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SUMMER 2014

REPORT 2014 CONVENTION ADDRESSING THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM:

WHAT is CRAFT? when the TAX

MAN COMES A-CALLIN’ what if

?

YOUR BABY IS UGLY

BREAKING the BOURBON CEILING Dames of Distilling


Brand Design for the Spirits, Wine and Beer Industries.

DESIGN FOR PACKAGING, LOGOS, CUSTOM BOTTLES, COLLATERAL, SIGNAGE, WEBSITES & NAMING 2787 napa valley corporate dr, napa, california 94558 t | 707 265 1891 www.cfnapa.com


56

28

80

TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

8

...AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

10

American Craft Distillers Association

COPING WITH A TTB AUDIT

12

60

GOING FOR GOLD

64

17

BECAUSE ACCURACY MATTERS

66

Determining ethanol concentration

TIPS FROM A DISTILLER’S BEST FRIEND

21

An interview from the front lines of the craft cocktail scene

COLUMNS & TRAYS

25

THE ART OF A FRENCH COOPERAGE

MONTGOMERY DISTILLERY

68

of Missoula, Montana

Johnny’s Art & Science of Distillation Column

28

A journey from seed to barrel

WHAT IF YOUR BABY IS UGLY

72

The why and why not of entering your spirits in judging competitions

WOODINVILLE WHISKEY

75

of Woodinville, Washington

SUPPLY & DEMAND

32

Small-scale still builders

FLAVOR & AROMA

78

Yeast’s impact on distilling

A WESTERN DISTILLERY ROAD TRIP

35

Stories from the Trail

VIVACITY SPIRITS

80

of Corvallis, Oregon

TRAILHEAD SPIRITS

38

of Billings, Montana

2014 CONVENTION REPORT

42

Organizers, exhibitors and attendees supply reviews

BLUE FLAME/WHITE RIVER BREAKING THE BOURBON CEILING

FORGET THE BOSTON TEA PARTY

82

There’s a revolution in beer & wine that spirits can benchmark

THE VITAL ROLE OF THE BOTTLE CLOSURE 84 48

An example of contract distilling

from the COVER

WHAT IS CRAFT?

Aria Gin of Portland, Oregon

A word from John McKee

Dames of distilling

of Buena Vista, Colorado

The answer may not be so black and white

Prepare for guests you hope never come

FOCUS ON THE SECOND BOTTLE

DEERHAMMER56

Put a cork in it

SAFETY FIRST 51

87

Because we want y’all to stick around

ADVERTISER INDEX

Trailhead Spirits in Billings, Montana. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen. See their story on page 38.

90


Issue 7 Summer 2014 Publisher & Editor

Brian Christensen

Creative Director

Amanda Joy Christensen

Photographers

Amanda Joy Christensen Andrea Hutchinson Carl Murray François Poincet Roxanne Smyer

   

Contributors

Allison Armfield Christine Bachler Amber G. Christensen-Smith Nicholas Groseclose Siegfried Hold Johnny Jeffery Sonny Jelinek Nicholas Keeler Chris Lozier Neal MacDonald Rachael McIntosh John McKee Neva Parker Steven Seim Kellie Shevlin Marc E. Sorini

              

Sales & Marketing

Ashley Monroe

ARTISAN SPIRIT is the endorsed publication of the American Craft Distillers Association. ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine General Inquiries (509) 944-5919

twitter.com/ArtisanSpiritM Advertising (509) 991-8112

PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223 All contents © 2014. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Spirit Media 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.


THIS IS AN INDUSTRY OF HARDWORKERS WE’RE PROUD TO SERVE. It’s full of incredible entrepreneurs striving to build lasting companies. Our team at Artisan Spirit Magazine is continually inspired by your drive and asked our sponsors to share their own stories of inspiration...

We are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel ourselves, so being a part of this industry is constantly driving us to strive to be better and continue to make quality products. Our customers are so diverse ranging from every corner of the U.S. and everywhere in between. Young and young at heart, urban & rural, and from many walks of life, and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them brings something different and intriguing to the table. We can’t begin to name names because they is no “norm” anymore, and it is fantastic. – Heidi Karasch

What makes the Craft Distilling Industry unique is innovative people from diverse backgrounds coming together and pooling their intellectual resources, resulting in a renaissance of a grand old industry. Being a part of this creative revolution full of passionate people has inspired our company to innovate and develop new distillery product lines in order to elevate the craft distillery brand. Our company is committed to assisting Craft Distilleries every step of the way. – Janie Cantrell

ILL DIST D PRO BY

ERY

S UCT

L AS

ER-O

N

It is extremely inspiring to witness the level of effort that goes into creating and growing a craft brand. There is a story behind every one of them and the creativity and effort that specifically goes into telling this story has a direct impact on their success. One example, Louisiana Spirits, placed no limits on ensuring that Bayou Rum would be highly recognized. They challenged Fort Dearborn, along with BRZoom, Vitro and Tapi to break past the standard boundaries to create a package that inspired people to learn more about their brand. Efforts like these continue to introduce new possibilities to the industry as a whole. – Jack Vogel

In my job I speak with a different distiller nearly every day, and each distiller I talk to approaches the art of distilling in their own way, but they all have a common dream; to craft fine spirits. It is this dream that leads to innovation in all aspects of the distilling process. This attitude is contagious, and drives us at G&D Chillers to constantly push the envelope, and relentlessly rethink the distillery cooling process. – Paul Johnson

Our graduates inspire us. This industry is uniquely demanding, physically, mentally, and financially. It takes a tenacious drive and fierce passion to get your business rolling. The entrepreneurs we meet, the distillers that are four or five years in, even the masters who have done this most of their lives, they all have it, that tenacity. Being a part of their story is a privilege for us. – Colleen Rice

6 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Our mission at ARTISAN SPIRIT is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. We are humbled by the support of our sponsors. With their help, we We work with many great distillers whose passion and dedication can further our common goals to quality make it exciting to be part of their journey. For example, we of supporting creativity, helped Wilderness Trail Distillery, the first distillery in Danville, Ky., bring innovation, and integrity their Blue Heron Vodka to market quickly in our Crescendo bottle. Now, they have within the industry asked us to help build on the vodka’s award-winning image with an upgrade from PSL to ACL in-house decoration. They continue to impress us with their ability to live up to we all love so their motto, “We are not interested in making the most, just the best.” – Danielle Catley much.

TAPI USA sells to almost 300 Craft Artisan Distilleries in the United States. Across the board their drive, spirit and dedication to furthering this industry is unmatched in American business today. Entrepreneurs like Tom Mooney, Rory Donovan, Olin Sorenson and Ralph Erenzo have stepped up to take leadership roles in the industry, inspiring us to do the same. Creative people like Jordan Via, Melkon Khosrovian, Yuseff Cherney and Troy Ball push the boundaries of our supply chain, driving us to be innovative. And certainly there are a variety of characters that make the industry fun….well, you know….most of them. – Kevin Dunbar

Steve Beam of Limestone Branch. Yup, Beam, as in Jim ‘Beam’. Steve is one of the hardest working guys I know. With all of his legacy and background, he is incredibly humble, and rolls up his sleeves on EVERY activity. From working the stills, to ringing up a t-shirt, to conducting a store tasting on the weekend, Steve does it all. He is a reminder to me just how hard our clients work, and how all of us at TBSG owe it to them to work just as hard. – Scott Schiller

Craft Distilling is a great industry, with great people. What we really enjoy is helping out with the birth of so many new companies and brands, all of which will be special in some way. Getting to share the enthusiasm of fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and entrepreneurs, all dreaming about filling that first barrel, or reviving their 5th generation family brand, is what it’s all about. It is a privilege to get to be a part of our customers’ dreams. – Rob Sherman

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 7


A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Only a complete ingrate would complain about having the opportunity to travel the country meeting distillers and tasting spirits... For me, the decision to leave

But I’ll be damned if convention season

1

isn’t exhausting. Denver, Seattle, New York,

home has gotten a lot easier. The

San Jose, and numerous craft distilleries

opportunity to interact, collaborate,

along the way.

experience, and learn is just too

The travel may have been brutal, but

enticing. We will continue to attend

every mile proved worth it. The opportunity

as many events, expos, conventions and shows as we can.

for distillers and industry professionals to meet, share, laugh, and learn

In the spirit of getting out there

at the growing list of annual

and interacting with our craft

conventions and expos is an

distilling community, this issue

exciting experience to be a part

of

of. It’s also a little daunting.

dedicated to Jack Joyce who once

That why instead of simply

shared with me, “Join everything,

showcasing one point of view,

misery loves company.”

we decided to share multiple

3

perspectives and experiences at this year’s craft spirits events (page 42) . I know it’s

Artisan

Spirit

Magazine

is

Jack believed in this magazine before we believed in ourselves and lent encouragement when it was

2

needed the most. He was a shining example

not easy leaving your family/

of the welcoming spirit this industry has

stills behind, so I hope that it proves

revealed itself to have. I can’t express how lucky we have been

useful as you decide which events and

to meet and befriend the heroes of this

shows to attend next year.

industry. And to one of those heroes, thanks

What exactly should you do at one of

Jack, we miss you already.

these conferences? Most of it is pretty self-evident. Walk the show floor, attend some classes, you know the routine. My

4

advice: Focus on the people. Meet other distillers, talk to suppliers, sit at a table with strangers, and Brian Christensen

chat up the person you are sharing an elevator ride with. We all share a sincere interest and common passion/obsession with distilling. You will most likely make a few great friends along

CALL:

the way.

EMAIL:

brian@artisanspiritmag.com

WRITE: 

PO Box 31494 Spokane, WA 99223

1 2 3 4

(509) 944-5919

Finally meeting our regular contributor Marc Sorini was a thrill. Read his latest legal article on PAGE 12 . Emceeing the awards ceremony at American Craft Distillers Association’s inaugural convention was an honor. Read the results on PAGE 10 . Our creative director, Amanda Joy Christensen, took the long way to convention PAGE 35 . Here she is interviewing Montgomery Distillery PAGE 68 . New Artisan Spirit contributor, John McKee, gave our team a quick distillation lesson during dinner at convention. Read his article on PAGE 17 .

8 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


...and the

AWARD GOES TO...

We are pleased to publish the results of American Craft Distillers Association’s inaugural Judging Competition alongside a few words from this year’s Judging Commitee Co-Chairs, Dave Pickerell and Ted Huber. Congratulations to all the winners, and we eagerly look forward to what 2015’s competition will have to offer. — Artisan Spirit Magazine

BEST IN SHOW TED HUBER:

BALCONES CASK STRENGTH TRUE BLUE CORN WHISKEY BEST CLASS

The winners

should

feel

very

proud

to

receive

an

award

from

the

IN

WHISKEY

the quality lineup of judges and the overall integrity of the competition. The ACDA team that protocols were established, maintained,

and

followed

dozens. This year, there were a

SAN JUAN ISLAND DISTILLERY

off and running! The dates are

Apple Brandy

being established, judges are being secured, and some minor

GIN

CAPTIVE SPIRITS Bourbon Barreled Big Gin

adjustments are being made with the advisory board to ensure another successful competition.

want to miss.

MOONSHINE

BRANDY

Next year’s event is already

proud to be a part of and will not

In the beginning, there were only

a

couple

of

straight

whiskies entered; now, there are substantial number of entrants that compared favorably with anything the more established

competition.

that all artisan distillers will be

in craft spirits competitions.

BALCONES Cask Strength True Blue Corn Whiskey DARK CORNER DISTILLERY Moonshine

through from all aspects of the

This is sure to be a competition

impressed with the improvement year after year of the entrants

ACDA competition because of

works very diligently to ensure

DAVE PICKERELL: I have been

RUM

LOUISIANA SPIRITS DISTILLERY

For the full list of ACDA winners visit

Spiced Bayou Rum

and larger companies have to offer. Every judge was impressed with the quality of the spirits presented. I find that the entries give indication of the direction that the spirits market in the U.S. is headed, since the epicenter of innovation is found at the craft level. The explosion of entries in the gin and malt whiskey categories

was

of

particular

interest to me.

www.americancraftdistillers.org/craft-spirits-judging-results.html

10 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


COPING WITH A TTB AUDIT BY MARC E. SORINI

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 includes distribution agreements, distribution counseling and litigation, product formulation, labeling, promotional compliance, compliance strategy, and federal and state tax and trade practice enforcement defense.

requirements flow from two primary sources. The first, TTB’s tax regulations arise from the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) – the same set of laws that impose the income tax. The laws (“statutes” in lawyer-speak) related

to the excise tax on alcohol are found in Chapter 51 of the IRC, beginning with Section 5001, which imposes the $13.50 per

F

ew words strike fear into the hearts of modern western proof gallon tax on distilled spirits. But like most laws today, IRC professionals like the word “audit.” Unless you are a lawyer excise tax provisions are the source of even more lengthy and

or accountant, very few sentences involving the word audit (like detailed regulations contained in the Title of the Code of Federal the words subpoena, indictment and lawsuit) mean good things Regulations (Title 27) and dedicated to TTB operations. More are on their way. For most American taxpayers (other than large specifically, “Part 19” of TTB’s regulations address domestic corporations and the super-wealthy), an audit is a rare occurrence distillery operations, although several other Parts supply relevant many will never face. But distillers are not ordinary taxpayers – each distilled spirits

regulations that may apply to distillers. The second primary source of TTB’s authority flows from the

plant is an engine of revenue for the federal government through Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act). The FAA Act, the $13.50 per “proof gallon” excise tax paid on distilled spirits too, has been subject to regulations. The most important to removed for consumption or sale in the United States. (As most distillers are found in Part 1 of TTB’s regulations, governing readers know, a “proof gallon” is one gallon of spirits at 50% federal permitting, and Part 5 of TTB’s regulations, governing alcohol by volume.) These taxes apply in addition to the usual the labeling and advertising of distilled spirits. panoply of corporate income and other taxes every business pays,

Mirroring these twin sources of legal authority, TTB audits

without even mentioning state (and sometimes local) excise come in two “flavors,” although they are often combined. The taxes also imposed on distilled spirits.

most common TTB audit focus is a revenue audit focused on

All this means relatively numerous audits by the federal Alcohol tax (IRC) issues. TTB also conducts product integrity audits that & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB), which collects the federal focus on labeling and related FAA Act regulatory issues. TTB excise tax on spirits. But a TTB audit need not be a catastrophic often (but not always) conducts revenue and product integrity ordeal. With preparation and some understanding of the process, audits. the experience can be tolerable and, perhaps, even beneficial by assisting your distillery in compliance with TTB’s complex web

THE KNOCK AT THE DOOR The TTB audit process kicks off with TTB’s transmission of an

of regulations.

PREPARING FOR COMPANY

“engagement letter” to the industry member subject to the audit. Mostly a form letter, the engagement letter briefly describes the

Obviously, the best way to cope with an audit is to operate audit process, provides a proposed start date, identifies the TTB your distillery in compliance with TTB requirements. These personnel involved, and lists the records TTB personnel would

12 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


like compiled for its review when they arrive. TTB personnel also of privileged materials from all outside parties, even TTB. Thus, want a guided tour of the distillery and a quiet, isolated room files containing confidential communications between the with internet access where they can work on-site during the audit distillery and its lawyers, or persons acting under the direction process.

of its lawyers, should never be provided to TTB. Turning over

Accommodating TTB during the audit starts as a matter of such documents risks a “waiver” of the privilege, meaning that courtesy and professionalism. Moreover, truthfulness and the entire subject matter (not just the document disclosed) accuracy are paramount. Never lie to a TTB official, as doing so may become non-confidential and discoverable in any later can have severe legal consequences to both the company and proceeding. The subjects of privilege and the related concept of the individual. In the same vein, it is important for people to attorney “work product” are complicated, and distillers should understand that they should not speculate when speaking with consult with their attorneys before turning over anything that TTB officials. Most people usually try to please, and it is natural might possibly qualify for such confidentiality protections. to try to fill in details and speculate about facts when answering

During the course of an audit, TTB Auditors or Inspectors

questions. Distillery personnel should resist this urge and only may ask distillery personnel to sign certain documents. While answer questions asked in the most truthful and factual way always maintaining a polite and professional relationship possible. There is nothing wrong with telling a TTB Auditor or with TTB, recognize that signing documents can have serious Inspector that you are not sure of an answer and need to check legal consequences. For example, a document TTB Auditors with others in the company.

YOUR ROLE AS HOST

sometimes ask distillery officials to execute waives the IRC’s normal “statute of limitations” – the law that puts a three-year time limit on tax

During an audit, a distiller must remain focused and ensure assessments. While there may be good that the company speaks with one voice. Before the audit starts, reasons to agree to such a request designate a single person to act as TTB’s initial point-of-contact from TTB, the decision needs to be for all audit matters. Designate someone with enough time to made after careful thought, ideally respond to what can be a slew of questions and emails, but with with the help of experienced legal an understanding of the distillery’s operations and its compliance counsel. aspects. Of course, TTB can speak with others at the distillery,

Similarly, agreeing to any but maintaining a single initial point of contact and having conclusions presented by TTB can that person present in all substantive conversations helps keep have severe legal consequences control over the process. And as a housekeeping measure, the in the future. While TTB is point-of-contact should possess a Power-of-Attorney (TTB Form entitled to receive truthful answers 5000.8) or Corporate Signature Authority (TTB Form 5000.1) to to factual questions, they are not deal with TTB on behalf of the company. entitled to demand confirmation of While most issues do not give rise to later disputes with tax or legal conclusions. Never admit TTB, if they do you will want to know what evidence TTB has anything that sounds like a legal conclusion in its possession. For this reason, while TTB has the right to (“would you say Mr. Smith did this willfully?”), review and make copies of virtually all distillery records (with at least without consulting with a lawyer first. the significant exception of any privileged communications), the Depending on the size of the distillery, the size of TTB’s distillery should know what documents TTB has reviewed and audit team, and the complexity of any issues encountered, copied. With very few exceptions, TTB should not take original TTB personnel may work on-site at the distillery for a few days records from the distillery premises. If TTB asks to take photos, or several weeks, and in rare cases even longer. Today, TTB ensure that you also photograph the area(s) of interest to the TTB personnel often also work off-site (presumably at their offices) Auditor or Inspector. Similarly, should TTB take samples of, for for some part of the audit before it “closes.” example, a particular batch of spirits for later testing, the distillery should preserve one or more samples for its own testing in case

THE LONG GOODBYE

a dispute arises with respect to the test results found by TTB.

The audit process generally ends with a “closing conference”

As noted above, it is important to preserve the confidentiality between members of the TTB audit team and distillery

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 13


management. In the closing conference, TTB presents the distillery with its finding. TTB does this orally, but often also provides a rough discussion outline of issues found and corrective actions recommended. In many cases, TTB officials will already have communicated some or all findings and conclusions to distillery personnel during the course of the audit, and the distillery may already have corrected, or at least started to correct, any problems found by the audit. Following the closing conference, TTB generally follows up with a letter setting forth its findings. In the case of a revenue audit, the letter will detail any tax adjustments (i.e., overpayments and underpayments), compliance violations, and “control weaknesses� that do not violate any regulation, but that TTB officials believe can lead to revenue problems in the future. In the case of a product integrity audit, the letter will catalogue any

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FAA Act violations found. Where an audit covers both elements, TTB typically sends the company two separate letters. The letter(s) from TTB give the distillery an opportunity to respond and comment on the audit findings. But the response Anton PaarÂŽ USA

Tel: +1 (804) 550-1051 Fax: +1 (804) 550-1057 info.us@anton-paar.com www.anton-paar.com @WhatsAPNews

process itself is a complex subject – an art – that varies highly with circumstances and issues found. As such, it is best left for another day. Of course, each audit is different and exceptional circumstances may disrupt the orderly flow of the audit process described

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above. If, for example, TTB believes it has found severe tax and/or compliance issues during the course of the audit, it may demand immediate corrective action before operations at the distillery can continue. While rare, these circumstances are not unheard of.

