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Everything posted by Glenlyon

  1. Apple Brandy Cuts

    You are probably right. However, I've proposed nothing original - I've merely reiterated a technique I've come across in my research. I would doubt there are very many distillers using this system - I simply put it out there as an idea that may lead to solving a problem. That being said though, theoretically, it is correct.
  2. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Yes. Here we can't use cane sugar in the fermentable because cane sugar is not produced in BC. That being said, I suppose one could use honey instead.
  3. What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    I agree, don't let the plan hold you back - but - do use the plan to help find the path to righteousness. Our plan is a work in progress. Although, we work at it carefully - everyday, what happens in real life does not reflect what we wrote. Sometimes we update it, sometimes we don't, It depends. For example we planned extensively around construction (our current phase). As far as we were concerned, we had it covered. However, the realities of dealing with contractors and their own ideas - has largely rendered the plan - and associated budget/schedule useless. They say 'nobody can tell you how to start a distillery' - and that statement so far, has rung true for us. There is tons of great info to be had, but until you are standing at the permit desk arguing with the stubborn permit guy - your plan is just a written fantasy to motivate you to quit writing the plan and to get on with it... With your plan, of course.
  4. Apple Brandy Cuts

    In our jurisdiction we would not be allowed to do this.
  5. Ha! I love the magazine! No its not! But - finding the right kind of name is no easy thing! Nevertheless, don't let that slow you down from making good quality media.
  6. I think the idea of 'shine' or 'moonshine' is a generally accepted idea and I think it has become less burdened by the historical source of the term as more and more legitimate distillers use it. I'm starting to view 'craft' as alcohol producers of all kinds who are producing for a larger, but not fully commercial market. I think of the smaller 2 - 3 person operations as being more associated with the 'artisan' moniker.
  7. This is a great question... For any small M&P/Family operation at a micro level, the bottle(s) the customer buys is merely the souvenir of a great experience. It is the one thing that a bigger or commercial operation can't really duplicate in the same intimate way. Win your backyard.
  8. I've always found it kind of ironic - the people who will likely benefit from print or television the most, often seem the least likely to support a media project. We produced a wine series for two years. We had no shortage of audiences and all kinds of companies that we're eager to help. But, every time we approached the wine industry for sponsorship, they blew us off. Yet, they were begging us to come film them. When the power of what we had done for them finally sank in and they came back the third year and wanted another series, we said no. It was a tough call to be sure, but in the end - the right one - for us anyway. I do understand though why small producers/businesses are reluctant to spend on advertising. Its hard to measure the return sometimes. On the other hand, being mentioned in a publication can do strange and wondrous things. One funny example: one of my DVD products was mentioned, ever so briefly, in a local yachting newsletter somewhere in Florida. A copy of this newsletter wound up in a dental office - and, while that newsletter was in that office - we had a steady stream of orders. They started as if by magic and ended a month later just as abruptly! I checked out your 360 concept on your website. Its a neat idea and I'm looking forward to the next episode.
  9. Too bad you had to pause on the magazine - Its a very nicely styled publication, with a gentle insight - I was just reading it earlier today. Its a tough world for print these days.
  10. Microshiner as in Microshiner Magazine?
  11. BLOOM in bottle???

    I suppose the obvious question is: 'Who is the supplier?' Have you tried to clean the bottles physically, (soap and water) and does that solve the problem? If so, I doubt the supplier will have much sympathy. On the other hand, if your physical effort fails, you probably have more of an argument. I have an acquaintance who bought a C-Can of custom bottles from China. In the end over half of the bottles, either broke, had inconsistent neck widths or were inherently unstable. When the gentleman in question complained, the supplier just shrugged. I've found few guarantees in this business - one certainly has to be self resourceful, that's for sure.
  12. What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    You'll notice after writing your plan for a few days that you have lots of information, but a lack of direction. This can be very frustrating to get past. A clever way to get over this hurdle is to print out your pages and give them to someone who has not as familiar with the material. Give them a pair of scissors. Tell them to read through the material and cut up the plan and place the various bits under the appropriate heading. Company, Products, etc. By letting someone else do this, it helps to de-personalize the work giving you a chance for renewal. Now you can grab a collection of bits from a heading and focus on that idea. You'll find this strategy helps a lot when it come to streamlining the direction of your document. Numbers are really important. More important that the written material. Take your time with the numbers. Even though, I have been relentless about numbers - I can always find areas, I failed to consider. Also numbers can tell you a lot. For example... My contractors give me a bill the other day - it summed up the weeks work with a simple phrase: Labour and materials, $27,000. Not helpful from a management information point of view. Hmmm, I thought and I asked the contractor for a more detailed breakdown. Begrudgingly, two days later he produced the desired document. Even though it was basic, I could instantly see that the contractor was not going to be able to meet the previously agreed upon construction estimates. Yet, he didn't think he was over budget, because he didn't monitor his own numbers. So, you can learn a lot from numbers. Manage them carefully.
  13. What part of the Business Plan did you struggle with?

