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Glenlyon

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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. Craft is Not a Commodity

    I would be cautious around the idea that a small/micro business needs to buy from small/micro business to be authentic. That suggests that all big companies are inherently what? What is under suspicion? I own a tiny media company and one day to my complete surprise, I got a call out of the blue from one of the province’s biggest companies and they wanted to hire me. I couldn't believe it and within days I was rejoicing over the big contract and the very creative work I was going to do. I wound up working with them for four fantastic years. I’ve had a relationship with another large company and have provided services to them for over 20 years. Working with these and other companies, I’ve learned just because a company is big doesn't mean they don’t work hard to create a great product. That's why they are big. Joe is bigger than me - he makes GNS. If I were operating in the states, I might buy some from him. However, there’s always someone bigger and perhaps one day, Joe needs to turn to them to meet demand. Again, it’s all about the business environment one operates in. Good for Joe’s sales team if he can’t meet demand! The consumer has spoken! Don’t forget the big players make great spirits and they service a vast market. Meanwhile, most small guys are thinking only state/province wide or citywide. I think by default, small players, craft players if you will, will buy from smaller companies - mostly because they are looking for something special. Stills, barrels, that special farmer’s super duper barley - relationships. Last night I went on an alcohol crawl to check out the local competition. Each place we went to had their own vibe. One place was pretty low budget, hand made, great product, hipster crowd. The next, was polished wood with trendy gray walls and a window into the big sexy brew room. It had a very yuppie 30+ crowd. Much more expensive. Underaged gin. The final one we hit was a large farm operation that produces a large amount of product for a provincial market. Comfy, wood fired pizzas, lots if locals just hanging out, great product. Lots of room for kids. So each place makes a different product to attract the customers they need and want. Large or small, its up to the individual micro business’s marketing genius to find the audience that best suits the business and how it wants to fit in the community, both business and consumer. All that being said, if I were young and getting into this business today, I would buy a shitload of GNS create whatever product I could dream up and export the lot to Taiwan. I have once met a man who does this and he is filthy rich.
  2. Craft is Not a Commodity

    In our area, we're not allowed to use GNS if we have the craft license, so we have to make everything onsite. That's ok for a small guy like me, who caters to the local market, which in itself is very small. Because we live outside the Lower Mainland (Vancouver) we can get away with this low key approach. That's why I call myself 'artisan' rather than craft. However, if I wanted to start a distillery in Vancouver or any of the surrounding municipalities, it would be pretty much impossible to operate with a simple craft designation. If you wanted to open in Vancouver for example, the equipment and start-up costs would be the least of your worries. Instead you would be languishing under a TON of oppressive property taxes and rents. It can cost anywhere from $250K to $1M a year just for rent and property taxes. There is no way you could produce enough product (well) to meet the need to pay those kinds of fees. So I would use GNS without hesitation and most of the existing distilleries do so. So, I don't think it's a great idea to say one approch is better than another. It really boils down to the kind of business environment you operate in.
  3. What ever happened to iStill?

    295 euros per bottle. Wow, that's $438 per bottle Canadian! Break out those tulip bulbs!
  4. Craft is Not a Commodity

    Here is a follow up story on craft beer. The video that is embedded in the story is quite insightful visa vie the discussion around craft and why one may or may not choose to open a new venture. Although it does focus on beer, I feel many of the points can be applied to the distilling biz as well. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/beer-craft-brewing-1.4455032
  5. Sourcing Certifiable Thermometers

    Any advice on sourcing, choosing and acquiring quality certifiable thermometers? My normal source has quit carrying them and I need a replacement PDQ. Thanks!
  6. Sourcing Certifiable Thermometers

    Awesome! Thank you.
  7. Sourcing Certifiable Thermometers

    Could you be a bit more specific about the vendors and the actual thermometers?
  8. Organic distilled spirits means exactly what?

    I don't. I just shrug and offer to add an extra $20 for the G.F. version.
  9. Organic distilled spirits means exactly what?

    You can die from any number reasons, accident, bee stings, peanuts, wheat, stupidity. If you are truly celiac, then I would have lots of sympathy, but the vast, vast majority of G.F. claimants I've dealt with are into the fad of it not the medical reality. In essence they have hijacked the concept from real sufferers. Both in my past food life and my current booze life I've had to put up with a shitload of this kind of whining. Fundamentally, distillates are inherently G.F. and if you don't want the wheat based spirit - choose corn/honey/fruit. No big deal.
  10. Organic distilled spirits means exactly what?

