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Honey based spirits


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#1 Wayward

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 08:56 AM

Bluestar: What do you mean by "very small distillery"?

There is such a wide margin in distillation operations that very small can refer to 200 bottles (750ML) per month or 2000 bottles per month.

 

Also, have you brought your honey based gin to market yet?

 

-Dave



#2 bluestar

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 11:04 AM

Bluestar: What do you mean by "very small distillery"?

There is such a wide margin in distillation operations that very small can refer to 200 bottles (750ML) per month or 2000 bottles per month.

 

Also, have you brought your honey based gin to market yet?

 

-Dave

 

In this case, very small means making less than 5000 gallons/year (on the order of 1000 bottles per month currently), but of that, only a fraction is honey spirits, most of it is whiskey. We have not done the gin yet, precisely because we can not get enough local wildflower honey. The honey spirit (Prairie Sunshine™) is so popular, we can easily sell all we can make now. But we have made an absinthe blanc from the honey spirit base, and it is delicious. That will be out once formula and label are approved; it is called Prairie Fairie™.



#3 Wayward

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 12:23 PM

Bluestar,

 

If you've got a few moments (and the inclination), I'd like to have a quick conversation with you about your honey process.

-PM sent



#4 Wayward

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Posted 21 May 2014 - 12:38 PM

I lied, PM not sent as your inbox is full



#5 bluestar

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 04:35 PM

I lied, PM not sent as your inbox is full

Sorry about that, finally cleaned it up. But you can email me: manager@quincystreetdistillery.com



#6 OldSpye

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 01:36 PM

I was pulled aside at an event this weekend and very solemnly presented with a tasting of what turned out to be a homemade honey-based spirit from Poland (the presenter is a Polish church deacon and his wife brought home a couple bottles on her last visit to relatives).

 

It was outstanding. Damn near the best thing I've ever had.

 

I've always had my eye on a the possibility of a honey-based spirit but, as mentioned, sourcing the honey is VERY challenging, even here in the Garden State.



#7 Natrat

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 03:04 PM

Interesting. Honey is pretty easy to come by here in the Beehive state :-)



#8 bluestar

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 04:32 PM

I was pulled aside at an event this weekend and very solemnly presented with a tasting of what turned out to be a homemade honey-based spirit from Poland (the presenter is a Polish church deacon and his wife brought home a couple bottles on her last visit to relatives).

 

It was outstanding. Damn near the best thing I've ever had.

 

I've always had my eye on a the possibility of a honey-based spirit but, as mentioned, sourcing the honey is VERY challenging, even here in the Garden State.

Some states are rich in wild honey, Washington for example. Seems to depend how heavy the agriculture is.

 

Was the Polish spirit sweet or dry? Was it all honey base? Proof? Name?



#9 dhdunbar

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 09:46 PM

I think there is a common misunderstanding of the relationship between state and federal law.  I remember at one time Idaho defined wine in a way that spirits products of less than 24% ABV were wines within the state.  That cnflict caused no problems.  The state went its way; the federal government did too.  Or at least I think I recall this.  It has been some time.  However, if I'm correct, it would be illustrative of the fact that although it is true that you must obey both federal and state law, nothing compels the two governments to impose the same requirements or define terms in the same way.  The question, "What is brandy for the purposes of the FAA Act?"  will determine how you must label any product you introduce into interstate or foreign commerce, but that does not mean that, despite the federal labeling, some state, somewhere, might hold it to be brandy for the purposes of some state law relating to some requirement, such as allowing sales of spirits distilled from honey wine,  which are a specialty item under federal law, but could come under the rubric of brandy for the purposes of some state law related to retail sales by craft distillers.  

 

I have no idea what California requires or prohibits, but when looking for a fit between state and federal law, remember that definitions can differ.  The most common one divergence, I think, may be in the definition of  "import," which on the federal level means to add to the mass of goods belonging to the United States, which may not be exact, but which is close, whereas the states generally use the term to mean bringing the goods into the state from either outside of the country or from another state.  

 

I'll add one more statement, because something I said above is not absolutely correct.  You must obey both federal and state law if you can obey both.  But where there is a direct and positive conflict between what the state requires and what the federal government requires, the states prevail.  That rule has run afoul of the commerce clause in the past few years, but I think it holds well until the courts decide otherwise.  That said, I'm not an attorney, this is not meant to be legal advice, if you find a situation like that (unlikely) consult your attorney and let the attorney advise you about which law you should violate in order to obey the other.  Again, this is not going to happen but rarely, if ever, and I  l know of no example of where it might even exist.  



