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rickthenewb

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Hi all, so I have been reading for a few days now and this site is pretty amazing.  I do have a few questions to start out with that I hope someone can either help me with or point me in the right direction.  I am looking at starting out with a 500k-1MM budget.  (we will see what the number is once we start moving forward)  I am doing a small roadtrip from NJ to Georgia to hit up as many distilleries as possible (very much looking forward to this)

1. I know what I want to make, vodka, whiskey and gin to start with, NJ allows 20k gallons/yr for a craft distiller license - Should I start out with a smaller 50 gallon still or go with 100 plus? Is it smarter to get a turn key or piece it together? From what I have been reading you don't want to spend too much on the equipment (marketing should be a large part of the budget)  but you also don't want to be stuck if and when demand increases. 

2. I am looking for a start to finish checklist, not sure if one exists.  Just to be able to collect all of my information and thoughts.

3. I am currently going over the NJ state laws and TTB laws to get myself familiar, any advice on NJ consultation?

I have a lot more questions but I want to see what I can learn on the road first.  Thank you in advance 

 

rick

 

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Hi Rick!  Agreed, this site is absolutely essential for prospective and new distillers.

We just had our grand opening 2 weeks ago so I've just dealt with all of the issues/questions/concerns that you have or will have!  You should be able to put together a pretty functional distillery/tasting room with the budget figure you mention.  If I were you, keeping in mind your budget, I would definitely go bigger than 50 gallon.  When you do the math and figure out the yield you'll get from that size equipment, I think you'll arrive at that conclusion on your own.  I went with a 300 gallon solution (300 gallon still & fermenters and a 400 gallon mash tun) and, even at that size, I can see the potential for demand outpacing supply down the road.  Also, my package was a turnkey solution and it sure saved me the hassle of trying to piece different pieces of equipment together from different suppliers. 

As far as marketing budget goes - we have gotten a LOT of mileage from free local press coverage as well as social media sites.  We haven't spent a lot on marketing at this point and I'm not sure we will do much down the road.  There are topics in these forums about marketing and I think the opinions vary wildly and are really based on the particulars of your location (type of spirits you make, location, access to foot traffic, nearby businesses, etc).  What we did spend on though was our brand development.  We hired an amazing design and marketing company to work with us on the development of our brand, logo, and label/packaging.  I would recommend putting a LOT of effort (and dollars if necessary) to come up with a memorable brand with a memorable label and bottle to go with it.  

Our project took about 2 years from the time we jumped in with both feet (and at least 2 years prior to that visiting other distilleries and researching the industry) until we opened our doors.  I think that's a fairly reasonable expectation (some open quicker, some take longer).  It's been at times frustrating but overall I would do it all again!  Good luck and feel free to PM me if you have any questions.  Also, if your distillery tour gets you into Western PA, feel free to look me up!

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Thank you for the reply, I think you are right with the size still you mentioned, it seems like such a huge purchase that it sits uneasy with me but I would rather not have to worry too much about expansion later.  If I make to western PA I will definitely be visiting, what is the name of the distillery? 

What still company did you use?

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Rick, we are Mingo Creek Craft Distillers and our whiskies are branded as Liberty Pole Spirits (www.libertypolespirits.com).  We're about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, right off of Interstate 79.

I worked with Jesse of Trident Stills.  They are based in Etna Maine - Jesse is a great guy and I highly recommend you consider them for your equipment needs.

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Good Afternoon, Guys,

I represent All American Containers. We have a 125,000 square foot warehouse in Belle Vernon, PA with lots of choices for spirits bottles. Also we can ship directly from out

Manufacturer's Warehouse in MO. Let me know I can help you.

cphillips@allamericancontainers.com

336-906-9097 or message me with your e-mail addresses and will get catalog to you today

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So after my trip from New Jersey to Georgia I've decided that I would like to move forward using multiple 30 gallon Stills setup in tandem.

I like this for several reasons, 1, The Upfront cost is much lower. 2, it allows much more flexibility. After visiting multiple distilleries I found that they all have one thing in common, they all have a very large nut to crack.   there were a few distilleries that had this method and after talking with them did very well and grew slowly and underestimated how much money they made from their retail store.

I was much more worried about how I would  get my product out to the various restaurants and bars in the area when I should have been thinking about how do I make a quality product in my area that people will come in and be part of.

My area sees an annual visitor population of around 22 million people, we also have a very vibrant alcohol scene with beer and wine to begin with.

So with all that being said I'm now trying to design my mash tuns and fermenters around 4-30 gallon Stills setup in tandem.

I was thinking 2-200 gallon fermenters

And 2- 250gallon kettles

I know I might sound crazy, but I think this method is the best way to move forward in my area.

Thank you for all the help gentleman

Also the east coast tour was incredible.

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