The operation of a distillery can be an exhausting and challenging, yet enjoyable task. That is why there has been a huge increase in the past decade in the number of craft distilleries. In the United States alone, there are currently more than 2,600 craft distilleries, a number that was below 300 a decade ago. If you are new to the business there may be certain things that you are looking to learn. Business owners often do not have the time to dedicate to a long and expensive distilling course. With that being the case, what do you do when encounter random questions that you just can’t seem to find the answers to. Perhaps you have been running your distillery for a few years now, but you aren’t 100% sure if you are running things in the most efficient way possible. What happens when you want to expand your production capacity or introduce a spirit you have no experience making?
In these scenarios you only have a few options in how you can proceed. The first and most expensive way to handle this issue is to hire on an experienced distiller. This is something which is becoming more difficult as new distilleries continue to open up, and could cost you $60,000+ annually. The second way is to attend a course in distillery training, which can be over $6,250 for just 6 days of education. One major issue with these courses is that you often share the classroom with many other students, and there is no guarantee that the course will cover the topics you need. The third option is where we come in. We at Kindred Spirits will work with your budget and make sure that you receive support in resolving any difficulties you might be facing. In terms of general consulting, we can be available for something as simple as a single question or offer more comprehensive guidance to help you resolve a difficult situation you happen to find yourself in.
We at Kindred Spirits want you to succeed in your venture. We look forward to helping you to improve your business in any area needed. Please note the "Areas of Expertise" above that highlight a few areas in which we can be of assistance. For more specifics, check out the Planning, Construction, and Expansion Tabs.
The planning phase of any type of project is the most important. It is in this phase that you will make some of the major decisions that will shape the future of your project. Our objective at Kindred Spirits is to work with you every step of the way and remove any uncertainties.
The decision of what spirits you will produce has an extremely large impact on the planning of your distillery. A company desiring to make craft vodka from scratch requires equipment that is significantly different than a distillery whose focus would be rum or whiskey. On the other hand, if your goals are to produce alcohol by purchasing and blending pre-made spirits, your equipment needs would then also differ greatly. Nothing is more disheartening than learning that the equipment you have purchased is unable to produce a spirit you are passionate about. That is why we focus on ensuring that you make the proper equipment selections the first time. This will save you a lot of money and aggravation.
The layout of your distillery is incredibly important. Careful thought in placing equipment throughout your distilling space can make for an efficient and safe work environment. Most of the equipment in a distillery is large and permanently installed and steam piping installations are expensive. Having a well thought out building layout will save you time and money by preventing any steam system or building redesigns after your distillery is up and running. “A place for everything, and everything in its place” is extremely relevant to distilleries. Having a space for everything will keep your distillery looking clean and add to the overall appeal when you give tours or want to expand your current production goals. Our experienced designers will work with you to conceive a safe, functional, and visually appealing distillery. That design will also take future growth into consideration as the demand for your product increases.
During the planning phase, equipment is usually sized, the building is selected, and a layout is designed to cater to your current and future needs. Wise choices made during vital equipment selections such as boilers, stills, mash tuns, finishing tanks, and fermenters can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars and keep you moving forward with your project. Improperly sized equipment will be inefficient and cost you more money to run and maintain. Improperly sized equipment will also hinder an optimized workflow and will, therefore, cost you your precious time. This scenario is all too common when it comes to distilleries. Sometimes a “great deal” on a piece of equipment can end up costing you far more than you initially saved.
A great example of this is the improper sizing of a boiler, which can often be found for sale cheaply online. Buying too small of a boiler will not allow you to efficiently use all the equipment within your distillery. Getting too large of a boiler will lead to you paying thousands of dollars extra on the equipment, installation, and maintenance. Considerations must also be made for the main fuel, working pressure, input and output steam, efficiency, electrical requirements, local codes, and overall size. These factors can easily turn a “deal” into a waste of funds. Our consultants will work with you to ensure that you spend your hard-earned funds in the best way possible.
The construction phase of your project can be a stressful, yet rewarding phase of your dream. Your distillery is starting to take shape in front of your eyes, everything is moving forward, equipment is coming in and getting installed, and contractors are coming in and out. There is so much going on that it can be a bit overwhelming to make sure that things will progress in an orderly and efficient manner. We can help you focus your efforts to prevent any potential problems or help you get back on track if you have run into any issues along the way.
A daunting aspect for everyone looking to start a distillery is the process of becoming legally registered with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau, better known as the TTB. You should register with the TTB before starting construction on your building. This means informing them what you will be making, the equipment you will have, the estimated proof-gallon output of your distillery, what vessels you will have to store and transfer your spirits, and the size and location of your bonded area within the distillery. All of these factors will need to be discussed and approved by your local and state government prior to applying for your permit with the TTB. Ideally you want the distillery you have on paper to as closely represent what you will be using to produce spirits. This will prevent problems moving forward with the project and future inspections performed by the TTB. The permit can take a few months to be processed so it is something you want to carefully plan the submission of; so that when it is approved you can begin producing right away. We at Kindred Spirits can work with you to help ensure that the permit is filled out accurately the first time and in a timeframe that will work in accordance to your goals in opening your distillery.
