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Micro Distilling in the UK

I'm very interested in setting up a micro distillery in the UK. But in the very early idea stages.
Does anyone know the hoops you have to jump through etc. Before you can even think about starting to distill?
Does anyone have a walk through guide to the process, from renting a sensible commercial property to equipment and likely setup costs etc. It seems there's a fair bit of info out there for micro breweries if you look but less for distilling.
Many thanks,


  • There's a couple threads here asking the same question, just not sure how to find them for you.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Not exactly similar threads, different questions and different countries. I have tagged this discussion, have a look at the tag searches by clicking on each tag below the initial posting.

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  • Definately an England one here somewhere, was it Richard someone? Wanting the basics for starting a distillery in the uk.

    Also a similar thread from a UK lady distiller recently. Neither show in the tags.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Hi Adam! Welcome!

    I think the first thing to look for is financing, and finding the right property. In the meantime it would not hurt to experiment with recipes to impress the people who want to invest ;)

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • How much do you think you would need to invest for a small scale setup?

  • Hi Adam,

    When you say small scale, how many bottles per month do you wish to produce?

    Need more info about what spirit you wish to produce.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Been working on a similar project in the UK myself. From what i have learnt so far the start up costs can vary dramatically depending on your definition of small. Some commercial projects can start up with a 50 litre still others a 500 litre still and so the price you will expect to pay for most things is scaled as per the equipment. There are advantages it would seem and disadvantages to different setups but buying the right equipment ultimately depends on what you want to produce in terms of spirit and how you then age or bottle the product. I still don't know much but i'm flying out tomorrow to work for a few days at a micro-distillery to help me work out what i need to purchase so that i can then cost the setup.... Lots of fun.... Can't wait,

  • edited March 2016

    There have been a few people granted licenses, but it took a long time and was very difficult. There is also a big difference between a distillers licence and a rectifiers license.

    Reading through the press from some time back one thing that seems to be universally required is a confirmed order book for your product, before you even get a chance of being granted a license.

    Bottom line is they don't want you to do it. But good luck. Perhaps you can ask who has been granted licenses already?

  • What about other costs apart from equipment to consider? Obviously rent, ingredients....i wouldn't want to have to pay to rent somewhere and buy the equipment without getting the necessary licences first. Seems a bit of a catch 22

  • edited March 2016

    The still is no more than 5% of your total budget, everyone seems to fixate on what is a tiny part of the operation. Recommend you focus on everything else first, the still is easy, you just call up the Stilldragon crew and buy it easy peesy.

    In the states, the Feds require you to essentially be operational before even applying for licensing, so it's not a stretch to imagine the same anywhere else. How do you license an ethereal application when the application is likely going to ask many specifics about the location, layouts, floor plans, architectural, etc. It's not a catch 22, it's a matter of them not wasting their time if you aren't willing to make the necessary investments up front. Is it a huge risk? Yes, it's an enormous risk.

    We paid rent for 11 months I think, before getting our final state approvals, plus a host of other things, utilities, construction costs, liability insurance, etc. Whether this is applicable to the UK, I have no idea, but I would bank on funding the startup for a minimum of 2-3 years, full cost outlay, assume zero revenue, don't assume you can pay yourself a salary anytime soon.

    However, I would imagine two main factors would easily translate. The major factors are willingness of regulatory and local authorities to work with you, and that the location selection is critical if you are budget constrained, as a misstep with either location or regulatory could cost you a fortune, or put you out of business before you can even start.

  • I am pretty sure, that starting a distillery in the UK is not as difficult like in the USA. There have been many start ups in the last years as we have seen on the Distilling Expo in London. @Marcus is one of our distillers, but there are many more. But it is true, the still is the smallest part of the investment.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • hello we are building our distillery in uk and it took 18 months to get a licence its not easy

  • @marcus said: hello we are building our distillery in uk and it took 18 months to get a licence its not easy

    Though is does sound on par.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Hi @Marcus any tips on how to go about things from your experience, I would love to hear them!

  • @marcus If you would be willing to describe the process, as experienced by yourself, it would be usefull for the wider distilling community. Perhaps even just a breakdown of the main milestones that you had to acheive. Thanks in advance

  • first you need your building, floor plan, equipment including tanks, barrel sorage. buisiness plan, risk assessment and a lot of time

  • Is it like the joke in the US?

    How do you start a million dollar distillery?

    Start with $2 million...

  • To the guys from the UK, we are setting up a distillery. The decision to commit was made in March 2014. Since then we've met with numerous distillers UK and overseas, sat IBD courses, obtained all the relevant licenses and have slowly sourced all the equipment. Biggest hurdle was a location and have finally been lucky to be moving into a new build rather than spend money on something that was old, pretty but needed shearing up. Total time from inception to product in consumers hands will be about 28 months and enough money spent to have bought a couple of very nice cars or paid off the mortgage. You'll know if your committed to the task on the sight of your first of many HMRC forms or the invoice for a handheld digital alcometer!!!

  • edited May 2016

    Go team Spirited go!!

    Best of luck.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

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