    I have had the 'Gluten Free' argument many, many times as I've patiently explained how the process works. I can not believe the resistance to facts. I've pretty much thrown in the towel on trying to change minds. Instead, I tell people that our products are for real foodies, not wannabes. If they want G.F. crap, feel free to spend eight bucks on a shitty muffin. I have no respect for the G.F. concept.
  11. Merry Christmas

    A most spirited Christmas to all!
  12. What to do next.

    My sincere apologies for over over simplifying your problems, but your post was a bit vague off the top. After reading your response, clearly you want to move to BC. The regulations we toil under are trivial in comparison to the US system.
  13. How to keep cooling water from going bad

    I read this post with interest as I'm installing a closed circuit cooling system, wherein the cooling water is sent out of the hot condenser through several hundred feet of curly tube located at the bottom of a large pond to cool before coming back through the system. I've since modified it to take a extra trip through the floor of the tasting room to provide radiant heat, but that's another story. Anyway, I posed the question about keeping the water clean to my friend, a learned doctor and this is what he said... The cooling water does not need to be sterile. That said, you don’t want a lot of bacteria growing in there because of the “yuk factor”. But bacteria can only grow where there is nutrients. If you put 1 gram of nutrient in a cubic meter of water, it can’t grow more than a gram of bacteria. So the #1 principle is that the cooling water should be clean when you put it in, and the system itself should be clean. I suggest: 1) fill the system with a TSP/bleach solution. Run the circulating pump for ½ hour. This is to clean out any manufacturing residues from the system 2) rinse with tap water 3) fill with RO water (which is sterile and nutrient free). You need to have some documented routine to re-sanitize the cooling system as needed or on some kind of schedule. ? Bi-monthly ? Alternatives could include 1) repeat of above, but with a “wine equipment sanitizer” 2) UV treatment on occasion... like an hour a week. 3) Monitor bacteria growth by plating out cooling water. We will be set up for yeast incubation so we can do bacteria as well. Don’t worry about the stainless steel + bleach paranoia. You wouldn’t want to store bleach solution in a stainless container. But rinsing stainless with a standard sanitizing solution will do no harm at all. Bleach in solution is extremely reactive…. so much so that it is gone in 24 hours.
  14. What to do next.

    Its been a while since I've read Mash's post, but if memory serves, taxes largely bit him on the ass. So, although you haven't described your peril in detail, let's assume for this conversation, taxes are the root of the problem to start. Taxes in alcohol are well, particularly taxing. There are a lot of details to consider and I'm talking about the CND system, I know the US system with of of it's attendant regulations can be even worse. So, right off the top, to turn your operation around you need to look at your tax situation and how can you manage it or eliminate it. Don't forget you are collecting all kinds of taxes: excise taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, sources deductions for employees, income tax, etc. The first thing you need to wrap you mind around is that you DON'T OWN THE TAX. Mr Trump (or Mr Trudeau for us Canadians) does. So any taxes collected need to be skimmed off at the source and paid on the spot. Get ahead of this and your life will simplify in a heartbeat. I know all of this because I have been dogged by taxes my whole business life and have paid some godawful bills to catch up. I'm old now and not near as rich as I used to be, but much wiser and happier. Taxes are a serious drag, but are recoverable (the tax department will work with you of you can present a plausible plan to recover) and once you've figured that out, like all business owners everywhere, the next thing you need to come to terms with is debt. How much do you have and what kind is it? Did you borrow a lot to start up? Or, is trade debt that's built up over time? Again, debt is something you can recover from. Long term debt is more difficult, but predicable. Short term trade debt builds because foolish business schools and accountants will tell you to buy on terms and then stretch the terms to maximize interest. That's great if you have loads of cash, but does NOT work for most small businesses, because you are probably under capitalized and don't have the cash in the bank to begin with. A far, far better strategy is pay as you go. Forget trade debt if you can, I can't stress this enough. Pay as you go. You'll sleep much better a night, and you'll get better deals and service from suppliers. Every day, whether they like it or not, all business owner always wake up facing three questions. Should I borrow money? should I sell assets? or, should I sell more product? Only the third option will steer your ship of state in the right direction. So you have to ask yourself - am I selling enough product at the right price? Answer this question and you will be able to recover from debt and taxes. Throwing in the towel is easy. But nobody said the liquor business was easy. Its a tough, constantly demanding business where your reputation matters and where the government has an opinion on your every move. You've got to be savvy to survive. Consider the posts that @microshiner have been posting about brand placement and value propositions. Ask yourself, are you selling to the right market for your needs? Do you have a business plan? If not write one. It will help to guide your decisions and its never too late. Writing things down can make them seem less intimidating and more manageable.
  15. Craft is Not a Commodity

