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I'm an ex-sales wine and liquor salesperson currently building a distillery in Atlanta.  In the current state of so many distilleries coming on line, how difficult is it going to be for me to find a master distiller?  How's the talent pool looking out there.  I'm budgeting in some dollars for me to go and take the classes, but I'll be completely devoid of experience, plus I want to spend my time on marketing and brand management.  What's it looking like out there and what should I budget to pay someone?

Andrew Norman

WIndsor Street Distillery

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Finding adequate help is a common complaint, at least here in TN, when the distiller's guild members meet. Most distilleries I know are operated by the owners themselves until they can grow enough to hire someone or find someone worth hiring. You should learn as much as you can whether you work in production or not. That way you'll know if someone is actually good or just full of BS.

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I think the owner/distiller model is the way to go personally.  It tends to guarantee consistency across your products because the owner is not going anywhere looking for a big raise! Have seen several distilleries go through numerous distillers and it really affects the consistency of their products imo.

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Depending on your size/goals/products etc, you'll find a much deeper talent pool looking at brewers or winemakers and hiring a consultant to train them on the distilling side. If you don't have any production experience, you should also be hiring distilling expertise well before you being building/equipping your distillery. The 'turnkey' packages that some still manufacturers tout in my experience have included a lot of unnecessary or inappropriate equipment which inexperienced owners don't know enough to push back on. 

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an old saying for you.

Good talent aint cheap and cheap talent aint good. 

If this is your first time getting into distilling definitely hire a consultant with design / build out experience to help you avoid the numerous pitfalls that can be avoided by someone with experience. 

To answer your question: a good master distiller will be hard to come by for less than 50K + benefits

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I have put several potential distillers with production questions, onto a consultant I have worked with on brewery and distillery start-ups.

But the same goes for having someone in place with experience!

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Andrew.

 

If you have time to talk about your project I'd like to chat with you.  Working on my distillery end game.

 

-Kelly

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