Micro-Distilleries

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Micro-Distilleries

Unread postby bunghole » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:13 am

What is the future for America's Micro-Distilleries?

Would you like to be a Micro-Distiller?

How much do you think it would cost?

What would you distil?

Link = http://www.distilling.com

:arrow: ima :drunken:
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Re: Micro-Distilleries

Unread postby Mark » Fri Dec 10, 2004 4:51 pm

bunghole wrote:What is the future for America's Micro-Distilleries?


Not knowing much on the subject but seeing as how the micro-brewery revolution has really taken off in just 20 years who knows what could lie ahead in the future... I would think that the potential is there for some rather unique and interesting products.

bunghole wrote:Would you like to be a Micro-Distiller?


I think it would be a fun side thing to do as a hobby, but I would not want to do it alone. Having a partner or two in something like this would make it all the moer fun!

bunghole wrote:How much do you think it would cost?


More than I have and probably will have for some time to come, that's for sure! :(

bunghole wrote:What would you distil?


Whiskey thats for sure, but as much as I would like to go wheat based I would probably do something rye; Not overly ryed though...
-=_Mark_=-
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Unread postby Oregone » Fri Dec 10, 2004 6:39 pm

I saw an interesting article recently (LA Times?) on the profusion of west coast micro-distillers. My own, limited, experience with them is that none are taking the years necessary to really age their whiskey before release. The author of the article claimed that some of the samples would cause us to rethink the notion of aging -- I rethought it, all right, for about 10 seconds.

The economics of microbrewing worked, because turnover between production and consumption was so short; it's the reason most of them made ales rather than lagers.
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Unread postby bunghole » Fri Dec 10, 2004 7:19 pm

I've given this a lot of thought over the years, but I just don't have the capital to give it a go.

When you look at illegal micro-distillers in my region you'll find most folks just making enough of what they like to drink for family and friends. Nothing that is really for sale. Once you go commercial the B.A.T.F. will eventually catch you, and put you away. Just five miles from where I live the Feds busted a "black pot" operator that was not only making cheap "bust head" sugar liquor, but also running a crystal meth lab. He also had pot and stolen firearms for sale. One stop shopping. I'll bet he made a fairly good income. You can only run under the radar for a short while. Then it's prison city, baby!

:arrow: ima 8)
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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:14 am

Oregone wrote:I saw an interesting article recently (LA Times?) on the profusion of west coast micro-distillers. My own, limited, experience with them is that none are taking the years necessary to really age their whiskey before release. The author of the article claimed that some of the samples would cause us to rethink the notion of aging -- I rethought it, all right, for about 10 seconds.

The economics of microbrewing worked, because turnover between production and consumption was so short; it's the reason most of them made ales rather than lagers.


Jeff, this thread has gone nowhere fast, but you're right in that you've got ot have some cash flow to survive.

I have local orchards and could distil Apple Jack & Peach brandies without a doubt. That's a quick turn around. you could also follow Heaven Hill's lead and offer a white dog whiskey a la "Georgia Moon" only my white dog would taste far better than theirs. Then mellow it out a bit in used cooperage for a couple of years. I'd like to do the same with a Maryland style rye.

All of this goes on while the whiskey ages to the point of becoming bourbon. You also get to build brand awareness as you go so that when you do bottle and release the bourbon you will have more buyers than bottles.

I'm thinking a straight eight year old would be close to perfect. I'd like to go the Bottled-In-Bond boys one better with each batch being bunged daily. Being a true micro-distiller you're talking maybe ten barrels a day max, or roughly 400 proof gallons (after the angles have their fair share) a day to be bottled and sold. If you've built your brand then you should easily be able to sell it all quickly at a reasonable profit.

Now you're on the gravy train, but it'll take eight years to catch that ride.
You'll want to do some single barrels as well as leaving some barrels to rest further.

It can be done, but how much will it take? One Million, or Two :?:

:arrow: imanotamillionaire :!:
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Unread postby Chris » Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:03 pm

I remember reading once that you need to get all sorts of permits (federal and state), then you need to post some sort of bond with BATF, in addition to meeting all sorts of requirements that make it impractical to start something small, and impossible to start something out of your home :sad11: ... oh well :( ... you'd figure they'd want as many people as possible to be able to register/use a still so they could collect taxes on them... :scratch:
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Unread postby bunghole » Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:30 pm

Yeah Chris you'd have to start at the county level to get their zoning/planing commisions to approve your land use and building plans. Then submit requests to the state ABC board and fed's B.A.T.F. for permits. Lord only knows how long all that would take. :roll: And because you can't count on becoming a registered distilled spirits producer, you can't go ahead a build the stillhouse and rackhouse, or get Vendome to design and fabricate your 'stilling apparatus. Fooey! :evil3:

:arrow: ima :cussing:
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Unread postby Oregone » Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:53 am

bunghole wrote:Yeah Chris you'd have to start at the county level to get their zoning/planing commisions to approve your land use and building plans. Then submit requests to the state ABC board and fed's B.A.T.F. for permits. Lord only knows how long all that would take. :roll: And because you can't count on becoming a registered distilled spirits producer, you can't go ahead a build the stillhouse and rackhouse, or get Vendome to design and fabricate your 'stilling apparatus. Fooey! :evil3:

:arrow: ima :cussing:


I don't get the impression that any of this is much different than opening a brewery and those manage to get built fairly often. Same struggles with local municipalities and various state and federal permitting processes. Silly crap like getting every individual label approved (no cartoons for alcoholic beverages!). Same bureaucratic baloney. Yet it gets done.

