CODE FOR THE clueless SPENT = SPENDING GRAINS CASH
NON-COMPETES for NON-ATTORNEYS
AN AMERICAN DISTILLER IN
COMING TO TERMS
TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
of El Dorado Hills, California
QUARTERLY GUILD REPORT
What’s going on, state-by-state and province-by-province
COACHING CUSTOMERS IN THE TASTING ROOM
Notes for success
CALIFORNIA’S AB 1295
A work in progress
CODE MADE EASY72 Design a safe AND attractive distillery
ON MOVING FORWARD
From the American Craft Spirits Association
RE:USE AT RE:FIND
Re:Find Distillery of Paso Robles, California
NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS27 Friend or foe?
DISTILLING APPLE BRANDY
An overview of the history and options
ARTISAN SPIRIT MAGAZINE’S 2016 CONVENTION REPORT
Conventions, conferences, and conversations
An evolution of taste
A COMPARISON OF STEAM AND CLASSIC DISTILLATION
Bucket list check-off: jungle distilling
For proofing spirits
ESTABLISHING A MARKETING PLAN & BUDGET FOR YOUR SPIRITS BRAND
FOOD GRADE VS. FEED GRADE GRAINS
WILL HOME DISTILLING BE LEGALIZED?
Brand Buzz with David Schuemann
ON SECOND THOUGHT… Colorado, Oregon distillers left out, then reconsidered in modernization discussions
SONOMA COUNTY DISTILLING COMPANY
What makes one grain supply better than another?
A look at current concerns, education and legislation
TANK-MAKER96 Spokane Industries offers volumes of vessel advice
of Rohnert Park, California
A TRIP TO JAPAN48
DISTILLERY COMPLIANCE 101
Preparing for TTB audits
Lessons American distillers can learn
FUNDAMENTALS OF GIN
The past, present and future of an international favorite
Beehive Distilling of Salt Lake City, Utah
WHAT’S IN A WORD?
The current value of “craft”
BOOK REVIEW — THE MATURATION OF DISTILLED SPIRITS: VISION & PATIENCE
A new book from Hubert Germain-Robin
THE GOOD THING ABOUT BAD REVIEWS56 The art of response
THE WORLD OF SELF-PROMOTION
ASK THE ATTORNEY
The industry’s questions are answered
SPENT GRAIN POTENTIAL61 Turning spent grains into cash
from the COVER
Re:Find Distillery in Paso Robles, California. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen. See their story on page 76.
Issue 15 /// Summer 2016 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen ASSISTANT EDITOR & SENIOR WRITER Chris Lozier CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS Amber G. Christensen-Smith
James Beck Shawn Bergeron Jeff Clark Stephen Gould Anne D. Harris Matt Hofmann Paul Hughes, Ph.D. Margie A.S. Lehrman Ryan Malkin
John McKee Carter Raff Kurt A. Rosentrater Jeanne Runkle David Schuemann Marc E. Sorini Gabe Toth Alex White
ILLUSTRATOR Amanda Joy Christensen
PHOTOGRAPHERS Amanda Joy Christensen Brandon Hill
Courtney McKee Alice Seim
SALES & MARKETING Ashley Monroe ARTISAN SPIRIT is the endorsed publication of the American Craft Spirits Association. ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine
Advertising (509) 991-8112 General Inquiries (509) 944-5919 PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223 All contents © 2016. 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.
THANK YOU. Each issue we take a moment to highlight and thank our sponsors. However, we often forget to mention that these companies are more than just industry vendors vying for attention. There are individuals at these companies that also act as advisors. Each one of them offers more to Artisan Spirit and the distilling industry than just monetary support or goods and services. They have also provided years of expertise, with the intent to help guide and grow our industry. As always, we are careful to guard the integrity of Artisan Spirit, which is why we continue to maintain a separation of “church and state” when it comes to content and advertising. Advisors are not directors, and we have been exceedingly lucky to find people and companies in this industry that respect that delineation. The distilling industry could probably survive without associations, guilds, or publications but it couldn’t function without the distilling entrepreneurs or the suppliers that serve them. We are very thankful that these two groups have chosen to support what we do at Artisan Spirit.
WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU.
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TS OF INTEGRIT
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: The last convention of the year got me thinking about sushi... Well not just sushi, but sushi prepared and served by a man named Jiro. Bear with me. The introductory panel at the Craft Beverage Expo in Oakland, California featured representatives from spirits, beer, wine, and cider. The topic was quality, and the man superbly giving voice to craft spirits was none other than ACSA’s 2015 single malt whiskey distiller of the year, Matt Hofmann of Westland Distillery in Seattle, Washington. Matt and the other panelists admirably espoused the need for the highest quality standards in the craft beverage world. However, what stood out was that the panel wasn’t demanding perfection, but setting a goal for the pursuit of perfection. The timing was serendipitous since just two days prior Hofmann had delivered his first draft of “A Trip to Japan” for this very issue of Artisan Spirit (page 48). It should come as no surprise that the article partially focuses on how Japanese culture views and admires the pursuit of quality. Back to Jiro Ono, a revered 85-year-old sushi master and the focus of the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi," which follows his pilgrimage for perfection, Matt’s talking points at CBE and his article sparked a memory of one particular line from the movie where Jiro explains, “I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top…But no one knows where the top is!” I cannot think of a better mantra for this young industry, with so many fresh-faced distillers claiming to be “masters.” How high we make it up the ladder of perfection is secondary; what is primary is that we continue to climb.
(509) 944-5919 email@example.com PO Box 31494,Spokane, WA 99223
Y L R E T R A U Q T R O P E R D GUIL
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ALASKA THE DISTILLERS GUILD OF ALASKA This May we held our first annual meeting since forming the Guild. We have five new members, doubling our organization’s size and representing a rapid increase of distilleries opening in Alaska. Alaska WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
is a very large state with several distinct populated regions, now represented by a distillery in each of them! We also held the first annual Alaska Crafted Tasting Event in conjunction with the Brewers Guild of Alaska and the State Department of Economic Development. It was a huge success and was the first event where all our distilleries have been represented. It included cocktail competitions, a presentation about our
growing distilling and brewing industries, local food and music, and was preceded by a media tour around the state. The Alaska Alcohol Control Board has submitted a policy change recommendation for public comment, which would further define qualifications distilleries must meet to receive a license. Heather Shade President, Distillers Guild of Alaska
COLORADO COLORADO DISTILLERS GUILD In Colorado, May marks the end of the legislative session which has been very busy for us this year. There are two bills that will have significant impact on our members. SB 147 will lower our manufacturing and wholesale permit fees to the same as breweries pay. We had to come to a last minute compromise in the House Appropriations Committee that will phase the fee structure in over two years, but it is still a win for our members saving
FLORIDA FLORIDA CRAFT DISTILLERS GUILD The Florida Craft Distillers Guild formed in 2012 to promote the quality and diversity of the growing craft distilled spirits industry in the Sunshine State. With more than two dozen craft distilleries from Key West to Crestview, Florida is quickly making a name for itself among the top spirits producers within the United States. Lissa McLaughlin, account executive at All American Containers, one of the country’s
MARYLAND MARYLAND DISTILLERS GUILD The Maryland Distillers Guild had a very successful legislative session with a few major advancements. HB 733 allows distilleries, wineries and breweries owned by the same licensee to operate in the same location. HB 1316 creates a self-distribution license allowing Class 1 Distilleries (that produce less than 100,000 gallons a year) the ability to sell their products at wholesale directly to
them up to $625.00 next year and $1250.00 every year after that. SB 197 is a compromise bill that will allow grocery and convenience store limited licenses to sell spirits, wine and full-strength beer. This will prevent a ballot measure that would have allowed grocery stores to have unlimited licenses to sell full-strength beer and wine, hurting our retail partners and shutting spirits out of the game. I need to thank both Stephen Gould our legislative chair and Kara Miller our lobbyist for their hard work this session. On a more enjoyable note we are working on developing a guild-owned tasting event that will highlight the excellent and unique
spirits that our members produce. We have also begun work with our friends at Sip Craft Colorado to start a passport and distillery trail program. I also wanted to thank all the American Craft Spirits Association members that elected me to the Board of Directors; in that capacity I will be working on the State Guild Committee and the Convention Committee. I look forward to working with all the outstanding members of the Board, the ACSA members and all of the state guilds. Cheers,
largest suppliers of glass bottles to craft distilleries, became the Guild’s president in January 2015. She took over the position from Philip McDaniel, who established the Guild and is the co-founder and CEO of St. Augustine Distillery. “Artisan distillation in Florida continues to grow as does the Florida Craft Distillers Guild,” said McDaniel. “Our industry is creating jobs and helping the local economies in which they are based. While we still have much to do in regards to legislative changes, our early success is proof that consumers are changing the way that they drink. Farm-tobottle spirits and craft cocktails are gaining
popularity.” The newest members of the Guild include Blackwater Spirits in Milton, Florida and associate member Blackwater Barrels in Columbia, SC. The Guild is also working on a new website, as well as promotion and marketing initiatives around the state. “We have been effective in changing the laws to make owning a craft distillery a potentially profitable operation,” said McDaniel. “And we will continue to introduce legislation to allow us to continue creating jobs and creating world-class spirits.”
retailers and restaurants, including in the control district of Montgomery County. HB 1337 extends the Class 9 Limited Distillery license (essentially the distillery version of a brewpub). SB 630 creates a new off-site event permit for distilleries, allowing spirits sampling and sales at farmers markets, festivals, and a number of other functions. Membership is growing steadily, and new operating distilleries include: Dragon Distilling, Old Line Spirits, Faulkner Branch, Sagamore Spirit and Tobacco Barn Distilling,
bringing the total number of licensed distilleries in the state to 14, with dozens of spirits being produced from a variety of whiskeys to limoncello, rum, gin, vodka, brandy and more. We are also partnering with a local bartenders guild to host educational seminars, cocktail competitions, and other events in the coming months.
