Jump to content
ADI Forums

John McKee

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


John McKee last won the day on July 2 2017

John McKee had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

18 Neutral

About John McKee

  • Rank
    Active Contributor

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
  1. Still and License

    Hey, I'm pretty sure any size still counts. However, if you do upgrade in the future, you would need to amend BOTH the CA and Federal TTB licenses to include the still size and serial number information. Cheers, McKee
  2. Buying spirit in barrels, age, bottle and sale.

    Good morning, Some of your assumptions are a little off, but in general the approach you're thinking of taking has some merit in this industry. This approach is "Start a Brand, make sure it actually sells and makes money, and THEN build out a distillery to continue operations once I'm cash positive". On the whole, this approach has just about the same ratio of success/failure as any new business, but does have a lower CAPEX expenditure and thereby a smaller amount of money to potentially lose. However, the big issue is the sales. If you're intending to keep your day job, this model might take off some of the production work, but here are the things that will still occupy your time: Processing and Bottling operations: You'll be dumping, proofing barrels for bottling. Running a bottling line. Following all the CFR guidelines for Proof and Fill Checks, record keeping etc. You'll still have to have a DSP: Even if you're not distilling, in order to store barrels, fill and label bottles, etc, you'll still have to get a DSP and follow all of the record keeping and just day-to-day work of running a DSP...even one without a mash/ferment/still operation. Sales: 50% of your time should be spent on sales....as if you're FTE. So...keep your day job, run a non-distilling DSP, and set aside 20 hours a week to call on accounts to buy your products. Please don't read this as pooping in your punchbowl. I want you to open and make a lot of booze and join our community of distillers. You just may want to revisit some of your core assumptions. Quick new mantra....."You're opening a marketing company that happens to make hooch". Or mantra 2, "Concentrate on selling the 2nd bottle, selling the first is easy". Good Luck, McKee
  3. Stillhouse vs. Whiskey Systems

    We use Whiskey Systems for both of our distilleries. Super product and always on the forefront of innovation and added features. Additionally, the implementation was a huge asset to us, with an added emphasis put on reviewing and updating our internal distillery best practices procedures. Buy it. Cheers. John
  4. Hey all, Headframe has an open position for our Production Manager, which is an administrative level position within our companies. Headframe is currently a 28 person operation, with a tasting room, bottling operation, 2 DSP's, and we manufacture continuous distillation systems that were featured in Popular Mechanics. We like to ski and float rivers, take long walks in the sunset and save puppies.....and all that good stuff. Job description is attached. Team Headframe 2016 Job Description Production - Production Manager Published.pdf
  5. Pets in Tasting Room

    We allow them, just depends on your local health department for authority. We even keep a bunch of treats onhand such that we can make buddies. Cheers, McKee
  6. Forum members at San Diego conference??

    Peter, I'll be there and speaking on Thursday too. It would be great to meet the regular contributors to this forum. Cheers, McKee
  7. LADistiller, The answer is yes and no...then more details: The "yes" part: A DSP is a "Distilled Spirits Plant", not a "Distillery License". Meaning that you can do what you're asking above, without a still, based upon Federal Law, provided you get a Basic Permit. There may be a caveat in CA law that requires a production or distillation volume on local premises. For instance, here in MT, in order to operate a tasting room you have to distill 90% of everything you sell onsite. If you elect not to have a tasting room, you are not required to distill anything. To only bottle you'll need a Basic Permit with the "warehouseman and bottler" checkbox selected. However, if you go the route of a Basic Permit, you might as well check all the boxes as it requires the same amount of work in the end. The "no" part: So, based upon bullet 1 & 3 above, you could bring in NGS and bottle, provided you get a Basic Permit. However, without at least a Basic Permit, you cannot do what you ask. You can however, contract another group with a Basic Permit and to perform your contract bottling for your brand. This has become more common in the industry, "Starting a brand by having it co-packed elsewhere, make sure it has legs in the market, then using the money to finance a distillery construction and operation". Hope this is as clear as mud. If you want to have a more detailed conversation, please feel free to PM me. Also, I'll be at ADI next week, we can talk then if you'd like more information. Cheers, McKee
  8. Looking for reliable large still manufacturer

    Good afternoon, We manufacture continuous flow distillation equipment, 1000g wash processed every 8 hours, single pass. Low to High proof on the same system. All of our design and manufacturing is performed in Butte, MT. You can learn more about us at www.headframestills.com or in the March issue of Popular Mechanics, in which our technology is featured. Cheers, John McKee
  9. Stills

