Craft production of vodka

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cerevisiae
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Craft production of vodka

Post by cerevisiae » Fri Oct 09, 2020 8:02 pm

I am looking for the ultimate books on:

- producing vodka on a craft/industrial scale
- building a craft distillery
- starting a craft distillery in Canada

I am looking for anything relevant as well and any good recommendations!

Thanks.

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NZChris
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by NZChris » Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:24 pm

This is a home distiller forum, so I hope you are educating yourself elsewhere as well. The technical stuff is easy, the business side can be as productive as throwing money into a wishing well.

Do you have a particularly marketable style of vodka in mind?

There have been startup threads here in the past. I suggest you learn how to search the site to find them.

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Saltbush Bill
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by Saltbush Bill » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:53 am

Books seem to become outdated fast and many contain information that is only the opinion of the writer.
Distilling forums of which there are many will give you wider selection of opinions and ideas to work with/from and you will learn much from them.
ADI is probably a good starting point as its aimed at commercial set ups and can provide answers to some of your questions.

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bluefish_dist
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by bluefish_dist » Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:28 pm

I have posted a few times on starting up on the adi forums. The question to ask yourself is do you just want to make $$ or make a good product? While not mutually exclusive, making a fine product from scratch vs just making money is a different approach. Vodka is almost a commodity. I will say that our vodka which was made from scratch in house did well for us and had people asking for it. On the other side, look at Breckinridge, they buy GNS, cut it with mountain water and then bottle it. They sell a ton and probably make some good $$. FWIW It’s the only vodka during a blind taste test that a tester picked out By name. It wasn’t because it was the best.
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by tiramisu » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:14 pm

Stillit's latest crack at potato barley vodka was pretty artisanal'ish (vodka with flavour).
Proper vodka is tasteless watered down ethanol so really the only difference is the water.

Money in Vodka is advertising and buying the bottles. Good Vodka is whatever you think it is depending on where you come from.
In that way it's kind of like Gin.

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by The Baker » Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:39 pm

Went to a craft distillery at the weekend.
They haven't been going many years and specialise in whiskey.
I was surprised they didn't have vodka and gin because of course they bring in some early money.

Geoff
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Chauncey
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by Chauncey » Sun Oct 11, 2020 1:33 am

As a bartender by trade ill tell ya vodka is mostly marketing. There are people that like call vodka, they have a brand theyll pay whatever for it. And they dont drink it straight. The taste or lack thereof is somewhat irrelevant to this consumer. Then you have those who just want well because its 3 bucks a pour and you cant taste it thru the mix. barely does a person order neat or straight up vodka. What they know is branding or blending in to mixers or some of both.
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by LWTCS » Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:58 am

The Baker wrote:
Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:39 pm
Went to a craft distillery at the weekend.
They haven't been going many years and specialise in whiskey.
I was surprised they didn't have vodka and gin because of course they bring in some early money.

Geoff
Did they have a proper column still?
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by The Baker » Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:21 pm

They had two fairly big custom made (locally) pot stills. Didn't see any others.
Just guessing, four feet across and a bit more high before narrowing sharply to the line arm. (wrong wording?).
They sit on high circles of brick, probably gas fired but just possibly wood...

They have a restaurant which seems more popular than the distillery.
You could buy a three- or five- taste of the whiskey with your meal (or possibly without it).
I tried the three and was surprised how different they were.
I am not a big whiskey drinker but was interested in having samples in my stock.
Five bucks Australian per (small) taste but they took it off if you bought a bottle/ bottles.
Very expensive, maybe $160 Australian for 500 mls.

Business has been probably affected by the covid virus, they have been able to open being in New South Wales but
are near the Victorian border which has been locked down until easing a bit recently.
But the stills seemed dusty to me as though not used for some time and there was no activity there
so I think business is slack unless the restaurant
is more important to them and the distillery is a novelty attraction?
Lots of people were eating and few buying the whiskey.

So yes I was puzzled there was no gin or vodka...

Geoff
The Baker

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by jonnys_spirit » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:27 am

Interesting. We've got a cool micro distillery down the street with a 250 gallon plated still who does whiskey, sorghum, and a gin. It's a four plate 250g still so I'd guess they order NGS for their gin but their whiskies are quite good and they do mash and ferment in-house for at least some of their product.

I'd expect that producing a base for gin or vodka in a commercial operation would require more than four plates but I'll ask if I go back for another tour.

