Does Big Eat Small?

In today’s world, it’s not the big that eat the small, but the fast that eat the slow. Yesterday’s world was about size, but what matters in the more connected, international, and vibrant modern economy is speed. Speed of innovation. You outgrow your competitors by innovating faster, by learning faster, by improving faster. By being faster than the ones you are competing with.

It’s what iStill does, and it works out pretty well with our market share in new still sales rapidly approaching 30% globally. And guess what? It’s what you should do as well!

Who your enemy is, whom you compete with? Big Alcohol. That limited number of world-wide producers of alcohol with unlimited brands, outlets, and funds. How to get them? You nibble away at their market-share one bite (or one sip) at a time. If you are faster, that is.

But are we faster? Is the craft distilling industry faster on its feet than Big Alcohol? Let’s see … Big Alcohol uses advanced controls and computers and automation, where many distillers still define themselves (and their workflow and value creation chain) via equipment that hasn’t left the 1800’s.

So the competition is bigger and faster? Good luck to you! Imagine the chunks and bites they can take out of craft distilling’s already smallish market share.

“Well, but they didn’t, didn’t they?” one might say in rebuttal, “Because the number of craft distillers is still rising.” I am inclined to disagree, though. I am inclined to disagree with declaring that easy metric, of a growing number of craft distillers, as a measure of success for the craft distilling industry. Here’s why:

If we take the North American craft distilled whiskey market as an example, rumor has it that over 80% is purchased via MGP. Whiskey that’s bought in from … Big Alcohol. So … that simply means that the North American craft distilling industry “just” lost the battle for whiskey to Big alcohol. Let’s dive in a bit deeper:

When 100 distillers open their doors and each produces, as an example, 10.000 liters or 2.600 gallons, then 80% of that is 800.000 liters or 200.080 gallons. Craft distilling only produced 200.000 liters or 52.000 gallons. See how this practice benefits Big Alcohol’s market share more than it helps the craft distilling industry forward? Four times more, actually.

Now how’s that for having someone taking a bite out of your market-share? How’s that for your biggest competitor having the dominant position in an important segment? Doesn’t get worse than that, me thinks!

My point? A large part of the craft distilling industry, as a generalization, had already placed its future success in the whiskey market segments in the hands of Big Alcohol, the moment it decided to outsource over 50% of their alcohol production to them. At 49% the craft distilling industry actually grows at a faster rate than Big Alcohol. At a 51% isn’t it basically game-over?

How do we escape the death-trap? Well, we simply need to move faster, be more innovative. Innovations allow us to make better drinks at lower production costs. That’s what’s needed to turn the tide and to start chasing Big Alcohol. If we learn at a faster rate, we can catch-up and eventually even overtake them. But for that to happen a paradigm-shift needs to happen as well. Or better phrased: “for that to happen a paradigm-shift needs to happen first!”

A summary on what’s needed to turn the tide? What do craft distillers need to do to secure a long time presence in the alcohol industry? Here you go:

  1. Replace “Romantic Era”-paradigm by “Innovative Future paradigm;
  2. Embrace innovation on every level: it’s key to a growing market share;
  3. Bring spirits production in-house and stop sponsoring Big Alcohol.

The good news is that more and more distillers are converging in the above direction. iStill is proud to support many hundreds of craft distillers that favor innovation over romance, and that actually make their own spirits, instead of purchasing from what’s basically your biggest competitor.

iStill’s role in all this? To provide the craft distilling community with the innovations it needs to move faster, to produce in-house, and to start taking market share away from the competitor.

My role in all this? To help the industry innovate and to spread the message of a brighter future.

But since I am not a craft distiller, but you are … may I ask how you guys see your role in all this?

Innovative craft distillers, chasing Big Alcohol …

A Sustainable Future for the Craft Distilling Industry!

Introduction

Sustainability is about acquirability and maintainability. Is the craft distilling industry able to carve out a market for itself and is it able to maintain and defend that market share? Without competitive advantages, no market share can be acquired or defended. In this iStill Blog post, I want to dive into the future of craft distilling and investigate how a sustainable position can be found.