.....

What every reader should notice by now is that this article says nothing about the actual substantive rules TTB will check during the course of their audit. To summarize those rules would require its own book (TTB’s Part 19 distillery regulations alone take up 143 pages of the Code of Federal Regulations). But, of course, compliance with the laws and regulations administered by TTB is the best way to ensure that an audit passes by smoothly and without undue stress. Nevertheless, understanding the process can help distillers put their best foot forward and avoid unnecessary fretting about what is, in the end, an inevitable part of the highly-regulated distilling business.

Ĺ­KFMJOFLDPN

Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Nothing in this article should be construed as or used as a substitute for legal advice. For more info visit www.mwe.com/Marc-E-Sorini or call (202) 756-8284.

14†WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Welcome to the New Tradition of

Craft

Distilling

General Inquiries info@artisanstilldesign.com Indiana eric@sugarcreekspirits.com 317.426.6005

South Carolina farmer@sixandtwentydistillery.com 864.320.4803 Colorado kristian@dpdistillery.com 970.744.8148

Washington brian@blueflamespirits.com 509.778.4036 Missouri chris@madbuffalodistillery.com 423.457.9809

w w w.ar tisanstilldesign.com


A

N E K WA

S E S N E S YOUR

of smell e s n e s om the r f s e com r o v a l of f % 5 9

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FOCUS ON THE

SECOND W

hen people come to us looking for information and

BOTTLE

advice about starting a distillery, we always start the conversation with

WRITTEN BY JOHN MCKEE

some tough love. We’ve got the talking points down: production capacity vs. debt service and the cost of undersizing equipment or

move to the background. If a rising tide lifts all ships, then surely the inverse is true as well. A receding tide may strand all ships. The importance of this concept is

not limited to your brand but crosses through a customer’s impression of micro distilling as an industry.

square footage. Then we move into the joy of the job and why

Giving a customer a poor or unremarkable experience with your

it resonates so greatly with us, and we end with the advice that

brand can carry through to their next spirits purchase. I can’t

we feel is most critical: In all aspects of the company, focus on

count the number of transactions Headframe Spirits has had in

selling the customer a second bottle.

the last two years where the first question from the bar manager,

One of the things we, and other players in the micro distilling

liquor store owner, distributor or retail consumer is, “It doesn’t

industry, consistently observe is the critical need for strong

taste like that stuff from (insert other micro distillery name here)

production controls. Consumers expect that they’ll have a

does it?” or “You’re not charging more than this great 12 year

consistent experience between their first bottle of Maker’s Mark

Irish for something aged 6 months are you?” The ripple effects of

Whiskey, Absolut Vodka or Beefeater Gin and the second, even

customer perception extend much further than the pebble drop

when purchased years apart. The standards of identity were

your brand left on their minds and palates.

developed in support of this very concept. Micro distilleries have so many details to worry about – did

Exacting standards, attention to detail, a strong focus on quality control and the knowledge that it may be ultimately

the closures show up, will the bottling party put the labels on

less expensive to dump a batch down the drain than it is to put

the right way, can we get product into bottles – and sold – in

underwhelming or just plain bad product out in the market are

time to finish paying for those bottles – that they often wind up

things we learn along the way. Some of those lessons are learned

taking the customer for granted. Here’s the caution: If you’re

easier than others. More importantly, some are more recoverable

not concentrating on the reason the customer will be a repeat

than others. Unfortunately, the lessons each of us have to learn

customer, it may be the last bottle you sell to that consumer or

are repeated by damn near all of the players in our industry.

that account.

Selling the second bottle is a sign of a job well done, by you

Reasons for failing to achieve that second sale include quality, and by your competition. It raises the profile not only of your price, brand recognition, market saturation, pressure from larger

distillery but of the industry as a whole. It’s a demonstration of

brands, trends and a host of others. Those of us in distilling

quality, of hitting an appropriate price point, of great storytelling

have all seen examples of the above and if you track online

and often of local pride as well. For the larger players in our newly

forums where industry players discuss topics like this one, you’ll

emerging national industry, these sales are often of national or

find detailed discussions about all of these issues. In the end, international significance. And the best part, to my mind, is that there are components of a missed sale which cannot be entirely

the strength of your brand helps pave the way for my brand to

controlled. The best advice is to keep the focus on how to sell

be taken seriously, and vice versa. When each of us opens an

the second bottle and allow the noise of other distractions to

account with a quality product, we make that account that much

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 17


more likely to be interested in exploring what the rest of our industry has to offer. We hear this discussion in the industry often, but friend and mentor Johnny Jeffery put it really well when he said:

“This industry is not like the small brewing industry in the 80’s. When they got started they were competing against a few core brands and a beer style that was pretty uniform. Then small breweries started bringing out IPA’s, Alts, Ambers, Stouts, Dark Ales, etc. Not only that, but the small breweries were making great beer and were competing against beers that weren’t very good. The analogy to small distilleries stops there.

Great Chiller Systems for Great Distilleries

Macro distilleries make very good products across an amazing range of styles. Just because you open a distillery and hang your “master distiller” shingle doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to make better product than the macros who have been doing such a damn good job for so many years.” Basically what he’s saying is that we don’t have the same starting point as the small brewers of the 80’s and if we don’t

prochiller.com 800-845-7781

concentrate on doing our best from the first bottle out the door,

Auburn, WA | Mocksville, NC

a very different attitude with a $6.00 six-pack than they do with

then the second bottle just isn’t going to sell. The consumer has a $25-$60 bottle of spirits.

DISTILLERY PRODUCTS BY

LASER-ON

REMEMBER...

»»“A rising tide lifts all ships.” »»“Best” isn’t just product quality, it’s also price point, brand message, and as always something about successful brands that can probably never be defined but instead comes back to the owners and staff who produce the brands and their love for what they do together every day.

»» Passion is a powerful sales tool if it’s really there. We’re in this together, a community of distilleries (if you doubt our conviction, watch our culture deck, it’ll prove you otherwise) and we need to recognize that as an industry the actions of us all are reflected in our customers. Give them something more

DISTILLERY MERCHANDISE FOR THE GIFT SHOP & TASTING ROOM Creating Brand Awareness and Brand Alliance

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than a story and they’ll tell your tale everywhere. Give them a compelling reason to buy the second bottle and you’re on the right track.

John McKee, along with his wife Courtney, are the owners of Headframe Spirits in Butte, MT. John can be reached at john@headframespirits.com

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tips from a

DISTILLER’S

BEST

FRIEND

to NYC (6 days after 9/11) to follow his ambition of acting and to continue his dive into the barkeep’s world. “You can imagine how thrilled my parents were,” Hunter muses. It was at Death & Co., a famous bar in the Alphabet City area of NYC, where Logan observed and made many friends. While he didn’t work there, this helped surge his fascination with barkeeping and the idea that bartending was more than mixing drinks. “These bartenders were like Gods to me,” Hunter quips. Hunter soon landed himself a coveted job behind the bar at The New Leaf Cafe in Upper Manhattan after a stint of waiting tables.

WRITTEN BY AMBER G. CHRISTENSEN-SMITH PHOTOS BY ROXANNE SMYER OF WOLTER PHOTOGRAPHY

There, he apprenticed under a gentleman whose father had been

O

has profoundly influenced what he does today. ne of the most important relationships a distiller can have

a barkeep during prohibition – an educational experience that For the next seven years, Hunter studied everything he could

is their relationship with a bartender. When you’re out about wine, beer, and spirits. Then after ten years of work and

there wooing the barkeeps to get your craft spirit in their well, it’s

education as a barkeep in NYC, he headed back to his home state

important to have these frontline players on your side. It’s even

and began his work in Bloomington, Indiana. It was then that he

more important to have one that is highly respected and knows

was asked to be the head bartender and consultant at Michael’s

the territory hands down better than any other in his field.

Uptown Bar and Lounge, an upscale bar in Bloomington that

Logan Hunter has been tending bar since the age of seventeen

specializes in craft cocktails made the “old-school” way.

when he began serving cocktails at a private club (yes, it was

Hunter is known for his ability to serve up fabulous pre-

legit). From there he seasoned himself by continuing to mix

prohibition style cocktails, as well as his palate for the likes of

drinks at Indiana University as an undergrad and then moved on

wine, whiskey and scotch. He was recently a judge and bartender

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at the American Craft Distillers Association conferences in Indiana and Colorado. “The experience was amazing,” he expresses, and emphasizes how wonderful and hardworking everyone is in the craft distilling business. “It was truly a wonderful and insightful experience in every way.” Hunter goes on to state, “Thus far my experience with craft distillers themselves has been wonderful. Most of them are truly humble, hard working, everyday people. I think for distillers – when they bleed, sweat, and cry (just a little) for their product, it’s really exciting to meet people who appreciate it.” So what can distillers learn from Hunter as a barkeep and connoisseur of spirits? Here are a few tips:

on what’s currently POPULAR WITH CUSTOMERS Hunter says customers are becoming more and more aware of what’s on the shelves. They have a limitless access to media and research at their fingertips making them savvy consumers. They are using Yelp and other online outlets to find good establishments and good spirits. Because craft distilling is growing, craft spirits are gaining

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more and more popularity. This is also leading to customers becoming more and more interested in classic cocktails, like the pre-prohibition ones Logan is mixing up at Michael’s Uptown Bar and Lounge. “For the past year classic cocktails have been gaining popularity,” shares Hunter, and he adds that it looks like craft distilling is driving some of this trend.

on THE DRINKING EXPERIENCE

on DISTRIBUTING/SELLING to LOCAL ESTABLISHMENTS Respect who you are getting your product out to – know the clientele and the barkeeps at the establishment, and know if your product is a good fit. “To grab the attention of an establishment owner or even a bartender (who will have direct connection to an owner), first and foremost, you have to be making good juice,” Hunter emphasizes. “Be real, be friendly…let the product speak

Many people imbibing in craft spirits are looking for an

for itself.” Make sure you set up time for blind tasting so they experience, not a recreational drinking overload. “It’s not just are able to see how it stands up next to other comparable spirits. about getting drunk the same as eating isn’t just about acquiring Hunter is excited for the trends happening with craft distilling sustenance. The experience can be enhanced tenfold by being and is open to exploring with quality craft spirits that come in the right environment, having the right ‘Chef,’” Hunter through his doors. Does he think craft distilling is here to stay? explains. Bartenders can aid in getting a product out there with “Yes…it is popular because people are realizing they can get better this experience because it “gives us new things to recommend

product for a similar or cheaper price. And most people prefer

and pitch to our clientele. People aren’t all that likely to pay $40

the little guy, the underdog. So long as the product maintains for a bottle of gin that they don’t recognize sitting on the shelf its integrity and quality and continues to get better and stays at at the liquor store. But when their local friendly barkeep made competitive prices, it’s not going anywhere.” them the best ‘Last Word’ they ever had the night before and

used ‘Said Craft Gin,’ that client is likely to seek that gin out at Logan Hunter is head bartender and consultant at Michael’s Uptown the liquor store and buy it.”

Bar and Lounge in Bloomington, IN. Visit www.the-uptown.com for more information.

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Craft distilleries... you’ve got

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JOHNNY’S

ART & SCIENCE

of DISTILLATION

COLUMN

COLUMNS & TRAYS WRITTEN BY JOHNNY JEFFERY

Johnny Jeffery is one of the most enthusiastic and recognizable distillers in the business. Johnny, former head distiller at Death’s Door Spirits and currently consulting with Santé Fe Spirits, has an extensive scientific background. He has researched at Michigan State University on barrel aging, yeast byproducts, methanol reduction, accelerated aging, alternative techniques in distillation, and whiskey production. Johnny is also an avid educator and has kindly offered his expertise in what will be a multipart series about the art and science of distillation. — Artisan Spirit Magazine

t

o kick things off, let’s talk about columns and trays. Your controlled by the fermentation process. still is a pot with any number of things hooked up to it. On

A more complex setup would have a column of some kind

the simplest stills there’s a helmet (a big open copper top) and a after the pot and helmet or rather than a helmet. The column condenser (something with a cooled metal surface for the vapor has plates inside, on which the vapor condenses and then to condense on). These are called alembic stills and are used revaporizes. Each time this happens the percentage of alcohol to make Scotch and other whiskies, rum and many of the more in the vapor goes up. This is called rectification. Given enough flavorful spirits. They are made of copper because copper is a plates you get 96% alcohol, which is the highest alcohol you can reactive metal and is great at removing unpleasant compounds get with distillation alone. A short column of 3 or 4 trays can from the vapor. Alembic stills are excellent for flavored spirits be used to make more lightly flavored whiskey than an alembic as they don’t have much tech attached for purification and still might make, or it can be used to make a spirit that is very allow a lot of flavor to come through. The downside is that there light and clean, with high rectification. The short columns are isn’t much control or ability to alter the distillation process. It indispensable for the production of eau de vie, brandy, and other produces what it’s going to produce and most of your product is fruit fermented spirits, and are also used for whiskey, rum, etc.

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Let’s explore what those plates or stages are doing. Each tray has some kind of liquid holding surface or channel and some mechanism for the liquid to drop down once the tray is full. Above the trays (top of the column) should be a partial condenser. This is a coil or tank that has water pushed to it to control the temperature of the vapor that

T E C H N I Q U E At the beginning of the run, when the pot has reached a boil, pushing very high cooling flow to the partial

is allowed to pass out of the system, but here’s the key to the trays.

condenser, it should be possible to have a boil and

As the partial condenser (also known as a dephlegmator) condenses

therefore vapor hitting the partial condenser, but

liquid, it drops down onto the trays and keeps a consistent liquid level in the holding vessels of the trays. The liquid fills to the overflow point and then drops into a downcomer pipe to the next tray down and helps to fill the one below and below and below. Liquid continues down the system in

so much cooling that no product leaves the system. This is called total reflux. All vapor condenses back into the pot. Allowing the system to sit in total reflux

a cascade. Vapor comes up from below and reboils the liquid on

will cause the column to reach a true equilibrium

the trays. Picturing this in real time: the trays hold liquid which is

with highly stratified fractions on each tray.

constantly boiling off because of the heat from below, but they are constantly refilled by the condensation from above. Liquid in the pot boils off to higher alcohol content, condenses on a tray, boils again to higher alcohol concentration, etc. The steam (heat) is the gas pedal, the water (cooling) is the brake. Vapor passes the partial condenser based on the temperature to which it is held by the water flow.

Slowly reducing the rectification (cooling flow) will allow product to slowly leave the system and this first fraction will contain much higher concentrations of low boiling compounds than

In a packed column where no physical trays are present, packing

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is used to create theoretical trays. The packing is textured enough to hold liquid on its surface. This creates a similar action to the

would be possible otherwise. In other words, the heads cut will be much more concentrated

trays, balancing the rise of vapor with the fall of liquid to create rectification. The main thing to consider with rectification is concentration.

in a smaller volume. This allows the distiller to

When an alembic still starts to produce spirit, the heads cut is a

recover a greater portion of alcohol in the hearts

reflection of the concentration of compounds in the pot coming off in

as the heads cut will be a lesser percentage of the total volume collected during the run.

the product until the distiller makes the call to switch to hearts and then to tails, including as much or as little of the low boiling “heads” and high boiling “tails” compounds as they see fit. With trays it is possible to run very high rectification at the beginning and end of

It is possible to treat the tails in the same way by slowly increasing the rectification toward the end of the run. Driving more water to the

the run to concentrate these compounds into a very small volume, or to constantly control the rectification level to effect the congener concentration in the spirit at any point in the distillation. These are methods of use and aren’t necessarily appropriate to

partial condenser at the end of the run will force

every style of spirit. Removing too much of the low and high boiling

the high boilers back into the pot, driving them

compounds can cause the spirit to be too pure to achieve maturation

down the trays until the concentrations are high

in the barrel. But that’s a rant for another day. Good Distilling!

enough that they can no longer be held back. Johnny Jeffrey is currently consulting with Santé Fe Spirits. Johnny can be reached at John@ArtisanDistiller.com.

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e g a r e

RE F F A O RT A THE

p o co

i

NCH

LER KEE ET S A L C CHO IS POIN Y NI O B Ç N N RA TTE WRI OS BY F T PHO

’ll never forget my first visit ten years ago to Tonnellerie Allary

located in the region of Cognac, France. I breathed the aromas of French Oak Barrels being toasted over small stations of fire fueled by the same oak as used to make the barrels. This smoke fills the cooperage. The skilled coopers shape staves, assemble the oak perfectly under metal hoops, bend with a combination of fire, steam, hammers, conditioned strength and harness the elements that elevate the oak, water and fire. Just like great wine and spirits are made from the highest quality ingredients, barrels are made from exceptional trees and some even up to 360 years old. This doesn’t happen by accident. You have to manage the process. There are many forests in France used to produce oak for barrel making. Each regional forest will produce trees of different characteristics. There are two types of oak species in France used for barrel

The tightness of the grain varies from forest to forest and

making:

from species to species, imparting different flavors in the aging

Chene Sessile — This oak will release less tannin in the wine

process. Tighter grain usually has more value and a higher sales

or spirit but will impart stronger aromatic components.

Chene Pedoncule

price. The management of the forest is called Futaie (this means

— This oak variety will release more

grove) and began in 1835 to ensure a steady supply of oak

tannin into the wine but the aromatic compounds will be less

for the French Navy. It is a clean renewal process. Seedlings

pronounced.

grow from acorns, produce trees, trees are harvested after they

28 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE

forest

1) Germination Seedlings germinate from acorns produced by mature trees prior to harvest.

2) Gaulis (thin stick) Over the next 15-30 years seedlings turn into young trees, the forest crew selects healthy ones and clears space so they may grow. Density is very high.

3) Perches At this stage the trees are 40-60 years old and up to 100’ high, yet the diameter is still quite small.

4) Young Futaie The oak is around 100 years old, the trees have reached their adult height and now only grow in diameter. More clearing takes place to give these trees additional space.

5) High Futaie The oak is now around 200 years old and growth has slowed. What started as 4000 seedlings per acre now has 40-60 trees per acre remaining. Most trees are harvested before they stop producing acorns. This is the first harvest.

6) Semencier (producer of seeds) After High Futaie is harvested a small number of the best oak is kept, these trees are typically 220-250 years old and selected for their ability to produce acorns.

produce more acorns, acorns

the Tonnellerie (cooperage) is set aside for a yard to season the

reseed the forest and the cycle

oak staves as they wait to be transferred to the next process.

begins again.

Sun, rain, irrigation and the fungi growing on the oak all wash

Trees are sold through an

out the oak’s harsher tannin. Each yard has its own microclimate

barrel

and this seasoning lends personality to the cooperage’s product.

makers and other professionals

Kiln drying is used at the last stage to completely dry the oak

by the Office National de la

before building the barrels.

auction

process

to

Further sawing and shaping of the staves takes place. The

Foret (ONF). Buyers inspect trees before

staves are shortened to 95cm and made narrower at each end.

the auction. The ONF sets a

At this stage the oak is called doulles. Master coopers select

minimum bid and buyers can

each doulles to build the barrel. The oak must be a good fit and

bid on a single tree or parcel. when lined up the measurements must be precise. The Mise en An oak tree can create 20-40

Rose is the raising of the barrel. When the cooper assembles

barrels and what is not used for

the doulles in the correct order a metal hoop locks them in

barrels goes to alternatives like

place. Water, steam and fire are then used to bend the staves.

furniture. The entire tree must

Additional hoops are set, and with the assistance of a metal

be utilized according to the

cable tightening the other end of the barrel, the bottom hoop is

clean renewal process.

set and now the oak takes on the shape of a barrel.

