the INTRODUCTION to
BARREL AGING SPIRITS you’ve been waiting for
HOW-TO raise PRIVATE CAPITAL the LEGAL side of BARREL AGING SUGAR & SPICE & everything RUM TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS
rising like a phoenix
TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
THE AGE OF BARRELED SPIRITS33 An introduction to barrels
A CASK CONVERSATION WITH MIKE NICOLSON
RUM 10138 Cachaça, Solera, and Demerara. Oh my!
THE BIG PICTURE
American Craft Distillers Association
SIX & TWENTY DISTILLERY
in Powdersville, South Carolina
THE LEGAL ASPECTS OF BARREL AGING SPIRITS14 What does the TTB have to say?
SMALL BARRELS, BIG POSSIBILITIES
The Thousand Oaks Barrels Story
BARREL AGED COCKTAILS
with Bethe Bowman of Italia Trattoria
THE EVOLUTION OF NOSING
Sidetracks to understanding the olfactory process
TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS20 in Gardiner, New York
FROM HI-TECH TO HIGH SPIRITS
Feisty Spirits Distillery
RAISING CAPITAL22 Pursuing private equity deals for your distillery
HOW-TO SELECT A BOILER
with Rite Engineering & Manufacturing
A DISTILLER’S DIARY: NYC
NY Fancy Food Show and Industry City Distilling
PROOF OF SPIRIT
Washington Distillers Guild flagship tasting event
Artisan Spirit Design
The story of Seattle’s Batch 206 Distillery
from the COVER ON the COVER: Whiskey barrels in the tasting room of Oola Distillery in Seattle, WA. Photo by Amanda Joy Christensen.
Volume 1 Issue 4 Fall 2013 Publisher
Creative Director Photographers
Amanda Joy Christensen Michael Bloom Photography Amanda Joy Christensen Brian Facquet Bligh Gillies Bryan Weisberg
Luis Ayala Jason Barrett Lanette Faulkinberry Pennfield Jensen Chris Lozier George Manska Jan Morris Scott Schiller Marc E. Sorini
Sales & Marketing
ARTISAN SPIRIT is the endorsed publication of the American Craft Distillers Association. ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly magazine by Artisan Craft Distilling University. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine General Inquiries (509) 944-5919
twitter.com/_ArtisanSpirit Advertising (509) 991-8112
703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204 All contents © 2013. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Craft Distilling University nor ARTISAN SPIRIT magazine assume responsibility for errors in content, photos or advertisements. While ARTISAN SPIRIT makes every effort to ensure accuracy in our content, the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. We urge our readers to consult with professional service providers to meet their unique needs. At ARTISAN SPIRIT, we take the opportunity to enjoy many different craft spirits and adult beverages. However, it’s also our responsibility, and yours, to always drink responsibly. Know your limit, and never drink and drive. ARTISAN SPIRIT’s number one goal is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. But please remember to follow all the laws, regulations, and safety procedures. Be safe, be legal and we can all be proud of the industry we love.
at ARTISAN SPIRIT is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. We are humbled by the support and sponsorship provided by Agra Marketing Group, American Craft Distillers Association,
Agra Marketing Group brings together a remarkable group of professionals dedicated to developing by-product markets and providing production resources to growers throughout the western United States. Agra Marketing Group has worked for over 20 years to create a large network of buyers and sellers of seasonal and year-round by-products. In 2010 Agra joined forces with Tri-Seal USA to develop a new coating, Barrel Seal, for the agriculture and distilling industries.
ACDA exists because of real-world momentum and a perceived need for a trade association in the U.S. governed by licensed craft distillers on behalf of craft distillers. Our mission includes legislative advocacy in support of a strong business environment for distillers, and through outreach to consumers help build brands and increase consumer awareness. Join us for our First Distillers’ Convention in Denver March 13-15! We welcome your ideas, suggestions and participation.
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Black Swan Cooperage, LLC is a family run cooperage dedicated to serving the barrel needs of the craft distilling industry. Creator’s of the patent pending HONEY COMB® technology, this product line brings unique opportunities for faster aging and creating distinct new flavor profiles. Black Swan strives to create strong customer relations by catering to tradition, as well as developing new techniques to help the industry grow.
O-I is the maker of honest, pure, iconic glass that builds brands. As a trusted partner for many of the world’s leading spirit brands, we help large and smallvolume craft distillers make powerful connections with consumers through glass packaging that sets products apart in a growing global marketplace. O-I’s Glass Is Life™ movement promotes the widespread benefits of glass in key markets around the globe. For more information, visit www.o-i.com or www.glassislife.com or contact email@example.com.
Black Swan Cooperage, O-I, Pharmco-Aaper, Rogue Spirits, St. Louis Litho, and Tapi USA. With their help, we can further our common goals of supporting creativity, innovation, and integrity within the industry we all love so much.
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Celebrating their 10th Anniversary, Rogue Spirits is an artisan varietal distillery creating award winning, multi-ingredient small batch spirits on traditional hand crafted copper pot stills. Rogue Spirits has won 140 awards for taste, quality and packaging and are available in 45 states and 5 countries. Since 2008, Rogue has remained committed to saving the terroir of Oregon hops and barley, one acre at a time by growing, malting, roasting and smoking their own.
St. Louis Litho has three locations nationwide with over 130 years of combined printing experience. The team at St. Louis Litho proudly serves their customers and works with them to build long term relationships that anticipate their future needs so that they can grow together. With digital, flexo and offset printing capabilities and a wide range of finishing techniques, St.
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A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: It’s hard to imagine we first started working on Artisan Spirit Magazine about this time last year. It would be an understatement to say that a great deal has
many more in the years ahead.
changed for us and the industry in that time. The craft spirits
We are not the only ones to get our start since last summer.
community is seeing its share of new events, organizations,
The industry has seen the genesis of a new trade organization
and even legislation on an almost monthly basis. One industry
in the form of the American Craft Distillers Association. We are
special mention is the recent push to lower the federal excise tax for craft spirits.
Just another day on the job, visiting with Rusty Figgins at Batch 206 (SEE PAGE 30 .
The campaign is spearheaded (SEE PAGE 20),
Spirit Magazine is now the sole endorsed
of ACDA. The team at ACDA will
by Ralph Erenzo, of Tuthilltown Spirits
proud to annouce that Artisan
great news, education, and
information as we move ahead.
is the chair of the legislative
We look forward to working
committee of the newly formed
with them on a number of
projects in the future.
Association. The goal of the
For the fall issue we have
committee is to work with the
dedicated several of our stories
TTB and DISCUS to lower the
to the art and science of barrel
federal excise tax to a rate on
aged spirits. The topic is
par with small wineries and
far too broad to cover in its
breweries. You can learn more
entirety within one issue, but
about the proposed legislation
the content we’ve put together
and its goals on our website
provides a great selection of
where we have provided links to the committee’s call to action.
information and education ranging from the legal (SEE PAGE 14),
On a personal note, some of our favorite moments of the last
procedural, and anecdotal. And as a professional courtesy,
year have been getting to know you craft distillers face-to-face.
we’ve avoided any and all bung hole jokes and innuendos.
Every trip we take to your distilleries leaves us with an incredible
sense of hospitality. You don’t just want to share your product. You want to share your lives, experience, personality, and history. It’s that personal story that always grabs our attention. Brian Christensen
The jump from customer to fan is a dramatic one, and we’ve found that the tipping point to becoming a fervent fan almost always follows the telling of a great story. Establishing a brand is one thing, but the sharing of narratives and anecdotes fulfills a very human desire. Learning about a distiller’s bootlegging grandparents or hometown history builds a greater connection with the consumer. We’ve been honored, over the last year to
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WRITE:
703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204
publish many of your stories, and look forward to sharing many,
jan’s corner written by Jan Morris
A CASK CONVERSATION WITH
Mike Nicolson MASTER DISTILLER
first met Mike on a sunny, summer afternoon. He was
years on the Island of Islay looking after Caol Ila and Lagavulin.
touring the Olympic Peninsula on his motorcycle when he
Royal Lochnagar was his final posting where he spent five years
stopped at our distillery.
producing that distinctive spirit as well as hosting the Malt
He gave us no indication that he knew whiskey, and politely Advocate Course, a highly regarded industry whiskey appreciation
listened to Chuck’s tour of our tiny distillery. Then he was invited to smell our barley that we smoke in an oyster smoker. He bent
program. Mike is semi-retired and lives on Vancouver Island. He writes,
over, thrust both hands into the bag, filled them completely, presents and educates on Scotch whiskey. Mike also advises and breathed in deeply. I had never seen this before, and I on new plant construction, commissioning and quality control immediately wondered: Who is this guy with his head inside a
issues, plus related distillery visitor activity. Mike received the
sack of barley?
Whiskey Academy Award from Whiskey Magazine in 2003 for
We soon learned his name: Mike Nicolson. Later, we learned that he is a third generation, master distiller from Scotland. He is the grandson of the last manager of the long silent Port Charlotte Distillery. His other grandfather can be seen in a sepia photograph at the Caol Ila distillery. Mike’s father was a Scotch grain whiskey distiller. Mike has never been far away from distilling. Mike’s 36-year career in distilling began in 1967. He worked
Special Services to the Industry. I asked Mike about his approach to aging whiskey:
MN: As a starting point, a cask has two functions. First, it’s a container that stops the liquid from running around the place. Second, the cask has a conversation with the whiskey that makes it grown up, and frees it from its youthful vigor.
JM: What do you mean by a conversation?
in all aspects of distilling and became a Manager in 1983. First,
MN: Scotch whiskey is a harmonious balance of the cardinal
he managed Glenkinchie, one of the now renowned “Classic
aroma of the spirit and the effect the oak has on the whiskey over
Six.” It was there that he also developed an interest in sharing
time. This is the conversation that makes the whiskey develop
his distillation knowledge, as these were the formative years of and form the final character and personality of the matured liquid and like all good conversations, it cannot be rushed. distillery tours by the public. Next he was the Manager at Blair Athol, followed by four
If it is a new cask, that conversation is dominated by the wood.
JM: Does temperature have an effect on the aging and in new oak. That is the reason bourbon tastes the way it does. maturation process? Bourbon character is heavily influenced by new oak. MN: The old country is a small maritime nation. We usually Historically, the bourbon producers had a problem, because skip summer, and it is temperate year-round. The evaporation
The cask literally shouts at the whiskey. Bourbon is always aged
they could not use the cask more than once, because of the requirement that bourbon be aged in new oak. Because Scotch whiskey needs a different conversation with the oak, the problem was solved. The Scottish would buy the used bourbon casks. The Scotsman gets a cask that does not shout at whiskey, and the bourbon distillers have a market for their used casks.
JM: Many readers of this magazine are just starting distilleries, and would like to make a good whiskey product, but do not have the time for that conversation to take place. Do you have any advice?
loss is 2% with the ambient temperature. Elsewhere, there are elevated temperatures that will increase the evaporation loss and speed up maturation, but how much?Â It is an interesting question.
JM: Do you have any advice for the novice distiller? MN: Do your homework on cask selection for both the style of cask and its history. For a non-bourbon style whiskey, the distiller needs to think a bit more and pay attention to the conversation. How do you reduce the energy of the cask? Think about the conversation you would like your spirit to have with the wood.
