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Developing distilling skills

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Hi All,

I am new here, and interested in learning about the process of becoming a mirco-distiller. I have been reading up on legal and other requirements, but had a more general question about setting up shop in order to develop ones skills, before making a product available for sale to the public.

I am full-time engineer right now, but would like to start to develop my skills on the side, until I feel they are up to the task of becoming a distiller as a profession. I would like to be able to establish a lab, where I can legally develop my recipes, and get practice of distilling alcohol in small batches in a reproduceable way in order to build up a base of knowledge and experience and recipes, with the eventuality of becoming a producer that sells these as products.

I have read many books, and will be taking a distilling class in December. I am aware that anything involved in distilling alcohol will still involve a lengthy legal process of permits and licenses from Federal (TTB), state and local authorities. I am also aware it will be quite costly.

So my questions are: Is doing a phase-in approach something that can work given the current set of legal / licensing requirements ? What are some things I should be looking for in order to do a phased approach?

Thank you in advance for your feedback. I have found this forum to be an excellent source of material.


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Hi All,

I am new here, and interested in learning about... becoming a distiller as a profession... with the eventuality of becoming a producer that sells these as products.


The latter is far more important than the former, and far more legal too. Making the booze is relatively easy when compared to marketing and selling it. Go hang out with your local booze distributors in your time off and get to know that world. After all, you're talking about becoming an entrepreneur, not a distiller.

Work out your business plan, especially your sales and marketing plan, and hire a distiller to show your the ropes when the time comes to open your doors, or go apprentice with another distillery.

Also, recipes and production methods don't scale well. Whatever you may learn as a "laboratory" or "hobby" distiller will have very limited applicability to professional, production-scale distilling.

That being said... +1 on Hewn's remark...


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Someone may correct me here, but my understanding on getting an experimental dsp is that it's basically the exact same (bond & all other regs required), except that your dsp says "experimental" on the permit. I actually had a discussion with a former TTB official about this years ago and their advice was "get the regular permit and just don't sell anything if you're not ready to produce for that purpsose." You only pay taxes on what leaves your DSP (translation, is sold). Otherwise, books and the internet and visit some other places.

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Find a kind and gentle distiller nearby that will let you set up a small lab still on their premises. They will benefit from your experimentation, they can help guide you, and you can distill on their DSP. Win-win.


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