4. Top Five Things for New Distillers to Think About

Before we kick-off we wanted to give you some things to think about, perhaps consider this as preparation for your successful business.

In the coming modules you should expect to go through a process to work out what your business will look like. Things like:

  • What spirit(s) you’ll produce
  • What size your distillery will be
  • What it will cost you to set up and run your business, and
  • What your potential return will be.

While setting up a successful distillery at the right scale for you is not something to go into lightly, if you plan it with the right model behind it, it can succeed.

We also want to introduce you to some other areas to think about, and to people and organisations in the industry. At the end you will be able to make great decisions about your business and should have the knowledge and know-how to get the skills to be able to create quality spirit, in a safe environment for a successful distilling brand.

So here are five things to think about before you commence.

1.The Economics

It is fair to say that no matter where you are in the world you should approach the creation of the distillery like any other business - with rigor and focus on excellence and quality.

The course will take you on a journey through things like:

  • The cost of setting up and running the distillery
  • How to fund your plans
  • When to pay yourself, and
  • Other things related to the economics of the business.

It is important to recognize the value in doing the numbers work first and being clear that you’re in for a long haul. So spend the time (and money, which may mean getting help) to get the numbers right.

2.Compliance and Distilling

The world of distilling goes hand-in-hand with compliance. In distilling, there is a suite of rules you need to understand. When we’re talking about compliance, we’re talking about understanding:

  • Your legal and operational requirements as business owners
  • The licencing requirements for distilling with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) - or if you aren’t in Australia, other relevant licensing bodies
  • Worker (and visitor) health and safety
  • Local government requirements - planning, building, waste disposal and food/beverage handling
  • Creating a safe, quality spirit, getting the cuts right and the spirit tested, and
  • Operational requirements with the distillery.

While all jurisdictions are different, the compliance requirements to own and run a still and/or to operate a spirits business are significant. These include the right licences to store and manufacture alcohol and the excise requirements for the spirit you produce.

In Australia, it is illegal to manufacture spirits for consumption unless you are licenced by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) - even if you are only making it for yourself. So make sure you visit www.ato.gov.au and do this research first. 

3.Your Brand, Your Marketing and Assets

Critical to Building your Successful Distilling Business, in fact any business, is some thinking about the name of your business, your logo, what your brand qualities are and all the online real estate (think Facebook etc) associated with these.

Top Tips for your Distillery Marketing

4.Skills for Distilling

One of the trickiest parts of the set up process is getting the hands-on skills to distill. How do you learn to make spirits and to ‘cut’ the spirits so you only end up with the hearts? How do you learn how to clean your stills and other gear?

There are a few distilleries within Australia that you can learn these skills from. We also suggest you tap into the distilling network through the Australian Distillers Association (ADA) to see if there are people out there who are willing to share the knowledge or allow you to spend a day in their distillery (for a fee).

If you are thinking of distilling and are not planning to own your own distillery, work in breweries or cideries can give you relevant experience. As can time in hospitality roles and front of house experience.

The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) Asia Pacific has technical courses that will help you gain some of this knowledge. And suppliers such as Drink Makers and the Tasmanian Whisky Academy can help with hands-on courses that will give you a grounding in the types of skills you will need to acquire. Work out where your gaps are and devise a plan to fill these.

5.Be Realistic

Being a distiller is a brilliant job, and being a distiller in your own distillery is even more exciting. This course has been set up to take you on a journey over 6-12 months because, realistically, this is the sort of time-frame you are looking at from when you start thinking about the idea, to turning on your still for the first time. 

Being realistic is understanding it will take time, you will need help, it may be expensive and you may need to transition from one job or style of life into your distiller role. It is also important to recognize that distilling will be a lot of work and you will be busy for a while as you get going. This course aims to help you understand what’s involved and support you in achieving your goals.