Glenlyon

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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. 579 million. Sorry. Still a lot
  2. 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.
  3. Yes - that is why its important to think about that, especially, if you want to scale up.
  4. One of the things with the continuous still, it runs basically as long as there is a wash to feed it with. But, size dictates throughput, so if you are potentially using a grain base mash, you want to make sure you only make enough volume the still can handle before potential bacteria takes over and spoils the wash before it has time to get to the still. Yet, at the same time, you need fresh material to keep the still running. So, the timing and volume of the mash creation becomes very important - resulting in a 'just in time' process.
  5. Hiya Mythbuster, Thanks for your note. We haven't yet figured out how to separate the elements within the C. Still environment yet. Right now we're using it as a stripping still and then doing a spirit run using a more traditional system. We have not automated it in any way. We're a bit geezerly for that newfangled computer stuff. But, we'd love to learn! PM me if you want to exchange emails for a more robust conversation. That being said, the product that emerges from the C. Still tastes great (assuming the mash was properly done of course.) It was the taste factor which finally sold me on the idea - as well as the consistency of output. Our C. Still is built out of off the shelf lab ware and so insulation has not been a consideration. Our unit was built more as a 'proof of concept'. But, it runs so well - there is a lively debate about whether or not we should deploy it into an actual working environment. If we decide to do that - we'll head back to the drawing board and build something that will be robust enough for the long haul. One of the interesting problems is the C.Still puts out so efficiently - if we were to run it full time, we'd exceed our yearly production limit in about six months. We would love to do whisky, (and will probably do a little for our egos) but as a small farm distillery we need to focus on a speedier product . Probably Gin and Liqueurs, followed up with a little brandy and schnapps. Purely from a drinking point of view though... I think having a distillery with a variety of stills is a great way to go. We've collected all kinds of different designs and ideas and they all produce something different. That's why I like this business so much - it much more creative than wine or beer and yet still incorporates all the same traditions. Very cool.
  6. My partner and I have built an extremely successful tiny (1 L boiler) continuous still. Not quite as sophisticated computer wise as Mythbuster's, however, it works like a hot damn. Incredibly efficient. With our small test unit, we are easily able to output a virtually unlimited stream of excellent quality stripped product. The engineering challenge has become creating an effective 'just in time' system for keeping a fresh flow of the mash/wash for the still. I can see fantastic potential for this system, although I will admit when it was first proposed I was highly skeptical. Also, not much in the way of eye candy for the tours! Kinda boring to see $40 worth of glassware and a hotplate laying waste to an expensive still!
  7. Off the top - I'm operating in BC Canada - so this experience is Canadian. However, I suspect dealing with any local government is less about the actual process and more about handling the system. A quick recap - over the last eight months or so, we've slowly been winding our way through the rezoning process to allow us to build a micro-distillery on our farm. When we originally approached our local government with our plan, they were less than enthusiastic. While in theory, they are positively inclined towards the craft beverage industry, a couple of recent previous attempts have not come to fruition and a local brewery is embroiled in a very contentious land use battle. After that meeting, we extensively canvased our neighbors and they generally liked the idea. Although, as the process deepened many of these people turned on us. When we inquired as to why they changed their minds, we often heard; 'Well, we didn't think you'd actually do anything.' Umm, how do you think I got a job, bought a house and raised a family? By blowing smoke up your ass? Early on, the forces of 'no', pulled ahead and things began to look bleak. We eventually countered by focusing in on some of the key players and cutting them out from the crowd. We brought them in and gave them a private 'preview' of our impending public meeting. They complained about traffic, smells, drinking, music - the usual suspects. At these 'pre-meetings', we addressed these issues and got some general side agreements going. At the same time - we watched the timing of the public meeting very carefully. We determined that the rules for advertising the meeting insisted that we advertise within a certain time frame of the meeting. As luck and strategy would have it, we were able to run our ad a week earlier, catching the newspaper two editions before the meeting. This ensured during the week of the meeting, there was no advertising. We also changed the venue from the regular 'public meeting' place (well known for endless community conflict) to the local school library. Who can yell in a school library? Insert evil chuckle here. Predictably, quite a few of the people who were all worked up with no cause simply forgot about the meeting