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I am finally ready to file with the TTB for permits.  My state (Alaska) has said I can not do anything on the local level to be ready until I get the final approval with the TTB.  Is this correct? I have ready a very good post where someone states that you should get everything done at the local/state level FIRST.  Has anyone had to go to their state after?

I have also been researching companies for bottling and equipment.  I have seen tons of compliments on US companies and have settled on Paul at Distillery-Equipment.com should I go US.  I have also been looking into several Chinese manufacturers.  However, the Chinese companies seem to take forever to get back to me and that worries me a bit.  Have anyone had any good experiences with a Chinese manufacturer for their equipment?

The company I found for bottling is Rockwood Glass - does anyone here have any experience with them?  I tried to do a search in the forum to see if I could view any discussion with their name but did not see a feature to do this.  I have no problem putting in the time reading the forums (I cant count the hours in so far).  Thought I would see if I got lucky with a response.

Software - I have read several posts on the software and I initially thought I would go with Stillhouse, but after reading people that had used Stillhouse AND Whiskey Systems; I got the overall feeling that Whiskey Systems was just as good but less money - if this is incorrect, can someone correct me?  

Marketing - Where have you found your best ROI has been when trying to tell your town you exist.  What local marketing worked best?  Where do you think you lost the most money?  Has anyone tried Groupon as a way of getting people in; if so which catch worked best ($5 tasting, $10 tour + free tasting, etc?).  

What sells the best besides the booze? Cups, shot glasses, sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, etc.?  Not sure what to be pre-pared for here.

In my state, I can only be open from 9a till 8p; what are the best operating hours in your town?  I was thinking a short day 4p-8p for the tasting room (except weekends 11a-8p).  We will always have our master distiller there, so if someone walked in - he could technically still help them.  Are we cutting ourselves short on the hours?  I am just thinking if they REALLY want to check it out, they would come later......I also don't want to kill myself from sitting around all day, when I could be out visiting bars, restaurants, and stores.

I was recommended by another distiller to pay for a lawyer to help with the TTB, but when speaking to another distiller a week ago he said he felt that his process was much faster because he was able to get back to the TTB immediately.  He thought having a lawyer handle everything could actually delay some things.  Overall thoughts?

A big thanks to everyone that has posted on here; the community is amazing.  I love that everyone shares and they have built such a strong group of educated people.  I thoroughly enjoy learning from everyone here.  I cant wait to one day be posting and sharing my success for the future.

 

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Another bump for Dave.  He handled our first DSP and will handle our move when we need that done. 

 

As far as the state.  It all depends. Some let you do stuff ahead of time some don't.  Whatever they say goes.  

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we have never delt with companies in china and dont intend too my opinion is dont mess around and risk getting ripped off... jus call paul and let him set you up then you can lay awake in bed worrying how your going to spend all the money your making from the sales of good whisky not laying awake worrying  about a company and there integrity in china . 

tim 

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Huffy2k    24
6 hours ago, Alaskan Spirits LLC said:

Software - I have read several posts on the software and I initially thought I would go with Stillhouse, but after reading people that had used Stillhouse AND Whiskey Systems; I got the overall feeling that Whiskey Systems was just as good but less money - if this is incorrect, can someone correct me?  

Marketing - Where have you found your best ROI has been when trying to tell your town you exist.  What local marketing worked best?  Where do you think you lost the most money?  Has anyone tried Groupon as a way of getting people in; if so which catch worked best ($5 tasting, $10 tour + free tasting, etc?).  

What sells the best besides the booze? Cups, shot glasses, sweatshirts, t-shirts, hats, etc.?  Not sure what to be pre-pared for here.

In my state, I can only be open from 9a till 8p; what are the best operating hours in your town?  I was thinking a short day 4p-8p for the tasting room (except weekends 11a-8p).  We will always have our master distiller there, so if someone walked in - he could technically still help them.  Are we cutting ourselves short on the hours?  I am just thinking if they REALLY want to check it out, they would come later......I also don't want to kill myself from sitting around all day, when I could be out visiting bars, restaurants, and stores.

I was recommended by another distiller to pay for a lawyer to help with the TTB, but when speaking to another distiller a week ago he said he felt that his process was much faster because he was able to get back to the TTB immediately.  He thought having a lawyer handle everything could actually delay some things.  Overall thoughts?

 

First of all, good luck to you!  I can't speak to all of your questions so I'll take a stab at the ones that I have thoughts on.

1) Software - You owe it to yourself to also consider Hoochware as your distillery management solution.  Great product, great service, highly recommended.

2) Marketing - We have been using Groupon and have been very satisfied with the results.   Most of our tour customers are Groupon voucher holders.  We are reaching people outside of our immediate area and most tell us they had not heard of us prior to seeing our deal on Groupon.  Our Groupon deal is structured as discount on our tour which includes a cocktail and a tasting.  We've found that most tour customers either stick around for another cocktail or take home a bottle or two and/or some merchandise.  If you can break even on the tour (after Groupon takes their cut) you will generate a decent amount of revenue on those folks with their after tour purchases.

I guess t-shirts or engraved glencairn glasses are the most popular non-booze item but to be honest, the non-booze stuff doesn't really make that much of an impact (at least for us). 

3) Hours - our tasting room is open from 11-7 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for tastings, bottle sales and cocktails.  Since we're at the distillery on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we open the tasting room from 9-5 but only for bottle sales and tastings.  Since we have a couple people there at all times, taking care of a customer doesn't really impact production on M-T-W since we can always keep one person back in the shop - having only your master distiller could present a problem if he/she is being pulled to the front too often.

4) I used a consultant to help me with my DSP application but I did the grunt work and was the only point of contact for the application.  That way I had a sounding board for my answers but I was able to be very responsive to the TTB since they were reaching out to me with any issues.

 

Cheers!

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4 hours ago, whiskeytango said:

Another bump for Dave.  He handled our first DSP and will handle our move when we need that done. 

 

As far as the state.  It all depends. Some let you do stuff ahead of time some don't.  Whatever they say goes.  

I have contacted Dave.  Did you use use pay the hourly or the full fee?  I am thinking I can fill the application out quicker, and then have him approve it but not sure the easiest here.  Thanks for the referral!  What was the TTB running on time frame when you applied and how quickly did yours go through?

I also noticed through the online tutorial it stated all construction had to be finished prior to applying.  I was going to use the "waiting" time to do all our construction.  It is mostly done, but painting, decorating, and a few minor construction pieces.  I am assuming all construction that needs to be shown on diagrams must be finished or did you have your whole facility done once you applied?

THANKS AGAIN to everyone - I feel like I have a whole advisory board!  

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7 minutes ago, Alaskan Spirits LLC said:

I have contacted Dave.  Did you use use pay the hourly or the full fee?  I am thinking I can fill the application out quicker, and then have him approve it but not sure the easiest here.  Thanks for the referral!  What was the TTB running on time frame when you applied and how quickly did yours go through?

I also noticed through the online tutorial it stated all construction had to be finished prior to applying.  I was going to use the "waiting" time to do all our construction.  It is mostly done, but painting, decorating, and a few minor construction pieces.  I am assuming all construction that needs to be shown on diagrams must be finished or did you have your whole facility done once you applied?

THANKS AGAIN to everyone - I feel like I have a whole advisory board!  

Dave just did a flat fee for us. 

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