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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. We have a closed loop system that uses our pond as the cooler. Most of the time it's great but we are at it's limits now.
  2. What you are looking for is a 500kg scale e=d 0.2kg. (Legal for trade.) The best way to source this is through a local supplier who's service technicians are available by appt. - you'll need to have the scale installed and certified at the same time as the CRA officer is inspecting your operation for final licensing.
  3. No problem having your digital thermometer certified - I recommend one of the digital reference thermometers from thermoworks.com. https://www.thermoworks.com/Reference-Thermometer I have one and it is very dependable.
  4. Also, don't forget you loose alcohol as you go - so what might be 7 or 8% in the fermenter may actually be a precent or two less depending on the efficiency of the still and the distiller.
  5. I use two of these devices. I do make vodka with them and it is an excellent product. I do a stripping run and then a spirit run. I push these stills to the bitter edge on a daily basis and they have held up OK. They are however, like European sport cars when the run they run great, when they fail, you're dead in the water.
  6. Yup! But, what I love most about the liquor business is that it's all cash all the time, not like TV where they will gladly pay you Tuesday... Next year.
  7. The three distillers in the area where I live, including myself have all moved over from the TV biz! Welcome to the club. What is it about TV that drives us to drink?!
  8. We don't have a mechanical chiller. Instead our (approx 400') closed loop system is cooled by a large outdoor pond - about the size of a swimming pool. The coolant itself is water and ethanol. The system runs all of the time and can cool the wort cooler, a couple of stills and the mash tun all at the same time. It has however, reached it's limits and if I wanted to add anything else, I would have to redesign it a bit.
  9. Although we don't have one of Paul's - we do have such a device and it works like a charm with our wheat/barley mashes.
  10. Don't forget - if you are filling a 600G mash tun - especially on a regular basis, you are creating shitloads of spent mash - which, will need to be disposed of. To start, this probably won't be a huge problem, but as time passes and your farmers won't take anymore of your grain, the city doesn't want it and will charge you if they can, the dump charges ongoing fees, etc. - this can soon pile up to be a substantial issue that few people really think about until they are faced with the reality.
  11. Sorry for the delay in responding. Were having a busy weekend. The pump is a GRUNDFOS ALPHA AUTO ADAPT 15-55F/CC. It does regulate itself depending on demand - its been a great system so far. Maybe. It depends on your business. We started small and are growing quickly based on demand. I have competitors who started much, much bigger and their product is sitting on the shelf. So, when we do grow again next year, we know exactly what we're getting into. No GNS for us. Quality over quantity all the way.
  12. It’s a sunny quiet at the distillery this morning. Shortly, I’m off to do a spirit run and proof gin. Here are some random thoughts about what to expect as we approach our first year in operation... Still Sizing... Debate on this topic rages and as someone who has several smaller stills, I tend to favour that strategy. However, if I were to do it again, I would start with bigger equipment. Further on Equipment... Even top of the line equipment can wear out astonishingly quickly. Budget for spare parts and repair people. Also expect to upgrade key elements as you grow, there always seems to be something else you need. Leasing vs Buying I’ve done both and there are convincing arguments either way. The more monthly payments you have the harder the long cold winter. Accept debt very reluctantly. Costs of Running Your Distillery... We are always thrilled when we add up the monthly take and happy we’re trending in the right direction. However, I’m always equally dismayed at the high operating costs to get through the month. Prepare for at least two years of experience before you’ll be able to extract profits. Home Distillers... We get lots of home distillers come through our place. They are generally nice people and love to talk, however they tend to be poor customers. Worse yet, one of them is now operating an illegal operation somewhere nearby. Hmmm, what to do? Your Distillery Will Bite... Yep, you are extremely pleased with your operation. You’ve taken all precautions - everyone is well trained. You’ve got it in the bag, nothing to worry about. Nothing except, human nature and the unknown. Pay attention or the dog will bite - second degree burns on my hands and legs, is a solid reminder. Keeping Up... ‘Sold out’ is a terrible phrase to utter as we have discovered. Expect way more demand than you can possibly imagine. Our season has only just begun and we’ve already sold most of our pre planned/produced summer stockpile. We hardly noticed it disappear and when we went to prepare for this weekend (expected to be extremely busy) the pile was depressingly small. And Finally, Awards... We unexpectedly won a small but vital audience choice award for one of our products. Great for the ego and who doesn't want to win an award. But, it caused a lot of stress and even depression for a lot of different reasons - so be aware. Right then - off to work.
  13. We also have great spring water, but we still treat it depending on the use.
  14. There are a lot of walls. You might find those become annoying as production increases. They tend to get in the way of the workflow.
  15. This is sort of where I came from... I had harboured the concept of a distillery since the late 90's. When it became possible to build my own, I went for it. Coming up to a year later, I am in no danger of going out of business and I can barely keep up with the demand. This summer will be extremely busy and I'll be working flat out until Christmas. I do not use the term 'master', I think it sounds a bit stuffy and I have found the clients don't care. I don't have partners or investors, I started with a lot less than a million and the only company debt is a line of credit that ebbs and flows. The equipment and building are paid for. Even if I went out of business today, the increased value of my real estate with the rezoning, and distillery building, far exceeds the money I originally invested. I like the business a lot - and a lot more than the TV business. It helps for sure if you have prior business experience. People say running a distillery is complex and it is - but - nothing compared to the TV biz where we come from. So, for us, the transition has been relatively straightforward. What we didn't expect, is that we're actively competing with much larger distillers than we planned for or even considered. That's keeping us on our toes. In fact, back in the TV biz a decade ago, the same OP sentiments often went around. But, look at the business today! It's huge and growing. The same with the coffee business. So, I think there is plenty of room for growth and yes, some will fail - I'm watching one slowly imploding from a comfortable distance. As the industry continues to de-regulate, the boom and bust cycle will become more apparent. As in the TV biz, smaller companies will grow and consolidate into medium companies which in turn, will be swallowed by big companies. Hopefully, someone will want to buy me one day!