    Dellmation, The question about the appropriate still for your operation isn't answered based upon style, type, or manufacturer....rather upon your marketing plan. Your marketing plan should be complete before your business plan, outlining items such as: Initial production and sales volumes for years 1-3. These are different numbers if you are aging whiskey and also selling vodka. Price points of each of the products to your end customers. Initial markets; tasting room only?, distribution (local and small, large and multi-state, open vs closed states). Those basic answers will set you within +/- 20% of your first 3 year capacity requirements, which will then lead you to an appropriate still manufacturer. Better said....figure out how much you think you can reasonably cash-flow production side and then sell......then start looking at a still. *Full disclosure, I own 2 DSPs, one of which also houses out still manufacturing business. http://www.headframestills.com/ Our technology is featured in the March 2016 issue of Popular Mechanics if you'd like to learn more about what we do. Cheers, McKee
  10. January/February sales sure suck

    If you're in a closed state you can request the overall sales numbers from the state and do some research. However, generally speaking, alcohol sales drop 40-50% between 12/31 and 1/1, and then spend the year regaining ground to the 12/31 numbers. But, during the year, there are spikes, which that data could show you and allow you to prepare for. Additionally, now that you know your traditional sales look like this, figure out alternative ways to create sales during slow times; Sponsor non-profit events Co-brand tasting events with retailers Have fund raisers at your distillery for the animal shelter or local food bank. etc.....find ways to generate non-traditional interest in your brand and products. Cheers, McKee
  11. 3 Tier Separation between producers, retailers etc

    Todd, The manner in which 3-Tier systems are regulated are controlled at the state level. Contact your state level distillery licensor and they'll have those answers. In some states, its a sharp line, in others its a total % of ownership, etc, etc. Cheers, McKee
  12. distilled versus produced and bottled

    ISkiebae, Some thoughts: Spot on with the "craft distilleries not looking so crafty". With regard tasting room rules, that's all dependent upon local and state regs, not Federal....which is where the rules for "Distilled by" come from. So what might be the case for your state might not be in other states. Finally, one note on the bourbon comment (which was why I suggested that the Standards of Identity be part of this discussion). Bourbon can be called so immediately after touching new cooperage. Meaning, one can sell a clear bourbon if one so chooses. No, it can't be called "straight" which requires 2 years in a barrel, or sold in the EU as whiskey which requires 3 years in a barrel.....but it can be called Bourbon so long as it aged at least 1 second in a new barrel. http://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf. So imagine competing in the marketplace with "clear looking" spirits that are called Bourbon...because it can happen. So I guess what I'm continuing to caution is that there are so many ways to skin a cat in beverage production that we're always going to be finding and identifying the "bad actors" while simultaneously highlighting the best of the best. But the rules will never have a "craft" or "micro" certification that can't be gamed.....so we need to work within the rules of the game that we play and do our best to be the "good actors". Cheers, McKee
  13. distilled versus produced and bottled

    Hey all, Look to the Standards of Identity to assist in this conversation as well, and please be careful on limiting the entire discussion to "distilled" topics. For example there are spirits that are perfectly legit to produce at a distillery, that are genuinely crafted onsite, yet cannot claim Distilled...such as: Cream liqueurs Applejack (and other spirits produced not by distillation) One thing to remember is that DSP stands for "Distilled Spirits Plant", not Distillery (in point of fact, look below to the TTB definition which specifically does not mention "distilling" as a process, rather using the all inclusive "rectify". I know that puts a monkey wrench in a lot of people's gears considering their desire to define craft, small, independent, etc, etc, etc. However, if you limit your discussion and focus to the word "distilled" you have the unintended consequence of potentially limiting your entire production methodology of products that you genuinely produce, yet are not distilled. And before people start throwing stones, I agree with specifying on labels the source and production methodology, I'm just encouraging you to think inclusive of the entire process of owning a DSP and not just the word "distilled". Cheers, McKee From the TTB: A distilled spirits plant (DSP) may be established to produce, bottle, rectify, process or store beverage spirits. Examples of beverage distilled spirits include neutral spirits or alcohol (i.e. vodka or grain spirits), whiskey, gin, brandy, blended applejack, rum, Tequila, cordials and liqueurs.
  14. So much investment and effort without going the final mile. I'd love to hear their side of the story, but if nothing else, be advised that the law always wins in hooch. http://www.wdrb.com/story/30947650/2000-gallons-of-alcohol-poured-down-the-drain-at-derby-city-spirits Get your permits.....all of them. Cheers, McKee
  15. Hello from Big Sky Country

    Duncan, Welcome to the community of distilleries and to the Montana community of distilleries. As an owner of 2 distilleries in Montana and the President of the MT Distillers Guild I'd be happy to share our experience of the last 4-5 years. Please feel free to reach out anytime and cheers. Best, McKee