Aging white gin is not completely straight forward in the sense that five weeks will do it. Time and again, I learn that the vapor speeds and how deep we go towards tails / the end part of the run influence the aging curve. See the first post on that please. The concise? If you run your rig harder (higher vapor speeds) more aging is needed. If you run longer, more aging is needed. If you run your rig slower and cut a bit earlier, for a more floral gin, the marriage may just take as much as only three weeks to take place. Next post in this thread will be about barrel aging gin. After that? Lets dive into herbs bills! Regards, Odin.
  20. 3 likes
    Generally speaking, you need about 1,000 BTU/hr / US gallon on the output side of the boiler to heat it up in one hour. That makes a number of assumptions but it's reasonable for budgeting purposes. If you're on a tight budget, look for an old new-stock residential boiler. But beware, in terms of the entire heating plant the boiler will be the a small fraction of the total. You'll need feed tanks, condensate return, steam trap, lots of piping, water softener, etc, etc, etc. If you have well water I'd seriously consider using that for cooling. All that being said, if you're on that tight of a budget I'd take a long hard look at your business plan and make damn sure you want to get into this business.
  21. 3 likes
    To Louch or not to Louch, that's the question! Thanks tbagnulo! Onwards with louched gins! I visited a distillery once that had a wide array of products. Most of them bottled at 40%. Only their gin was bottled at higher strength. I asked the master distiller why? He said - and taking a look I could see it - that even at the higher ABV of 45%, his gin was on the verge of becoming cloudy (or "louchy" as the word seems to be). Would he go any lower in ABV, the gin would turn almost white. I asked him what he thought the solution was. He told me that he had talked to two gin experts. One advised him to cut his herbs bill in half. Use like only 50% of the total herbs bill he had used before. The second one told him to buy a chill filter and filter the haze out. The second solution I really don't like, because it takes away essential oils AKA taste. And anyone who tells you that chill filtering doesn't ... well, let them chill filter their whiskey for 10 times only to find out it starts to taste pretty much like a vodka! The first solution of using less herbs, isn't good either. It relies on the assumption that a louched gin is bad. I feel it isn't. A louched gin is a great indication you got over huge amounts of tasty oils. And that was the goal right? To create a big tasting gin. So how do we solve the louch? Easy, dilute some neutral / gns to the same percentage as the louched gin, and add a portion. There will be a moment (75:25, 66:34, 50:50, etc.) when all of a sudden the louch lifts. In a second, maybe two. You now have the gin with the most taste possible. And if you think it is too big in taste? Dilute it. Bottom line? A louched gin gives you a balpark. A starting point that makes it easy to create great tasting gin with the same flavor profile over and over again. And you can always dilute a big taste gin to a lighter one, but not the other way around. Next post: on boiler vs. vapor infused gins. Regards, Odin. PS: Here's a movie on me making gin. With lots of info on how to do it! Here it is:
  22. 3 likes
    Yes. But... We must always guard against the danger of getting lost in the romanticism of nostalgia. We can respect the old ways and be thankful that we have the ability to stand on the shoulders of giants, but that doesn't mean that we should not push the limits, leveraging new technologies and new techniques, to create new, unique, and better products than our elders had before us. Just because they are the old ways, do not mean that they are the best ways. Don't mistake my words, I'm not saying that a new way is better because it's new, or that an old way isn't the best way. Just like our elders had the responsibility of growing and enriching their craft, so do we. If it means an old way must go, it must go. I believe the old artisans would approve. