Jump to content
ADI Forums

Leaderboard


Popular Content

Showing most liked content since 10/03/2015 in all areas

  1. 9 points
    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. 7 points
    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. 7 points
    "Most customers aren't easily deceived for long don't care in an open market place." There, fixed it for you.
  4. 6 points
    Slippery slope. More information than anyone probably wants or cares about. I like weighing and can't fathom doing anything other by weight. Spirits by volume? You are wasting your time and are highly inaccurate. The scale probably doesn't need to be NTEP, but it should be. Non-NTEP scales generally can't be calibrated, and the TTB wants your measuring equipment calibrated. Given this is used for tax determination, it could be arguable that this is a value exchange and NTEP should apply. Dunbar probably has a good handle on this. NTEP scales are typically higher quality than non-NTEP scales. It doesn't mean a non-NTEP scale isn't good, it can be better than an NTEP scale, but generally, NTEP is there for a reason. Generally you don't make a junk NTEP scale, but lots of people make junk non-NTEP scales. Non-NTEP scales are typically sold based on readability - the display accuracy, the number of digits on the scale display. However, you need to realize that showing more numbers on the display doesn't mean the scale is accurate to the digit of the display. This is a massive misconception. Just because the display shows it, don't mean it's so. You could make a 1000 pound scale with a display that reads 999.99 - but it doesn't mean that the scale is accurate to 0.01 pounds. In fact, you have no idea at all if the scale is accurate to that level, because there are no rules to mandate that it is. The numbers after the decimal point could be complete nonsense. You think it's highly accurate because it shows more numbers, but that ain't the case. That's where NTEP comes in. Among other things, NTEP defines the number of "DIVISIONS" that the scale is capable of accurately resolving. Legal for Trade means that the the display accuracy is equal to the accuracy that is defined by the division in one of these classes. NTEP also means that the scale is independently verified to read accurately across a range of voltages, temperatures, and other operating conditions. NTEP CLASS I - 100,000 Divisions and UP (Precision Laboratory Use) NTEP CLASS II - 10,000 to 100,000 Divisions (Lab Use, Precious Metals, etc) NTEP CLASS III - 1,000 to 10,000 Divisions (Commercial legal for trade) Accuracy/Readability = Maximum weight / Divisions So, you can have an NTEP Class 3 scale, 1,000 pounds, with 1,000 divisions. The display should read 0000 (1000/1000 = 1). Nothing after the decimal point. You would assume it is accurate to the pound only. You can also have an NTEP Class 3 scale, 1,000 pounds, with 10,000 divisions. The display should read 0000.0, and the scale will increment in .1 pound steps. 0000.1, 0000.2, 0000.3. You would assume that it is accurate to a tenth of a pound. So what's the difference? The 10,000 division NTEP scale is going to be more expensive than the 1,000 division NTEP scale. What makes scales more expensive than others? Not the total weight capacity, no no no. It's the divisions. The more divisions a scale can accurately measure, the more complex the circuity, the higher tech the load cells, the tighter the manufacturing tolerances, the more substantial the frame needs to be, and the more expensive the scale. That all said, the scale used for a specific operation needs to be suitable for that operation. Lets say you are proofing 50 pounds of 120proof spirit to 80 proof for bottling, that's going to be 28.154 pounds of water for a total final blend volume of 78.154 pounds. If you have a 5000 pound NTEP pallet scale with a 1 pound accuracy, your display weight of 78 pounds is everything from 77.5 pounds to 78.4 pounds. So you add water until your display reads 78 pounds. In proof terms, it means you are anywhere from 79.7 proof to 80.4 proof, you'll have no idea unless you gauge again. If you read 80.4 - you'll need to slowly keep adding water and gauging, over and over, in little steps. A waste of time. If you read 79.7 proof. Sorry to hear it, hope you have more spirit on hand to raise the proof, which you'll need to do slowly, re-mixing and gauging every time. Now, if you had a 150 pound scale with an accuracy of 0.05lb (NTEP Class III - 3000 Divisions, actually LESS ACCURATE THAN THE 5000lb Scale). You would add water to 78.15 pounds. If proof terms, you are going to be better than 79.95 to 80.05. Do you gauge again? Of course you do. But you'll be dead on, no fiddling around with trying to add an unmeasurable amount of water or spirit (proofing by trial and error). I just hope someone bothers to get this far and at least got some bit of useless trivia knowledge out of this. That said, EVERYTHING BY WEIGHT, NO OTHER WEIGH ... err WAY.