MN: I have heard of short-cuts, such as extra staves, sawdust, elevated temperatures of maturation. These things may work for a bourbon. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts for the taste of a good Scotch style whiskey. It takes a long time to get a
Mike Nicolson is available for consultations in the US and Canada. You can reach him at email@example.com or by telephone at 250-656-7326.
Jan Morris owns and distills at the Hardware Distillery Co. with her husband Chuck. They are located in Hoodsport, WA. For more info visit conversation will have started, and the wood influence will be www.thehardwaredistillery.com or call (206) 300-0877. good, flavorful product with character. In fourteen months the
noticeable, but bottling it would be like sending a toddler to
JM: I often hear the words â€œagingâ€? and â€œmaturationâ€? used interchangeably. Do they have different meanings to you?
MN: â€œAgingâ€? is just a matter of time. â€œMaturationâ€? is a matter of improvement. Only under the right conditions does the whiskey
d Winning Awa r o t 5 ork ce 185 n i S u p p ly i n g C s s ller d i st i
get better as it gets older.
JM: What are the right conditions? MN: You have to start with a good quality spirit. It is not possible to make something good from a bad start. Next, you need the right cask. Is it new? Has it held something else? What was it? Will it suit the spirit? Has the cask been used more than once? These considerations will shape the conversation. Also the source of wood affects the conversation. American white oak is terrific for transmitting vanilla and coconut flavors. It gives the liquid a golden hue. The European oak has an open grain. Its previous contents may have been fortified wine or sherry. The conversation is more complex and dark. There is a different color, more cherry-like. It is a redder gold, dark and richer. These are the basic considerations. Beyond this, the use of casks can be very complicated.
AMERICAN CRAFT DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION:
BIG PICTURE WRITTEN BY PENNFIELD JENSEN
SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE AMERICAN CRAFT DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION? ACDA is a not-for-profit Trade Association. What that means for licensed craft distillers is, for the first time, they have a tool with which to control their destiny. That said, how do we address that destiny: The Big Picture?
as well as providing reliable resources for the media. The art of pouring something becomes almost a secondary mission—building upon and coordinating with the locavore and artisan community to promote the ethos of hand crafted.
Legislation obviously takes top billing as we work with
The Guilds will also lead the way for many brands to
our lobbyist allies to create Federal Excise Tax parity with
reach their primary markets as more and more wholesalers
craft brewers and vintners. The parallel with craft brewers
respond to the passion of craft consumers for well-made
is both obvious and inspiring. With a reduced tax the
local and regional spirits.
distillers will create good, well-paying, skilled jobs, build
ACDA already provides numerous resources for distillers
tourist destinations that bring new money into often rural
and guilds on its website and in its educational programs.
environments, and as a side-effect, generate substantial
Going forward, ACDA will be commissioning reliable
tax revenues for the cities and states in which they reside
statistical data on the growth and economic impact of craft
distilling nationally and regionally.
Distilling Guilds are major players. I am of the strong
The inaugural ACDA Convention and Trade Show in
opinion that over the next five years the regional guilds
Denver (March 13-15, 2014), will showcase these
will become powerhouses in terms of building tourism,
resources and programs, as well as partnering with DSTILL
and educating the public via events such as TOAST,
to produce a major consumer event for craft-produced
GADF, and DSTILL. At first blush, education and sampling
may appear to be one and the same, but they’re not. Education involves working with state and local beverage
And that’s the big deal: an association of craft distillers, by craft distillers and for craft distillers.”
control boards, making presentations before government committees, supporting good legislation and providing server training for restaurants, retailers, even distributors,
Pennfield Jensen is the executive director of the ACDA, visit www.americancraftdistillers.org for more info or to join.
Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the
law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington D.C. office. He leads the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where he concentrates his practice on regulatory and litigation issues faced by supplier-tier industry members. His practice for craft distillers includes distribution agreements, distribution counseling and litigation, product formulation, labeling, promotional compliance, compliance strategy, and federal and state tax and trade practice enforcement defense.
the LEGAL ASPECTS
And because every state (and even
of BARREL AGING
DISTILLED SPIRITS BY MARC E. SORINI
some local) government exercises its own regulatory authority over distillery operations, distillers also should check with state authorities to determine any notification or pre-approval requirements that might arise under state law.
WHISKEY Barrel aging is critical to establishing a product as whiskey
istillers have used barrels to age whiskies, brandies and other under federal law. Specifically, most whiskies (with the exception distilled spirits for centuries. Today, American craft distillers of corn whiskey) must be stored in oak containers in order to
increasingly seek to innovate and extend their product offerings qualify as “whiskey” under TTB regulations. by barrel aging spirits, both traditional (e.g., whiskies) and non-
Barrel aging is so fundamental to the classification of a spirit
traditional (e.g., barrel-rested cocktails). Not surprisingly, the as whiskey that TTB regulations require an age statement on the thicket of alcohol beverage laws and regulations impose certain label if any of the whiskey was aged for less than four years. For requirements and place certain limits on the use of barrels. This older whiskies, age statements are optional labeling information. article briefly outlines some of the most important.
COMMENCING BARREL USE
In either case, TTB regulations establish a bewildering set of rules for the form of label disclosure, depending on the type of
whiskey involved, the presence of other whiskies, the use of reAs U.S. distillers surely know, the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & used barrels, and other factors. In all cases, any age statement Trade Bureau (TTB) closely regulates the use of equipment within must disclose the age of the youngest whiskey in a blend. distilleries. Until recently, this included a requirement that TTB pre-approve the installation and use of new equipment, such as
barrels. Happily, in 2011 TTB revised its regulations governing
TTB only permits “age” statements on the labels of whiskies,
operations at “distilled spirits plants.” The new regulations no rum, brandy, and tequila. When neutral spirits are used, the longer require pre-approval of new equipment, but they still resulting “grain spirits” can disclose their storage in oak require the distiller to submit a “letterhead notice” to TTB before containers, but informal TTB policy does not permit the term making a change such as adding a barrel-aging operation to the “aged.” Finally, for other classes and types of distilled spirits – distillery premises. Note, however, that TTB regulations still including gin, liqueurs, cocktails, flavored spirits and so-called require prior approval if the area for barrel aging falls outside the “specialties” – TTB regulations outright prohibit age statements. existing bonded premises of the plant or if the plant’s existing registration does not authorize warehousing.
In practice, the prohibition on age statements for many classes and types does not prohibit all references to using oak barrels in the
production of a spirit. TTB does, for example, permit spirit labels to truthfully describe products other than whiskey, rum, brandy and tequila as “rested in” or “stored in” oak barrels. TTB also permits the use of barrel imagery on the labels of such products. Although every state follows TTB labeling rules most of the time, states have at least the theoretical ability to impose different labeling rules than those established by TTB. While few if any states have done so in the case of barrel aging statements for distilled spirits, the growth of craft distilling might prompt more state interest in the subject, just as the growth of the California wine industry led to specific California rules on the labeling and advertising of wine.
..... There are, no doubt, examples of labels making barrel claims not in compliance with the regulations and policies outlined above. Under TTB’s Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) system, TTB label-review specialists must review thousands of labels per year, and a combination of errors, shifting policy and differences of opinions make complete consistency impossible. Fortunately for distillers, once TTB approves a specific label, Due Process protections make it hard for TTB to stop the use of that label, although an earlier approval does not automatically entitle a distiller to approval of the same label or claim in the future. Finally, a number of TTB’s regulations appear out-of-date, overly complex, or even outright unconstitutional. For example, under modern First Amendment free speech principles, the government would be very hard pressed to justify the suppression of truthful statements describing, say, a gin, as “aged two years in oak barrels.” To take another example, the regulations on the form and format of age statements on whiskey labels are overcomplicated. They reflect a bygone era when whiskey was the American spirit and most consumers understood fine distinctions such as those between “straight” and “blended” product. Unfortunately, given the many other resource commitments faced by TTB in an era of shrinking budgets, a reform of the spirits labeling regulations does not seem likely in the near future. Until winds of reform blow through this obscure corner of American law, distillers should familiarize themselves with the laws, regulations and policies governing the use of barrels in producing distilled spirits. Knowing the rules will help maximize the marketing benefits of barrel aging while minimizing inadvertent errors.
Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. For more info visit www.mwe.com/Marc-E-Sorini or call (202) 756-8284.
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AGED COCKTAILS with BETHE BOWMAN of I TA L I A T R AT T O R I A
by Lanette Faulkinberry Photos by Amanda Joy Christensen
e sat down to chat with Bethe Bowman, successful
Barrel aged cocktails, in very basic terms, is where you pre-mix
restaurant owner and mixologist, to discuss her own your favorite cocktail, minus the ice and garnish, and store it in
barrel aged cocktails and the emerging world of craft spirits.
a barrel for aging. In Bethe’s case she uses a small 5 liter barrel,
Bethe mixes together her background in the food industry, a waits 6 weeks, eagerly perform a taste test and viola, she finds degree in Biology and her curious nature to create a perfect recipe herself with over 100 servings of the biggest trend in mixology. for success. Wanting to bring a different kind of Italian cuisine to
How does she do it? There are a few ways to go about the aging
Spokane, WA Bethe and her Swiss partner Anna Vogel decided process. Barrels can be ordered online, like Bethe has done, or to open Italia Trattoria in trendy Browne’s Addition. Their focus barrels can be graciously gifted to the mixologist by local brewers was to have something new and exciting on the menu which, in or distillers. The smaller barrels that Bethe finds online allow turn, would attract a more adventurous crowd, just the kind of for a faster aging process and helps her keep up with customer clientele ready to try something new.
demand. New American oak with a medium toast is her wood of
While researching Italian liqueurs and cocktails she discovered choice, although she’s curious to try Hungarian oak. the world of barrel aged cocktails. Bethe asked herself: “If you
Bethe mentions that she has made three different runs on
can age a wine, and you can age bourbon and rum, then why one particular American oak barrel, and noted how the flavors can’t you age a cocktail?” Taking note of what English bartender change each time. After selecting the right oak she ages the pre Tony Conigliaro and American based Jeffrey Morgenthaler from mixed Manhattan in 5 liter primed barrels for 6-8 weeks, but she Clyde Commons were achieving, she decided to read more and doesn’t add the fig just yet because it will ferment, which is not eventually try it herself. What was her first experiment? The desirable. After the wait, she bottles it with figs and lets it blow rather successful Figgy Manhattan.
off until it’s just right.
What is it about the process that Bethe loves so much? Bethe because they love it.” Bethe continues on to say that if she has laughs and mentions that the process makes her feel like a mad to pick between two spirits with similar quality she’s going to scientist sometimes, and notes that it’s creative and fun for her. pick the one that’s based closest to them. “I want to work with Secondly, she talks about how these cocktails rebel against the my neighbors, I want my neighbor to prosper, but I’m also going old fashioned notions that relegate them to mere happy hours or to want somebody with a story.” after dinner drinks. Bethe discovered that barrel aged cocktails
Bethe and Italia Trattoria are continuing to innovate. They
are perfect for food pairing. “When it comes to barrel aged are working on aging her own bitters and are looking forward cocktails I’ve found that they have such nuance and finesse and to receiving a barrel from her friends over at Oola distillery in sophistication to them that they pair really well with food the oak Seattle. Bethe is also dreaming up ideas for what she can do brings tannin and things to the drink that enhances the food.”
with an old red wine barrel that she’s soon to receive from a
We were curious to find out what it is that grabs an industry winemaker. If you ever find yourself passing through Spokane be insider like Bethe when it comes to choosing a craft spirit for her sure to stop by Italia Trattoria to see what Bethe’s creating, it’s cocktails. “There are a couple of things, the quality of the flavor, sure to be like nothing you’ve tasted before. that’s the first thing. Equally, the care and the story of where it
comes from has a big effect on me. I like to know that you’ve Bethe Bowman is General Manager/Co-Owner of Italia Trattoria in
Spokane, WA. For more info visit www.italiatrattoriaspokane.com or
got somebody coming in with all their heart to do something call (509) 459-6000.
