So, we've decided we want to start a distillery! We've been inspired by the sugar cubes and the distillery tours and frankly if we want to make the family sloe Gin legal again, then we need a licence anyway. Whether it works out or not, we know this is a business venture within which we're going to have a lot of fun.
We know we need a few licences to get things off the ground so we set about researching exactly what is needed, and in such circumstances we begin with the internet, delve into the appropriate books, and start telling people about our intentions - we're working on the premise that the more people we tell about our plans, the more compelled we will feel to implement them.
It turns out that this was a sensible move because we are about to face up to a whole lot of paper work. Curiously (at least for a few seconds) the regulator of the drinks industry is the HMRC. This probably has something to do with the fact that an enormous proportion of the cost of a bottle of Gin is either excise duty or VAT and therefore it's important to protect this revenue. The plethora of small craft distillers who have entered the market place in recent years hasn't made this easy, but the accompanying growth in revenue should make it worthwhile for the HMRC.
So we set about our task which involves amongst other things the following:
- company incorporation
- VAT registration
- Compounders licence application
- Rectifiers licence application
- Personal licence course, certificate and licence application
- Food hygience levels 2 and 3 course, tests, and certification
- distillers course
- Alcohol Wholesalers Registration Scheme (AWRS)
All told a 6 month journey!
The most involved component was the application to the Alcohol Wholesalers Registration Scheme. Not only does this stage have the longest lead time but you have to be prepared to put in the time and effort to create a business plan and ensure that your business administration is in good shape.
It is laborious and for a period takes you away from the dream and practice of making gin, instead propelling you back to the world of business administration. That said it's actually a very worthwhile step, which ensures you've researched your market place, developed your proposition and competitive advantage, and lined up your finances and financial expectations.
At the end of the period we felt like we were very much ready to get started and having incorporated our company on April 16th, 2019, we finally achieved our final approval for the AWRS on September 27th, 2019.