I hope you are well and are enjoying your weekend.(Spoiler alert, this is a rather lengthy email. May want to get yourself a drink first, haha)
First of all - just wanted to say THANKS!
Secondly, by way of introduction and to put this email into context, in my regular office job (well, we are all working from home because of COVID) my role is a business improvement analyst and business transformation specialist. Mainly in the area of billing, credit & collections. What does that mean? Well, basically after conducting in-depth analysis, I tell businesses what is wrong with their business processes and business systems and provide management teams with enough information for them to make an informed decision on the improvement options that I recommend. I guess it's similar to what you have done for the distillation business, but what I do is for a much less interesting business.
Back to distilling! I've just completed watching all of the videos (so far) on iStill University and I'm blown away. The level of detail and the way the lessons are presented is first class. Everything just makes perfect sense. The Holy Trinity, still design, even how you make your cuts - everything relates to everything else. Outstanding. I cannot wait until the next video is released :)
To be honest with you, I've had a bit of a head start - I had already read just about every one of your posts on HD and have read almost every iStill blog post since iStill NextGen was released back in 2016. (I like to read and research) But before I'd even heard of "Odin's Easy Gin", I'd already bought a Turbo 500 from a HBS and then later joined an Australian home distilling forum. That forum is run by a guy here in Australia that sells modular SS stills, shiny pot stills and plated column stills (yeah, cutting edge right lol). The good part is that there is a lot of good beginner information, but the bad part is that the forum is very biased towards the still that they want you to buy. That is total BS, as any mention of automation, or any other company's stills is prohibited and immediately shut down by his "loyal moderators". Any mention of wanting to "go commercial" is also frowned upon. They also have a crap attitude, which is "if you don't like it, you are free to leave!"
That's why, for me, iStill has been a total eye opener and a breath of clean, fresh air. The information that you shared freely - both on HD and the iStill blog - has been honest, open, transparent and not biased towards your products. You don't need to be biased, because I can see already that you've done the research, you've found out what works best and what doesn't work and then you've turned your ideas into the best hardware (and software) that's currently on the market. Any craft distiller who is looking at purchasing distilling equipment would be an idiot if they didn't seriously consider purchasing from iStill. But Odin, I see more than just great products, I also see a family of support and encouragement to succeed at being a craft distiller. That's why I was touched when you replied with "Welcome to the family, mate" :) (and that's not just because of my Dutch heritage lol)
I can already make a decent neutral and then turn that into a gin (thanks to OEG) or a liqueur that my wife and I quite enjoy. But the reason why I chose the iStill Mini and iStill University is because I don't just want to make a decent drink - I want to make the best products possible and I want to succeed in bringing those products to the market and in turn, create a successful craft distilling business that I can make a living off and just as importantly, make some great friends along the way.
I know I still have a lot to learn and practice before I can achieve those goals and I know the journey will be long and will no doubt come with its challenges. But am I ready for that? You bet I am!
My plan is to firstly focus on learning as much as I can and then as soon as my iStill Mini arrives, applying that knowledge to develop awesome products that will use local and seasonal ingredients. That will be the basis of my story - great products made with quality local ingredients. Organic ingredients if possible. A great product also needs to be presented very well and backed by a great marketing plan. That's where I see the biggest challenge - how to do that while I am working full-time. So as well as developing an online sales platform I'll also be the boots on the ground at farmer's markets and trade shows. In addition I'll "win my backyard" by encouraging local restaurants and bars to stock my products. Also, as soon as the COVID restrictions here have eased I'll be visiting Vic and ask him for advice on starting out.
Odin, I'd like you to remember this email. As one day we'll be sitting down together and drinking one of the products that I have made - with the knowledge that you and the iStill family has taught me and on the equipment that you and the iStill family has built for me. On that day Odin, I'm going to remind you about this email, have a laugh about it and then we will call a hearty "Cheers!" and drink to our success!
Thanks for taking the time to read this :)