Jump to content

How much GNS do you use monthly?


Odyssey Spirits

Recommended Posts

We're in the planning stages of our distillery and it would be incredibly helpful if we had some rough idea of how much GNS craft distillers go through on a monthly basis? (we realize it depends on product mix etc., we're interested in ball park #'s)

Also, in what volume do you purchase GNS? Barrels or Totes or other?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're in the planning stages of our distillery and it would be incredibly helpful if we had some rough idea of how much GNS craft distillers go through on a monthly basis? (we realize it depends on product mix etc., we're interested in ball park #'s)

Also, in what volume do you purchase GNS? Barrels or Totes or other?

This is a trick question, right, since the correct answer is none. A craft distiller doesn't buy distilled spirits, a craft distiller makes distilled spirits.

I know, we've been down this road, and I'm not attacking my good friends who produce authentic craft products using GNS and processes that employ a still to add flavor to GNS, but that's not really distilling, is it?

So, since you are still in the planning stages, add this to your plan, don't call yourself a distillery if you don't intend to distill anything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know, we've been down this road, and I'm not attacking my good friends who produce authentic craft products using GNS and processes that employ a still to add flavor to GNS, but that's not really distilling, is it?

C'mon Chuck...this is a dead horse.

If one heats up a liquid until boiling, collects the vapors, and condenses that back into a liquid, it *is* distilling by the pure definition of the word. This is true whether you care for the end result or not. Therefore, if this fellow or any other purchases GNS for use in whatever spirit they choose and runs it through a still, they are, by definition, a distillery, and it's really distilling. Tell an absinthe maker that by purchasing GNS (or grape or beet) for their base spirit they're not distilling.

So, since you are still in the planning stages, add this to your plan, don't call yourself a distillery if you don't intend to distill anything.

Likewise, if you're running your recipe through a still then disregard this.

Unfortunately, other than that, I have no input as to the sourcing or quantities of available base spirits.

Cheers,

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

C'mon Chuck...this is a dead horse.

If one heats up a liquid until boiling, collects the vapors, and condenses that back into a liquid, it *is* distilling by the pure definition of the word. This is true whether you care for the end result or not. Therefore, if this fellow or any other purchases GNS for use in whatever spirit they choose and runs it through a still, they are, by definition, a distillery, and it's really distilling. Tell an absinthe maker that by purchasing GNS (or grape or beet) for their base spirit they're not distilling.

Likewise, if you're running your recipe through a still then disregard this.

Unfortunately, other than that, I have no input as to the sourcing or quantities of available base spirits.

Cheers,

Paul

I wholeheartedly agree with chuck.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Paul on this one. I use GNS and make awesome craft products with it. I know other producers who also use GNS and make fantastic distilled products with it. It's utter crap to consider what I do not to be craft.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Space, equipment expense, time.

To make one's own neutral spirit would need the space for the fermentation, mashing, and lautering equipment, the money/credit to purchase them, and the time to use them prior to the intended operation...not to mention the added utility cost. Purchasing neutral spirit allows one to start on a shoestring and to minimize the need for investors or incurring exorbitant debt.

My point is that regardless of whether a distiller distills fermented wash into neutral spirit and subsequently distills it into the final product, or skips the first step and distills purchased spirit, the distilled product is distilled by the distiller in their still...they're still a distillery [1]

It's one thing to argue "what is 'craft'?" In my opinion, it's nearly akin to asking "what is art?" It's another thing to say that a distillery that distills something other than fermented wash isn't a distillery even though they're distilling. In other words, I assert that a distillery is where distilling occurs...nothing less, nothing more.

Cheers,

Paul

[1] editing courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never said using GNS to make something, such as through infusion and re-distillation, is not craft. That is a dead horse and I have conceded that point. I said it is not distilling. Running GNS through a still may be done with a craft purpose, and entitle someone to be called a craft spirits producer, but it's not distilling. Distilling is the process of using the boiling point differential to extract and concentrate alcohol from a fermentation.

If the only thing going into your still is GNS, you are not a distiller.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chuck:

I'm guessing you're assuming that for redistillation you put 190+ proof GNS in the still? I'm not aware of a process where that's the case. The redistillations I'm aware of require cutting the base spirit, often significantly. Significant reconcentration of alcohol occurs, which I believe is necessary for the extraction of all the range of flavors desired.

