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International craft gin - few humble questions


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Still wet behind the ears (dripping), hope this is the right forum.

Looking to create a craft gin shop. A few questions;

- Understand a pot still with helmet is good enough, no column needed? I'll just be using NGS with botanical basket. Can anyone point the way to a decent starter copper or stainless still for gin?

- How many bottles per 8hr day should I aim to produce for just starting out? (just selling locally and regionally at first). Just a ballpark - as this will decide the size of my pot.

- Still unclear if macerating the botanicals or hanging them in a basket is best? Is there a decent resource that explains the difference and a walkthrough? I noticed some are using one herb a time and making concentrated botanicals and then mixing them, vs heaping them all in the basket for each batch. Also see that soaking them requires less botanicals.

- Anyone have a link to a very small 4 - 6 liter home pot still to test my recipes - while I wait for the big pot?

- I'm in Asia, my country has (very) few laws concerning alcohol production, and my shop is in a special economic zone, so importing / exporting are pretty easy. Is there an issue with direct sales to US or EU through internet fulfillment? I see that US and EU are INSANE with hoops you have to jump through if you're there and trying to produce - but what about foreign alcohol coming in? When I was in US I would regularly order from UK and Thaiand and never had issues.

- Get so confused when I see gin startups using equipment like this ( http://blog.invisionapp.com/gin-design-process/)  what am I even looking at here? The big tank is probably NGS, the smaller converted kegs are what?? Yes I would love a pretty copper pot - but beauty be damned, if there's a cheaper way to start out and that lets me spend more on quality, marketing and sales - I'm all for it..

- Where are most people sourcing their bottles from? I see plenty in China (close to me), some in France, Turkey etc. I've spent countless hours looking at branding and bottles online and notice there seem to be <40 bottles that most craft shops are picking from. I have a unique vintage bottle I want to reproduce - any idea where to go?

- I'm sure there's a LOT of complexity I've yet to see. However gin production (starting with NGS) seems pretty cut / dried - compared to other industries like wine making - why do most craft businesses fail? Is it because they don't have a strong brand or differentiator? Poor marketing skills? Jump into it too quickly? Spend too much?

- I have a large plot of farmland and people to farm it. Is it worth it to grow my own botanicals organically? Or just source them.. It seems that most craft shops are looking to be unique by finding the most exotic sounding botanicals available - 'orange peel' isn't enough - they need mongolian-highland-star-shaped-blood-orange-peel ;) Is this mostly just marketing?

I'll stop there, already too many questions.

Appreciate it.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Well here is my 20c worth :-)

  1. A column is only needed when you want to rectify the spirit.  Some Gin distiller insist a column is essential most do not.  A column can strip out some of the botanicals. Assuming you are using a good NGS as input, then a basic pot still with a Gin Head will work. A lot of  Gin Distillers get very complicated with still configuration and design, claiming it is essential to their formulation. They key is experimentation.
  2. Produce what you can sell. Its that simple. Very small batches will give you consistency problems. But you dont want your entire working capital tied up in un-sold stock.  In small startups, I find the still budget therefore size answers this question.
  3. This is down to personal taste and what you desire in the end. Some botanicals respond well to spirit maceration well before distillation, others do not.  The general rule of thumb with gin is a gin head in the vapour path yields better results. Experiment, you will probably need both methods to produce your final design.
  4. eBay
  5. When you say Asia, can you be more specific? Its a big place.  The alcohol laws in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are utterly draconian for a distiller, but improving.
  6. This example is a common trend in Gin production where they are distilling all the botanicals separately and blending the individual spirits afterwards.  Its a popular trend outside of Europe as the ROW often struggles to get batch after batch consistent quality with botanicals purchased. One order the junipers are plump, un-ripe, and carrying way too much moisture, the next are dry, dusty mouldy old bullets.
  7. in Asia, Thailand is one of the biggest suppliers of quality glass.  Note when I say quality. Most of the glass from India and China I have found to be of very unpredictable quality. France is still the king of high end glass (SaverGlass) and Italy (BruniGroup) a close second.  Glass always becomes an issue of the practical minimum buy, versus the cost of shipping. Remember a pallet contains about 600-800 bottles, so 1 pallett is often a good starting place. For a vintage reproduction check SaverGlass and Bruni.  A custom mold, and minimum run costs can cripple a start-up.  Look to a catalogue design, think outside the square with regard to ink, coatings, labels to give the effect you desire.  The cheapest place I am finding for custom glass and molds at present in Eastern Europe (Romania, Poland, Czech Rep)
  8. In my opinion 90% of start-up distilleries fail because they fail to establish a distribution model.  Great product, good back story, funky design and bottle, no customers. The second aspect I see is crap product. If it aint a great product, no amount of customers will buy it (well a second time LOL).
  9. Growing your own botanicals could be a great back story, as long as you don't become a farmer above being a distiller.
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