Programming Your Distillery

One of the first steps in the planning and design of a Distillery is Programming. It is an important process that will help you define the space you need, or want to have to achieve your goals as a business. 

Architectural programming is a structured research and problem-solving process used to identify, examine, and elaborate upon the various needs underlying a design project. The architectural program is the foundation for a creative, meaningful, and – ultimately – useful architectural solution.


Think broad brush strokes. First, we list out all the components that take up space in the facility. 

For example:

Tasting Room
Back Bar
Gift Shop/ Merchandise
Bar Storage
Grain Storage
Barrel Storage
Bulk Storage
Finished Products
Lab Area
Mechanical Room

A next helpful step is to figure out what adjacencies and relationships all these components have to one another. A useful tool is an adjacency diagram, shown below:

Another important aspect of programming is applying approximate square footages to the components. This can be easier said than done, but we can often base SF off of similar built projects. 

Taking the areas, components, and adjacencies to the next level, we can create a bubble diagram, with some examples seen below. This gets us closer to a real floor plan, without yet actually laying out walls and hard spaces.

All these tools can help inform the successful start to a distillery design, and bring up any potential issues that may lie ahead, so we can prepare for them. 

A common challenge we often come across is the mechanical room. The mech room wants to be near the stills, yet also hidden. The stills want to be near the tasting room for guests to look at. It often creates a situation that can often be a design hurdle! But with proper planning, it can be done well. 

Written By:

Matthew Taylor-Rennert

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