    Writing a good business plan takes a lot of work. Expect to take several months to get through the process. A good plan will first address it's intended audience. Is it a plan for a bank or for some other purpose? Our first plan was for re zoning. Now we're on to the next part of the plan (construction and start-up), which is under continual review. All in all a good plans should cover seven areas: Executive Summery - Clearly sum up the plan, the players and the money on one page. The Company - Business numbers, permits, incorporation status, brief history. Perhaps a vision or mission statement, etc. What you sell - What are your products. What makes them worthy of someone's hard earned money. Your Market - To whom do you plan to sell the aforementioned products. Your Strategy and Implementation - How are you going to get/manage - the location, the product, the staff, etc. Management Team - Who is in charge and what gives them the right to be there. Financial Projections - Avoid the plunge of death. Pay careful attention to your first three year cash flow projections. Not sure about a number? Do more research! Until every last question is answered. This document will reveal the flaws in your plan as laid out above and will allow you to spot the real problems before they bite you. When I was young and sexy, I didn't bother with plans. Now, I don't deviate from the plan without very careful consideration and consultation.
  14. Apple Brandy Cuts

    If you accept that chapitalization is OK - then push your must ABV up to 16 - 20% using a sherry yeast. That will completely eliminate any potential spoilage problems. The other advantage to this of course, is more alcohol production for the effort. Theoretically, a higher alcohol will also extract more flavor and nuance from the fruit. You can bench test this theory by macerating fruit in different alcohol concentrations. A 40% concentration will extract a better tasting product that a 5 - 8% concentration will. It stands to reason, therefore - your higher ABV mash could potentially deliver a tastier product.
  15. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Sadly, I can't put my hands on the original article, but if I recall, it was all about time. I would suggest more research and probably some testing to truly determine if this is myth or reality. Although as I mentioned, I recently distilled some year old cider which I had forgotten about (discovered when I needed the tank) - and I was very pleased with the results.
  16. Raw Farm Grain - Triticale

    I came across this document recently - you may be interested. I tasted some triticale whisky the other day and it was quite tasty. A study on the suitability of unmalted triticale as a brewing adjunct(1).pdf
  17. Yes, it takes real discipline to pull off this kind of exercise. It took us a long time to get things to work - but, worth it. My suggestions often require effort. Given, that I find short cuts make for unpredictable outcomes, which I'm not too keen on... But, then - I've had a lot of experience in project management - and - I'm old and grouchy.
  18. Your retail area is overcome with washrooms. Who wants to emerge from a washroom right into the tasting bar? You have 30 X 50 feet which is larger than my place, but your design dosen't have an obvious flow to it. Why a steel building? We looked into one of those, but in the end - it was better to build from scratch. Aesthetics are important, especially as the business gets more competitive - you want your space to be something the customer will dream about, but could never achieve... Mechanical is important because its tied in with the various types water that will ebb and flow through the distillery. It has to be simple to understand and easily accessible. We use in-floor radiant heating, so no furnace required. That being said, getting rid of heat is more of a problem than generating it. In the movie 'The Founder', the McDonald's brothers work out their McDonald's kitchen workflow on a tennis court with masking tape. Its a very cool scene. Very revealing. We did the same thing - it really helps visualize your idea and give some structure to the process you are trying to achieve.
  19. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Yes, I suppose that could be a risk. But if you think about it - its done all the time with winemakers, brewers and cider producers who age their products. I suppose it would have a lot to do with environmental conditions and cleanliness.
  20. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Here is another random thought. A key to getting a good quality fruit based distillate is to look to the Europeans. They will age their musts for six months plus before the distillation process. Apparently, this helps to create a chemical change which really does a number on the flavor and sweetness. I did a test test on a small batch based on this idea, and I must say the results were excellent.
  21. Apple Brandy Cuts

    Chapitalization is when you add sugar to a fruit based fermentation to enhance the alcohol content. Winemakers tend to use the process occasionally.
  22. Early Sales, Consistent Sales