  16. Thank you for the recipe! I will definitely try this out!
  17. Great Little Box Company in Vancouver are fantastic and will custom make what you need.
  18. In our area there are several distillers who will happily fill and age a barrel with your name on it. Generally, you can come by whenever and ogle it, caress it, give it a hug and then eventually, the distillery will bottle it and send it home with you. Although we don't do this ourselves, it must be a good business because people are still at it. I'm not sure what size the barrels are but from what I've seen the cost is around the $5K mark. Custom labels extra. We run a micro distillery and I'm so busy just trying to keep up there is no way I could offer something like this. Its only the bigger distilleries who I've seen, who have enough capacity and excess storage space to devote to this kind of project. I keep threatening to make whisky, but I just can't find the time. Don't forget, running a distillery is more than distilling. There's ordering the supplies, doing the marketing, handling the paperwork, dealing with all manner of customer from the individual to the mega corp. Being at all the tastings, running your tasting room. Finding and dealing with labor. Bottling and packaging, yada, yada yada... it goes on. When we started, we had visions of many of the same ideas, but to create a product that you can be consistent with and that the customer will come back for is very difficult. Each sku is an entire project unto itself. So keeping track of barrels and ages and owners is going to be a real head scratcher in short order, made even more difficult as you struggle to remember what happened to your own alcohol. Ambience is everything, no matter what size of a place you have and so is the Instagramability of your space. There are a couple of other recent threads discussing small distilleries, what expect and still sizing you could check out as well.
  19. Also, I'm sure many distillers will tell you - the last thing they want while working are helpers. Nothing slows down the process faster.
  20. Actually, there may indeed be a problem with this, in that it may wind up as a labor issue. If your helpers are causing a potential for an employee not to get work or pay for work they would normally do - I would check into this carefully. There is an article devoted to this topic in one of the Distiller magazines. Unfortunately, off the top of my head I can't remember which edition.
  21. I would be interested in that.
  22. We've looked at several of these requests and we've been open less than a year so I tend to be very careful and take them with a grain of salt. While having European interest is great for the ego, I'd be somewhat cautious. I would ask myself some hard questions like: If I'm only making 800 bottles a month how many am I prepared to ship? Would it be enough to actually make money on? Or, would those bottles be more valuable if sold directly through the distillery's tasting room? 35 Euro is only about $40 US - so by the time you factor in all of the wholesale, shipping and other associated costs, where is the profit coming from? And will Europeans spend 35E for a product they don't know anything about? Probably not - given that the Europeans are great distillers in their own right. So, unless you've got something fucking amazing, unavailable in Europe and covered by some kind of unique patent-able process, I'd say stay frosty and focus on your local business. Consider the same offer if had come from the next state over - what would the issues be? Are they selling enough? What kind of sales efforts are they putting forward? Likely, after some time, as most do, you would become unhappy with the distribution company - maybe they aren't selling enough or whatever. How would you address that? Could you address the same problem in another language several thousand miles away? It's always important to remember a distribution company distributes - they don't sell or market - that's your job - and - that could wind up being very expensive and difficult to achieve if you are only selling 3 or 4 hundred bottles a month in a land where you don't know the culture and have no local contacts.
  23. No. The juniper berry, as it were, is actually a small tree cone, within which, a multitude of tiny seeds reside. When you grind it, you break open these seeds and the harsh interior is exposed along with strong undesirable flavors. When you macerate or distill whole or slightly crushed berries directly through the gin basket, you are gently easing out the compounds you want. You don't want to be heavy handed - and - you don't want to be too light - you want the Goldilocks amount. That why building and scaling gin is such a difficult task. I've come to view making gin as one of the most artistic yet challenging aspects of distilling. I hold good gin in high esteem.
  24. Because we are in an area where the only way to get here is via ferry or small airplane its fairly straightforward to target points where travelers get bottle necked - the aforementioned ferries are a great example, because people have 40 minutes with nothing to do but browse the rack cards looking for adventure. This summer we will also probably take out some display advertising in this venue as well. We have had a few travel writers do stories on us - these leads usually come through the local tourist association. We get the most amount of return from these kinds of articles because they are 'authentic' - whatever that means these days. Here is an example of one: https://montecristomagazine.com/food-and-drink/where-to-eat-on-the-southern-sunshine-coast So, we're always very accommodating for these types of people. There are loads of locally focused food, travel & lifestyle magazines all over North America - the trick is to find them. Most of them have small circulations - one we're dealing with now covers the Vancouver cocktail scene - so we've done a bit of display advertising with them. We also do radio, which we've had mixed results with. Overall though, a lot of small mentions and a lot of 'word of mouth' has really enhanced our reputation which absolutely makes it easier to draw people. An easy way to get a grasp of your own marketing efforts is to grab a map and start drawing a series of ever larger areas on the map radiating from your distillery. Each one of these areas becomes an area that you can easily visualize and where you can easily find a variety of mediums to focus on. We tend to look for opportunities where the potential audience ranges from about 5 to 15 thousand. Also knowing who your target market is is key. We find generally we are dealing with an older more sophisticated crowd or slightly younger but well established couples. Instagram has been great - our customers follow us and we follow the other distilleries so we can get a sense of what other distillers are up to and we're quick to seize on good ideas.
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