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads this article as being condescending. I'm sure it wasn't written to come off as condescending, but it is nonetheless. I admit, it's nice to look back on the good old days. Everything was better back then, wasn't it? Men were men, honesty was a virtue, and someone's word actually meant something. Having studied neuroscience and cognitive psychology for many years, with a focus on emotion, memory, and cognitive bias, I can't help but read these kinds of nostalgic pieces and imagine how much of that retrospection was clouded by biases and flaws (or omissions) in our memories. There is a well known cognitive bias called Rosy Retrospection. Despite the cute name, it's the basis for those feelings of romantic nostalgia we have for the past. However, it also means that perhaps the past was not how we remember. I still remember the taste of the champagne that I sipped after toasting with my wife at our wedding reception, or the taste of that whiskey me and the boys sipped when getting the news that there was a little one on the way, god it was so good. The reality of it is, the good old days weren't. I'm not complaining that our brains have a propensity to fade unpleasant memories, and retain (and even embellish) the good ones. Life would be awful otherwise, wouldn't it? But, the old stories come together, and history is written with these biases. So when we look back, we need to understand that the negatives were probably omitted, and the positives are certainly more positive than they were. So, now we get to the truth, let's be realistic here. Commercial producers, even small ones, have been producing awful spirits for as long as people have been drinking them. You would be remiss to simply assume just because some producer produced something seventy five years ago, it was absolutely fantastic, magical, unparalleled in quality and without compare. Because, you know what, most of it was probably pretty bad. Craft was probably the last thing in many of their minds. Losing a batch to a raging bacterial infection meant your kids going hungry, so they produced it anyway. I've tasted lots of very old product, you know, the kind with fancy scores and reviews, when people fawn over names, and was amazed that after dozens of years your could still taste the fact that they didn't bother to take much of a heads cut, hell, any cut at all. The raw distillate was probably so god awful that it needed 25 years on oak just to be remotely drinkable. What I don't understand is, why make these overly broad, sweeping assumptions about the new breed of craft producers? Yet at the same time paying some kind of religious homage to those who came before? Frankly, neither deserve it.
  23. 3 likes
    I've professionally used home-built 55-gal drum electric stills, 3 different simple pot stills (800L, 1500L, 2500L) built by inexperienced US fabricators, a steam-heated CARL with brandy & vodka columns, and a 4-plate electric water-bath KOTHE. While it is possible to make good spirits on all of them, the carl and kothe both dramatically expand the options of the types of things you can distill and the different methods you can do it by. They are also significantly safer, faster to heat, and easier to clean. Knowing what you plan to produce is the biggest factor in what type of still you should look for. If you plan to make gin from redistilled GNS, you don't need much. If you want to make pear brandy from whole fruit, you need either something more sophisticated or the hands-on experience you'll only gain from ruining a batch I've heard of several people finding deals on used german stills, both in the US as people outgrow them or go out of business (how we got the CARL) and abroad as the brandy market continues to shrivel. That is the path I would take, as I think there will be a pretty regular clip of closures in the next few years.
  24. 3 likes
    Ingredients, fermentation, still operation and aging all go hand in hand. I think anyone currently making a great drink would still make a great drink if you gave him a beer keg on a gas burner for a still. Better equipment may ease or speed production, but better equipment will not necessarily produce a better drink.
  25. 3 likes
    A nice hammer does not a carpenter make.
  26. 3 likes
    You are killing your malt/enzymes by adding it over 150. Also, you can't use a refractometer on your beer, once it has alcohol in it. Fine for the initial info, but worthless once the fermentation starts.