Water plays its own role in bringing flavor molecules across, and the changing mix of water and alcohol as distillation proceeds should carry over different compounds. More importantly, starting with too high a proof in the still strikes me as a significant bump in the hazard of the enterprise.

-A

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I maintain that the critical point is what does the consumer understand "distillation" to be? They may have only the vaguest understanding of distillation, but the process you describe is not part of it. None of this is to denegrate that process, which I regard as completely legitimate and "craft," but I believe calling it distilling is misleading.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think if we (the supposed professionals) can't agree upon what "distilling" is, then it's a waste of time trying to get the consumers to understand what it means.

According to Dictionary.com:

"distilling."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 29 Sep. 2008.

v. dis·tilled also dis·tilled, dis·till·ing also dis·til·ling, dis·tills also dis·tils

v. tr.

1. To subject (a substance) to distillation.

2. To separate (a distillate) by distillation.

3. To increase the concentration of, separate, or purify by or as if by distillation.

4. To separate or extract the essential elements of: distill the crucial points of the book.

5. To exude or give off (matter) in drops or small quantities.

Again, whether you're distilling wash, wine, GNS, or what have you, distilling is occurring and thus, the location where this occurs is, by definition, a distillery.

Cheers,

Paul

-honing the fine art of the run-on sentence

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Distilling is the process of using the boiling point differential to extract and concentrate alcohol from a fermentation.

This misunderstanding and over-simplification is at the heart of this pointless and ego-driven debate. Why is it that grain distillers want to arrogate the right to use the title "distiller" only to themselves?

Craft, art, science, magic... whatever you want to call it, distilling is a chemical process whereby liquids are evaporated and condensed to extract a given substance. It's not just about extracting and concentrating alcohol, it's about extracting and condensing anything. There are different types of distillation and different types of distillers.

If I put water into a still to extract the water and leave behind impurities, I'm distilling.

If I put petroleum in a column still and extract the fractions as different products, I'm distilling.

If I put herbs and water into an alembic to extract the herbal oils, I'm distilling.

If I put herbs and water and alcohol into an alembic to extract those oils in such a way that they blend with alcohol and make a beverage spirit, I'm distilling.

What, exactly, is keeping all of you from making your own base spirit?

I'm not any more interested in making my own base ingredients from scratch than the average baker is interested in first becoming a grain farmer or a miller. Or a chef is interested in being a farmer and a butcher.

How far back in the process is "scratch"?

I happen to distill my spirits in this:

post-46-1222711056_thumb.jpg

You're telling me that in order to call myself a distiller, I first have to buy this:

4500LDAMPF_b.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with both points here. I think that the biggest thing is, are you being true to yourself, the consumer and the craft? If you are using GNS to make something like Gin or infused vodkas or something of that nature that you can say "hey I hand crafted this" then great, use GNS. If you are using GNS immorally, as a shortcut or as a way to just flip it, put it in a "fancy bottle", and make money, I say shame on you and that is NOT distilling. I'm sorry but it's not. It may be in a literal sense but definitely not by what I, personally, think of when I think of distilling.

I'm sure most people would love to make their own GNS, but the fact is some of us strictly run pot stills and are unable to do so. We OURSELVES are the only ones that can keep the integrity of the industry strong. If you believe that what you are doing has some craft to it, then myself nor Chuck nor anyone else can tell you you are or are not a distiller. (although Chuck's going to tell you anyways...) ;)

That being said I think it's important to have conversation like this in order to make people take a long hard look at themselves and what they are doing and how they are doing it.

You need to love what you're doing and how your doing it or else... WHY DO IT???

my two cents

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being brand new to this forum, and this being my first question ever posted to the forums I will give ADI the benefit of the doubt that this infighting is not commonplace. ADI came highly recommended as an organization that supports the craft distillery movement and encourages cooperation, and I would like to think we can all get along despite our differences.

While I wholeheartedly agree that taking a bottle of GNS (or cheap vodka for that matter) and doing nothing to it but watering it down and filtering it in my humble opinion does not meet the standard of handcrafted artisan spirits - as it has been pointed out - there a great number of highly complex artisan spirits that are largely based on starting with a neutral spirit base (absinthe, liqueurs, bitters, etc.). Capital cost of production is a huge factor to do it all yourself. Plus I would like the option of utilizing a wide selection of base spirits for our spirits (i.e. grape base spirit, cherry base spirit, etc.) without necessarily having to process all of it in-house. GNS ~ provides a cost effective solution for some who are focused on what happens after that base ingredient has been produced.

