Permits approved, still received, space updated.Read More
Mo-men-tum - noun - the quantity of motion in a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.
This last month has been a flurry of activity, some of it one step forward/two steps back, but overall it feels like we're finally really getting somewhere.
- Equipment: Still #1! (as I have unofficially named it) is finally in our warehouse space after being subjected to every possible examination offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Full set-up on Still #! is pending a few more pieces of electronics that are coming with the larger 500L Still. From what we hear, the 500 is getting the latest upgrades over at the iStill warehouse and should be shipping shortly.
- Space: Tons of renovations there - paint, new floors and carpet (thanks to Maly Tile!), tables, chairs, storage, sinks, fridge, etc.
- Permits: Federal permit approved! State permit process working its way through, hoping for approval this or next month. We had our first of three rounds of zoning approvals for a Conditional Use Permit, which we are pursuing so we can have on-site purchase of bottles and serve small tastes at the location for people interested in sampling. This last week, Nick and I had a great discussion with the Town of Burke commissioners and we will meet the full Burke Board in mid-April. After that, we have a final hearing with Dane County on April 25.
- Tcotchkes: Now that designs are final, we're working through the process of getting some gear printed up for those of you that are eager to show off your tall side. Men's t-shirts, of course, are no problem to locate in tall sizes. Women's gear is proving more challenging. Our new friends at Trending Now are rapidly getting a feel for my shopping problems and they've been very good sports at looking into the body length of all the brands they carry. We might end up splitting the difference and finding unisex styles, like the raglan (baseball tee), that run long. Stay tuned. We're scoping out hats and other smaller items as well.
What's that? Oh, you were expecting to hear about alcohol in an update about a distillery? Silly readers with your pie-in-the-sky ideas.... Fortunately, there actually is some good movement on that front. Dave will be heading to Amsterdam in a week for a special training on the iStill equipment and will get a chance to do some practice runs in prep for the amazing moment when we finally have all the equipment in-house and the governmental permission to turn it on. In the meantime, he's been reading everything he can get his hands on regarding the chemistry of the distilling process and has a whole list of experiments he's hoping to run in order to dial in a great product.
We had hoped to have a product ready by St. Patrick's Day and alas, that is not to be. But there is always next year - and in the meantime, we wish you (and the Badgers) all the Luck of the Irish this week.
An overview of how we decided on our logo and name.Read More
Most of you are familiar with U.S. Customs and Border Protection because of traveling for work or vacation. In the olden days, you started filling out your Customs form on the plane in the hour or two before landing – “two ugly t-shirts , 1 seashell wind chime, 4 pairs of sparkly flip-flops and 8 bottles of same tequila that encouraged me to purchase everything else”. Now there are apps for that, of course, but the process remains the same – log what you bought, have it reviewed by a CBP agent, head home. Done.
In retrospect, those relatively painless previous experiences may have lulled us into a bit of a sense of complacency about buying equipment from overseas, particularly as we weren’t the first group to import stills into Wisconsin. So when Dave got word that stills were prepped to ship, it occurred to us a day or two afterwards that it would make sense just to check in with the Customs contractor we hired to process the equipment once it hits the Port of Chicago. [Did you know there was an international port in Chicago? Me neither, despite having lived near it for several years. Interesting stuff: www.iipd.com] This was, in fact, a very lucky hunch, as the rest of the afternoon was filled with a mad scramble of paperwork that needed to be completed and filed that same evening. On the upside, it provided great fodder for this blog post.
What does it take to verify that two small-ish imported stills are not a danger to the country?
Glad you asked. This is a lightly paraphrased summary of the list of required steps provided to us. Emphasis delivered through use of ALL CAPS is that used by the customs broker. [Notes in brackets are from us.]
- All goods must be individually, permanently and conspicuously marked with the country of origin. [We had the same question you have right now and no, there is no official definition of conspicuous.] Unmarked merchandise are subject to seizure, and additional marking duties, and placing the importer in jeopardy for future examinations.
- Prior to any ocean freight shipment, an importer security filing (ISF) must be filed with US Customs and Border Protection, normally by your Customs Broker. There are 12 required data elements that must be addressed. [Lucky for us, this is handled by the shipper and iStill took care of that.] The foreign freight forwarder sends this to the US import processer in advance of shipment. The penalty for non-filing or inaccurate filing is $5,000.00 per occurrence.
- If any solid wood packaging is used, it is subject to the International Solid Wood Packing Materials (ISPM) regulations, and must be marked by a registered marked with the ISPM-15 Compliant stamp. There is a zero-tolerance policy on SWPM. If packaging is found to be non-compliant, the ENTIRE shipment must be exported to a non-contiguous country for removal of the illegal wood packing material.
- Carriers’ liability is normally less than the value of your shipment and therefore it is ALWAYS recommended that you secure additional All Risk Cargo Insurance.
