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Distillery Build Out - Non-Process Item Costs


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I am looking into building a distillery and have a good idea about what it would cost me to purchase a couple of batch systems from Vendome (looking at a 750 gall + 250 gall pot still system - very similar to what is at the Evan Williams Experience in Louisville), but what I am unclear on and what Vendome cannot confirm, is what will I have to spend on everything else to make that whole system run at the site we are considering. So after I buy the milling equip, the cooker, fermenters, stills, tanks, etc., what will I have to spend on the back end to hook up and run all that stuff? --- ie, water systems, engineering, plumbing, pipes, fire suppression, explosion proofing, etc., etc. What are the big things to expect to spend a lot of money on?

And what will my requirements be for electric, HVAC, gas and water?

I think that for a column still system the back end costs are much more expensive than for a batch system, but I still cannot determine what I should be expecting.

The building I will be using will come with explosion resistant wiring and fixtures (required by code for all distilling areas) and has an old water tower on the roof that I think we can use. Plus there is a stream close by we may be able to draw from.

Any detailed insight would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!

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Difficult to even throw out a wild-ass guess, as there are some major wildcards when it comes to the items you list. Your questions are the same we all have (or had), and until you can start working with contractors and getting quotes, you could be in for some sticker shock (or pleasant surprises).

Dalkita has a PDF that they charge about $5 for that has a good property checklist. Certainly worth the 5 bucks, the ROI is pretty massive if you forget an item on the list.

We are wiring most of the place for Class 1 Div 1, and the cost was less than we expected. HOWEVER - we're removing more circuits than we are adding, since it's cheaper to eliminate any nonessential electric than convert it to Class 1 Div 1. So pleasant surprise there.

It seems most everyone gets sticker shock when it comes to the boiler and associated steam fitting. What makes this worse is that you will get quotes that represent massive price differences. Get a couple quotes then roll the dice. Be sure this includes the gas supply plumbing as well, since at 1.5-2 million btus or so, chances are the building is not setup for it.

Also, massive differential in fire suppression costs based on what exists and what doesn't. If you have to run a main back to the street, it's plausible that you may be paying 3x more than someone who has a sprinkler main but no sprinklers connected.

The way we approached this was to find a building that was as close to our parameters as possible, this would reduce the build-out costs significantly. For example, if you've already got sufficient sprinklers, take that to the bank. Sprinklers and sprinkler main sizing is typically a deal breaker for your facility choice. Plenty of horror stories about the AHJ drawing a hard line after buildout had already started.

Because I'm a sucker for a wild ass guess, and since you seem to be focused on the still cost. I'd say your still cost will be approximately 5-10% of your buildout and associated equipment costs, very very roughly. Extrapolate from there, perhaps. Really though, get the checklist and start getting quotes, add at least 25% buffer to each to account for unexpected costs.

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Not to argue but do not waste the $7 for the one page "check list" from Dalkita. It is SO basic you will laugh. Just my opinion...

I guess what bothers me the most is that they charge for the list. It looks like something they would put on their website for free that might get you to call/hire them for their guidance. I see a lot of law firms that do that and it gets you thinking about questions to ask them (while they charge you several hundred dollars an hour).

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On the water/glycol cooling, it depends what the client wants, if they purchase the chiller from me, I don't charge on the consulting end, but if it's for visit and to look over the system for a cooling issue, then it's more on the consulting end which I do charge for, how much depends on travel.

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