  5. 6 points
    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.
  6. 6 points
    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!
  7. 5 points
    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.
  8. 5 points
    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. 5 points
    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.
  10. 5 points
    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. 5 points
    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.
  12. 4 points
    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).
  13. 4 points
    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
  14. 4 points
    Mail merges are a dying art. Only the Nigerians seem to make the effort anymore.
  15. 4 points
    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.
  16. 4 points
    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
  17. 4 points
    How the hell does one boil at 256 deg?
  18. 3 points
    Can you tell I like scales yet? Every distillery should have 3 scales. Yes, get out your pocket book, you should have 3 scales: Scale #1 - Sized for the maximum amount of spirit you deal with in Production. Scale #2 - Sized for the maximum amount of spirit you produce in Processing. Scale #3 - Sized to check weight a filled bottle for verifying filling accuracy in Bottling. If you deal with similar weights on a day to day basis in Production and Processing, than the same scale would suffice. But if you are working with totes of GNS in Processing (needing a max capacity of at least 2000lb), and producing 50 pounds of distillate at a time out of your still, you probably want two different scales. What is a good accuracy when dealing with a tote is not a good accuracy when trying to proof 50 pounds of distillate. If you deal with small volumes in production and processing (under 10 wine gallons), keep in mind 19.186 above, this will all but GUARANTEE you need three scales, since you will not find a high capacity scale with enough divisions to accurate read to the hundredth place. Generally, this kind of scale is going to be under 100 pounds maximum capacity. The third scale is for checking your bottle fill accuracy, and it is going to need to be accurate to the gram. We use a 2kg x 1g scale which works perfectly for us (750ml is our largest bottle, and the glass is a little bit over 900 grams), but you are going to need to know your bottle glass weight and volume to determine if 2kg is sufficient or not. You weigh a bottle, tare it, fill it, then check against the table. Allowable fill variation is pretty wide, so 1g accuracy is enough. You can find inexpensive high quality scales for this, and it is significantly easier than attempting to verify bottle fill volumetrically. You can find my bottle verification check weight chart here for 375 and 750ml:
  19. 3 points
    Meanwhile, late a night Glen broods about his future.... Hmmm. What can I do to make a living? Let’s see. Gotta be nine to five and the pay has got to be great... Jeez, that means I’ll have to get an actual job! That sucks. Wouldn’t want to waste my days working. Hmmm. anything else? Wait! I know, I’ll start my own business! Let’s see... Be my own boss. Do what I like... Sounds perfect. But, what kinda business could I start? Corner store? Na. Too boring. Gas station. No, cars are going outta style. Amway? Possibly... Hey! I like to drink! I know how to make some moonshine - I know! I’ll start a distillery! That’s a great idea. I can’t wait to get started! How hard could it be? Hmm, How much money is in the old investment account? I’ll clean that out first as my seed money. I’ve made millions in the TV biz, so that should be OK... Type. Type. Type. Hmmmm. Type. Type. ‘Your balance in your investment account is: $437.94.” ...Or not. OK let’s see what’s in the ‘ol current account. Type. Type. Type. $103. 54 Alright then, my working capital $541.48. Although, once I subtract the mortgage, car and other essential living expenses, that should leave me with about $-6547.96 in my account. Good times. Good times. Well, that doesn’t look too good. Oh well, no worries. Let’s do some research here and see about what’s up with getting this off the ground. Let’s see... I’ll just surf over to alibaba here. Hey look! I can get a still for 2K USD. Gee that doesn't sound too bad... I could build a whole distillery for the price of a used pick up truck. Cool. Although, it does seem a little too good to be true, I wonder what the catch is? Perhaps some more research is required... Five months later... Man I wish I hadn’t written this business plan, it sure is depressing. No matter how I push the numbers around, it looks like it going to cost way more than a pick up truck, new or used by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Shit. Hey