P.T. Wood Wood’s High Mountain Distillery Salida, Colorado
Kara Pound St. Augustine Distillery
Jaime Windon President | Maryland Distillers Guild Owner | Lyon Distilling Company
MINNESOTA MINNESOTA DISTILLERS GUILD
MONTANA MONTANA DISTILLERS GUILD Spring has been an opportunity for the Montana Distillers Guild to work on promoting their association at statewide conventions. We work with organizers to ensure that only Montana spirits are poured at some of the receptions, with the goal of illustrating the incredible depth and breadth
NORTH CAROLINA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION OF NORTH CAROLINA The Distillers Association of North Carolina continues to strengthen its organization and be proactive in pursuing statewide and nationwide promotion of craft distilling in North Carolina. Various committees including an executive board, marketing, policy and legislation, and finance have been instituted. The Association is now actively working toward long-term fundraising efforts via events throughout the state, hiring an executive director to manage the
NEW YORK NEW YORK STATE DISTILLERS GUILD Hot on the heels of the Rochester Cocktail Revival (RCR), one of New York’s largest cocktail festivals, the New York State Distillers Guild is poised to introduce new perks to its membership. Among the benefits will be the implementation of a guild-based insurance program for its distillery members, including the formation of a safety group. The Farm to Shaker, one of RCR’s premier
The Minnesota Distillers Guild is restructuring and formalizing bylaws and articles of incorporation. We have elected interim officers, with formal member acceptance expected by June 2016.
Gina Holman Founding Partner J. Carver Distillery ISG Certified Sommelier
of our products. At the Governor's Tourism and Recreation Conference, the industry gathering point for the beginning of tourism season in this recreation-heavy state, we represented these small businesses and were the most popular attraction in the building. The Montana Economic Developers Association extended the Q&A portion of the distillers/brewers panel because of this popularity, and our guild was hosted by two different tourist
destination resorts with a Montana spirittasting menu and reception highlighting these quality products. Progress at the legislative policy table continues, and more small but important steps forward are expected this upcoming legislative session convening in January 2017.
organization, cooperative advertising with its member distilleries, branding of the Association, cooperative export promotion, development of a Drink Local NC Craft Spirits campaign, and a statewide NC Spirits Month. The state recently approved sales of one bottle per person per year for visitors who tour a distillery. As a result of this new direct sales ability, the members recently voted to self-impose a 2 percent Distillery Sales Checkoff on our in-distillery direct sales of spirits to help support the Association in its promotional and legislative efforts to encourage our industry. With the assistance of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Agritourism
the Association inaugurated the North Carolina Craft Distillery Trail in October. We are now developing a NC Spirits smartphone app that will service the Distillery Trail and provide a promotional platform for member distilleries to increase sales, tours, and awareness of our industry, along with guiding patrons to bars, restaurants, and stores that offer our products. The Association now counts 30 member distilleries with an expected 20 more to join by the end of the year, along with Associate Memberships for suppliers, and Enthusiast Memberships for friends and supporters.
events featuring NY state distillers and their products, had 30 distilleries in attendance. The event was ticketed for the general public, included tastings, a bottle valet for product sales, and a NY state spirits competition. The grand prize was a 30-gallon barrel from one of upstate New York’s up-and-coming cooperages. Earlier during the beginning of RCR week, before all of the spirited dinners and parties that fill the weekend, RCR hosted the first Taste NY Farm to Shaker Spirit Competition. The judges were under the supervision of Artisan Spirit Magazine publisher Brian
Christensen, where they tasted 48 NY state spirits over two days. These six winners were announced at the Farm to Shaker Event:
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The Farm to Shaker event was made possible through a grant from NY state, which subsidized the costs put on our distillers for marketing the event, table fees, travel and accommodations. The state government’s willingness to work with craft distillers is a testament to the industry’s legislative and regulatory direction as a whole. Education has always been at the forefront of our mission. As Niagara County Community College’s Distillation Operations
Associates program is now accepting enrollment we look forward to engaging and teaching a new generation of craft distillers starting in September. Please contact the New York State Distillers Guild with any interest or for additional information. Bringing everyone together the last few months has not been without its struggles, but one thing is clear: only together can we usher New York’s craft spirits industry into a new age of maturity.
Our next membership meeting will be held at the New York Distilling Co. in August. Visit us at www.NYDISTILLERS.org or drop us a line at Newyorkstatedistillersguild@ gmail.com. Cheers!
completed our first Ohio Guild Member event with a second planned for the latter part of this year. Our current House Bill, 351, passed the House 92-2 and has moved to the Senate. The hope is that by this publication we have passed the Senate and will be 90 days from impactful changes. HB 351 will raise the A-3a (craft distillery) permit limit from
10,000 to 100,000 proof gallons. It will also allow distilleries to add to their existing premise a bar or restaurant in addition to the retail that is currently allowed with the A-3a.
the collection of signatures required for their liquor privatization initiative IP 71. The Oregon Distillers Guild (ODG) did not support this initiative as it was bad for the state, distillers and retail partners. On the Oregon Liquor Control Commission front, they have approved 14 new locations in the greater Portland area with five grocery stores included in those approved. Grocery stores have had the ability to qualify as retail agents since 2012 but none have applied until this wave of new stores. ODG has been requested to participate in a hearing with the Oregon House Committee on Small Business Growth along with other consumable industries which includes
spirits, wine, beer, marijuana, hemp and protein. The Committee is looking for ideas to help out small businesses in this space. Ideas from ODG will include: Tax (property) deferment or abatement on specific production equipment (currently, a 1 MIL threshold is required to take advantage of this), simplified reporting with the state to closely match what is currently done for federal reporting, and better reporting from the OLCC, especially as it relates to onpremise sales.
visibility of the guild and its members, advance legislation that benefits the growth of Washington distilleries, and promote success through education. Four standing committees were created and quickly filled with members from around the state. The committees are: Education, Events, Legislation, and Marketing. A kickoff meeting began in the last part of May, and committees were tasked with three-month goals picked by the board.
Last April, the WDG met with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) to begin a partnership of learning and compliance. Twice annual meetings between the two groups are being planned, with the outcome of helping Washington distilleries be better informed and more easily self-regulating. Lastly, the WDG held a new event, entirely self-produced, featuring 18 distilleries and seven restaurants. The South Sound Spirits
OHIO DISTILLERS’ GUILD Membership in the guild has increased in 2016 as we continue to push for legislation and distillery awareness. The number of active Ohio distilleries has increased to over 40 (not all members) and we recently
OREGON OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD The 2016-2017 Board of Directors officially began their work on April 1st. Newly elected Board members Tad Seestedt and Rick Rickard join the current Board members Ted Pappas and Christian Krogstad. Officers are as follows: Ted Pappas — President, Christian Krogstad — Vice President, Tad Seestedt — Secretary. The Board is currently focusing on by-law revisions, membership and the overall strategic plan for the guild. The Northwest Grocery Association via Oregonians for Competition suspended
WASHINGTON WASHINGTON DISTILLERS GUILD The Washington Distillers Guild (WDG) is moving from a working-board model to a committee model. Last month, the WDG board hired consultant Allison Carney to help develop a one-year plan for the guild. The goals we identified are to increase
Cory Muscato Vice President—New York State Distillers Guild Lockhouse Distillery, Buffalo
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Ted Pappas Owner, Big Bottom Distilling, LLC President, Oregon Distillers Guild
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Gathering in Tumwater, WA was a sold-out success, raising significant funds for the WDG and its member distilleries (in WA state, distilleries can sell bottles directly from
the table at a nonprofit event). The WDG intends to hold up to four such events a year, with PROOF, produced in conjunction with Varsity Communications, entering
its fourth year this year. All events are expected to sell out. Jason Parker Owner, President Copperworks Distilling Co.
CANADA BRITISH COLUMBIA CRAFT DISTILLERS GUILD OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Founded in 2006, the Craft Distillers Guild of British Columbia was originally formed as a vehicle to open dialogue with the British Columbia Provincial Government regarding changes necessary to make craft/microCRAFT GUILD OF BC MEMBERSHIP FEES FULL MEMBER $350 per year or $30/month ($360)
ASSOCIATE MEMBER $100/year
Welcome Rate available to NEW Members ($10/month up until December 31 of Guild’s current fiscal year) Please contact membership manager Robert Simpson with any questions you may have at 604-739-7801, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
distilling in BC a viable industry. Today, the Craft Distillers Guild of BC represents craft distilleries recognized as TRUE CRAFT by the BC Provincial Government. What does it mean to be TRUE CRAFT? All spirits are made with 100 percent BC grains, fruit or produce; on-site fermentation using traditional methods; no additives, preservatives or artificial flavors are used; neutral grain spirit is not permitted; total annual production cannot exceed 50,000 liters per year. Looking to the future, the Craft Guild of BC will continue to engage both provincial and federal government to advocate for mutually beneficial change to grow a vibrant and sustainable industry. The Guild’s mission has expanded to provide educational support to members and consumers, and ensure members conduct themselves in a professional manner to uphold the meaning of TRUE CRAFT.