  27. 3 likes
    No one has a license to dictate how the word "craft" is used. "Craft" connotes more than it denotes. That means that craft is what you say it is, not what some "they" say it is. Various organizations, ADI included, want to give private definition of the term, but they have no ability to enforce their notion of what "craft" should be. That statement is not meant as a value judgment; it is a statement of fact as I see it. Here are my value judgments. You talk about buying bulk spirits to make infusions. When you infuse, you alter the character of the base product. Arguably, and I'm ready to take the flack on this from the craft community, neutral spirits produced in large, industrial stills and then used to produce small lot gins by distillation or maceration, are probably better to use as a gin base than neutral spirits produced by small distillers in stills that strain to make 190 proof. A neutral pallet on which to paint provides you the opportunity to create an imaginative products by, say, multiple fractional distillations, that take time and attention, and to blend those products in imaginative and even "artistic" ways, which requires a sensory pallet. Those with good sensory pallets can certainly "craft" better products than a those, like me, who have no taste at all. Speaking of pallet, let me argue by analogy, which is always dangerous, because analogies always will fail in some regard. But, does anyone worry about whether Picasso or Cezanne or Monet or .... whoever, you name the artist ....made their own paints and wove their own canvases. Of course not. It is how they applied the paint to the canvas that matters. It is their vision, their skill, their ingenuity, their energy that add up to "genius." Their work transcends that of producers of craft art, and a person who blends or infuses spirits or wine skillfully, can transcend craft distillers and winemakers who do so with a heavy hand. So why worry about tags. . Worry about what gets into the bottle. Consumers can then decide if you are an artist that transcends or a small distiller calls itself craft, for no other reason than it is small. Just be honest in the story you tell. And, for the record, as far as US regulation is concerned, you will be making liqueurs only if the product you put into the bottle meets the US standard of identity for liqueurs. they are " products obtained by mixing or redistilling distilled spirits with or over fruits, flowers, plants, or pure juices therefrom, or other natural flavoring materials, or with extracts derived from infusions, percolation, or maceration of such materials, and containing sugar, dextrose, or levulose, or a combination thereof, in an amount not less than 21/2percent by weight of the finished product." That definition matters, but it does not change the quality of the product either.
  28. 3 likes
    and there we go, the first PM trying to sell me monthly cost software comes in promising a 'big discount'... when it is a $9.95 app (ok, a $99.95 app) with no recurring charges, let me know...
  29. 3 likes
    The guy below tweeted about my distillery recently Benjamin‏@Bynjammin Apr 9 It's not the perfect equipment that makes good #whiskey, but execution of good concepts. @BelgroveWhisky He was commenting on a story about my distillery that appeared on BBC website. The story was about some recent Gold I had achieved from my distillery that was built from re-purposed / re-cycled equipment. Starting from my malting equipment, it is a slightly modified industrial clothes dryer, cost me zero. 95% of the energy used in the distillery is from burning used fryer oil, cost zero The still is direct flame heated, much cheaper to build (by me) because no steam jacket and no steam boiler The burner under the still is a modified diesel burner, initial cost zero but about $20 of parts to modify. The burner needed a variable speed motor to adjust the oil feed, cost $15, it is a cake mixer from local tip shop. My mash tun is an old milk vat that I swapped for a day's work Most of my fermenters are HDPE totes, zero to $50 each. ( a recent source for these is trucking companies. Anti pollution liquid called Add Blue comes in them. That is high quality urea, a fertilizer/nitrogen source. Traces left in tote would probably aid fermentation) A stainless fermenter cost me a whopping $400, cheap because it had a big dent in one side. Plate heat exchanger is an old dairy milk cooler, cost zero. Shell in tube heat exchangers $200 from scrap yard, re-cycled surplus from chocolate factory upgrade. 6 stainless 2inch butterfly valves from above yard, numerous brass taps, elbows, copper pipes, etc etc, at most $100 Single head Enolmatic bottler $200 on E-bay Barrel racks are second hand wood 2 X 4's Unfortunately in US you can't re-use barrels, these cost me from $50 for 100 liters to $120 for 220 liters The bar that I take to promotions is made from re-cycled timber and oil drums that I collect the fryer oil in. Plastic buckets from restaurants are free if you ask nicely after you dine there. I will stop there, I think I have made my point. I was at ADI in San Diego a few weeks ago and saw all those magnificent looking column stills. They really are beautiful pieces of engineering, but $$$$$ My still is a basic alembic pot, no column or plates. Very much cheaper to build. (An alembic pot is inefficient at separating ethanol, I exploit that inefficiency to produce flavor, I treat ethanol as a by-product.)
  30. 3 likes
    It all looks big, until you try to turn the forklift around.
  31. 3 likes
    If you are using flaked corn, you should able to do the whole batch at aprox 148 degrees. Shouldn't ned to take it any higher as flaked means it's already been gelatinized.