what’s this? I need to rezone my property before I do anything else? Eight months later... Man, am I ever gonna get through this process? Sigh. Fucking neighbors. Why did I decide to start a distillery again? Could someone please remind me? Fame, fortune, lifestyle, great whisky, a better gin... you were looking for something different to do, remember? Oh yeah, right. Thanks. Without question, alcohol is a business of patience. So, clearly, the question is, considering the daunting odds why would you bother? Also with more distilleries going out of business and a crowded market, doesn’t that make it harder? Consider the story of two competing coffee companies I know. This is a true story unfolding even as I write. They both started at the same time. They both bought the same equipment and they both were equally geographically challenged. Company One struggled from the beginning because almost immediately they felt overwhelmed by the market and they always felt they weren't making money and ultimately, they had missed the coffee boom. Eventually, they sold their coffee machine and their company and went in a different direction. Meanwhile Company Two, clearly understood that in the modern era, something like coffee would never pass today’s tough food guidelines and, even better - was an addictive substance. Also, who the hell would drink bitter bean juice? They clearly realized, the key to success was to simply sell a (or their idea of) a better bitter bean juice. Simple really. They were recently bought out for 214 million dollars. All of this in a terribly over saturated North American coffee market dominated by big brands. The moral of the story is whether or not you are rich or bootstrapping - the eager distiller should not be scared by the idea that they’ve missed the boat. There are billions of people in the world. Nobody can produce enough of anything edible to meet demand. The trick is, can you produce something people want? Why do they want it? It it better? A cleverer story? Geographical placement? In the case of the coffee companies, a geographically bad location made (well one of them anyway) work harder to get their ‘better’ products out and as a result, built a wider market faster. I’ve found that by going through the rezoning process, an interesting thing happened. People began to follow the story as it periodically appeared in the local newspaper. People were both for and against it. Everywhere we went people would ask us about it. Eventually, we realized this was the very market we were seeking to create. We now have a clear sense of how much product we might sell when we open the doors. In fact, I can’t believe how much people are interested in alcohol. And of course, I’ve realized I’m woefully underfunded and under equipped. Good times. ‘Course you knew that. And really, so did I after checked the accounts at the beginning. So if everything is so hard and jaw droppingly expensive and difficult to achieve and make a profit, why proceed? Because, here in BC Canada (at least for now), you can make a profit in this business if you work at it. As really in any business, if you are financially prudent, run a tight ship and ultimately, make sales. But more importantly, because others won’t. They’ll dream. They’ll make some home made hootch. And, they’ll happily tell you how to run your place better. But they won’t have it in them to actually run the gauntlet and take the risk. Yet, with over a billion people in North America alone there will never be enough brewers, wine makers or distillers. Those who do make it through and can build their customer base always have the potential to do well. As my old fishing skipper told me as advice when I was young: “Sell something people want more of.” Empty bank accounts and no plan B? Awesome. Count me in. Glen.
  20. 3 points
    Just to let you know we have recently changed our terms of service for the forum which states that truthful reviews of vendors will be allowed on the forum going forward. However, posts that are vulgar, threatening harm, libel, etc. will be removed.
  21. 3 points
    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
  22. 3 points
    We "rest" our Gin for 20 days before bottling as many of the flavor characteristics come off at different boiling points. They need time to marry up and the best way is to vat everything and proof a little high. All the flavors will reach their peak after about 20 days and then you can take it to your final bottling proof and put it in the bottle. With Vodka you shouldn't have to follow this procedure. There shouldn't be any flavors to marry, so you should be good to go as soon as you proof and filter. We still take two or more days to do this as we creep up in the final proof to make sure we get it right.
