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After digging into many posts related to start ups, production, volume, sales, etc., I cannot locate any data - anecdotal OK - related to the amount of production / distribution (whether self or through distributor) / tasting room sales, etc. that a start up distillery had in Y1 and a comparison of same to Y2 or Y3. I'm not talking revenue - just cases (or bottles/barrels put up if applicable).

I'm close to receiving approval on a loan for a small downtown (town=6000 people) Main Street location distillery and tasting room in (touristy) CO. I plan to produce vodka and two liqueurs and have estimated production at 800 cases of vodka per year (12-750ml) and 600 cases of liqueur (calculated on 12-750ml). My biz plan assumes 50 cases of each sold from the tasting room and the remainder sold thru distribution networks (including utilizing strong regional contacts in the restaurant/bar/retail/hotel industries). I also have a network of contacts in key cities in the US but am still trying to understand how I will utilize them in connection with a distributor or broker.

Would anyone be willing to comment on their own personal experience from start up thru Y1 or Y2 or Y3 related to what was produced / distributed / sold and how. Alternatively, if there is data of this nature available "to the public", I would relay the location to my banker, who is having difficulty locating statistics of this nature. I know I've got a long way to go, and much to figure out but no need to continue if the bank says "no".

Thanks for any input/direction to keep looking - as simple as Case #s produced/distributed. CB

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Unfortunately this is a tough thing to nail down. As far as sales goes, it really is relative to your individual situation and products. As a rule of thumb, unless you're in a sure bet tourist area that sees many, many folks come in (a good example not too far from you would be "a little place called Aspen"). But, all kidding aside, plan for a relatively small number of cases to be sold out of your tasting room, your 50 of each is probably a safe amount. Past that it really depends on your regional/state market, who your distributor is, how much you do to help out your distributor/marketing your brand, etc. I've spoken to many folks in the business and numbers are all over the place. Some folks you think are selling thousands and thousands of cases/yr aren't, and others you've never heard of are churning out 10-20K cases/yr. So many things are just relative to your individual circumstances. You should be able to reasonably double your sales your first few years as you are just getting established and your sales for your first year or two are likely to be nothing in the grand scheme of things. The one nugget I can give you and anyone else reading this is that you need to remove a case of 12-750ml from your vocabulary. ANY craft distiller starting out should be selling cases in the form of 6 x 750ml bottles. When you start selling 10K+ cases/yr you can start flirting with the idea of selling 12 packs. Otherwise your distributor(s), buyers, and sales folks will all thank you if you go with 6 packs.

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The smaller case size may work for some locations. If your selling in your own store what difference does it make. My customer, the State of Virginia, would not take less than a 12 count per case. It's a control state so I do what they want. With that said, I've sold about 600 cases so far. After 6 months on the shelf and hard pressed marketing, we are approaching 15 to 20 cases per week and increasing.

All I can say about my experience is start with the biggest still you can possibly afford and then stretch for a larger one.

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ANY craft distiller starting out should be selling cases in the form of 6 x 750ml bottles. When you start selling 10K+ cases/yr you can start flirting with the idea of selling 12 packs. Otherwise your distributor(s), buyers, and sales folks will all thank you if you go with 6 packs.

This gross generalization is simply untrue. The distributors I've dealt with preferred 12 packs, and when I suggested 6 packs I was advised in no uncertain terms to stay with 12 packs.

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Thanks to all for responses so far. Interesting how (perhaps) location may determine case size - I certainly did not consider that scenario - so the heads up that it may arise is certainly welcome. Appreciate the biggest is best comment - no question there! CB

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I can see the control state issue on the case size. We're in 10 markets and 6 packs seem to be preferred and very much appreciated by both distributors and retailers. However, researching your target market(s) is obviously always your best bet.

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I honestly don't think the case size matters that much. I used to run a liquor store and we assumed that everything was 12 packed. It makes it easier for mental price comparisons (bc a lot of craft spirits are hella expensive). above all, make sure your package is spot on. KNOW your market. I've seen countless shit spirits fly off the shelf because they have a cool bottle. I've seen plenty of cheaper, better spirits collect dust just because the label/bottle is shit.

take E. H. Taylor. the 9 year is $11 here. it's a great buy. the other Taylors (small batch, barrel proof, etc) are in a much nicer package and easily bring 50-70 (not sure as i never buy them). This is especially true of vodka...which will taste pretty similar to every other vodka - good or bad. 800 cases in Y1 is ambitious, but do-able. i'd count on significantly less, unless you are prominently placed in every bar in your tourist trap (not meaning to degrade, but referring to relevant tourist locations) - and in the primary hometowns of those travelers. make sure to get some demographics as to where your visitors come from. are the international? denver? the springs? Milford, NH? you get the idea..

