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Devin

Distillery Software Pros & Cons

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Hi all,

In process of start up and we are evaluating distilling software (Distill x5, Whiskey Systems, Hooch), can anyone provide pros & cons?

Thanks in advance,

Devin

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The " Con " of any software is people have gotten the idea that software is the answer to everything. As thus they have become fascinated and mesmerized by the artifice of it all. People who have never done a correct inventory for example need to learn how to create a fully organized stock room with a paper inventory form that runs in the exact order of the layout, and then master the process by doing it every day. We are living in an age where critical thinking is being lost. This is dangerous. People are fiddling with gadgets too much.

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Would you use accounting software like quickbooks?  This is no different in my opinion.  

Distillery management software is a big shortcut if you cant afford to hire someone with the skill sets necessary to track the data of your operation.  You can spend ages figuring out the *required* way to organize your inventory, process, sales, addition to and removal from bond, etc.  We did it wrong at first, had he TTB help us understand (anxiety producing, for sure), and then figured it out. Alternatively, you can subscribe to one of these software applications get it all correct from the jump, save time, money, and have a solid understanding of your businesses performance.  We have done both.  I choose the software.  I and my staff prefer Whiskey Systems, but each system is worth a look to check functionality, cost, applicability for the size of your operation, etc.  

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1 hour ago, starcat said:

The " Con " of any software is people have gotten the idea that software is the answer to everything. As thus they have become fascinated and mesmerized by the artifice of it all. People who have never done a correct inventory for example need to learn how to create a fully organized stock room with a paper inventory form that runs in the exact order of the layout, and then master the process by doing it every day. We are living in an age where critical thinking is being lost. This is dangerous. People are fiddling with gadgets too much.

While this answer has a bit of a luddite tone to it, I am in agreement to some extent with this sentiment.

For my first 3 years of distilling operations I tracked all the records needed manually. I created spreadsheets to assist, but it was still a lot of pen to paper and then entering things into the spreadsheet. 

We consistently see questions regarding regulation, record keeping and other compliance issues on these forums. People often are overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to familiarize themselves with when starting a distillery, and having a one-stop shop in distillery software compliance can be tempting. The issue is it is still a tool, and you need to understand all the rules and regulations (and most importantly how to correctly read the rules and regulations) in order to be compliant. 

I always strongly recommend that you spend the first year or more learning the rules, reading the CFR and creating your own record keeping system so you have a strong understanding of all the elements before jumping into a tool.

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Hi Devin, I honestly don't see a "con" in adopting a distillery management software solution unless you consider having a small bit of extra free time that these packages will give you over manually recording, calculating and filling out TTB reports a con.  Not to discount the need to familiarize yourself and staff with the CFR but if you have the extra couple hundred dollars a month these systems cost by all means subscribe to one of them from day 1 of your business if possible. 

We're big Hoochware fans.

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Hoochware has a free trial period. The owner is a super helpful guy, happy to answer any questions. I made a bunch of excel sheets to track everything to save money for the first few months when production was pretty low. I had the intention of getting some software later down the line. By the time I got around to testing software options, I had things dialed in and the reports pretty figured out. My day to day reporting is much easier on the forms I custom created for my various processes. I just have to do the TTB reports manually. Which is a pain but becomes pretty automatic after 6 months.

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Thank you all for your comments!  Keep them coming.....we have done a webinar/live demo with Distill x5 and Whiskey Systems.  Hoochware is in our sites to demo.....

I agree that it is essential to understand the TTB regs and reporting.  Just a lot to take in which I am sure you all know.

Any further advice is greatly appreciated!!

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I agree with the rest that having an understanding of why that proof gallon moved from this report to another and that specific row/column is crucial. Learn how to do this on your own first, the TTB provides very useful flash tutorials:

 

Storage Operations:  

PDF - https://ttb.gov/forms/f511011.pdf  

Tutorial - https://www.ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511011/f511011_tutorial.html 

Helpful Hints - https://ttb.gov/forms/5110.11sr-hh.pdf 

Good Flash Tutorial - https://www.ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511011/sample_form.html 
 

Processing Operations:  

PDF - https://ttb.gov/forms/f511028.pdf  

Tutorial - https://ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511028/f511028_tutorial.html

Helpful Hints - https://ttb.gov/forms/5110.28pr-hh.pdf  

Good Flash Tutorial - https://www.ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511028/sample_form.html 

 

Production Operations

PDF - https://ttb.gov/forms/f511040.pdf  

Tutorial - https://ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511040/f511040_tutorial.html  

Helpful Hints - https://ttb.gov/forms/5110.40pr-hh.pdf  

Good Flash Tutorial (Make sure you have flash enabled) - https://www.ttb.gov/forms_tutorials/f511040/sample_form.html 

 

My last two cents is that software should not cost that much. 

 

Cheers,

-ilias

 

 

 

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Distillery inventory, process, reporting management the hard way pen, paper spreadsheets.

Pros, the only cost is your time and you gain an intimate knowledge of every last nuance of your business..    Cons, How much time do you have to spare?

We currently use X5 and love it. Pros: cloud based data is always at your fingertips with complete information at a touch plus the ability to mine data easily. Easy monthly and quarterly reporting. HUGE time saver.

Cons: It costs money. (although it is well spent in my opinion )

The question you have to ask is how much is your time worth to you?

 

 

 

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Those who have used multiple systems, what are a few things that you like/dislike about the systems you have used?

I've only used Hoochware, and I like it...but it's also all I know.  I will say that I've talked to the owner a dozen or so times, and met him at the ACSA, and he's a great guy.

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hoochware has limitations and odd quirks.  Why require and use volume measurements when everything is done by weight?  Can't handle sugar additions for liqueurs and similar.  

X5 costs a little more, but does what hoochware could not.  The difference I think is hoochware was built by a programmer, but X5 was built by a distiller.  It shows in the details.

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