  23. 3 points
    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
  24. 3 points
    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.
  25. 3 points
    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.
  26. 3 points
    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.
  27. 3 points
    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:
  28. 3 points
    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.
  29. 3 points
    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.
  30. 3 points
    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.
  31. 3 points
    A nice hammer does not a carpenter make.
  32. 3 points
    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.
  33. 3 points
    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.
  34. 3 points
    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...
  35. 3 points
    First, he said he does not have the capital for that software, and I understand where he came from... I am not sure I agree with using the costly software for small folks starting out, a couple hundred dollars a month is great if it does everything and you have ten thousand a month coming in, but they don't do everything, they can't... You still have to do all the measuring, all the data entry, and you have to do it their way, they just do math and database recording... sure they fill out the reports, but in my opinion, you really need to do the reports yourself for at least a little bit, your name is still on them!... Oh, and from what I hear, don't try to go back and correct a mistake you found you made in one of those programs... worse than trying to correct something in your Retail POS system... I spend maybe an hour a week filling out basic daily log forms I created in excel for each kind of tracked activity: received fermentables, fermentations, transfers, stripping runs, whiskey runs, neutral runs, botanical runs, dilution, gauging and bottling runs, barreling and entry to storage, and removal from bond... In the beginning, it was well more than an hour, but you get good at it... those forms have no math, they are simple daily records that I print out a bunch of each type and keep in the distillery area, I do something on the list above, I fill it out by hand... (it is also a great thing to show people on tours to show the detail of records you keep to appease the government and why they should buy a bottle of something that is truly 'hand crafted!) Monthly, tonight, actually, I will take all those daily record sheets in my binder and last month's forms, and tally up totals.... I will go through my distillation records and total up any 'finished spirits' and open the 5110.40 "production", I will go through it and triple check everything.. I will go through my dilution, gauging, and bottling records and my 'removed from bond records and tally them up and I will fill out 5110.28 "processing".. I didn't fill any new barrels this month, so my 5110.10 'Storage' will have the same values that I ended with last month... I literally spent more time typing this than I probably will doing the reports tonight.... I have looked at putting my data into one of the lower cost systems like distillitrak. I probably will go with them eventually, but the startup is too time intensive at the moment, as the setup of vendors, every container, every ingredient, etc... are one thing, but every time you turn around to do something different, you have to go add this or that to your ingredients or vendors or items or whatever before proceeding, it really seems to hurt the artistic workflow of a small shop.... you should do it in excel sheets of your own making for a year or so, specifically so you know what the software you will likely eventually purchase is doing... The biggest reason I will eventually get a system is for more than 10 products and products at multiple proofs, that is where spreadsheets fail and a database shines... but even then, it will do things the operator does not understand, especially if the operator does not have an intimate understanding of how the daily records and monthly TTB forms relate to each other... OK, I spent an hour and a half writing this... time to do reports..
  36. 3 points
    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.)
  37. 3 points
    It all looks big, until you try to turn the forklift around.
  38. 3 points
    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.
  39. 3 points
    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).
  40. 3 points
    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
  41. 3 points
    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
  42. 3 points
    I like this...or Liked It...I checked the box.
