Last week we bottled our most recent batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. I just hope I guessed right on quantities to pack in each size. Since I introduced a larger size last year I have not yet gotten a good feel for how many to pack in each size. I found that the larger size was more of a winner than I had envisioned. On the first batch as I bottled 2 sizes, I filled too few of the new larger size (the 375ml), doing about 3x as many in the 200ml size. The 375ml outsold the 200 for online sales to repeat customers, I ran out of the 375.
When I ordered a new shipment of glass I was told the major distributor I buy from would not get more of the 375ml in for about 6 months. I then tried searching the net for other sources. The only one I found was in California. I then tried to order from them, but discovered they would only sell by the whole tractor trailer load. That amount would have ensured I would never run out again, but there was no way I could buy almost 50,000 bottles of just 1 size. Just the first reason being the cost, secondly, I would need to build a new warehouse, the truckload was in a 53′ trailer, loaded to capacity.
I then informed my regular distributor about the deal to see if they would buy it, but they don’t even buy a full trailer load of just 1 size. It seems their loads are full load but comprised of a few sizes. Thus I had to wait.
When my distributor did get the 375ml (12.7 fl oz) back in I ordered enough to last me almost 2 years so I’d be in stock as I needed them. With the popularity of the 375 it seems that 2 year supply (so I thought) will only last me 1 year. I have enough left to pack my next bourbon barrel aging barrel, a 15 gal bbl., which will be ready about early December. Then I will be ordering a new shipment of glass to pack a batch to be ready (Sept 2020) about a year from now.
For the local sales of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, while sales are strong, the balance of sales are opposite how the online sales are. Locally I sell 3 or 4 of the 200ml for each 375ml sold, online the best I can determine with just 1 year of offering the larger size, I sell about 4 large for every 3 of the small size (and that includes 2 customers who bought a full case (24 bottles) of the small size and so for no body has ordered a full case of the large size (12 bottles). My guess is that some might as Christmas orders start coming in.
On other matters I’ve decided not to build the addition this year that I had planned earlier, the weather was just way too hot for me. I don’t do well in temperatures above about 75F and we had way too many days in the 80’s to high 90’s. In my younger days I used to work thru that even though I didn’t like it, I find I can no longer do that.
For the 2020 season, I will be doing fewer taps too. Last year I tapped both around my sugarhouse (about 350 taps) and also at my last remaining lease (I only got 475 of the possible 7-800 tapped in 2019) . For 2020 I will expand the taps at my sugarhouse, adding between 50-100 more taps, all on vacuum. The advantage is that all taps will flow right to the sugarhouse, on the lease I’m dropping I had to haul sap from 7 miles away and I also had to fuel the vacuum pump 2x a day. Another thing is that my land is far easier to walk, being fairly level, the lease had about 2/3 of the taps on slopes that were so steep I often had to hang onto trees to pull myself up, and in snow shoes that was a super hard climb.
The land owner at the lease is about 10 years younger than I am and he plans to retire in Dec. 2020. He then plans to tap his own trees. I told him I would buy his sap to process, either outright or on shares. Either buy the sap or process the sap and I keep a percentage and he gets the rest of the finished syrup. I guess time will tell on that end. In the meantime I had a very good year in 2019 and might have enough syrup in barrels to fill my sales thru the 2020 season with just my taps producing for my syrup supply in 2020. If I do think I’ll need more the producer I sold another lease to makes excellent syrup and I can buy full barrels to add to my supply. He makes far more than he sells retail and has to sell a large amount to the big packers in Vermont and New Hampshire.