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Tuthilltown Spirits WRITTEN BY LANETTE FAULKINBERRY
PHOTOS BY MICHAEL BLOOM PHOTOGRAPHY
he backstory on Tuthilltown is one familiar to many craft interesting and different. The very wide opportunities in the craft distillers. Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee, the founding partners side of the industry. The challenges of developing in a nascent
talk about those early day challenges, “We knew absolutely industry.” He goes on to say that what excites them most about nothing about spirits except how to open a bottle when we the industry is the freedom that comes with not having any started.” Ralph remembers how they overcame these challenges hard ties to old traditions, meeting their customers in person by studying online, calling experts and visiting other small and experimenting with raw materials. Speaking of their raw distilleries in Europe.
materials, it’s worthwhile to note that Tuthilltown works with
Ralph calls it serendipity, the only explanation of how they local farmers who grow grains and apples just a few miles down started down the path to becoming craft distillers. If neighbors the road, keeping with true small batch craft distilling ideals. had not objected to the original plan of turning Tuthilltown
It’s not only the local farmers that are benefiting from their
Gristmill into a “climber’s ranch,” then there might never have business, but also the larger community. Ralph says that their been Tuthilltown Spirits. Talk about one door closing and another visitors spend money in the town at local markets, restaurants one opening.
and gift shops. There are also 20 new jobs that didn’t exist before
With their most recent accomplishments at the San Francisco the distillery. Tuthilltown recently received one of the greatest World Spirits Competition with a double gold medal for their tourist attraction stamps of approval, the Trip Advisor Certificate “Hudson Four Grain bourbon” and another gold medal for their of Excellence, so visitors are set to keep coming. famous “Baby Bourbon,” it’s clear that they’re not slowing down
Direct contact is very important to Tuthilltown’s brand
any time soon. What keeps them so motivated to keep moving awareness. Ralph mentions, “Our primary strategy goes like this: forward? Ralph explains, “The excitement of doing something the owners and producers go out and sell the product. We go out
personally to introduce our product and company. One owner right? Ralph calls it the best of a worst case scenario. He goes on actually guides Saturday public tours in person. Our facility is to say that nobody was hurt, no product was lost and thankfully developed as a visitor-friendly site, close to New York City; we they had a terrific insurance company. Despite being told by reach out daily to invite our fans to visit the distillery and meet industry experts that it will be at least a year before they are the crew.”
back in full swing, the guys worked hard to be back in production
Running a successful distillery and tourist attraction might within three months. They’ve since made quite a few changes sound like a full plate but that’s not all. Ralph has also decided to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. Ralph to step up and take a more active role in both the NY Distillers says that it’s probably turned into the safest distillery in America Guild and the new American Craft Distiller’s Association and they’ve all turned into major safety proponents. Founding (ACDA). They decided to get
partner Brian, especially, has
involved for several reasons,
become an evangelistic safety
one of which was because
advocate; speaking on plant
of the restrictive regulatory
safety with small distillers
structures at the state level,
whenever he can.
like the inequalities in tax
Even after overcoming such
rates among the different
a hurdle Tuthilltown still has
some major goals that they’re
beverage production. Ralph
working to achieve. One is
explains, “We felt that if the
laws were going to change
with new raw materials and
leadership role, and since we
production without becoming
were the only craft distiller in
‘industrial’, as well as getting
NY it fell to us and so we ran
their entire operation “off the
with it.” Currently they are hard at work on a bill that will allow grid.” Judging by how far they’ve come, it’s just a matter of time. the first 100,000 proof gallons of all spirits to be taxed at a
Tuthilltown seems to be getting it right, so what kind of
much lower rate. Ralph says that the ACDA is reaching out to advice do they have for new craft distillers? “Be prudent. all distillers across the US, encouraging them to join so that Focus on efficiencies. Don’t overextend. Don’t overspend. Make together they can improve the climate for all to succeed.
presentation and sales a personal undertaking; be open to
Another battle they’ve had to fight has been the now infamous the public and press. Work with local and regional suppliers. fire of September 2012. The details are these: a fitting on one Concentrate on your home region first.” says Ralph. of the stills failed, allowing the alcoholic vapor to fill the room from the top down, so when the vapor reached a possible ignition Tuthilltown Spirits in located Gardiner, NY. For more information source, it went off. Sounds like every distillers worst nightmare visit www.tuthilltown.com or call (845) 633-8734.
C G A
he alcoholic beverage industry
One last element that can also
presents the start-up with two
be extremely beneficial is having a
difficult challenges: coming up with a good
brand name that is not already trademarked, and
physical prototype developed. As sexy and
intriguing as your documents may look, people
raising money. For those of you who are raising capital, like to be able to hold and taste something.
the good news is that private equity deals in the industry have become very active lately. New entrants to the distilling industry are benefiting from their
After you have all of these elements in place, it is time to start going through your Rolodex and putting the feelers out there. Presuming this is your first round of capital, it is best
predecessors who helped to pave the way. Even just a few years
to approach/hound/attack the ‘Four F’s’; Friends, Family, Fools,
ago potential investors often didn’t understand how a new spirits
and Fanatics. Other ideal initial investors include those who have
company could exist due to the dominance of such behemoths
some direct knowledge of the alcoholic beverage industry such as
as Diageo. “You do not have the next Grey Goose,” one potential
restaurateurs, liquor store retailers, as well as service providers
investor barked at me back in the day. (On a side note, it also
that work with those types of business, such as accountants.
turns out that a guy who wears more hand jewelry than his wife
Investment from other members of the three-tier system may
is not likely to invest in you either.)
be possible depending on which person or organization is listed
So I wanted to share some insight that I have gained during my
on the various licenses. Successful entrepreneurs are also ideal
years of raising capital for both my own ventures and for others. investors as they often find this industry very appealing because I have found that there is a general format to follow that often
of the margins and the excitement inherent to the industry.
leads to success.
Potential hybrid approaches include major equipment financing
First and foremost: be polished and buttoned up. You only have one chance to make a proper first impression. Regardless
and state/local grants. If I were you, I would start with those sources and completely
of whether you are asking your best friend or a seasoned investor, ignore the SBA and angel forums. Well, that is unless you like it is vital that you are prepared. What follows is a list of most of
filling out forms and being asked for free samples from an
the key elements that you should have completed before you ask
investor who says he is really interested while his true interest
for a dime:
lies in the mini deli sandwiches he is stuffing into his mouth. For established distillers, raising subsequent rounds of capital
or accessing additional capital is often a little easier as you now
have a track record. Exploring relationships with progressive
banks for vehicles such as lines of credit, equipment loans, and,
Key personnel needs identified
to an extent, even inventory factoring, will help buffer you from
Vendors and professional service firms selected
the large swings in cash flow that many distillers face. To raise
Idea of valuation
relatively large amounts of capital (more than three million) you
Answers to the tough questions
may also wish to connect with a professional who raises capital
Investment docs ready to be drafted
for small ventures. Approaching local governmental leaders can
also be productive as they are often well connected and enjoy sharing the credit for the growth of such a highly visual and buzz-worthy venture. Here some other tidbits of wisdom that I have learned along the way: »» Don’t take money from an investor if a loss would ruin
otable spirits deserve a cutting edge experience Dissipates alcohol | enhances flavor
the investor financially. This is a very risky investment;
Handmade Mouth Blown Lead-free Chrystalyn
while returns can be very rewarding, it is a highly competitive industry that is extremely capital intensive. Listen to your conscience. »» Keep the investor group as small as possible and avoid investors that you do not connect with morally or personally. Everybody is always friends in the beginning, but financial challenges can often bring out the worst in people. When you need support the most, the last thing you need is to be handling negative investors versus spending time saving/growing your business. »» Evaluate what else an investor can bring to the table besides money. Skillsets such as leadership, financing, and sales can be immensely helpful. At the same time, don’t let an investor overstate their skillset in an attempt
www.theneatglass.com | Like us on
to receive a better valuation for themselves. »» Be direct. Don’t set up countless lunches or “hey, you should come over to dinner” meetings. Tell your potential investor directly what you want to talk to them about, and make sure they have a legitimate interest before discussing the opportunity with you. Regardless
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of whether they are interested or not, they often know other individuals who may be. »» Don’t bake the numbers. If at the end of your financial plan the numbers just don’t work, don’t pursue the venture. It is always important that you are realistic with yourself, and the individuals that will be trusting you. At the end of the day investors invest in people, not things. Make sure that you have done your homework, and that the investor can trust that you are prepared. Having other team members that can vouch for you and having some of your own money already invested also speaks volumes. Happy check finding!
Scott Schiller is a fifth generation distiller and Managing Director of Thoroughbred Brands for more information visit www.ThoroughbredBrands.com or call (502) 533-7071.
Rite Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. 5832 Garfield Avenue - Commerce, CA 90040 Telephone: (562) 862-2135 - Fax: (562) 861-9821
A DISTILLER’S DIARY:
Words and photography by Jason Barrett
craft distiller I jump at any opportunity available to increase
their brand new hand hammered pot stills. The next day I was
my knowledge and awareness of the industry. I visited three
up at New York Distilling Company where Bill Potter was kind
different distilling operations, numerous craft cocktail bars, and
enough to share stories, samples and great craft cocktails until
his past July I had the pleasure of touring NYC. As a startup
me to a tour. The first stop was Kings County Distilling to see
the New York Fancy Food Show. The trip kicked off at the New York Fancy Food Show. It’s
the wee hours of the morning. Finally, on Wednesday I took the R-train down into deep Brooklyn down by the docks. The guys at
amazing to see so many craft foodie’s all in one place. The Industry City Distilling were nice enough to show me around their Javitts center had row after row of chocolates, juices, cookies, 6th floor Brooklyn walk-up. pasta, olive oil, candy, bread, crackers, sauces, teas, and just about any other edible goodie you can think of.
There they produce a sugar beet vodka unlike anyone else in the world. They are unique in taste, production process and
The Brewers Association had a space with 8-9 different breweries
in how they go about distilling, not just a business but as a
pouring their wares. However, no matter how hard I searched
creative extension of their entire lives. The members of Industry
I did not see any American craft spirit companies. I did see plenty
City Distilling do pretty much everything in house. They have a
of tequila from Mexico and some rum from the West Indies, but machine shop to build the stills, printing presses to print labels, American Craft Spirits were nowhere to be found. Luckily, many
and a vast array of gadgets and gizmos for tinkering, testing and
folks who work with craft distilleries were in attendance. Hella
perfecting their vodka creation.