From here logs are transferred

We now enter the artful process of toasting. Like a chef in

to the stave mill. The logs are cut into three to four sections called billot. The billot are split in two with a wedge and a sledgehammer. Here a skillful woodworker sketches a pattern to optimize each section and to obtain the best quality while staying clear of knots. Each piece is split with a powerful hydraulic wedge. French oak is split to preserve the grain and to avoid breaking the veins. American oak varies at this stage and is able to be sawn. The bark and the sapwood are discarded.

The oak is

now called merrains. Laser technology allows for further precise cutting of the merrains to 3’ x 1 1/2” thick staves. Fine grain and loose grain are sorted. The staves are stacked with crossing layers to allow ventilation and labeled with origin and history. The largest space allotted to

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a restaurant each cooper

The outside is sanded

has his own recipe and

and polished. Shiny new

techniques for toasting.

hoops replace the ones

Clients

different

used while making the

from

barrel with the help of a

have

requirements

reaction

hydraulic machine. At no

between oak and fire.

the

chemical

stage are nails, screws

Toasting methods range

or glue used, only flour

in length, temperature

and water. It is the skill

and the use of water/

of the cooper that makes

steam. Based on the

the barrels water tight.

toasting methods there is

Each barrel is filled with

a reduction of tannin and

water and/or air pressure

an increase of volatile compounds producing characteristics in the aging process such as: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut and bacony flavors. Next the cooper drills the bung hole so the wine or spirit may

to check for leaks. The barrel heads are laser marked commonly with the name of the cooper, the production year, the origin of the oak and the toasting method. The barrels are then shrink-wrapped to protect

be taken in and out of the barrel. A groove is made in each

the barrels from drying out then make their way to cellars all

end of the barrel called the croze so the barrel heads may be

around the world.

secured in place. The heads are also made of oak and are jointed together with the use of dowels or a tongue and groove method. The heads represent 23% of the surface area in contact with the spirit or wine. Heads may be toasted or untoasted.

Tonnellerie Allary was founded in 1953 in the heart of the Cognac Region and delivers to prestigious cognac houses and winemakers. Visit www.nicholaskeeler.com and www.tonnellerie-allary.com for more information.

THOROUGHBRED SPIRITS GROUP IS A BOUTIQUE SPIRITS CONSULTING FIRM. WE ARE THE TRUSTED ADVISOR TO DISTILLERIES, SPIRIT PORTFOLIO OWNERS, ENTREPRENEURS, AND DISTRIBUTORS. WE HELP CREATE BRANDS AND DISTILLERIES FROM THE GROUND UP.

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SUPPLY & DEMAND

SMALL-SCALE STILL BUILDERS W R I T T E N

B Y

C H R I S

L O Z I E R

/ / /

P H O T O S

P R O V I D E D

B Y

H I L L B I L LY

S T I L L S


T

he growth of the craft distilling industry and the increasing I tried every type of still out there. For 12 months and $15,000 number of hobby distillers has forged a booming market I did R&D. I then settled on what I call ‘The Alchemist’ still.”

for smaller, more affordable stills. In the past the selection was

It is important to check the craftsmanship of any still or

poor, but now a handful of talented still builders are supplying still product you are buying, explains Mike Haney of Hillbilly that demand, using their skills and creativity to engineer a wide Stills in Barlow, KY. While there are several quality small array of efficient and dynamic stills and still products capable of still manufacturers, there are some bad eggs, as well. Haney producing excellent spirits.

recommends checking the thickness of the material and

Howard Wallace of Hammered Kopper Works, LLC in Boulder, researching the company’s reputation. Most important, Haney CO says still builders need to know how to weld and braze copper says, is checking into their customer service policies and their and stainless steel, understand thermo and flow dynamics, how willingness to help. “All we do is build stills and our customer different metals react together and why copper is so desirable for support is second to none out there,” says Haney. “You can call distilling. He says still builders also need to understand brewing us anytime and we will either take care of you then or return your and distillation as a process and an art. “I build everything right now out of my two car garage with a

call with the information you need.” Many still builders help startup distillers with logistics and

sheet roller, a nipper, TIG welder, and an oxy-acetylene torch,” planning, and are available to help set up the stills and controls. said Wallace. “I was originally interested in building only Zaca says he provides hands-on training, custom video manuals, advanced home brewing equipment until I was approached by and often helps distillers with permits and paperwork, investor my business partner who had an interesting plan for building relations and expectations, finding local farmers, municipal affordable copper pot stills.” Anthony Zaca of Rainier Distillers in Rainier, WA, said he

compliance and solving a wide range of problems. Joe Dehner of Redboot Stills in West Des Moines, IA provides a

became interested in building stills when his friend bought one full range of products and services, as well. A distributor for race online. The still did not work, so Zaca helped him fix it. Soon labelers and express fill bottle fillers, Dehner says they offer parts after, Zaca bought his own still online and it was also junk, so and components, full turn-key operations, complete custom he bought another, more expensive still, which was just as bad. products, consulting services, and paperwork help services, as “I said to myself ‘I am going to design a still, I am going to buy well as a two-day, one-on-one distillery training class. them all and cut them open and learn for myself,’” he explains.

Helping distillers get started is fundamental to Hillbilly

“I bought books on this online, the ‘How to Build Your Own Still’ Stills, as well, who also provides setup and full on-site training type and studied. I said ‘I am going to take the best of everything.’ when requested, and can help the customer secure the proper

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 33


licensing and permits. Haney says that some distillers can get started for much less capital than most expect. “I wanted to make a better still for the home or craft distiller to get started in business without spending $250,000.00,” he explained. “That is our goal - to help customers get started that don’t have a large cash-flow.” Dehner agrees that it is possible to start a craft distillery without accruing a mountain of debt. “I started my distillery for under $28,000, and $12,000 of that went into rent,” he says. “I tell people that all the time. People think you need a 600 gallon still to start out with when they have never made a drop.” Dehner pointed out that even though his operation is small, his bottle still goes to market alongside bottles from multi-milliondollar distilleries. “It is all in how your still is set up, and the efficiency,” he explains. “If set up correctly, a 100 gallon still will outperform a 300-400 gallon still any day of the week. And that will save money in a small startup.” Not everyone agrees that starting with a small still is the right decision. Some distillers feel that spending more up front on a larger capacity still will save them money in the long run and avoid the hassle of constant up scaling. And there is something to be said about an impressive showroom still created by an established name brand. If you do your homework, though, and plan for expansion, starting with a smaller still from a quality manufacturer could be a good option for you. Zaca said that many of his clients use this method to expand their business. “I have micro distilleries that have started out with one still, then they buy another one or two down the road,” he explains. Even though the distillery will run the larger still for their main product lines, the first still is still functional and ready for special projects and test batches, which Zaca says allows you to test flavors in small batches or new recipes without wasting money on something not quite right. “You will know what is going to be produced,” he says. “Then you transfer the recipe to your larger still.” Dehner says many distilleries buy smaller stills specifically for test runs. “Depending on the size of the main still, I would say that most distilleries run a small test still of about 30 gallons or less,” he offers. “It saves on developing cost.” If you are planning on starting a distillery, whether you choose a large still or a small still, make sure you research the manufacturer, especially their customer service policies. No matter what direction a distiller decides to go, there are many more opportunities available for the distilling community than ever before.

34 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


S

A E TR H T ROM F S IE TOR

IL..

.

A

WESTERN DISTILLERY ROAD TRIP Q&A with AMANDA CHRISTENSEN INTRO & QUESTIONS BY CHRIS LOZIER

A

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

rtisan Spirit Magazine’s creative director and lead photographer Amanda Christensen hit the road again to take in the American Craft Distillers Association convention in Denver, visiting eight craft distilleries along the way. Her adventure

took her 2,789 miles in 13 days through Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming. Amanda said, “The scenery was breathtaking and I’m still reeling over the amazing discussions I got to have and the people I’m so glad to have met.” Here she shares some of the highlights of her journey, insights into the differences between the way craft distillers operate in neighboring states, and a peak behind the interview curtain to discover how to get the most out of an interview with the media.

WHAT SIMILARITIES DID YOU SEE BETWEEN THE DISTILLERS?

would have to be listed as an ingredient in every bottle of spirits craft distillers make. I’m just really in love with craft distillers

They were all generally happy, enthusiastic and excited people. (their booze is just a nice cherry on top). They were all people that had begun their working lives in different fields, and for one reason or another, decided to make a huge change and go after their dream. They’ve all taken great

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING THAT SURPRISED YOU?

leaps of faith and risked a lot to do what they’re doing and I find I LOVED the tasting room set-up at the three Montana distilleries I that incredibly inspiring. As a fellow small business owner, I know visited. The tasting rooms are centered around enormous wooden how scary what they’ve done is. The pressures, responsibilities, bars of the sort you’re used to seeing in the old west movies. and demands they face is staggering. But these guys and gals are They all have ample seating and a very casual atmosphere that doing it anyway. If there were “truth in labeling,” perseverance invites patrons to relax and enjoy themselves for a while. All

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STO

RIE

S

RAI T E M TH FRO

L...

of them serve mixed drinks expertly crafted to highlight their own spirits in the most creative and thrilling ways. These tasting rooms were well-thought-out spaces that felt more communal than retail. They were not stores -- they were destinations. I loved them and their distillers and Montana all the more for that.

DO MOST OF THE TASTING ROOMS SERVE COCKTAILS, SAMPLES OR BOTH? Montana and Colorado had both. Wyoming was just samples.

D O s & D O N ’ Ts

Idaho was neither, though the law allowing samples had just passed when I visited and was sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting signature.

WERE STATE DISTILLERY LAW DIFFERENCES OBVIOUS AS YOU MOVED FROM STATE TO STATE? YES. This is my understanding of the most apparent differences in tasting room laws: »»

Montana: Laws allowing tastings are written in a way so that charging for drinks made with their own products was okay and the distilleries have run with it. Tastings and cocktails are

O F W O R K I N G W I T H I N T E RV I E W E R S AND PHOTOGRAPHERS »»

Sometimes they’ll be on tight schedules, so you want to get the best, most important stuff done first. Other times they’ll be planning on much longer visits, in which case you can linger over important topics longer.

»»

bound by a consumption limit and the law dictates the hours the tasting room is open. »»

Wyoming:

Tasting rooms are similar to what I’ve seen in

the larger craft distilleries in Kentucky, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington, where only tastings are allowed. »»

Colorado: Tasting laws are similar to Montana, but the law doesn’t dictate a special consumption limit or tasting room hours. From what I understand, their tasting rooms can

situation (I think). »»

Idaho: When I visited, tastings were illegal and the distillery had to have their gift shop licensed as a liquor store in order to sell their own products within it. So it really felt more like a little store.

Amanda Joy Christensen is Creative Director of Artisan Spirit Magazine. Visit www.artisanspiritmag.com or send an email to amanda@artisanspiritmag.com for more info.

DON’T assume the interviewer wants you to shut down production just for them.

When I stop in, I like to have some time for a sit down interview and a little filming, but then I want to see you at work. Real action photographs are always better than staged shots. Plus, it gives an interviewer who might not regularly find themselves in a distillery an exciting peek into how the spirits they drink should be made. The more the interviewer sees you as a living, breathing, hard-working person, the more they’re going to like you and fall in love with your story. Wouldn’t you like every article written about you authored by a super-fan.

basically be bars, the only difference being that they can only sell spirits that they themselves made, which is a pretty cool

DO inquire about the amount of time they plan on staying.

»»

DON’T try to dissuade an interviewer from visiting just because you don’t have a shiny copper behemoth of a still.

You’d be surprised the number of times I’ve had a distiller try to talk me out of giving them publicity because they saw their still as some beat-up hunk of metal in the corner. Your still is not why I want to visit! I want to see you in your element. I want to breathe in the smell of your mash, I want to see you own your production floor, I want to watch you survey your domain as we discuss how far you’ve come, and where you hope to go next.

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STO

RIE

S FR OM T HE T RAI L...

ARTISAN SPIRIT MAGAZINE HEADQUARTERS

MONTGOMERY DISTILLERY

HEADFRAME SPIRITS TRAILHEAD SPIRITS

WYOMING WHISKEY

GRAND TETON VODKA

SYNTAX SPIRITS LEOPOLD BROS. »»

DO help a photographer and yourself out by throwing up a spotlight or two on your still.

Copper or stainless, it doesn’t matter -- a spotlight will help the ol’ girl shine in all sorts of ways. Mood lighting is a thing in the bedroom, and it should be a thing in every distillery that performs tours of their facilities. Romance us please.

»»

DEERHAMMER DISTILLING CO.

DON’T force your interviewer to sample your products.

Not every article will include tasting notes, so a sample is not absolutely required in order to write a good article. I love trying the spirits of every distillery I’ve visited, but there are times that I can’t imbibe because I’m going to be driving, because I’m ill, or just plain exhausted. A simple offer will suffice and nine times out of ten they’ll be wondering what took you so long to mention it.

»»

DO have professional photos of your distillery on your website.

Show your tasting room, distillery, and exterior in the best light possible. This will give an interviewer and their photographers a good idea of what they have to look forward to and prepare themselves for. It will show the pride you have in your business. And its great for customers to see too!

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TRAILHEAD

SPIRITS B I L L I N G S , M O N TA N A

WRITTEN BY STEVEN SEIM

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN


t

he stories are becoming more common, but no less Roughstock Distillery (Montana’s first in over 100 years) with inspiring: We were one of the first in the state, and we’ve helping to change some key laws that made it possible for

had to change several laws in order to help us operate. Well, others to create new distilleries in the state. But Casey warns future distillers in Montana will have Trailhead Spirits in Billings that Montana state laws are still largely prohibitive. For instance to partially thank for their future businesses. Casey McGowan he can only store anything he makes within his one building, started Trailhead partially to honor his family’s distilling history, despite federal law that states he can store in buildings up to but his ultimate hope for the distillery’s future is to inspire the 10 miles away. Trailhead, and any other Montana distillery, is pride in local spirits that he has seen in so many other parts of also restricted to serving 2 ounces per person per day on their the country.

premises, which means every customer has a 2 drink, 1 ounce

Several years ago, while working in commercial insurance per drink maximum. Casey and Trailhead are part of a group (which is still his day job), Casey was in California when he was of distillers making headway in changing those laws which he offered Tito’s vodka. Chance led him to meet Tito the next day believes weren’t put in place maliciously, just naively. He’s which made Casey realize that not all liquors come from factories hopeful that within a couple of years the opportunities for new in Europe. A couple years later Casey visited Portland, Oregon distilleries will be more welcoming than when he started. and had a surprise when he ordered a bloody mary. He was asked

Working around the storage law made planning the layout of

if he wanted a local vodka and was shocked at how many options his distillery a crucial part of his process. Because Trailhead were presented. What struck him was the feeling of local pride is in a historically registered building, they are restricted from that seeing those brands must bring to the people of Portland, expanding any doorways. So, after making sure everything he and how his own local town was missing that when it came to needed would fit through the doors, he planned his interior craft spirits. So, upon returning to Billings, he decided it was layout to within a millimeter. “It was pretty stressful when all worth the attempt to give his area that feeling of local pride when the equipment was sitting out front,” he says, “but it made it in they ordered a drink or visited a liquor store.

and fit like a glove, like it was meant for the space.” Tight space

Among those who provided inspiration, Casey credits also requires the distillery to use more software and high tech

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“I’m getting grain from the family farm, putting them in my fermenters and turning it into a product. I don’t know how much more craft you can get.” 

- Casey McGowan

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automation to ensure the equipment works properly, partially because there isn’t as much room to physically move around their equipment and do things manually. Casey doesn’t believe the use of available technology takes away anything from Trailhead’s ‘craft’-ness, though: “I’m getting grain from the family farm, putting them in my fermenters and turning it into a product. I don’t know how much more craft you can get.” Part of including the local flavor in his distillery is being part of a group of bars that pays for a trolley to go between his distillery and the several local breweries in town every 30 minutes. He says they don’t charge the patrons for it and it was a big hit that helped move a lot of foot traffic last summer. And Trailhead’s partnership with a friendly brewery across the street runs deeper than that: They combined resources and bought four used barrels from Roughstock Distillery, both with the intent of aging various products. A certain set of barrels was used by the brewery to age beer, which were then bought by Trailhead to age a batch of gin, and then bought back by the brewery to age more beer with the added gin flavor. Casey says those barrels are probably reaching the end of their usefulness and will probably soon end up as someone’s décor. He has enjoyed the process of experimentation this back-and-forth trade partnership allowed, and believes the customers agree. Trailhead currently makes vodka, a variety of whiskeys, a gin and an aged gin. The gin line is named “Healy’s” and “Healy’s Reserve,” respectively, which are named after Casey’s greatgrandfather Michael Healy. In Butte, Montana, Healy was a well-known bootlegger during prohibition who ran a bar behind a tobacco/candy store front. When he retired he sold the bar to some friends for $1, because he didn’t need the money and he just wanted out of the business. That bar still exists as the Pioneer bar in Virginia City, Montana, a town known for its historical preservation of sites from prohibition and earlier. A special moment for Casey came when he was able to enjoy

Brooks Grain Improving the quality of life with grain. www.brooksgrain.com

PROVIDING RYE

to the distilling industry for over 50 years.

Trailhead spirits in the Pioneer bar. He enjoys being able to honor his family’s history with his spirits now. For now, Trailhead continues to grow. They have currently expanded distribution to Idaho, hired a representative in Wyoming, and have recently made their first sale in Nevada. But their most valued customer, the people of Billings, have started to provide the best feedback of all. Trailhead is making a statement about craft in Montana that is worth hearing for distilleries all across the country.

Trailhead Spirits is located in Billings, MT. For more information visit www.trailheadspirits.com or call (406) 969-1627.

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2014

Convention Report Artisan Spirit Magazine was lucky enough to attend multiple conventions, trade shows and expos this year. We spoke to exhibitors, attendees, and the motivated men and women behind the scenes who organize these massive gatherings. Like many of our readers we don’t always know which event is going to be worth the time, effort, or money. Every year sees a new batch of events crop up, and we set out to help identify what you can expect to experience at five of this year’s top events. You will find three points of view for each event presented, and have the opportunity to hear from your peers, presenters, and suppliers. As the industry grows, so grows the opportunity to come together and share our experience. We would like to thank each organization for opening their arms to us, and working so hard to support the craft distilling industry.


PHOTO BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

American Craft Distillers Association’s Inaugural Convention ORGANIZER ATTENDEES: 510 EXHIBITORS: 74 companies who provide products

and services targeted to the spirits industry.

WHAT WERE THE BEST RECEIVED CLASSES, AND WORKSHOPS? Our Town Hall style discussions

where filled to capacity with standing room only. Those on Federal Excise Tax reduction efforts and “What is Craft” were the most engaging. They confirmed that our owner-members value live interaction where all facts and opinions can be heard, weighed and debated so that common ground and understand can be reached. WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL GOING INTO THIS YEAR’S EVENT? Being our inaugural convention, it was

extremely important to set the tone as a not-forprofit trade association whose purpose is to serve the needs of its member-base (…and industry) as it relates to helping them successfully evolve their businesses.

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED ON? We are very pleased with the turnout and feedback received. With our newly elected board that consists of a varied cross-section of respected and experienced American craft spirits producers from varying functional backgrounds our membership can be assured we will always be striving to improve in all facets of our events – and organization as a whole.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY NEXT YEAR? ACDA is unique in the expertise it

brings together – the supplier sponsors and founding distillers have a wealth of knowledge about the industry. The conference could serve as a springboard to leverage our shared expertise all year long through partnerships, educational opportunities and other things. It would be great to see more of an effort to continue the momentum WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2015? A “Texas Sized” and interaction throughout the year. event, including a consumer event that will provide a platform for our craft producers to get their ARE YOU GOING AGAIN IN 2015? Yes, we’re looking products in one of the hottest craft spirits markets forward to participating again next year as a in America…Austin, TX. The 2015 program founding sponsor. will feature broader and deeper educational tracts, more town hall discussions and an even ATTENDEE: JASON BARRETT – more inclusive and rigorous spirits competition.