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by bluefish_dist » Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:41 am

Interesting thing I found in england when touring s few distilleries. All the gin distilleries I visited have a rectifiers license and don’t make the base spirit. They buy GNS and then redistill it. Beef eater had huge plate stills that were once used I assume to clean up the incoming spirit. They did not appear to be in use when I was there. Probably a change in the process due to changing suppliers.
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by SirSmartyPants » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:16 am

We have a local distillery that produces award-winning potato vodka, all in-house. They use a 16-plate column and they filter it afterward. It's very clean and smooth, but I don't know if I'd call it "craft" since it doesn't have any additional flavors that stand out. It's just a good vodka.

They also produce excellent gin and a lot of whisky, but they've differentiated themselves (and been very successful) by infusing their un-aged whisky with various flavors for use as mixers. They don't use anything artificial, nor do they use extracts or even natural flavorings. Their lemon whisky, for instance, is infused by hanging a mesh bag of dried lemon slices in a barrel of whisky for some period of time. They do age a portion of their whisky, but their focus has been on being creative with their products. One of their recent releases was their whisky combined with some barrel-aged Octoberfest beer from a local brewery that they distilled, then all of that was aged in the barrel the beer came in. Finally, they proofed it down for bottling with even more of the Octoberfest beer. It turned out great, and I snagged two bottles of it. They're doing a lot of experimenting, and it shows that they love what they're doing and are having a ton of fun with it.

In addition, their tasting room is more like a bar because they make lots of amazing cocktails using their products, along with fresh herbs grown on-site and fruit infusions made with their whisky. They have a master mixologist who comes up with a lot of incredible stuff. My whole family are big fans (we're there at least two weekends a month), and I've become good friends with the owners and their distiller.

My point is that as more and more craft distilleries open up, I think it's going to be more and more critical that they differentiate themselves in some way, rather than trying to compete with the big boys on their own turf. Additionally, I think the typical startup distillery strategy of making vodka and gin to get some initial revenue coming in is going to wear on consumers as craft distillery density increases, so new distillers will need to start thinking out of the box to get off on the right foot.

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by CopperFiend » Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:07 am

That sounds like a very interesting setup and set of products! Food for thought :D

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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by LWTCS » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:50 am

SirSmartyPants wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:16 am
We have a local distillery that produces award-winning potato vodka, all in-house. They use a 16-plate column and they filter it afterward. It's very clean and smooth, but I don't know if I'd call it "craft" since it doesn't have any additional flavors that stand out. It's just a good vodka. Yeah its a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation for a lot of distilleries in that they want some medal recognition and the soft, insipid stuff is what's winning golds right now. The whiskey drinkers vodka never seems to score higher than silver,,,,is what I see at all the conferences.

They also produce excellent gin and a lot of whisky, but they've differentiated themselves (and been very successful) by infusing their un-aged whisky with various flavors for use as mixers. They don't use anything artificial, nor do they use extracts or even natural flavorings. Their lemon whisky, for instance, is infused by hanging a mesh bag of dried lemon slices in a barrel of whisky for some period of time. They do age a portion of their whisky, but their focus has been on being creative with their products. One of their recent releases was their whisky combined with some barrel-aged Octoberfest beer from a local brewery that they distilled, then all of that was aged in the barrel the beer came in. Finally, they proofed it down for bottling with even more of the Octoberfest beer. It turned out great, and I snagged two bottles of it. They're doing a lot of experimenting, and it shows that they love what they're doing and are having a ton of fun with it. Gosh that sounds amazing

In addition, their tasting room is more like a bar because they make lots of amazing cocktails using their products, along with fresh herbs grown on-site and fruit infusions made with their whisky. They have a master mixologist who comes up with a lot of incredible stuff. My whole family are big fans (we're there at least two weekends a month), and I've become good friends with the owners and their distiller.

My point is that as more and more craft distilleries open up, I think it's going to be more and more critical that they differentiate themselves in some way, rather than trying to compete with the big boys on their own turf. Additionally, I think the typical startup distillery strategy of making vodka and gin to get some initial revenue coming in is going to wear on consumers as craft distillery density increases, so new distillers will need to start thinking out of the box to get off on the right foot. Not only that, but the whiskey is not going to age itself. If they don't start laying down the barrels, they'll just be that much further behind on being able to produce the high dollar spirits.
Trample the injured and hurdle the dead.

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cerevisiae
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Re: Craft production of vodka

Post by cerevisiae » Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:26 am

Thanks for all the input.

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