Bitters was doing a brisk business with their hand crafted bitters
To start off their process they flash ferment their sugar beet
and Royal Rose Simple Syrups had mixed up several fantastic
and water mixture. No bulky fermenting tanks, no long waiting
cocktails with their handmade concoctions. Kentucky Woods
for alcohol content to reach desired ranges. At industry city they
Bourbon Barrel Cake was sampling their delicious cakes just
run the sugar/water mixture through glass tubes which contain
about as fast as the two ladies could carve it up.
massive amounts of yeast encapsulated in sugar permeable
Time and time again I saw bourbon used in foods. It’s fair to
membranes. This incredibly high yeast to surface area ratio
say, as craft spirits continues to bring out more and more unique
causes the sugar water to be converted into alcohol incredibly
flavors in liquor we will find other artists that are able to turn
quickly. In addition, more wash is always coming in behind the
them into amazing culinary delights.
yeast, so the yeast itself lives on to ferment another batch.
After two days of nonstop walking I had to get out of the
Next they run their now alcoholic mash through two handmade
Javitts center and see the rest of NYC. Lucky, I had friends in the
packed column stills before pulling the vodka off into nearly 40
industry who were willing to show me their facilities and treat different parts. Finally, they blend back different portions of the
batch the way a master whiskey blender would blend barrels. All told they have a smooth product with hints of vanilla, nutmeg
and almost no burn as it moves across your tongue. Currently, they only distribute in NYC, but
NY FANCY FOOD SHOW
they plan to scale up the process to increase their production to meet growing demand. Well
week in NYC. I hope you get a chance to visit the Big Apple. NY is fast becoming one of the greatest places to be in the craft distilling world, and the rest of NY State is not far behind it.
Jason Barrett is a distiller and managing member for Black Button Distilling in Rochester, NY. For more information visit www.blackbuttondistilling.com or call (585) 730-4512.
STILL PARTNERS ARTISAN SPIRIT DESIGN WRITTEN BY ROCKWELL RUTTER ||| PHOTOS BY BRIAN FACQUET
approximately 3 years. We
started with smaller stills and
worked up to larger sizes as
passing day, we’re finding
customer demands grew and
more and more people are
our ability to manufacture
coming forward to contribute
their skills and expertise.
their own distillery, there is
WHAT SET YOU ON THE PATH TO BECOMING A STILL MANUFACTURER?
no end to the ways someone
can join the industry in a
designer in an engineering
While the most romantic option for people is to start
way. For example, without a
still there can be no distillery.
firm is what allowed me to
They come in all shapes and sizes, from the mass-produced to needed to design stills. I’ve always had a passion for whiskey, the hand-crafted one-offs that retain an almost sculpture-like
so when I decided I wanted to open my own distillery I decided
quality. To get a little insight into the craft still market, we turned
to draw my first design. Unfortunately, Provincial legislation
to Steven Cage and Neil Robinson of Artisan Still Design, a small at the time was a major road block so I decided to go at but talented design and manufacturing facility out of Lethbridge, it another way. When I met Neil, I refined some of my ideas into viable products, and began manufacturing the first small Alberta, Canada. designs. Soon after, Neil and I built a relationship with a startup
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DESIGNING AND BUILDING CUSTOM distillery in South Carolina “Six & Twenty.” We’d provide Six STILLS FOR CRAFT DISTILLERS? & Twenty with equipment to start their distillery which gave Steven Cage: We are a newer company, being in the industry for our company a test bed to prove our designs in the real world. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 27
Neil Robinson: Stills are like cars; they all can get you from point A to point B. Some are fashionable while others are overly extreme and yet others are beaters. As much as, if not more so, is the skill set of the distiller. Ever seen a hot rod Pinto drag racing and beating the doors off high dollar rods? Same with stills, the ability of the distiller to know the flavor profiles they want is very important.
WHAT SETS YOU AND YOUR PRODUCTS APART FROM THE COMPETITION? SC: The technology used in small distilleries hasn’t changed much in 200 years, so really our designs operate virtually identical to other still manufacturers. Having studied designs of past and present we have come up with a design that is incredibly capable, but simple to manufacture. Really, I believe, it’s our ability to produce our stills in a price range much lower than others, but still to a comparable level of quality.
NR: The fact that we take passion in our equipment. Each system we sell, we act as if we are selling to ourselves. If we’re not happy with it, then we won’t let you live with it. The passion we both have for our favorite spirits comes through in Steven’s designs.
WHAT ABOUT THE INDUSTRY EXCITES YOU THE MOST? CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE INFORMATION ON THE BASICS OF STILL DESIGN AND FABRICATION? SC: The industry is huge, full of fantastic people, ideas and SC: For us design is very much centered on the math. Yes, boring, spirits, but we’ve not even close to hitting the peak of the market. but you have to do the ground work so the finished product will We’re barely in the beginning of what will be; that excites me. function correctly. Once we have the math done, we look at the NR: Being able to say after a spirits judging that the award art in the design; how can we make it pretty and functional? Then winning spirit was produced on our stills. As well as the vast we come to fabrication, which is all about skill and materials. We array of new spirits that are artfully crafted. The passion comes over-size our materials, using far thicker copper and stainless through in each bottle, and you can taste this no matter if it’s a than is needed, just so we can be sure our equipment will survive spirit you enjoy or not. You can actually taste the passion. the worst case scenario.
IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU STRIVE TO BEST SERVE THE CRAFT DISTILLING DO DIFFERENT STILLS AND STILL TYPES AFFECT THE FLAVOR PROFILE INDUSTRY? OF THE SPIRITS THEY DRINK? SC: We really work hard to provide a quality product, but beyond SC: In the large stills of the scotch whiskey industry, the shape of that we work even harder to help our customers at every stage,
the still plays an important part in developing the character of the from initial thoughts about starting a distillery, to maintenance whiskey, but they are thousands of gallons in size. In the size of and upgrades after production is already under way. We also have units that are typical in the craft distilling industry, the shape loses a 24 hour policy on communications, in that 24 hours is far too its effect (passive reflux) as soon as it comes up to temperature. long to return a phone call or email.
So really the shape of the still for us is an aesthetic choice. The NR: I agree with Steven. My phone is with me 24/7. I can cover way we overcome this lack of passive reflux is with the plated phone calls most anytime, and I doubt other companies are like column and use of active reflux. Tuned correctly, you can emulate that. Actually I’m on vacation right now in Pensacola Florida, sitting on the beach with my family, sipping some Papa’s Pilar the effect that some of the larger traditional stills have.
Blonde Rum. Yes, I’m working while taking a vacation, but I something a little simpler and compact we have a new line of don’t consider Artisan Still Designs work; it’s a love that even my stills that can meet this need. We are adding more and more family shares with me.
products all the time, we eventually want to be able to offer everything one would need for equipment in one place for the
WHAT SHOULD A SPIRIT DRINKER LOOK FOR IN A HIGH QUALITY start up distillery. CRAFT PRODUCT? SC: The care and detail a craft spirit producer puts into his product WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE THING A NEW CRAFT DISTILLER SHOULD is much higher than bulk spirits producers and this care should CONSIDER BEFORE THEY PURCHASE A STILL? show through in the product. As a whiskey lover, I enjoy tasting SC: Your choice of still should be driven by the product you make; the unique variations of whiskey, that just don’t exist anywhere there is no one size fits all for stills. If you know “what” you are except in the craft world, many of which I would put toe to toe going to make, the “how” will follow. with the most expensive whiskeys available. It’s the innovation
and passion for the craft that shines through in the product. For Steven and Neil it is clear that “passion,” is the ideal they NR: To me for a craft rum, your first impression should be hold most dear, and is an integral part of their work each and
“WOW.” Even if it’s a rum that’s not of my liking you can taste the every day. The two partners exemplify everything that is great smoothness, the buttery notes. No harshness should ever be found, about this industry: a willingness to work hard, innovate and help
and NEVER produce a headache the next day. A drinking session bring the highest-quality spirits to the masses. We can’t wait to that goes for some distance and no headache? That’s a quality see what they come out with next. drink, to be respected, and I suggest sipping next time neat.
Artisan Still Design is located in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and has representatives in Alabama, Colorado, South Carolina, SC: We have just launched our second line of stills. Our flagship New York, Indiana and Washington. For more information visit is still our Modular Hybrid series, but for distilleries that need www.artisanstilldesign.com or call (403) 795-0602.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR GROWTH IN THE COMING YEARS?
FINDING THE STORY OF SEATTLE’S BY ROCKWELL RUTTER
eff Steichen, the owner of Seattle’s Batch 206 distillery, eventually sold to a major corporation called AEG Live. Being on speaks with the relaxed, comfortable cadence of someone the “front lines” of the alcohol business, according to Jeff, was
who has been there and done that. We met with him inside his absolutely instrumental in gathering the requisite knowledge he industrially-decorated Bottle Shop, a space that doubles as an would later need as the owner of a distillery. event center, education workshop, sometimes even a wedding
After the sale, most people would have probably hung up our
venue. Our goal was to understand what makes Batch 206 so hats and enjoyed retirement. Not Jeff. In his words, he basked in special. Since they got their DSP in April 2012, Jeff and his crew the glow of retirement for, “nearly an hour,” before getting back have cultivated a following of die-hard Batch 206 fans.
up and starting on the next project. He partnered with his wife,
Jeff started from the beginning, detailing his personal Daleen, on this project which would eventually become Batch background and what led him to opening his own distillery. 206 Distillery. Much of his experience is actually in the music business. Jeff
All those years of working for himself taught Jeff a lot more
got his start as a bartender in 1976 and quickly learned the than just music and booze; he had also developed impressive ins and outs of the psychology of beer, wine and spirits. Jeff business acumen. Over the years he had observed the growing says, “Being behind the bar really taught me about who buys trends in the craft beer and wine markets and felt that spirits what and when.” From there, he branched out into running his wouldn’t be far behind. Rather than sink his entire retirement own concert production company and event venues, which he fund into a risky proposition like a distillery, he decided to tread
BALANCE BATCH 206 DISTILLERY
PHOTOS BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
lightly and have his concept prove itself before diving in too deep. was gone, and in its place was an opportunity for Batch 206 to He reached out to the House Spirits company in Portland, OR control its own methods of distribution. This was exactly the kind and began a conversation about having them distill his products of controlled growth Jeff was looking for. by contract. Doing so would allow Jeff to focus on marketing,
Instead of competing for the attention of distribution reps with
branding and distribution without having to be financially tied to international liquor brands, Jeff was free to build his own onean expensive brick and mortar operation. The name of the game on-one relationships with bar managers. Jeff elaborated on the going forward was slow, controlled growth.
importance of relationships with those actually making orders, “A
As Jeff’s products began to grow in popularity, the time came strong sales team is the single most important aspect of the entire to begin thinking about opening his own shop. He thought back business.” Not only does Batch 206 save an estimated $5-$7 on to his days behind the bar and remembered how he used to order each bottle sold (by removing the typical 35% distributor’s fee), spirits from the major distributors. That was back when craft maintaining these relationships allows Batch 206 to get direct spirits weren’t even heard of, and he imagined it would be even feedback from the front lines, just like when Jeff was tending more difficult for a small operation to get promoted by any of back in the 70’s. “You’ll learn more in a 15 minute conversation the major distributors. Luckily for Jeff, Washington State had with a bartender than you ever will with a distributor,” says recently passed I-1183, a state law governing the distribution Jeff. This strategy has paid off. Since April 2012, Batch 206 of alcohol. The three-tier system and governmental monopoly has expanded its distribution to include 250 bars, restaurants
and hotels, as well as being
It seems that many times a
placed in Costco, Total Wine
distiller will forget that a
& More, Bev-Mo, QFC and
successful business means
Inside the distillery, Jeff
knew he couldn’t do everything
and the purchasing desires
himself. If he wanted to
of the consumer. Lean too
maintain the product quality
far toward the producer,
and you’re making a top-
to expect, he had to bring
in top talent to keep Batch
priced spirit. Too far the
206 growing. In came Rusty
other way, and you’ll end up
Figgins, a renowned distiller
with a homogeneous, bland
with decades of experience
product that excites no one.
in the craft beverage industry.