We have a number of people distilling in the local area, including the superb pot stills at Clear Creek and the McMenamin Brothers, famous for their empire of brewpubs and multi-use lodges (theaters, breweries, restaurants and lodgings). It doesn't seem all that difficult to start, at least here in Oregon.
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Unread postby Brewer » Mon Dec 13, 2004 11:57 am

Oregone wrote:
It doesn't seem all that difficult to start, at least here in Oregon.


I guess I'll have to be moving to Oregon! :wink: I just don't know when. :roll:

Seriously though, between Oregon and Washington, you've got some of the best micro-breweries in the country. I AM envious!
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Unread postby drew_kulsveen » Mon Dec 20, 2004 2:56 am

You guys left some people out of the picture. The boiler inspector. The EPA. The electrical inspectors. And so on. The capital isn't the hard part. You could start a small micro-distillery for approx. $80-100k. It's all the people you have to go through just to operate.
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Re: Micro-Distilleries

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri May 23, 2008 3:54 pm

I hope that Mark and Chris don't mind me reviving these old threads today. One of the things I like best is the ability to go back and additional information to old threads rather than having to start over with new thread.

Linn asked this question about 3 1/2 years ago and it is interesting to see what was said then. The fact is that there are craft distilleries cropping up across the country and there will probably be more in the future. I just wish Kentucky law made things a little easier to deal with starting a distillery. Drew points out some of the additional obsticles to starting the distillery but leaves out some of the more mundane ones such as tax laws, payroll (including taxes, Social Security for workers, etc..) and the three tier system of distribution which could keep a small distillery's product from even getting to the market.

To answer Linns first questions:
1) Looking better today than three years ago, but still pretty bleak.
2) Of Course I would like to be a craft distiller. Who on this board would not like to be?
3)More than I can afford.
4) What else? Bourbon of course. I would also like to make some rye including some pure rye from 100% rye and rye malt, some corn whiskey aged in used port barrels (The yuppies would love it), and finally a whiskey made from 33.3% each of corn, rye and malt (just curious as to what it would taste like).

I think for a craft distillery to succede it would need to do things a little different from others. I would stick to 19th century distilling practices with low distillation and barrel proofs. I would probably have all of my grain ground at a stone wheel mill like the 19th century mill at Mill Springs State Park in Indiana. I might even contract with a potter to sell it only in hand made stoneware jugs.
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Re: Micro-Distilleries

Unread postby libertybar » Fri May 23, 2008 9:05 pm

Great thread!

In terms of West Coast distilleries, very recently Washington passed what is called our 'Craft Distillery License', which would allow 'small' distilleries (long story...) to operate for the first time since Prohibition. In fact, Dryfly Distilleries (http://www.dryflydistilling.com) from Spokane recently came out with their first batches of legal spirits since the '30s. They have a vodka and a gin and will have a whiskey at some point in the future.

The issue with Washington State is that this bill created distilling as an 'agricultural practice', which causes some issues with the ability of Washington State to take on Idaho and especially Oregon in terms of the ease of creation of the distillery and products allowable under the 51% Washington ingredients provision.

The main point is that the West Coast will surely be leading the way in the next decade with new distilleries I do believe, and I look forward to many of the new spirits that will be available.

Whiskey? That will take a while obviously, as many of the new whiskies are not exactly the best products that we have tasted, but when there are options like the Stranahan's Co lorado Whiskeyand Iowea's Templeton's Rye out there? Well, there appears to be a great future for real quality products. I'd definitely suggest that you check those two out if you're lucky enough to find a bottle or two.
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Re: Micro-Distilleries

Unread postby cowdery » Mon May 26, 2008 6:45 pm

A lot of these new state laws permitting small distilleries have restrictions requiring the use of local farm products, which sounds like a good idea, but what if you want to make rye whiskey but there is no rye grown in your state? In fact, there is very little rye grown in the U.S. Most of it is imported from Canada.

As this thread notes, this has been knocking around for almost four years and while it has been a mixed bag, there have been positive developments. Stranahan's is the first product to get wide distribution with a whiskey that is more than a novelty. It's unique and good. Others will surely follow.

Kentucky probably has to be careful because it wouldn't want, in the creation of laws intended to facilitate micro-distillers, to create any loopholes the big guys could slip through, in terms of reducing their tax burden, for example.
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