Then there is the Mash/Wash process. How many distillers start from scratch and do this all themselves. I know of quite a few craft distillers who contract with a local brewery to produce their mash for them and then focus on distilling it on-site, rather than do it all themselves. Does "grain to bottle" count if you are having someone else produce your mash?

As I see it this is a relatively new industry and we have the option of working together to grow together, and only united may we influence legislation that will support our growth, OR we can foster infighting to the point that the TTB & our State & Federal Governments say "these craft distillers cannot get it together, so we must regulate them more heavily" and thus impose rules without our input. I'm personally for the former.

So back to my original question - my intent was not to promote a discussion of GNS so much as to get some idea of how much volume of base ingredient craft distillers tend to use / produce & use on the monthly basis. This base ingredient could be GNS, self-produced neutral spirit, low wine etc.

It would still be very helpful to know this information, if you'd rather not post such info in the forum feel free to message me directly.

May we all find success in what we do here & enjoy the journey together as best we can.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guy, this thread has been hijacked and if you could separate it into the two discussions, the original post on GNS, and the hijacked one on what is a distiller, that would be great.

Gwydion, I want to say thank you. You expressed my sentiments exactly.

Ben, I agree with you as well.

Chuck, you come from a whiskey background, and the big guys at that. You are not a distiller yourself. I have seen you get off of your horse and try to wrap your brain around the differences, but then you leap back onto the horse and gallop off. Try to start new threads if you feel you have to vent or whatever, which for someone who is not a distiller, here on a distillers forum, you do a lot of.

Odyssey Spirits has a valid question and this thread should address that, defining distilling doesn’t belong here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Odyssey Spirits, Jeffrey I presume? You don't have your name on your profile, but did have a link to your site.

You ask a question that has no hard or definite answer. Everyone who uses GNS does so in different ways, to make different products, with different equipment, and are different sizes of businesses, etc.

I may use GNS when I make my dry style gin. A pallet or two of 50 gallon drums for the first batch, then if it sells well I'll switch to 350-500 gallon totes. Drums are a bit easier to handle than totes. Although, I think a used tote would make a great fermenting tank.

(I will start from grain for my genever style gin.)

We're in the planning stages of our distillery and it would be incredibly helpful if we had some rough idea of how much GNS craft distillers go through on a monthly basis? (we realize it depends on product mix etc., we're interested in ball park #'s)

Also, in what volume do you purchase GNS? Barrels or Totes or other?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heaven forbid that we should have a general discussion in a section labeled "General Discussion." There are sections for discussions of equipment and supplies. This isn't it.

Using insulting phrases such as "pointless and ego-driven" seems, well, sort of pointless and ego-driven. It also amazes me when someone writes a reply to label a discussion "pointless." Apparently there was at least enough of a point to prompt your reply.

When someone shoots "you're not a distiller" at me, I like to remind them that neither will be 99% of the people you hope will buy your products. Are you going to be dismissive of them too when they ask a question or challenge an answer? That's why I'm here, as a stand-in for your customers. I'm constantly asked by spirits enthusiasts about this or that "craft distillery" product and I have this bad habit of giving them truthful answers to the best of my ability. Sometimes I think I should just leave you to your own devices but I guess I'm just a prick. Everybody says so.

I also understand that as long as people are willing to be parted from their money by something called "artisan vodka" that is just bulk GNS in a fancy bottle, who am I to say the suckers should not be fleeced.

I engage here because, for the most part, this is a strong-willed group of people who aren't shy about having challenging discussions. If I've offended someone's delicate sensibilities, I'll pretend I'm sorry. I'll admit that it blows my mind to hear a distiller talk about buying GNS, but I'm learning. In fact, I agree that there isn't really much point to a small operator making GNS, since it's hard to imagine how you can make it better than DRinc or someone similar.

I'm also learning there are a lot of frauds out there, as well as people who have bought a nice, shiny piece of equipment but don't know anything beyond the hype they've been fed by the salesman and some romantic notions about "being" a distiller. There are also people who want to learn all that they can.

If you really want a private "members only" sandbox in which to play unmolested, it's easy enough to set that up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Odyssey Spirits, Jeffrey I presume? You don't have your name on your profile, but did have a link to your site.