Batch 206 is a case study
Between the two of them, Jeff
in how to successfully open
and Rusty have all the bases
and run a craft distillery.
covered in bringing Batch 206 products to the thirsty masses. As we wrapped up our interview, I asked Jeff for a final piece
Jeff has learned how to balance both the art and science of the business without sacrificing quality or pricing.
of advice for those starting their own distillery. He paused for a moment, reflecting on the many years he has spent in the industry. Finally, he spoke: “Never let your ego get too involved.”
Batch 206 Distillery is located in Seattle, WA. For more information visit www.batch206.com or call (206) 216-2803.
THE AGE OF BARRELED SPIRITS AN INTRODUCTION TO BARRELS WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER ||| PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
hile people drink alcohol for
available, varieties of spirits and flavor
the wood through exposure to the
many reasons, people drink
profiles are increasing, as well, but some
natural elements, and second, to reduce
quality spirits primarily for the sensory
things will remain the same. By law,
the wood’s moisture content to the
experience. Spirits hold complex flavors,
American straight whiskey has to be aged
appropriate level. “The exact duration
textures, colors and aromas that engage
in new, charred oak barrels. This gives
of seasoning will depend on the desired
four of our five senses, depriving only
structure to that class, which includes
flavors from the wood,” says Brad Boswell,
our ears. Depending on the spirit, a
bourbon as well as others, leveling the
President of Independent Stave Company.
person can experience juniper, vanilla,
playing field for distillers as well as
“We season wood for 6, 12, 24 or 36
chocolate, smoke, flowers, fruits, spices
informing consumers of what they are
months, depending on our customers’
and hundreds of other flavors and
buying. If a distiller wants to age their
specifications and the taste profile of a
combinations with just a small glass. The
whiskey in a non-traditional wood with a
same raw fruit or grain can be mashed,
non-traditional toast or char they can, but
Aged staves are then crafted into barrels
fermented, distilled and aged in myriad
the type of aging will dictate the name
at the cooperage by a cooper, which is the
ways to produce a totally different final
that spirit will have.
title given to barrel makers. The standards
product, and this endless variety is at
For example, straight bourbon has to
and tolerances are very exacting, as the
the core of the craft distilling’s explosive
meet several standards to earn its name.
barrel has to be strong and leak free.
Most of the standards are ingredient
Heidi Karasch of Black Swan says there
The flavor profile of a spirit is a result of
and proof requirements, but the aging
is “no glue or chemicals holding a barrel
the ingredients, influences and steps of
requirement is just as important. The
together, only craftsmanship and steel
the distillation and aging process. While
barrels have to be new oak with a full
each part is important, one of the most
char and the spirit must age for at least
Barrels come in many sizes, with the
influential factors is the aging. Kept in
two years. When the distiller meets
American standard being 53 gallons. This
glass with little room for air, the spirit
these qualifications, they can sell the
is the most economical way to age spirits
remains much the same as when it left the
spirit as straight bourbon whiskey. The
as the large barrels cost less and take up
still. But when aged in metal or wood, the
bourbon will have the distinct flavor that
less room than the equivalent number of
spirit inherits many of the qualities of its
only bourbon can have, and much of that
smaller barrels would. Small barrels do
container. Of all the aging methods, the
flavor came from the barrel.
have advantages, though, as they can
most common by far is wood barrel aging.
Once inside the barrel, the spirit
age a spirit much more quickly. This is
There are many different barrel-aged
undergoes a complex series of changes
because the volume of a barrel increases
spirits, but the most popular are whiskies
that affect the character of its flavor,
by a power of 3 while the surface area
and brandies. Aging barrels are made
aroma, proof and color dramatically
only increases by a power of 2. So if you
from hardwoods, with oak being the
depending on a number of factors. Oak
decrease the barrel size you will have less
predominate species. That said, craft
is the most popular wood for barrel aging.
volume but more wood surface area for
distillers are producing new variations
Most oak used by distillers is American
the spirit to interact with. “Simply put,”
on spirit aging every day, and some of
Oak, Quercus alba, while a few distillers
says Bryan Weisberg of Thousand Oaks
these innovative methods will no doubt
and many winemakers use French Oak.
Barrel Company, “the smaller the barrel
gain popularity. Heidi Karasch of Black
Trees are harvested at approximately 100
the faster it ages. As spirit aging is a
Swan Cooperage says they now offer
years of age and are cut into barrel staves
combination of time and the imparting
patented pending HONEY COMB® barrel
at a stave mill.
of flavors exposed from the charred oak
alternatives made of Cherry, Hard Maple, Hickory, Soft Maple, Red Oak, White Ash,
From here, the process is totally customized
amount of time.”
naturally on the stave yard before being
Small barrels can be a good way for
crafted into a barrel. The purpose is
startup distilleries to sell their aged
twofold – first, to begin breaking down
spirits at a quicker turnaround. Thousand
of large barrel aging in a much shorter
White Oak & Yellow Birch to meet the
demands of craft distillers, vintners and With
a small barrel can simulate the effects
Oaks solely produces small barrels, from
then charred. Heidi Karasch of Black
or lead soldering in their stills.” They
1 liter to 15 gallons, to meet this market
Swan explains, “the reason we toast our
started charring white oak barrels and
demand. To accelerate the large barrel
barrels prior to charring is to caramelize
aging the shine in them, using the carbon
aging process, Black Swan has patented
the wood’s sugars, to make them more
char as a filter, and it worked. They were
easily extracted by the spirits and at an
no longer getting sick from the lead, and
Karasch says, “are specifically designed
accelerated pace.” She goes on to say,
as the flavor profiling benefits of charred
to help our customers get their products
“spirits aged in a barrel with no toasting
oak barrel aging were discovered, too, the
on the shelves faster, without forgoing
will be able to extract the wood’s sugars,
quality.” Barrel inserts, cubes, chips and
but at a much, much slower rate.”
idea became tradition. There are many ways to char barrels.
staves offer the chance to add different
Just toasting the barrels is not enough
Bryan Weisberg of Thousand Oaks Barrel
woods to the mix, as well, that change
for most spirits, though, as the wood can
Company says, “We do traditional charring,
the spirit’s flavor.
lend astringency to the spirit. To cure
by which we put the wood shavings in the
Once a barrel is formed, but before
this, most barrels are charred at least a
barrel and set them on fire spinning the
the heads are fitted into the croze, the
little bit to develop a layer of charcoal, or
barrel periodically.” Other times barrels
groove at each end of the barrel that
carbon, which allows the spirit to access
are placed without their heads over a wood
accommodates the heads, the barrel
the wood’s sugars while filtering out many
chip fire ring. The heat and flames from
is toasted, charred, or both. Toasting
of the undesirable characteristics of both
the fire draw up through the barrel like
barrels involves using light to moderate
the wood and the alcohol. Karasch of Black
a chimney and create a layer of charred
heat to caramelize sugars in the wood.
Swan traces the beginning of charring
wood on the inside. Some cooperages
These sugars will later be accessed by
barrels back to her great grandfather’s
use gas flames or electric toasting arms,
the spirit and impart their flavors to
generation. He, along with his friends
depending on what is needed to produce
it. Some barrels are just toasted, some
and relatives, were making moonshine
the desired char.
are charred and thereby toasted to
and getting sick from it, “mainly because
Barrels are charred and toasted to
some extent, and some are toasted and
they were so poor they used lead piping
different levels to meet the distiller’s
preferences. Distillers order barrels with
levels reveal different compounds, and
oxygen to pass through the staves. “The
the goal of producing particular flavor
those compounds are what give the spirit
wood is porous enough to let gases flow in
profiles, and cooperages work with them
its unique character.
and out through the wood, while keeping
to achieve this. Independent Stave
Once the spirit is in the barrel, the
liquids in,” explains Brad Boswell of
Company has developed an elaborate
barrels are stored in warehouses and left
Independent Stave Company. Because
system to accurately produce desired
to age. The storage environment has a
of this, microoxygenation can occur,
flavor profiles through stave aging, barrel
big impact on the speed of the aging, as
which Heidi Karasch of Black Swan says,
toasting, charring, and inserts. They
well as the character of the spirit. High
“aids in the chains forming between the
can chart the profile for the distiller
humidity typically lowers the proof of the
alcohol and wood molecules, which helps
and completely customize the barrel’s
spirit, while drier locations can increase
smooth and mellow the spirits.” Boswell
the proof. Warmer locations speed up the
emphasizes that, “the oxygenation and
As the spirit ages, the alcohol travels
aging, while cold temperatures can almost
extraction of flavors must be in balance
through the char and accesses the
stop it. If the barrels can be moved from
to have a properly matured spirit.”
wood sugars that were caramelized in
time to time, the spirit will mature faster,
Once a spirit has matured, it is either
the toasting and charring. These sugars,
but this is not usually feasible since full
diluted to the desired proof with water,
along with lignin, vanillin, tannins and a
barrels weigh over 500 lbs. Rules apply
blended with other spirits or bottled at
wide array of other compounds react with
to the aging period of many spirits, but
cask strength straight from the barrel.
the alcohol and create complex flavors
most distillers will not bottle the spirit
Of all the opportunities available for
in the spirit. Many of these compounds
until it tastes “ready.”
craft distillers to grow and differentiate
Oxygen is also essential to these
themselves and their products, barrel
down from larger compounds during the
reactions between the wood and the
aging materials and techniques may offer
toasting. That is why so many toasting
spirit. Though barrels are typically filled
the greatest potential, allowing distillers
and charring techniques are used, and
to capacity, leaving no room for air, the
to produce spirits of greater variety and
why they are essential. Different toasting
better quality than ever before.
exist only because they were broken
Written by Luis Ayala
he best way to appreciate rum is to understand its origins rums. The reason is simple: the goal of these products is to and styles. First of all, rum is distilled from fermented showcase the added flavors, not the rum itself. As such, it is
sugarcane or its derivatives (sugarcane juice, evaporated cane important to use as blank a canvas as possible, to allow the rum juice, different grades of molasses and sugar). Rum can then blender to paint whatever picture he/she wants on that canvas. be bottled and sold under one of the following categories: White
should be produced using medium to heavy
Rum (most white rums on the market are un-aged), Flavored/ rums, aged in properly-selected barrels and for a period of time Spiced (most of these rums are un-aged with spices and/or that matches the wood-extractive and tannic level desired for the flavors added) or Aged Rum (in Single barrels, Soleras, Bourbon particular style being produced.