BLACK BUTTON DISTILLING

HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT ACDA? It was a great first showing of what an industry tradeshow can HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE EVENT? It be. It had important, high level conversations that showed promise as a valuable opportunity for our industry needs to have as we develop and grow. experienced distillers and suppliers to strengthen relationships, share knowledge, and continue to HOW MANY CONVENTIONS DID YOU ATTEND THIS YEAR? WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR THIS EVENT? Just ACDA in Denver Established craft spirits producers are our primary build on the growth of the craft spirits industry. target audience. New craft spirits producers and WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF WHERE THERE ANY CLASSES OR PANELS THAT REALLY industry professionals are our secondary target. A SHOW LIKE THIS? It’s especially valuable for STOOD OUT FOR YOU? The discussion on safety and suppliers to the craft spirits industry such as the definition of craft were both top notch. I took a WHO GETS THE MOST VALUE FROM ATTENDING? Craft ourselves. They provide unique opportunities for lot away from both of those meetings. spirits producers and industry professionals who us to talk one-on-one with distillers, listen to their WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU GOT OUT want to learn from other experienced industry needs, and learn about their business. . OF THE EVENT? Connecting with other industry producers and professionals on a wide range of business critical topics. WHAT ASPECT OF THE EVENT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST? professionals and suppliers. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE EVENT? We have enjoyed talking to and working with many WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A SHOW Members and industry professionals showed up in people in the very early stages of starting up their LIKE THIS? Experienced distillers looking to grow great numbers, they engaged, actively participated distilleries. At ACDA, it was rewarding to see many their business. This is certainly not 101 level info. and left with a valuable blend of new information, of those folks who have established themselves ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE EVENT NEXT YEAR? I would confirmation and evolved opinions and outlooks. in market as licensed DSPs. Seeing their brands like to see the schedule better communicated and The consumer tasting, DSTILL, put on in conjunction come alive and knowing that we played a part in maybe a few more courses covering bigger issues with the Colorado Distillers Association, was supporting their growth is rewarding and helps to as they relate to our industry. a huge hit with consumers and attendees alike. reinforce the sense of community that makes the industry unique.

EXHIBITOR: O-I

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PHOTO BY CARL MURRAY

American Distilling Institute’s Annual Convention the government, is opening its arms wide to embrace our return and growth. Every aspect, ATTENDEES: 1,014 registered attendees. from cooperages to marketing, from high-end EXHIBITORS: 109 vendors. chemical analysis to craft lore is available for our WHAT WERE THE BEST RECEIVED CLASSES, AND conference to continue being on the vanguard of WORKSHOPS? The two-day Amaro workshop was the industry. a surprise hit attended mostly by established distilleries. In general, all the hands-on workshops EXHIBITOR: TAPI were a resounding success. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT ADI? The ADI

ORGANIZER

WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL GOING INTO THIS YEAR’S EVENT? To provide information to distillers at all

levels in taking it to the next level in processes and practices. WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR THIS EVENT? The

entire distilling community. WHO GETS THE MOST VALUE FROM ATTENDING? The advanced distilling and business-practices knowledge on display is so overwhelming that anyone who comes to our conference can benefit from the continued professional education. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE EVENT?

The biggest success was seeing the sense of community arising from all these distillers of different backgrounds, nationalities, genders, and experience levels coming together to share their knowledge and perspectives. A big plus was coordinating with the Washington State Distillers Guild and seeing their sense of cooperative collaboration and congeniality. WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED ON? Some distillers found that the schedule was too thick with good breakout sessions and that multiple presentations they wanted to attend were running concurrently. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2015?  Louisville has changed a lot since the last time we were there. The greater Louisville area, including

HOW MANY CONVENTIONS DID YOU ATTEND THIS YEAR?

Just ADI, for me personally, but Nicole Austin (of King County Distillery) usually does ACDA, MCC, Tales, and various state-guild events. WHERE THERE ANY CLASSES OR PANELS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT FOR YOU? The “What is Craft” panel was

completely amazing and seemed quite productive. This is something distillers are really struggling with, and we still don’t have a good answer to the question though the stakes are very high for all show is especially important to us as a venue of us. to reach new customers and give them an introduction to our product lines. WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU GOT OUT OF THE EVENT? It’s just always fun to hang out with WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A like-minded people and appreciate the diversity of SHOW LIKE THIS? This is difficult to say. We have what’s going on in craft spirits all over the country. our niche in the show so we don’t get to see the overall picture. I believe everyone gets something WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A out of the show. SHOW LIKE THIS? ADI seemed really aimed at startWHAT ASPECT OF THE EVENT DID YOU ENJOY THE up distillers more than established players, but MOST? Seeing fresh faces and meeting with fellow that didn’t bother me. I tend to avoid these things for cost reasons, and indeed, we’ve been around vendors. for four years before I felt I could afford the trip, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY but there are benefits to meeting and getting to NEXT YEAR? I’m happy with the ADI format as it know our peers in the business. We have the most fits in as a complement to our other shows with to learn from each other. So I think it has a lot of different focuses. value for everyone. ARE YOU GOING AGAIN IN 2015? We certainly will. The awards are a big deal for us, and it would be great to see those cleaned up a little bit. I’m ATTENDEE: COLIN SPOELMAN – not sure how many medals were given out, but it KING COUNTY DISTILLERY might be better for all if there were consistency HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT ADI? I had a great year to year and more logic to the categories. time at ADI, my first, as it was a chance to meet ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE EVENT NEXT YEAR? Well, a lot of the vendors that we’ve worked with over again, streamlining and simplifying the awards to the years of building out our distillery, and offered make them more meaningful. As for the festival a great chance to see some other distilleries in format, I can’t imagine a better way to do it. We’ve a different market, as well as new friends from still not had one in the Northeast, and we have other distilleries around the country. a lot of distillers here, so I’m looking forward to when the show comes to us.

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PHOTO BY ANDREA HUTCHINSON

World Whiskies Conference WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED ON? We are always looking to have more involvement and participation by ATTENDEES: About 145 total attendees and all aspects of the industry. I would like to have speakers through the course of the day. more input from not only production, but also the EXHIBITORS: This is a difficult question, as distribution and consumption end of the industry the event is attended by all levels of industry. to provide insight to future trends. Representatives from over 35 different companies. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2015? Continued From buyers and owners of major retailers, expansion on all fronts for the topics, as well through distributors, importers and producers. as a significant attendance and networking WHAT WERE THE BEST RECEIVED CLASSES, opportunity as we are moving to late Feb. so not WORKSHOPS, OR PANELS? All are of interest…of to overlap with events such as Wine and Spirits course the address from the keynote speaker, Wholesalers of America. Mike Keyes, President of Brown Forman USA, is always a primary event of interest. The discussion EXHIBITOR: of growth trends in the US market was also of MOONSHINE UNIVERSITY/FLAVORMAN interest to all. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WWC? World Whiskey WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL GOING INTO THIS Conference was a unique opportunity to share real YEAR’S EVENT? To further establish the World and candid insight into the American Whiskey Whiskies Conference in the US as well as expand category from the varied perspectives of some of its significance and relevance to the industry the top players in the industry. by providing information and discussion on WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A important and significant topics. SHOW LIKE THIS? Any spirits professional could WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR THIS EVENT? benefit from the conference. It seems to cater Whisky producers and suppliers first, but also a more to the R & D and Marketing sides than to strong attendance from retailers, bartenders and the actual production side of the whiskey. Trend distributers/importers. Analyses, panel discussions on innovations, WHO GETS THE MOST VALUE FROM ATTENDING? It’s a measured debates over what is good for the win-win, as the guest speakers share insight into category and what is detrimental are excellent the industry and the attendees bring questions to ways to bring ideas together to grow the category the table. and brand loyalty.

ORGANIZER

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE EVENT? That

WHAT ASPECT OF THE EVENT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST? You mean other than the food? There was

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY NEXT YEAR? More time for discussion on some of

the meatier subjects like craft versus heritage and the impact of flavored whiskeys on the category. Perhaps a more uniform structure for these panels to further engage the audience. ARE YOU GOING AGAIN IN 2015? We definitely plan to

attend next year.

ATTENDEE: BRIAN CHRISTENSEN – ARTISAN SPIRIT MAGAZINE HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WWC? High level,

and engaging conference. HOW MANY CONVENTIONS DID YOU ATTEND THIS YEAR? Six, including consumer tasting events and

industry trade shows. WHERE THERE ANY CLASSES OR PANELS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT FOR YOU? From a biased standpoint the

“debate” on craft distilling was very interesting and informative. WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU GOT OUT OF THE EVENT? An appreciation for the similarities

that large producers and craft producers share on a marketing and branding aspect. WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A SHOW LIKE THIS? Active industry professionals, and

anyone who likes to see the “big picture” in terms of the distilling world. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE EVENT NEXT YEAR? Many

of the attendees are experienced professionals in is a difficult question, as we all are looking for the industry, so it could be very interesting to have different information. For us, the success of the a fantastic debate between craft and heritage more audience participation and feedback during conference itself was the wide range of topics and brands over who influences whom and the some of the sessions. that they all were well received. responsibility of each to the other and to the industry. Both sides openly discussed the impact of craft on the market and the whiskey category.

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PHOTO BY ANDREA HUTCHINSON

Whisky Live New York ORGANIZER ATTENDEES: About 1800 attendees. EXHIBITORS: About 65 different brands showcasing over 300 different expressions. WHAT WERE THE BEST RECEIVED CLASSES, WORKSHOPS, OR PANELS? The Diageo master class

I really don’t know. It all went so well this year. For myself and the event, it was to host a whisky tasting with 300+ expressions, more than 65 different brands, a bourbon infused buffet, live entertainment and not one complaint for the evening. This is one of the most controlled and professional events of the year. Seeing 1500 attendees and a couple hundred exhausted staff all leave with satisfaction and smiles on their face.

conducting a blind cross section of malts led by Dr. Nick Morgan from Scotland and the Ardbeg VIP master class by global brand ambassador David Blackmore were both full to capacity. WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED ON? There are always more whiskeys to invite…both US craft as well as the WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL GOING INTO THIS major brands from abroad…we have had more YEAR’S EVENT? We are always looking to expand and more interaction between the brands and the volume of whiskies, as well as the overall the consumers, and we are striving to continue to experience for the attendees; every year should grow and promote it. Moonshine University had a be better than the last. From the commercial display and interactive exhibit that was fantastic perspective, we are always striving to increase this year, and we look forward to continue working the attendance by distributors and retailers (on with them to develop a hands on interaction premise and off-premise) to provide a successful event for the brands on a commercial level as well. that I feel will help bring the Whisky Live tasting experience to the next level. WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR THIS EVENT? We strive to have a strong attendance by the serious whisky WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2015? More and enthusiasts…but also to promote marketing better…We are already planning for next year. Not programs to bring in the new and novice whisky only in an ever increasing array of classic and “go drinkers. What better place for them to learn to” whiskies, but also more craft (both US and and go to that next level. To that end, we always from abroad), exotic and more obscure brands, promote the concept of “A complete night out”. as well as special and limited editions from the major producers to complement their already WHO GETS THE MOST VALUE FROM ATTENDING? There great displays. really is a lot for everyone. The experienced whisky enthusiast can easily spend the evening and taste spirits and speak to brand ambassadors that they EXHIBITOR: ALLISON PATEL – have never experienced or met, and the novice will BRENNE WHISKEY most certainly find many new expressions they like, HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WHISKY LIVE? Whisky as well as discover what they don’t. The retailers Live was an exciting night to re-connect with old and bartenders will definitely be more educated at friends and meet new enthusiasts to introduce to the end of the evening. Brenne Whisky.

SHOW LIKE THIS? I’ve attended Whisky Live NY as both a whisky enthusiast and a supplier with my own Single Malt, Brenne, and have found Whisky Live to be valuable for those on both sides of the table. WHAT ASPECT OF THE EVENT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST? The tasting of special releases brought

out during VIP hour and face-to-face interactions with my whisky friends. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY NEXT YEAR? Hard to say but a retail component (if

the laws were to allow) would be fantastic. ARE YOU GOING AGAIN IN 2015? Absolutely.

ATTENDEE: ADAM LEVY – ALCOHOL PROFESSOR HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT WHISKY LIVE? A great opportunity to taste American, Canadian, Irish, Scotch and other new international whiskies.

HOW MANY CONVENTIONS/TASTING EVENTS HAVE YOU ATTENDED THIS YEAR? I would expect between consumer and trade...16-20 whisky related and over 80+ for all liquor WHERE THERE ANY CLASSES OR PANELS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT FOR YOU? I did not attend any classes. WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU GOT OUT OF THE EVENT? Opportunity to try some of the new

releases and learn what is coming out by end of year. WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A SHOW LIKE THIS? The most value goes to the newbie

who has the opportunity to try many different whiskies to see what brand or even style they like.

ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE EVENT NEXT YEAR? A stronger push for more international whiskies and WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS OF THE EVENT? WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A American Craft.

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PHOTO BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

Craft Beverage Expo ORGANIZER ATTENDEES: Over 1,300. SUPPLIERS: 165.

that allowed novices and seasoned professionals WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE DIFFERENTLY the opportunity to network and learn. Regardless NEXT YEAR? More attendees. of their years in the industry we had conference ARE YOU GOING AGAIN IN 2015? Yes. programing for every level.

WHAT WERE THE BEST RECEIVED CLASSES, AND WORKSHOPS? All the classes were full and very

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED ON? I believe that the entire event can get bigger and stronger. We can well received. The distribution sessions, the build on the tradeshow floor so our exhibitors have data session, and the branding workshop were a stronger more profitable marketplace, we can definitely a highlight. add new sessions to the conference to enhance WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY GOAL GOING INTO THIS learning and understanding. YEAR’S EVENT? We wanted all the attendees to have WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2015? We are looking an outstanding conference experience, we wanted to increase networking opportunities. Enhanced to bring together influencers from all three market evening activities to include a possible consumer categories, and we wanted the exhibitors to have event, partnering with more organizations and a productive marketplace. creating a more-inclusive craft environment. WHO IS THE TARGET MARKET FOR THIS EVENT? The target attendee is a producer of craft product that EXHIBITOR: JILLIAN FRANCIS – understands the importance of collaboration and YANKEE SCHOONER the need for strong industry education. We are HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT CBE? CBE was a looking for producers who are looking to make great opportunity to network and make friends the next move in their evolution, from a small with fellow vendors and clients in the beverage producer, to attaining distribution, to moving to industry. retail shelves or even trying to export. WHO GETS THE MOST VALUE FROM ATTENDING?

Producers who are looking to make the next move in their evolution, from a small producer, to attaining distribution, to moving to retail shelves or even trying to export. This event will help craft producers get to their next level, whatever that level may be.

WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF AN EVENT LIKE THIS? I cannot speak for the

attendee, but there is good value for the exhibitor at tradeshows. Especially as CBE grows, the attendee list grows which proves more value to exhibitors. WHAT ASPECT OF THE EVENT DID YOU ENJOY THE MOST? Meeting people from different walks of

ATTENDEE: CRIS STELLER – DRY DIGGINGS DISTILLERY HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT CBE? I found the CBE a productive experience for both education and professional relationship building. HOW MANY CONVENTIONS/TASTING EVENTS HAVE YOU ATTENDED THIS YEAR? Two. WHERE THERE ANY CLASSES OR PANELS THAT REALLY STOOD OUT FOR YOU? My partner found the

Trademark seminars very good, and I was a fan of the Distributor related track. WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU GOT OUT OF THE EVENT? To be honest, the most important

thing was meeting people like yourself (Artisan Spirit Magazine) during the Expo portion. Relationships and meeting face to face with people is always the best part. WHO DO YOU THINK GETS THE MOST VALUE OUT OF A SHOW LIKE THIS? I think it depends on the market

segment...from a distiller perspective, I think someone above the ADI experience, but not yet a major player. That is someone who is in the business, but still working on brands that are not household names.

ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR THE EVENT NEXT YEAR? Less life. We were able to get a different view of each classes, and more depth...Interaction that goes more than 1300 people who see the vision in industry. There are points at which wine, beer and into the subject from the attendees and the bringing together the beer, spirits, and wine, cider spirits overlap, but also have completely different speakers. and mead industries. A strong conference program needs. WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SUCCESS? Bringing together

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BLUE WHITE FLAME RIVER AN EXAMPLE OF CONTRACT DISTILLING WRITTEN BY STEVEN SEIM

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PHOTOS PROVIDED BY BLUE FLAME SPIRITS


i

t is a fantasy seemingly unattainable: to start a distillery “allows us to launch our brand while we are going through the without the massive upfront costs associated with building TTB process.”

a company from scratch. Buying/leasing a building, purchasing

Despite not making their product themselves,

the instruction and information available during the distilling

barrels, sourcing ingredients, complying with international/ process is invaluable. But even for someone with some distilling federal/state/city laws, buying glassware and designing labels; experience, having the supervision of a successful veteran in the if you want to start a distillery, the task list can grow quickly. A early stages of a new distillery can give you an edge if you are potential distiller may be intimidated out of their dream. But there is another option gaining traction and popularity

able to continue on to your own facilities. There can be some detriments to starting a business this

around the country: contract distilling. While not new, the recent

way, however. Since White River’s goal is to eventually continue

boom of craft distilling in the country has also meant a boom

production in their own distillery, they told us the biggest

to this practice: contracting out time on your equipment to an drawback they anticipate so far is “our spirits are not being made upstart distiller or agreeing to make a spirit from a potential in the same still they will be when we open our own distillery. We distiller’s recipe.

are going to have to work extra hard to ensure we are following

We had a chance to talk to both Blue Flame Spirits and White

the same process for distilling and finishing the product when we

River Distillers. White River, a brand new company, has entered

transfer operations to our own location.” In addition, they rely on

into an agreement with Blue Flame to create their first line of Blue Flame to do the actual work so White River isn’t totally in products utilizing Blue Flame’s equipment, storage space, and

control of production timelines. This can cause some frustration

ingredients. Both distilleries were willing to share some details

when trying to determine shipping times.

of their arrangement in order to help inform others who may be interested in researching this process for themselves.

If you own a distillery you might be wondering “why would I ever make someone else’s product?” Well, there can be some

In this partnership, White River won’t actually use Blue

benefits for you as well. It can be an extra source of revenue

Flame’s still themselves, the labor is done by Blue Flame’s

from the off-hours you aren’t using the facility. Or, if you make it

trained employees. However, the recipe was finalized by White

part of your agreement, you may get a percentage of the returns

River, who are solely responsible for the quality and the decision

their product makes. If you don’t want anyone else using your

to start bottling. They ensure quality by traveling to the distillery

valuable equipment, outsourcing your time for someone else’s

during the mash, fermentation and distillation processes. Blue

product gives your employees a chance at trying new things. For

Flame usually offers to source packaging materials, but White

Brian Morton of Blue Flame, it is also a good feeling to help grow

River was so far along into their product design that Blue Flame

the distilling industry by helping a startup get their first chance.

agreed to let them source their own glass, labels, and branding

Blue Flame is turning this process into a service they will

independently. Bottles are shipped directly to Blue Flame, and

offer to whoever would like to apply. They are launching these

Blue Flame will fill the bottles and deliver to a distributor.

services as a new division within their business, specifically to

For someone who would like to start a distillery, the benefits of offer people the chance to come up with a recipe and see the working with someone else’s equipment, or labor, readily present distilling process through to distribution and delivery . Their idea themselves. Getting an initial run of a spirit to a distributor is to offer turnkey-style distilling and business instruction to without having to find facilities/equipment of your own can

people of any experience level, which will show how much effort

generate revenue that goes directly towards the cost of opening

and how many resources it takes to open a distillery. They hope

your own production facility. For White River, this process

to help many young distilleries in the future.