and those who cared enough, actually showed up. The big Public Meeting was held last night (June8/17). Although the meeting itself wasn't overly large for all the hype, the people who showed up were significant. Including, several who were representatives from the sub-committees (land use/community plan etc.) who are also considering the request. As the meeting got going, the planning department gave their pitch and nicely justified the reasons why the project fit the local community and land use plans and goals. Then, I gave a riveting 20 minute presentation speaking about the land, our rural lifestyle, craft distilling, the proposed distillery building and process of making alcohol and wrapped it up addressing the concerns we'd been dealing with. I knocked it out of the park, clearly setting a new standard and expectation for future public meeting presentations. (My TV background gave me a significant advantage in this arena.) The 'no' forces rallied with some questions about noise, traffic and fire suppression and then settled down and the rest of the meeting was a love fest for the project. The representatives from the sub-committees were all thrilled and invited us to their meetings. It was great. A very positive evening all around. I would say we gained an advantage last night and the rest is all about patience, while staying cool and vigilant. However, with a much more optimistic outlook, we're now planning to get the shovels in the ground by July. Have a great day! Cheers, Glen
  8. Hiya, Just a quick note to introduce myself. I'm a television producer turned beekeeper, farmer and distiller. I'm currently building a small artisan craft distillery in the small seaside village I live in. We're building on the back part of a five acre apiary and are right in the middle of the rezoning adventure! ...must ...keep ....going.... This upcoming Thursday is our big public meeting - so we'll see what happens! A positive outcome will secure our rezoning bid a negative one, well... the battle will be that much harder. Cheers, Glen.
  9. Choose your location very very carefully - because this could happen to you... First we established a great location. Then before anything else! We canvassed the surrounding neighbors and they had two questions for us... "What are you going to make?" And, "When can we buy it?" OK - that sounds great. Next we approach the district with our idea. The conversation goes like this... Ask: "We'd like to set up a distillery." Response: "It'll never happen, piss off and leave us alone." Literately. Hmmm. After a bit of a depression, we quickly rallied and wrote a 3 page essay outlining ourselves and our idea as we envisioned it. It took about 3 weeks to get it right. We debated every word extensively. This document has since become the cornerstone of our venture. We painstakingly filled out the rezoning application form. We headed back to the district. We slapped down our essay, the completed application and the $3,000 rezoning fee. "Great!" they said "snatching up the money. "We love the idea! However, you have to proceed through this rezoning process which is going to take at least six months. Good luck." So, the months pass by. (We are now pushing 8 months.) We get a few requests for more information here and there from the district - the odd inspector wanders around - then, eventually, they release their long awaited report. Its favorable! They really do love the idea! Yea! But wait. What's this? A public information meeting is the next step? OK. No worries. Dutifully we put up a rezoning sign on the property in question and advertise the public meeting in the local newspaper. Suddenly - EVERYONE - is adamantly opposed! Did they think we weren't going to do this? What? Were we blowing smoke up their asses when we were explaining the idea? WTF? Everybody we went to in the beginning changed their attitudes - inexplicably. Letters fly into the district - people are really pissed off. Now we're evil bootleggers promoting loud rock music and causing no end of destruction mayhem to the land and society in our otherwise peaceful neighborhood! Kill the bastards! Drinking and driving is all our fault. The myths surrounding the project grow by the day and the ladies are all talking it up at the school bus stop every morning. Its fcuking crazy! The funny thing is - is that every single one of the people who wrote letters opposing the project never even bothered to look up the project information - advertised and easily available on the district's website. So, their letters brought up all kinds of simmering complaints - many having nothing to do with the actual distillery. 99% was misguided perception due to lack of knowledge. Yet, remember, we had actually gone to these people and discussed the idea at length before we started the process! Sheesh. The actual live public meeting happens next Thursday (June 8, 2017) and it going to be a VERY LIVELY event!! We have confidence we'll survive because we have been able to muster an unexpectedly powerful tool - the ability to write really well and to be able to do really thorough research. You have to out think your opponents and great written rebuttals are saving our asses. For the impending meeting we have put together a visual presentation that we have put weeks and weeks of work into and it rocks. Hopefully, we can change the conversation back in our favor. We'll see. Although - sadly, mediocrity does tend to prevail - so, perhaps we'll be voted down in the end after all. Its hard to fly like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys. Cheers, Glen