barrels, Sherry casks, or in other wooden vessels).
are those which resemble rum rations served
The key to true rum is that it should remind us of its origin, aboard naval vessels in the years of yore. Typically these are i.e. its source: sugarcane. If the white rum you smell is too medium to heavy rums, darkened and sweetened with molasses. neutral (all you smell is ethanol), then you don’t have a rum,
Solera Rums, against popular belief, cannot be distinguished
you have a sugarcane vodka. If, on the other hand, the smell based on their flavor. A Rum Solera refers to a method of aging, is so overpowering and saturated with herbal, fruity and other transferring and blending rums with the goal of reducing quality congeners, then what you have is a
Good rum, differences between barrels and between rum productions, to
depending on its style, should be found somewhere in between guarantee more consistent rum throughout the years. I’ve often both of these extremes. Then, as we age this magical elixir, the heard, “this tastes like a Solera rum,” which is plain nonsense. interaction between the alcohol and the oak barrel produces all
Puerto Rican and Cuban rums are known for being very
the delicate notes typically associated with quality aged, distilled light, which helps them when it comes to mixability, since lighter spirits. Deeply-inviting aromas of nuts, berries, toasted spices rums have fewer congeners than heavier rums so they go very and leather, followed by a decadent and complex experience in well with most mixers. the mouth and finishing with a thought-provoking and protracted finish that begs us to take another sip. The terms “Light
are those that typically contain
a higher than normal concentration of esters, which are very
refer to aromatic compounds formed during long periods of fermentation.
the congener content of the rum. Congeners are alcohols and
Spanish style rums are those that, due to their production
related-compounds created during fermentation. They include or aging methods, have a lot of characteristics similar to those of aldehydes, esters and superior alcohols. Light rums have Spanish brandies. More often than not, these traits are obtained congeners in very low proportions, while heavy rums have them by giving the rum a full or secondary aging in Sherry casks. in considerably larger concentrations. As a reference, vodka is
Agricole rums (rhums) are traditionally those distilled in the
almost free of congeners, so the lighter a rum is, the closer it is French West Indies from sugarcane juice, but nowadays we see to becoming sugarcane vodka.
Spiced and flavored rums are produced using very light
“agricole” rums made throughout the world. These tend to have a much higher level of aromatic congeners than their non-agricole
counterparts. Since they are produced from cane juice, they can only be made during the sugarcane harvest season (cane juice does not keep well for long periods of time). “Caribbean
is another term that is
commonly used to describe rums from the Eastern Caribbean, but it fails to properly differentiate Jamaican or Guyanese rums from lighter rums such as those from Cuba and Puerto Rico. Rums from Trinidad and Tobago, for example, have a very unique taste that is derived in part from the higher alcohols and fusel oils present in their products. “Demerara
are those produced by Demerara
Distillers Limited (DDL) in Guyana, in the Demerara Valley. DDL has trademarked the name and is, therefore, the only company in the world with a rightful claim to use it. These rums are characterized for their high congener content, their careful aging and their consistency throughout the years. “Craft,” “Boutique” and “Small
terms reserved for rums produced by micro distilleries. The names imply the size of the distillation pot stills (usually between 100 and 2,500 liters). Producers of these rums like to suggest that their size allows them to pay more attention to the production of their rums. Unfortunately, some of these distillers are learning as they go along, relying on their consumers for experimentation.
Enjoying Rum Once you’ve properly identified the rum you are about to consume, pause for a second and assess its age, color and other information available through the label on the bottle. Is this a rum you should try neat or mixed? If neat, should you consume it in a snifter or in a shot glass? Should you chill it? As a rule of thumb, always try your aged rums neat first. Place them in a snifter, swirl the rum around the inside of the glass, covering the inner walls as much as possible. Then smell the aromas that evaporate and concentrate inside the bowl. Is this something you’ll enjoy “as is?” If so, you are set. If not, proceed to experiment with your favorite cocktail recipes. Chilling rum is useful when the aroma is too aggressive, as lowering the temperature will reduce its evaporation rate.
Luis Ayala is a founding member of Rum Runner Press, Inc., is President of The Rum University and publishes “Got Rum?” magazine. For more information visit www.rumrunnerpress.com or call (855) 786-8477.
Six & Twenty D
written by Chris Lozier
P h o t o g r a p h s p ro v i d e d b y S i x & Tw e n t y D i s t i l l e r y
t’s a name you will remember, with a source as local as their
History hadn’t left Farmer much of a choice. Farmer’s great-
ingredients. “Back in the mid 1700’s,” say co-founders great uncle, Lewis Redmond, was a folk hero moonshiner back
David Raad and Robert “Farmer” Redmond, “a local trader from in the mid 1800’s. Lewis’s father grew corn and made shine with Britain fell in love with a Choctaw maiden named Issaqueena. A
whatever corn they did not sell, a trade which he taught Lewis
short while later, she is captured by the Cherokee and is made at a young age. One day Federal Revenue Officers dragged drug a slave to the chief. One evening she overhears plans to attack Lewis’s father out of church and jailed him, where he died of her lover’s trading post and wanting to warn him, she escaped on
pneumonia. “Now Lewis, a teenager, was faced with taking care
a swift pony.” Along the way, Issaqueena named landmarks for
of his mother, younger brother, and sisters. He did all he knew
the distance she had traveled, one of them being Six & Twenty how to do, grow corn, make whiskey. But, he was different. He Creek. “Our still house is twenty six miles from where she began,
took the proceeds from his liquor sales and gave it to widows,
thus the name Six & Twenty Distillery.”
who lost their husbands and sons in the war, to pay the property
Raad and Farmer played rugby together at Clemson University in the 90’s. After college, Raad spent quite a bit of time in
taxes for them. He became loved by the community, much like a modern day Robin Hood,” explains Farmer.
Africa as a political consultant and helped to coordinate the
It was not long before Lewis faced the same persecution his
construction of a Miller Brewing facility in Kenya. Here, the
father had, so he and 30 other moonshiners banded together to
brewmaster introduced Raad to distilling, “first by knocking
keep their business afloat. Farmer goes on to tell, that, “After
together a make-shift still out of left over copper and stainless
three years of running from the law, they finally caught up to him
steel and then exploring the physical properties of the mystical in a corn field and shot him sixteen times. He’d have been more aqua vitae.”
famous than Billy the Kid, if he had died. Lewis Redmond was
After leaving Africa, Raad moved to Powdersville, SC, only
sentenced to ten years in a federal penitentiary in New York. Two
two miles from Farmer. At Farmer’s company Christmas party,
years into his sentence, a women’s group in Charleston, SC, the
someone bought a jar of moonshine. As fortune would have it,
Daughter of the Confederate, petitioned for the pardon of Lewis.
Farmer shared some with Raad, who said: “You know, I can make
On May 16, 1884 Redmond received a full and unconditional
this. I can make it better than this. And, I can make it legally. pardon from the President of the United States, Chester A. What do you think?”
Arthur. The pardon states it was ‘unconditional’ but I do wonder
why, upon his release, he went
As a young distillery, their product line
to work making whiskey at a
is still expanding. Along with their Virgin Wheat white whiskey,
distillery in Seneca, SC owned
Six & Twenty also offers their Blue whiskey. It is a blend of five-
government. year bourbon and their Virgin Wheat white whiskey, aged together
I guess that’s how good his
in small barrels. According to Farmer, “Blue gets its name from
the old adage of what a bride needs when she walks down the
With that kind of family aisle to ensure a successful marriage: something old, something history, it is fitting that Raad
new, something borrowed, something blue. The something old is
and Farmer make a premium white whiskey. But don’t call it our five year old, something new is our virgin wheat, something moonshine. “We market and pride ourselves on being the
borrowed is time in a barrel and the consummation is something
opposite of ‘moonshine’. Comparing ‘moonshine’ to Six & Twenty Blue.” is like comparing corn bread to Angel food cake.”
Much of their current effort is focused on informed
They credit most of their Virgin Wheat white whiskey’s flavor
experimentation. Raad is the head distiller, and believes,
and character to the ingredients. They use soft red winter wheat,
“that there are two distinct pieces of the distilling puzzle one
which is typically reserved for making sweet cakes and pastries. must possess to be considered a craft distiller. The scientific All of the wheat comes from the surrounding area. They buy as understanding of physics and the sensory side of the art.” To much as they can from Farmer’s brother, who has a seed and feed
develop his sensory technique, he attended Siebel Institute of
co-op nearby, and the rest comes from the local grain elevator. Technology and World Brewing Academy’s distilling courses in Farmer hauls the grain to South Carolina’s oldest working water Chicago. “Having an understanding of how and why a still works wheel grain mill in his pickup, helps the elderly fifth generation
is only part of the equation, being a ‘taste maker’ completes the
owner/operator and his assistant mill the wheat, then hauls the
ground wheat back to the still house.
Raad takes the distilling process seriously, and encourages
This sweet local grain isn’t the only unique ingredient in other craft distillers to do the same. “A micro-distiller pushing their flavorful whiskey, though. “We ferment near our bay door product that is inferior, or making it unsafe hurts all of us. As does and every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, we open our bay
pushing a product story that excludes to mention you’re simply
door to encourage the natural yeast in the air, the flora that is
bottling GNS and calling it handcrafted, micro-manufactured, or
Powdersville, SC, to infiltrate our mash and make it ours. We
whatever. We’ve got to come to grips with this or we’ll devalue all
emphasize that one could take our grain bill, our equipment, and of our efforts quickly.” our process to anywhere else in the country and try to duplicate
For prospective distillers, Raad and Farmer offer, “get your
our flavor and it can’t be done. Along with our Blue Ridge water
money situation worked out soonest. Planning should be about
supply and our indigenous vegetation, our flavor profile is innate a year. Have a good cash reserve. Work in a distillery as long as to Six & Twenty.”
someone will have you. Go to school on the craft and never stop
their grain, or labor, or materials and you know they’re going to spend that money at the same grocery store you shop at. This feeling goes two ways, too. We have pretty solid brand loyalty from staunch teetotalers because we use them, and they know we could go elsewhere at a lower cost. This goes back, in a way, to reaching customers and making connections, and yes, community. Folks may not drink our product, but if you buy from them, they’re probably going to talk about you hey, not many people get to deal with a distiller, and that’s pretty cool -- and anytime someone’s talking about you, you’re getting ahead.” Their website even features a page of local businesses they use. Raad and Farmer also emphasize the importance of self-promotion. They facilitate “distillery tours, retail store tastings, bar events, and just about anywhere we can bring our product. Yeah, it’s hard to do that sometimes, and different states regulate this process in different ways, but you have to do it, and you have to do it as often as you can stand.” studying. Don’t think you can make and sell spirits at the same time. It’s at least a two-man job. Revisit your numbers often and without prejudice.” They also offered advice given to them at the 2012 ADI conference, suggesting that beginning distillers should not only double their budget, but double their timeline, as well, if they want to be successful. A big factor in their success is the local community. “Sourcing as local as we can get is key to our brand presentation. It was a fundamental part of our positioning from the start. It’s not easy, and it can be expensive sometimes. Try getting 10 farmers to grow your feedstock reliably over the course of a year. That’s a
In the future, they want to continue to make great spirits by experimenting with their equipment, ingredients and techniques until they find the best combination. One of their guides in this process is customer feedback. “We have a ton of great feedback on our products all the time, but we (and I am sure everyone would agree) still get negative feedback. Some is informed, some is not, but it’s all valuable. When it’s ill-informed, we revisit our product pitch; maybe we not giving the customer what they’d expect from our presentation. When it’s informed, we listen extra closely. And when it’s from our target customers (something every distiller MUST know), we usually take notes.”
job unto itself. But then it goes to motivation: we liked it as a brand and value proposition on paper. But in practice it’s a deep- Six & Twenty Distillery in located Powdersville, SC. For more info down feeling of satisfaction when you hand someone a check for visit www.sixandtwentydistillery.com or call (864) 263-8312.
