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Message non lupar Bladnoch » 25 févr. 2007, 18:30

In a small distillery, distilling is probably the easiest job to do. Unfortunately it's not possible to bring the spirit into the still and then sit back and watch, whilst the steam boils off the spirit over the next 5 or 6 hours.
There are lots of other things to do. We normally try to mash and distill on the same days as this reduces the cost of our oil bill. So at Bladnoch we try to do a period of mashing and distillation. At the moment we have been distilling since the middle of January, mashing and distilling each week day except Wednesday.
This involves four 5 tonne mashes each week; Twenty tonnes of malt costs £7400 and produces 8000 litres of alcohol which require about 65 barrels which cost about £2925
Eight thousand litres of oil will cost about £2960 and three and a half bags of yeast per mash will cost about £325
In addition we have electricity, overheads (rates and insurance) and labour.
So you can see that even for a very small company, still cost quite a lot of money each week.
Because essentially in a distillery we deal with sticky sugar and with warm beer the potential for bugs is great and so cleaning the Worts line and the tanks is very important.
Cleaning the Mashtun after mashing is hard work in a high temperature humid environment. This takes about 1.25 hours and is done after every mash usually at about 3.30 pm after mashing is complete and the 5 tonnes of draff has been blown out into the farmers trailer for cattle feed. If we ran two shifts each day it would not be necessary to clean after each mash ... as the next mash could just be brought in before anything has had time to cool down and develop bugs and contamination.
Cleaning the stills is done every Wednesday and on Friday afternoon. On Friday afternoon cleaning the spirit still (immediately after it has been emptied is also a particularly warm job and because we are using caustic it's also potentially dangerous. Inside the spirit still can be extremely oily and the black fusel oil is very fine and very slippy underfoot. The oil prevents the spirit from making contact with the copper. We simply put on a white chemical protection suit, gloves and face mask, to protect us from any jops of caustic and brush on the caustic from a bucket with a long shafted houshold brush to keep us back from any spray. Then we hose all the oil and dirt off.
One person remains outside the still at all times in case of accident. It's like being in a very hot sauna but fortunately the work only takes about half an hour.
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Message non lupar jmputz » 05 mars 2007, 23:22

Thank you Raymond for this other very clear explanation of what happens in a small distillery.
I guess that not so much people are aware of the difference of the problems between a small distillery and a large one. At least I didn't really.
When you think about it, and with your valuable comments, it seems that small distilleries are much more difficult to run than great ones. I guess Caol Ila is ran by 3 men and a computer.
And they produce a few million of liters a year...
Do you think you'd have less work if you were allowed to produce continuously?
I know for sure you are doing an excellent job with your distillery... This reminds me I still have to produce some tasting notes for the cask samples (and new make spirit) you were so kind to give me when I visited the distillery last year... and I really hope things will be commercially right when your whisky will be old enough for selling...
I wandered why you are not doing things like Arran for instance... They sell relatively young whisky, in lots of different finishes (I'm not a fan of finishes, but it seems to be popular at this time)... Or is your (own produced) whisky still too young for that... Or is your production too confidential to sell this way?
Does this mean whisky from (small) independant distillers are doomed to be more expensive than those from great groups, who earn their money with their blender customers?
Slainte Mhath

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