- Customs clearance is preferred to be done in advance of the arrival of the merchandise in the USA. This minimizes or eliminates Storage or container demurrage charges, which start as soon as 2 days after the arrival of the merchandise.
- To clear the goods, for most commodities, at LEAST three documents are needed:
o Commercial Invoice: In English, showing full description, value and currency of the goods; Must be signed by the preparer and show country of origin; Should show terms of sale, normally using INCOTERMS 2010 version
o Packing List
o Bill of Lading [I’ll spare you the details. More paperwork]
- If you utilize a Customs Broker [like we are] to represent you in the transaction of Customs business, a Customs Power of Attorney needs to be executed and provided to the Broker, and must be signed by a principal or a corporate officer of the importer of record.
- If Customs decides to examine your cargo, you must pay for the fees associated for the imaging, or physical examination, as an additional responsibility for being an importer. This will add time and expense to your importation, so full compliance is necessary to ensure that future examinations are minimized.
- When the goods are released from the nationwide electronic entry presentation, the goods then can be delivered to the ultimate consignee, or packed up, as the individual situation dictates.
Finally, the various fees:
- Customs Clearance $140.00
- ISF Filing $35.00(ocean freight only)
- ISF Bond (if no Continuous Bond is on file) $35.00 (ocean freight only)
- Customs Entry Bond $5.00/$1000.00 of value plus duty (if any) Min $75.00
- Customs Duty - Per Harmonized Tariff Number
- Merchandise Processing Fee 0.3464%, Minimum $25.00, Maximum $485.00
- Harbor Maintenance fee 0.125%, No Minimum or Maximum (ocean freight only)
- Terminal and Warehouse Fees: At Cost + 3%
- Courier to surrender terminal fees or other charges $35.00 - per payment
- Exam Fees (if any) additional
What this means for us: We cross our fingers and hope that the paperwork is correct, the wooden shipping container isn’t illegal and that the agents inspecting incoming shipments that day don’t feel like digging around in our boxes and conducting an exam.
(And really, all of this is a fancy way to say – The stills are coming! The stills are coming!)
Until next time, friends. Go Pack!
And just like that, it’s 2017! 2016 flew by for us with all of the planning for the distillery and we’re excited to get going on another fun year. It’s been a busy few weeks over here at Two Tall and we want to catch you up on what we’ve been up to lately.
First, I won’t bury the lead – we’re still a couple of months away from having a drinkable product. From the inquiries we’ve gotten lately, that is first and foremost in many of your minds and we understand exactly where you’re coming from. We greatly appreciate the support and enthusiasm all of you have shown and we will let you know ASAP when we get closer to that point.
Since the last update, we’ve been spending a lot of time on two main fronts – Remodeling and Paperwork. Paperwork is obviously the most exciting of these topics, so I’ll address that first.
Alcohol is a heavily regulated product. In order for us to legally make it and sell it to you, there are many, many permits and processes that must be navigated. We’ll go through the detail of some of these aspects in later posts, but the short version is that we currently have aspects of permitting moving through the federal, state, county and township levels all at the same time. There are background checks, health inspections, fire safety approvals and board meetings that must all be completed for us to get to a point where we can officially produce product. And for you to be able to come to Two Tall and sample what we made requires a whole additional set of approvals. This paperwork trail is not for the faint of heart. I have a new appreciation for every small business I interact with and every bottle of craft spirits I buy – even if you don’t like their product, admire their tenacity.
Now, the fun stuff. We’ve been hard at work physically preparing the space at 5353 Maly Road. Nick and Dave got to have their very own Fixer Upper-style demo day, where they ripped out old office walls, carpet, tile, and shelving in the storage area. [Dave got to follow the demolition up with a tetanus shot for the nail he brought home in his foot after getting a little too enthusiastic about fitting everything in the one dumpster we ordered.] Now that the space is cleared out, the next couple of weeks will include electrical work, painting, new carpet and tile and all the other odds and ends that come with remodeling. Our space won’t look like the big distilleries some of you have toured elsewhere and that’s by design – we’re aiming for a place that’s comfortable for you when you visit, but one that also keeps our costs low enough that we can focus our energy on making really good drinks.
And finally - the stills! We got confirmation this week that our 100L still is already en route from Amsterdam. We expect it to get here in late January and the 500L still will follow quickly after. We’ll be one of a dozen or so distilleries in the U.S. to have iStill equipment and one of the first to bring in the iStill NextGen series. Watch for a future post on more about what this equipment can do and why we chose it.
To get all of this done on top of our already busy jobs and family lives, we’ve set up a divide-and-conquer system. Nick is handling all things permits, sourcing and legal mumbo jumbo, Dave is in charge of distilling science and equipment, Amy is the guru of our finances and I’ll be leading communications. As such, we’ll be aiming to post more frequent updates as things really get rolling over the next few months. We'd love it if you'd follow us on our social media platforms and help spread the word.
People you think we should meet? Ideas we should mull over? Stuff you want to know in future posts? Send it my way.