  43. 2 points
    The first thing I want to lay out is that in no way, shape or form do I consider myself a know it all. But due to some recent postings on this forum, and just people who have approached me in my local area about opening a distillery, I figure I'll do us all a favor and throw down some info based on my experiences over the past few years. Take them for what they are. If you disagree, feel free to post. If you want to open your own distillery, this is what I suggest. In my case, I don't come from money and didn't have the opportunity/ability to get a bunch of well-endowed folks to throw down a shipload of cash. I got a bank loan and used my personal funds that I had set aside during my time in the military. I won't go very far into how much I had, but the total allowed me to do some work on our site to set it up (those figures will obviously vary based on your individual circumstances), get some bargain equipment (total was about 20K) and then make it all work with almost daily trips to LOWE's (not being paid by them) over several months. So, if you have 500,000 dollars or more and don't need to start seeing a return for quite a while, then more power to you. But if you're on a limited budget and enjoy working 18 hour days, here's what I did: ***IMPORTANT STARTING NOTE: In 2007 (when I started to work on our business plan) there were very few options out there as far as educational opportunities for those interested in smaller scale distilling aside from books, the internet, and visiting working operations. However, there are now many, many options ranging from 1 or 2-day courses that may cost a few hundred dollars all the way up to full blown internships that are in the thousands. Case in point, I personally hold a 1-day workshop a few times a year (Camp Distillery, info on our website at www.mbrdistillery.com, and we fill up several weeks in advance). We specifically do this to help those seriously thinking about getting into the business that don't have a full week to spend on a course. I don't do it for the money, I do it because I literally have individuals wanting to stop by and meet with me on the matter at least every 2 weeks and I just honestly don't have time to entertain that many people for free. I can obviously vouch for our course that I teach, as I have had nothing but positive responses on the quality of instruction from those that have attended. Before you do get knee deep in a business plan, look into AT LEAST a one or two day workshop and attend it. The few hundred dollars you'll spend will save you either 1. At least tens of thousands of dollars in avoided mistakes or 2. You'll learn that getting into this business may not be for you BEFORE you start spending too much time and money. The longer I'm in this business, the more I honestly believe that there's really nothing quite like it, even beer and wine are usually very different from the spirits business both on the production and marketing sides. Plus, the amount of regulation and taxes we, as small-scale operations, pay is like the NFL compared to college or high school football. 1. Make yourself a REALISTIC business plan, then make several alternates in case you can't do it the way you want. I had plans A, B and C. I ended up going with plan C due to lack of funding. If you don't know accounting, teach yourself or find someone that can produce good financials for you if you're going to present things to either the bank or investors (or even just yourself). However, even if you have someone else produce them, you or they need to be able to explain them in detail if you're going to ask anyone for cash. Those two items (business plan and financials) are your foundation. You need to live and breath them and know them left, right, up and down. Working on those were pretty much my only hobby while I still had a day job, I spent the better part of 18 months on mine and it paid off because my numbers were almost dead on, and that was quite impressive when the bank or investors were trying to take me seriously about the business. 2. Start researching the art of distilling. Get books, go on sites, talk to other distillers, but don't expect to learn how to distill by reading. If getting hands on experience means visiting several distilleries, see below. Go to TTB.GOV and start reading, the regs are there. You can't know the regs well enough. I'm not lying when I say that I go on that site probably once a week or more to lookup info or just to go over things to ensure that they're fresh in my mind. When you get licensed and you produce a product, you are swearing under law that you are making that specific product according to the federal (and your state) regs. Your state may have some additional regs (mine does) that add to the federal regs, look them up as well. In essence, you are getting into a socialized business. It doesn't matter how much money you make (even if it isn't enough to keep the lights on), if you sell product, you pay the man. In most cases you have to "ask" the fed govt for permission to do certain things and, even if they're wrong, they're right. You can argue with them all you want, but you could be heading down a slippery slope to do so. IMHO, the only way that I would ever challenge the feds is if they were TRULY mistaken about something and (hopefully) I really won't