Small Bottle Filling Lines with Jason Barrett of Black Button Distilling

Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | Blackbird TV

Take a tour of Black Button Distilling’s small bottle filling line with owner, Jason Barrett. #BlackbirdTV

About this segment of Blackbird TV

Guest: Jason Barrett, Owner / Head Distiller, Black Button Distilling. To learn more about our guest, visit, or call 585-730-4512.

Recorded: May 27, 2021

Published: December 14, 2021

Segment transcript

All about small filling lines with Jason Barrett, at Black Button Distilling, we’re on the road for Blackbird TV. Jason, you are the man. Thank you, David. That’s very kind of you. Jason’s got a Criveller, a custom bottling line here, and Jason’s going to tell us all about this, it came in in 2014? 2016. Tell us about your feeling. Yeah. So before that, we had been using totally manual equipment and as our volume started to grow, that was no longer possible. We, unfortunately, in a very confined urban location so the line had to be custom built for our size. So what’s the footprint here? 16 by 14. So very tight. But we’re able to do 1000 bottles an hour across these couple of pieces of equipment, and I’ll walk you through what we’ve got and then what I would look for if I was on the purchasing side of something like this. Let’s go, man, tell me about it. We got a manual infeed here that’s then going to go to our eight-head filler in our single-head capper. one of the key things, though, that this machine, though, was set up to do liquors. Liquors are heavy, they’re thick. They’ve got sugar in them. Without the vacuum pump that’s behind this unit, it can only do straight liquor: bourbon, vodka, gin. So by adding that vacuum pump, the range of things it can do increases substantially. As it comes out of the T-corker, we’ve got a cork sensor. We then have our accumulating table because the filling machine and the labeler don’t quite line up speed wise. So sometimes we need to accumulate a few bottles in between. This is a CDA labeler, an R1000 from CDA France, the original labeler was brought over—the base unit—in 2014 and then the top components that add the heat, drink and everything were added in 2016 when the rest of the line was put in. And it cranks? Thousand bottles an hour. No problem. Sometimes we even can overclock that to about twelve hundred, if we’ve got a good crew just moving things on and off. I’m an appraiser. I come into this place. The bank sends me in and tells me, David, you got to write this thing up. What’s really important for the description of this system? From your perspective as a user, you’ve been using this for a long time now. How do I best describe this system as a system? Talk me through that. So the key things that I think they’ve got to be brought up is that vacuum filler that again allows it to do not only straight whiskey but liquors. The sizing of the filling heads. This will do 3.75 liters and seven fifties, but won’t do mags or 50 mls. OK. The fact that it’s a T-corker, not an ROPP top. Talk to talk to me. A T-cork is a regular cork. A little plastic cork that gets put in almost like a wine cork with a top on it. OK, what was the other thing? The other thing is an ROPP, it’s a roll-on poly plastic, which is how they do sort of more cost effective, lower end vodka and things of that nature. That’s going to be one of your key things because brands usually aren’t willing to change that. They use one or the other. The cap sensor’s a nice add on, but not a gotta have. Many people might even take the accumulator table off, depending on their size requirements. But then as you get to the R1000, the fact that it not only has two labeling stations, it can do clear labels. It’s got a print head right on the unit, as well as the ability to automatically put the heat shrink over that T cork and seal it all at 1000 bottles an hour makes it a really unique machine. And it’s not that big. It’s really not. It doesn’t take up a lot of room. These are very compact machines. We paid a little extra for that, I don’t…again, if you have more sizing, you might not get that value out as an appraiser. But if you had somebody that had a unique space and oftentimes wineries are very small, it can add a lot of value. The other key things that I would want to know the fact that we have all the manuals, the fact that the companies that made them are still in business and the fact that there’s direct contacts for support. Because any of this type of automation, whenever you bring it over to your distillery, you’re going to need—Maybe it’s different spin wheels. Maybe it’s a slightly different cap cup. like you’re going to need a couple of modification points. And if the companies that made these pieces of equipment are either gone or not, well, not already established to me, that takes a huge discount on the equipment. But when you can actually right there, hand them a packet and say, here’s the instructions, and here’s who to call if you need maintenance. To me, that makes it much more valuable as a buyer. So our customers are banks typically, and they want to know what’s this worth if we have a problem and we have to take our collateral back? What’s this going to be worth? Those are the questions that we’re asking, is the appraiser? Yeah. So you’re also the consumer. You’re going to come in and buy this system now. What else are you going to look at to establish your price point for how much you’re going to pay for it? Well, a lot of it is just assessing that general condition. Does it look like it’s been well maintained as it look like it’s been well cared for? Are there spare parts on hand which imply the facility had a maintenance schedule and a maintenance plan? Or is it really? Just the raw machine, a lot of it also things are going to come down to timing if folks need to install a piece of equipment before a harvest or before a major program, I think 75 cents on the dollar is not crazy. But if it’s going to languish a little bit, you’ll be lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar. My crystal ball is broken and it’s really difficult to time those markets, so we try to come out with a more stable value, depending on the definition that we’re using. And the bank never knows if they need or when they need to, and hopefully they don’t ever need to go back and take this stuff back. But when they do, we want to be as accurate as possible. Having an end-consumers perspective on what’s important into the value and how much weight we put into those things relative to what we’re inpecting is really helpful. Jason, I can’t thank you enough. Thanks for having me.