EXECUTIVES PRESIDENT Tyler Dyck, Okanagan Spirits VICE-PRESIDENT Lisa Simpson, The Liberty Distillery SECRETARY/TREASURER Tyler/Lorien Schramm, Pemberton Distillery
We encourage you to visit our website www.craftdistillers.ca or our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Craft.Distillers. Guild.BC to learn more. Lisa Simpson, MBA Proprietor, Director of Operations The Liberty Distillery
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CALIFORNIA’S AB 1295: A WORK IN PROGRESS
WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER
alifornia distillers rejoiced when ...distributors worried distillery sales would encroach on their sales and AB 1295, the Craft Distiller’s Act violate the three-tier system. Now, most of the parties involved believe that of 2015, took effect this January. The distillery bottle sales will actually increase sales all-around... law grants distillers several new sales opportunities like the ability to mix to obtain the Type 74 license and accept obtaining the Type 74 license. However, and sell limited sample cocktails at the these common practices, Harrelson says, there is a careful balance between distillery, among other benefits. and that will likely happen. The Guild is promoting California-distilled products “California went from being one of the working with Richard Harris at Nossaman and current business practices that allow worst states in the union for craft distillers (a lobbying firm) to include all parties distillers to use GNS for gin, bitters and to one of the best with the passage of involved to ensure everyone has a voice and liqueur production. this law,” shared Andrew Faulkner of the understands what is wanted prior to making “With a Type 74 they’ve prohibited the American Distilling Institute (ADI). He any new changes in the law. Until then, Type 7, which is a rectifier, and they’ve said that perhaps the biggest benefit is the even if distillers do not qualify for bottle prohibited the Type 12, which is importing,” new ability to sell up to three 750-mililiter sales they do receive many new benefits. explains Harrelson. “They really want to bottles per customer, per day at the “As long as you have the other license, make sure that you are actually distilling distillery. Now, rather than referring their which is a Type 4, which is kind of a stuff.” customers to liquor or grocery stores to precursor to the 74, you can still do The problem, Harrelson says, is that purchase their spirits, some distillers can tastings and tours and you can still attend even though gin, bitters and liqueursell bottles at the counter just like wineries nonprofit pourings,” among other things, makers are re-distilling GNS and infusing and breweries. said Harrelson. it with botanicals and other ingredients, “Some” is the key word, though, because AB 1295 went through several they still cannot apply for the Type 74 in order to sell bottles on-site, distillers negotiations between distillers and license. That means that even if they make have to qualify for the new Type 74 license distributors. At first, distributors worried a grain-to-glass whiskey they cannot sell and many do not. In fact, California distillery sales would encroach on their that bottle in-house because their gin base Artisanal Distillers Guild president Jim sales and violate the three-tier system. Now, was imported. Harrelson says their recent poll showed most of the parties involved believe that “This put the stamp on some limoncello, that over 60 percent of their members distillery bottle sales will actually increase gin and liqueur makers, and they’re trying, cannot even apply for it because of license sales all-around because distilleries will no pun intended, to rectify the situation,” type conflicts. grow and need distributors to sell the new tells ADI’s Intended to encourage volume resulting from that growth. Faulkner. in-house production and With a Type 74 they’ve prohibited While imperfect, AB 1295 was The best showcase Californiathe Type 7, which is a rectifier, solution is to widely acknowledged as beneficial for distilled spirits, the law and they’ve prohibited change the California distillers. AB 1295 isn't a fixprohibits distillers that the Type 12, which is importing.” language in all for antiquated spirits laws, but it is a import out-of-state spirits positive step in the right direction. After the law to like whiskey and grain the next legislative session, it could allow more — JIM HARRELSON neutral spirits (GNS) from be even better. distilleries
CALIFORNIA ARTISANAL DISTILLERS GUILD
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FORWARD W RITTE N BY M A R GI E A. S. L EHRMAN, EXECUT I VE DI RECT OR A M E RIC AN CRAF T SPI RI T S ASSOCI AT I ON
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." —GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
he American Craft Spirits Association is aggressively fighting for a reduction in the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on Capitol Hill in the United States Congress. Earlier this month, ACSA invited small craft distillers to Washington, D.C. to meet with Congressional staff and explain firsthand what a tax reduction means to our members. You spoke and Congress listened, and the members are now very aware that keeping money in your DSP could potentially buy you a new still (manufacturing growth) or employ another millennial in your tasting room (job growth) or expand your on-site warehouse space (economic development). Is the Federal Excise Tax reduction a hard battle? In short, yes. Anytime a business tries to compel the government to take fewer taxes from the sale of a manufactured good will be a hard sell. This is particularly true when that tax was imposed long ago. A reasonable man might want to accept the reality and remain silent — even when recognizing that craft beer and wine already reap the benefits of a reduced FET. An unreasonable man, in contrast, will be relentless in the energy and time it will take to make that change and push the FET WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
reduction for spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons. Consternation of ACSA’s continuous push to mount a full frontal attack, with support for both the Senate and House version of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, is somewhat perplexing. ACSA was not created to maintain status quo for the industry; it was formed to help you, the craft spirits producer. ACSA is not fearful of taking slow and steady steps to support the reduction, even when the odds seem stacked against it. Still, at the time of this writing, S.1562 (Senator Wyden’s bill) has more than 38 cosponsors while HR.2903 (Representative Paulsen’s bill) has 202 cosponsors. Rest assured, that does not just happen without a nudge or push or strenuous advocacy on your behalf. As ACSA grows from its infancy into its fledgling years, its national Board of Directors (comprised of 15 members from regions across the United States) is tasked to be “unreasonable” and to “adapt the world to itself.” In the coming months, the governance of ACSA will be challenged to match strategy and leadership to uphold ACSA’s revised mission: “To elevate and
advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.” The newly drafted vision also further focuses the ACSA board: “The greatest spirits are universally recognized as coming from our member producers, and they are enjoyed responsibly everywhere in the world.” Under the leadership of president Paul Hletko (FEW Spirits, Evanston, IL), who assumed office in April, the ACSA Board of Directors is listening to the craft spirits community. Advocacy is the number one issue our members are asking ACSA to handle, followed closely by enhancing respect and providing opportunities for craft spirits, building venues to network, and offering education designed for the established DSP. Members are pushing ACSA to seek answers to their questions: How will the mergers and acquisitions in the second tier impact route to market? How are craft producers impacting the economy? How can the DSP run its business operations more smoothly? With limited staff, how can the DSP keep up with compliance issues? Hletko is excited to be ACSA’s second president and is up for this challenge.
He reports, “I am honored to serve the organization, and I’ve got big shoes to fill. I am proud to have been voted to lead the only nonprofit trade association run by distillers, for distillers. And it means even more to know that I was elected by my friends and my peers. I will work to enhance the organization and hope to help build a truly great industry.” Hletko succeeds ACSA’s first president Tom Mooney (House Spirits, Portland, OR) who provided resolute guidance together with Ted Huber (Starlight Distillery, Borden, IN), who also steps down from his role as vice president. Steve Johnson (Vermont Spirits, Hartford, VT) will continue as ACSA’s treasurer/ secretary. It is a new era. Four major goals identified during an ACSA strategic retreat are being addressed through its committees and executive leadership. Specifically, ACSA will:
1. Build membership. 2. Improve governance. 3. Drive brand awareness and political clout. 4. Promote/create a favorable environment for members. Any one of the above initiatives on its own could be daunting. But if ACSA plans to push the world to adapt to its vision, new things invariably will be invented and that is invigorating. Industry stalwarts Ralph Erenzo (Tuthilltown Spirits, Gardiner, NY), Rick Wasmund (Copperfox Distillery, Sperryville, VA), Scott Harris (Catoctin Creek Distilling, Purcellville, VA) and John
Dannerbeck (Anchor Brewers & Distillers/SVP, San Francisco, CA) helped build the foundation of ACSA. They were there from the beginning, helping shape the direction of the then new 501(c)(6) trade group. ACSA is indebted to their commitment and passion for creating this organization which is now three years old.
CHANGE MEANS MOMENTUM In April, 60 percent of eligible members voted during ACSA’s national board elections, adding to this solid leadership base. New board members will offer new ways of thinking: Dan Garrison, (Garrison Brothers Distillery, Hye, TX) was elected vice president, Mark Shilling (Revolution Spirits, Austin, TX), Orlin Sorensen (Woodinville Whiskey Co., Woodinville, WA), Matt Hofmann (Westland Distillery, Seattle, WA) and P.T. Wood (Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, Salida, CO) are the “new kids on the block.” The “unreasonable man,” or in this case organization, will continue to stir the industry from its base. It will challenge the regulatory and legislative scheme, it will continue to speak out for the craft spirit producers and demand respect for the industry, and it will push to re-calibrate the economic climate for success. Maybe being “unreasonable” simply means having and using a collective voice. And perhaps that is indeed progress.
Margie A.S. Lehrman is Executive Director of American Craft Spirits Association. Visit www.americancraftspirits.org for more information on ACSA and to join.
RICHARD BAKER OWNER, COPPER HORSE DISTILLING
NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS FRIEND OR FOE? BY MARC E. SORINI AND ANNE D. HARRIS
ith the boom of craft distilleries, competition is everincreasing. If you’re thinking about going into the distillery business or you already have, undoubtedly you have considered how you can best protect your products, recipes, methodologies, and distribution from imitation or recreation. The sale and manufacture of craft spirits creates a unique set of issues and considerations. As the owner of a craft distillery, you may worry that your head assistant may take employment with another craft distiller. If confidential information he or she knows is disclosed to third parties, it can lead to financial problems if a competitor gets access and ruins the unique elements of your product or business practices. Indeed, panic may set in when an employee announces that he or she is leaving to start their own business or join a competitor. What would happen if he or she uses the recipes that you have cultivated on your own or what if your top salesperson goes to work for a competitor and exploits the contacts you have made and the knowledge they have gained while working for your company? Some employers have considered the use of restrictive covenants such as non-competition or non-solicitation agreements to bar employees from impacting their business after that employee is no longer employed by the company.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS No one wants to prevent someone from earning a living, and that is not the point of entering into a well-drafted non-compete or non-solicitation agreement. To the contrary, restrictive covenants seek to protect your company after you have invested in certain employees by providing them with confidential information and business knowledge relating specifically to your company. In particular, a non-compete provides a limitation for a specific period of time on the area and type of work they may perform after the business relationship with your company has ended. Similarly, a non-solicitation agreement may restrict an employee for a set period WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington D.C. office. He leads the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where he concentrates his practice on regulatory and litigation issues faced by supplier-tier industry members. His practice for distillers includes distribution agreements, distribution counseling and litigation, product formulation, labeling, promotional compliance, compliance strategy, and federal and state tax and trade practice enforcement defense.
of time from soliciting customers of the company or employees who still work for the company.