  32. 3 likes
    My opinion is time in the barrel really means nothing. Barrels are a part of COGS. So if your equating time to value of the spirit your missing the point of pricing. Pricing is a function of one simple/complex principle VALUE, Value = taste+presentation+story+the emotional attachment and willingness to purchase. What does your market testing indicate? Do you have a tasting room? During development did you ask potential customers what they would be willing to pay? I have a spirit that was three years aging, it sold from $35 to $125 per bottle, the mean price point is $69 to $79. The second batch sold at the same price points but was better received by the consumer, they liked it better. (it was less than 6 months old.) All this was the result of a hands on market testing. We have customers that are requesting it in an un-aged version, at the same price points. So, here is what you do, test, taste, compare to other products, compare price points and make money. Not to be too blunt, but there is a lot of craft and mainstream whisky/spirits that taste like crap. I've been to every conference for the past 5 years, and tried them. How some stuff stays on the market is beyond me, but it all goes back to the Value equation. A market test showed the three largest bourbon whiskys where the first choice of loyal consumers but in a blind taste test they all came in last. Which proves the Value equation is more than just taste, but they still purchased the stuff they like the least. (emotional attachment).
  33. 3 likes
    Agree with most of what is said above. The big issue I see killing many distilleries now is simply the sheer number of us out there. Differentiating is tough when there are so many "craft" options now. The problem is compounded as I think the new players coming in are much better capitalized than the early adopters who bootstrapped to success. I think the days of the successful bootstrap distillery have passed. My DSP completed in August 2012. I worked at my business plan for a good two years before that, and had to start a farm to grow cane concurrently. We are only now approaching a positive cash flow. Marketing is also much more important than most startups know. I said to myself when I started that my marketing budget should be at least 5x my capital expenses in the first 3 years. Looking back, I would say that is accurate on the low end. It is so easy to buy shiny machines and cool equipment, but most distilleries have a "if I build it, they will come" mentality and those days are just over, in my opinion. Make something awesome and market the heck out of it. Put in the crazy hours, and forgo any salary for the foreseeable future. Only quit your day job if you can do this with no income. That is another big killer to distilleries. On a positive note, I truly believe all the work that went into starting my business will pay off well. If I had it to do over again, I would still do it, but I would do it much differently. I would say I started both undercapitalized and over-expensed. Don't do it that way
  34. 3 likes
    Don, This is a great question for a post...and you're probably correct, in that the distilleries which have closed, probably aren't sharing their stories, with good and fair reasons. Here are a few from my experience: "If I build it they will come", not coming true. I've seen a few distilleries just believe in the coolness so much that they ignored all of the other reasons for attracting customers. Lack of Operating Capital: You should have a minimum of 1.5 years of operating capital ready before you commit...better 3 years. Carrying cash is a huge issue for startup distilleries and can get to a "zinger" stage when buying containers of bottles, not getting good terms on the AR side or worst yet, poor terms on the AP side. If you have an AR/AP cycle of greater than 90 days for typical products sold, you're really stretching your ability to survive. You read the ADI Book that said, "make vodka, gin, and white whiskey and sell that while you wait for your brown stocks to age".....That worked great for distilleries about 5 years ago. But as mentioned above, if you show up to a liquor store or bar with a "vodka, gin, and white whiskey", they're going to point to the mass of those products already on the shelves and send you packing. Company organization and structure....especially as it relates to investors. If they're ready to make their call and you aren't ready to pay, then you're done. "You only run out of cash, once". Every small business conference will reinforce this message....why once? Because when you're out of cash, the business is done. Marketing....."you are opening a marketing company that happens to make hooch". If you don't understand this from day one, you're probably not going to make it in the long run. This does not detract in any way from making great spirits in a craft fashion, it just means that if your message doesn't resonate with the customer, they're not going to buy it. Concentrate on selling the 2nd bottle: That first bottle sold hits every bar and then collects dust (as mentioned above). Its easy to sell the first bottle, concentrate on your plan to sell the 2nd to that same customer....build repeat customers or you're done. Understand the commitment to man-hours on your equipment. Batch distillation is hugely inefficient, especially in stills smaller than 250g. Make sure you have man-hours planned in your budget to allow for production and marketing/sales, with the split 30/70 respectively. Of the 7 (or so) distilleries that I've heard of failure or unwilling sales: Ran out of money Had no effort put to marketing Didn't sell well Made poor product Cheers, McKee
  35. 3 likes
    I like this...or Liked It...I checked the box.