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Grain Neutral Spirits

Consistent Quality From Batch-to-Batch

White River has some advice for how to make sure the fit is right. “We would recommend doing all of your due diligence and research on not only the distillery you are looking at approaching but the other distilleries in their area.” Making sure you and your potential partners fit in every way will be the key to ensuring both sides benefit. Brian and the team at White River both mentioned

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that many meetings took place before an agreement was made, which resulted in both sides being clear about each other’s role in the partnership.

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There will be many aspects to discuss before entering into an agreement like this, and covering your bases beforehand may save you headaches later. Things like where the grain will come from, who will buy it, who/where will store the product, and how the bottling will be handled all need to be considered. Company branding will depend on applicable laws (such as which of the two distilleries will be listed on the bottle) and will need to be agreed upon. Brian from Blue Flame told us that “Due to some federal laws our holding company may appear on bottles. Some situations are different than others.” And from the established distiller’s point of view, Brian also mentioned that special insurance procedures are put into place for everyone’s benefit. In this case, White River work as individual contractors, not employees of Blue Flame, and all appropriate considerations are made. White River is looking forward to operating their own distillery, and they would like their partnership with Blue Flame to evolve into other business ventures. Blue Flame echoed that sentiment, saying “we are currently looking to expand their product line, so I would imagine that we will be working together for quite some time.” No matter how their initial run of spirits fares, these two companies have found a long term partnership that will benefit both distilleries.

Blue Flame Spirits is located in Prosser, WA. For more information visit www.blueflamespirits.com or call (509) 778-4036. Visit www.whiteriverdistillers.com for more info on White River Distillers.

NOW AVAILABLE

One-on-One Distillery Classes Contract Distilling & Bottling Bulk Spirits, Rums & Whiskeys

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BREAKING the BOURBON CEILING WRITTEN BY AMBER G. CHRISTENSEN-SMITH


A N o t e F r o m T h e A u t h o r : Being a business woman for nearly a decade educated me well in the ways of the “glass ceiling.” I learned that through hard work and by taking no guff off of any male counterpart, that the “boys’ club” could be decimated in most instances. However, there were some circles and some circumstances where it was virtually impenetrable. For the most part, the ceiling has begun to disappear. I wondered, however, if the ceiling existed in distilling for women in the current era of equality and modernity, in an industry that is heavily populated by male practitioners. We often think of distilling as a boys’ club, with men sitting in heavy wooden chairs, whiskey in hand, and puffing on a stoic cigar. But the face of distilling is changing; after all, this is the Twenty-First Century. Women are becoming more and more visible in a field that has been highly dominated by men. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing several of these phenomenal women. I gathered their thoughts on women in distilling and how they have been welcomed into this craft by their communities and by other distillers. All of these women are incredible people and hard-working distillers and/or distillery owners. Their passion and drive within the industry is setting the bar for our next generation of artisans.

FINDING SUPPORT Most women in the distilling field come into it from other professions, but with a heap of passion for spirits that drive them in this occupation. It is in no way different than what they experience from their male counterparts when it comes to drive and enthusiasm. All of the women I interviewed overwhelmingly said they have found amazing support in their industry, and many stress that they have found support from not only other women, but men, as well. Heather Bean of Syntax Spirits states, “I’ve received support and advice from many folks—both women and men. I’ve just gotten the impression that there are just a lot of nice, helpful people in the industry.” Willie’s Distillery’s Robin

“In the past year I have begun to meet more women in distilling and PHOTO BY RACHAEL MCINTOSH

am loving it.

We are organizing a Women in Whiskey retreat in Asheville this fall.” TROY BALL ASHEVILLE DISTILLING COMPANY

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“I have many ‘whiskey sisters’ from whom I rely on for support in various ways. And I believe that we’re all friends not because we’re perhaps a minority but because we all have a deep love for whiskey and a desire to share our passions with others.” ALLISON PATEL BRENNE WHISKEY

Blazer follows up that thought with, “I guess I haven’t really delineated myself as a woman vs. man in the industry. I’ve distillery owner.” Blazer is right in pointing out that there really shouldn’t be a difference between her as a female distiller and that of a distiller that happens to be male. Beyond the distinction that men and women are both welcoming women distillers into the field, many of the women in the industry are still happy to have female counterparts for support and camaraderie. “I have many ‘whiskey sisters’ from whom I rely on for support in various ways,” Allison Patel of Brenne Whiskey shares. “And I believe that we’re all friends

PHOTO PROVIDED BY BRENNE WHISKEY

always been regarded as a distillery owner and not a ‘woman’

not because we’re perhaps a minority but because we all have a deep love for whiskey and a desire to share our passions with others.” Troy Ball of Asheville Distilling Company came into

woman’s voice on the phone that I am in a secretarial role, and

distilling after leaving her work in real estate to do something

are thrown off when they find out I am the one they need to

for herself after lovingly caring for her two special needs sons.

speak to,” Caitlin Bartlemay of Clear Creek Distillery shares.

Troy shares, “When I got started in 2008, I didn’t know any

Overall, Bartlemay is able to laugh it off and says she feels that

other women in the industry…in the past year I have begun

she came into the business with many women already in the

to meet more women in distilling and am loving it. We are

field that she could work alongside.

organizing a Women in Whiskey retreat in Asheville this fall.”

Elizabeth Serage of Wyoming Whiskey adds, “Making a place for oneself in distilling is not easy and the women who

OVERCOMING BARRIERS

accomplish it deserve support and respect; but I challenge folks

While support is abundant for these distillers, they have also

these women are excelling while also handling challenges

faced many barriers. The barriers can be as small as an off-

unique to being a female in our industry.” While some barriers

to consider whether they find it a remarkable novelty or realize

the-cuff comment, to being completely ignored when asking

will remain for now, the hope is that with more women entering

questions at events. “The one thing that comes to mind is

the field of distilling, it will be less of a novelty and women

when answering the phone at the distillery things get a little

will be viewed less as tokens in the industry and more as just

interesting. People always assume that because they hear a

hardworking individuals in their field.

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“I guess I haven’t really delineated myself as a woman vs. man in the industry.

I’ve always been

regarded as a distillery owner and not a ‘woman’ distillery owner.” ROBIN BLAZER WILLIE’S DISTILLERY

WOMEN ENTER STAGE RIGHT

Overall, the excitement is brewing for women in the industry, not just because they are women, but because they are

There is a hope that more and more women will break the mold and choose the art of distilling as a profession. “I certainly hope more women are getting involved and I see and hear about

spectacular distillers that just happen to be women. Women in the industry want to be separated from their sex, and to be seen as dedicated craftsmen of distilling above all else.

amazing women knocking it out of the park,” shares Serage. Serage recognizes there are some tough parts of the industry, but she wants to see the diversity. Ball explains that she is excited more women are coming into the industry: “When I speak and travel, I always have younger women who want to talk about the industry. We’re still a minority, but we are producing award-winning products and gaining respect. I’ve found that people in the craft distilling business care about quality and the

“When I started at Clear Creek, Kristina Wilcox was a big help. She…has been a rock to lean on when it seems that the cards are stacked a little un-even.

It

always helps to get another woman’s opinion on a situation” CAITLYN BARTLEMAY CLEAR CREEK DISTILLERY

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CLEAR CREEK DISTILLERY

gender of the distiller is irrelevant.”

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and your accomplishments as a person; share your happiness and be grateful to those who support your growth.” It might be tough to get your foot in the door, as Bartlemay shares, “but don’t take no for an answer.” Bean adds, “Do what you do, do it well, and learn all that you can from every situation. I think that this advice

“Robin Blazer and Courtney McKee have taught me a great deal and share so much of their experiences and knowledge with me, but

I also want to give a shout out to all the men who have supported me.” ELIZABETH SERAGE WYOMING WHISKEY

applies whether you’re female, male, purple, from Jupiter, omni-sexual, or anything else. Being a woman may be a bit of an oddity in distilling at the moment, but so are lots of other external characteristics that come with their own challenges.” Blazer stressed the importance of self-worth: “Stop thinking of yourself as a woman and start thinking of yourself as a distiller. By seeing ourselves as something other than

ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION

equal, we allow that prejudice to promulgate. People will see us as we see ourselves.” Serage wanted to remind women, “It’ll probably be darn

“This is an exciting AND exhausting industry,” Ball notes. Ball

tough, and we’re here for you.” Women in this industry are

travels non-stop and understands the hard work of distilling.

proving how dedicated and creative they are as distillers and

Still, she and others know the great pride that comes with great

what great leaders they can be for the young women that are

production. Patel shares, “Take pride in how you treat others

growing up and looking to them.

“I’ve received support and advice from many folks—both women and men.

I’ve just gotten

the impression that there are just a lot of nice, helpful people in the industry.” HEATHER BEAN SYNTAX SPIRITS DISTILLERY

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Deerhammer WRITTEN BY ALLISON ARMFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN


A

t the foot of the Rocky Mountains’ Collegiate Peaks is the

during prohibition in Brooklyn, NY. Lenny’s wife, Amy, is the co-

cozy town of Buena Vista, Colorado. In this small town

owner as well as head barmaid of Deerhammer. Lenny confesses

Lenny Eckstein and his wife Amy decided to open Deerhammer

that he is a bit of a control freak and is the only distiller as of

Distilling Company, a family owned micro distillery where they

now, but also realizes that sooner or later he will have to let go of

produce small batch Artisan American-style whiskey. Buena

that. As of now, Deerhammer does not sell their whiskey outside

Vista is located along the Arkansas River which not only provides

of Colorado. They are not against spreading their name but for

beautiful scenery with great kayaking but also streams fresh

now they are content with staying where they’re at, which is

glacial water which serves as the starting point for Deerhammer’s

locally sourcing and producing small batches of whiskey.

whiskey. Regionally grown malted grains are mashed with this

Lenny’s passion for whiskey stemmed first and foremost from

pristine water to impart a local flavor to a classic spirit. Lenny

a passion for beer. “I love beer, but I didn’t love whiskey.” In

then uses handcrafted copper pots to double distill his whiskey

reality, beer and whiskey really aren’t that different, and a lot

in small batches.

of his fellow beer-loving friends were also appreciative of a good

Lenny spent 13 years as a graphic designer and decided it

whiskey so Lenny figured he was missing out on something great.

was time to break the monotony of his cubicle and nine-to-

“Life is short and I wanna taste the best things I can taste!”

five life. Like many great distillers, Lenny comes with a family

Although whiskey is an acquired taste, Lenny grew to appreciate

background in distilling: his great grandparents bottled and sold

the spirit and has become rather poetic about it. “Whiskey is all

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about the process and it’s all about the feels, and the aromas, and the smells and the sounds...it’s a pretty romantic process. All in all I think whiskey is a pretty romantic spirit in the sense that it’s got such a journey to get where it gets. It evolves so much.” When reflecting on the determining process and the road to opening Deerhammer Distillery, Lenny ever so correctly declared, “It wouldn’t be a distillery if it were an easy road!” At first, everything appeared to be moving along quite smoothly: the couple found a location that would ‘fit the bill’ and was deemed by the building department and county to be an F1 occupancy, which essentially means that the factory only poses a moderate hazard. Lenny and Amy were told that they would not need sprinklers, they were just limited on the volumes and quantities produced, which worked with their goal to distill small batched whiskey. Things with the fire inspector also went well, he only needed to take a look around and tell them where to place their extinguishers. Lenny, with a sigh of relief thought, “Wow, I don’t think anyone’s had an easier road to opening a distillery!” And then things got interesting. “The fire inspector came back and made a comment in regards to barrel storage about how ‘it won’t be a problem because nothing’s over 12 percent alcohol.’” Lenny had to clarify because he didn’t think he heard him right. “Did you say 12 percent? Because whiskey is a little higher than that.” The fire inspector responded “Whiskey?! I thought this was a brewery!” From there everything got much more complicated. Lenny recollects a lot of fighting, yelling, and a lot of

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“Enjoying whiskey is not enough. You have to love it and love the process because it is not all glory.” 

- Lenny Eckstein

meetings. Eventually they found a great architect who has experience working with distilleries and is very familiar with codes, and who was able to act as a buffer between the Ecksteins and the officials. Another

‘bump’

they

encountered

involved putting up their malt silo. “They were convinced that love it, you need to embrace it and live it because distilling is a it was a bomb that would level this whole town,” jokes Lenny. lifestyle. It is also important to be realistic. Be specific in what After a lot of discussion, they were able to convince officials you are going to make, where you are going to make it, and make that it would not combust. Lenny laughs, “It was a big fight, the sure it is enough to make a living off of. It is crucial to meet with whole town knows about it now!” One last obstacle the couple is local authorities and explain in a way to help them understand facing is the reconstruction of their boiler room. This boiler room specifically what you want to do because they can stop you dead is still being completed and because of delays in construction, in your tracks. And most importantly, you must love what you’re they have not been able to use the larger still they previously about to do. The startup seems hardest but that’s when you’re purchased.

excited and energized; really it’s the maintaining that’s the

Lenny has succeeded in freeing himself from the bonds of a hardest but also most rewarding. Once you are able to see your cubicle. He was kind enough to share some advice for future goals fulfilled or dreams become a reality, you are satisfied.” distillers on how they can follow his example. “First and foremost, enjoying whiskey is not enough. You have to love it and love the Deerhammer Distilling Company is located in Buena Vista, CO. process because it is not all glory. It’s not enough to like it or to For more info visit www.deerhammer.com or call (719) 395-9464.

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WHAT IS CRAFT

?

THE ANSWER MAY NOT BE SO BLACK AND WHITE. WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER


“We should not look outside of ‘us’ to regulate these things, and I think we need to recognize that if we’re interested in a long term relationship with our customers, there’s an implied trust.” — Jake Norris, Laws Whiskey House

O

f all the current conversations in the craft distilling world,

regulate these things, and I think we need to recognize that if

the most pivotal seems to be: What exactly is “craft?”

we’re interested in a long term relationship with our customers,

Many feel an urgency to define the word before some other organization does, and before consumers lose their trust in this relatively new wave of spirits. Open discussions to receive input on the definition of craft are happening across the US, with three of the largest hosted

there’s an implied trust.” While many are in agreement about the need to define craft, there is very little agreement about how to define it. Ask any distiller or consumer what craft means and you will get a different answer every time.

at conferences for the American Craft Distillers Association

“Craft distilling to us is really a state of mind,” said Frank

(ACDA), the American Distilling Institute (ADI), and the World

Coleman, Senior Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council

Whiskies Conference (WWC).

of the United States (DISCUS), a trade organization for all

The current situation, with no legal definition and ambiguous

American distillers, large and small. “It’s about a love of

consensus, allows for misleading advertising by brands that

products, it’s about a commitment to quality. I don’t know that

many believe should not be able to call themselves craft and

you can define that.”

the subsequent loss of trust from consumers who paid more for a “craft” brand that was not what it claimed to be. “Some of them are adopting what we do for marketing purposes only,” explains Ralph Erenzo of Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, NY. “They’re not actually imparting the same standards and levels of operation or mindset to the production that many of the small producers are doing, but they’re doing it to ride the coattails of that word, ‘craft.’” Truth in labeling will need to be enforced to prevent this, and

“It’s about a love of products, it’s about a commitment to quality. I don’t know that you can define that.” — Frank Coleman, Senior Vice President of DISCUS

Ryan Burchett of Mississippi River Distilling Co. in Le Claire, IA says that should be the first priority. “If there’s a problem in the way that the government looks at how we label things, then let’s fix that,” he suggests.

“Craft is a lot of things to a lot of people,” explains Casey

But first, what exactly is craft distilling? Many propose that

McGowan of Trailhead Spirits in Billings, MT. “To me it’s using

establishing rules to define craft distilling will help to keep

your hands, making something, creating something from start

consumer trust so that they will continue buying craft brands,

to finish. Craft is anything that you’re doing that’s your own.”

and eliminate the confusion that distributors, retailers and consumers alike are currently facing.

Many people agree that the mindset and involvement of the distiller should have something to do with the definition of craft.

“We need to regulate ourselves,” says Jake Norris of Laws

The difficult part of defining craft in this way is that it is a

Whiskey House in Denver. “We should not look outside of ‘us’ to

concept, explains Tom Potter of New York Distilling Company.

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Potter was instrumental in guiding the craft beer industry into what it is today, and says that while the distilling industry is different from brewing, many commonalities exist. Potter pointed out that the Brewers Association eventually landed on three points to define craft beer: small, (6 million barrels annual production or less), independent (members of

“When it comes to the concept of craft and artistry, it’s exhibited at all levels of the spectrum, not just the small distillery level.” — David Pickerell, Oak View Consulting

the beverage alcohol industry who are not the actual craft brewer can own no more than 25 percent of the company), and traditional. The first two rules are numbers, both of which changed as the industry grew, but the third is a concept. “When it comes to the concept of craft and artistry, it’s exhibited at all levels of the spectrum, not just the small distillery level,” offers David Pickerell of Oak View Consulting. Pickerell was the master distiller at Maker’s Mark for 14 years, and has experience on both sides of the issue, having helped many craft distillers establish themselves and serving as master distiller for WhistlePig Whiskey. Phil Prichard of Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, TN, agrees. Prichard cautions against defining only small distillers as

“I would say that craft is less of a size designation than it is the dedication to quality.” — Elizabeth Serage, Wyoming Whiskey

craft, while excluding larger distillers. Prichard has good relationships with many of the master distillers at large distilleries. “I promise you one thing,” he says. “They all consider themselves craftsmen.” Drawing a “craft” line between distillers based on size is difficult to do, as many of the large distilleries produce excellent spirits. Just because a distillery is large does not mean they are not committed to quality, explains Elizabeth Serage of Wyoming Whiskey in Kirby, WY, saying, “I would say that craft is less of a size designation than it is the dedication to quality.” And if a small distiller succeeds and grows, do they somehow cease to be craft? Coleman of DISCUS reiterated a point that Potter made about how the Brewers Association’s numbers

“In our distillery we’ve had a lot of talks about leaving the word craft behind, using something else, because it has been so complicated.”

always grew, saying that the distilling industry also needs to

— Maggie Campbell, Privateer Rum

“You worked your butt off for 15 or 20 years and now your

expect that growth. “Today’s 60,000 barrels is tomorrow’s 6 million,” says Coleman, “so just be careful where you put your finger on that one.” Erenzo emphasizes that a distiller’s success and growth shouldn’t disqualify them from being considered craft. company’s self-sustaining,” he explains, “and you can have a nice office and maybe go visit other distilleries and come down and play in the distillery and go climbing once in a while and have a life - that doesn’t really change the way your spirit is made and what’s in the bottle, and it doesn’t change the soul of your product.”

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“If you want to be here in 20 years, you better be respected in the industry, you better have people believe you when you say where that spirit comes from or how it’s made, you better be telling the truth.” — John Foster, Smooth Ambler Spirits

One suggested aid to the dilemma is to change the word from

need clarity around this,” he explained. “When we go out into

craft to something else, or drop the label altogether. Pickerell

the marketplace and start talking to retailers, we need to be

emceed a discussion between large and small distillers at the

consistent across the distributor network.”