Catering to three basic needs

Alcohol in general is part of many of the world’s cultures. There is, in other words, a market for alcoholic beverages. Alcohol plays a major role in celebrations and socializing events. As there is a market for socializing and celebrating, consuming alcoholic beverages is further enhanced. And there is a need for authenticity. In a globalizing world, more and more people want to focus on what’s unique in their neck of the woods. As such the craft distilling industry caters to basic needs, in an environment that is not predisposed against it becoming successful.

In three basic bullet-points, here’s what the craft distilling industry should provide in order to exist:

  1. Alcohol;
  2. Socializing events that are fueled by alcohol;
  3. Authenticity in a globalizing environment.

Competition

It’s always good to cater to specific, existing needs. If you don’t believe me, ask the guy that invented a bicycle that rode backwards. No need for bicycles to do that, so it didn’t really become a success, and you’ll probably have a hard time – outside of the asylum – to find anyone willing to invest their time and money in bikes that ride backwards. Get my point?

But there is a consequence also, and that is that others have identified these needs as well. Distilleries that basically beat craft distilling to it, when – about a century ago – the invention of continuous distillation, prohibition, and the first world war allowed for huge, centralized, alcohol producing companies to be established. Big Alcohol. A few big, global companies that serve the world’s needs. How? By providing alcohol, by creating socializing events (think: bars), and by selling an authentic image of their products to the consumers.

So, Big Alcohol – the craft distilling industry’s main competitor – caters to the same needs as you do. It does so in a specific and peculiar manner, that is worth investigating, summarizing, and framing:

  1. The alcohol they make is cheap, with production centering around economies of scale;
  2. Socializing events mostly take place in the bars that Big Alcohol supports or has contracts with;
  3. Branding is done via marketing, where huge amounts of money are spent to convince as many as possible via generic messages.

Competitive advantages

Big Alcohol has the advantage of producing cheaper alcohol, having more outlets for socializing, and by being able to spent huge amounts of money on marketing. You can try to match them, but will fail. The way to beat them is in realizing that every coin has a flip-side. If the craft distilling industry is able to bring that into the light, we have a winner. Shall we explore further?

If Big Alcohol chooses to have the monopoly on cheap alcohol, craft distillers must choose to go for high-quality flavors. The higher price-point of craft distilled spirits now serves to highlight it’s higher quality.

Big Alcohol has an amazing number of outlets, but – as a downside – it does not very well control the bars, how these are set up, and what they communicate or what image they have. You, as a craft distiller, have the opportunity to choose the outlets that really support your message of quality. And if you turn your distillery into a bar, this gives you a perfect way to control that message even more. Your reach may be smaller, but your niche will be more valuable.

Where Big Alcohol messages to the masses, you need to tailor to the individual. Craft distilled spirits are by definition authentic (right?), which appeals on a personal level. Forget marketing, invest in selling your drink one experience, one glass, one bottle at a time. It is your customers that will do your marketing for you, when you provide them with high-quality spirits, socializing events that fit their profile, and a genuine and authentic experience when they visit your distillery.

Quality spirits, controlled distribution, authentic experience …

Distillers Tradeshow now offers Workshops!

Our latest initiative to empower the craft distilling industry has just seen a major update! The Distillers Tradeshow now offers workshops. For anyone interested in craft distilling and in learning all about its perks and quirks.

The workshops will have livestreams, Q&A-sessions, and lots of interviews with distillers and organizations servicing the craft distilling industry. Sponsored by iStill, so free of charge, and for everyone to attend!

Sunday Musings!

Last week, Christiaan approached me and asked why talking, writing, thinking, and basically occupying myself with the ADI Affair, over the last few weeks, was so important. The question didn’t stem from criticism, but from a genuine wish to understand my preoccupation with the subject, while so many other topics need attention too. “We are successful,” he said, “why spend time and energy on them, if there are other things to do? Why do you dedicate your time to a bunch of dinosaurs?”

Since Christiaan has been with us from the very start – he is the guy that builds our websites and online applications – I found it important to give him an elaborate and to the point answer. And by the time I finished, he proposed that maybe I should share my answer with the craft distilling community. So here is my answer to him, that I now want to share with you.

