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Eud

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  1. It kind of sounds like the only way to get into the business is to vastly underestimate the cost and time until it's too late and you're already committed. If you figure out the actual costs ahead of time you'd never do it. 😎
  2. Wow, that's quite a story. I applaud your persistence in getting this off the ground and hope you are successful. On the advice to hire Dave, I've seen enough of his posts while lurking around these forums for a while that at least that part seems like a no-brainer.
  3. I haven't done distilling as a hobbyist. I've brewed beer as a hobbyist and can predict that I would enjoy distilling because the hobbies I enjoy also involved lots of learning, experimenting, and cool gear to acquire, build, and learn how to use. If it was legal to distill small amounts for personal consumption I'd likely just do that and be satisfied.
  4. So it sounds like you have a very friendly landlord and it took 2 years for you to start breaking even on your little distillery with a built-in weekend crowd? That's sobering.
  5. We are allowed to do tastings, self distribute, and on-premises sales, but are not allowed to serve cocktails, so it would look more challenging for us to be in the black from that point of view, but we are in an area that has a lot of high-income people out and about and $35+ bottles of craft spirits (assuming we can make a good one) doesn't seem like too abnormal of an impulse buy here. We'd definitely want to start much bigger if we were using distribution. I'd tried working out the math on that, and it doesn't work out at all with all of the fixed costs to start it as an "expensive hobby" sized operation to send $12 bottles into a distributor. For the aged whiskey portion of what we'd sell I was including pricing for the smaller end of barrels from The Barrel Mill because they make pricing available online, and I figured other manufacturers would be around there.
  6. It will take me a while to digest, but I'm glad for the feedback. I hadn't counted in the monthly accounting and brewery software, internet, etc. I'd been figuring on around $5k/yr marketing since we'd be starting small and staying pretty local, and I'd guessed around $3k/yr for utilities and the same for insurance. You're right that it only sort of works because there is no labor cost in there. On the small stills I'd be doing all electric jacketed, no steam. Bluefish, I'd be doing stripping on a 100G and spirit runs on a 26, so it would be fewer runs per month than 10, but your point is still a good one. I had been thinking looking at around $25/bottle for vodka/rum, $35 for aged rye/bourbon, $30 for gin. So I was assuming less than $35 because I'd left out some costs you guys pointed out. I'm kind of stunned that both of you were able to hit so close to the bottle cost I was kind of assuming without me saying it. It at least gives me confidence that I was doing the math approximately right on net income = sale price - (raw ingredients + taxes + monthly expenses). Anyway, very good points. The initial equipment cost doesn't triple as the size goes from 100 to 300 gallons. It just makes sense to start with a bigger one especially if I am already planning not to spend every minute there to start. Thanks very much for the advice.
  7. My wife and I are interested in starting a small distillery and scaling up if it works out and we enjoy it. It's a common tale, I know. I've been interested in distilling for a long time as a homebrewer and a big whiskey and rum appreciator, but want to go legit rather than moonshine at home. Both of us have good jobs which we'd keep and would do the first year or more of planning and licensing as a shared activity. We would be targeting tasting sales and farmers markets to cover the bills and are in a state/county where we can self distribute and where there's only one "competitor" who is a good guy with a good operation that I don't want to step on. We'd be no risk to him anyway for years because he has years of head start and is a real hustler. I've been doing the math for setting up a small distillery by browsing the products at ADE with a 400L mash tun/stripping still, a 100L spirits still, some IBC totes for fermentation, some steel drums for collecting, some aging barrels, etc., and assuming we'd do about 2 runs per month once we're in operation to start, so 24 batches of low wines run through our 100L still each year with a mix of gin, vodka, rum, clear whiskey, rye, bourbon. We have a relationship that could get us a nice space of around 1000 sq ft for $2000/mo where there is a lot of foot traffic all the time, especially on weekends. We don't know about zoning or fire inspection or anything like that yet which could make that spot moot, but it sure would be fun if it worked out. On startup costs, it seems like we'd be looking at around $20k for a 100G mashtun/still and a 26G moonshine still from Affordable Distillery Equipment plus freight. Then factor in $24k in rent for the year before production. Beyond that we'd probably have some trades work that needed to be done like electrical, plumbing, carpentry of around $10k (we don't need a fancy place), and another $10k in pumps, grain mills, small chiller, etc. So that's $65k in costs plus legal costs (my guess for that was around $5000 but I could be way off base) for getting installed, incorporated, and permitted. My optimistic guess adding that up is around $70k for first year startup costs before distilling a drop. Then we'd be running 24 batches of low wines from our 26G spirits still in a year which I calculated would end up with around 2000 bottles of product at the end of the year at 80 proof. After subtracting ingredients, excise tax, sales tax, rent, utilities, insurance, and some marketing I calculate that we'd be about $10k in the black just doing it every other weekend. Of course this would go down each time a batch goes bad or a piece of equipment breaks, so we could easily end up in the red that first year on that schedule. It's not a recipe to get rich at that scale, but hopefully something to enjoy with the possibility of it being an income source down the line. I can see why the general advice is that starting small is not a winner's game. Scale up plans would be to basically increase by a factor of 4, so the 100G would end up getting a column and being our spirits still and we'd buy a 400G stripping still and go from there. Maybe in a new location which we'd be watching out for the whole time. Am I way off base for thinking this sounds possible if we can swing the startup costs and don't need it paid back for a while?
  8. Very cool. What are the size ranges you can do in these? Looks like quite a range judging from the last few groups of pictures you've posted recently with those little square boxes around the bottom.
  9. Paul, How do these electric baine marie systems work? I assume the electric elements are inserted into the jacket portion and used to heat up a volume of oil or some other heat transfer fluid. Is the fluid circulated on a pump or not needed?
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