I've just set up my own distillery company!

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  • I've just set up my own distillery company!
  • Kit
    Member

    Anyway, best of luck and let me know if I can help from a retail point of view.

    Cheers Gav, popped an email over to you!

    coming to the end of my Phd, ironically finding it harder to land work than before I started

    Overqualified? Too specialised? That’s how I feel anyway, plus a reluctance to either go back to what I was doing, or suck it up in a graduate/low paid job. Good luck though ‘Dr’!

    You should check out Walter Micklethwait.

    Looks like someone who can’t sit still for 5 seconds πŸ˜€

    If it’s OK with you I’ll pass your details on to my mum

    No worries, I get on well with mums! πŸ˜‰ I’ll pop along to the market tomorrow and have a nosey, cheers for the heads up. The Langholm cider lot are Waulkmill Cider. As much as I love cider, I hate to say it but I can’t stomach theirs! I was thinking about making cider at one point but sourcing local apples was going to be a problem (and pointless doing it otherwise). Vodka from milk sounds….interesting? I looked up Black Cow and it does sound amazing, so I’ll do a bit of research on that, thanks for the tip! If you’re ever passing through Dalton, drop me a line.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    Had a LI message back from Alan W and he’s looking forward to talking to you.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Annie’s sound, but if you like I can have an ask around on Monday and see if there’s anyone else at the uni you should speak to? I need to brush up my distilling anyway, I only know the brewers…

    I mean, obviously we really want you to come and do a masters πŸ˜†

    Kit
    Member

    Had a LI message back from Alan W and he’s looking forward to talking to you.

    Cheers dude. If I say I’ve been talking to a guy called ‘theotherjonv’ will he know who I’m talking about? πŸ˜€

    I mean, obviously we really want you to come and do a masters

    I do feel a bit cheeky, actually. I’m sure most folk approaching HW looking for some help are already quite knowledgeable and hoping to fill a very specific knowledge gap. I, on the other hand, know **** all about distilling so I spent 2hrs with Annie asking all sorts of basic questions πŸ˜† I probably should do the masters, but hey, I’m a doctor, I’m smart enough to pick it up as I go along, right….??? πŸ˜‰

    (You could let me know who she shares an office with – I was introduced to him as the guy who runs the distilling part of the course, but can’t mind his name. Cheers!)

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Hmm, I thought she was in with David Quain but I’m sure he’s a brewer

    Kit
    Member

    No, that’s not the chap.

    big_n_daft
    Member

    Some mecural thoughts

    Working capital is going to be your biggest issue

    You are proposing to build a small batch chemical factory, don’t cuff the process engineering

    You are going to need lots of heat, I assume you are off grid, how are you going to generate it? Heavy fuel oil will be dead in the future due to emissions.Renewable incentives have tanked but should not be dismissed

    You will generate a lot of effluent that you need to dispose of, how are you disposing of it?

    Finally you need to sell your alcohol, what is your route to market?

    the value of the distillery tour is very high if you can provide the facilities. Coach loads of foreign tourists might be impossible but they spend outstanding amounts of money in distillery shops

    Kit
    Member

    big_n_daft These are all valid points. The issues of energy, waste and engineering will be covered by a consultancy who specialise in distillery work. What I know at the moment is oil, soakaway and compost, and yes, respectively to those three points πŸ™‚

    As for working capital, aye, I need to factor that in and thanks for reminding me to do so. Route to market will likely be online sales, farmers markets, craft fairs and the like until I can secure some outlets (although that’ll reduce the profit margin considerably). Definitely will look at the export market too. Scottish booze does appear to hold a certain cache abroad.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    If I say I’ve been talking to a guy called ‘theotherjonv’

    Jon V and he’ll know, especially as i already primed him through LI

    I was JonV on here pre-hack but then for some unknown security reason decided to not be JonV again and became theotherjonv. Cunning!

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    good luck!

    There’s a guy here – Ed Dodson – who has retired as a manager but seems to do bits of distillery consultancy. Really really nice guy is Ed. Will work out volumes and the engineering required. Also I’m sure would be happy to give input.

    willjones
    Member

    There might be a relevant mintel report which may help. I think if you are a student/academic you can access these FOC through your institution.

    Kit
    Member

    Jon V and he’ll know, especially as i already primed him through LI

    Just pinged him, many thanks!

    There’s a guy here – Ed Dodson – who has retired as a manager but seems to do bits of distillery consultancy.

    Hopefully he spots the thread, then!

    willjones that’s fantastic, thanks! I don’t get access to the full reports, but the raw data and summaries are available. Cheers!