SO WHY DOESN’T EVERYBODY USE NON-COMPETE OR NON-SOLICITATION AGREEMENTS? Although a non-compete or a non-solicitation agreement ALTHOUGH A may be appropriate in some NON-COMPETE OR employment relationships, A NON-SOLICITATION it isn’t quite as simple as having an employee sign the AGREEMENT MAY agreement. The agreement BE APPROPRIATE IN must be enforceable. So SOME EMPLOYMENT what does it mean to make a non-compete or nonRELATIONSHIPS, IT ISN’T solicitation enforceable? QUITE AS SIMPLE AS Unfortunately, there is no HAVING AN EMPLOYEE single clear answer because restrictive covenants are SIGN THE AGREEMENT. governed by different laws in THE AGREEMENT MUST different states, and agreements BE . that are poorly drafted are likely to be found unenforceable if the employer ever tries to bring the former employee to court to try and enforce the noncompete or non-solicitation agreement. While there is no “one size fits all” restrictive covenant, there are some general concepts that the majority of jurisdictions require in order to hold a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement enforceable.
Reasonably limited in duration and geographic scope. The
reasonableness of a nonTHE REASONABLENESS compete or non-solicitation’s OF A NON-COMPETE duration is generally OR NON-SOLICITATION’S determined by evaluating the unique facts of each DURATION IS GENERALLY case and the nature of the DETERMINED BY confidential information. EVALUATING THE UNIQUE For example, if the former employee possesses FACTS OF EACH CASE information that is valuable AND THE NATURE OF for only a short period before THE CONFIDENTIAL it is subject to public disclosure, INFORMATION. the duration of the restriction should match that period. Closely-held secret recipes may be subject to longer durations. Likewise, the reasonableness of the geographic scope is generally determined by the employer’s activities. For example, if your business only sells its spirits in one state, a multi-state restriction likely will be deemed unreasonable.
Relation to the business interest. Many jurisdictions also require that the non-compete or non-solicitation agreements do not extend beyond what is reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest. Therefore, the agreement must be very narrowly tailored to what the employer is trying to keep confidential.
Adequate consideration. Non-compete agreements and, oftentimes, nonsolicitation agreements, must be supported by “adequate consideration.” This means that the employer must provide the employee with something of value in return for the employee’s promise not to compete with the employer. In some jurisdictions, at-will employment may constitute sufficient consideration. In other jurisdictions, an employer must provide some sort of monetary amount outside of the employee’s normal salary to support a noncompete or non-solicitation agreement.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO HAVE EMPLOYEES SIGN A RESTRICTIVE COVENANT One of the most complicated aspects of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements is that enforceability varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. What may work for an employee
in Virginia may result in a vastly different outcome for an employee in Montana. For example, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in California will virtually always be found unenforceable except under very narrow circumstances relating to the sale of a business. Other states, such as Georgia and Texas, apply state-specific statutes regulating non-compete agreements. Adding to the mix is that the law in a given state may become more or less restrictive over time.
TAKE-AWAY In order to determine whether entering into a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement makes sense for you and your business, a distiller should conduct a thorough assessment of all of the factors relating to its business and weigh the potential benefits and negatives. A properly drafted non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, specific to your distillery’s needs and the jurisdiction of the agreement, can protect you from potential enforcement
issues later on. In the end, if done right, a non-compete or non-solicitation will protect the legitimate business interests of the distillery while not unreasonably preventing a former employer to bring his or her talents to a different business venture.
IF DONE RIGHT, A NON-COMPETE OR NONSOLICITATION WILL PROTECT THE LEGITIMATE BUSINESS INTERESTS OF THE DISTILLERY WHILE NOT UNREASONABLY PREVENTING A FORMER EMPLOYER TO BRING HIS OR HER TALENTS TO A DIFFERENT BUSINESS VENTURE.
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 is the leader of the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group. Recognized as one of the leading lawyers in his field by Best Lawyers and the Chambers USA directory, he advises breweries, distilleries, wineries and importers on regulatory, litigation, licensing, distribution, advertising, product formulation, and taxation issues. Anne Harris is an associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the firm’s Chicago office. She focuses her practice on labor and employment litigation and counseling. As part of her practice, she represents employers nationwide on all aspects of employment issues, including employment contractual disputes.
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ARTISAN SPIRIT CONVENTION
WRITTEN BY BRIAN CHRISTENSEN
WORLD WHISKIES AND SPIRITS CONFERENCE
AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE
WHEN: February 23, 2016
WHEN: March 2-3, 2016
WHERE: Chelsea Piers, New York City, NY
WHERE: Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL
WHO: A small gathering of distilling executives from larger producers, a
WHO: Over 600 established distillers, distributors, retailers, vendors, and
few craft distillers, as well as industry, consumer and local media outlets.
WHAT: The World Whiskies and Spirits Conference is a condensed and focused one day event. The conference this year was not as well attended as prior years, but the content saw an impressive improvement on what was already a solid distilling conference. The show acts as a platform for the distilling industry to recap the past year, and discuss the year ahead with a strong emphasis on marketing trends and branding education.
WHAT: The once-fledgling American Craft Spirits Association Conference
HIGHLIGHTS: The conference kicked off with a comprehensive “State of the Industry Address.” Speakers included Margie Lehrman, executive director of the American Craft Spirits Association, Mark Meek, CEO of IWSR, Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association, and David Ozgo the senior VP and chief economist of the Distilled Spirits Council. The address provided in-depth analysis of spirits sales in 2015, spirits category growth trends, and the overall expansion of the industry. (Recap in Artisan Spirit Magazine's Spring 2016 issue page 18: www.issuu.com/ artisanspiritmag/docs/artisanspirit_issue014_web/18) 30
reached its three-year milestone and proved itself a sustainable presence in the distilling industry. The conference had an impressive array of speakers and presenters, ranging from the retail world with Eli Aguilera, VP of spirits at Total Wine and More, to distribution with the likes of Craig Wolf, president and CEO, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, and numerous producers, marketing experts, compliance specialists, and industry lobbyists. The conference continued to highlight safety education and the need for industry responsibility.
HIGHLIGHTS: The state distilling guild meeting showcased one of the best aspects of the ACSA conference, that of camaraderie and shared learning between distillers. Perhaps because of the nature of a boardrun organization there is a feeling of self-direction and responsibility within these conferences and meetings. Attendees were engaged, excited, outgoing, and vocal about their passion for distilling. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
MAGAZINE’S 2016 REPORT PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
AMERICAN DISTILLING INSTITUTE CONFERENCE
CRAFT BEVERAGE EXPO
WHEN: April 4-7, 2016
WHERE: Oakland Convention Center, Oakland, CA
WHERE: Town & Country Resort, San Diego, CA
WHO: A mid-sized group of distillers, winemakers, cider producers, mead producers, craft brewers, vendors, and industry media.
WHO: Nearly 1500 hopeful, startup, and established distillers alongside
WHEN: May 18-20, 2016
vendors and industry media.
WHAT: The Craft Beverage Expo also reached its three-year milestone
WHAT: The largest and oldest craft distilling conference in the United
with its multi-industry expo. CBE works to bring together minds from each branch of the alcoholic beverage industries, focusing specifically on education to help brands bring their products to market.
States, ADI continues to foster a welcoming and rewarding experience for new and established craft distillers. This year also saw a greater outreach to international craft distillers and importers. Of all the conferences, ADI sees the largest number of new and prospective distillers who come to make contacts and learn the tips of the trade.
HIGHLIGHTS: A jam packed schedule of classes, seminars, and workshops. ADI outdid itself this year with a huge array of educational opportunities throughout the multi-day conference. Also, Bill Owens in a Tricorne hat, enough said.
WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
HIGHLIGHTS: The opening general session provided one of the best experiences of the expo by bringing together impressive figures from wine with Josh Jensen of Calera Wine Company, cider with Bruce Nissen of Crispin Cider Company and Jester & Judge, beer with Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company, and spirits with Matthew Hofmann of Westland Distillery. The core of the panel’s discussion was on “quality” and what that means to each industry branch, but served to highlight the similarities and challenges we all face. Bonus points to Vinnie Cilurzo with the standout quote of the day, “If you set yourself on fire, people will show up to watch.”
UPCOMING WORKSHOPS FROM THE AMERICAN DISTILLING INSTITUTE
WHISKEY AND GIN HANDS-ON DISTILLING
Instructors: Kenneth Winchester and Nancy Fraley This hands-on class covers the fundamentals of grain-to-bottle spirits production of whiskey, gin and brandies as well as business concerns in starting a DSP. Topics covered in this class include: mash preparation, basics of fermentation, wash production, mechanics of distillation, making the cuts, botanical infusions, gin recipes, barrel maturation, proofing, bottling, sensory evaluation and creating flavor profiles. • Date: June 26 - July 1, 2016 • Location: de Vine Spirits, Victoria, British Columbia, • Cost: $3,500 – includes instruction, 5 nights in hotel, bus tour of local distilleries, tastings and most meals.