    Hiya MS, you might be interested in this Canadian perspective on 'peak beer' ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/beer-craftbeer-toolshed-labatt-molson-draught-sleeman-sapporo-abinbev-1.4439295 )which, generally bolsters your point of view. I think 'craft' as known in the beer world is pretty big. Even small breweries can cost millions to start and often the 'craft' of the original intent is further crafted to make sure the product can support a hefty overhead consistently. There are lots of mid-sized distilleries that would also fall into that category and if they have built a strong local market and they can keep the product flowing, they are excellent businessmen and probably understand the market in ways I sure don't. As, I've mentioned in the past, I live in a land awash with craft booze of every kind and so I view the role of the "micro-distillery" as different than trying to service a mid-mass market using the craft term. Instead, I prefer the term 'artisan', suggesting a more 'hands on, locally sourced' approach. I think this gives the very small distiller a fighting chance on the local level, but offers little long term growth potential. Call that sustainable!
  16. Organic distilled spirits means exactly what?

    Given that recent studies have shown that eating organic does nothing from stopping greenhouse gases in any meaningful way and that many 'organic' products do use a variety of chemicals as part of the production process, I would argue that organic is simply a modern marketing ploy. Kinda like 'gluten free' Just because you use barley dosen't mean gluten is in the finished product. I try to explain the chemistry to my clients and they always say, 'well if it's made from wheat it has gluten in it. The end. So we want potato vodka instead." OK whatever. I would be more interested in supporting a local farmer that is not organic but cares for this crop and it's quality over lip service about how organic it is. Not saying organic is bad, I'd just rather save it for the broccoli.
  17. Special Use on Ag Zoned property

    No so in BC as the people at Persephones (a local brewer) will tell you. They have just completed a multi year fight with the agricultural land reserve. Ultimately, the BC government had to change the rules or they would have been forced to move. So, read the instructions carefully.
  18. Buying Ingredients from Local Farms

    Cleanliness is very important! Any kind of weed seeds or other cellulose materials will cause no end of grief.
  19. Apple Brandy Cuts

    You are probably right. However, I've proposed nothing original - I've merely reiterated a technique I've come across in my research. I would doubt there are very many distillers using this system - I simply put it out there as an idea that may lead to solving a problem. That being said though, theoretically, it is correct.
  20. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Yes. Here we can't use cane sugar in the fermentable because cane sugar is not produced in BC. That being said, I suppose one could use honey instead.
  21. What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    I agree, don't let the plan hold you back - but - do use the plan to help find the path to righteousness. Our plan is a work in progress. Although, we work at it carefully - everyday, what happens in real life does not reflect what we wrote. Sometimes we update it, sometimes we don't, It depends. For example we planned extensively around construction (our current phase). As far as we were concerned, we had it covered. However, the realities of dealing with contractors and their own ideas - has largely rendered the plan - and associated budget/schedule useless. They say 'nobody can tell you how to start a distillery' - and that statement so far, has rung true for us. There is tons of great info to be had, but until you are standing at the permit desk arguing with the stubborn permit guy - your plan is just a written fantasy to motivate you to quit writing the plan and to get on with it... With your plan, of course.
  22. Apple Brandy Cuts

    In our jurisdiction we would not be allowed to do this.
  23. Ha! I love the magazine! No its not! But - finding the right kind of name is no easy thing! Nevertheless, don't let that slow you down from making good quality media.
  24. I think the idea of 'shine' or 'moonshine' is a generally accepted idea and I think it has become less burdened by the historical source of the term as more and more legitimate distillers use it. I'm starting to view 'craft' as alcohol producers of all kinds who are producing for a larger, but not fully commercial market. I think of the smaller 2 - 3 person operations as being more associated with the 'artisan' moniker.
  25. This is a great question... For any small M&P/Family operation at a micro level, the bottle(s) the customer buys is merely the souvenir of a great experience. It is the one thing that a bigger or commercial operation can't really duplicate in the same intimate way. Win your backyard.
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