How to Build a Distillery | Step 1: Define the Opportunity

Posted by Ryan Hollister on Jun 14, 2018 4:22:55 PM


 Whether you want to build your distillery from the ground up, expand what you already have, or modify an existing building; your first step is always the same. In fact, your first step and every step after that should always be the same. It doesn’t matter if this is your first build or your 100th, a process-focused structure is key to reaching the finish line.


If you decide to engage any professionals to support and manage your build, it’s critical they follow a process and this should be a key question you ask when selecting partners to engineer and build your distillery. If you decide to do it alone, there are some great tools you can use to get you there. I like Project Management Institute’s ( project execution by phase model. It’s a great guide and there is a lot of information out there on how to apply it. 


But I’m here to talk about Haskell’s Project Delivery Model. It shares many similarities to PMI and other models out there, but was custom built for the unique complexities of engineering and building a manufacturing facility with production throughput requirements. 

 Project-Execution-Model-Beer-Wine-and-Spirits (002) cropped


Step One: Define the Opportunity

Before you can build anything, you must clearly identify what you want to make and how much you want to make of it. In spirits, this is the type of product: be it barrel-aged whiskey, flavored vodka, or a spiced rum. Whatever you choose, each product requires a different production process, which can mean different equipment, different energy needs, and different facility requirements. In this early stage, creating block diagrams can help you visualize each step of the process and enable you to make important choices about raw materials; equipment needs; distilling, blending and bottling strategies; and storage needs. Once developed, your block diagram will become the foundation for all planning moving forward from budgeting, feasible production schedules, equipment layout, and space needs.


What to consider at this stage:

  • Rough Order of Magnitude Budget: First efforts at pricing will generate a range of what the project will cost, but this will provide you direction moving forward as you zero in towards a definitive cost in more specific areas.
  • Forecasting Your Production: Knowing your ultimate production goals will be necessary to sizing your process and facility.
  • Production Scheduling: How many shifts are you running? With a typical one shift / five days per week schedule, this gives you approximately 240 working days per year when you take out time for holidays and maintenance.


Try to avoid this:

Most Common Mistake We See: Purchasing the land or buying a building before defining your process. The code and zoning requirements of each location are unique. Understanding these and what the cost implications are to manage them are critical to maintaining your budget.


For the next Beer, Wine & Spirits blog we will discuss the second step in How to Build a Distillery: Building the (Right) Team.



Written by:

Ryan Hollister


Related Content:

How to Build a Distillery | Step 2: Building the (Right) Team

How to Build a Distillery | Step 3: Dive Into the Details with Your Team

How to Build a Distillery | Step 4: Time to Turn Plans Into Actions

How to Build a Distillery | Step 5: Trust, But Verify - Demonstrating Completion


Topics: Beer, Wine & Spirits