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john0

Fruit yield and cost

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Hi guys,

I'm working on my financial projections, and the quotes I've received from fruit growers average about $1 per pound. Distributors have told me that that price is variable, particularly during the growing season when prices can be very low, but I want to keep the average high just to be safe.

Regarding yield, for a clear fruit brandy I have found that it takes about 16 pounds of fruit to make 1 750ml bottle of booze. This has been my experience with plums and apricots, whereas it took about 26 pounds with pears.

At any rate on paper I'm not making ends meet. I'm sure there are a number of reasons for this but I would like to start with cost of fruit and potential yield. Anybody have different numbers? Anything you can add would be a great help!

Thanks,

-john0

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Have you looked into buying fruit concentrate? It's not as romantic as crushing your own fruit, but it can scale as your production scales and it may pencil better.

Here is a resource.

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@panoscape: I haven't and thanks for the resource. I'm happy to use concentrate if I can guarantee the origin, since craft distillers in the state of Washington have to use at least 50% local fruit. But for purposes of business planning I'm going to stick with fresh fruit.

Thanks again - this is useful info!

-j

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The resource is in Washington, so it might work out well. Also, when I was researching this, I found several orchard farms that do their own concentrate in Washington and they where about $300 cheaper than the resource. Of the top of my head I can remember that a 55 gal. drum from the resource is about $1,000 and it's reconstituted at a 6:1 ratio.

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16 pounds of fruit?

It will take roughly 1700g of sugar to make a liter of 100% pure alcohol.

Of this alcohol, a small percentage will actually yield as byproducts (high alcohols, fusels, etc), some percentage will remain within the still during first and second distillations, at least 30% will be discarded as feints. If you glass-age in demijons or barrel age, then there is of course the angel's share.

Considering every 100g of apple, for instance, contains 10g of sugar, then you'll need a lot more than 16 pounds of fruit for a single full bottle.

I guess my question is, how are you calculating your yield? What are you including when you determine how much it takes to make a single bottle?

My recommendation is that like most Eau de Vie producers, you bottle in 375ml at 45%, and label+price it as a luxury, because it is.

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Thanks guys - very interested in looking into the concentrate option.

MDH - I'm stretching it a bit. My yield so far has been between 400-700ml depending on the fruit. That's after second distillation and addition of water to achieve desired proof of 45%. My calculation was based on raw materials to alcohol rather than starch/sugar to alcohol. Approximately 2 gallons of mash from 16-20 lbs of fruit has yielded 700ml.

I'm totally with you on producing 375ml bottles with a luxury price, but the bottle price quotes I'm working with right now are for 750ml bottles. I have yet to convert my math to using the 375 container.

As you can see things are still coming together and I'm not quite as precise as I want to be. I'm going to check out some eau de vie producers this weekend and see if I can get some help on yield calculations.

Thanks again,

-j

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Apple juice should cost you about $1.25ish for 10 brix +/- gallons

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Thanks Roger! Am I understanding approximately 1 gallon of apple juice at 10% Brix for $1.25, give or take?

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wow, that's a good price. I think it must be pretty dependent on where you are located, what the orchards are like in your area.

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@Sorghumrunner,

Just checked out your site and I love your suite of products - really unique. I'm particularly interested in trying your agricole style cane spirit - my favorite style of rum.

I'm sure prices vary by region, but I would be curious to know what things are like in NC price-wise. That's just more info that could help create an average price that would be ideal for financial projections.

Best,

-j

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$2.75/gallon or so seems to be what you can find for nc juice. Most all of it is up in the mountains, and there are very few if any orchards doing 'traditional' cider apples.

@Sorghumrunner,

Just checked out your site and I love your suite of products - really unique. I'm particularly interested in trying your agricole style cane spirit - my favorite style of rum.

I'm sure prices vary by region, but I would be curious to know what things are like in NC price-wise. That's just more info that could help create an average price that would be ideal for financial projections.

Best,

-j

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I estimate it takes us about 12-15 lb of pears per 375 of brandy at 84 proof (heart yield from a single pass, the tails are recycled into other flavored products). Apples are lower yielding, plums are higher. The costs are a lot lower for us there are a number of orchards around, for apples and pears we pay $125-300/bin depending on source and variety and condition etc. But as the cider movement grows, there is more competition for desirable fruit as they can pay a lot more per lb than we can.

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Thanks for the reply Andy :)

When you say "per bin" would that be bushel/case? And approximately how many pounds of fruit are we talking?

-j

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A bin is 800-900ish lbs. We use a very small (150L) kothe, which holds about 300 lb of fruit per run, so a bin is usually 2 or 3 runs. Taking cosmetic 2nds (rain cracking, skin blemishes, mishapen, etc) or 'juice' grade fruit helps keep the price down.

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Brilliant, thanks Andy - and everyone else for this valuable info and for taking the time to respond. Can't thank you enough!

-j

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* Some numbers from our production from the last 3 years (kg fresh fruit per 1 litre of 40 %vol final product):
- Elstar apple: 16-20kg
- McIntosh: 14-15 kg
- Golden Delicious: 12-13kg
- European crab apple: 15 kg
- zwetschge plum: 11-13kg
- rowan berry: 32-50kg
- apricot: 15-19kg
- bartlett: 14-20kg
- cherry: 8-12kg
- sour cherry: 18-23kg

* we stopped distilling concentrates: in our opinion: it's not vibrant - it's rather boring compared to fresh fruit

* brandy distilled from apple juice is maybe more smooth but definitely it lacks power and complexity compared to mash from fresh fruit.

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From 19 CFR 5.22:

“Fruit brandy” is brandy distilled solely from the fermented juice or mash of whole, sound, ripe fruit, or from standard grape, citrus, or other fruit wine, with or without the addition of not more than 20 percent by weight of the pomace of such juice or wine, or 30 percent by volume of the lees of such wine, or both (calculated prior to the addition of water to facilitate fermentation or distillation).

This seems to say you can use juice, mash, or wine of fruit. I'd guess the juice used for your concentrate must come from whole, sound, ripe fruit. The assumption being that your apple juice came from apples.

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Thanks guys,

Treskatz I would love to check out your product as many of your fruit choices are things with which we're experimenting, particularly golden delicious and rowan berry. Do you have west coast distribution and would there be a place I could pick up some product?

Thanks for the numbers!

-j

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Sorry we are a small Austrian distillery. And we currently export only to Germany. But if you can tell me how I can send some samples to US I will do. Besides golden delicious I can strongly recommend Elstar (Ingrid Marie x Golden Delcious). The last 3 years in nearly every bigger competition in Austria Elstar (and descendent cultivars like ecolette) is the winner in the apples category. Maybe interesting upcoming cultivars: redfleshed apples like Baya Marisa - wonderful lively acid and hints of red berries, strawberry. I am impatiently waiting to get some. If I was distilling in US, I would try out some of the native northern American crab apple species like Malus fusca, Malus angustifolia or others. Here in Europe I can only get Malus sylvestris: a wonderful strong and full bodied destillate, with a nice almond touch (but less than rowan berry of course) and a hint of strawberry.

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I have to say, Rowan Berry is not for the faint of heart. Once you're up and running and have time to kill, that's your "I'm doing this because I really seriously love it" brandy. And your customer base will be very niche - usually German or Central Europeans.

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