upset anyone. In most businesses you don't have to ask the govt permission to make a product a certain way, to increase your production amount, or to change the setup of your facilities. In this business you do. 3. Go visit SEVERAL distilleries in different states. When you do so, call ahead and make an appointment to meet with the actual distiller and/or manager. Take into account my initial statement about time with regards to those individuals. If they're busy, just take note of their setup during your visit. But, in general, get in and get out and realize that they're not there to be your personal consultant for 2 hours or more. In total, I toured about 20 craft distilleries prior to making the first move to get ours going. Different states have different licensing requirements and different distilleries will have different techniques. During those visits I also met several people that I can call (or they can call me) if I have a question about something. I won't mention some of the guys that have helped me out and probably will still call (maybe they don't want the publicity cause I'm sure they're as busy as me), but they have helped make our business to some degree (FYI, I still owe most of them a free bottle or two and a whole lot of appreciation). I would also add that it helps to go talk to folks that aren't across the street (and preferably are a state or two away) because common sense will tell you that they won't really see you as a direct threat to their business. I'm not saying not to tour any nearby locations, but I didn't spend too much time questioning them about too many things because they may see me as direct competition, particularly for their local distribution business. My biggest trip included a tour of 9 craft distilleries, lasted 5 days, was several thousand miles of driving, went from KY to NY and cost me a grand total of 500 dollars in gas, budget hotels, and food (pack an ice chest to really save). That being said, I do have a Honda Civic that gets 40 mpg on the highway. Also, there are the distilling workshops and the ADI conferences, but I still recommend you hit as many small-scale craft distilleries as possible to broaden your understanding of the business and to get as many points of view as possible. Even if you go to a workshop with several distillers there, it's not the same as seeing them at their location with their equipment and in full business mode. The small-scale distilling industry isn't near as well-developed as the wine-making or brewing business, you'll see some very interesting things at different operations. 4. Get your site (and if you don't know yet, YOU CAN'T HAVE A FEDERALLY LICENSED DISTILLERY AT YOUR HOUSE without a property subdivision of some sort, this ain't a winery or brewery kids, the law is gonna tax you and tax you again, they don't want you makin stuff in your basement), refer to CFR Title 27, Part 19, Subpart F, 19.131. And, just for some fun, go lookup the federal tax rate on spirits compared to wine and beer, it's about three times as much, and that's not even taking into account that small-scale wineries & brewers pay a fraction of that 1/3. Now, back to the whole distilling at home thing, you can subdivide property, put up a fence, or tell the feds that you have a "force field" separating the "house" from the "distillery" to get around that. But, BOTTOM LINE, you MUST GET FEDERAL APPROVAL FROM THE TTB, go talk to them because they only give that appproval on a case by case basis and don't expect them to snap to and give you an answer overnight. Furthermore, you have to deal with local zoning first and foremost because the feds WILL ask you about that. For all planning, I recommend you start locally, then go state-level, then federal. The feds EXPECT that you are in complete compliance with all local and state regs and will ask you about it when they interview you. Bare in mind that your location is one of your biggest factors that will allow your business to be successful. First thing is that the environment (city vs. country) will make a huge difference in the local requirements that can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars difference to your startup cost. Second, state (and even local) laws will determine if you can sell your products from your gift shop/tasting room. You make up to three times the profit when you sell a bottle from your gift shop vs. to a distributor. Finally, if you are off the beaten path, how many folks will venture to come and see you? All of those factors are important to consider for your location, so setting up shop in one state that may allow tastings and product sale out of your facility vs. another state where you can only sell t-shirts can make the difference between needing to sell 500 cases or 2500 cases your first year. 5. Once you have a place that you can legally set up and is zoned appropriately and the townsfolk won't come at you with pitchforks and torches, set it up for distilling. What does that mean? Well, either you can hire a consultant (there are many out there) or you can do it yourself. We have started with some pretty bare bones stuff and when we are able to move along, we'll buy (or make) the "nice" equipment. Cost is up to you on all of this, but you are going to need at least SOME money, more power to you if you can make your own equipment. 