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    ah, sorry Kit, meant here as in Elgin. Ed is ex Glen Moray manager. He’s not on here as in “S T W” I’m afraid…

    CountZero
    Member

    I landed a part time job with a major UK wine retailer to tide me over and I can tell you for sure, the gin “bubble” won’t be popping any time soon.

    There’s a gin bar in Bath that’s been going for a number of years, and is very popular, great range of gins too.
    Good luck with the venture, I’ll be following with great interest. πŸ˜€

    big_n_daft
    Member

    The issues of energy, waste and engineering will be covered by a consultancy who specialise in distillery work.

    Be careful to get what you need not what they want to give you, be careful to tightly define your needs and the required outputs

    Who is doing the planning application? How are you planning to procure the kit, what form of contract, who is commissioning it?

    I would read other micro distillery planning applications as they often tell you others mistakes and give you pointers

    With regards to waste you may need to bus it off site

    Kit
    Member

    Be careful to get what you need not what they want to give you, be careful to tightly define your needs and the required outputs

    They work to my specification, in fact I emailed that to them today.

    Who is doing the planning application? How are you planning to procure the kit, what form of contract, who is commissioning it?

    I would read other micro distillery planning applications as they often tell you others mistakes and give you pointers
    I am, most likely. There are a number of distilleries local to me and already looked through their applications. Also just been reading the local development plan. Should be pretty straightforward, but going to speak to various agencies before I make the application to make sure there’s no real issues. The HMRC licences are going to be the bigger ball-ache, I think.

    No idea yet about procuring kit. Various options, both new and second hand, through the consultants or direct, UK or abroad. Will need to see what I have to buy before I start shopping!

    With regards to waste you may need to bus it off site

    I’m pretty confident that I won’t be generating anything requiring disposal by a specialist contractor. Again, I’m taking advice on that, though πŸ™‚

    big_n_daft
    Member

    I’m pretty confident that I won’t be generating anything requiring disposal by a specialist contractor. Again, I’m taking advice on that, though

    Your grains, spent lees and pot ale? How are you doing cleaning, caustic?

    Where are you getting the barrels from? Where are you storing them?

    They work to my specification, in fact I emailed that to them today.

    good luck with that

    None of this is criticism, and I know nowt about distilling, good luck with the venture

    Kit
    Member

    None of this is criticism, and I know nowt about distilling, good luck with the venture

    Always good to have these things thrown at me as I’m sure to miss something!

    big_n_daft
    Member

    In terms of process it is a simple mass balance, what goes in must come out in some form

    SEPA have a soft position on distilleries but are harder on the new ones than the older ones sitting on old water use licenses.

    Kit
    Member

    Well, the latest budget is not good news for me, with duty set to rise by nearly 4% (apparently). Also, as a limited company hoping to attract shareholding investors, the taxable dividend allowance has dropped considerably πŸ™

    It can still be made to work, but a bit of a kick in the teeth nonetheless.

    Kit
    Member

    A wee update for anyone interested:

    Was at Heriot-Watt today speaking to two of their Brewing and Distilling MSc students, who are going to do some product development and marketing for me. Might actually have something to taste in a few months. That’s the easy bit…

    …the hard bit being the cost of setting up a distillery! I took on a process engineering company called Allen Associates, who have put together a design for me for the kit. Quite a challenge for them as they’re used to dealing with the big boys and their huge budgets. I’m at the other end of the scale, but even with the most minimal stripped down kit possible, I’m still looking at the thick end of Β£100k!

    And that’s before I get on to the conversion of the farm building. I’ve yet to get a cost for this, but working on it. Appointed an architect who reckoned I couldn’t do it with the budget I’d set, but that was assuming top-notch insulation, new roof, floor, renewable heating source, etc. I’m torn between wanting to be as low energy as possible, having the place look like a distillery and not an office, and my budget. Work in progress.

    Finally, at the moment, I don’t even know if the services to the farm are up to job, so there could be a potential massive cost of upgrading the leccy supply, drainage, water and so forth.

    Still, it’s keeping me busy πŸ˜‰

    Kit
    Member

    And thanks to Craig from this parish for recommending Susanne Masters to me. She’s keen to do some work for me suggesting botanicals, but I’m not keen on her price, sadly. Maybe eventually…

    giant_scum
    Member

    Cheers Kit.

    Good luck and keep us updated regularly!