WWC, and opened by saying, “I’d like to start with diffusing

Andrew Faulkner emceed the ADI debate, and explained that,

the use of the word craft. My personal belief is that every spirit

“People are molding the definition of craft to fit exactly what

that’s being made today is better than any spirit that was being

they do.” One of the common threads in the discussion is what

made forty years ago. While you might find a few examples to

a distiller must do to be craft. Some argue that blenders and

the contrary, I truly believe that a rising tide has lifted all the

bottlers are not craft, while their counterparts that use NGS to

ships.”

make gin are a little craft, but still not as craft as the distillers

“In our distillery we’ve had a lot of talks about leaving the

making all of their spirit from raw ingredients.

word craft behind, using something else, because it has been

“I’m an independent bottler – I’m out of the closet,” joked

so complicated,” tells Maggie Campbell of Privateer Rum in

Ted Pappas of Big Bottom Whiskey from Portland, OR at the

Ipswich, MA. “And the more and more people become betrayed

ACDA debate. Pappas is the President of the Oregon Distillers

by mislabeling and misrepresentation, when I walk into a bar

Guild, and has been a strong voice of leadership for the state

and I say, ‘Hey, look, we ferment every single thing from scratch,

with the most distilleries per capita in the nation. While he has

we make every drop ourselves, we create the alcohol,’ it’s kind

plans to expand into distilling his own spirits, for now he custom

of a battle from time to time, they almost don’t believe you.”

blends and bottles a variety of whiskies, which many agree is

As difficult as it will be to define, it will be important to do

not easy to do. “I never use the word craft in my marketing,”

so for marketing purposes. Jim Smith of Republic National

Pappas says, “because we’re not doing that yet. The definition

Distributing says the current situation is causing a lot of

of craft and how we use that term, at a certain point, comes

confusion. “Speaking from a distributor’s perspective, we

down to how I run my company, my personal integrity and if I utilize it in marketing.” John Foster of Smooth Ambler Spirits in Maxwelton, WV

“The definition of craft and how we use that term, at a certain point, comes down to how I run my company, my personal integrity and if I utilize it in marketing.” — Ted Pappas, Big Bottom Whiskey

agrees. “If you want to be here in 20 years, you better be respected in the industry, you better have people believe you when you say where that spirit comes from or how it’s made, you better be telling the truth.” With or without a craft label, good distillers should still succeed. “Over time, the cream kind of rises to the top,” says Potter. “I do trust that, over time, you can’t fake it. To some extent you can try to legislate that, but more effective is a culture, a community, that says ‘this is what we prize,’ and I think that’s effective.”

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GOING for GOLD ARIA GIN WRITTEN BY AMBER G. CHRISTENSEN-SMITH /// PHOTO BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

Y

ou know you’re doing things right when your gin

makes it in the top three best sellers in Oregon with its first run. But that success was not always the case for the gentlemen behind the Aria Gin name, Erik Martin and Ryan Csanky. Where most men might give up and move on to other opportunities, the team behind Aria did not — and in the meantime they’ve grown a great brand and helped uplift the other distillers in Oregon’s craft spirit community. The gents’ first adventure in distilling was with vodka. They fully invested in a business, putting together their craft operation, yet it was a rocky road that served unfavorable results and left them taking a break from distilling for a period of time. Ryan and Erik found themselves stretched to the limit during their first try at owning and running a distillery. They reflect on owning their own spirit production business and how challenging it was as a two-man operation. “It was really difficult…making it is a full time job, running a warehouse is a full time job, and going out and selling it is a full time job--and even then there is not enough time at the end of the day.” Add to that the fact that both men were already working full time day jobs.

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This extension of themselves came to be too much

sales data that is accessible to anyone in the state because it is

so they went back to the drawing board in order to public record. Oregon is unique in that its data is accessible to gather their thoughts and to rethink their plan.

distillers, which is not always the case in every state depending

Erik and Ryan have gone on to create a new spirit

on how liquor is regulated. Because of the legal control of

by process of contracting through the Bull Run

liquor by the state government, a tremendous amount of data

Distilling Company in Portland, rather than by owning their own distillery. Instead of vodka, they decided upon gin

this

time

around.

With the change, they challenged themselves to explore a recipe that is uncommon with American gin distillers, who more often choose to create a gin with spicy

and

sometimes

fruitier flavors infused in their batches. The boys at Aria have settled on a more traditional British style gin instead.

The goal was to have

something more classic that will surely go with more

is available to distillers that can be utilized for marketing information. “Some guys count sheep. Ryan counts bottles of Gin,” laughs Erik. While joking, they are serious — the two have been able to search through the states database to see the popularity of their gin and to track changes and trends, and to see just how they might want to plan out their future.

THE GLUE THAT HOLDS US TOGETHER One of the great accomplishments Erik and Ryan were able to achieve during their transition from a failed company to a successful

traditional cocktails — something that is growing in popularity

brand was in helping build the Oregon Distillers Guild — an

with consumers.

organization that promotes and brings distillers together as a

Since they are contracting with Bull Run Distilling for use of

community for the sake of influencing legislation and in building

their distilling equipment, they are now able to focus on what a following for craft spirits. Erik and Ryan were able to focus on they were originally passionate about — making a high quality time with the Guild when they abandoned the vodka idea — and product they love and sell to others. With contracting, they are

their focus has helped build it up to what it is today. Ryan and

able to schedule their use of the distillery and produce and

Erik were able to lead the guild forward, build a website, and

bottle their gin approximately every six weeks, without worrying work towards influencing state legislature in order to help bring about the capital they would have invested in equipment after distillers more visibility in the state. they complete a run.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED... Through their education in distilling, Erik and Ryan have learned many things about success, and how to learn from failure. Ryan has bartended for over sixteen years and learned firsthand that a bartender can be one of the best ambassadors for your craft. Many distillers are hiring bartenders as their marketing professionals because of their experience with a variety of spirits, they skills in mixology, and their passion for the product. Bartenders have a great credibility in marketing and are

Now the guild is in the hands of new leaders since Erik and Ryan have served their stint, but it is growing and the Oregon Distillery Trail has been built to promote craft spirits, which is creating a following of consumers. A “passport” for the trail is being created so as to excite consumers and the Aria boys couldn’t be happier to be a part of it all. Overall, Erik and Ryan are in good shape. Their gin is gaining popularity throughout the state and now throughout the country. They have won multiple awards, including a Gold Medal through the American Craft Distillers Association Competition. They’ve been featured in several periodicals, as well. Sometimes a second chance is the best chance.

excellent at promoting the products.

Aria Gin is located in Portland, OR. For more information visit Another useful tool these gentlemen have found is Oregon’s www.ariagin.com or call (503) 224-3483.

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BECAUSE ACCURACY

MATTERS

DETERMINING ETHANOL CONCENTRATION WRITTEN BY SIEGFRIED HOLD, CHRISTINE BACHLER & NICHOLAS GROSECLOSE

0.955515

0.955502


THE IMPORTANCE OF DENSITY Density

is

defined

as

mass

per

unit volume and is a commonly used measurement technique to determine

range, while precision without accuracy

ensure the concentration determination

will have your measurements tightly

of ethanol is accurate in the range of ±

grouped, but at the wrong temperature.

0.01 % v/v.

Depending on the liquid you are

Since

density

is

directly

related

characteristics.

sampling (or, more specifically, on the

to temperature, precisely measuring

Density measurement is an officially

liquid’s coefficient of expansion), the

temperature will also affect ethanol

recognized method to determine alcohol

measuring temperature has to be stable

concentration

concentration in alcoholic beverages

to within a narrow range in order to yield

take another look at the example on

that is used by the Alcohol and Tobacco

the required density accuracy. If the

the left. The density change as a result

Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Officially

measuring temperature is unstable, then

of temperature, when applied to an

recognized

density

the accuracy of the density measurement

ethanol table, will result in a change

measurement include the use of the

can be called into question, as well as any

in ethanol concentration. The 0.02°C

digital density meters.

other values (like ethanol concentration)

temperature change results in an ethanol

derived from the density.

concentration change of approximately

various

material

methods

for

DENSITY: A FUNCTION OF TEMPERATURE

For example, the chart on the left

The density of a sample is strongly dependent on the temperature at which the sample is measured. A change in temperature will influence the volume of the sample based on the sample’s coefficient of expansion, which is a measure of how the liquid will expand as a result of a temperature change. Since the mass of a sample does not change with temperature, a change in volume will influence the sample’s

determination.

Let’s

0.01 %v/v.

shows the measurement data of a 35

It is optimal to keep the measuring

volume percent (%/v/v) ethanol solution

temperature stable to within ± 0.01°C

around 20.00°C. If we look at the change

to allow for the ability to accurately

in density with respect to the measuring

measure alcohol concentration to less

temperature around the region of 20.00°

than ± 0.01 %v/v. If you were to expand

± 0.01 (from 19.99°C to 20.01°C),

the temperature uncertainty up to ±

we can see that a 0.02°C change in

0.03°C, this would result in a threefold

temperature will result in a density

loss of accuracy in the measurement of

change in the fifth decimal place. This

density and ethanol concentration.

may not seem like much but, as we will see, this will become significant.

TEMPERATURE AND THE BOTTOM LINE It is important to avoid a higher temperature inaccuracy otherwise you

relationship between temperature and

ACCURATE ETHANOL DETERMINATION WITH DENSITY MEASUREMENT

density. If temperature increases, the

The concentration of a two component

higher temperature inaccuracy can lead

volume increases, and density goes

mixture, like ethanol and water, can

to measurement errors, which can result

down. Conversely, when temperature

be determined by means of density

in such complications as claiming a

decreases, the volume decreases, and so

measurement. By measuring the density

lower proof and having to pay fines, or

density increases.

and using a density versus concentration

claiming a higher proof and then having

table,

to pay taxes on alcohol that is not there.

density. Generally, there is an inverse

This means that accurate and precise temperature

control

is

crucial

to

determining correct density values. High

the

concentration

of

both

components can be determined. Modern digital density meters can

run risks in your production process. A

In

the

highly

regulated

distilled

spirits market, density values have to be

accuracy is required to make sure that

automatically

measured

accurate and precise. In particular, the

the measured temperature is the same

density into ethanol concentration. The

ability to accurately and precisely control

as the temperature required to perform

concentration tables used will ideally

the measuring temperature should be

the

precision

comply with national standards such

given thorough consideration.

is required to make sure that that

as OIML, AOAC, IUPAC, KAEMPF, etc.

measured temperature can be repeated

These tables often refer to the density

time and time again. Accuracy without

of ethanol/water mixtures as a function

precision will have your temperature

of temperature and prescribe density

measurements spread out over a wide

accuracy in the fifth decimal place to

measurement.

High

convert

the

Siegfried Hold, Christine Bachler & Nicholas Groseclose represent Anton Paar GmbH of Graz, Austria & Anton Paar USA of Ashland, Virginia USA. For more info visit www.anton-paar.com or call (804) 550-1051.

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 67


MONTGOMERY DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER

f

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

ounded in 2012 by Ryan

are spirits geeks and cocktail

and Jennifer Montgomery,

nerds, and we do a lot of

Montgomery Missoula,

Distillery Montana’s

is first

research and experimentation, which

is

great

fun,”

she

craft distillery. Housed in a

explains. Jennifer’s study at a

massive

brick

local herbal school also informs

building originally built as a

many of their cocktail recipes

liquor warehouse and saloon,

as well as their gin, which is

Montgomery is bringing the

infused with classic botanicals

block full circle, making spirits

as well as some local herbs like

in the back and hosting one

bee balm, yarrow and elder

of the liveliest cocktail bars

flower.

123-year-old

Coming

downtown in front. “We did not expect our

families,

from the

agricultural Montgomerys

tasting room to be as popular

aimed to produce top-shelf

as it was,” says Jennifer. “We

spirits using Montana talents

envisioned giving out samples

and

ingredients.

In

their

and making a few drinks, but as soon as we opened there Christian Carl pot-column artisan still, the crew makes vodka, were lines out the door for our cocktails.” Talented mixologists gin and whiskey using Montana grain as well as cherry brandy turn Montgomery spirits, liqueurs, syrups, shrubs, and bitters using Flathead Montana cherries. into impressive, innovative cocktails sourced from Montana

Prior to opening the distillery, Ryan and Jennifer travelled

ingredients, some of which have gained national recognition in extensively around the globe for their consulting jobs where they publications like New York and Redbook magazines.

shared their love of quality whiskies. “I came from the consumer

Jennifer credits their success in spirits and cocktails to a side,” Ryan explains. “I just enjoyed whiskey a lot. About 10 staff that is hardworking, diverse, and fun loving. “Many of us years ago I got really into Scotch whiskey and all the different

68 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


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flavors that can come out of basically the same grain. When it came time to make a career change it was kind of a natural thing for me to gravitate towards, and the more I looked into it the more it seemed less like an unrealistic, unattainable goal and more like it could possibly happen.” The pair traveled to Scotland in 2010, where Ryan studied at Springbank Distillery with Frank McHardy. Upon returning to the states, they toured craft distilleries and talked with the distillers to find out what it was like. Ryan said that once they really started moving forward it took about a year and a half to open. Ryan said that the Montana state government has been very accommodating to craft distillers and that Missoula is an excellent place for their business because the downtown is very vibrant and appreciative of local beer and spirits. “I think its right in line with the town,” he explains, “making our own stuff, having something local, and focusing on quality.” Montgomery works closely with many other Missoula charities and businesses. Besides hosting charity benefits, on “Moscow Mondays” a dollar of each cocktail purchase goes to selected charities to “redistribute the wealth.” They also partnered with nearby Wilma Theater for a Tuesday date night special, offering

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two movie tickets and two cocktails for twenty bucks. Taking advantage of their local brewing scene, Montgomery distilled some of Big Sky Brewing’s pale ale into a bierschnapps, then put the schnapps into a bourbon barrel that had already been used to age an imperial stout. “They aged their beer in an ex-bourbon barrel and then we distilled their beer and put it back

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in that barrel,” Ryan explained, saying that it took 1200 gallons of pale ale to produce one 53 gallon barrel of bierschnapps. Similarly, Ryan said Draughtworks Brewing in Missoula is brewing a beer, barrel aging that beer in a bourbon barrel, “and then we’re going to distill the beer and put it back in that bourbon

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cask. It’s going to be four different versions of the same beer – their original beer, their barrel-aged beer, our bierschnapps and our barrel-aged bierschnapps, and we’re going to release them all at the same time.” Head distiller and home brewer Chad Larrabee enjoys working with the breweries. Larrabee got an early start in fermentation when his first girlfriend’s father let him help make fruit wines. “I

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got really into it and after I moved to Montana I started brewing a lot of beer and eventually ended up working at a beer supply.” Larrabee was curious about distilling, and while working as a bartender he would often pick the brain of one of his regular customers, a college professor who specialized in natural product extraction and distilling. One night the two were talking and the Montgomerys attorney, in the next seat at the bar, overheard

70 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


the conversation and explained that his clients were interested in opening a distillery and that he thought they should meet. Larrabee approached Ryan and Jennifer with an offer to volunteer to help set up the still out of curiosity, but after meeting and talking, they offered him a job. Currently enrolled in a master distiller program in Edinburgh, Scotland, Larrabee is part of Montgomerys talented and diverse team of almost 20 people. Ryan’s parents are the sales managers; his mother retired from teaching 4th graders and his father was the USDA Farm Services Agency District Director for 31 years. Joining Ryan and Larrabee on the distilling team is Chris Conley, who was a vintner at a winery for nearly a decade. Ten different mixologists with a mountain of credentials work the bar in the tasting room, one of which, Kira Bassingthwaite, is in training to become a distiller as well.

Besides a love of spirits, most of the crew at Montgomery shares a love of motorcycles. Ryan tells that they had some extra space at the distillery, and “we needed a place to work on them and build them, so we just converted the back of the distillery into a motorcycle shop.” Ryan says the future looks bright for craft distilling in Montana, which he expects will continue to grow in size and popularity like the state’s brewing industry. “Currently, Montana has the second most breweries per capita in the country,” he said. “I expect the state to embrace craft distilling with the same zeal.”

Montgomery Distillery is located in Missoula, MT. For more info visit www.montgomerydistillery.com or call (406) 926-1725.

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WHAT IF

YOUR BABY IS UGLY AFTER ALL?

THE WHY AND WHY NOT OF ENTERING YOUR SPIRITS IN JUDGING COMPETITIONS WRITTEN BY NEAL MACDONALD ILLUSTRATION BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

E

very mother thinks her particular baby is the most beautiful in the world. In just the same way, any craft distiller thinks their

signature spirit smells and tastes of mythical ambrosia. Moms funnel their greatest hopes plus nine months of physical labor into their child while distillers pour their greatest ambitions accompanied by weeks of copper pot still-driven, recycled glass-

bottled sweat and toil. So, pleased with the result, the proud mother puts her baby on a path to fame and fortune by entering her in beauty pageants…just the same way you’re glancing at these spirits competitions to let the world see how great your stuff is. But what if they tell you, in the most impolite way possible, that your baby’s ugly after all? What if they say the same about your spirit? The resulting excuses and complaints are strikingly similar to the insulted mothers:

„„ “Who do these judges think they are anyway and what makes their opinion so special?”

„„ “It’s all subjective… just a matter of opinion, really. It’s a silly thing to try and quantify subjectivity.”

„„ “They don’t understand what I’m trying to do… they just don’t get it!”

„„ “I don’t make my spirits for them anyway… I make it to please me and my local customer base. They can go [redacted] themselves!”

„„ “Fame and fortune would ruin it; I don’t need the recognition.” 72 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Who wants to expose themselves to that? After all, this isn’t is every now and again moved to write about “the best” spirits. the National Highway Safety Administration crash-testing cars — Enter that damned mob of professional critics. you don’t have to do this! But there are some reasons that might

This is not a new profession — after all, authors have been

benefit you. So let’s shed your motherly instincts for a moment feuding with literary critics for centuries — but every artistic and look rationally at the costs and benefits:

endeavor has its self-appointed gate-keepers who make their living by making the esoteric more accessible to the masses. They’re

WHAT ARE WE GETTING OUT OF IT? “We” are the consumers and “we” are definitely not “you.”

equal parts arrogant, petty, conservative, and enlightening. They are making a nice living off of other’s work. There’s no

We’re not experts and we don’t have the time or inclination to way to sugarcoat that. become experts. We can barely taste the difference between rum and bourbon. We maybe keep six different bottles stuffed in a

YES, THIS STINKS BUT IT BEATS THE ALTERNATIVE!

cabinet above the refrigerator plus another four that got shoved

Judging competitions are the confluence of the customer’s

so far back we don’t know that they still exist.

need for guidance, your need for exposure, and the critic’s need

When we go to the store, we look morosely at the tens of linear for relevance and money. It’s awful. But in its absence, what do feet of shelf stuffed with exotica from all over the world and you do? Colorful labels? Bribes? Celebrity endorsements? Music we’re confused. We want to try something new but what? It’s your videos? After all the distillery tours, retail store tastings, and bottle or this Known Quantity we immerse in coke or lemonade local word-of-mouth, it is really hard to come up with something concentrate. This is exactly where competition scoring can help. Seeing

better than the critic. As our Chart of Common Sense shows, despite any bruised

an “expert” say something nice about a craft-distilled bottle is feelings there’s a large area of benefit and not too much downside. just the nudge in the back we need to take the plunge and buy something new. It’s a sign of credibility in a world of Yelp reviews

IF I’M GOING TO ENTER, WHAT SHOULD I ENTER?

and Amazon stars. And you’d better believe I’m Googling your

To me, after some years of watching these results, it seems

product if I’m thinking about buying it! It doesn’t matter what spirits are treated slightly differently. My impressions are: the score is, it’s a sign of credibility.

