Frequently Asked Questions
What makes a distillery a "craft" distillery?
While there is no set definition as to what constitutes a craft distillery, two of the largest craft distillery organizations, American Craft Spirits Association and American Distilling Institution, have laid out some general qualifications that are similar in nature and widely accepted throughout the industry.
According to the ACSA, a craft distillery is:
- A distillery that produces fewer than 750,000 gallons annually.
- A distillery that is independently owned and operated, with more than a 75% equity stake in their company, or operational control.
According to the ADI, a craft distillery is:
- Independently-Owned: Less than 25% of the craft distillery (distilled spirits plant or DSP) is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by alcoholic beverage industry members who are not themselves craft distillers.
- Small-Scale: Maximum annual sales are less than 100,000 proof gallons.
Hands-on Production: Craft distillers produce spirits that reflect the vision of their principal distillers using any combination of traditional or innovative techniques including fermenting, distilling, re-distilling, blending, infusing or warehousing.
While these requirements are important, the spirit of your spirit (no pun intended) is what really matters. If your focus is on waking up every morning, rolling up your sleeves and distilling the best spirit you can using the best locally-sourced ingredients, then you are indeed the proud owner of a craft distillery.
What is a distillery engineer?
A distillery engineer is a problem solver. They take a complex situation, analyze all possible outcomes, and present solutions that improve and enhance the initial state of things. The distillery engineer will help to determine capacity and production requirements, select the proper equipment for distilling your spirit(s), design your production floor, and ensure all federal, state, and local regulations are met (among other things).
A distillery engineer also holds a four-year degree in engineering, possesses real-world experience in the distillery industry, and solves problems for distillery owners. There is also an industry-recognized certification that distillery engineers can apply for, a Professional Engineer. To be licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE)—in addition to a four-year college degree—engineers must work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. Devin, our lead distillery engineer is a PE.
What's the difference between a distillery consultant and a distillery engineer?
A distillery consultant is a broad term that refers to anyone who has experience working in or with distilleries and can consult with distillery owners on different aspects of their business. There is no formal certification or designation for distillery consultants. On the other hand, distillery engineers can only use the term “engineer” in their title if they received a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited university. While it is common for distillery engineers to also be distillery consultants, distillery consultants cannot be engineers without formal education and training in the field of engineering.
Do I need an architect to start my craft distillery?
Having an architect on your team can be extremely helpful when it comes time to build your distillery. Once a distillery engineer has determined what you need to run your distillery (everything from equipment sizes and piping to fire codes and sprinkler placement), there’s still the matter of arranging everything in a functional way that’s conducive to operating your business. An architecture will work closely with your distillery engineer to bring to life all the planning done thus far to create a distillery that’s functional and aesthetic.
What are some of the services that a distillery consultant can provide?
While the services of a distillery consultant vary from company to company, the most common services include business planning, spirit selection, distillation process improvements, facility & production floor design, determining grain capacity requirements, equipment sizing and sourcing, utility usage and optimization, production floor improvements, TTB compliance, automation implementation, and growth planning. See a full list of the distillery engineering services offered by Distilled Craft.
Will you come on-site to help me with my distillery?
Depending on the type of assistance that you need, our team can meet with you on-site at your distillery. Some things that we can help with on-site include turning on a distillery, evaluating your production floor to find inefficiencies and flaws, or constructing new parts of your distillery. Please keep in mind that there is a premium price associated with services that are rendered on-site. The best place to begin is with an hour-long consultation with our distillery engineers to understand your goals and uncover the best ways to move forward.
How do I know if I've selected the right facility for my distillery?
The first step in determining whether or not a building will work for your new craft distillery is to consider what you’ll be doing with the facility. Once we understand exactly what you’ll be making in your distillery—whether it’s a single spirit or multiple different spirits—we can help you maximize both your horizontal and vertical space to ensure that equipment and team members fit safely in your new facility.
When in the process of starting my distillery should I consult with a distillery consultant?
While bringing in a distillery consultant as early in the planning process as possible is best, we understand that may who are in the early planning stages of their craft distillery may not be able to hire a consultant. However, we strongly suggest consulting with a distillery consultant (or distillery engineer) before you begin to purchase equipment, like mash tuns and stills, and when you begin to plan out your production floor. A distillery consultant can look over your spirits and the production process you’ll use to create those spirits to help determine the most efficient way to structure your distillery.
Who else should I consider hiring to start my craft distillery?
We understand that startup budgets are tight. However, we suggest that you seriously consider hiring a professional architecture (preferably a distillery architect) and an MEP team. A few other people to consider bringing on include a structural engineer and a civil engineer. If you’re not sure which of these people you need, it’s always best to consult with your distillery engineer.