When are you going to open?

I never thought that this question would become so difficult to hear. Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled that so many people are excited for CopperMuse™ to open its doors and be able to sell our inspired libations.

Ay, but here’s the rub. The journey to opening a craft distillery is a long one. It is fraught with many ups and downs as one might expect. I personally spend much of my time planning, scheduling, troubleshooting and pushing my Sisyphus-like rock up the hill. What truly makes the question so frustrating is that there are still so many elements outside of my control.

A key one being the glacial nature of the Federal government in approving Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) permits. Before you can even begin to submit an application for a permit, you are required to purchase all your key distilling equipment (stills, fermenters, brew kettles, etc.), have a property under your business control (own or lease), have a detailed architectural plan of your entire operations, purchase a surety bond to protect the government’s excise taxes on product that doesn’t even exist yet, and compile a lengthy history of financial and personal background information. Then and only then can you submit your application for your DSP. Talk about putting a cart before the horse. Think of all the effort and money that goes into this and you don’t even know if you’ll be graced with a DSP permit at the very end of it. Leap of Faith for sure!

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB for short) rolled out a much improved online permit application system this past year. While this tool is a significant improvement over the past system of literally putting together a binder of information and mailing it off, it doesn’t do squat for the fact that “average” number of days to process a DSP application is running over 110 days and climbing. And this cycle time doesn’t even factor in the lovely government shutdown back in October!

I submitted my DSP application on August 12th. That would put my permit acceptance right around the end of November according to "averages". But alas, no permit is in hand. To top things off, you must get label approvals for any products you plan to produce. TTB cycle times for Distilled Spirit labels are currently running 75 days. Yes, 75 days! And you can’t submit any labels for approval until you have your DSP in hand. If you are thinking of creating a unique spirit that strays just a bit from standard spirit types (vodka, rum, gin, brandy, bourbon, etc.), you better also plan on getting your formulation approval prior to your label approval. Those are running 38 days as we speak.

So when am I going to open for business? I really wish I could say for sure. Construction at CopperMuse™ Distillery will be wrapping up just before the Christmas holiday. All I can tell you is that I’m putting in a special request with the big man this year. All I want for Christmas is my DSP.