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what's typical or actual elapsed time from concept to actual launch?

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Interested in forum members' experience from "concept" to "actual launch"  with spirits coming out of the still?   Thoughts on challenges finding a distillery space that affected the time line?   Thanks in advance!

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I first encountered the idea of owning a distillery waaay back in the late nineties when I was shooting a wine series. The winemaker in question wistfully painted this idyllic scene of the happy European distiller frolicking naked through the fields. Well, perhaps he didn't say quite that, but the dream was planted over a wee dram of his 'home-distilled' product - a black walnut liqueur.

However, I only seriously began to re-consider the idea about two years ago when a friend of mine and I started doing our own home distilling. In no time flat we'd brewed up more booze than we could possibly drink and it became obvious, unless we were going to sell the stuff - there wasen't much point in continuing. My friend chose to stay home, but I ventured into the field - being the foolish entrepreneur that I am.

The first hurdle I faced has taken a year to get over - rezoning the chosen property for the distillery. (Passed into law only yesterday! Yay!) Next is the provincial and federal process which will take about 4 - 6 months. Then, we're planning for another six month delay as we refine the product for sale.

So, conservatively - you are looking at two years - unless you choose an already zoned environment in which case, I'd plan for a year. If you are paying rent, that's a year of expenses with no income, so plan accordingly.

I've said before, alcohol is a business of patience. The upside of this, is while you are waiting for your permits etc., you are given ample time to build your market. Lot's of people wait to build the market until they have a product in hand, but then you loose the slow burn of anticipation and word of mouth. I've sat on a local bus while two people behind me discussed the opening of the distillery. They got some of the details wrong, but they were keen. That's what you can't buy.

Another fantastic quote I've picked up somewhere and whoever said it was brilliant - "No one can tell you how to open a distillery, you just have to do it." I second that. Not to mention, its great fun.

 

 

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Does the timeline include attaining the required funding?  If so it could be anywhere from a year if you've got a lot of money and connections to infinity because you never get the funding you need.

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Just looking thought old images..

3/28/2012 - Location locked in.
5/30/2012 - Date on a hand drawn plan for the still I built.
8/15/2012 - PLCB paper work mailed
 everything else
12/24/2013 - First bottle sold 

So yeah, about two years and I did not have any zoning related delays.

 

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From having the idea until opening the tasting room was less than 2 years.  21 months from signing a lease until opening, 16 months from signing lease until turning the still on to make alcohol.  

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From final decision to go for it until first distillation was 16 months, 18 months until opened doors to public.

At least 6 or 7 years of thinking about it until we decided to go for it.

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Took 2.5 years on my last project but the city was difficult to deal with and created costly delays that added up to several months. A smaller project I did before that took 18 months from inception to build out to finished product in bottles.

The big challenge that is often unexpected for people starting a distillery is that it takes a long time to build accounts and sales to really start generating substantial revenue, after you have spirits in bottles.

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Just under a year from deciding to do a distillery we had our federal and state licenses in hand. From the time we signed our lease on the space and could submit paperwork it took about 8 months to get open. 

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We started on a shoestring with no loans.   Eleven months for us.  We hired Steve Dalbey to navigate the commercial building inspector, and Whiskey Systems.   Those two clearly saved us months.   Steve was a former fire marshall and inspected large distilleries in the mid-west.

Whiskey Systems and ADI helped us through the TTB application process.

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