SMALL B A R R E L S,
IS WE O
S E I T I L I B I S S PO ...
he standard aging barrel for spirits
is 53 gallons. While large barrels are
barrels, Thousand Oaks offers barrel
advantageous for many reasons, they take
stands to support multiple barrels, barrel
a long time to properly age a spirit. Most
clocks, signs and other merchandise with the
whiskies aged in a large barrel will need at least 2 years to mature, with best results nearer to 6 years. Thousand Oaks Barrel Company of Manassas, Virginia offers distillers the
distillery’s logo. Weisberg says many distilleries are now selling small barrels to
potential to speed up the aging process, and spirit enthusiasts a their customers. “As new distilleries are launched, it often takes way to custom age spirits at home, with a full line of small oak months or even years to age and start selling their whiskeys. With barrels. Small barrels hold the potential to age spirits faster than larger barrels. This is because the surface area inside the barrel
a ‘Barrel Aging Kit Program,’ distilleries can release a packaged
product consisting of a 2 liter barrel with the brand’s logo on the front and 2 bottles of unaged
increases in proportion to the liquid volume as the barrel size whiskey on the first day of decreases. Therefore, smaller barrels have a higher ratio of being licensed. The surface area to volume than larger barrels. “The higher the consumer can then surface area proportionate to the volume of spirits, the faster ‘Age their Own.’ the spirit ages,” explains Thousand Oaks CEO Bryan Weisberg. “Simply put, the smaller the barrel the faster it ages.”
is unlike any
With their smallest barrel at 1 liter, a spirit can develop other program surprising flavor and color in just a few weeks. While a distiller as it makes
direct would not market this young of a spirit, it does offer spirit a enthusiasts the chance to custom age their spirits and taste the c o n n e c t i o n results relatively quickly. Fans can now purchase customized, new, charred oak barrels, from 1 liter through 5 gallons, through
Thousand Oaks directly or from the distillery. In addition to the product. The
just a fan of the spirit
participant in its creation.” Behind the counter, m Raise your glass to quality! Clear, strong, and proudly made in the USA, All American beer bottles are the obvious choice to cap off your brew. From 12 ouncers to gallon jugs, we stock styles and sizes to match any thirst – and budget. For more information so that we can service your business call 813-740-8787 or email sales@allamerican containers.com.
in house to age their first batches of brown spirits. Rather
selling their aged spirits from large barrels, distillers can purchase www.allamericancontainers.com
5 and 15 gallons. This helps offset the great cost of starting a distillery by generating sales of aged spirits within the year. Hurrying the aging process does not hurry the maturity of the spirit, either. The thickness of the staves in Thousand Oaks’ small barrels allows for adequate barrel breathing, and the oxygenation of the spirit is balanced with the oak and char flavors. Though the spirit’s age is less, its maturity is actually similar. To back up this claim, Weisberg offers, “Over the last five years, products aged in our barrels have won top honors in all the major spirit competitions throughout the U.S.” Thousand Oaks uses new American white oak for their barrels. Thousand Oaks barrels are charred traditionally, meaning wood chips are set afire inside the barrel as it is periodically turned. Their barrels typically feature a medium char although custom char levels are available depending on the customer’s needs. Weisberg emphasizes how customizable their products are, saying, “We work very closely with our clients and develop creative products and solutions. We enjoy watching our customers rapidly grow due in part to our products and our joint collaborative efforts.”
Thousand Oaks Barrel Company in located Manassas, VA. For more info visit www.1000oaksbarrel.com or call (703) 885-1483.
f the five human senses, the most misunderstood is the sense of smell. The current “shape based” theory of olfaction first appeared in 1949, and in 1991 a Nobel prize was awarded for olfactory receptor research. Social attitudes also delayed development of olfactory science. In the 1960’s, fragrances were the only specifically aromaengineered products, and men curious about aroma were labeled effeminate. Even today, for most men, olfactory appreciation begins and ends with a whiff of mom’s fresh-baked cinnamon-apple pie or a pungent sniff warning of smoke and fire. Drinking spirits neat has long been a test of virility and right of manhood, and neat female drinkers were rare, as their considerably better sense of smell led them to avoid the pain of smelling straight spirits. Attention focused on the nose as an important decision making tool with the increase in popularity of wine in the ‘60s, and the four step wine evaluation process (appearance, nose, taste, and finish) was adopted by the spirits industry. However, many mistakes have also sidetracked our understanding of the olfactory process.
THE EVOLUTION OF NOSING WRITTEN BY GEORGE MANSKA
THE SNIFTER The mystique and romance of the brandy snifter, as well as its contribution to enhanced evaporation, was a major contributor to improving international Cognac sales. Unfortunately, snifters encourage sticking the nose into the large air volume of the vessel, right into the stinging alcohol aroma. Also, evaporation could be further enhanced by flame-heating to “open-up” aromas. Snifter use declined as overheating led to many unpleasant aromas and a few burnt lips, and only a very few can stand the high ethanol concentration at the nose. A few drinkers love the quick high from heated brandies.
SWIRL OR DON’T SWIRL? Scots exporting whisky to the USA after WWII immediately determined that American noses did not have the alcohol tolerance of Brits and Europeans. The Yanks were mixing scotch with soft drinks, adding ice and water, and could not stand a whiff straight from the bottle without cringing. The remedy? Change the nosing method by not swirling when drinking neat – no swirl meant less evaporation, less nose burn and more sales. However, since one cannot smell what does not evaporate, “don’t swirl” is not an acceptable solution.
CONVERGENT RIM In another glassware design faux pas which occurred over a hundred years ago, convergent rim copita and chimney shaped glasses were adopted over more open rim vessels (tastevin, quaitch), and nosing spirits has never been the same. In the belief that glassware functions only to (1) hold a beverage while drinking, and (2) to collect all aromas near the nose, convergent rim effectiveness was never questioned. Convergent rim took hold only because it was readily available, widely used for wine, there were
no alternatives, and there were thousands of attractive shapes from which to choose.
many a flawed distillation escapes public perception because imperfections hide behind ethanol. Conversely, many a superb distillation has gone unappreciated because desirable
THE ALCOHOL PROBLEM
characteristics also hide behind ethanol.
Wine ABV (alcohol by volume) runs 7-16%, and more aromas are easily detected
90% ABV). Nose burning and numbing
is the spirits noser’s worst enemy, and it is magnified by several times when drinking from convergent rim glassware. Experts have devised many tricks to reduce burn or acclimate to it, such as adding water, ice, or stones, successive repositioning closer to the nose, wafting the hand over the glass toward the nose, and holding
Glassware design for spirits is contingent on how well the glass handles alcohol by volume (ABV) and it makes no difference whether the distilled spirit comes from corn, brandy, wheat, barley, molasses, sugar cane, agave, rye, or potatoes. Getting the alcohol out of the way so the nose can perform the job for which it was designed is the key to spiritual understanding and drinking enjoyment. It’s time for judges, connoisseurs, chefs, mixologists, and the distillers themselves to recognize that the biggest problem with spirits evaluation is the sensory numbing ethanol alcohol in the drink itself. A scientific approach easily dispels the myths and marketing mysteries surrounding spirits evaluation, and a better informed consumer will finally control market demand. After all, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
the beverage in the mouth before actually smelling. These attempts to save the nose actually decrease ALL
George Manska, Chief Research and Development of Arsilica, Inc and coinventor of the NEAT glass. For more information visit Distillers well understand the effects of ethanol, and www.theneatglass.com or call (702) 332-7163. available aromas.
HIGH SPIRITS INTERVIEW BY JASON BARRETT ||| WRITTEN BY ROCKWELL RUTTER ||| PHOTOGRAPHS BY BLIGH GILLIES
very distiller has a unique background, but few are as combining science and technology but with distilling it still is an unique as David Monahan. He’s spent his early career art, as well. Plus, I have always loved cooking so everything just
working in various hi-tech companies, which was a great fit sort of all came together with distilling over the last few years.” considering his engineering education (David holds a Ph.D from Even for a well-connected guy like David, though, getting into the Purdue University in Industrial Engineering). More than just an business wasn’t easy. He still had to go through the same legal engineer, however, David has also worked in marketing roles and financing issues as everyone else. In fact, it took David well for such industry giants as Hewlett-Packard, not to mention he over a year just to get through the DSP licensing process. helped co-found a pre-manufactured,
Now that Feisty Spirits is up and
sustainable housing company called
running, David is creating some pretty
Better Building Systems. Now he’s
interesting products in the distillery.
branching out into a very different
For example, his Blue Corn Bourbon
industry with his new company, Feisty
uses a blue corn strain, which leaves
the end result with a more scotch-
How does a multi-talented man
like profile. He’s also experimenting
like David get into craft distilling,
with flavored oat whiskies like his
anyway? According to him, “You find
a great business partner, surround
options. His love of the industry
yourself with good people, and use
extends farther than just the products,
the best ingredients.” David and co-
however. David says, “There are a lot
founder Jamie Gulden share a high-
of opportunities for creativity in craft
spirits. I also like being in a business
tech background, an entrepreneurial instinct and a fondness for good craft
PHOTO BY DESIRÉE INC
where folks are friendly to each other.
whiskey. And it doesn’t hurt to live in the middle of Colorado’s You can call another craft distillery and they will actually call you thriving craft beer industry, which inspired David and Jamie to back and help you work through what is holding you up. Plus, in launch the first craft distillery in Fort Collins. David says, “Living what other job do you get to taste whiskey all day?” in Colorado we have a lot of craft beer. I have always liked
The rest of the community is following suit. According to
David, the town of Fort Collins, where Feisty Spirits is located, has welcomed him with open arms. “It’s a great city to be in and there is always something exciting going on in the craft beverage world,” he says. “With all the microbreweries in Fort Collins there is a lot of opportunity for cross industry collaboration. We are talking to several craft breweries about what they can mash for us, or if we can take finished beer from them and make whiskey
a little of what we do.
from it.” Going forward, David plans to make Feisty Spirits a national brand. In the meantime, his main goal is to keep having fun and pushing the envelope of what makes a good whiskey. “I spend a lot of time talking with the TTB about what they will and will not accept in terms of recipes and ingredients,” laughs David.
