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jo-el-eo

My experience with Corson Distilling

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I bought five 1,000 gallon fermenters and a 1,000 gallon mash cooker from Corson Distilling. I've known them for the better part of 2 years now, since my first conversations with them, having equipment built, and using the equipment for about a year. I previously posted a review, which was taken down by the forum moderators at Corson's request. After my review, I received calls from several people who have had negative experiences with Corson, from receiving defective equipment late to putting down large payments and receiving nothing at all. Several of those people shared that they are filing lawsuits against Corson. Though Corson threatened me with legal action after my first review, there is nothing illegal about sharing my experience in a factual and dispassionate way. And I feel obligated to share my experience to help other distillers avoid the same difficulties. Thanks to ADI's changed forum rules, I hope that this review will remain available for people to see.

1. Delivery Delays

Our equipment was delivered late, after much work on my part to encourage its completion. Well into the process I went to Boise in person because their communication made me worried they weren't making progress, to find they were essentially beginning work as I arrived. We ended up receiving the equipment several months after the delivery window, and only with an immense amount of followup on my part to ensure they got it done.

2. Design and Build Quality

When we received the equipment, by and large the quality appeared to be good. There were a fair number of missing or incorrect parts, but they were very good about sending out replacements. Once we got the equipment on line, we found that there to be some design flaws on the mash/lauter tun. It was missing a sparge arm, the removable false bottom didn't fit in the tank, and actually broke during the first run, and the design of the rakes, motor and gearbox was inadequately powered to rake even a very small grain bed. The propellers for grain-in mashes also weren't able to keep the contents of the tank moving. Josh Corson and one of their technicians came out and fixed the false bottom, shored up the motor mounts, installed a sparge arm, and did some other minor fixes. After that, over numerous months, we worked with them to get a new gearbox, and to try and get a stronger motor. They did send some parts, but after a year of followup the lautering setup still doesn't work, and I ended up having to modify the propellers myself to get the agitator to work for grain-in mashes.

There have been a few problems with the fermenters as well. First, though the design specifications were supposed to have 30% true headspace on top of a 1,000 gallon volume, they do not. Additionally, one of the fermenters developed a jacket leak. It turns out that when the tanks were originally built, Corson did not spot weld about 25% of the dimples on the cooling dimple jackets. So at the specified operating pressure of 15psi, the tanks have blown numerous spot welds, and developed a couple of leaks that we've identified so far.

3. Customer Service

The biggest stress for me of this whole experience has been Corson's customer service. They respond to reasonable concerns and questions with anger, insults, and blaming the customer. The best way I can describe the experience is as gaslighting - they've made me feel crazy. We've gone through numerous account managers, who seem to leave as quickly as they come. But all along the way I've been blamed and belittled and made to feel insane for just asking them to build the equipment to specification and fulfill the warranty. When I presented the leaking jacket problem to them a couple months ago, they said I was free to send the tank back to them at my expense, and they would decide whether or not they would cover it under warranty. That of course would be much more expensive than just having it fixed on site. At that point I decided to post my review of them on the forum, after which they threatened me with a lawsuit and said they would no longer be honoring my warranty. I've subsequently fixed the leaking jacket and the propellers myself.

In summary, I cannot recommend Corson Distilling. They did produce equipment for us, which we use every day, and I was initially pleased to be able to partner with a small American startup manufacturer. And they certainly made a good faith effort at the beginning to follow through and make things right. But the design issues, and most importantly the customer service, have made the experience overall a very negative one.

I would welcome other people who have worked with them to share their experiences, positive or negative. 

Thanks,

Joel Vikre

Duluth Minnesota

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19 minutes ago, jo-el-eo said:

I bought 5 1,000 gallon fermenters and a 1,000 gallon mash cooker from Corson Distilling. I've been involved with them for the better part of 2 years now, since my first conversations with them, having equipment built, and using the equipment for about a year. I previously posted a review, which was taken down at Corson's request. After doing so, I received calls from several people who have had negative experiences with Corson, from receiving eADI has since changed their 

 

Now that the forum rules have been changed to allow fair and honest reviews, I feel obliged to share my experience with Corson Distilling.

Hi jo-el-eo

Our start up distillery is strongly considering Corson to purchase our  distillation equipment from, would you please email me at oceansidedistillery@outlook.com I would like to touch base with you on that subject.

Regards

Lorenzo

 

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Thank you for posting this, we also had major issues with Corson that seem to mirror yours. We purchased 1- 500 gallon mashtun, 4- 500 gallon fermenters and 1- 500 gallon 10 plate still. 