I told Christiaan, as I tell you now, that there is a deeper issue at play, when we analyse the ADI Affair. It isn’t just that they prioritize sponsors over distillers, and money over service. It isn’t just that they favor some sponsors over others, because these give ‘m more money or revenue opportunities. Oh no, the rabbit hole goes much deeper than that! And that’s why it deserves more attention than some other things.

“Imagine,” I told Christiaan, “a group of craft brewers, coming together to celebrate a beer-related event, having drinks together.” Since he has visited some craft beer festivals, he envisioned a group of bearded guys talking and having fun, while drinking each other’s beers. Laid-back, informal, amicable, with positive vibes all around. You get the picture, right? It takes but one craft beer festival or tradeshow to get what Christiaan got: it is pretty darn good to be a craft brewer, drink some beers, and meet-up with fellow-brewers!

“Now imagine,” I told Christiaan, ” a group of craft distillers, coming together to celebrate a spirits-related event, having drinks together. Since he has visited a specific North American tradeshow with us, he envisioned a group of people, less beards more suits, talking seriously, complaining about the Senate still contemplating to sign-off on new tax breaks for their industry. The vibe isn’t great and everybody is drinking their own drinks, instead of tasting what others made. Where the brewers talk “beer”, the distillers talk “issues”.

“How come?” I asked Christiaan. “How come, that the brewers’ glasses always seem to be half-full, where the distillers’ glasses are so often half-empty?” He didn’t know the answer, but I do. The answer is, and it doesn’t sound very sexy, but it is a very important answer, so hear me out … the answer is “entry barriers”. Or, to be more precise: low vs. high entry barriers.

The reason why so many brewers are happy campers, when they meet and mingle, is because of the low entry barriers the craft brewing industry has. The reason why so many distillers, sharing drinks at a tradeshow event, especially the ones that do not hang around the iStill booth, look like a rather grumpy bunch, is because of the high entry barriers the craft distilling industry has.

There are two entry barriers that we should focus on: information and capital. If you want to enter the craft beer industry, the information on how to make beer is readily available. If you want to start a craft brewery, you usually first take advantage of that low entry barrier on information. In plain English: you make beer in your kitchen. Then, as a next step, with a moderate capital investment, you can set-up your first brewery. You start with a small one and invest in a bigger brewery as you grow. Capital investments are moderate because of competition between suppliers. The markets for information and suppliers are both mature.

Let’s compare the above brewery scenario to a distillery scenario. If you want to learn how to produce spirits, the information is not readily available. You are told that it is difficult, neigh impossible. But luckily there is the ADI tradeshow, their courses, and their associated consultants that are willing to take your money and let you see a glimpse of the secret sauce! Information, in the craft distilling industry, is compartmentalized. It is monopolized by the few and sold to you at a premium.

Having compared the information-rich environment of craft brewing to the information-deprived situation that exists in the craft distilling industry, let’s look at the associated capital investment. Stills are expensive. Setting up a distillery is even more expensive. Where a brewery start-up can take-off with an equipment investment of  50 to 100k, the wannabe distiller quickly learns that, for some weird, fucked-up reason, he needs to invest 5x or 10x that amount. “Weird, fucked-up reason” as in you needing to purchase traditional equipment, that is low-tech, inflexible, unscalable, and over-priced.

Of course there is more. Brewing, with its free, shared, and information-rich environment, as a consequence, is ruled by scientifically based choices. Copper pots are replaced by stainless steel pots. The big guys with long beards and large wooden spoons are replaced by agitators and computers that do the boring, repetitive work. Those big, happy brewers have better things to do, like having fun meeting other brewers, while drinking a beer at one of their great craft beer shows.

Craft distillers are not allowed that courtesy. They need to invest in 1870’s technology. They need to invest in manual labor. They don’t have time for beers or drinks, and the boredom of continuously having to do repetitive tasks wears them down, one distillation run after another. Or so they have you believe!

And how about ownership? The starting brewer makes his first beer in the kitchen at home. If he screws up, he’ll learn something and then he’ll try it again. He has other brewers he can reach out to. If the workload stresses him out, well, there is always another brewer and another reason to just go out and have a few beers.