  36. 2 likes
    an inexpensive glass still and the required thermometer and hydrometer are what's needed. the procedure is in the gauging manual in 27cfr 30.32(c). in the process, distillation is used to remove the sugars (that are more dense than water and will push your hydrometer up making the amount of alcohol seem lower) with water. then you measure the proof in the usual way. let me say it again: replace the sugars with the amount of water the sugars displace. the trouble is that while you are making the batch, you actually can do the weights and arithmetic quite accurately, and your results will be spot-on, but when gauging for tax, you are required to use the prescribed method noted above. you might as well spring for the glass still now.
  37. 2 likes
    Alcohol Strength A little more on alcohol strength. While distilling and while bottling. Let's start with the ABV of you vodka/neutral/GNS in the boiler ... The first question, related to alcohol strength is of course: how does it influence taste? Luckily, the answer is pretty straight forward: if you distill your gin at a higher proof, it will get dryer in taste. That's why London Dry Gin is called "Dry". It is distilled at no less than 70% / 140 proof, that's a quite high percentage ... so "High" equals "Dry". And if you want to get an understanding at what "Dry" means in a gin ... maybe buy a bottle of Gordon's or Beefeater's. If "High" is "Dry", what happens if we distill with lower proof in the boiler, in order to get the distilate to come over below 70%? Well, in that case the gin becomes less dry and more mellow in style. All right. Now, for example's sake, let's assume you want to make a more mellow gin. How to achieve it? By putting a less strong GNS in your boiler. But here comes the interesting challenge: below 30% not all herbs give up their taste oils. Now, if you choose to vapor infuse that's not a problem. The rising gases are stronger than 30%. Even on a 20% boiler charge. But vapor infusion brings over less taste. So how do we deal with boiler infused gin? Bigger taste, but since the boiler charge needs to be 30% for oils extraction ... does this mean we cannot make anything else - when boiler infusing - than a dry style gin? No, it doesn't. And here's the solution I like to work with. What I do, when I make a gin (and I am more of a big taste - so boiler infused - and mellow - so below 70% kinda guy), is this: I prepare my gin run the night before. I fill (example) a 500 liter boiler with 200 liters of 60%. I put the berries in and I put the herbs in. I let them steep over night. Next morning I top of with warm water to bring the ABV down and to preheat the boiler contents (to get to the production phase sooner). Best of both worlds. Works like a charm. Please see the video posted above for more explanation. Now, onwards to bottling strength. Many commercial gins are bottled at 40%. You'd need a very forward cut or light and floral gin to be able to dilute it to 40% without louching. Or you need to chill filter, of which I am not a fan, because it takes away taste. I personally feel 43 to 45% is great. Sometimes 47% is wonderful. My advice: play with ABV. I have helped develop a beautiful gin for customers from Ireland, where we wanted a neat sipper and a gin for in the gin tonic. We used the same herbs bill, the same distilling procedure, and the same cut points. The only thing we changed is how far we diluted down. The neat sipper stayed at 47%, the gin for gin tonic went down to 43%. Amazing taste differences are to be found, just playing with your bottling strength. So what's next? I could talk a bit more on gin aging. Some misconceptions there we can dive into. And/or you tell me what you want me to cover in the next post and I'll try to dive into your questions. Just let me know. Regards, Odin.