Most of our readers will agree that learning from the successes of those who have gone before us is a good strategy as we try to build our own brands. Paying close attention to someone as universally-successful as David may mean the difference between a prosperous operation and a defunct one. When asked if David had any advice for new entrants to the industry, he had this to say: “It’s never too early to start networking with others in the industry; folks will share if you ask politely. Also good, long discussions with TTB taught us tons; you don’t have to be afraid of the regulators. It’s much better to work with them than run from them. It’s also important as a business owner to put your ego aside and learn to ask for help when you need it. Just be respectful of their time, though, don’t go overboard.” David clearly knows his stuff when it comes to making it in the business world. As time passes and craft distilling matures, we can’t image what he’ll come out with next.
Fiesty Spirits Distillery in located Fort Collins, CO. For more info visit www.feistyspirits.com or call (970) 444-2386.
RITE ENGINEERING & MANUFACTURING with
H O W - T O
THIS IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES DESIGNED TO SHOWCASE ANALYTICAL, DATA-DRIVEN CONTENT. THE SERIES WILL SHOWCASE SOME OF THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS DISTILLERS HAVE FOR SUPPLIERS. THE GOAL IS TO COVER INFORMATION RANGING FROM BEGINNERS TO ESTABLISHED AND EXPERIENCED DSPS. WE HAVE BEEN REACHING OUT TO SUPPLIERS TO FIND OUT WHAT KIND OF QUESTIONS THEY RECEIVE, AND TO HELP US PROVIDE ANSWERS AND INSIGHT INTO A SPECIFIC RANGE OF TOPICS. OUR FIRST INSTALLMENT COMES TO US FROM THE GOOD FOLKS AT RITE-BOILER, ONE OF THE INDUSTRY’S LEADING MANUFACTURERS OF BOILER EQUIPMENT SINCE 1952.
I NEED A STEAM BOILER FOR MY DISTILLERY. DO I NEED A LOW PRESSURE STEAM BOILER OR A HIGH PRESSURE STEAM BOILER?
PSI the safety high pressure switch (called the high limit) will open and at 15 PSI the relief valve will open. A high pressure steam boiler is a Section I boiler and they are usually stamped for
Ask the company providing the distilling equipment, or look at
100, 125 or 150 PSI. They are more expensive than low pressure
the pressure rating of the equipment using the steam. MAWP
steam boilers and they require higher standards of
= maximum allowable working pressure. If it’s installation and monitoring than low 15 PSI then a low pressure steam boiler is all pressure steam boilers. you need. If the kettles are rated over 15 PSI then high pressure steam will boil your product faster.
DOES THE BOILER REQUIRE OTHER EQUIPMENT? Yes. You will need the following:
WHY IS THAT?
A condensate return tank/
There is a direct correlation between steam feed set (see Figure 1). A pressure and temperature. In the Steam Tables blow-down tank (Fig. 2). you find that 10 PSI steam equals 240 F. 15
A water softener (Fig. 3).
PSI steam equals 250 F. 100 PSI steam equals
A chemical feed system (Fig
338 F. 125 PSI steam equals 353 F.
4) and possibly a condensate
transfer tank (Fig 5).
WHAT ARE THE OTHER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A LOW PRESSURE AND A HIGH PRESSURE BOILER I SHOULD KNOW?
DOES THE BOILER NEED TO BE INSTALLED IN A “BOILER ROOM”?
A low pressure steam boiler is an ASME Code This is an important question because in some cases the boiler Section IV Boiler stamped for 15 PSI. It can be may be installed “in the open” of a large room. Ask the architect operated up to 13- 14 PSI maximum; at 14+
and installing contractor if this is possible, since the addition of
a one hour rated boiler room can add
6). A power burner uses an electric motor and
thousands of dollars to the job. If in
blower wheel to supply the combustion
doubt, contact your local Building and
air and a diffuser plate to swirl the
mixture (see Fig. 7).
CAN THE BOILER BE INSTALLED OUTDOORS?
IS A POWER BURNER MORE FUEL EFFICIENT THAN AN ATMOSPHERIC?
Horsepower the answer would be
‘yes,’ since most larger boilers
models that are
operate with high-low or modulation
firing. A power burner can control the
excess air while an atmospheric boiler
can be installed
cannot. That said, the excess air of an
on-off fired atmospheric boiler will not
Once you get above 50 Boiler
be much different from an on-off power burner fired boiler, so
Outdoor boilers can save valuable indoor space and don’t require
for smaller distillery boilers, the efficiency difference may be
an enclosure. They are generally limited to moderate climates
and not areas that experience snow or freeze. Always check with the manufacturer first before ordering an outdoor boiler.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT FUEL OPTIONS? Natural gas, if available, would be the best option costwise. If not, propane and diesel (#2 oil) would be the
I NEED A STEAM BOILER THAT IS LESS THAN 50 BOILER HORSEPOWER. WHAT ARE THE OTHER ADVANTAGES OF ATMOSPHERIC OVER POWER BURNER?
other two options. Some manufacturers also offer electric
boilers, but the cost of electricity usually makes them very
boilers are so
expensive to operate.
quiet that you can
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ATMOSPHERIC BURNER AND A POWER, OR “JET” BURNER? An atmospheric gas burner requires no electric motor. It uses
right next to them and not know if they
are firing or not.
the venturi principle to mix combustion air with the gas (see Fig.
I HEAR A LOT ABOUT BOILER EFFICIENCY. WHAT SHOULD I BE LOOKING FOR?
There is no burner motor so there is almost no electrical load. Every time there is a call
for steam, the atmospheric
approximately 80% efficient – which most
will start firing immediately,
boilers are to begin with. But more important
whereas the power burner
is choosing a boiler that can be easily cleaned.
will undergo a forced draft
Most process steam boilers will experience
pre-purge first and continue
waterside scaling at some point. There is
to lose pressure for up to
simply no way around it. If a boiler is designed
to be opened up to remove this scale, then
it stands to reason that the efficiency can be
maintained for life. If not, the efficiency will
than gas pressure, so once
the regulator is set (using
ARE THERE OTHER THINGS I CAN DO TO INCREASE BOILER EFFICIENCY?
a screwdriver) no further annual burner “tune-ups” are required. And the capital cost
Keeping the heating surfaces clean is by far the most important
of an atmospheric boiler is generally thousands of dollars less
thing. For atmospheric boilers, an automatic stack damper
than a power burner fired boiler.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A POWER BURNER OVER ATMOSPHERIC IN THIS SIZE RANGE? Altitude and fuel choices. Above 2000
will save energy by preventing heat from escaping during off cycles. Things like oxygen trim sensors, linkageless burners and stack economizers are generally not cost effective for boilers less
feet elevation, atmospherics are de-rated
than 100 horsepower. Make sure
by 4% for every 1000 feet. At 5000 feet,
the boiler is drafting properly – too
a 20 horsepower atmospheric will
much draft wastes fuel. The steam
actually be 15-16 horsepower. The
supply and condensate return lines
higher the altitude, the more cost
should be well insulated.
competitive power burner fired boilers become. Diesel can only be burned with a power burner and propane, on larger units especially, is generally better burned in a power burner than atmospheric.
Rite Engineering & Manufacturing is located in Commerce, CA. For more information visit www.riteboiler.com or call (562) 862-2135.
f o o r p T I R I P S F O
TER RISTEN LL RUT JOY CH E A W D K N C A O M N BY R S BY A PHOTO WRITTE
here’s a lot that goes into making an industry event successful: months of preplanning, endless phone
calls looking for sponsors, managing an ever-growing list of vendors - it can be overwhelming to even the most experienced event planner. When it all comes together, however, the lasting benefits made available to the public and to the industry are worth every moment. That’s exactly what happened on June 15 at PROOF Washington. In the wake of other successful events like Colorado’s DStill and Oregon’s TOAST, the Washington Distillers Guild set out to create an event that would showcase the best the craft distilling industry had to offer in Washington State. Held in a renovated copper and steel manufacturing plant called, “The Foundry,” just south of the acclaimed Sodo Park in Seattle, WA, PROOF gave distilleries both young and old the chance to shine for crowds of up to 600 people. The cavernous space was split into two rooms, each holding table after table of the distillers’ finest spirits. Attendees could find their old favorites like Dry Fly and OOLA, as well as new kids on the block like 3 Howls and 2 Bar. In addition to the 40 industry participants, there were 10 food vendors offering bite-sized portions of some of Seattle’s best culinary delights. While PROOF organizers originally planned for the event to last a single afternoon, public response was so great they decided to offer two separate sessions. Splitting the event allowed distillers to spend more one-on-one time with their fans and other enthusiasts. Any experienced distiller will tell you that this kind of interaction with the community is paramount when
you’re building a brand, which made vendor participation in PROOF all the more important. When attendees weren’t sampling away and swapping stories with the distillers, they could be found at a number of short seminar events held in a special education room at the Foundry. Here they could learn from industry greats like Rusty Figgins (Industry Prophecy), Kirby Kallas-Lewis (All About Bourbon), and Cory Duffy (Liqueurs 101). These short 30-40 minute sessions offered yet another chance for distillers to communicate with fans, and also gave attendees the opportunity to broaden their understanding and appreciation of the craft distilling industry. Perhaps the best part of the whole event was the tax-free liquor store located right onsite. Since PROOF is owned by the Washington Distillers Guild (a non-profit organization), attendees were able to purchase bottles of the spirits they had just sampled without paying the hefty state sales tax. PROOF cannot release their sales figures, but judging by the consistently long line at the counter, it is safe to assume that each participating distillery went home with money in their pockets. Overall the event was a resounding success for all those involved. Distilleries were able to not only get great exposure for their brands in front of hundreds of excited enthusiasts, but were also able to spend time with them, building relationships and forging real bonds. The Washington Distillers Guild proved that there is overwhelming support for craft distilling in the area and they’re already planning on how to make next year’s event even better. The real winners, though, were the fans. They got the chance to meet the makers of brands they already love, and the chance to expand their palates with new flavors and new spirits they’d otherwise never find. If PROOF is any indication, here in the infancy of this industry, we can look forward to many more events designed to show our true proof of spirit.
Visit www.proofwashington.org for more info.
A pile of barrels at Feisty Spirits Distillery. Read their story on page 47. Photo by Bligh Gillies
ADVERTISER index BARREL COATING Agra Marketing Group
CREAM LIQUEURS 6 & 19
DESIGN, BRANDING & MERCHANDISING
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GUILD ORGANIZATIONS 16
American Craft Distillers Assoc.
6 & 13
St. Louis Litho
GNS & BULK SPIRITS SUPPLIERS DISTILLERS
BOILERS Rite Boiler
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Bruni Glass Packaging O-I
CORKS & CLOSURES Jelinek Cork Group
21 7, 15, & 44
PACKAGING All American Containers, Inc.
Global Package/Estal Packaging
EDUCATION Artisan Craft Distilling University
26 6 & 56
7 & 15
DISTILLING EQUIPMENT Artisan Still Design
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TOTES & TANKS Custom Metalcraft
GLASSWARE NEAT Glass
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YOUR FRIENDS AT JACK DANIEL’S REMIND YOU TO DRINK RESPONSIBLY.
703 W. 7th Ave. Suite 220 Spokane, WA 99204
“Glass is essential to ensure the unique characteristics of Jack Daniel’s. Jack’s guiding words were ‘Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.’ That’s a big reason we bottle in glass.” – Jeff Arnett
Master Distiller, The Jack Daniel Distillery
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.