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Business Plan Craft Distillery

edited July 2013 in General

On my journey on the web I found this site :

Distillique - Craft distilling for Profit

I was interested in the business plan for craft distilleries.

They have a layout for a 100 L and a 300 L boiler.
They go out for a 100 L boiler with 22 work days 1100 bottles (750 ml)/month @ 43 % !!
Thats 825 L/ month or 37.5 L/ day.
What am I missing ?



  • Well the 1st thing I noticed is that they may not be accounting for Ferment/Clearing time. With the only 3 of the 180L Fermenters figure 1 week to Ferment and 1 week to settle and clear. You would only be able to get thru 6 tanks a month. In order to produce 1100 bottles @ 43%abv you would need your wash to be 33% in order to get 60L of azeotrope out of 180L that you would need to make 1100 bottles @ 43abv. You are never going to get to a 33% wash.... Let alone get it to ferment and clear in 2 weeks so I am assuming that they are figuring you can get thru every tank 4 times a month. That is only 1 week total to Ferment and Settle at 16% wash. Good luck with that....

    It could be done... But I think you would need at least 6 fermenters @ 180L but again this assumes you are able to Ferment and Settle each tank over 2 weeks @ 16% wash.

    Now the question comes in what is your sugar source? If like me you are using straight grain (wheat) then your washes are not going to be much more than 5%-6% not 16% unless you are adding a second sugar source to boost the wash %.

    So now you need 18 fermenters @ 180L not 6 to be able to have that output.

    What is a legal sugar source for you to use? What is the most cost effective per pound? What is going to give you the taste you are looking for in your product? There is a lot to take into account here.

    Based on the drawings I assume they are building this around a ready made sugar source (granulated sugar, Molassases, ect) As they do not include a Mash Tun in the diagram. Also how are you going to heat the water for your wash to melt the sugar? How many hours will it take to heat your water? Are you using the Still Boiler to heat the water for washed? If so you cant be distilling and putting together a wash at the same time. I have this problem now and I will tell you it is a pain and a big waste of time. Having 2 boilers would be a much better way to go.

    With 18 fermenters you would need ALOT more space then what they have detailed out.

    You really need to figure out what you want to make? What your legal and cost effective sugar source is? What % you will make the wash? (Test your recipe and process to know for sure.) How long is the Fermentation Time and Settling time for your particular wash and yeast choice? Then you can set your target output per month and then back into the required equipment and space needed....

    Good luck. Once you figure it all out and decide how much $ you will need to invest. Take that number and double it as you will have forgotten or missed half of what you needed or you will have to rework processes that you planned and they did not work out.

    Time is another major issue. If you think it will take 9 months to get up and running you better plan for 1.5 years... Every time you turn around something will not go according to schedule. Suppliers wont deliver on time. Inspections get pushed back. The government will drag their feet on the Approvals ect.......

    The other thing that is funny is that they think you could do this in 3m x 3.5m room.... Yeah right. I am a very small craft distillery. I am in a 8m x 8m space. And I am VERY cramped....

  • The first thing I noticed is that they have turbo yeast in the supplies bill. I don't think this financial plan has been done by distillers, but accountants. I'm tipping they aint making no 8 year old single malt or 3 year old bourbon in new oak barrels. Crunch some numbers, squeee them a bit, put some lipstick on them and sell them to investors. As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.

  • That site is from South Africa and it is targeted for partnership with SD perhaps sometime as early as the middle of next year. As the link shows the production area mentioned is "absolute minimum" for someone trying to break in on a shoestring.

    We get almost zero sales from South Africa now but the StillDragon USA site gets hundreds of unique "hits" each month from their website. There is clearly interest in the low cost fully modular design.
    This partnership could be good for them and for us as our global reach expands and we all learn from each other.
    RedDoor is correct that what they advertise as doable is very difficult to obtain but they are trying to gain a solid footing and if we, as a community, can help them then everyone benefits. In less than a year they have grown to become a small powerhouse of information because they "give back" to the distilling community instead of just trying to take advantage of it. Kudos to them.

    What you know about any country is not true unless you have lived the dream there.