#10 OldSpye

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 05:34 PM

Some states are rich in wild honey, Washington for example. Seems to depend how heavy the agriculture is.

 

Was the Polish spirit sweet or dry? Was it all honey base? Proof? Name?

 

 

My apologies, I lost track of this thread for a while. 

 

It was pure honey-based. No label (homemade). And it was pretty dry, overall. The essence of the honey was subtle but easily detectable - it nosed like honey but didn't overwhelm the palate. 

 

I'm super-interested in ultimately bringing this to market in NJ. I can get the honey in sufficient quantities to turn out maybe 50 cases a month. The ingredients cost would be about $4-5 per bottle (750 ml), so it wouldn't be cheap. I think at those volumes it would definitely be a specialty commodity and as such could command a pretty stiff price.

 

But damn, it's good.



#11 trinacria

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Posted 26 August 2014 - 09:06 PM

Hey guys great thread. I'm a commercial beekeeper by trade and will definitely be utilizing honey when I open up shop. The sheer number of varietals and flavors make for endless flavor profiles in spirits. Just an FYI to anyone interested in using honey as an ingredient in their products. If you aren't already aware, good honey (honey that isn't from China and thus tainted) isn't cheap. Looking at things long term it's only going to get increasingly more expensive. More so than it has in the last five years or so. Not trying to spook or deter anyone in anyway but just wanted to share my insight with you all!



#12 bluestar

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 11:06 AM

Hey guys great thread. I'm a commercial beekeeper by trade and will definitely be utilizing honey when I open up shop. The sheer number of varietals and flavors make for endless flavor profiles in spirits. Just an FYI to anyone interested in using honey as an ingredient in their products. If you aren't already aware, good honey (honey that isn't from China and thus tainted) isn't cheap. Looking at things long term it's only going to get increasingly more expensive. More so than it has in the last five years or so. Not trying to spook or deter anyone in anyway but just wanted to share my insight with you all!

Agreed, and in bad years, the price can increase but more importantly, the quantity simply might not be there.

Yes, we see a wide variation in the flavor or aroma as a function of the honey source. So this becomes a consistency issue as well. Sadly, we find that clover honey does not make the best pure spirit, but it can be used as a base for other things.



#13 bluestar

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Posted 27 August 2014 - 11:14 AM

It was pure honey-based. No label (homemade). And it was pretty dry, overall. The essence of the honey was subtle but easily detectable - it nosed like honey but didn't overwhelm the palate. 

 

I'm super-interested in ultimately bringing this to market in NJ. I can get the honey in sufficient quantities to turn out maybe 50 cases a month. The ingredients cost would be about $4-5 per bottle (750 ml), so it wouldn't be cheap. I think at those volumes it would definitely be a specialty commodity and as such could command a pretty stiff price.

 

Yes, that sounds like our spirit as well, although the flavor is very dependent on the specific honey used. Yes, our costs for the honey are running at the upper end of the range you mention, plus labor, utilities, bottling, etc. A 750ml bottle could easily cost more than $10 to produce, plus tax.



#14 OldSpye

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Posted 23 May 2015 - 08:18 PM

 

Yes, that sounds like our spirit as well, although the flavor is very dependent on the specific honey used. Yes, our costs for the honey are running at the upper end of the range you mention, plus labor, utilities, bottling, etc. A 750ml bottle could easily cost more than $10 to produce, plus tax.

 

Coming back to this (I know it's been a while, but we've been busy with that miserable friggin' "Lost Our Space And Had To Find Another One" plague), we're definitely going to give it a go. Playing around with the recipe suggests that it's possible to distill with a combination of honey and molasses and still come up with a really good flavor profile, at a more manageable cost.

 

Our plan is to use the honey spirit as a base and go to market with added flavors, mostly local fruit. Haven't named it yet. That seems to be the hardest part.



#15 jamesbednar

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Posted 24 May 2015 - 04:12 AM

You talking with the guys in Saddle Brook?



#16 OldSpye

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Posted 24 May 2015 - 05:50 AM

Nope. Is there something I need to know?






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