6. Once your equipment is in place and your site is ready, send in your federal paperwork (the feds require that your equipment is in place prior to licensing). Again, if you have money, you can hire someone to do this part for you. The paperwork itself isn't rocket surgery. But, if you mess it up, it very likely can slow things down. For example, I had something on our permit changed, it took 3 months to add two words on our already existing permit. Plan for a 3-6 month wait, hope for less of course. I can't tell you about your state requirements, that's up to you to figure out cause each state does it their own way. 7. Once you're licensed, make some hooch and sell it (probably to a distributor, or the state if you're in a "control state"), and start beating feet to get it on shelves. If you're not a natural or can't play the part of salesman/diplomat, find someone who can do a good job for you. Even if you can start up your operation on a very, very slim budget, you're going to need a few bucks for this part. I would plan for at least six months of not selling jack through distributors. These distributors manage many, many products and you are just one piece of their usually very large pie. You're going to have to make an effort to build a quality relationship with these guys and work around their schedules. Anything that seems like it should be easy with them WILL NOT BE. If you happen to be setting up on a location that will garner loads of tourist traffic, that's always a plus. But, even then, you're going to have do some sort of marketing (may not cost you a bunch of money, but some of it will) to get the word out that "there's a local distill'ry here" (so come and visit so we can keep the lights on). During this entire process you also need to keep your lights on at home on. In my case I have a wife that kept her day job for our first 4 years of business, so we were able to support ourselves with her income alone until the business could afford to pay us. When you start producing product, you need enough cash to run your business and your home expenses for six months or more. Basic business expenses will include but are not limited to the following: lease/rent, insurance, utilities, payroll (if applicable), raw material costs (grain, molasses/sugar, yeast/nutrients, packaging, etc.), MARKETING (everything from signs and ads to travel brochures for nearby locations), EXCISE TAXES for product that you sell, items for your gift shop (if you have one), and some buffer for the honorable Mr. Murphy (he WILL pay you a visit at least once in your first few months, so be ready to throw some cash down for when he comes). A very realistic rule of thumb is to take your budget and cut it in half. Use half for your facility and equipment, then the other half for your initial production costs and unappropriated costs. But I'd say that advice is still marginal at best. Finally, another important thing to think about is your workforce. I was the only full-time employee for our operation for our first 2 years. I served as distiller, bottler, tasting bartender, cashier, tour guide, sales rep (on the road to stores/on premises accts), accountant, handyman, groundskeeper, and whatever else needs to get done. Until we were able to begin hiring full-time employees, we had friends and family help us out with many different things. I'm sure that this experience is somewhat normal for many small businesses, but it seemed to take a while before we were able to truly afford standard employees. Again, this is just my experience, but that's something to think about. NOTE: This forum has a wealth of information, so do other forums when it comes to techniques (homedistiller.org). I recommend that you read through it and others extensively prior to posting and, when you post, attack a single issue at a time. Don't ask something like, "How do you distill???" or "how do I start a distillery?" Look through the postings, get Bill's book (not being paid for that either), and any other references prior to posting. But, bottom line, be specific when you post so people don't have to write a book IF they do decide to respond. If you don't get much feedback, bank on the fact that you asked a question that already has an answer on the forum. If you really, really don't know anything about distilling or setting up a distillery, refer to steps 1-3. But, just because you can make a product, does not mean you can run a business that profits from that product. I know quite a few folks who can do some good things that they could turn into a business, but they don't want to or can't start a new business for whatever reason. Even when I was the only employee, I spent 75% of my work time NOT MAKING HOOCH. In most cases you are going to have to work at it to make some cash. But, know this, no matter what, the feds (and your state) WILL PROFIT IMMEDIATELY, but that does not mean that you will. From idea to an actual working distillery making hooch, my timeline lasted about 3 years. We're now beginning our 5th year in business and we have 6 full-time employees (including myself), and 6 part-time employees. I still drive a Honda Civic, but I work for MB Roland (consequently that's my wife's maiden name ). Good luck and I hope this serves as a good reference and starting point for those who need guidance on this topic.