We were one of their first customers and took the leap after looking at many other manufacturers. They promised quick build times and good prices, they were quick to respond to every phone call and email until they received the down payment, then it was very difficult to get any information. We ended up having to get our lawyer involved in order to show we were very serious about the situation and finally received equipment in partial loads starting months after the original delivery date and the last one coming a year after. We also have a fermenter with a leaking jacket that they refused to fix, the leak was blamed on us even though we had not used the fermenter yet. When they finally returned to repair and replace the faulty equipment, they were very rushed to make their flight back home and ended up having to leave before completing the repairs which were agreed upon in a new agreement our lawyers worked up. When I made the point that the fermenter had not been fixed, none of the equipment had been pressure tested and many parts were missing, Tory started to verbally attack my employees and I. I have never been treated with such disrespect or called the names he was coming up with. An employee noticing the situation ended up calling the police for fear that Tory would turn violent. 

We have since stopped attempting to repair the multiple design issues with our columns and use the still exclusively as a pot still. Our jacket still leaks on the fermenter, do you happen to have a contact to have this repaired? 

This is just a quick highlight of our dealings with Corson, we did not have a positive experience in dealing with them, to say the least. I appreciate your honesty in starting this thread, I had typed a review multiple times but decided against posting each time. They did leave our still on their website for some time so luckily I was able to receive a few phone calls asking our opinion. 

 

Hayes Kelman

Dodge City Kansas 

 

 

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Those are both good reviews as they clearly state issues, responses by the manufacturer and genuine efforts from both sides to resolve them. Someone may suggest that this has only one side of the story with Corson not having the opportunity to respond.

But timeliness of action is a response in itself. Slow delivery beyond contract dates. Slow responses to inquiries and concerns subsequent to payment. Slow response to physical defect remedy,or no response to repair satisfactory.

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Thanks for sharing your situation Hayes. I too had never experienced disrespect or name calling in this industry (or ever, really) like I did from those guys.

We ended up repairing the jacket ourselves. Looked for deformations on the inside of the tank, then cut big windows out of the outer shell and removed the insulation where the deformations looked the worst. Naturally the deformations tended to be where the spot welds had been skipped during initial construction. Pressurized the jacket to 15psi with air to find the leaks. Tig welded the pinholes, which were where in the dimples on the cooling jacket where the welds had broken loose. Kept this up until the jacket would hold pressure. Then reinstalled the insulation and welded back in the pieces of the outer shell. 

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Hayes,

We can fix your fermenter leak for you.  We can fix your 10 plate column, so that it will function correctly as well.   My professional opinion is that they have a design flaw in their offset bubble plate columns, that causes them to flood.   Does your column flood?  If so I have a fix that will allow the column to function correctly.  If you are interested, call or email me. paul@distillery-equipment  417-778-6100  it would be no problem for me to send one of my people over there to fix everything for you.  The work would be guaranteed and I have great references.

Joel's description of fixing the leaks in the dimple jacket is spot on.

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We bought a still from Corson as well. We also posted a bit about our experience on adiforums. It was removed at the request of Corson. 

I am not going to do a full review today, but just wanted to add one picture to give you a taste of the experience. The attached picture is how we have to clamp down the manhole covers on the thumpers to avoid leaking vapors.

The manhole covers have been just one of the areas on this still that needed work. I will share with you some detail on the issues we had in this one area.

The gaskets that they arrived with were not a solid vulcanized piece. They were cut and left with at least a 1/4" gap where you would expect the ends to meet. The ends were cut quite rough. They leaked vapors into the air at rapid pace. We replaced them with the proper gaskets but that didn't fix the leaking vapor problem completely. We still need to grind down the stainless manhole top edges to fix bumps caused by the welds that do not allow a seal to easily happen. We will probably also need to remove the bottom parts of the still's clamping apparatus and weld them into the proper place because they are not aligned. We added hardened washers to stop the grind of metal on metal when tightening down the manholes. We will be replacing the screws with more appropriate threads for this type of application. We will also be adding better handles that make it easier to clamp the manholes down. We had to drill new holes in the arms that hold the covers as the covers would not close properly as attached because the original holes were not drilled in the correct spot. They had told me that they would do a test run of the still before shipping. Clearly that did not happen.

We did not ask Corson to fix these parts under warranty so I cannot say what their response would have been. We did send them a partial list of problems that we ran into but did not get a reply. We were quite frustrated with all of the things that needed to be fixed on a brand new still. We chose the quick way to get the still up and running by utilizing a local fabrication shop to fix the multitude of problems. The still had arrived so far beyond it's deadline that we didn't want to wait for warranty repairs. They were good about sending out needed parts that we requested, but I had no confidence in their desire or capability to fix the other problems that we ran into. If they knew how to do it right you would expect it to come out of the shop that way.

