How long does it take to establish a distillery?

Sep 09, 2020

The magic number

This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string?’ questions. The time it takes to set up a commercial distillery may be as short as one year or as long as five depending on how dedicated you are to set it up.

Most people who have built their own distilleries have been thinking about it for a long time, usually while working in other jobs.

Should you leap?

In some cases, people take the leap, give up their regular jobs and start on their dream. More often than not, new distilleries are created by people who moonlight on their passion by night and work regular jobs by the day - until it can become real.

In short, your research will take a bit of time – understanding what forms you need to fill in, what things you’ll need to do to start your distillery, how much it will cost and of course how to make whisky, gin or another spirit are your starting points.


Planning what you want to get out of it and researching your location and market are important parts of the setup process.

Part of this is working through the various laws of your region including where a distillery can be based, do you need a liquor licence, what safety or compliance requirements need to be addressed when setting up or other requirements (eg. Food preparation).

Once you’ve done some of this planning, then looking at your marketing and branding including labelling and bottle type are key decisions – and ones that you will probably stick with for some time. So it is worth getting some professional help to work through these aspects.

Then some of the key decisions to be made once you’ve researched these elements are those related to finances. These include set up costs, likely returns, management of cash flow, excise implications on the business and the administrative requirements related to record keeping.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Are you ready to start exploring, then check out our courses.

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