APPLE BRANDY DISTILLING HANDS-ON DISTILLING Instructor: Hubert Germain-Robin
Master Distiller, Master Blender and creator of world-renowned Germain-Robin brandies reveals many secrets of slowly nurturing the distilled spirit to create a supple round flavor and pleasant mouth feel. The workshop covers the traditional techniques of making European-style brandies and working with New World fruit to create innovative and nuanced flavor profiles. Issues of concern from distillation through maturation will be addressed. • Date: October 16 - 21, 2016 • Location: Tuthilltown Spirits, Gardner, NY • Cost: $3,900 – includes instruction, hotel, bus tour of local distilleries and most meals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT Andrew Faulkner – 415-517-7377 – email@example.com Anne-Sophie Whitehead – 973-698-4861 – firstname.lastname@example.org
...AND NOW THE VAN HALEN SONG IS STUCK IN YOUR HEAD WRITTEN BY JOHN MCKEE /// PHOTOGRAPHY BY COURTNEY MCKEE
n the not so distant past, a dear friend by the name of Jimmy Stice threw his arm over my shoulder and said, “Let’s make hooch in the Panamanian jungle,” to which I immediately exclaimed, “Yes!” The context might at first sound a little strange, but once you understand Jimmy’s vision, then “making hooch in the jungle” totally makes sense. A few years ago, Jimmy founded Kalu Yala in the Panamanian highlands with the goal of “creating the world’s most sustainable modern town, from the ground up.” His vision led to a community of regular students, entrepreneurs, and most recently a distiller named Willie Dale making rum from miel de caña, a sugar cane molasses. A few years ago, Headframe Spirits was asked to participate in a conference called HATCH, which embraces its mission with the tagline “a Better World.” The conference is an invite-only event for 150 people representing entertainment, entrepreneurs, artists, social activists, musicians, and people actively trying to make their place in the world a better one. It has surpassed 14 years of sharing its mission with attendees like the inventors of the iPhone companion Siri and the supercomputer Watson, Academy Award winners, organizers of the #earthtoParis and COP21 climate change summits, and others who have invented, created, and shared any number of amazing things. Jimmy had presented his vision of building “a Better World” with Kalu Yala, so, when he said let’s make hooch I agreed without even pausing to think it over. But over the next few months we had to do some pretty serious planning and work on what it means to build a distillery in the jungle. At Headframe we make stills, but they WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
are large, continuous flow systems which vastly outstripped the capacity, needs and utility of Kalu Yala. Luckily, that means we have a fully qualified shop capable of CAD design, stainless welding, and staffed by all around badasses, so we figured no problem! We know that there are plenty of backwoods distilleries just about everywhere and we weren’t charting new ground, but we wanted this distillery to be a number of things that most backwoods operations are not, namely:
»» »» »» »»
Safe. Legal. Productive. Provide long-term value to Kalu Yala, Jimmy’s and Willie’s visions.
WHAT DID WE HAVE TO WORK WITH? There was no time for a site visit, so we had to go off information we could get from irregular emails from Kalu Yala. Some of those details:
»» »» »»
No electricity, only irregular power from minimal solar charging.
WE SETTLED ON THE FOLLOWING:
»» 125-gallon pot still. »» 4 inch, 8 foot column, with random »» »» »»
packing and an internal partial condenser. 2-basket gin botanical system. Shell-and-tube final condenser and vent. Integrated pressure relief, pot and column.
»» Two 125-gallon fermenters. »» 10 cornelius kegs. »» Fittings, tools, a hope and a prayer.
We built the system around three 125-gallon stainless steel IBC totes. One tote was the still pot and the other two totes were intended for fermenters. The goal was to build the system in such a manner that we could break it down, put the pieces and parts inside the totes, nest them one on top of another and ship the entire system ready to go. On the whole, that pretty much worked out. We built a crate, packed everything up and sent it on its way.
Non-improved road for access, final traverse into Kalu Yala requires fording a river by truck. Water supplied via a local river. Propane is subsidized by Panama, but only brought in cylinders to Kalu Yala as needed for cooking.
Knowing what we had to work with, we also had to make some decisions about appropriate sizing of equipment. The system would need to be simple, durable, require little maintenance, and have an overall capacity large enough to justify the expense of running a still in the jungle.
WILLIE DALE, SAMI BIERMAN, AMBER JEAN, AND JOHN MCKEE MOVING AND SETTING FERMENTER 1. 33
A few weeks later, my family and I walked into the jungle to see the system sitting on a slab of an old homestead. It had arrived a few weeks prior, after much wrangling with customs, treks over the ridgeline leading to the valley, and fording the river in the Toyota Hilux, and it was ready to be set up. A few early attendees of HATCH Panama (an extension HATCH conference at Kalu Yala starting the next day) were on hand and alongside Willie we got to setting up his still in the jungle. We trenched water line from the main to the slab, plumbed supply and return cooling water headers, and lugged and set fermenters and the still. Then we set up the column, lyne arm, botanical baskets and condenser header system and installed the direct-fired propane burner system. We did all of this in the heat and humidity of the Panamanian jungle while listening to howler monkeys, dodging the wolf spider hatch (there were so many baby wolf spiders that at night in your headlight it looked like dew on the ground...moving dew...imagine that one for a minute), and wondering how air can actually be so humid it acts as a liquid. It took a day and we were ready to go. Willie had elected to make a miel de caña, but that would take a few days to ferment and we needed to run something now to ensure everything worked. The call went out and later that afternoon the Hilux came over the ridge, forded the river, and brought us 300 2-liter boxes of wine. We’d make eau de vie! So there we were in shorts, flip flops, tank tops, swim suits and jungle attire cutting open boxes of wine and pouring them into the pot still. Our kiddos were a little incredulous that they were being allowed to do this, but everyone had pitched in up until then so we saw no reason they couldn’t stab open boxes of 30-cent chuck. We turned on the cooling water to the condensers and fired the still, then people sat back in chairs, climbed into hammocks and we let the afternoon go by under the shade of the distillery roof. Over to the north there was a wasp nest about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide hanging from a tree. In front of the distillery is a Guanabana tree, the fruit of which goes bad
PHOTO BY BRANDON HILL
JOHN MCKEE AND KALU YALA DISTILLER WILLIE DALE CHECKING INITIAL GRAVITY AND BRIX OF A MIEL DE CAÑA FERMENTATION. within 24 hours of ripening. Through the leaves on the ground you could see and hear highways of ants moving in maddeningly perfect utility. In the background the hiss of the propane burner made its addition to the white noise of the jungle. People slumbered in hammocks, talked about the conference to come, asked for the route to the best swimming hole. In nervous anticipation, Willie and I kept touching the column, determining how high the vapors had risen. Kiddos swung in the hammocks, students and members of the Kalu Yala community stopped by to say hello and enquire about the hooch, and we all waited in the Panamanian jungle afternoon for the first drops. Then Willie smiled because all of a sudden the lyne arm was hot. I looked over to the condenser outlet and there were heads! We directed the stream to the Cornelius kegs, segregating the heads from the hearts. Fun fact: there are little communities of ticks under leaves everywhere, and it seems a rite of passage at Kalu Yala to stumble through one and then spend hours with a knife working hundreds of little ticks out of your skin. While I was watching someone remove a tick-bomb from their knee, it occurred to me to try the heads we made the day before. Swabbing a rag in the corny keg, I wiped it on his leg and just like that I was Medicine Man McKee as the
ticks died en masse. Instantly the temporary distillery community of Kalu Yala spilled out of hammocks and chairs and crowded around the outlet of the still. The run kept progressing through the foreshots and heads and then we were there, into the high hearts, and people were giggling while running their fingers through the outlet tasting eau de vie made from 30cent chuck. It was a great payoff to a moment about eight months earlier when Jimmy’s infectious enthusiasm for creating something unique sparked this journey. Willie could only be described as a proud father. He had moved from Brooklyn to live at Kalu Yala, embody a sustainable lifestyle, and make hooch...and now his still was making eau de vie. The long term goal of developing an educational program around the still and looking to offer educational services from the perspective of making hooch legally, safely, and sustainably in the jungle was now within their grasp. In the year to come, he will be making updates via ASM on the progress and doings at Kalu Yala and on the still under the lean-to. We finished helping collect the first jar, walked down into the main camp at Kalu Yala, kicked off the HATCH conference with eau de vie, and then spent the next few days listening to NASA astrophysicists, filmmakers, toy creators, AI developers, musicians…and swimming in the river. A few times I wandered back up to the still, but once that first drop had come off it wasn’t mine anymore, it was Willie’s. I was able to stand to the side, watch it produce and remark upon the joy of making something new in the jungle. Moral of the story: When someone says let’s make hooch in the jungle, maybe it's more than a metaphor. When asked to give, please do so if you can. #becauseofHATCH. John McKee, along with his wife Courtney, are the owners of Headframe Spirits in Butte, MT. When John isn’t parting the seas of baby wolf spiders in the Panamanian jungle with his headlamp, he can be found in Montana wondering at the next crazy request coming his way. For more information, email email@example.com. www.hatchexperience.orgwww.kaluyala.com
ESTABLISHING A MARKETING PLAN & BUDGET FOR YOUR SPIRITS BRAND
Whether you are a startup or an established producer looking to expand, developing a realistic and well-thought-out marketing plan and budget is crucial to success.
irst and foremost, always remember you are in the business of selling more than you are in the business of producing. Many a passionate producer has failed in thinking that the exceptional quality of their product alone would trump a well-
thought-out marketing strategy. The truth is your ability to influence consumer trial and cultivate brand loyalty are in large part dependent on how your product is positioned, priced, and perceived in the marketplace. Developed
properly, your marketing plan will be the roadmap you follow to win customers and dramatically improve the viability of your brand.
