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Hey folks - we just got our DSP and are trying to build out our daily records as required by TTB. Does anyone have a suggested format (excel, etc) that you use? We'd like to use something like Whiskey Systems or another plug and play resource to take out the guesswork, but we need the capital for other things at the moment.

Any templates anyone could share? We will share ours when we have them built out to help make life easier for the next wave.

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In my opinion,

You should think about what your time is worth, in terms of money spent. If you are doing daily production plus sales, either on or off premise, you're probably going to have 20 plus hours per month invested in keeping records straight, All the while hoping you don't make some sort of small mistake.

In the interest of total transparency, I am currently using Whiskey systems. But I have used excell for years prior to Whiskey systems, And I'd never go back to excell in a million years. I've got a million other things to worry about besides spending half a week or more a month doing reports that I'd probably mess up anyway.

Just my 2 cents.

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+1 on what Distiller76 says. When I took over lead distiller and reporting I had a made up excel sheet. It was a nightmare.

A software does exactly the opposite of that and allows you your valuable time to get everything done.

But that being said making your own sheets really makes you do your homework on compliance.

Tools are there to make the job easier.

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First, he said he does not have the capital for that software, and I understand where he came from...

I am not sure I agree with using the costly software for small folks starting out, a couple hundred dollars a month is great if it does everything and you have ten thousand a month coming in, but they don't do everything, they can't... You still have to do all the measuring, all the data entry, and you have to do it their way, they just do math and database recording... sure they fill out the reports, but in my opinion, you really need to do the reports yourself for at least a little bit, your name is still on them!...

Oh, and from what I hear, don't try to go back and correct a mistake you found you made in one of those programs... worse than trying to correct something in your Retail POS system...

I spend maybe an hour a week filling out basic daily log forms I created in excel for each kind of tracked activity: received fermentables, fermentations, transfers, stripping runs, whiskey runs, neutral runs, botanical runs, dilution, gauging and bottling runs, barreling and entry to storage, and removal from bond... In the beginning, it was well more than an hour, but you get good at it... those forms have no math, they are simple daily records that I print out a bunch of each type and keep in the distillery area, I do something on the list above, I fill it out by hand... (it is also a great thing to show people on tours to show the detail of records you keep to appease the government and why they should buy a bottle of something that is truly 'hand crafted!)

Monthly, tonight, actually, I will take all those daily record sheets in my binder and last month's forms, and tally up totals.... I will go through my distillation records and total up any 'finished spirits' and open the 5110.40 "production", I will go through it and triple check everything.. I will go through my dilution, gauging, and bottling records and my 'removed from bond records and tally them up and I will fill out 5110.28 "processing".. I didn't fill any new barrels this month, so my 5110.10 'Storage' will have the same values that I ended with last month... I literally spent more time typing this than I probably will doing the reports tonight....

I have looked at putting my data into one of the lower cost systems like distillitrak. I probably will go with them eventually, but the startup is too time intensive at the moment, as the setup of vendors, every container, every ingredient, etc... are one thing, but every time you turn around to do something different, you have to go add this or that to your ingredients or vendors or items or whatever before proceeding, it really seems to hurt the artistic workflow of a small shop.... you should do it in excel sheets of your own making for a year or so, specifically so you know what the software you will likely eventually purchase is doing...

The biggest reason I will eventually get a system is for more than 10 products and products at multiple proofs, that is where spreadsheets fail and a database shines... but even then, it will do things the operator does not understand, especially if the operator does not have an intimate understanding of how the daily records and monthly TTB forms relate to each other...

OK, I spent an hour and a half writing this... time to do reports..

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and there we go, the first PM trying to sell me monthly cost software comes in promising a 'big discount'...   when it is a $9.95 app (ok, a $99.95 app) with no recurring charges, let me know...  

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"..stripping runs, whiskey runs, neutral runs, botanical runs,.."