You ask a question that has no hard or definite answer. Everyone who uses GNS does so in different ways, to make different products, with different equipment, and are different sizes of businesses, etc.

I may use GNS when I make my dry style gin. A pallet or two of 50 gallon drums for the first batch, then if it sells well I'll switch to 350-500 gallon totes. Drums are a bit easier to handle than totes. Although, I think a used tote would make a great fermenting tank.

(I will start from grain for my genever style gin.)

Thank you very much Jonathan, your post provides me EXACTLY the type of thoughtful and concise information I was looking for by posting this thread.

MODERATOR ~ is there any way you can move this thread to the the Technique section? As a newbie to the forums I mistakenly posted my question in this hell fire section of "General Discussion" for which I will not make the same mistake twice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being brand new to this forum, and this being my first question ever posted to the forums I will give ADI the benefit of the doubt that this infighting is not commonplace.
Ah, it's not really infighting so much as it is a vehemently expressed difference of opinions.
Using insulting phrases such as "pointless and ego-driven" seems, well, sort of pointless and ego-driven.
Chuck, wasn't intended as an insult, it's a valid observation. It's pointless because distillation is a very specific and easily definable process and anyone who engages in it is a distiller of some sort. That a large portion of the debate is ego-driven is beautifully demonstrated by your comments above about "romantic notions about 'being' a distiller" and in your intro thread:
The extent to which people are playing with terms because they want the reflected glory those terms imply...

I never really thought of it in terms of glory to tell the truth, at least not the basic fact of being a distiller in general. I think if any glory is to be had in terminology, it would come from whatever noun precedes "distiller". Whisk(e)y distiller? Rum distiller? Vodka distiller? Gin distiller? That's what tells you what type of craft goes into the product. Of course a whisky distiller doesn't buy GNS, he/she starts from grain. A gin distiller (hence "distilled gin") does buy GNS, rather than produce it. Now maybe you want to tell Desmond Morris and Sean Harrison that they're not distillers, but personally, I wouldn't.

For me any pride comes from making a truly superior product, following centuries-old traditional practices to an impractical (and expensive) degree, just so I can be assured that my product is absolutely 100% authentic.

When someone glorifies grain distillers as being exclusively definitive of the craft and tells me I'm not a distiller, I find that insulting.

I'll admit that it blows my mind to hear a distiller talk about buying GNS, but I'm learning. In fact, I agree that there isn't really much point to a small operator making GNS, since it's hard to imagine how you can make it better than DRinc or someone similar.
It's not about making it better, it's about making it period. If it were at all economically feasible, I'd make my own neutral spirits in a heartbeat; but it's not, at least not at this stage. But one question: since I use grape neutral spirits, am I not a distiller if I buy the wine from someone else, or do I have to become a vintner too?
I'm also learning there are a lot of frauds out there, as well as people who have bought a nice, shiny piece of equipment but don't know anything beyond the hype they've been fed by the salesman and some romantic notions about "being" a distiller.

I agree wholeheartedly.

edit: I agree the thread might be best moved and split, with the hijacked portion moved to the "what is a distiller" thread. Sorry for mucking up your thread Jeffrey. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jeffrey- Sometimes there ARE NO concise answers. I actually thought about what I wrote, and tried to be concise. I just didn't hand you answers served up all nice on a plate for you.

Just the fact that this forum is here is a drastic change in the distillers world. Other forums for home distillers have so much incorrect information that you can waste days trying to sift nuggets from the sand. Distilling is probably one of the most difficult business areas to find information about. I spent years trying to learn, to research, etc. and still have a million un-answered questions. Asking for easy answers won't always work. Most of us here are learning by trial and error. Some things can only be learned that way. We are trying to share information, to make the process easier.

Your original question was very open and vague and contradictory. You never said what products you need GNS for. How can we give solid answers unless we know what you plan on doing, what size business, what equipment, production levels... ?

Thank you very much Jonathan, your post provides me EXACTLY the type of thoughtful and concise information I was looking for by posting this thread.

MODERATOR ~ is there any way you can move this thread to the the Technique section? As a newbie to the forums I mistakenly posted my question in this hell fire section of "General Discussion" for which I will not make the same mistake twice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When someone glorifies grain distillers as being exclusively definitive of the craft

I'm mystified by that one, which you've used twice. I'm not even sure what you mean. Grain v. Fruit, or Grain v. Malt? If Grain v. Malt that sounds like scotch snobbery, which is at least something I understand. Otherwise, I don't know what you're getting at.