  38. 2 likes
    If I go lower in pH, it is because I want to create a little bit more taste. Lower pH enhances the formation of taste molecules (Esterification). So I do it on rum and whiskey, but not on vodka recipes. When I make (or help develop) taste rich products, like rum or whiskey, I use (or advice to use) backset. It is sour and will sour up mashing and fermentation, enhancing esterification. Since you now add backset, instead of water, to the next mash/ferment/distillation cycle, you also increase taste, you don't need (so much) yeast nutrients, and it helps you stabilize on taste output (repeatability). In general, I aim for a much lower pH, especially while fermenting (where most taste is formed). It does not only help create more taste (and a more interesting whiskey or rum), it also helps against bacterial infections, when pH is below pH 4.8. Low pH is good against all bacterial infections ... safe lactic bacteria infection, unfortunately. I usually aim for a starting pH, while fermenting, of pH 4.8 and will see it go down to pH 3.8, depending on wash type (malts having more buffering capacity than grains having more buffering capacity than molasses). If it goes below pH 3.5, I know that next time I have to add a bit of lime to start with, so it does not get more sour than pH 3.8. I don't like it lower than that because (again, depending on sugar source) ferments tend to stall below that. Regards, Odin.
  39. 2 likes
    Ah! "but not the chemistry behind how they interact once mixed.".... Along similar lines to "What is the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything?" As the Japanese distillers have pursued (to their definite and large advantage), modern chemistry allows PRECISE discovery of "what is in it?" for any liquid. Down to parts-per-billion precision and with total knowledge of component identification. There are NO components in - for example - a Great malt whisky which cannot be acquired in pure form so that a duplicate "recipe" of ingredients can be made. The Great Mystery is how these form over time in the environment inside an ageing barrel. And even that is no longer much of a mystery to the Chemistry Detectives. Techniques have been available for DECADES to relatively mundane laboratories not only to identify and quantify ALL such components, and to also to TRACK whence they came. Time-spanned repeat studies even show up "intermediates" along the way. So, the scientifically inclined follow their path, sometimes with a quiet chuckle for the Traditionalists who insist that a good malt only develops if the right number of old bones are thrown into the air, at the right height and with the correct incantation....... And the Traditionalists laugh in (near) total disbelief at the complete analysis of the Big Picture suggested by their opponents. The big question is who, over time, makes the best product in terms of Customer acceptance AND preparedness to pay. And PROFIT of course! Which US Distilleries get $100 per 70cl bottle of single malt made on a COFFEY STILL (and know that even some in Scotland have done for many decades....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Nevis_distillery )? How many posters herein are actively and currently discussing and debating such progressive options to Process Improvement, compared to those promoting "same old" methodologies? Sure ALL distilleries have seen gradual incorporation of newer ideas and technologies over the centuries. What many seem to fail to grasp is the rate of ACCELERATION of such adoptions, and the rapid demise of those failing to see the "train" heading their way in their tunnel! Cast your minds back to how impregnable DEC seemed with their super-mini computers in 1985. Or Compaq did with their PC's in 1995. Both GONE. Extinct as the dinosaurs. And all they did was to fall behind "the Curve" SET BY THEIR CUSTOMERS' NEEDS. They both thought they owned their market. Both were seriously mistaken! Just my $0.02
  40. 2 likes
    I'll raise you. Clostridium, Propionibacterium, and Lactobacillus. In ... or out? Yeast are soooo boring compared to bacteria.
  41. 2 likes
    Side note: There is no need to take stock in awards. Most brands have won awards and gotten gold medals. In general, the more awards a brand wins simply proves how many competitions they enter - not how good the product is. The entire tasting competition industry feeds off of distillers' insecurities and desire to be recognized. It's all not too dissimilar from how kindergarten teachers give all their students a gold star at some point throughout the school year.
  42. 2 likes
    Tell them that the still is an open system and therefore not a pressure vessel of any sort and therefore the still itself does not need an ASME stamp or listing. However, you really should have the proper pressure relief valve on the still as well as a vacuum relief valve. If you went to your local hardware store and purchased a pressure relief valve for a water heater, then you need to remove it and take it back because it is definitely not the correct one for your 160 gallon still. You need a 5 psi pressure relief valve for steam that will discharge at least 200lbs of steam per hr. The pressure relief valve should be on top of the still boiler or on the line arm above the column and it should be plumbed to the outside of your building. The vacuum relief valve should have a bore size of at least 3/4" The electrical system is a different story. If the complete electrical system is not UL listed, then all of the individual electrical system components will need to be UL listed. Also the control panel will need to have the voltage, phase and amp draw listed on it. The cheap CE listed Chinese panels and CE listed Chinese parts will not pass most inspections here in the US. CE is for Europe and parts of Asia and is not good for the US. Your heating elements will certainly need to be UL listed. The US made ones like Camco and Chromalox always are and the Chinese ones typically are not. Here is something else. Your electrical system should be rated at least NEMA4X which means that the everything is liquid and vapor tight. Always remember safety first.