THE 7 ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN:
.SITUATION ANALYSIS (SWOT).
A SWOT analysis is an evaluation of your internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats. Take a 30,000-foot view snapshot of your organization, products, and the competitive landscape to see how you stack up. Even though the truth sometimes hurts, be honest with yourself and your organization.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION/BRAND ESSENCE
This is the most elemental part of your brand: a one-to-two sentence encapsulation of the underlying values, guiding principles, and hidden attributes that distinguishes your distillery from the competition. This message should be carried through all of your marketing materials and should be an integral component of your go-to-market strategy. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Describe the customers you are targeting including their demographics, psychographics and their wants and needs in relation to your product. Consider other products they are buying within the alcohol beverage space as well as their broader lifestyle and consumption trends. Pro-tip: develop verbal and visual descriptions of your target consumer for your marketing plan.
.YOUR PRICING AND POSITIONING STRATEGY
Develop a clear vision of your product offerings, tiers of products if applicable, and their respective pricing in relation to their position in the market. For instance, if you are building a luxury brand it is critical that your pricing strategy supports the luxury position — price your brand too low and your consumers may
have concerns about quality. For the same reason it is also critical to make sure that your packaging, marketing collateral, website and all touch points for your brand support both the price and positioning. If your package looks cheap, but your positioning and price are luxury, it will dissuade consumers from trusting your product for initial trial.
.MARKETING STRATEGY & MATERIALS
Marketing Strategy: This is your strategy for tracking the market opportunities you identified in the situation analysis along with your specific revenue goals.
Marketing Materials: The collateral you will use to promote your business and product, support your strategy, attract your target consumers and trade “gatekeepers.” Choosing
the correct marketing materials, media and mediums such as sales sheets, tasting cards, hangtags and your website will be key to launching and supporting your brand.
THE 3 AREAS OF MARKETING TO BUDGET FOR: .BRAND CREATION
» »Brand essence/brand story development
» »Naming » »Logo design » »Structure design
» »Website » » Sales sheets » » Tasting notes » » Hang tags and point of sale » » Brochures » » Business cards and
Online Marketing: Now more than ever, If you plan to implement a custom bottle or structure consumers are going online to learn about, » »Package design stationery system review, and purchase Including labels, closure, etc. alcoholic beverages. Your online presence category because of its highly regulated must accurately exude nature. Gain a clear understanding of your your brand personality and should specific legal constraints and then craft a never be an afterthought. Your successful distribution plan along with how online strategy should leverage SEO you are going to support your distributor. If optimization, digital advertising your local/state laws allow, consider a in blogs, chat rooms and other direct-to-consumer strategy with a retail/ relevant sites, as well as social tasting room location or an e-commerce media. Consumers want to know website. the people and stories behind the products they buy. Leverage social media to give them a “peek behind the curtain” but be careful not to market too aggressively — engagement is key. Consumers who engage with your brand will share your brand with others and become loyal brand ambassadors.
.BRAND SUPPORT/ SALES MATERIALS
How you sell your product is extremely unique in the alcohol beverage
Now that you have established a plan you’ll need to rough out a budget to support the plan. It is important that you develop a realistic budget for both your needs in relation to your financial resources and the realistic parameters of the market — but how much should you realistically set aside? There are many resources that outline marketing budgets, but the consensus is
Traditional & Online
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that startups should consider a range of 12 to 20 percent of gross revenue or projected gross revenue, while established companies should allocate between 6 to 12 percent. However, unlike other industries, the alcohol beverage industry must in many cases rely on the three-tier distribution system due to laws and regulations. Be sure to adjust your percent of gross allocation for your marketing higher to account for the additional distribution expense. With a proper marketing plan and budget, you will greatly reduce your exposure to unexpected expenses and enhance your ability to plan and execute for long-term success. David Schuemann is the owner and creative director of CF Napa Brand Design. For more information, visit www.cfnapa.com or call (707) 265-1891.
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On Second Thought…
Colorado, Oregon Distillers left out, then Reconsidered in Modernization Discussions Wr i t t e n b y C h r i s L o z i e r
Dissatisfied with their limited bargaining power, distillers large and small and the CDG worked with the Council to introduce more favorable legislation. However, that is where they lost unity, and Gould says the CDG’s suggestions were not included when the Council introduced two new ballot measures. One measure simply added spirits to the previous measure alongside wine and beer, and the other increased the number of outlets private liquor store owners could have from one to 10. Proponents of modernization efforts commonly The Council was certainly stuck in a tough position, tout convenience, decreased price and increased and they were not available for an interview. According selection, but those results often favor large brands to their website they have 137 small distiller affiliate and other industries more than small distillers. members in addition to 15 large companies. Give or take new or non-renewed memberships they probably have about 150 members that will often disagree on what action Stephen Gould, owner of Colorado’s Golden Moon Distillery and to take. government affairs officer for the Colorado Distillers Guild (CDG) Still, Gould says that if all of these ballot measures passed says his state’s current effort started with a measure they call the it would have created a legislative nightmare with unintended grocery ballot issue. An ongoing effort primarily funded by grocers, consequences. the Your Choice Colorado campaign seeks to bring full-strength “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Gould said of the beer and wine into grocery stores since grocers are currently limited looming likelihood of a grocery beer and wine win. “What should to selling only 3.2 percent ABV beer. have happened is big grocery and big liquor should have worked Colorado is not a liquor control state, but regulations only allow with small business to make this as minimally a painful transition private store owners to sell full-strength beer, wine and spirits in as possible.” one location. Nearly every Colorado grocery chain already has a Fortunately that happened. With six measures up for vote, full in-house liquor store at one of their businesses but they would including these three, the private liquor store owners agreed to like to have more, with full-strength beer and wine sales at every come to the table with the Council, the CDG, grocers and others location. to draft a compromise bill, SB16-197, intended to preempt the Currently in Colorado, when consumers visit those liquor stores other measures. CDG president P.T. Wood says SB 197 has already to purchase one drink category they have access to them all, passed the House and Senate, with only 12 dissenting votes out encouraging cross-category sales. The private store owners also act of 100. as an incubator for small alcohol brands, giving them shelf space SB 197 is a legislative fix which will be much easier to alter and promotion that large grocery stores likely could not. If beer and now and in the future than a ballot measure would be, allowing wine sales head primarily to grocery stores, spirits will be left by legislators to retain control. Among other things, SB 197 will allow themselves at a severe disadvantage. Further, those independent more licenses for private liquor stores and grocery stores, with liquor stores may close or downsize due to lost sales, restricting proximity limitations to protect the small liquor stores. It also supplier market access even more. creates the opportunity for grocers to buy them out. Gould says the CDG and the Distilled Spirits Council both tried “It’s not a great deal for everybody, but it is a fair deal for to work with the independent liquor stores to find a compromise everybody,” tells Wood. All the parties requests were considered, but originally they would not budge. This left local distillers with and distillers gained two important benefits: one option: support the private liquor stores — their only retail partners — in their Keep Colorado Local campaign to defeat the 1. All alcohol is considered alcohol, spirits are ballot measure. not separated from beer and wine;
hen it comes to alcohol, “modernization” can mean a lot of things. Proponents of modernization efforts commonly tout convenience, decreased price and increased selection, but those results often favor large brands and other industries more than small distillers. In the case of Colorado and Oregon’s recent modernization efforts, local distillers were left out of the original discussions, but luckily that did not last long.
2. Grocery stores must have an in-house spirits inventory controlled by an in-house purchaser. While that does not guarantee shelf space for small distillers, it does guarantee them the opportunity to speak with a local buyer who can reasonably give their spirits a trial run at the store. Grocers will be able to purchase single cases of spirits they actually sampled themselves. Additionally, private liquor stores are less likely to get squeezed out. If SB 197 is signed by the governor, Target and Walmart are expected to withdraw their support of the Your Choice Colorado campaign, however Safeway and Kroger are expected to maintain their course. If that happens, the Council will withdraw their two ballot measures and likely invest heavily into defeating the Your Choice measure. “I think ultimately everybody looked at it and figured that just throwing it to the vote was too big a gamble,” explains Wood of the grocery ballot measure. “That was an all-or-nothing kind of proposal. I think everybody realized that keeping it in the legislature was incredibly important.”
Privatizing Oregon Spirits Sales Similarly in liquor control state Oregon, the Council financially supported the grocer-driven IP 71 to privatize liquor sales even though the Oregon Distillers Guild (ODG), distributors and nearly every other alcohol industry group did not. Privatization proponents argue Oregon’s government should enforce liquor laws but get out of the business of selling liquor like the majority of the U.S. They say a private system will decrease price and increase selection and access due to competition. The ODG does not support or oppose privatization, per se, but rather reviews each initiative as it is presented, and they did oppose IP 71. But for now the struggle is over. On April 27, the Oregonians for Competition withdrew the initiative like they did before in 2014, stating in a press release that they would shift their focus to fighting a corporation tax initiative instead, which many distillers will oppose alongside them. Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Kraig R. Naasz was quoted in the press release, saying, “We intend to take a step back and consult with our local producer and wholesaler partners in order to achieve a unified position. Moving forward, it is our hope to address the needs of both small and large suppliers, distributors, grocers and, importantly, Oregon’s consumers.” Finding a compromise with all those different groups will certainly be a challenge, but given the two failed attempts thus far it appears to be increasingly important to include more voices like small distillers in the process, especially in a locavore state like Oregon where 14 percent of the spirits sold come from Oregon distillers.