WHAT ARE YOU GETTING OUT OF IT? No doubt about it, it is a lot of fun to win these things and you

„„ Whiskey: Traditional, aged spirits seem to be the most kindly regarded. High scores flourish here. Older whiskey is almost always scored better than younger whiskey.

get a smug satisfaction and well deserved sense of pride from

„„ Brandy: As with whiskey, aged and traditional brandy is

a great result. If the competitive drive moves you, there’s no

treated well with higher scores on average. Eau-de-vie

substituting the thrill of victory.

also often scores well though it seems to be a stubborn

More pragmatically, this is a pure and simple marketing play. You have a budget for advertising and this is just another type of

market.

advertisement. Entering competitions and submitting to judges

„„ Rum: Aged rums tend to score fairly well — even in

is an advertisement for legitimacy for those spirits seeking

younger years — though not quite achieving the heady

exposure. Perhaps more importantly, the trade watches these

heights of whiskey. Silver rums settle out in average

results with some level of interest and these are advertisements

scores and spiced rums are often regarded suspiciously

for the distributor, the retailer, the mixologist, and the bar owner.

(though not always).

If you don’t have a catchy name or celebrity endorsements, this is a way for you to catch the eye of the trade. You are potentially getting more people more interested in (or at least more receptive to) carrying your product.

WHAT ARE THEY GETTING OUT OF IT?

„„ Gin: All gin runs athwart personal opinion. Some judges are intensely particular about their style of gin and we see enormous volatility in results. Scores tend to the high and low side rather than average. Submitting your gin is like buying a lottery ticket.

Spirits competitions are flowering. Review sites and blogs are

„„ Vodka: Notoriously difficult to judge consistently and

sprouting like weeds in a spring rain. Even the mainstream press

results are concentrated in a Lake Woebegone style of

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IF I’M GOING TO ENTER, WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE? WHAT WE FOLLOW AT PROOF66 (we’re most confident with these remarks)

SAN FRANCISCO WORLD SPIRITS COMPETITION Long-running, blind, with a

very broad reach and hundreds of entries. Highly competent judging. For sheer size, scope, and reach, this is grand-daddy of them all. Danger: You could get lost in the crowd.

BEVERAGE TESTING INSTITUTE Rigorous and respected judging. Very

consistent over time. They tend to reward more robust and intenseflavored spirits. Danger: They’re a bit fickle and most prone to a stray, cutting remark about your spirit.

WINE ENTHUSIAST (KARA NEWMAN) A single judge so the most consistent.

Charitable judging that seems to favor softer, gentler, and lower-proof spirits. Not afraid to give high marks to lower-priced products. Danger: You’re at the mercy of a single person’s opinion and it’s not blind. OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS (less confident here)

SIP AWARDS Very good marketing reach but the judges—obviously—are

regular people and not pros. As such, sweeter, blunter spirits tend to score very well. Danger: Lack of credibility in the trade.

NEW YORK SPIRITS COMPETITION The sister competition to the San

“everyone above average.” But in a crowded market, sometimes every scrap of publicity helps.

„„ Liqueurs: If there is one class of spirit that has

universally

benefited

from

judging

competitions, it is the liqueur. The judges universally turn up their noses at candied, syrupy-sweet concoctions and look for truer tastes,

sophisticated

components,

and

subtleties. If your liqueur truly deserves praise, there is a good chance it will be rewarded by the judges.

„„ Flavored Stuff: Your flavored vodkas, rums, whiskey, and others go here. The judges are very skeptical of the vast majority of these spirits. Nevertheless, very occasional acclaim falls upon some expression or another that usually has a dryer, unsweetened style and exotic element.

Francisco Spirits Competition… it’s a newer and less-established version. It has the backing and the pedigree to go far. Danger: Potential redundancy on San Francisco.

„„ Weird Stuff: Absinthe, cachaca, agave (for

ULTIMATE BEVERAGE CHALLENGE Some of the most rigorous judging around

things outside of their ken. If they haven’t

you

US-made

“tequila/mezcal”),

ouzo,

moonshine, etc…well, judges seldom like

and even though a bit on the newer side, may enjoy great credibility in the trade. They seem to favor tradition over avant-garde. Danger: It’s very hard to do well and its marketing reach is not yet very broad.

studied it, become expert in it, or are

OTHER BIG CITIES LIKE LOS ANGELES, SAN DIEGO, AND THE REST There

too low) score and let it go. The exception

are far too many competitions to keep track of and many rise and fall rather quickly. Entering in these is more on the “marketing” side of the equation than the true critical reception and should be regarded more as a commercial. Caution: make sure you know what you’re getting into.

TARGETED EVENTS (MICRO LIQUOR SPIRITS AWARD, WORLD WHISKEY AWARDS, RUM RENAISSANCE, AND OTHERS) Boutique competitions are handy

because they’re more targeted by definition. If you have an unusual product, these events can be a place where your outsider spirit would be more welcome. Fantastic niche publicity. Danger: These competitions can mean a diminished publicity reach.

BLOGGERS, EDITORS, YOUTUBERS, & OTHER FREE-LANCE WRITERS (DRINK SPIRITS, BLUES REVIEWS, BEVX, SPIRITS REVIEW, BOURBON ENTHUSIAST, WORMWOOD SOCIETY, AND MANY, MANY OTHERS) The internet has given

voice to the mob. In some cases, that’s a great thing. The entry price is very low: shipment of a 750ml bottle with a nice note. But in the end, the reach is rather low and the result fleeting. All publicity is welcome but these should be regarded as a massive tweet or Facebook post. Danger: Don’t expect too much.

otherwise unfamiliar with it, then they are liable to slap a Goldilocks (not too high; not would be those competitions dedicated to a certain style of spirit, which can make for excellent target marketing.

FINAL THOUGHTS You are in the spirits business. But you are also in the exposure business. That’s real. For the craft distiller to prosper, some tongues need to wag so that more tongues will taste. Dollar-for-wag, these competitions may represent some of the best value for your marketing dollar.

Neal MacDonald is editor of Proof66.com, an independent, informational service. The data it provides includes aggregating scores from several critical institutions and combining those results with user reviews.

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Woodinville, Washington

Woodinville Whiskey Written by Allison Armfield

t

Photographs courtesy of Woodinville Whiskey

wenty miles north of Seattle lies a discreet wine country

under Washington State craft distiller law. This makes having a

in the heart of Woodinville, Washington. Smack dab in

tavern with a heavily whiskey-influenced drink list next door a

the middle of the abundant wineries, Brett Carlile and Orlin

real convenience. I was fortunate enough to tour both locations

Sorensen opened Woodinville Whiskey in 2010, and business

when I visited Woodinville this winter as well as the Hollywood

has been thriving ever since. In fact, the pair are in the process Tavern where I sat down with Brett, who was kind enough to take of relocating to a larger standalone location just a few miles

a break from painting the new place to have a craft cocktail and

from the current shop. In the new distillery, tours will be given

chat with me about Woodinville Whiskey.

on the weekends and there will be a tasting room incorporated.

Brett and Orlin have been best friends since they both attended

However, samples are limited to two ounces per person, per day

college at Central Washington University. “We always talked

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about starting a business together, we just didn’t know what know what to do with it all. Enter Dave Pickerell, former master it was going to be,” reflected Brett. Around 2009, Brett came

distiller for Maker’s Mark. The partners in distilling had been

across an article on the growing distilling movement and was

corresponding with him for guidance and advice, and eventually

inspired to invest his marketing major in the industry. “We had a

convinced Dave to make the journey from Kentucky to mentor the

passion for whiskey...We knew we wanted to do it, but we didn’t

two on their first batches of whiskey. Dave helped the guys make

know how to do it.” The idea was inevitably shelved a few times

their first mash, and also taught them the chemistry behind the

because it just didn’t seem cost effective or realistic. Eventually, mashing, fermenting, and distilling process. Brett confessed, an epiphany struck: “Orlin called me one night

In order to create revenue when first starting out, Brett and

and said, ‘Do you wake up every morning thinking about starting

Orlin distilled a vodka sold as Peabody Jones Vodka, and also

a whiskey distillery?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ so he said, ‘Alright...that’s it, sold their white dog which customers can still purchase with let’s find a way to do it.” The two business partners purchased

a small barrel in an “age your own whiskey” kit. Their bourbon

all of the equipment and wrote up business plans but still didn’t and rye whiskey are aged in micro barrels to cut the aging time

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down to just two years. Today, Woodinville Whiskey is primarily

welcomed with open arms. Not only has Woodinville been such

focused on their small batch bourbon and rye whiskey. “We’re

an accepting town for them to do their business and prosper, but

super laser focused on having ample supply,” Brett affirms, but Washington State is a phenomenal place to distill, agriculturally. he is anxiously waiting to bottle their 53 gallon, large-barreled To be considered a craft distillery in Washington, 51 percent of bourbon that has to age 4-6 years. As trying as patience can be, the ingredients are required to be state-sourced, but Woodinville it will be worth the wait: “We’re never going to empty a barrel

Whiskey uses 100 percent raw ingredients from the Pacific

and bottle something we aren’t proud of...for the sake of money, Northwest, “Because why not? Agriculture in Washington is we’re never going to bottle anything early. We are very firm to

awesome!” boasts Brett. They have been fortunate enough to

that.” Their philosophy is to produce and distribute a quality

work with a farmer in Quincy, Washington which is located on

product as opposed to mass producing something that’s merely

the eastern side of the state, who provides all of their ingredients

mediocre.

sans the malted barley, and even holds the barrel warehouse on

And mediocre their whiskey is not. People anxiously await his property. each batch, but that could also be in part due to the amazing

Despite being adamant about “laser-focusing” on one distinct

bottling parties. Customers are able to bottle, label, cork and

product, the boys still get creative and have fun with their craft.

case the whiskey and their efforts are rewarded with a special The partners thought that instead of selling their barrels after one “bottling crew” T-shirt, dinner, and a discount on anything they

use, they could try doing something else. “We decided we were

buy that night. The parties are limited to about 16 slots and

going to age honey and age maple syrup.” Those two products

fill up within minutes of being announced via the company’s

were immediately a big hit. Woodinville Whiskey also sells all of

Facebook page. “When we first started out we had no money

their used American Oak barrels to home and craft brewers after

for sales and marketing materials,” and Brett explains that the

they age their maple syrup. Barrel-aged beers are increasing in

bottling parties not only helped spread the word of their product, popularity these days and a beer aged in their barrels by a large but also recruited extra help while involving the community. At

microbrewery recently won a People’s Choice Award at a national

first, it was an intimate occasion: family members and friends

beer festival. Another experiment the guys at Woodinville are

would help Brett and Orlin bottle the whiskey, but eventually the

dabbling in is using craft beer to distill rather than the traditional

guys resorted to posting an open invitation on their Facebook

mash. Pike Brewery donated a batch of barrel aged stout that the

page. The whole thing took off from there and now the parties are

pair distilled and are currently aging into whiskey. Their main

filled almost instantaneously. Brett is firm that these parties are

priority is to consistently produce something sustainable and

always something they will want to do to involve the community. long term. Once the large barrels are ready to bottle, we can Members are able to ask questions about distilling, the product, expect nothing but excellence and a great whiskey from these sample the spirits, and be a part of the whole process.

guys.

The two could not have picked a better location or community to start their distillery. Woodinville, Washington is the home of Redhook Brewery, over 100 wineries, as well as several other Woodinville Whiskey is located in Woodinville, WA. For more info visit distilleries. It’s no wonder that both Brett and Orlin were www.woodinvillewhiskeyco.com or call (425) 486-1199.

For more than 30 years Phoenix has designed and introduced new packaging concepts to the beverage industry. We work with factories around the world using a variety of materials to produce distinctive packaging.

847 McCaffrey, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4T 1N3 Toll Free: 1-800-661-6481  Telephone: (514) 487-6660 www.phoenixpackaging.com Attila M. Joo  Manager of Sales and Business Development Mobile: 514-234-1503  Email: attila@phoenixpackaging.com

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 77


flavor & aroma YEAST’S IMPACT ON DISTILLING

WRITTEN BY NEVA PARKER

///

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN

i

n thinking about influences on flavor and aroma compounds in yeast, which can then be subdivided into countless strains. They distilled spirits, most people look at ingredients such as grist are single-celled organisms whose main purpose is to produce

or botanicals, barrels and aging, or even flavoring compounds. ethanol and carbon dioxide from glucose molecules derived Very few would even consider the art of fermentation as an from complex carbohydrates in grains and other starches. As important part of creating spirits. However, as many professional secondary byproducts to this metabolic process, the yeast also and hobby brewers know, the yeast fermentation plays a critical produce flavor and aroma-active compounds. The types and role in producing unique flavor and aroma compounds in beer quantities of these compounds produced vary by strain. Some and in this case, the resulting distilled spirits. In spirits, the role strains produce high levels of ester compounds, resulting in of these organisms is underestimated. The minor metabolites such aromas as pear, apple, and banana, while other strains produced by yeast during fermentation are crucial to the sensory produce high levels of phenolics which can be attributed to spicy profile of any fermented beverage, and many of these are carried characteristics. In fact, the majority of the aroma characteristics over into the distillate. Because yeast is a live, active component found in fermented beverages are yeast-derived compounds. of fermentation, many shy away from learning much about it.

During the formation of ethanol and carbon dioxide in

Yeast can be complicated and fickle, and can sometimes cause fermentation, the yeast cell also produces the byproducts that a great deal of head-scratching when they don’t perform as make a major contribution to flavor and aroma. The primary aromaexpected. Nonetheless, being well-versed in yeast education is active compounds of interest are n-propanol (alcoholic, harsh), one of the most important weapons in a distiller’s arsenal.

iso-amyl alcohol (alcoholic, vinous), ethyl acetate (solvent, nail

Although fermentation itself is an age-old documented polish remover), iso-amyl acetate (fruity, banana), acetaldehyde practice, little was known of the existence of yeast. Ancient (grassy, green apple), diacetyl (buttery, butterscotch), and cultures believed that turning grape juice into wine or barley sulfur compounds. The level of compounds produced during into beer was a mysterious feat of the gods. For centuries this fermentation is strain-dependent, and many are also controlled belief was carried on until the famous scientist, Louis Pasteur, by external factors. discovered the microorganisms in 1866. Decades later, Emil

Aside from simple ethanol, yeast will also produce higher, or

Christen Hansen of the Carlsberg Laboratory in Denmark, fusel, alcohols as a fermentation byproduct. The biosynthesis isolated the first strains of yeast and began banking them. Aside of amino acids from nitrogen (free amino nitrogen) from barley from ethanol production, yeast strains have been selected over malt is one of the largest contributors to the formation of these hundreds of years because of a variety of characteristics they flavor-active compounds. These alcohols contribute to the display during fermentation.

harsh alcoholic, vinous character and can be typical in many

Yeast are a fungus, and the species used in beer fermentation washes with high sugar concentrations. In large quantities, these are the Saccharomyces cerevisiae, one of over 500 species of compounds can be “hot” or solventy, and will be carried over

78 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


bottled in colorado, usa into the distillate. Reaction of these fusel alcohols with other

Ethyl acetate is the most common, producing a solvent or nail

high proof spirits CoNtrACt BottLiNg high VoLUME CApABiLitiEs CoMpEtitiVE priCiNg BottLED iN CoLorADo, UsA

polish remover quality in large amounts. Iso-amyl acetate, when

WE pUt thE JUiCE iN thE BottLE

metabolic intermediates (acids) result in the production of isoamyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and other trace ester compounds.

present and detectable, is the larger flavor contributor, giving beer and resulting spirit a pronounced fruitiness even in small

blue egg bottling

quantities.

970 344 8111

Other common byproducts are the carbonyls – diacetyl and

info@blueeggbottling.com

acetaldehyde. Diacetyl is always produced as an intermediate in amino acid synthesis. Diacetyl can contribute a buttery or butterscotch character, which can add complexity to maltforward spirits such as Bourbons or molasses-based spirits such BLUE-EGG-AD.indd 1

as Rum. Acetaldehyde is commonly produced by most strains as well, but typically in lower quantities. It is a very volatile substance, and can be captured in the distillate if some of the heads are collected, resulting in an apple or nutty character. Some less detectable flavor compounds are phenolics – vinyl phenols, guaiacol, and eugenol. These typically display spicy, peppery characteristics, which can benefit whiskey or Bourbon. Additionally, sulfur compounds are produced by yeast during fermentation. The most common sulfur compound is hydrogen sulfide, which is usually an undesirable component to any

2/21/14 9:54 AM

offers a 1950s 1600-liter cognac still, complete w/ preheater, imported in 2007. Sporadic use by Joseph Corley for apple brandy and by Crispin Cain for Low Gap whiskey, Malt advocate’s 2012 Artisan Whiskey of the Year. A real sweetheart: beautiful product. We’re bringing in one that has a steam-injection unit. $70,000 FOB Ukiah CA includes steel supports and pot enclosure. Ansley Coale 707 468-7896. (foto is the preheater)

beverage. It is detectable by the average person at a very low level and is usually describe as rotten eggs. However, H2S reacts with organic compounds (amino acids), as well as copper in the still or column, eliminating the character from the final distillate. All spirits can benefit from the use of a carefully selected yeast strain. In brewing, yeast is known to be one of the biggest players in creating beer flavor and aroma. With the production of spirits, distillers are essentially making beer first, so the connection of these aromatic compounds to the final product just makes sense.

They contribute to the spirit by producing countless

aroma compounds including butterscotch, caramel, nutty, apple, pineapple, banana, spicy, and clovey. With any distilled spirit, the rule of thumb should be to start with the best possible product before going to the still. Different strains of yeast will create a variety of different flavor and aroma profiles. Varying fermentation conditions such as sugar levels and fermentation temperature will further affect the intensity and quality of the flavor-active compounds produced by any strain. In this way, each distiller can develop specific flavor profiles, making a product that is truly complex and unique.

Neva Parker heads laboratory operations at White Labs. Contact Neva at nparker@whitelabs.com for more info.

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 79


Y T I C VIVAR I T S SPI W

-SMITH

STENSEN

R G. CHRI

AMBE RITTEN BY

///

PHY PHOTOGRA

N

RISTENSE

DA JOY CH

BY AMAN

PLANNING As they say, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Such is the spirit of Caitlin Prueitt, distiller and co-owner of Vivacity Spirits in Corvallis, Oregon. Caitlin has persevered some hardships, but she has found ways to celebrate and grow a viable — if somewhat adventurous and first thought unlikely — business model. In 2009, Caitlin and her husband, Chris Neumann, found themselves in a “chronically underemployed” spot much like many Americans at the time. But instead of lamenting their misfortunes, they decided to put their heads together and find a way to employ themselves.

much larger still, “Jules Verne.” Both stills are still in use, as are

Between the two of them they kicked around many ideas, but their two fermenters, “Mork and Mindy” — with more on the way. came back to the idea of starting a distillery more than a few times. At first it seemed impossible. Caitlin recalls saying, “We

PRODUCTION

can’t do that. Who does that?” However, after some research, they

Vivacity continues to grow and new ideas are brewing for

found it was very possible. The two were soon telling themselves, Caitlin’s distillery. She and Chris are working on a Whiskey that “Well, why not?”

combines two beer recipes. But one of the most fascinating items

Caitlin has experience bartending since the age of 22 and has they are incorporating into their rum is dunder, a byproduct that a degree in nutritional and food science with an emphasis on sounds and looks like something out of a thriller. fermentation. She was fortunate to have studied at a brewery

Caitlin pulled back the curtain on this secret treasure to share

in Germany during an internship in college, and to have worked the monstrosity of the concoction and its glamour in connection at wineries in California. Caitlin laughs about getting her start to the old world. Dunder — the yeast-rich leftovers from an initial in college late at the age of twenty-six, not wanting to end up batch of rum, which is similar to bourbon’s sour mash — helps a like the forty-year-old bartenders surrounding her. She jokes, “I distiller replicate an authentic flavor for rum by using this unique turned forty, I’m still bartending.”

fermentation process. As Caitlin explains, it is a historical method

Caitlin and Chris were up and running and had a bottled spirit of making rum that yields great flavor. While it looks scary and within eighteen months of hatching their idea. In December like something rotting in a back alley, the payoff of using it and of 2011 they had their first batch and they have been steadily being patient is excellent flavor in a batch of rum that is not growing ever since. Their first still, “T.S. Elliot” — short for Tiny only delicious, but also more authentic. Caitlin doesn’t know of Still Elliott — was only 25 gallons. They soon upgraded to their many distillers using this method for fermenting in the states,

80 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


but she is excited to be experimenting with it and is happy to freak people out with it. In addition, with the growth of the Vivacity distillery, they have found in order to build their name for the future they must market themselves more and learn more about reaching out to their customers. They’re off the beaten trail so to speak, so they must bring customers in and get their name out there. Caitlin admits her strengths are in research and development, not in marketing. She recently hired their first full-time employee that is in charge of marketing and they are learning the importance of social media and crowdsourcing. Word of mouth is always great

1187 W. HAWTHORNE LANE WEST CHICAGO, IL 60185 630.206.3747 www.loggerheaddeco.com info@loggerheaddeco.com

exposure, but so is getting restaurants and bars to fall in love with your product and in turn market it to the consumers, Caitlin

TM

SuperYeast

M O N EY

reflects. Vivacity tries to get out to events, as well, to get noticed by the public.