    Kit,

    You’re not converting the old Pottery place are you. I saw signs up for a distillery a couple of weeks ago and that’s real near your place isn’t it?

    cokie
    Member

    Only just spotted this thread. Really interesting!
    I’m in a position where I want to start my own business full time.
    Nice to read through this thread. Look forward to updates!

    Best of luck.

    Kit
    Member

    perchypanther, no that’s not us (although, long story, that building used to belong to my family), that’s the Quintessential Gin guys. And yes, near us. We’re on the Lochmaben side of Dalton. Presume you know the area – PM me and you’re welcome to pop in sometime on your way past.

    cokie, hoping it works out for you. Loads of work, hopefully very rewarding!

    big_n_daft
    Member

    drainage,

    I would contact SEPA and ask for a copy of the letter dated 04 June 2013 from SEPA to the Scotch Whisky Association signed by Calum MacDonald

    depending on volume I would send everything to a local AD plant, you should be able to get paid for some distillers materials

    Charlesfield Farm and West Roucan Farm, Tinwald are close by

    Presume you know the area

    We’ve had a caravan at Hoddom for 20 + years, so yeah, I suppose πŸ™‚

    Once you’re up an running i’d love to pop along for a taste.

    Kit
    Member

    I would contact SEPA and ask for a copy of the letter dated 04 June 2013 from SEPA to the Scotch Whisky Association signed by Calum MacDonald

    Why?

    Waste is probably going to go to one of our local farmers under a SEPA exemption but that only covers the wash. Cleaning products and chemicals for fermentation might need dealing with separately.

    We’ve had a caravan at Hoddom for 20 + years

    So you’ll have been round the mountainbike track then? πŸ˜‰ More than welcome to pop in. Any news of imminent openings will be posted here, hopefully!

    I just applied for the brewing and distilling MSc at Heriot Watt, though my idea is to set up a brewery eventually. Will be good to see how you get on!

    your story sounds very similar to Born in the Borders. Chap there has set up successful brewery based on plough to pint principles and seems to be doing well. He has now converted farm stead on his estate (Chesters) for brewery, deli, cafe and he also has a micro gin distillery in there as well. The whole brand is very active in local pub, festivals etc. They now also run a couple of cafes (in Tweedbank and Gala train stations) and various other ventures.)

    He was first seen on Channel 4 Country House Rescue programme with a slightly crumbling estate and a daunting future. It has been really good seen his business develop. From my side of the fence he appears to be doing well, but might be useful for you to have a chat to.

    http://www.bornintheborders.com/

    Hi
    I am a mico brewer by trade , been brewing for 30 years so have some knowledge of the business.
    Water , Can you get an extraction licence to draw from a clean , sustainable source? PWR require testing and monitoring but once set up its cheap. We have a borehole with 2 stage filtration, plus UV .
    Waste water. Expensive to put to drain , a small scale reed bed system with settling tank might work for you.

    Waste grains , get a local cow farmer on board . Treat them as a co-product to avoid silly waste transfer laws. You may need to keep a log of who has what and when.

    Heating volumes of liquid , direct gas fired or steam is probably the most economical. Calor tanks ( ours ask for re-fills automatically ) are reliable enough. Steam , insurance inspections and servicing expensive , nice heaters in the winter , overly hot in the summer .

    Markets. Direct to public via farmers markets or sales after doing tours. People love a tour and most will buy something at the end. You might need some sort of accreditation before looking at regional outlets ( NSF , BRC , SALSA ) Funky glassware is a good selling point as are branded glasses and merchandise.

    HMRC are relatively easy to deal with, you may be asked for a deposit or debenture but that might only apply to beer brewing.

    You will need an EHO sign off before production can start
    You will also need
    a Fork lift truck
    A set of saccherometers
    A refractometer
    decent thermometer
    ph meter
    Iodine
    Spent grain bins
    Grain shovel
    glycol ( MPG ) chilling system .
    Chemical supplier . we use Klenzan.
    Grains .- Simpson Mcreath worth a look

    big_n_daft
    Member

    Waste is probably going to go to one of our local farmers under a SEPA exemption but that only covers the wash. Cleaning products and chemicals for fermentation might need dealing with separately.

    If you get the letter it will tell you when “Distillers Materials” are “waste” or not. As avoiding waste classification gets you out of paperwork I thought it might be useful. In addition there is the potential to get biogas from distillers materials, as it’s specifically covered in the SEPA letter it should be simple to agree to send it to a agricultural AD plant and potentially get paid for it depending on strength/ transport costs. The plants suggested are under performing on the data I can see and therefore might be good to approach.