A West Coast Case Study The ODG and other Oregonians Against the Takeover campaign supporters thought IP 71 was ill conceived for several reasons, but
the biggest red flag was the bill’s tax omission. Instead of defining a new liquor tax system, IP 71 left it up to the legislature. In the midst of a state budget deficit, that tax revenue would need to be made up somewhere and most assume it would just be reestablished at a current or higher rate on liquor sales. When added to the new private retailer and distributor markups that would result from privatization, those predicted taxes would almost certainly result in higher spirits prices, which is exactly what happened with Washington state’s 2012 grocer-driven liquor privatization. “We’ve seen the future north of our border,” says ODG president and Big Bottom Distillery owner Ted Pappas. “No matter how they put lipstick on this pig the result’s going to be the same.” Due to increased taxes and private retail and distribution markups, Washington spirits prices are almost universally higher than they were before privatization. For small producers that do not have the economies of scale that large brands do, their bottles often cost much more in Washington than Oregon. For example, a bottle of Oregon-made Ransom Wine & Spirits Henry duYore bourbon that costs $35.15 in Oregon was $53.43 after tax in a large, competitive Washington liquor store, while Johnnie Walker Black Label was $39.95 and $43.79, the price differences being $18.28 and $3.84, respectively. As a result, Washington consumers are less likely to risk purchasing a bottle from a small producer they do not know, and if they live near the Oregon or Idaho borders they are more likely to cross state lines to buy spirits. In fact, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) Christie Scott says sales at their stores along the Washington border increased 35 percent on average and have stayed steady since the change. “What we’re hearing from customers is that they’re coming down not just because of price, because our prices are much lower, but also because they’re looking for those special products,” explains Scott. “They’re looking for Oregon craft spirits or Washington craft spirits.” Another post-privatization problem for small Washington distillers is shelf space. In Washington now, unless you go to a large specialty liquor store the selection is nearly always worse in grocery stores than it was in state-run liquor stores. While consumers now have more access to spirits thanks to more outlets, that access usually comes at the cost of selection. Pappas said he recently visited a Washington grocery store to see for himself. “They must have had probably 90 feet plus of liquor that wasn’t wine anymore,” he tells of the wine shelving that had been swapped for spirits. “Of that they had a four-foot shelf of local products. Crown (Royal) had a bigger shelf presence in total than the craft spirits did. And what was funny, the price was higher. Without the tax it was higher.” Even in neighboring California, a state constantly cited for its abundant, low-priced liquor, small distillers often have trouble finding shelf space unless they can break into large specialty liquor stores. Their private system works well for known quantities, but not necessarily for small labels. The American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) Andrew Faulkner says WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Small distillers are not anti-modernization and in
there are nine liquor retail outlets within a mile of many cases they are the drivers of legislative change his California home, but they all offer nearly the that also benefits large spirits suppliers and retailers. same products, and only two have a measurable craft selection. “There’s still a dearth of craft spirits,” he tells. location. This pilot program removed that barrier, and Scott says the He says some cooperatives and wholesalers are working to gain leadership is considering trying it in other parts of the state, as well. more shelf space for craft, but right now many Californians have to Judging by Oregon consumer support of privatization, it would make a special trip to find those bottles. likely be in their best interest to do so. No one claims the OLCC That special trip is one of the complaints of Oregon consumers is perfect, and a balanced Oregon privatization initiative would since state liquor stores are fewer and farther between, but in both likely have a good chance to pass. The problem for modernization Washington and California if you are looking for a specialty product supporters and opponents this round was that there did not seem you might have to drive even farther to get it than in Oregon. OLCC to be much balance. stores usually have a lot of local spirits, and if they do not have the product you want they can order a single bottle for you. Private stores claim to do that, too, but they have no reason to guarantee Nearly everyone in the alcohol market — from suppliers to delivery whereas the OLCC has a division dedicated to it. If grocers retailers to consumers — is open to consider modernization efforts, and other private retailers want to earn the support of Oregon and judging by what happened in CO and OR, it is clear that the distillers, they need to prove they can offer just as much market voices of all those players matter. Small distillers are not antiaccess as the state currently does. modernization and in many cases they are the drivers of legislative Perhaps in response to the current privatization pressure the change that also benefits large spirits suppliers and retailers. OLCC just launched a pilot program and selected 14 new contract The ability for small distillers to positively impact their retail outlets, including four Walmarts, in the Portland metro area. communities and states through value and revenue creation has A few years ago legislation was passed that allowed corporations been proven. Consumers and legislators love local distillers, so to apply for contract liquor retail licenses in Oregon, but they were when other industry members leave them out of the discussion they often prevented from doing so because of the way OLCC pinpointed not only lose out on the opportunities and value those distillers neighborhoods where they wanted to establish a liquor retail create, they often lose the support they need, as well.
Distillers Need a Voice
SONOMA COUNTY DISTILLING CO. W R I TT E N B Y S T E V E N S E I M
irect-fire may sound like a terrifying phrase to many new American distillers. Yet anyone steeped in the values of old world distilling will appreciate a classic technique at work. Adam Spiegel of Sonoma County Distilling Company in Rohnert Park, California is proving the value of this traditional distillation method. With a name like Sonoma County they have big shoes to fill, and Spiegel says directfire is helping them reach their goals. “We want to be able to have that little bit of burn, the caramelization,” begins Spiegel. “It’s flavor development.”In order to utilize direct-fire they have developed several custom practices for production and safety. Many of their systems were created by Spiegel and staff with the help of a fire engineer. They built custom fireboxes which house 20-inch burners and also act as structural support for each still. Each firebox also ensures proper venting of CO2,
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y A M A N D A J OY C H R I S T E N S E N
which they don’t have to pay taxes for. But work on the fireboxes is never done, and Spiegel said they plan to modify them soon. Heating their stills with flame presents a slew of challenges, with the most important concern being safety. “There’s a lot we’ve done to protect ourselves and the people that work for me,” Spiegel said. A master valve tied to the natural gas line and a sensor can cut the gas and instantly shut off all flames if it reads a high enough concentration of fumes. Spiegel will also get a text and a phone call from an alarm company. They also use fire blankets (replaced annually) to help seal remaining seams around their fireboxes. No part of the distillery is un-monitored by cameras, and they do not run any equipment unmanned. Further, the city is regularly involved in monitoring Sonoma County’s protocols, and Spiegel says “every fire marshal in
Sonoma County has come to this facility to ask ‘How are you doing it? What are your safety procedures? What’s your evacuation plan?’ etc.” While using flame creates a unique product, it can also ruin a distillate rather quickly. Depending on how well their agitator separates everything, leftover solids in a still can burn. A serious enough burn means discarding an entire batch, but thankfully that rarely happens. In regards to lighter scorches, Spiegel said, “For the most part, the mantra is to go through and manage the burn. It’s a consistent impurity, but it’s ours.” For tours around the distillery (and the very hot equipment), extra precautions are also necessary. Spiegel said they mark boundaries around certain equipment to keep people from getting too close. Tours must be scheduled in advance, and they are tightly controlled by the guiding
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
employee, who tells people what pieces are too hot to touch. When choosing a name for the distillery, Spiegel wanted to invoke people’s knowledge of Sonoma County’s wine and food culture. Knowing that his goal was to compete internationally, he wanted his distillery associated with the high quality that Sonoma County is known for. “Part of it is figuring out what that name means,” he explains. “I call it ‘Big dog pants.’ We’re a little dog now but as we scale up I think we’re going to grow into the name. If we were making crap whiskey, I would say it was messed up to take a county like that. I think we’re representing ourselves pretty well.” California recently passed AB 1295 which allows small distilleries to sell up to
three 750-milliliter bottles per customer per day in their tasting room as long as they qualify for the new Type 74 license. Sonoma County Distilling plans to take full advantage of this new allowance, and they announced a monthly whiskey club. Since they still cannot ship in California, the club offer is for on-site pickup only, but it comes with discounts on up to three bottles. Membership also includes free tastings, events, pickup parties and more. While their location was not originally chosen for heavy foot traffic, Spiegel hopes to begin building the distillery as a front-facing business, helping to boost the general view of California whiskey. Spiegel said they have reduced previous expansion plans now that laws are changing to make things easier for
new distilleries. Now, instead of primarily focusing on international distribution they are re-focusing on their home state. “Now especially, here in California, there are 60 plus distilleries,” tells Spiegel. “When we started, we were among the first 15 active DSPs. Things have changed a lot.” Besides California, Sonoma County Distilling currently distributes to nine states. In order to help make the most of domestic markets, Spiegel says he is focusing on learning how to effectively communicate in materials for trade shows, meetings and other platforms. One area he’s found success in is recommending and discussing food pairings. They do whiskey dinner events, sometimes at a hefty cost to the distillery, and Spiegel finds value in being able to
say, “You want to pair that whiskey with that food.” Spiegel knows it is valuable to find any advantage in order to get people talking about your brand. Spiegel knew early on that Sonoma County Distilling was going to compete internationally, and currently, what they sell outside of the United States is a big part of their business. Part of their reasoning was a desire to set a standard internationally that other distilleries will have to meet. “I wanted to get there early,” Spiegel said. “If we can get there early enough and define what quality we expect, and the consumers agree with us, then anyone else that comes to market has to meet or exceed ours.” Knowing that many competing products are at similar price points in the U.S. also drove Sonoma County Distilling to pursue
the international market early in the game. Another benefit Spiegel gets from their international business is the chance to travel. Besides the great locations, it is easier at the moment to get sit downs in some foreign markets than domestic. “I like going places where people are willing to sit down with you and talk,” he shares. “Unfortunately, the domestic market has gotten very saturated and a lot of times buyers don’t care.” Spiegel has sat down with buyers here in the states who have met with many distilleries and representatives in a day and by his meeting their attitude is lackluster. Of their international markets, Spiegel said France is one of their most successful. Their United Kingdom distributor is also a distiller and they are opening an opportunity
for Spiegel to collaborate. Sonoma County Distilling is also present in Germany, Italy, and Spain, and they are exploring Hong Kong and Australia. As Sonoma County Distilling grows, Spiegel is helping the distillery adapt. He is looking at new burners and other equipment like diffuser plates and infrared technology. They plan on hiring more staff and possibly increasing from one distillation per day to two, but they will only grow as quality allows, focusing first on living up to their name. Sonoma County Distilling Company is located in Rohnert Park, CA. For more information, visit www.sonomacountydistilling.com or call (707) 583-7753.
