Silk City Distillers

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Everything posted by Silk City Distillers

  1. Hunker down and get absolutely everything you can done before hand. We ran into a similar situation on the state approvals side, and it was a serious burden. The capital we burned would have easily paid for a significant amount of inventory build or additional equipment. C'est la vie. In retrospect we could have, and should have, gotten more done in the interim period. Make the best of the situation by ensuring you have absolutely everything buttoned up so that when you get your paperwork, you are in production and out selling that day.
  2. That bottle is something special, nice work.
  3. Split column that isn't returning reflux from the final column to the top of the preceding column will have lower distillation efficiency than an equivalent single column.
  4. Common SA/V Ratios - From John Jeffery's Thesis - Aging of Whiskey Spirits in Barrels of Non-traditional Volumes Traditionally, this is analyzed as a function of surface area to volume, not weight to volume. 2g - 280 cm2/l 3g - 246 cm2/l 5g - 198 cm2/l 10g - 163 cm2/l 53g - 90cm2/l
  5. Not to hijack - since it's roughly related - Michael - the Graver cartridges - the AM style - will these fit a standard filter housing like you might find on a RO setup, or are your poly housings different?
  6. Depends on liquid volume being processed and the expected particulate load. For 5, 1, or .5 micron at bottling time - you aren't talking about a high solids load, especially if you filtered well in processing (barrel char, etc). You might not necessarily need a deep stack of filters - something that a high volume of liquid with a high particulate load would (filtering yeast out of beer, for example). Really though, you should work closely with the manufacturer to provide you a recommended setup, it's a big upfront investment and you are going to want assurances it's sized and spec'ed appropriately. We aren't a big operation, and our batch sizes are small enough that I doubt they would barely even wet the filter pads in a big plate and frame, the losses would be astronomical.
  7. You talking wooden kettle pot still?
  8. I've been refused trademarks for sillier reasons. Latest one, a bottled water has a (not even remotely) similar trademark. Really, it shares one word out of three, and it's not even the most distinctive word. Hot Rod? Don't even bother unless you have a good lawyer.
  9. What's the basis for this? Even 30%, once even slightly warmed (45c/113f) will flash and even sustain fire. There might be plenty of other reasons for doing it, but IMHO - the 30% is safe meme is an internet myth.
  10. Assuming you don't have filtration equipment, coffee filters and cheesecloth in a strainer, just ladle in a little bit at a time and let it slowly drip through. Depending on the level of fines, you may need to repeat this a few times. That said, that's awfully dark, and large char easily settles. It seems like a significant amount of very fine particulate carbon.
  11. Regarding Pedio, many of the new wave sour beer producers (and some old wave lambics), are purposely using P. Damnosis in mixed fermentations with very good results. Heck, White Labs even sells homebrew sized vials of the kinds of bugs we would have shrieked in horror to find before (including P. Damnosis). Now, I agree, there are big differences between beer and distillate, but those sour and mixed fermentation folks sure seem to be turning what used to be plain ol' common sense on it's head.
  12. They don't have much usable capacity. We're talking like 3-6-9kw of power with a steam bath unit (~10,000-30,000 btu). You probably have a workable capacity of 10-30 gallons or so, maybe not even that. You hit a point where they are nearly as expensive as boilers, or in some cases they are just traditional steam boilers. For example, the 18kw Mr Steam is a relabeled Sussman electric boiler, that require all the fit and finish of a traditional boiler, and is just as expensive. For a very small steam injection setup, it might work, but you would need to find a workaround for the safety shutdown timers - otherwise you'll need to manually reset and restart the unit a few times every hour. Most small units aren't designed for any kind of continuous commercial use - doesn't mean they wouldn't work - but I wonder how long a cheap unit would realistically last. Be safe, a boiler is a boiler.
  13. What's the difference?
  14. Just to be clear, the probability weighted forecast isn't about yielding an accurate forecast number, it's about testing the business model against various scenarios to understand how it will react to those, both optimistic and pessimistic. From a methodology perspective, it's the exact opposite of trying to build a single accurate forecast. It's acknowledging that you aren't in a position to build a single highly confident forecast, so instead you build a set of different forecasts, and assign a probability to those, for example, I'm 30% confident in the pessimistic forecast, 60% confident in the baseline forecast, and 10% confident in the optimistic forecast. We then plug those in, and see how those impact the model. Then, you can start to test the model - ok - what happens if we push the pessimistic to 40% and baseline to 50%? Or, what if we increase the volume on the optimistic scenario. Or, you can start to look at it from another perspective, such as what are the minimum monthly sales volumes necessary to break-even? Or, at what point can I actually draw a salary, have enough cash to make a subsequent investment, what level of sales do I need to be able to afford a certain level of inventory build, etc.