  • I was not trying to get down on what they put out. But as a small craft distillery myself the numbers just did not look right. Doing a lot of research and planning is a must for any business but for distilling there are many factors that you need to look at before jumping in.

    We spent about 2 years getting ready and working up our Business Plan and we still missed a lot of things or miss judged what out needs and requirements would be. Somethings you can not factor in correctly until you either try it or have someone advising you that has actual historical experience to gauge off of.

    It can be a very rewarding business. But there can also be a lot of pitfalls.

  • I know exactly what you mean, @RedDoorDistillery, even the simplest part or project that I want to produce usually has many setbacks before we (the factories and me) get it right. Everything takes longer and costs more than originally expected. I already have enough wanky prototypes laying around to fuel a small distillery with parts that are "almost close, don't quite fit, stupid idea from the beginning" ^#(^

    Its very difficult for me to make just one of something. So when we make a mistake its typically a mistake x 100, 500 or 1,000.

    I still have some (about 1000) brass burner jets that I had made over two years ago. I think we've sold 20 pieces. :-q

  • edited August 2013

    Hi, to answer some of the questions above on the "distilling for profit" article on Distillique's website (here is the new link):

    1. Sugar source is sugar with some fruit (for flavor) dissolved in water with 4 feedings of sugar over 5 day period and then dry fermented to 18.x %abv in 7 days with turbo yeast mix (mix of Lalvin C, EC1118 and a fast starter and then also lots of Vit B, yeast hulls, some nitrogen and other nutrients)
    2. Distills (with modified fractionating still) 90L per batch to achieve about 18.5L at 80% abv and dilute this to about 38L at 40% abv.
    3. Bring to boil with 13.5kW and then switched to 4.5kW for slow boil during fairly long distillation.
    4. Sugar feedings done with sugar semi-pre-dissolved (30 minute stirring but not fully dissolved) with 22 Deg C water from tap. Fermentation temp is kept below 30 C after 2nd day. No settling is done. The draw back is that good tail cutting is required (to make up for the settling period) . ...and adjustment of the reflux during distillation is a pain. (we are however working on a "bolt-on" kit for automation - to allow the distilling protocol to be maintained with auto-tail-cutting to remove the manual effort)
    5. The article does mention "you need extra space for raw material handling" ... if using something else than sugar...and we really mean the space requirement to be the absolute minimum.
    6. The only important thing that the article does not explicitly mentions is the tax payable on the alcohol... for "closer to the truth" profit figures. This will be rectified in a follow up article.
    7. Quite a few setups based on the article are up and running... with only one major problem: All of them run out of capacity!

    Yes, its being done.

    Spirited people...loves distilling.

  • Thank you Gert for the feed back. Cheers.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I think this approach is very suitable for the operator that has to continue with their "day job". A piolet program to help determine future real needs.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I know this is an old post (I'm a brand new member and very happy to be one) but living in South Africa as I do, I was very interested in Loyd's comment that SD would be partnering with Distillique. I'd really like to be able to buy SD products locally rather than importing as I've been doing, so it's disappointing that nothing's happened in the intervening 4 years. It's impossible to get reasonably priced equipment locally. Distillique has some very knowledgable and helpful people but their equipment prices are completely ott.

  • edited August 2017

    PM @richard. He is South Africa and has SD stuff but not sure where he gets it from. And he is very on to it all. Johannesburg I believe.

  • Distillique elected to circumvent the SD supply chain.. Lloyd's unilateral announcement/declaration was a prematurely vetted decision. Lloyd has not been affiliated with StillDragon for some time now.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 2017

    according to our customers in South Africa it is obvious that we have the better customer service and prices.

    According to what I see on Distillique webiste is, that I make the better photos, they use my photos and drawings without my permission. :(

    I sell happily to South Africa, we have deliveries now every week or so, the only annoying thing is that shipping takes longer than to other destinations (but that is not because of shipping from our side, but because of customs clearance and local delivery in South Africa).

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

  • I do buy from you Sunshine and I can confirm that your customer service is excellent, as is your product. Much better than Distillique, but the slow shipping is very annoying. You should look into using couriers like DHL. More expensive but definitely worth it

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