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A TRIP TO
JAPAN W R ITTEN B Y M ATT HO FM ANN
PHO TO B Y ALICE SEI M
This is a culture that recognizes quality in something and can accept it.
o here I am, having been thrown into the cultural maw and popped out the other side with my head still spinning. It is hard to fully communicate what I have experienced because, like I learned on my last trip to Japan, it seems to take some time to comprehend it all. I promise I had some clever exposition about my trip over here but you will just have to take my word for it. Right now, I am too excited about what I’ve seen. When not working with our importers I spent a great deal of my time in Japan studying and discussing Japanese alcohol beverage culture. The first thing I noticed was the seriousness, something that at a surface level merely looks like professionalism. And they are professional — every single bar or liquor store proprietor I encounter is dressed to the nines and in line with the theme of the establishment. You also notice the technique, a precision of dexterity in simple things like opening a bottle or measuring liquor. But to me the professionalism is only the perceptible manifestation of the seriousness of their craft, it is not skin deep and it does not feel forced. I try to break down what I am seeing. Maybe before you notice the professionalism you notice that things here are smaller. Much smaller. I am writing this in my 110 square foot hotel room. I would say that a bar with more than 10 seats would be considered large, in Tokyo anyway. What may look like a curiosity seems like a big factor. With only 10 seats in the house there is little need for additional help beyond the proprietor. The bartender is the owner, with maybe one assistant. Because the concept of the bar is driven by the person actually running the place there seems to be less dilution of WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
the core concept. The flip side of the small space is that it takes fewer patrons to fill it. You may only get a dozen folks per night but that can still be economically viable. It allows for hyper-specialization in niche drinking concepts. These niche areas seem less like an attempt to ride a trend than a personalized trade gone professional. I thought I saw a pattern, where the Japanese take a concept and then ratchet it up to its highest potential, so I asked my interpreter. He explained the importance in Japanese thinking about having a path to follow, like judo and kendo where the –do means “way” or “path.” When you embark upon the journey of a craft, there is a recognition that largely the path is already laid, or rather that it already exists. Following the path is an end in itself. I think the mindset is that you are not creating something, but instead discovering the truth in the concept that has always existed. That is significant. There is something really selfless in this way of thinking and it is completely at odds with Western egotism. My interpreter described the overall Japanese culture as having “low self-esteem” but that only seems right when juxtaposed against the (perhaps undeservedly) high self-esteem of Western or American culture. This is a culture that recognizes quality in something and can accept it. In our sphere it is single malt whisky and craft beer, things that are not outright rejected for being “non-Japanese,” but instead studied for their intrinsic qualities and have been judged to be worth pursuing. Thus they are integrated into society with the same respect for their own path just like ancient martial arts or innumerable other native Japanese traditions. My interpreter then informed me of
animism, about all things having a spiritual essence. All things in the world do not revolve around us and they are all important in and of themselves. You would not break a beer glass intentionally because it destroys its soul, its purpose of existence. Since all things are fundamentally respected and spiritually “alive,” when an idea or trade enters society it can just be appreciated for what it is. Because it is what it is — its purpose is not to serve me, it is to simply be. If all of this sounds like the half-baked ideas of an ignorant Westerner you might be right. I do not think there is any way I could fully understand Japanese culture even if I dedicated my life to it. What I am expounding upon is an interpretation of an interpretation, all the while lacking even a basic understanding of what it means to be Japanese. You would do better to learn more about this subject from an expert in Japanese culture than rely on the rambling musings of some bearded gringo. But let’s entertain this notion for a second. There is some truth in my words even if, in this moment, they are truthful primarily to me. Looking at the world of Japanese bar culture, it seems that through a variety of contributing factors we see hyperspecialization and a deep, fundamental understanding of what they are pursuing. While I can only speak to the world of single malt whiskey, a spirit that dominates whiskey culture here, it is likely that this can be applied to other spirit categories. There is a niche somewhere here in Japan for nearly any product. Fundamentally, that product needs to be good, which sounds obvious but needs to be stressed. But if your products have some history and are well-made then you have a very real possibility of success here. Somewhere, someone will care.
NATIVE JAPANESE SPIRITS What about production of spirits in Japan? Unless you have been living under a rock you know that Japanese whiskey has boomed around the world. I will skip the broad history lesson here but suffice to say that in the early days of Japanese whiskey it was a carbon copy of Scotland. Over time there were adjustments, but they were made due to necessity rather than pure creativity. Mizunara casks, altered technique to create diversity in maturing stocks, plum wine casks — all of these changes have been slowly worked into Japanese whiskey production over the past 90 years. What have the Scottish done during this same time period? While I cannot claim to fully know the changes that have taken place there, it seems to an outside observer that the Japanese have pushed whiskey-making forward faster than the Scots, although part of Scotch whisky’s allure is that very tradition. Digging deeper, you may question
whether the Japanese have pushed whiskey-making forward or if it was Japan itself behind it. Physical and cultural isolation and World War II seem to have made the biggest impact in necessitating change. Yet they embraced these changes when it became evident that these were things that needed to be done. When those ideas were studied and found to be worth merit, they were integrated into the system.
RESPECT FOR YOUR SPIRITS I am still digesting everything I have seen and discussed, but I think my primary takeaway from this trip is respect. While people constantly say the Japanese value respect in their society, which is true, I am talking more about your trade. If you make single malt whiskey you should be fluent in the history of the style of production. If you have made changes, or if your whiskey tastes different, you need to be able to explain why you have made those changes and how they fit into the big picture. Single
malt whiskey is alive as a practice. When you begin to think about your trade in this way you cannot help but respect its current state of existence. What is interesting about how this might be applied to us is that ultimately it can form the core of the business; it does not just begin and end with production. The sales strategy and marketing materials only serve to reinforce the production decisions — they are synchronous. Of all the places I have sold whiskey, I have never quite seen people like the Japanese, who want to know every single thing about the production process and why. It seems like rather than waiting to be sold to they want to hear the facts and decide for themselves if your products and ideas have merit — skip the bullshit and get straight down to the core. Maybe that’s why I like it here so much. Matt Hofmann is co-founder and master distiller at Westland Distillery, located in Seattle, WA. Visit www.westlanddistillery.com for more info.
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beehive represents close-knit community, hard work, efficiency, and unified vision. It's an apt comparison for Beehive Distilling in Salt Lake City, Utah where co-owners Chris Barlow, Matt Aller, and Erik Ostling managed to land their gin on shelves just one year after signing a lease in 2013. Barlow, Ostling and Aller have been friends for years in the fields of design and marketing. Applying their backgrounds, they were able to design their branding with specific goals in mind. In addition to choosing the beehive symbol of their state, the copperembossed foil on their bottles represents Utah’s rich copper mining history. They are also able to produce and design their own ads without any additional cost. Barlow explains that this unspent design and marketing money was a big benefit for them, saying, “It was our ace in the hole. Good branding is expensive. What’s in the bottle is important, but what’s on the outside is fairly important as well.” Barlow is aware that many consumers shop based on label design, especially with similar price points across many brands. “It’s the face of your product, that is what people see,” he warns. He has seen many poorly designed labels, usually done by family members of employees, which he believes can turn potential customers away in a store. “I know bars in town that have said they won’t carry brands because they don’t like how they look on their shelf,” he continues.
Clearly, he espouses the philosophy of making sure your product’s branding is as good and professional as it can be. For now, Jack Rabbit Gin and Barrel Reserve Gin are their only products, which they make in a 300-liter hybrid column still. Many trial runs led to their recipe of seven botanicals, with culinary sage being one of their most unique ingredients, making a big appearance in the final product. Barlow says they wanted to embody the flavor of the West, so they coined the phrase “Smells like the desert,” with sage and rose petal being keys to that flavor. Judging by their sales they created a winner, as Jack Rabbit Gin is the third-best selling gin of any brand in Utah. Their Barrel Reserve Gin is produced by taking 60-gallon toasted chardonnay barrels, firing them in house, and aging their gin for nine to 10 months. According to Barlow, the flavor hints of whiskey. “You definitely know it’s not a whiskey because it still has the juniper, but the tail end brings in a lot of sweet vanilla notes,” he explains. People often mistakenly claim that they taste honey in the aged gin, but Barlow says that’s not true. Similar to a London dry style, Beehive adds nothing post-distillation. As one of the first craft distilleries in Utah, Beehive is facing many of the hurdles others have overcome in years past. Barlow says that currently larger distilleries in Utah have more legislative influence. For instance, a recently-effected law allows distilleries to provide tastings (which was not allowed before without being in an WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
educational environment). However, the wording in the bill indicates that the distillery can only offer drinks if they also offer “substantial food.” By most definitions that means that only the big distilleries which also have restaurants are able to serve drinks, and every other distillery is still out of luck. Even the educational aspect of offering tastings is going away, as Beehive will lose their “educational license” ability to serve samples to anyone by the end of the year. Their state distillers guild, which is just getting off the ground, will hopefully continue to work towards making business easier for smaller distilleries. Outside of their home state, