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Sator Square Distillery

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  1. Hey Odin, I follow Dark Sky Distillery on Instagram and saw them unpacking an iStill the other day. Looks great!
  2. The TTB is closed during the government shutdown. I know they're not processing labels or formulas. They may not be processing or approving anything until they open back up.
  3. I used lavender and rose petals in my gin. But I use them sparingly because if you use too much it'll obviously turn the corner into perfumey. Florals do very poorly soaked in the boiler and really belong in a gin basket, if you're using them at all, in my own view. Building a flavor profile for a gin is really hard, as you want the aromas and flavors to layer on each other pleasantly and roll along without clanging against something else. If you feel like you're really stuck, you could try distilling individual botanicals and then blending them together to get the flavors you want. None of it's easy! Good luck.
  4. It looks like shaking the tree worked. I got my approval within an hour of making that phone call. I wish I'd done that last week, but it is what it is. Thank you all for chiming in. I'd say that it's totally worth calling the TTB if things seem to be taking too long.
  5. I called the TTB this morning to see what the holdup was. I got someone on the phone right away. I was told that there was some sort of change in the recent past which doesn't let the specialists see which permit amendments are bond transfer or other requests for changes. So they just do them as they come in in order they get them. Not sure if that's true. But they told me they'd send a request for a quicker review over to who has the request. It's been a day shy of 3 weeks for the bond transfer, that does seem like too long of a time to wait for a simple purchase order.
  6. I'm not required to carry a bond now, I was under the required tax threshold and they gave me an exemption. The transfer to me would still put me well under, it's just a few barrels really. But this is the first transfer in bond that I've done. I submitted it back on 10/26, so it would be 2 weeks now it's sitting pending review. I guess I thought it wouldn't take this long? How long would you wait to follow up if it was you?
  7. I wasn't about to find this anywhere else on the forums or on the TTB website under processing times. Does anyone have a rough idea how long it takes for the TTB to approve a transfer in bond application once it's submitted?
  8. Whatever size boiler you think you need, double it. You'll save yourself a lot head scratching later on.
  9. Has anyone tried using vacuum distillation to extract the rhubarb concentrate at a low temperature? I wonder if that method would work to hold onto the volatiles that may otherwise boil off.
  10. I would just like to add that "bad" wine is a very subjective term, while spoiled is generally understood to be either oxidized or containing some serious faults/infections. Ugni Blanc , which is one of the primary grapes used to make Cognac is said to make a terrible, terrible wine. Thin and very acidic with very little redeeming qualities. But obviously it makes a great brandy when handled the right way. A bad wine may make a great brandy, but I agree that spoilage may likely results in a poor quality brandy.
  11. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has had any luck with that. All my botanicals are pretty well exsanguinated of color and aroma post-distillation.
  12. Out of curiosity, why is paying to enter a competition seen as a negative? The event organizers need to rent a venue to host the tastings. Appropriate spaces aren't donated. The judges would be assumed to be qualified to render their opinions on what they're tasting. So asking them to appear, in perhaps a city or venue far away from where they are, and to pay their own way to fly in or otherwise travel, and pay for their own lodging and food sounds unreasonable. There's also staff that has to do all the pouring and recording and organizing and making sure it's all above board. Who in their right mind would do all of that for free? So it makes sense to me that a competition should cost something to enter. Am I missing something?
  13. Not at bottle strength, no. But 50ml of my gin to about 200ml of tonic on a G&T will cause a slight louche. I do put that more to citrus oils than my juniper though, of which I use grapefruit and tangelo.
  14. I only do vapor infusion for my gin. You really tend to need more g/l of certain botanicals, particularly juniper, if you're not macerating. IMO 25g/l of juniper is quite a lot, particularly if you're macerating it. But if that works for you that's great. My gin is a bit on the lighter side, and it ends up being about 15g/l of juniper. I proof mine down to 43% and the way it ends up it's just on the verge of louching. But I also have a lot of citrus in there too.
  15. Very good advice here. I'm also very very (very) small. I am still working a full time job during the week and distilling on nights and weekends. Thankfully I was able to get my small operation up and going with cash, a business credit card and no investors breathing down my neck. But it has still taken me almost 2 years for this small business to start breaking even month to month and paying for its own expenses. I have a large built in crowd of foot traffic coming every weekend since I am located on my family's vineyard winery, and it still is not a guarantee of regular sales- some weekends are fantastic, other weekends (with bad weather, for example) there may be next to nothing. So if you're planning on just selling right out of your own tasting room only, you should plan on spending a lot of advertising. Not just with money, but employing someone who knows how to advertise events on social media and make the events happen from week to week. A lot of local breweries and distilleries here draw people in with live music, food, specialty food trucks, cocktail specials, social events, etc.. It's a constant rolling effort and appears to be somebody's full time job sitting on social media and setting these events up locally. "If you build it they will come" is not true, and you should not assume people will wander in just because you are there. Also- and I believe everyone else here will agree with this advice: try to plan for the unexpected expenses on your building. It is likely that your local government/fire marshal will spring something on you that you have to install there that you didn't plan for. And whatever that thing is will cost you about $5,000. Everything seems to cost about that much to sort out for some reason. Good luck. It's a lot of work, but also very rewarding when you have something nice to show for your work.