I think if any glory is to be had in terminology, it would come from whatever noun precedes "distiller". Whisk(e)y distiller? Rum distiller? Vodka distiller? Gin distiller?

By "reflected glory," I mean people doing what, in the macro spirits industry, would be called rectification and calling it distillation because they like the connotations better. That's what I'm reacting to. I'm not saying I think rectifier is a bad word, but the rectifier who calls himself a distiller probably does.

Don't you guys think it's at least worth knowing how the dominant spirits producers in this country operate and how they use different terms? I'm not saying you can't go your own way, but don't you even want to know?

As for "distilled gin," that's a very interesting observation, because I think it reflects a difference in usage, although since "distilled gin" has rarely been made in the United States, most domestic gin being compound gin, maybe there's just been no reason to use it. (I'm referring to the macro industry, I know there are micros who make distilled gin. That's what we're talking about.)

It's not about making it better, it's about making it period.

It's not about making it better? Then I have been totally off-base. All along, I thought craft was about "making it better." If it's not, then I withdraw all of my objections.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please refer to the proposed definition of "micro distillery". It addresses the issue of rectification vs distillation in that is calls for a change in the character of the distilled material, not merely the watering down of gns and redistillation without any noticable or practical effect on the spirit. The terms "craft" and "master" are subjective. It is possible to monitor and "regulate" the use of the term "distiller", notwithstanding the small differences in who is actually "the distiller" in a small distillery, but it is not possible to regulate based on subjective terms.

But the bottom line is who the hell cares? Unless those protesting are insecure about their own place or title they need to draw distinctions between the guy who turns on the still and the guy who manages the operation. This is a discussion for another string. For my part, all the debate on who is a "master distiller" or just a "still operator" is a waste of valuable time and effort.

And by the way, "making it better" is not what "craft" is about, "better" being another totally subjective term that will vary from one person to another.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Liberty Bar - Seattle

Personally, I would have to say that I'm more on the side of Mr. Cowdery. That's to say - there surely IS a distinction between someone that starts with the raw ingredients to make a spirit and someone that starts with a GNS and then re-distills it. Yes, the latter is still a distiller, no doubt, but the difference between the two seems to be the difference between Pappy 15yr and Evan Williams. Both are bourbon, both are tasty, but I do believe one has a distinction the other may lack.

That said, I've not distilled a goddam thing in my life - so take my opinion for exactly what it's worth.

There are always discussions such as this one, and they tend to always boil down to the same result: What is a 'craft distiller' vs. what is a 'distiller'. Can a 'craft distiller' use GNS? Is a 'craft distiller' simply and legally a result of just output allowances?

Then there's the point of what goes into simply making a GNS... People will work for years to make a great GNS necessary to make a great secondary product. One must have just the right ingredients and be able to have a decade-view in being able to continually order these great ingredients for consistency of product......not to mention the yeast..... There IS something to what is left over at 190+proof. Taste a few vodkas next to each other and then try to argue.

That said, take gins for instance. Many new gins start out with a good GNS and then re-distill that GNS with a mash of botanicals. What results is surely a new and unique product. So, how much less of a 'distiller' are they because they infused their vodka (so to speak)?

I have a tremendous amount of respect for the families that have been making whiskey generations and generations, all of their product distilled from scratch.

THAT is a distinction - and THAT is a distiller.

And, now that I have perhaps insulted a few of my real life pals, I will preemptively offer to buy you a drink as a peace offering?

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now replace the word "distiller" with "artist."

Let's replace the made-from-scratch, generations long history distillers with, say, Michelangelo. Let's replace those who purchase GNS and make it into something completely different and unique with, say, Warhol. Two completely different artists, with absolutely different results. It's still art, but one could find many who would assert that Warhol's work isn't art because he doesn't conform to a more classical interpretation...not, let's not degenerate this into a "what is art" debate, but I think it's a reasonable parallel.

Though I will have to say that distilling (and thus the term "distiller") does have more tangible definability than "art" (and thus, artist) does. I do think that where the industry has taken the word/definition/title has gone askew from where it ought to be. I also think that we, as our own subset of that industry, have the ability to bring it back to its roots.

Cheers,

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...