Our still was already overdue by a few months in April of 2016 when the project manager wrote in email that he expected it to be done in 2 - 3 weeks. In June we were told via email that it was 5 to 10 days until completion. In July we were told it would ship before the end of the month. We didn't receive it until the end of December, 2016. We were jokingly thinking of naming the still "7 to 10" because we were told on several occasions that is how many days until it would be done. 

I could go on in more detail about other issues with the still, customer service, and delivering the still anywhere near the contractual date but I will leave that for another time. It is all very well documented.

 

IMG_6629.JPG

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Here is a very good  manway for a still pot https://www.glaciertanks.com/pressure-manways-mw-rnd-g18-4-ss304.html  Note all of the clamping points.  This is what we use and I have never had one leak.

 Here is a really cheap Chinese manway https://www.glaciertanks.com/non-pressure-manholes-mh-g10-non-press.html  This is one of the worst manways that you can use for a still pot.  They almost always leak.  Note the lack of clamping points.  Also this is really light weight.  Please note the manways listed on the import records below.   All of the listed shippers are in mainland China.

 

5964f83f41c98_CopyofCorsonDistilling_Page_1.thumb.jpg.64b91420479ebafc3ef38cada521c8cd.jpg

 

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Hey Paul

Thanks for posting that information on the man ways AND the Import Records.........Very Interesting.

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Two of my clients have had similar experiences. I hope they will post to this thread.

Dan

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Hi Dan,

I think that your clients, like many other people, take Corson's threats to sue very seriously, so they are afraid to tell their stories, which is really a shame.

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I've had no dealings with Corson, but I'm glad the moderators have decided not to delete this kind of content anymore. Unfortunately I think it is necessary.  I'm sure any serious still manufacturer is on this forum regularly, and can defend themselves If needed. Heck, look how many posts @Southernhighlander has :D and it's not even complaints against him.

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11 hours ago, whiskeytango said:

So singlmalt whats your stake in the game? Why are you concerned with keeping this at the forefont of the topics?   

Agree . Two posts, new member, same thread.

Without specifics sockpuppet comes to mind. In addition calling the posters who have specific physical issues with this company, liars typically gets a poser...er poster banned in many forums.

Respectful specifics good and bad will always carry more weight.

 

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Your assuming that I meant the posters were liars. Did you ever consider maybe just maybe Corson was and are the ones telling lies and maybe just maybe I wanted to keep this at the forefront to prevent others from giving them any of their hard earned money.??

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I have had limited interaction with Corson, much less than others here, but they seemed like alright people when we dealt with them.... That being said they sold me a whiskey thief that does not do its job very well......

 

.......thank god actually because theres enough whiskey thieves around here as is.....

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3 hours ago, Singlemalt007 said:

Your assuming that I meant the posters were liars. Did you ever consider maybe just maybe Corson was and are the ones telling lies and maybe just maybe I wanted to keep this at the forefront to prevent others from giving them any of their hard earned money.??

First of all I assumed noting,  and second you still haven't said anything as to how you know so much.  So again i ask what is your experience with this still maker? 

 

 

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Someone told me that they have been trying to get a quote from Corson, but Corson never responded to them.  Corson's web site is still up and they still have adds in magazines.  Does anyone know if they are still taking orders?  i talked to a guy who picked his still up the other day and he said that it looked like they only had around 15 employees.  Not long ago they had around 50 employees.

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I've been incredibly reluctant to post in this topic or any other topic regarding this company, but the time has come. We had a very bad dealing with Corson Distilling and are still working through issues and problems that this particular transaction has inflicted upon our business. Below is an article that was just posted by the Idaho Statesman....the same news source that posted a gleaming article about Corson a year ago (original article referenced in the link). I am the "Adam Stumpf" and "Stumpy's Spirits" referenced in the article, and the video they posted was taken right after our Corson still blew the hatch off on the first full production run...please excuse my frantic nature in the video. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the situation I cannot say much more, but would caution distillers and potential distillers who are considering purchasing equipment from this group to complete a bit of extra due diligence prior to committing to anything. I hope this post will save someone the trouble that we have had, and are continuing to struggle through.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/business/article187541748.html

Adam

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Just now, whiskeytango said:

Thats nuts.  How did it build up enough pressure to blow the hatch open?  

That gets a bit into the "design" aspect so I can't go into great deal about it, but what I can say is that in the condition the still was sent to us (manufacturing flaw, design flaw, however you want to cut it up), it operated in a way that the pot shoved a portion of its contents into the base of the column, plugging the column and making the vapor path impassable (or largely impassable) for new vapor being generated in the pot.

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