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Distillery size vs output


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I'm starting to work on a business plan for a micro-distillery in New Zealand. I'm looking for any data on distillery size vs output for planning purposes, i.e. Bottle produce a year, distillery sqft, approximate FTE, Still size, etc. Is there anywhere I can find this info, or can people post their stats to this thread?  Happy to anonymise the data if the details are messaged to me. 

Also as a side note, while NZ may be great for the home distiller, every time I read someone mention how high the spirit alcohol tax is in the US I laugh. If my calculations are correct its approximately $100 NZ (75USD) per proof gallon. Wine and beer are about half this. About the cheapest, you can get a 1lt bottle of spirits is $35, and $25 of that is alcohol and sales tax. 

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Hi Jon, welcome to the forum. There is no quick way to answer all your questions as each question has a hundred different answers and they are all correct.

My suggestion is to start searching the forum, all the answers to your questions are out there, they are just not all in one place.


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Start with a marketing plan. What do you want to produce, rum, whiskey, vodka,...and for whom?

Find out how much money can you raise? Start budgeting and rewrite your marketing plan.

Then budgeting from the money available to the project. You don't raise money to buy equipment. You raise money to get a Space, Time, Equipment, Raw materials, and Labor.

So, if you have a budget...it would tell us how to estimate your potential against other startups we have seen or been involved in.

We could answer questions of labor multiples, of the equipment capacity. Equipment balanced against Sq Footage, all being capitalized to fit a budget and time line.

Equipment is capable of X gallons in an eight hour shift. This can be dependent on the product being made and the labor available.

8 hour shift? 3 shifts a day? 5 or 7 days a week?

Can you order materials, do accounting, mash, bottle, package, manage other labor, and sell while still is running? Or are other people (salaries) doing these things?





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What I'm trying to work out is how to create a realistic budget for a business plan. I could make a good looking i.e profitable business plan with a budget that says I'll sell 200,000 750ml bottles a year, with one FTE in a 200 sqft space, but I'm guessing that's not possible. So I'm just looking for estimates/example so that if my plan includes growing to producing and selling 200,000 750ml bottles a year, it needs to include expenses for approximately X amount of space, X FTE, etc. 

I've done some research on forums and articles and so far I'm arriving at around 20,000 bottles per year per 100 sqft, i.e that is the average of examples I found so far that included info on distillery size and bottle/cases produced per year. I was hoping to get some more examples from people on the forum  as well as examples on other major costs like FTE. 


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Again the answer to this depends on what you want to make and what you want your business to be. If you are distilling from raw grain and aging in barrels for 5 years you are going to need a large area to store barrels and extra room to handle milling and mashing. If you are bringing in feedstock from a brewery or winery or buying gns you will need much less. Tasting room or not? A handful of guests a day or several hundred thousand a year? These will all effect the space and employee numbers.

In general if you are running a continuous still you will need less square feet than running a set of batch stills to produce the same amount. Are you running around the clock and on weekends, because that means more people but maybe less square feet.

There is definitely economies of scale, and it isn't a linear relationship, because a 150 gallon still doesn't necessarily take up half the space of a 300 gallon.

More likely than not a certain square footage is going to be dedicated to the necessities, boiler, offices, bathrooms, other mechanical, regardless of size.

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  • 5 months later...

Hi @jon_nz, welcome.

I'm in a 225m2 premises not including my mezzanine floor with an all copper steam jacketed 1,100L gin still (made by Stillsmiths here in Tasmania). The business operates 7 days per week as a tourist destination and has 11 employees. I don't see how any of this is particularly practical for you though?

I think you can answer a lot of your questions yourself simply by taking the time to visit as many distilleries as possible.

Take note of the layouts/floor-plans, the equipment, the batch sizes and throughput rates etc. You'll soon develop a feel for it. Building a business plan for a business you've never experienced would be a recipe for failure I'd expect. I have no idea how much experience you have but based on your questions I'm thinking you need to get more involved in the commercial side of things, visit distilleries and build those relationships. Grow your knowledge base, get some work experience at an operating distillery if you can, you'll learn a great deal from that.




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