Hi from South Louisiana!
As the title says, I have been lurking here for awhile doing some research here and other sources and I believe I am finally at the time of my life where I can take this venture serious and work towards my 10+ year goal of opening a distillery. With my job a rotational (7/7 or 14/14) I will have time home while starting out and depending on one of my really good buddies I will have him for year around operations taking the salary while I only take an owners cut once we become profitable. If it does not work out for him then I would be probably hiring a distiller with experience to fill his role and help out on the weeks I am home.
So far this forum has been a great tool to look stuff up and I appreciate any feedback I can get.
Some starting out questions
1. I have looked up some business plan guidelines and tried to find distillery specific plans. Is the $300 membership worth it or the business plan and adi conference videos alone or am I better of just using that $300 to apply to one of the 5-6 day workshops that are out there (adi, moonshine university, etc)? Would attending one of these classes before I get too deep into a business plan be beneficial in startup time and better cost estimates? I don't want to work a ton on a plan only to have it completely change and start over. 1B. Is anyone out there willing to let a newbie take a look at how they started? I know many people struggle and are prone to say the new guys should as well if they really want to get into the business, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
2. For land or a building, I am going to start talking to my parish(county) that I live in for regulations and zoning issues. I am just not sure what is more feasible as in renting an existing unit and upgrading or build out on some land that could potentially be sold off or rented out if everything goes to bust. I know I need to put some numbers down on paper, but wanted to get some opinions from you guys still running today. *How did you start out and do you wish you did it different? I have seen some DSP's in my area, and many through google maps, that are in very walk-able area, while others are just a little drive out of an area that has regular tourist or decent activity. I am located about 30 -45 min outside New Orleans.
3.I have quotes mostly for pot stills with vodka columns included. My issue was a good starting size, I am guessing this all comes down to production and sales estimates. I do not want to start too small and then have to work my way up bigger in a year if things kick off once I start producing. Thinking about 1000 L pot w/ vodka columns as long as it fits in the end budget. Am I overshooting to start "small"?
4. Louisiana is a 3 tier state, so a tasting room will have to be built out to help with sales while growing. Which is why I may be leaning towards new construction if I can afford it. For distribution (I am currently trying to contact a few companies) how are the little guys in terms of distribution. The only feedback I have heard so far from a DSP where I know the owner through a mutual college buddy is that they did not really help them out much. They just now signed with a bigger distributor to go statewide.
I know some of these are probably basic, but even with searching through the site I still have questions about them and wanting to see if I could get more input.
Thanks for any feedback.