Getting help to start a distillery (Business Part 2)

So you’ve decided to start a distillery? Congratulations!

It is an exciting and daunting time going it alone to research, discover and learn about the business of distilling and what it will take you to get going in distillation.

So many things to learn.

If you have started down the path of researching or commencing your own distillery already, you have probably discovered there is a lot to learn.

These are things like:

  • What licences do I need?
  • What size still should I buy?
  • Where can I buy bottles?
  • When do I need to think about marketing?
  • Where do I learn how to distill?
  • Where can I fill all those other knowledge gaps?
  • How do I know what I don’t know?

There is no doubt that the pathway to running your own distillery is confusing. There is a lot to learn and many different places you can learn about the art. There are also many different paths you can follow to create your own distillery – such as should I just make whisky, or gin as well? Do I need to make my own wash or can I buy it?

The good news

The good news is that there are no hard and fast rules about what it needs to look like, what spirit you should make or what size still you should buy. The bad news is that this means you need to make all those decisions for yourself.

Here are a few things to think about which might make starting on the journey a bit easier.

Tip 1: There are some knowns.

If you start with the knowns, it will identify what you need to actually find answers for. So what do we know?

  1. You need a licence to distill. This is a known and in Australia is is not negotiable. So visit ato.gov.au or call them and find out what you need to know to open a distilling business.
  2. You need a business plan. This goes without saying and first this starts with getting your thinking right, so you can articulate what your business looks like, which will enable you to share this information with the ATO when you lodge your paperwork for the business.
  3. You need a still! Yes of course you do, unless you are planning to have someone else make it for you. So then the research part looks like – what sort of spirit do I want to make, what still suits this best, where can I buy one.
  4. It will cost a fair bit. This is pretty obvious as well but it is important to think about because a successful distilling business is not created overnight and as such you need to go in with your eyes open. Its probably important your partner (business and personal) need to understand this well. When thinking about planning, think about start up costs as well as ongoing costs.

Tip 2: Spend a bit on brand and marketing

Many new business people think about brand as the logo they put on their business. The reality is it is much more than this. Your brand is how your business and product will become known and encompasses:

  • Your business name
  • The logo
  • The story you tell about your business
  • Your imagery
  • Your branding on bottles, caps, neck tags, website and social media and other promotional materials
  • The experience people have in your distillery/cellar door

So when you are thinking about brand, think about logo but also think about what sits around that and how the look of your product and brand can create interest and desire for the consumer. We have seen many brilliant brands but the one we love the most is Archie Rose’s Horisumi Gin  which builds on their classic brand (and look) and delivers a desirable and collectable gin that oozes with desire.

Remember, you could be with your brand for a LONG TIME. You may need to spend over $5000 to build a brand and if you are lucky enough to do it for less, then make sure your supplier can do a good job for you.

Tip 3: Don’t do it alone.

Like any business, creating a distillery will mean busy times. There are a few stages of creating a distillery. They are

  1. Having the idea
  2. Doing the initial research
  3. Making the decision to start a business
  4. Learning, visiting and deciding on what, how and where
  5. Commencing your planning
  6. Finding a home for the business
  7. Ordering the still and gear
  8. Skilling yourself

…and that’s just for starters. If you are thinking about it is worth getting some help in the early stages to work out exactly what running a distillery will look like – what do you need to think about, what do others do, how might that work in your place. In our case you can do a Foundations course that will take you on a journey of all the thing you need to think about, or you can take a road trip around other distilleries and see how they have done it. Once you are up and going you will also need to think about the sort of help you will need – whether its a qualified distiller, someone to do the books, help with visitors and sales or something else.

 

In short, getting all the ducks lined up to start with will make for a smooth journey as you start to get down into the detail of what your business looks like. If you’re heading to Tasmania anyway then think about doing a road trip around the distilleries in Tasmania – or if you’re coming to the Foundations course then plan to extend the visit to find out how our gin, whisky, brandy distillers do their thing.

IF you’re still not sure what help you need and where you can get it, then contact us – we’re happy to help.

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