    In terms of separation of liquid wastes, Distillery AD plants operate outside the permitting regime and nearly all liquids go through the AD plant and some solids in particular cases

    In terms of land spreading you need to be careful of the levels of copper, what is the local soil levels and the land use (ie sheep farming is problematic)

    Waste grains , get a local cow farmer on board . Treat them as a co-product to avoid silly waste transfer laws. You may need to keep a log of who has what and when.

    The grains are a commodity product and there are established market prices, these increase if you make draff

    I’ll be travelling south on M74 Tues 23rd and you can buy me a coffee somewhere with a wifi connection and I can elaborate more if you need more incentive to investigate

    teacake
    Member

    Kit: in terms of dealing with your waste you’ll be able to feed draff to the coos, pot ale spread to land (though needs a fair amount of admin – speak to SAC), spent lees and washings need to be treated.

    As said above, balancing tank (spent lees – pH ~3, caustic washings pH ~ 11) should help get it close to 7. Then a simple reed bed or I have heard of small sites like yours letting it run down long grassy slopes.

    I suggest speaking with Brian Eaton. He is an independent but knows everyone and the nicest guy you’ll meet. Email in my profile if you want his details or a technical chat on anything.

    I work for Edrington.

    Cheers!

    Kit
    Member

    yourguitarhero, good luck! Met the MSc students who are doing some projects for me at HW and they both really enjoy the course.

    franksinatra, cheers had heard of them and will definitely get in touch to see if there’s any advice there to be taken πŸ™‚

    singletrackmind, many thanks for your input! Hadn’t thought about a borehole, but I don’t think we’re on an aquifer. No one round here runs off groundwater. As per other suggestions, waste will go off site, more than likely if I can satisfy either the farmer or the AD of suitability. We’re not on mains gas, and no one round here appears to run off Calor. Not sure why, but must be a reason people prefer oil. That’s what I plan to run a steam boiler off, as a leccy-powered heated oil system is too much for our supply. Noted re: maintenance costs. Also noted on glassware, although your accreditation acronyms mean nowt to me πŸ˜€ Not planning on any formal visitor facilities (yet) as that would require an upgrade to the entrance of the farm, additional license, facilities, etc. But probably a longer term project if things work. Good to know about HMRC, I was dreading applying for my licenses with them! And noted on the kit list, hopefully I’ll be given this by the process engineers.

    big_n_daft, OK thank you. I’d looked at the SEPA exemptions and didn’t know what counted as ‘Distillery Waste’, so will get a formal clarification. For land spreading, it’s up to the farmer. I’ll provide him with an analysis of the waste and leave it to him to make that call. He’s a conscientious guy, so I’ve no worries there. But we also have a local AD who might be interested. Interested to know how you know so much about this; do you work for SEPA? If you’ve got the time to spare, I’m free 23rd. Email me Kit[dot]Carruthers[@]gmail[dot]com. cheers.

    teacake, thanks, I’ll ping you something soon.

    Kit
    Member

    Well…got a rough, but good, idea on the capital needed to get this thing off the ground 😯

    The adage about picking a number and doubling it applies here, no doubt. Although, to be fair, a very large portion of the budget costs are VAT (reclaimable, hopefully) and contingency (not needed, again hopefully). Now looking at what grant options are available, and wondering whether I’d have any success with crowd funding. I’m going to need at least some outside capital to make it ‘affordable’!

    Energy is still a big issue. Probably looking now at running a diesel genny for working the still as a) I can’t be arsed with the hassle associated with a steam boiler and b) our grid connection is crap, ruling out a small solar PV array. Not exactly green, but it’ll have to do at the start.

    Need to tidy up a couple of unknowns, and then I’ll be putting in my planning application. Fingers crossed it goes smoothly!

    Direct gas fired hot water tank ?
    If you making a mash then fermenting the wort then alot of hot water will be required.
    miniflam burners

    Then a nice 4″ SS heat coil inside your hot water tank.

    China make cheapo tanks , then Greece (olympic) then czech republic and ze germans .
    huge feilds of second hand tanks in the UK, Centrplant, Moody , ABUK are some and there are others

    Kit
    Member

    We’re not on mains gas, and Calor gas is by far the most expensive fuel option (so I’m led to believe anyway, no one round here uses it).

    teacake
    Member

    90% of your energy will be for distillation (assuming 2 pot still batch process).

    How you heat the still will impact the flavour and ease of control.

    Kit wrote:

    yourguitarhero, good luck! Met the MSc students who are doing some projects for me at HW and they both really enjoy the course.

    I got in. Now off to visit loads of distilleries this summer because I don’t actually know how spirits are made!

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