  43. 2 likes
    I built my own still and it worked out pretty well. I would say that if you feel like you need to take a class to have someone else teach you how to build your own still, then you probably dont have the knowledge and/or skills needed to pull it off. If you feel confident you can pull it off with the knowledge and skills you have then you *probably* can. If you realize you dont have the knowledge but still want to do it I would suggest you take a month and read every thread that has been posted here: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=18&sid=6ea5175a3c86538597a4b340c21d3e3d Once your done reading all that then build yourself a small still and see if you enjoy the process and decide then if you want to proceed with a production size still.
  44. 2 likes
    Oh thank goodness. I've been having trouble locating overpriced imported vodka. Currently I buy Costco vodka and just pour it into bottles and write $70 on them. Impresses the ladies but it would be nice to have a back up.
  45. 2 likes
    You can, but you're stripping the first layer of flavor from the interior of the barrel. Just lay them out a few days before you fill them and spray them down like they're a garden. Soak on the outside thoroughly and then leave some water sitting on the head. Flip, soak again and leave some water on the other head for a few hours. I've done this with cold water from the spigot. You get the rare minor leak that you can seal with a cooper kit easily and you don't lose any flavor.
  46. 2 likes
    Thank you, Bluestar. You have provided a very sensible answer. Handcrafted spirits will cost more undoubtedly, but products sell better if the cost is in a middle range for its type. Inflating the price on the basis of--I don't know what to call it, self-approval seems the least confrontational I can think of at the moment--self-approval seems like a springboard into delusions of grandeur. Micro-distilleries have a very hard time establishing market share, so we need to price our spirits to sell, not keep. Profitability does require the true cost of goods sold in addition to overhead. The profit margin should be based on that amount, and set at a normal percentage. Our spirits are hand-crafted at every stage of production, right up through putting on the labels and sealing the boxes. We love what we do and we want to make our living doing it. Profitability: price, sales, market share--re-orders. Thanks for the replies.
  47. 2 likes
    I'm building. I wouldn't discount the option, to be honest. SBA 504 is only 10-15% your money, and you'll probably drop that in retrofit anyway. You'll have exactly what you want and the payment will probably be lower than rent.
  48. 2 likes
    One would think, after 7 years, the OP got his answer...
  49. 2 likes
    Alcohol vapor is not heavier than air when it is hot...otherwise your still wouldn't work. Which is why it might be a good idea to have good ventilation above your stills in case of a leak and make sure the exhaust fans are brushless i.e. explosion proof.
  50. 2 likes
    The advice above is good, get an engineer which will cost you some $ upfront but will save you $$$ later when your local Fire/Building Department evaluates your project. They won't be arguing with your engineer but they will with you. Buy the codes and read them. This is an overview and not all inclusive. An F1 occupancy allows for production of beverage grade alcohol of more than 18%. IFC table 307.1(1) limits a non-sprinklered F1 to 120 gallons of class IB-IC flammable liquids and class II combustible liquids at 120 gallons. Per table 2703.8.3.2 this limit is per control area. A control area is defined as a room with a 2hour fire rated wall and you can have multiple control areas per floor depending on construction and building type. Sprinklers increase the hour rating in a room/building and double this capacity limit, thus the 240 gallon. The barrel exemption per IFC chapter 27 - 2701.1-9 and IFC chapter 34 3402.1-10 is just that, so the rest of the chapter does not apply including height limitations, etc. Most spirits are bottled as Class II combustible liquids. Spirits stored in containers less than 1.3 gallons (5L) in storage are excluded from the volume limits per IFC chapter 27 - 2701.1-1 and IFC chapter 34 3402.1-2. Once packaged, the individual bottles should be stored in cases and placed on pallets by product type.