Best of luck! seriously, don't expect to make much money in your first year though. I'd also shy away from the biggest still you can afford. remember that you can run your still 2-4 times a day 7 days a week if needed. spend your money on marketing so that people will KNOW your product.

NAB

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All of our cases are 12 bottles each and have been since the start. However, our distributors will handle either. I have seen both 6 and 12 on their product lists. I don't think this matters.

As for still size, we started with a 600 liter still with 31 foot column. Picture attached. It cost under $20,000 and has produced Double Gold at San Francisco. So in my experience, skip those expensive and pretty German stills that cost over $100,000. A 600 liter still was big enough to produce about 2,000 cases per year the first year. We were running it hard.

When you are ready to expand, you just get a second still based on what your production needs. Our second still was a 2,000 liter pot still that was also under $20,000. We use that for stripping runs. Size your fermentation tanks appropriately for your still.

We are also in a tourist area near Yellowstone and Jackson Hole with millions of visitors per year for skiing (winter) and Yellowstone (summer) so our scale might not be typical.

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We are located in a small tourist town between Aspen/Vail, so perhaps similar demographics in terms of tourists (your numbers are fantastic - congrats!) When did you open? I think the responses I'm getting w/soothe the bankers :)

Regarding your stills - did you build yourself?

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One other quick question for Grand Teton, you said you produced 2000 cases Y1 - what are you at Y2 or later (checked out your site but can't tell when you opened your doors). Thanks for any info. CB

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All of our cases are 12 bottles each and have been since the start. However, our distributors will handle either. I have seen both 6 and 12 on their product lists. I don't think this matters.

As for still size, we started with a 600 liter still with 31 foot column. Picture attached. It cost under $20,000 and has produce Double Gold at San Francisco. So in my experience, skip those expensive and pretty German stills that cost over $100,000. A 600 liter still was big enough to produce about 2,000 cases per year the first year. We were running it hard.

When you are ready to expand, you just get a second still based on what your production needs. Our second still was a 2,000 liter pot still that was also under $20,000. We use that for stripping runs. Size your fermentation tanks appropriately for your still.

We are also in a tourist are near Yellowstone and Jackson Hole with millions of visitors per year for skiing (winter) and Yellowstone (summer) so our scale might not be typical.

Teton, I'm just curious -what percentage of sales is retail vs. wholesale?

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During summer when Yellowstone was open, we had a lot of retail sales at the distillery. We are now between summer and the winter ski season, so it is much slower for drive by traffic in October and November. The skiers should start showing up in December. So the retail / wholesale revenue mix changes dramatically based on the month.

We are now in our second year.

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Mash, the Commonwealth of Virginia will most certainly take 6 pack cases. We do it for everything we sell there.

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Just another data point regarding case size. State law in Louisiana declares that you must pack 750ml bottles in 12-packs. There are also case pack requirements for all other sizes. We went through a lengthy process to get an exception for our 200ml flasks. The law requires 48 per case, but the glass came in 24-packs.

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I think it will depend on your quality of production and the amount of tourist you can drive through your operation. In Texas there is a touristy area with a new start up that a friend of mine tells me sold many many cases in their first few months due to their tasting room onsite. The area has several wineries and this company got right into their midst.

600 cases of vodka should be enough for your first year in, but it may be all you need for eternity if you make poor quality liquor because nobody will buy it.

Other liquors have to be processed for longer periods of time, such as your whiskeys and will not be available for a couple of years, how will you determine how many cases of that to put on hold?

If you get your permits in place, contact me and I will discuss more.

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Just another data point regarding case size. State law in Louisiana declares that you must pack 750ml bottles in 12-packs. There are also case pack requirements for all other sizes. We went through a lengthy process to get an exception for our 200ml flasks. The law requires 48 per case, but the glass came in 24-packs.

Jedd what is the reasoning behind that requirement? Any idea?

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You will have to ask the Louisiana Legislature regarding the reasons. One might think it's so that all cases will have the same amount of net liters, but that doesn't work for 1.75 liter bottles (6x 1.75 = 10.5 liters) or 200 ml (48x 0.2 = 9.6 liters).

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Anyone know where I can purchase 6 bottle cartons for 375ml bottles?

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Anyone know where I can buy 6 bottle cartons for 375ml bottles?

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Anyone know where I can purchase 6 pack cartons for 375ml bottles?

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