Instead, the distiller needs to listen to consultants. Highly-paid consultants. They tell him how he can make their spirits, but not how he can make his own. He cannot work in the kitchen. Goodness, no! He might go blind! No, instead, he is sucked dry for each and every penny that he has.

Being left with a low cash position, a huge still, for which he was overcharged and that needs constant supervision, without experience in how to actually make spirits … do you start to see why the distillers’ glasses are half-empty more often? And how problem solving becomes more about hiring the next consultant instead of just whipping up another batch and having another go at it, supported by hundreds of others that share their opinions, chime in, or at least offer you a beer and a laugh somewhere down the road? 

Christiaan got the picture and – I am sure – so do you. I then asked him how the students of the iStill University behaved. Did their behavior resemble the brewers or the distillers that I prototyped above?

Since he has seen many classes come and go, here at iStill HQ, he quickly responded, nodding with understanding: “I get exactly what you mean! The distillers that visit us, after about a day, behave like brewers at a beer festival instead of like a bunch of grumpy distillers at a spirits festival!”

“After about a day?” I asked.

“Yes!” Christiaan answered, “When they come in, it is as if with a neck choke. A bit nervous. Afraid even. Unsure and insecure. Out of breath, almost. Typically, well, like distillers are, when they meet at a tradeshow. People that have had a hard time and know there’s more crap waiting for them, just around the next corner.”

“So what do you think changed them?” I asked.

“Easy!” he said. “In one day, our training staff have started to take down the information monopoly and shared with them the real secret sauce. In one day your team has basically empowered them by teaching them they do not need 500 grand to start a craft distillery!”

“So … who or what put on that neck choke?” I asked.

He told me that it must be the high entry barriers that the craft distilling industry has on information and capital investment.

Circling back to the ADI Affair, I then asked him if he started to understand why it is worthy of my energy and your attention that we dive in, get to the bottom of it all, and solve whatever issue we find down there?

He said he did. He totally understood that, from a representative body (or a company posing as one), we might expect efforts to lower the entry barriers, by democratizing knowledge and by telling suppliers that overcharge to fuck-off. “If they were, in any real way, supporting the craft distillers, they should have loosened the neck choke so many experience by lowering our industry’s entry barriers!”

I told him, just like I tell you, that the above, and all of the above, is the reason I am disappointed. I am disappointed in ADI for posing as a representative body, yet acting as a profit-center. I am disappointed in ADI prioritizing sponsors over distillers. I am disappointed in ADI for favoring some sponsors over others.

But I am not just disappointed, I am angry! I think, as ADI doesn’t want to change, that they should go out of business! I think that each and every one of their “members” (customers) and “sponsors” (facilitators) should immediately cut ties with this organization.

Not because they were ineffective at relieving the neck choke, but because they are the neck choke.

Who is riding your horse?

The Distillers Tradeshow is Live!

iStill provides the craft distilling industry with equipment, education, and recipes. Is that all you need, running or starting a craft distillery? No, it isn’t. As a craft distiller, you have many more things on your plate, many more decisions to make.

More products or services that you need, for example. More questions that need answering, often on an ongoing basis. Like “who is my ingredient suppliers and where do I buy my yeast and barrels?”, “Where do I get provisions like pumps and hoses?”, and “What services do I need, related to representation, education, design, electricity, or leasing?”

The Distillers Tradeshow – iStill’s latest initiative to further empower the craft distilling industry – aims to be an accessible source and provider of information, organizations, and companies that can help you answer the above questions. The tradeshow initiative presents customer friendly, solution driven third parties that can help you out.

Not just any company or organization, but only those that come recommended and endorsed by actual iStill customers. And not just any tradeshow either …

The Distillers Tradeshow will be ongoing in nature, accessible to anyone, and free of charge. Contrary to “regular” tradeshows, your information will not be sold to third parties for commercial or promotional use.

Currently, the Distillers Tradeshow has the following headers:

  • Finance;
  • Ingredients;
  • Barrels;
  • Bottles;
  • Services.

Each category sees a limited number of suppliers, that we’ll end up ranking according to your experiences. Ultimately, we might ask those suppliers if they have discounts or bonuses in place for the tradeshow visitors …

The Distillers Tradeshow is for craft distillers and by craft distillers. It is a living support platform to the industry, here to stay. Even though still in its infancy, currently, we expect it to grow organically over time.

