Jump to content

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

19 Neutral

About John McKee

  • Rank
    Active Contributor

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. John McKee

    Seeking recommendations for Best Stills

    Thanks! We think so too.
  2. John McKee

    Copper vs Stainless on stripping runs

    Highwood, In all likelihood, the color is carryover due to foaming. You may not be puking, but even minor entrainment of color bodies in the vapor stream can come from foaming. You can use a silicone kettle de-foamer, or test with a small amount of corn oil in the pot during distillation. Cheers. McKee
  3. John McKee

    Operating Hours

    Scott, Our state is the rule maker on hours and I would assume that's pretty similar regardless of where a distillery is located. For reference, in Montana we can only have the tasting room open from 10-8, only allowed to sell 2 oz per person per day, and 1.75L per person per day. Cheers, McKee
  4. John McKee

    Aging Options.

    Kelvin Cooperage in KY is the supplier for used cooperage to the UK. They also usually throw in new barrels in the container they ship on orders. You might want to talk to them and see if you could piggy-back on another distiller's order/shipping. p.s. I'll be installing a system in Surrey in November. It would be great to stop and see you operation when I'm in country. Cheers. McKee
  5. John McKee

    Column Leveling

    You should be able to shim to a new elevation without too many issues, provided you shim the attached still to the same elevation as well. We use Redhead anchor bolts when installing and leveling our systems. Pretty simple to use, there are some good videos on youtube to assist. Shim stock can be purchased from McMasterCarr which would be a better solution than slotted washers. Cheers, McKee
  6. John McKee

    Grain to Water Ratios

    We mash and ferment just over 2:1 (2000lbs grain to 850g water or about 2.3x) lbs/gallons on most all of our recipes, Bourbon, Single Malt, Wheat for Vodka, whatever. Average ABV% above 10%. Cheers, McKee
  7. John McKee

    Column Leveling

    An additional thought to consider, All columns need to be as plumb as possible, even 1" over 16' is unacceptable for supporting good distillation. To picture the analogy, put a pyrex of water on a desk and then put a few pennies under one side. The water will pool in the deeper side right? The same applies to each tray of your column and the liquid hold-up on each tray. If you're out of plumb the vapor and liquid interaction (distillation) will lose efficiency because the vapor will short path to the side with less liquid and the liquid will short path to the side with the lower elevation. I was asked to assist with a Carl system that couldn't sustain 190p. When I arrived it was obvious the column was out of plumb. We leveled and the immediate following run made 190p and there haven't been issues since. Just FYI on distillation efficiency and getting your install precise. Cheers, McKee
  8. John McKee

    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
  9. John McKee

    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
  10. 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
  11. John McKee

    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
  12. John McKee

    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
  13. 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
  14. John McKee

    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
  15. John McKee


    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