VA LU E

TM TM

COMPLETE TURBO YEAST SOLUTIONS TO 20% ABV

Winemakeri Inc. Est. 1986 Lower Sackville, NS, B4C 3H6 Tel: 1-877-278-5464 www.winemakeri.com

PERSEVERANCE Overall, the clan at Vivacity is happy to be doing something they love and to be making ends meet with the business. After all, Chris joked, “We drink what we can and sell the rest.” They have welcomed many creative ideas in order to grow their business, and have even done some contracting work with wineries who used their still in the off season — something they knew could be viable and that was included in their initial business plan. With creativity and smarts, Caitlin and Chris understand growth comes in many ways and distillers must be open to a variety of flexible ideas in order to expand their business. It’s very likely they might just be selling more and drinking less of their popular products as the years continue.

Vivacity Spirits is located in Corvallis, OR. For more information visit www.vivacityspirits.com or call (541) 286-4285.

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 81

CSA Artisan Spirit ad - May 2014 3.687” W x 4.687” H


FORGET the BOSTON

TEA PARTY. THERE’S A REVOLUTION IN BEER & WINE THAT SPIRITS CAN BENCHMARK written by Kellie Shevlin

t

beer

he growth of the spirits industry has been substantial over the

last five years, making it an ideal time to look at the recent history of the craft beer and artisanal wine industries as a signpost for future opportunities. While it may seem that the craft spirit industry is more closely aligned with the history of craft beer and the wine industry is an outlier in the craft

how to INCITE

A DISTILLER REVOLUTION: Be passionate and creative Recognize your craft community Make your product as accessible as possible Try new techniques and experiment

spirit producers both a roadmap of success and a solid business plan to take into the future. According to Steve Hindy in

Determine to succeed Celebrate local culture and strive to be part of that culture Leverage unique platforms to raise capital

How

a

Band

of

Microbrewers Is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink, the craft

spontaneous

something more than the traditional lagers offered by large American breweries. The interest grew so much that a home brew movement, legalized in 1978, turned into the creation of the first small breweries. At the heart of this revolution was the community created by these small brewers and their conferences and at the Great Beer

Festival.

These

events helped them to promote their beers while offering a forum for exchanging ideas and keeping the revolution alive. Meanwhile, the revolution was televised thanks to mainstream

his new book, The Craft Beer Revolution:

a

uprising of beer drinkers who wanted

American

with the new revolutionary shift to small production wine, will give

was

ability to network at small brewer

movement, looking at the history of the craft beer revolution, coupled

revolution

Find and nurture customers with the same passion to push for legislative changes and open doors to new opportunities

media

who

entrepreneurs

followed and

loved

these their

“David vs. Goliath” story. The

82 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


craft brewers realized that traditional media could help tell the

to art form, and consumers are responding now more than ever.

story, so they started self-publishing beer-centric newspapers to

Another significant aspect to this new wine revolution has

promote the changes and publicize new brewers.

been accessibility. While Old California Wine was selling at high

With the advent of the Internet, this new media savvy

price points and exclusivity, today’s New California Wine is about

industry exploded. Soon bars, restaurants, and retail stores

making good wine and ensuring it is available at a price that

were embracing this new movement because they recognized

consumers are willing to pay. This change happened because

that customers were willing and able to spend more for these

the hundreds of small family wineries throughout California

beers.

Where possible, many small brewers distributed their

did not like what was happening to wine. Dominated by the big

own beer while others turned to wine distributors or independent

three winemakers – Gallo, Constellation Wines, and the Wine

distributors with no brewery affiliations.

Group, who were responsible for more than 64% of the state’s

The small brewers gained an audience from innovative restaurants and bars. They did grassroots promotions to educate

shipments, or two out of every three bottles sold – they formed a collective to change how wine was produced.

customers about their beers as well as staged beer festivals

As a true craft movement, the revolutionary movement has

and dinners. They also created state and national brewers

gone viral with similar revolutions in Washington State, Virginia,

associations to lobby for more favorable laws and regulations.

Missouri, New York, and all across the United States. Like craft

Using social media and their own publications, they rallied beer

beer, revolutions are made through collective efforts to change

enthusiasts to support their legislative agendas.

the status quo. Now, it’s time for the distillers to start their own

As with any revolution, significant changes occurred in the

revolution.

overall beer industry. At first, the big beer distributors had little interest in these start-up breweries. However, they could see the balance of power was shifting. As demand for these beers grew, the large distributors opened their doors to the small brewers. From there, craft beer became the most dynamic segment of the

Kellie Shevlin is Executive Director of the Craft Beverage Expo, a comprehensive conference tailored specifically to suppliers of craft wine, beer, and spirits. For more info visit www.craftbeverageexpo.com or call (202) 288-8898.

beer industry. Then, there is wine. You might think that, because wine has been around for so long, there have not been any significant changes to production or style or that wine is simply an example of an evolution. However, right now, there is a radical shift happening not only to California wine, but also to wine produced in all fifty states. The past model of big wine, big flavor, big alcohol content with a big price is profoundly changing. According to Jon Bonne in his book, New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines behind a Revolution in Taste, the New California Wine Movement is about more creativity and less science. It involves changing the way grapes are grown and even altering the grapes grown. Now, there are more Italian, Spanish, and French varietals, and the winemaking process is more about experimentation and terroir. Wineries had become a victim of the past success--from the 1976 Judgment of Paris to 100 point scores from Robert Parker. They started following the money and were producing what consumers wanted. Native grapes were lost to endless rows of Chardonnay and Cabernet. Many new vintners are now starting over, growing their own grapes, and looking to create wine for wine’s sake. It’s gone from an art form to a business and back

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 83


the

VITAL ROLE of the

BOTTLE CLOSURE

PHOTO PROVIDED BY JELINEK CORK GROUP

written by SONNY JELINEK


a

fter working for months (and years) to come up with your brand and build your distillery, bottle closure decisions

often get left to the very end. But beware, the closure is one of the critical components of packaging and a part of the final product that your customers (not to mention reviewers, judges, and journalists) will interact with. The closure is typically the only “moving part” of the final package. It serves both a functional role in that it seals the bottle during transport and storage, an active role in that it is handled each time one of your many customers opens and closes the bottle, and a marketing role in package appearance. For these reasons, it is important to plan well in advance when selecting your closure. This article is intended as a brief summary of bottle closures (often called stoppers) for high proof spirits. Wine and beer closures have different properties and require varied guidelines.

TYPE of CLOSURE

PLANNING Try to have all aspects of bottle design complete six months before you plan to bottle. That’s right, a full half year before bottling! Why so long? Industry standard lead times for nonstock closures are often 8-10 weeks (that’s 2-1/2 months)! Some common closures and stock closures can be produced and shipped much quicker. However, if you’re looking for something a little more custom, plan ahead. Sampling alone can require a back-and-forth process that can take weeks to complete. In addition, there are often factory shutdown periods around holidays and during the month of August. To avoid disappointment, don’t leave packaging to the last minute. Beyond planning well in advance, it is helpful to include a closure company in the early design phase. There are certain items that need to be taken into account when designing packaging. A creative designer can come up with a brilliant design that works well from a marketing standpoint but can have problems at a functional level.

The bottle entrance bore (referred to as bottle “finish”) will need to match the closure that you select. There are generally two types of glass bottle finishes for distilled spirits: screw cap (sometimes referred to as GPI or Stelvin finish) or bartop (also called t-top or plate finish). Both screw caps and bartop stoppers act in a functional role by sealing your bottle. They also form a platform for “the cap” of the closure. The cap is the part of the closure that is visible outside the bottle. Whereas the screw cap has some functionality considerations such as thread type, a bartop closure has a whole range of options. The common bartop stem (also called a shank) is either made from real cork or synthetic (plastic) cork. In addition, glass stems are also appearing on the market more frequently, not to mention other closure types available (i.e. the Zork). Discuss these options with a closure company as it can get complex. Considerations such as the design of the glass bottle, the type of spirit you are bottling (dark or light), and even the proof of the spirit will impact the closure you ultimately select.

TOLERANCE Closures and glass bottles both have a tolerance range. Depending on the manufacturer of the glass bottle and manufacturing method, these tolerance considerations can be extreme. Glass bottle specifications generally indicate the tolerance range but it is always a good idea to send the closure company at least one or two sample bottles. If the bottle design changes, send them a new bottle. Not only so they can have it on file for sizing but also for future questions or changes. It is wise to send an updated glass bottle each year. Over time, the inside diameter of the glass bottle can change while staying within the acceptable tolerance spectrum.

FILL LEVEL One of the more common issues that can crop up is bottles being overfilled. Do not overfill your bottle! Glass bottles that

The cap can be made from the same material as the stem or have been professionally designed and manufactured take it can be made from something else. Common materials for a into account not only the liquid that the bottle contains, but bartop cap are plastic or wood. However the design possibilities also the volume of headspace (also called ullage or air space) are limitless and include metal, glass, and ceramic.

between the closure and the spirit. It is critical that this volume

WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM 85


of air meets a minimum

and reinsertion of the

threshold. If there is

closure

not enough headspace,

the inside of the bottle

during warm weather (or

neck.

high seas if exporting

bartop by inserting it

or a bumpy road during

into a bottle filled (to the

domestic transport) the

appropriate level) with

expansion of air will put

spirit (not water). Invert

pressure on the cork.

bottle three times. Then

This can cause the cork

remove

to lift and the tamper

stopper five times. How

evident

does it perform now?

tape,

seal strip,

(tamper

can Always

and

lubricate test

a

reinsert

capsule,

Finally, review and re-

or wax seal) to break.

evaluate after your initial

Review the glass bottle

bottling runs. Expect to

technical diagram. Many indicate a fill level including minimum make changes. It can take a few years to get things perfect even and maximum thresholds.

after careful planning. Just like everything else in the distilled spirits world, the closure at every level of necessity, is both a

TIGHTNESS

science and an art.

Bartop closures should be very tight upon initial insertion. The closure is fresh from production and will condense over time. Sonny Jelinek is Director of Jelinek Cork Group. For more information The humidity in the bottle can soften the stem while extraction visit www.jelinek.com or call (800) 959-0995.

86†WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


SAFETY FIRST WRITTEN BY STEVEN SEIM

D

istilling safety rules, while simultaneously confusing and sprinklers drastically reduce the number of deaths related to occasionally boring, play a substantial role in ensuring a fire (almost to zero). If you bought your building and it came

distillery’s long life. Recently, Nicole Austin of Kings County with sprinklers already installed, however, you will have to verify Distillery hosted a panel on issues of safety and compliance that their density rating is high enough for the type of hazardous for running and working in a distillery. Panelists included Brad rating distilleries fall under. Storing high volumes of alcohol Emerick, a fire protection engineer in Denver, Ryan Hellman, an puts distilleries in a higher category of hazardous code, which OSHA compliance specialist, electrical engineer Steven Stretch, requires a higher density rating. engineer Michael Gillespie, and Scott Moore, an architect and

When designing the layout of a distillery, safety may not always

general contractor. The topics discussed included fire prevention, be at the top of the priority list next to function and ease, but conforming to the litany of codes that apply to distilleries, the clear pathways and clearly marked exits are important. Not safety of your workers, and how to train your staff in a way that only can they help customers and employees exit safely in an will help them take safety seriously.

emergency, but firefighters will be able to find their way around

Even though some of these rules feel more burdensome than quickly when responding at your location. If there are ways to helpful, Austin and the panel made it very clear that they exist rearrange any equipment to help, taking the time to do it now for a reason and it is the responsibility of every distiller to ensure may make the difference in helping to save your distillery in the their equipment, stock, and employees are prepared for any case of a disaster. circumstance.

FIRE PREVENTION

WORKER SAFETY Besides fire danger and helping to prevent damage, the panel

Oxygen, heat and fuel, all present in the same area, create a fire presented valuable information on how distillers can help train risk (Hint: that’s every distillery). During the distilling process, their staff to prevent injury or death by other means. Visually flammable gases evaporate into the air and can be unsafe if a inspecting equipment for cracks or leaks can prevent unexpected distiller is unsure of proper safeguards. Proper fire sprinklers vapors escaping their confines. Owners can also hard wire a vapor are going to be a must for the majority of distilleries. Following detector to a boiler. If the detector senses a dangerous situation, the rules comes with a perk as well: a fully-sprinklered building it can shut off the boiler, allowing precious extra seconds for doubles the amount of alcohol a distillery can store based on people to escape. international hazardous code.

During the panel, Austin reiterated that owners are primarily

Besides helping to protect valuable assets, data shows that responsible for fostering a culture of safety from the beginning

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of a distillery’s development. Initial safety training can affect an employee’s day-to-day mindset, and help them to take precautions more seriously. In the same way that your distillery’s quality should be emphasized, so should their safety when attempting to achieve that quality. Hellman advised that leading by example can have the biggest impact, so next time you want to skip wearing safety goggles as a nuisance, think of the example you’re setting for those around you.

TRAINING

EQUIPMENT RATINGS AND CODES Stretch provided information regarding electrical equipment and making sure it is rated to endure the harsher conditions of a distillery. Equipment rated for working among exposure to alcohol fumes is important. These are the classifications for equipment that ensures they can handle what you’re going to expose them to: class 1 div 1 means it is meant for the open processes with the constant presence of fumes, and class 1 div 2 are for normally closed processes, but means there is a chance

of exposure to fumes (from a leak or other malfunction).These Procedures and policies are never enough. Regular evaluations ratings should be clearly marked on the equipment label; if you to make sure safety precautions are being followed are incredibly see class 1 group c and d, that’s not enough. It must say clearly valuable. Make safety a regular part of production meetings. Class 1 Div 1 on the label for you to know that the equipment Point out close calls to your entire team so that everyone won’t fail as a result of a distillery’s harsh conditions, or cause knows that the safety rules help. Ensuring your administrative unnecessary danger when fumes are present. elements, like a safety manual and printed emergency plans, are

Stretch also gave a valuable tip in regards to grounding your up to date and available is important. Proper training, including equipment: he believes it is easiest to have one long piece of education on the chemicals your distillery uses regularly and copper grounding that is attached to each piece of equipment. possible side effects from improper use, is key. When equipment Tie one end to building steel or a water pipe, and the other into like respirators or forklifts are used around a distillery, the owner an electrode of a ground rod. Any time liquid is being pumped, should make sure every employee is trained in their proper use.

such as while filling barrels, static electricity is possible, and can damage equipment or create a safety concern for employees.

88 WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


If possible, it is worth grounding everything metal to avoid any

penalty, but if an accident occurs your insurance may not

chance of a static charge starting a fire.

recognize any claims if you were storing too much alcohol or

ADDITIONAL SAFETY CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

didn’t have the right type of safety wall around a tank, etc. Austin and the panel closed the session by again emphasizing the importance of doing the research necessary to ensure

Preventable accidents need to be prepared for, but so do that your distillery complies with safety codes, not only to disasters out of your control. Research weather disasters stay compliant and avoid penalties but to ensure the safety of

that are more likely to occur in your area and create a proper employees, customers, and the quality of your product. Taking the time to get it right will minimize the effect of accidents and emergency response plan.

Housekeeping is important (dust is fuel for any fire that

help ensure the longevity of your distillery.

may occur). Clean regularly. The National Fire Protection Association has documentation that explains the dangers of dust and how to protect yourselves. Check with your state distillers association for help in employee training. If several young distilleries need a forklift training session, your association may be able to hire one person and have a class for all distilleries at once. The cost is cheaper for the distillery and more are covered at once. Think you’ve gotten away with a creative interpretation of a certain safety code? MAKE SURE your insurance sees it

HELPFUL LINKS TO REFER TO: Occupational Safety and Health Administration www.osha.gov

National Fire Protection Agency www.nfpa.org

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States www.discus.org

the same way. Some local officials will allow you to avoid a

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ADVERTISER index BARREL COATING

DESIGN, BRANDING & MERCHANDISING

Agra Marketing Group

7

CF Napa Brand Design Thoroughbred Spirits Group

BARRELS Barrels Unlimited

70

Black Swan Cooperage, LLC

6 & 23

Independent Stave Company

26

Thousand Oaks Barrel Co.

34

Tonnellerie Allary

76

GNS & BULK SPIRITS SUPPLIERS 2

7 & 30

DISTILLERS 20

Rogue Spirits

DISTILLERY MERCHANDISE

American Craft Distillers Assoc.

DISTILLING EQUIPMENT

Fort Dearborn

Anton Paar

14

Loggerhead Deco

81

Artisan Still Design

15

Serigraphie Richford

88

Hillbilly Stills

22

Prospero Equipment Corp.

70

O-I

Red Boot Stills

50

Vendome Copper & Brass Works

5&7

7 & 92

Packaging Support Group

71

EDUCATION

Saverglass

11

The Aroma Academy

Selective Line - Verallia

31

Moonshine University

16 6 & 27

TruGrit Concepts

79

Mango Bottling, Inc.

83

Winemakeri Inc.

81

CONSULTANTS

Brewery Finance

Compliance Service of America

81

Spirits Consulting Group

41

4

Brad-Pak Enterprises

50

Imperial-Packaging Corporation

89

Phoenix Packaging

77

REFRIGERATION & CHILLERS 6 18

TOTES & TANKS Custom Metalcraft

FINANCING

6&9

PACKAGING

Pro Refrigeration Inc

ENZYMES AND YEAST

Blue Egg Bottling

7

MARKETING & SALES

G&D Chillers

BOTTLER / BOTTLE FILLER

41

LABELS

BOTTLE & GLASS DECORATING

19

Brooks Grain

6 & 18

79

Bruni

86

GUILD ORGANIZATIONS

Alambic Inc

BOTTLE MANUFACTURERS & SUPPLIERS

Ultra Pure

7

BEVERAGE ATTORNEYS 18

50

GRAINS

MGP Ingredients

Distillery Products by Laser-On Lehrman Beverage Law

Pharmco-Aaper

59

24

FLAVORING Beck Flavors

41

CORKS & CLOSURES Jelinek Cork Group Paulson Supply Tapi USA

14 58 7, 34, & 79

ARTISAN SPIRIT sponsors 90†WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


© Owens-Illinois, Inc.

ARTISAN SPIRIT

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

glassislife.com #glassislife

Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2014  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2014  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.