Hey ya’ll, its Matt again. Thought I’d tell ya’ll about my recent trip to Breckenridge Colorado for a distilling class put on by the ADI. I tell ya its a little pricey at $3500 per attendee but it’s money well spent if you have any interest in opening a craft distillery. We covered everything from making a malted grain wash to stripping runs, spirit run, blending and proofing, barreling and bottling. That was about half the class the other half covered marketing, business plans, labeling, branding, dealing with the TTB and still designs and options.
I must admit I was a little leery going, it was a lot of money to not know what I was getting for sure. But after attending I see now it is a must before making the final decision to proceed with opening a craft distillery. Jordan and Brian (the master distiller and the owner) were more than helpful and answered any question completely, even my stupid questions. Aside from the class I was lucky enough to meet some of the guys from “Deadliest Catch”! They were there filming in a restaurant called “The Whales Tale” for the “After the Catch” series, it was awesome!
My first day there I was hanging out the president of ADI and the guys from the distillery and I was able to go into the roped off areas while they were filming an out house race between “Breckenridge Distillery” and the “Deadliest Catch” captains! Yep that’s right, an out house race! It was a rare opportunity to meet some of the guys I watch every week doing a job I would never even consider. The best part is, they truly are just regular guys, I stood outside a restaurant and talked with Edgar Hanson for about 10 minutes or so and he talked to me like he knew me from way back. Very cool, dad and the guys at the shop were very jealous! Hehehe.
But back to the distilling class. We were using a 550 gallon, 3-plate column build by Vendome out of Louisville KY and I must say wow! The workmanship is amazing, I’ve seen many of their stills before and every time I am amazed. We do just as good of work, only theirs is 5 times the size and dealing with that thickness of copper is not easy. Of course a company that has done it for 100 years has it down pat. Listen though folks, if you are serious about opening a distillery you must attend one of these classes, some there decided it was for sure what they wanted to do and some didn’t even come back the last day. You are facing a monster, a defeat-able monster, but a monster just the same, and the class really opens your eyes to what you are facing.
Even if you don’t make the class, go out and do your research, talk to guys in the industry and really feel it out. Mostly all professional distillers are willing to talk to you and give you advice, it is a very friendly industry that is willing to help you through the hurdles. One thing I learned though, a lawyer is a must to guide you through and protect you. The TTB is not playing around and they are very serious about their tax money. Good guys, but don’t mess up cause once you apply for your DSPs they watching you constantly. But from what I understood talking with the distillers, is that like bees, don’t poke em and they will leave you alone.
However, one caught mistake and they are walking through the front door digging deep on everything. With out rambling any more, here’s the moral of the story: Do your homework, you’re facing a monster. Can you beat it? Defiantly! But know what your getting into! Also have a stellar business plan and attack approach. Do these things and your in an amazing industry that is packed full of interesting people, interesting ideas and a job that you will love! Good luck and Happy distilling folks!!!!