“Organically” as in that you’ll develop it and that we will help develop it. How? If you have recommendations on suppliers, that you feel deserve a place on the Distillers Tradeshow floor, please email Odin@iStillmail.com with your suggestions and recommendations.

How ADI lost our support (2) …

Prologue

Supporters, customers, and iStill MT members have called into question ADI’s intentions and sincerity as a self-proclaimed representative to the craft distilling industry. This iStill Blog post covers Erik Owen’s rebuttal. Erik is ADI’s CEO, where Bill Owens, his father, owns ADI.

For more reading, please see:

https://istillblog.com/2020/09/29/how-adi-lost-our-support/

First answer by Erik Owens

Sorry Odin,
I just got up and missed our meeting. My apologies.
Erik

Second answer by Erik Owens

Hello Odin,

I have reached out to you repeatedly for weeks to get together and discuss this and other issues, but you cancelled on me twice last week.

I have no doubt that the people who read your blog will realize that your tone covers a series of unfair accusations that contradict themselves. For example, you accuse us of letting sponsors dictate our editorial coverage, while simultaneously stating that we refuse to give anyone preferential treatment in coverage. Similarly, you accuse us of giving you unfair treatment in our forums when you were warned repeatedly for infringing on the rules that have been clearly laid out for all suppliers several years ago, causing our readers to complain about your posts and demand our involvement.

I need to remind you that you signed a contract for title sponsorship in January and have benefited for 9 full months of presence on our platforms and advertisements in Distiller Magazine. As you have stated you are terminating your membership in ADI and that you aren’t paying for services we have already delivered, we will be pulling any further advertisements and presence of iStill on our platforms immediately, and end our partnership moving forward.

Our goal at ADI is to support the craft distilling community. All of us at ADI, wish you and iStill the best, and will continue to work to bring our community unbiased exposure to the many options available to them to make their dreams a reality.

Thank you,
Erik Owens

Answer by Odin

Erik,

You slept in on the call we agreed to have earlier today. You, not me. So don’t make this about me not being available for a discussion.

I see that you choose not to address the questions and issues raised by our supporters, customers, and the iStill Management Team in any satisfactory manner. It teaches once more that empowering the craft distilling industry is not your goal and that profiting from the industry is more important than serving it.

Not really sure how to interpret your rant about payments and benefits. It certainly misses the bigger picture of you breaching the social contract with the craft distilling industry at large: ADI is not a representative body with members, but a company that sells its services to the highest bidders. Your company owing iStill money and decent treatment is, relative to that, the smaller infringement.

Finalizing this email exchange, I want to explain you one more thing, Erik: you cannot terminate a relationship that we already ended a few weeks ago. That’s not the way it works. Not in our world, but maybe in your world it does? It’s a weird place already, where ADI resides, and your email only makes it less comprehensible.

Good luck at finding your north star, mate. ADI desperately needs one and the craft distilling industry sincerely deserves a better one.

Regards,
Odin van Eijk, CEO

Epilogue

ADI has refused to answer the questions raised on their behavior and intentions in any satisfactory fashion for weeks now. One week ago, we decided to go public. We strongly feel that the negative experiences we have had with ADI in the past serve as a warning to others only when we inform them.

With Erik’s rebuttal and Odin’s response, we consider this discussion as ended. Others in the industry now have the knowledge to make a better judgement call on whom to do and whom not to do business with.

ADI has gotten a severe warning that it can’t simply get away with misbehavior at the expense of the entire industry. We hope that they will change their attitude and composure, but doubt it. Zebra’s do not change their stripes.

And that’s why we will stay vigilant. Whenever new information surfaces, on ADI forsaking its responsibilities to the craft distilling industry, we’ll report and take action immediately. Dubious behavior will be called out.

Please understand that the only people that have actual influence here … are you. You, the craft distillers, that decide whom you want at your side, who you want to pay for and affiliate with, if you find yourself in need or in trouble. The greedy only fail where the needy stop giving …

Some Serious Sunday Musing!