  16. While nothing is impossible, you may have a very hard time getting that past the feds. They almost didn't approve my application because my DSP was located 100 feet from a residence located on the same property parcel. They asked me to put up a dividing fence between the residence and the building where the DSP is located. I would anticipate they would deny your application, but it's worth trying. My day job is in insurance. I brokered my own insurance policy for my DSP. Your insurance carrier would be very very adverse to having a mixed use building where a DSP is located, particularly residential. That may also be a big stumbling block even if you can get it past the feds. You should have a serious conversation with your insurance agent/broker about eligibility.
  17. If you're infusing with real fruit after distillation you may also have to consider your filtering process. Pectin can get suspended into your spirits and may need a serious cold filtering to sort out.
  18. I would also recommend a small bench top still for recipe development until you've got your recipe where you want it. Then you can scale it up and tweak it as you need. That way you're not wasting a lot of your base spirit. You're not going to easily be able to get the botanicals out of your gin through redistillation. You're better off starting over since any residuals left in there are going to throw off your recipe going forward anyway.
  19. I just want to throw it out there that my limited experience with FONL and COLAS online has shown me that people here on this site often know more about the TTB manuals then the specialists we are assigned to. So it's possible there might not be anything wrong with your formula or label application. I just went through 2 months of hell trying to get a formula and label approved. Only approved after finally being assigned to a second specialist who correctly read their own manual. Just saying.
  20. As others said your best bet is get pomace during grape harvest time. You should contact several vineyards/wineries near you to line up and arrange to pick up their pressed pomace. Some vineyards just compost theirs, so they may let it go at a good price. Who knows, maybe you could work out a trade. You could process it all at once and store the pomace wine or the low wines made from it to last the rest of the year while you make other things. Juice is very expensive and that price of 50-60 bucks sounds about right. Even if it's not premium juice, that's almost 19 liters that could be made into wine, which is about 25 bottles. You're unlikely to find a supplier of fresh juice that will part with it for less than that.
  21. I'm navigating the same thing with FedEx. PITA. Like a lot of people I didn't know how lengthy the process was to get it done. Luckily I have a friend who has an alcohol shipping license that was willing to ship out some of my samples to competitions until my account gets activated.
  22. My label as submitted reads Marc Brandy with XXX flavor. The problem seems to be that on my formula I used the word "pomace". I did that because yes, I fermented grape pomace and then distilled said pomace wine into a Marc/Pomace Brandy. The specialist doesn't seem to understand that "Marc" and "Pomace" is interchangeable. Very annoying. I think I'm just going to submit a second formula that only has the word Marc in it and then resubmit the same label. It would be quicker then trying to get the specialist to read their own manual I guess.
  23. I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on how to speak to a human being at the TTB COLA Distilled Spirits label department. I submitted a label about a month ago for a Marc Brandy. Since it's flavored, I had to first submit a formula. In my formula I describe the end product as a pomace brandy, as I have made it with 100% wine grape pomace. On my label I wanted it to be identified as a Marc Brandy. I figured this is no problem because in Chapter 4, on page 4-7 of the TTB's class and type designation manual, it reads: POMACE BRANDY OR MARC BRANDY “Pomace Brandy” or “Marc Brandy” is grape pomace or marc brandy. Other types of pomace or marc brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Apple Pomace Brandy,” “Pear Marc Brandy” Clearly, by the TTB's definition pomace brandy and Marc brandy are interchangeable terms. Either of these terms applies to my brandy. My TTB specialist has sent it back to me twice asking me to have my label redone as a pomace brandy. I cannot reach anyone at the TTB as no one answers the phone there. I have left numerous messages and no one has called me back, and I've sent emails asking for help clarifying my label. Does anyone know of any way to reach a person there?
  24. Grinding your grain, particularly a great deal of it, in the same room you ferment has the potential to cause problems. It's not necessarily something that you could easily mitigate just by a cleaning regime as all that fine particulate gets airborne. It doesn't mean it has anything to do with the problem at hand even if they're doing that (which they may not be). But if he's working with his customer to take a hard look at their operation, it's just a good idea to be as comprehensive as possible. I would think that would be fairly obvious, but what do I know.
  25. A lot of great information here. I learned some new and helpful things here myself. Looks like it's been zeroed in on as the problem, but I didn't see it mentioned anywhere whether they're grinding their grain in the same room they ferment. I'd advise doing that in a separate room or outside if possible. Worth considering in addition to everything else.
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