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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. Another common problem, which causes costs to rise - is that when you are dealing with contractors, local gov't etc - as soon as you tell them you are opening a distillery - they make two instant assumptions... you are rich and you are going to make lots of money. At this point, they are mentally adding zeros to their quote as they tell you how great your idea is.
  2. Absolutely, that's how we did it.
  3. Interesting to hear about the Alaskan experience. When I got started, we were thinking small and that we could get off the ground for song. We used to joke about the cost of getting into the business was the same as buying a used pick-up truck! Famous last words! Many hundreds of thousands of dollars later - I say, expect to spend at least $500K to start, even for a small operation. We're finally making sales now, but it was a long two years of getting underway.
  4. If you love distilling as a hobbyist - think about it very carefully before opening a real distillery. A small distillery is a ton of work, so what used to be enjoyable on a rainy Sunday afternoon, now becomes something you have to do everyday whether you want to or not. Understanding this and assuming you have previous business experience, the booze business is a good place to be. If this is your first foray into business, tread carefully, it can get very expensive, very fast.
  5. That's for sure
  6. In Canada, the right to own a distillery is tied to the address of the aforementioned distillery. It would be strictly against the rules to set up a still elsewhere. Not to mention, distilling other people mashes/washes would be very problematic. This would not be allowed in our jurisdiction.
  7. Glenlyon


    Hey Tim, this sounds really interesting - do you have any idea as to the cost?
  8. Glenlyon

    New startup question about setting up

    This is a great gin still, but not on for a daily driver. Its a drag to clean.
  9. Glenlyon

    Thermocouple - Wifi Data-Logger

    Just a quick note. Thermoworks has their wifi data loggers on sale right now.
  10. Glenlyon

    Glycol Loop Material

    Pex is perfect - but, the copper looks way cooler when mounted
  11. Glenlyon

    Thermocouple - Wifi Data-Logger

    These guys have what you are looking for... www.thermoworks.com
  12. Glenlyon

    Glycol Loop Material

    I was quite concerned about that up front and had a number of discussions with the plumber and associated inspectors around the topic. However, it has proven to be an excellent system and it is completely closed. It would take a (no doubt predictable), series of unfortunate events to get the cooling water to mix with the product and if that happened, I would consider human error as the prime suspect.
  13. Glenlyon

    Glycol Loop Material

    Our loop consists of copper within the building and 400' of 1" plastic water pipe submerged in the cooling pond. Although we designed the system originally for glycol, in the end we used water mixed with about 15-20% denatured ethanol. This has proven to be a very efficient system that's easy to disconnect and modify. Even if some of the water escapes, we have an automatic pressure tank to re-fill the system as required. With this system we can run two stills and our heat exchange/cooler at the same time without any problems. Also, we have the hot water return running through the floor of the tasting room which in turn serves to use some of that waste heat on heating the room in the winter. Works great!
  14. Glenlyon

    Ownership Structure

    Businesses come in two classes - right some shades and cheap sunglasses. In other words, you have investment grade startups and you have founder's grade startups. Investment grade companies are usually funded by investors and are designed to enrich the aforementioned money men. Founder's based business are there to fund the lifestyle of the founders. The first thing you need to do is decide which one you want to start. If you have a business or law degree and years of working with investors in a corporate situation and you are starting a larger operation in a bigger market then you are in good shape to handle the demands of your investors. If one the other hand, you have no previous experience dealing with investors and you have only creativity, leadership and sweat to offer - then you have no skin in the game. So, the moment you fail to meet a construction goal or you go over budget on something or miss or a sales/production target you are always running the real risk of being watching your company disappear over the horizon without you. You will always lose out to the investors in those situations. So, the moral of the story? Write a comprehensive business plan. Figure out what you really need. You may find you actually have the money or you may find it much cheaper from the bank. Who, probably won't want to lend to you, but if they do - you'll be a lot happier in the long run.
  15. Glenlyon

    Question About Spirit Definition Legalities

    It takes a lot more effort to clean up after a smaller distillery than a larger one. If you are too small - you'll put a ton of work into a tiny unprofitable output. Its OK to be small - just not too small. If you love the hobby, be careful starting a distillery. The romance fades quickly and the work is unending.
  16. Glenlyon

    Operating Hours

    Here in BC you set you own hours - legally we can open 9AM and close at 11PM seven days a week.
  17. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    Boy, that's a real limitation. A good customer can easily drop $200+ each visit which equates to about four bottles. If you have debit you can increase those sales even higher.
  18. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    Thank you Paul for the compliment. We're distilling with one of your 45G tun/stills. Works like a charm. The mistake we made is - we should have bought a bigger still to start with. But, live and learn!
  19. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    Hi Paul, We too are tucked away in the country side. Our local village houses about 1200 people and the surrounding countryside hosts another 20k or so. Our market is very geographically constrained. Only a few errant bikers wander by occasionally. We cater heavily to the locals. We deliver, simply by loading up the 'ol SUV and heading out. For liquor Store sales, we have to go through their central warehouse, but for everything else, its us or the mail. We're not allowed to re-use bottles. Technically. The brew industry uses growlers up here, but I don't see that catching on with spirits customers. Most all of our sales are through the tasting room. We have several restaurants who are really interested but so far, we're too small to deliver a regular product. Hopefully later on this summer we'll be able to do that as well as start on-line sales. So far, the vast majority of our business is word of mouth, eventually though we'll have to start advertising. Its remarkable how close what we are actually doing matches the business plan we wrote over a year ago.
  20. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    Yep. And, further we don't pay the province any mark up fees. Only the Federal excise. So, the only revenue the province gets is the 10% sales tax charged when the customer actually buys the product. We can sell via Public Liquor Store, private stores, rural agencies, bars and restaurants, online and through the tasting room. The only thing some smaller distilleries can't do is sell mixed beverages by the glass. Although, some can. It all depends on the license you apply for.
  21. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    That's the BC way for craft distilleries!
  22. Glenlyon

    What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    We've gotten a LOT of mileage out of our business plan, so its worth struggling through the exercise. Numbers are not that bad if you come at it systematically. After all, you already know quite a bit of information by virtue of the development of the idea. You know what the taxes are and that's key. After that, look at what you think it going to cost you to a) build the business and b) run the business. Now figure out how much production your planned equipment will give you and the amount of money you need to keep the doors open. Now you know how big of a market you'll need to develop and how many cases you'll need to/can actually produce. You don't need to be precise. The real objective of projections is to get you thinking about the reality of the balance sheet. The bigger the business you plan to start the more difficult the task is. However, if you are smaller, much of this can be done in a couple of hours with a calculator and a map. In the end though, no matter how detailed the plan is, it can in no way prepare you for the tsunami of work actually running a distillery is. Like for example, the amount of time you'll spend just keeping the work space clean both for your own sanity, but also for any visitors/customers who will inevitably show up, just when you don't want them.
  23. Glenlyon

    wooden fermenters

    Watch the Netflix show I mentioned, it will help you change the inspector's paradigm.
  24. Glenlyon

    wooden fermenters

    Or not
  25. Glenlyon

    wooden fermenters

    I've looked at them. I have a couple of barrels I was considering converting to fermenters. I suspect though, we probably won't get around to it anytime soon. In episode 4 of of Netflix's "Cooked" series - they investigate using wooden barrels in the raw milk cheese making process. The results are not what you might expect and further, offers a very interesting set of possibilities visa vie whisky and lacto's role in it. Check it out. Likely you will be more inspired to get happening with some wood.