  15. Why not just assume zero for the first two years, and understand how that impacts your business model? Then model some realistic and optimistic cases on top of that, and build out a probability-weighted average? Nobody has a crystal ball. It was useful for me to build out an Excel model that took into account startup costs, in addition to fixed and variable operating costs, which took in various sales scenarios and calculated P&L, etc, etc accordingly. The probability weighted average, along with a dynamic spreadsheet, allows you to start playing to various scenarios (including hugely pessimistic ones). This way, you can adjust your planning accordingly to account for various scenarios. So while we hope the optimistic forecast plays out, we can at least have some confidence that the pessimistic forecast won't result in short-term failure.
  16. We are putting bridge-mounted agitators on the tops of our 550g Custom Metalcraft fermenters for a similar exact reason. Still is half the size of the fermenter, so we run two batches per. The issue is that batch one is grain heavy, and getting the fermenter homogeneous is impossible with a paddle. I imagine it would help significantly during cooldown as well. Nothing too fancy, 3/4hp motors with inline gear reductions. Will machine a coupling and just use a long shaft down to the bottom with a simplistic impeller. It doesn't need much. It doesn't need to run for the length of the ferment, just start it before the pump over.
  17. Ordered from Custom Ink a few times and have been happy with it. Not the cheapest, but they have a nice selection of very high quality t-shirts. I did a run using the American Apparel T's (USA Made) - and I must have washed mine a hundred times already. The Next Level shirts were really nice as well. If you are looking for cheap giveaway swag shirts - definitely not your place. Been meaning to order hats from Brewery Branding, but really wish I could just order 50 and not a gross.
  18. While there might be some merit for feints collected in a single pass pot still run, you are going to really hit diminishing returns quickly if trying to re-run feints collected out of a multi-plate column still run, even less if you are talking about the final run of a multi-run process that includes stripping, etc. Congener composition and high boiling alcohols are going to be significantly more concentrated, and usable product yield is going to be pretty small. Pretty sure this meme came right out of the hobby community, when pot stills were significantly more prevalent than column stills, and product yield was disappointingly low for the effort involved. Whats the vodka product yield in PG compared to the total potential alcohol (PG) in the starting wash? If the product yield is north of 50% of the total PG, I can't imagine the product yield from the feints run would be anything but tiny. If your vodka yield is very low, say 20%, than there is probably some merit in the process.
  19. Always wondered if there was a business to be made supplying low wines to small startups.
  20. A full tote will be in excess of a ton, probably closer to 2400-2500lbs - which means forklifts and if you are transporting yourself, a halfway decent pickup or even better, a trailer. Fermenting in an off-site location? It better be a distillery or brewery, and you'll need to transfer in bond if you've fermented there.
  21. Broken mash paddle hall of shame...
  22. Backset really does make a significant difference, even at small volumes. We use less than 5% of the total wash volume as backset (20 gallons in 530 total), and that has a material impact on buffering and the amount of citric we will need to use to drop pH. Probably something on the order of 20-25% of the total citric we use in a non-backset batch. And this is only because I'm somewhat anal about pH ranges during the mash - so I'll typically be using citric to step adjust pH anyhow - just use significantly less of it. We also top off with chilled water prior to cooling (just as a way to reduce the cooling load/time) - and this is where you see the buffer impact. Typically we would need to readjust pH after the final cold water addition. With backset added, we never do. We basically fill a small drum with boiling backset as soon as we finish off tails. The heat helps to keep the backset somewhat sterile until the next run. If your drum was clean and sanitized, you could probably hold the backset for a week or two, especially if you are dumping it into a cereal mash and re-boiling for an extended period of time (any new bacterial load would be killed). Just don't put 20 gallons of boiling backset in a 55 gallon drum and seal it airtight during the middle of winter.
  23. And this is exactly the reason that Jim Beam is paying Mila Kunis millions of dollars a year.
  24. 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.
  25. Let me know when I'll be able to find a Vendome for the scrap value of the copper.