Getting the building permits is another extremely important part of the construction phase of your distillery. The physical location of your building and surrounding buildings dictate the different rules and regulations that you have to conform to in order to build your distillery. Zoning can be a large hurdle especially if your local municipality wants to rezone your building into a higher danger classification. For this reason, having a keen knowledge of what you will be producing, selling, and storing will help determine whether or not your building will need certain safety features. We can support you in this aspect by having someone knowledgeable of these requirements available to meet with these local boards to help smooth out any potential problems you might encounter.
The boiler room, if you have one in your facility, will also need to meet all the requirements set forth in the International Boiler Code (IBC) accepted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and all local and state guidelines for safety. Meeting these stringent guidelines can be a challenge for inexperienced installers. We can work with you to fully vet those who will perform the work and supply you with a mechanical boiler system plan to be submitted to the necessary organizations and engineers for approval.
Throughout the process of meeting with local municipalities and preparing permits for them and the TTB, plans will most likely need to be adjusted. We help minimize the time this will take by having our senior design engineer work with your architects and engineers so that drawings can be revised and resubmitted quickly. We also work with you to ensure that your distillery will maintain its ability to be an efficient and safe work environment for you and your employees. The benefits of having an accurate and attractive final building plan are multi-faceted. It enables you to plan for future growth, can be easily resubmitted to the local government if any issues are brought up later in the project, reduces any potential issues when the TTB or other inspectors come to review your building, and can be incorporated into tours, brochures, and your website.
There are many options when it comes to purchasing your equipment, construction supplies, raw materials and botanicals, and those involved with constructing your distillery. Perhaps you have a background in construction or distilling and are familiar with some of the aforementioned items, but if this is completely new territory for you, don’t be alarmed. Members of our team have been involved with the bureaucracy of construction and design for many years and know there are many different ways to handle situations that arise. We also have a network of some of the best suppliers in the country when it comes to getting you set up with needed equipment and base materials to begin distilling.
Expansion within a distillery can take many forms. Perhaps you have been running a distillery for a few years now, making some award-winning spirits, but you are maxing out your current equipment and want to upsize or expand to a new facility. Maybe your focus has been clear spirits, but now you want to venture into the realm of aging. It could be you just want to add some new products to your lineup or to improve your website. Whatever the case may be, our team of international award-winning distillers and other consultants can help you to reach your goal.
Every building has a limit to the amount of equipment you can put within it and still safely and efficiently run your distillery. The need to expand can be triggered by a number of different factors. It could be that while your equipment worked great for your initial production goals, now due to the sheer demand for your spirits, you need to come up with a way to meet this demand without working yourself to death. It could be that you need to buy larger equipment or simply modify your current equipment or processes to be more efficient. We will work with you to make sure that you are using all of your assets to the fullest extent possible and make recommendations on improvements or purchases to keep you in production with as little downtime as possible. Fortunately, in the distillery business, your existing equipment can usually be sold to recoup some of your costs or repurposed within your own business to help it continue growing. Knowing where to look for deals when acquiring new equipment or active locations for selling equipment can save you thousands of dollars and make any expansion more financially feasible.
One of the most exciting things in the distillery business is experimenting with and bringing to market a new product. Developing processes for a new product at times can be very difficult. One major disappointment that you may face while seeking to work on a new product is that the equipment you currently have is not suited to the task. Our experienced consultants can make recommendations, if needed, for equipment and work with you as you take on this challenge. There is no better money saving investment than having someone experienced help advise you so you can proceed without wasting a large amount of time in the trial phases of process and product development.
Determining which spirits to bring to the market can also be a difficult decision to make depending on a number of very important questions. Which spirits sell well in your area? What are the current trends in the business? What are the projected future positions of certain aged spirits? Where will you house spirits that need to be aged? How will these spirits fit into your current lineup? How much should you be stocking for future releases? We can help you find answers to these questions and be thoroughly prepared for product releases that will compliment your current products.
A business that is doing well financially and increasing its product distribution or product lineup will eventually need to increase the size of the current building’s footprint. The other option is to move to another facility if its size cannot accommodate the growth. This type of transition can detrimentally affect the distribution of your product if not carefully planned and executed. If you find yourself in this situation, we can help by assisting with the redesign of your current building or working with you to draft a new distillation space. We can cater the design to meet your specific needs and incorporate new features and equipment if you want to expand your product line.
Please refer to our planning section if you are interested in expanding your business to a larger building as all of the steps required for doing so are thoroughly covered in that section.
The main reason for having an eye-catching website or online profile is to draw new clients to your business. A website that is clunky or outdated can turn people away faster than a poor tasting product. That is why we also offer consultation on your website to improve its appeal, draw, and functionality. Having a website that has the same quality as your product also informs your potential clients that you are dedicated to your business in all aspects.