65 million years ago …

As a child dinosaurs always intrigued me. And even today, I can’t but help think what must have gone through their big heads and small brains, seeing that comet rushing towards earth, minutes, maybe seconds prior to impact.

Why bring this up now? Well, it is applicable to the whole ADI Affair we dug up and where we outed them for being a profit-oriented franchise, favoring sponsors over distillers. Not really the behavior or construction you’d imagine to survive into these modern, more transparent times.

Contemplating the ADI Affair, and trying to make sense of them favoring traditional copper still manufacturers, while discriminating against iStill and its customers, I wonder: can it be that they perceived us as competitors instead of contributors? Did they perceive us as a threat early on? Did they look up into the skies, and thought: “Uh-oh, hope that’s NOT heading in our direction?”

It took me some time to figure it out, so please stay with me, as we dive in deeper. How? By dissecting what they and what we do, one income stream at a time.

Education

We educate distillers and ADI educates distillers. Having established that ADI is a company, just like us, this potentially makes us a competitor in their perception. A competitor and not a contributor.

Our educational facilities are growing, students rate our courses higher, and we are more affordable than what ADI has to offer (2k vs 3k). If, in one year, we educate 100 American distillers, they stand to loose 300k in revenue. This makes us a threat.

Knowledge sharing

We share information and ADI sells information. Having established that ADI is a profit-oriented company, this makes us a competitor in their perception. Whenever we contribute, they feel the hurt.

If we guesstimate that ADI asks 100 dollars for an event, that 100 people attend such a session, and that they organize 10 events per year, that adds up to 100k per year. Add a 1m turnover tradeshow to that and iStill sharing information for free makes them perceive us as a competitor, each and every time we make a contribution.

Intermezzo

I have to apologize. I have to sincerely apologize to all our readers, followers, supporters, and customers for being naive to the point of being stupid. I always based my cooperation with ADI on the assumption that we’d both be contributing to the industry. But that’s not how they must have perceived it. I never understood why we got treated so badly, given that we shared so much, but I finally get it. I finally, totally get it.

Distillation equipment

We sell distillation equipment and ADI sells distillation equipment. We get to sell the advanced and amazing stuff. They favor the manufacturers and importers of traditional and more romantic set-ups. Manufacturers and importers, mind you, that leave education and consultancy and tradeshow privileges with ADI!

Having established that ADI is a profit-oriented company, each and every still that we sell hurts them. Is that why our access to ADI Forums got restricted? Is this why we were denied to set-up our booth in ADI’s tradeshow hall? If it walks like a dinosaur, if it talks like a dinosaur, then it probably …

In 2012, when iStill entered the market, we started with zero percent market share. In 2019, our market share has grown to around 18%. In the first half of 2020, iStill grows with double digits, while the market for new still purchases tanks due to Covid-19. Is it safe to say this makes us a threat to ADI and to the traditional manufacturers that support them?

In 2012, when iStill entered the market, traditional copper still manufacturers could charge around 200k for a 500 liter system. In 2019, their average sales price had dropped to 120k. Currently their 500 liter systems sell for 110k. iStill, providing the market with modern technology at a fair price-point, has driven down their prices and decimated their margins. Threat, anyone?

Epilogue

We came to the market well-prepared with amazing tech and high dreams. We came to the market naive and ill-prepared to deal with an old-boys-network that called the shots. An old-boys-network that still desperately clings on, choking the industry’s progress. We managed to become successful anyhow, and we have you to thank for it. Thank you to our followers, supporters, customers, and partners for sticking with us. For going the extra mile with us. For having to deal with a weird, obnoxious inventor that thought his technological break-throughs are the stuff craft distillers’ dreams are made off. You are the ones that turned our dreams into realities. And no one is going to take that away from us. It is time for the dinosaurs to move over. Dead in the water, they are wiggling their tails in a desperate final push to find dry land, where none is left for them.

How ADI lost our support …

We empower the craft distilling industry with advanced distilling technology, science-based education, and medal-winning recipe development. Our focus on creating competitive advantages for craft distillers has made us the world’s leading still manufacturer, educational facility, and laboratory. Over the last 7 1/2 years, we have produced over 850 iStills, educated over a 1,000 students, and developed more than 300 recipes.