I also just recently received my DSP and was deciding the best way to handle the reporting.  Being a computer programmer by trade for all of my life, and specializing in customer information system I decided to develop my own software.  I started with a minimal prototype with basic functionality.  As new needs arise I just add new functionality to my system.  I simply drag and drop different 'source' tanks and 'destination' tanks to a new distillation run then print out my worksheet.  The computer already knows the info on the source containers.  If it's fermentation source tank it defaults to the full wine gallon amount, but you can override that value if you are not using the entire tank.  When the run is done and after everything is completed on the worksheet I enter them in my laptop.  I can back up my database anytime I want and it automatically gets sent to my computer at home for a backup (then again when Carbonite backs up my home computer).  It audits every change I make so 'when' I make mistakes I can easily find it.  All transactions are linked to the next process so I can visually move through the 'parent' 'child' relationship history for any run.  For example if i click an 'up' or 'down' arrow on any tank displayed for any distillation run the program via animation hides the currently displayed run and brings up the previous or next run with the tank I selected to follow its history.  (Blaah-blaah-blaah...)   Anyway,,,,

Currently for my distillation runs I do not differentiate the type of run except as described in notes, but I can see that it may be time for me to normalize the 'type' of run like you described in your post (stripping runs, whiskey runs, neutral runs, botanical runs,..).  Do you keep track of any other types of runs besides these 4?

 

John

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I believe they want records in the Excel format. Hoochware is a little cheaper, and although I haven't used their program, as we are just starting up, and capital is very limited for me at this point as well, I asked them a few questions about reporting, and their customer service is excellent.

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*Edit: I stand corrected, whiskey systems does offer a $150 entry level. Have yet to inquire about what it includes, happy to report my findings back.

I'm currently a month into Hoochware. We're a winery that just added a DSP. I handled IT at the winery, and after about 10 years of growth and the "software battles" to meet it, I can say that the distilling industry looks like the wine industry from about 5-10 years ago:

Limited options; expensive; programs with "ideal feature sets" are very enterprise/ERP focused/priced; most options do a lot of what you may need - and quite a bit of what you don't; most options are about 10 years behind the rest of the world in the areas of UI/framework. 

I want a piece of software which is cloud-based, regularly developed/updated, and packaged in tiers which allow me to choose the level of feature sets that I require (and skip those that I don't). While some options are tier based, it's a far cry from feasible or accurately targeting the features I need. 

Granted, I'm unique in that: we're based in our wine cellar so I don't need all the fermentation tracking; we're 100% grape-based, and 99% of "grain operations management" tools are irrelevant; targeting 2-5 barrels/year of aged product in the next few years, "barrel management" is completely unnecessary;we're a control state so my startup phase can only take advantage of limited "sales force" features and account management since I primarily am only able to sell to a single wholesale account at first. 

Having said all that, I've looked at the following table, and Hoochware is the only one with a "lower price" and "bigger feature set" which touches on the cloud-based, modern ui, and constantly updated highlights that I'm seeking. 

Summary: no software is ever a silver bullet in any industry, and is always going to cost more than you want to pay. But for the right system, I'll pay what I need to - it's not ALL about the price, because like folks have noted, you can't always just put a price on your time. At this stage, the options are extremely limited and nothing is "totally" right...but from my experience thus far, I've got high hopes for Hoochware and it's working out great right now. Hope this helps.

Company

 

Website

 

Target

 

Likely Monthly

 

DRAMS http://www.drams-software.com/brandy Enterprise Quote
HOOCHWARE https://www.hoochware.com/   199, no contract, 3 months free trial, no setup/termination fee
ShipComplaint http://www-archive.shipcompliant.com/pricing   500
Foundations by American Spirits Exchange http://americanspiritsltd.com/services/distilled-spirits-foundations/ 500
Whiskey Systems https://www.whiskeysystems.com/WSpricing.html every level through ERP $150-$350
DistilliTrak http://distillitrak.com/ Low Level $75 for lifetime
Mountain Moonshine ABS  http://mountainmoonshine.com/alcoholblendingsoftware/orderinginformation.html Anybody $175 one time
Stillhouse http://www.stillhousesolutions.com/pricing.html   375
Ospirits (orchestratred spirits) ERP 650
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