  44. 2 points
    I applaud innovation and all this is potentially workable. At the same time, as I read through the posts, I am struck by the complexities and costs for a gallon of vodka a week, which probably will not be much better than a mid range shelf vodka (as already stated). If it's single malt then the complexity level increases quite a bit. It can take years to master a good grain recipe. So who is the market aimed at? Amateur home hobby distillers who do not care about time or costs seem to me to be only market; (and it well may be a valuable market). But I suspect that part of the home distillation hobby is not just for the liquor but for the "craft" value. Taking too much "craft" away diminishes the challenge and resulting satisfaction.Times are a changin', though; and this old bearded farmer knows better then to say never to any innovation. A younger, more tech hungry (and fast food trained) customer may be the niche. I don't know. I do know that your dialogue could be brought down to earth a little so we "simple" folk can better envision the product. Remember, some of your costumers are going to be looking their wives in the eye and listening to "YOU PAID HOW MUCH FOR IT??? To make WHAT??? You're going to put it WHERE??? WHY??? Science speak won't mean much then. Anyway, good luck.
  45. 2 points
    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.
  46. 2 points
    *Chanting* IN THE STILL! IN THE STILL!
  47. 2 points
    I am interested in this as the only reason why I want to get into this is because where I want to set up, Mendoza Argentina, there is no other craft whiskey distillery around. There are 3 other small distilleries making brandy and other sorts of things but no-one making whiskey and the place has 1,5million wine tourists a year. There are some whiskey producers in Argentina but they are the beer companies who take left over NGS and add colouring and flavouring and its horse piss. So I am going to start small and market the place like crazy in the peak months, which are Jan through to March. In those months there are 450,000 tourists a month. If I can sell via the cellar door 250 bottles I am breaking even. I think I may end up selling a lot more but I have to make the stuff first. I really appreciate all the comments and guidelines here. I was wondering if in fact the craft distillery industry in the US was becoming over supplied. I know in South America there are 6 Craft distilleries in Brazil, 1 in Argentina, but way in the south, none in Chile none in Peru and none in Colombia. I am going to do one in Mendoza because of the amount of tourists it gets and if it wasnt for that I wouldnt risk the money. The truth is my day job pays pretty well so I can float the business for a while but I want it to make good money and make happy customers. I really appreciate the comment about getting your second sale. That was great. Anyway great comments and thank you very much gentlemen.
  48. 2 points
    I think one mistake people make is qualifying 200 cases a month with an "only".
  49. 2 points
    IMHO, it's not chance. It takes skill and experience to know how to guide the bacteria in the directions that you want. But nearly every single whisk(e)y distillery in the world is working with bacteria, simply because the wort in the case of the UK and Japan, or the malt in the case of major US Bourbon producers is never boiled. And this bacterial loading is exponentially higher than the surface area you see in a wooden fermenter. Obviously, you have whisk(e)y distilleries that have been using these methods for, in some cases, a couple hundred years, and of those that've been around that long, they're making world class whisk(e)y....or they would have never stayed in business for that long. Even if you use a stainless fermenter, you've got a whole mess of bacterial loading upstream. Open your mill, and take a swab and plate it. And if you have one, your grain silo. And your grist case. And do you have an auger or two? They're swimming in bacteria, and as you know, they never completely empty of solids. Mash tuns, especially if you have lauter plates, are nowhere near sterile. That's why I asked if you are boiling your wort/mash. If you and Mr. Dehner don't do that, from a bacterial loading perspective, the tiny surface area of a wooden fermenter is the least of your worries. All that will happen with wooden fermenters is that as the years and decades roll by, a small amount of unique bacteria will consume a tiny amount of substrate in each fermentation, leading to organic acids and other compounds that will oxidize into unique esters after the whisk(e)y has been in the barrel for years. But that little bit of work that the bacteria does on the surfaces of your equipment is difference between good whiskey, and great, IMHO, and my opinion only. I've enjoyed this conversation with you.
  50. 2 points
    Humans can barely metabolize the stuff, I'd keep my yeast away from it. This conversation may be the start of the yeast obesity epidemic.
×