A few weeks ago we have informed ADI (American Distilling Institute) that they lost our support. Why? ADI’s behavior, over the years, has raised more and more questions with our supporters, our customers, and the iStill Management Team. Questions that needed to be asked and that deserve answers in order to establish if ADI supports our mission of empowering the craft distilling industry:

How does the craft distilling industry benefit from ADI never reporting on our technological break-throughs in its magazine “Distiller”?

Each and everyone of our innovations – our square boilers, Jet Propulsion Agitator System, copper waffle design, liquid management controls, insulation, packed column design, air pressure sensors, software, automation, robotization, stainless steel manufacturing proces, indirect heating systems, Odin’s theories of distillation and fermentation, and the iStill Distilling University, to name but a few – have presented the craft distilling industry with important competitive advantages. Yet never, over the past 7 1/2 years, has one word been written about these advancements or has even one iStill customer featured the front-page of “Distiller”. We find this neglect of crucial and beneficial developments a gross shortcoming, that doesn’t do the craft distilling industry nor our huge customer-base justice.

How does the craft distilling industry benefit from ADI limiting the free flow of information on ADI Forums?

In answering questions posed by distillers on ADI Forums on how iStill is doing, we have meticulously, and often on a day-to-day basis, informed the community about our advancements in a factual manner. And in answering questions on how to make gin, our CEO has meticulously, and often on a day-to-day basis, taught and trained the distilling community present on ADI Forums. ADI’s decision to close topics and to restrict our CEO’s ability to post, hampers the free flow of information and – again – negates essential information, that would otherwise further empower the craft distilling industry, from spreading. We find this a gross shortcoming, that harms the industry.

How does the craft distilling industry benefit from ADI allowing sponsors to influence its policy?

ADI pretends to support and even represent the craft distilling industry. As such, the craft distillers’ interests should sit center stage. Instead, sponsors severely influence ADI’s decisions, which compromises its role as industry supporter or representative. We have been informed by ADI that we are not allowed to set-up our booth in ADI’s tradeshow hall, because DYE and Mueller didn’t want us near. ADI’s owner has also informed us that some sponsors get to pick the medal winners at the tradeshow competition. We find letting the interests of some sponsors prevail over the interests of the craft distillers a gross shortcoming, that harms the industry.

How does the craft distilling industry benefit from ADI not following up on its financial obligations?

In the past we have supported ADI’s young distiller traineeship program, by supplying an iStill for its auction. We agreed we would get a financial compensation to cover some of our costs. Even though the iStill got auctioned, and the young distiller got his traineeship, we never got our money back, despite the fact that we complained several times. In the past, we supported ADI’s “The Farm Distiller” magazine initiative with a large purchase of advertising space. When “The Farm Distiller” didn’t get published, we didn’t get reimbursed. We expect from those that pretend to represent us no less than the highest ethical business behavior. Where business ethics are compromised, by those that should lead by example, the whole industry stands to suffer.

How does the craft distilling industry benefit from ADI not releasing its financial annual statements? 

If ADI is to support and represent the industry, the interests of the craft distillers should be the one and only focus point. In choosing to be a company, instead of a nonprofit, making money becomes a goal in itself. To prevent any conflict of interest, we feel that ADI releasing its financial annual statements is a great step forward. It allows ADI to show if and how their profits flow back into the craft distilling industry and how much of a difference they make. It allows craft distillers to establish how ADI is managing its profitability and if it is living up to the industry’s expectations.

The questions and issues raised above have previously been communicated to Bill Owens, owner of ADI, and Erik Owens, CEO of ADI. So far no satisfactory answers have been received.

Sean’s take on it!

Odin, you are disrupting the industry! I think you should take pride in your honest and transparent approach. It’s where the market is heading and though I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it, you’re rowing with the current.

Your product is an excellent product for craft manufacturers because of the mash, ferment, and flexible distillation ability all in one unit. That’s less square footage to rent, less permits to get, less construction to install. I can honestly say the iStill has saved our company six figures on startup costs alone as compared to traditional equipment manufacturers.

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http://www.iStill.com