    The start up plunge of doooom! Now that all of our friends have bought something, now what? What you have is a sales and marketing problem. Sales is not marketing and marketing is not sales. They are two separate ideas with objectives that lead to the actual point of purchase. Your cash flow projection should have warned you of this problem as it actually shows up pretty quick, even in a hypothetical model. So, now as a business you have only three options... Borrow money. Sell assets. Sell more product. Only one of these options will actually help the cause, so roll up your sleeves. Only you can set a benchmark for your sales people. Get out there and outsell them, your distillery’s life depends on it.
  23. Distributors marketing contribution$$

    Ahh, ye ‘ol distribution conundrum. How do you get these guys to actually shift product? Coming from the TV biz, I have had a LOT of experience with distributors of all kinds. I can tell you, it will be very difficult for you to really get their attention and here is why... In a nutshell, their business model is fundamentally different from the distiller. The distillery model seems straightforward. Brew up some hooch give it to the distributor and let the cash roll in. The key being - the distributor has to sell ALL of your product for you to succeed. The distributor though, knows that he probably won’t sell much of your stuff unless there is something super special about it. But, he needs it in his catalogue to make him look like he has a comprehensive selection to offer. So, in his business model he only needs to sell a few cases of a wide variety of products to make money. This diversification ensures the distributor can pay the bills and make a profit, but it won’t help you at all. If you look closely, you’ll probably see the distributor has 2 or 3 big offers and everything else is fair to middling. That pattern builds up because of how a distribution company grows from their first big client. I’ve dealt with this frustration for years, as I continually berate my poor distributors to get off their asses and do some work, but the reality is - they are largely order takers and delivery people. Therefore, the solution is to drive the business to them and overwhelm them with how great your product turned out to be. A way to do this affordably, is to make sure you know who the company actually delivers to. Target the stores you want to be in. Get a map and map it out. Then get into the press with an interesting story: magazines, newspapers, tv news, radio, social media, or whatever in those areas and get people into those stores asking for your product. Positive stories and mentions in media will do more for your brand than almost anything else. Then make sure you don’t fully fulfill the orders coming in, keep em backlogged - yet random. Build pent up demand. This old school marketing strategy is very tactical, takes time, and is not easy. But, nothing in this business is, except tasting the product of course...
  24. Bank Loans

    Yes, there are excellent tax incentives for (BC) investors through a variety of different programs. In fact with the right approach, BC investors can get upwards of 70% back in taxes/tax relief. We’ve turned down several offers of substantial investment money for the distillery. A few years ago we launched an investment grade media project. It was very exciting and there was lots of money around and we were developing some very cool opportunities. However, somewhere along the line, one of the major investors got sidetracked (ego based) and caused the whole thing to come crashing down. It cost a lot of friendships, long valued business connections and money. I’m still angry about it years later. But one must move on. Since then, its all credit unions all the time.
  25. Bank Loans

    In a word - greed. The provincial government makes well over 600 million dollars a year on booze. However, the real story is a bit more complex. I'll sum it up briefly. Way back in the olden days (mid eighties) when I was a wee lad of 18 - a local returned from a trip to England. As Victoria, my home town was inclined to sell itself as a 'British' themed place - this local quickly noticed that the English Pub was conspicuously missing. So, eventually, he opened BC's first craft brewery - Spinnaker's. That business is still thriving and they make over 4 million dollars in profit a year out of their original brew house, a tiny, tiny space in an old heritage waterfront building. Shortly thereafter, one other like minded business opened, Swans Brewery - also still operating. After that nothing happened for a long time. With the exception of course that 'we', Victoria's youth, were drinking real beer, not that watery shit that comes from a factory in a can. Which is why today, there is such a deep rooted love for craft alcohol throughout the province. A couple of years later, we had a crazy Premier leading the province. A real nut job, but he accidentally created the farm-gate wine business when he issued some licenses to a couple of farmers who wanted to be in the wine business Euro style. Small batch, gate sales, etc, etc. Predictably, their wineries were a hit and pretty soon more piled on. By then everybody was complaining about the system and so the BC government began reforming the alcohol business through de-regulation and by streamlining the application/tax processes. By then they were realizing the vast potential for the craft alcohol business in several areas. It created tax revenue by the truck load and it revitalized small farms, restaurants and other associated tourism activities. The Okanagan Valley here in BC is a fantastic example of how the wine business absolutely and completely transformed the landscape and the economic output of a region. Eventually, (about seven years ago,) some entrepreneurs went to the government and said, 'Hey, we want to distill spirits.' And, the government agreed, eagerly anticipating even more revenue and so the age of distillation began. In the end, the system created itself to be very responsive to the industry and although one does have to be patient with the inevitable bureaucracy, it is manageable because everybody agrees, alcohol is a great business to be in - if you can afford to anti up - and therein lays the the catch of course.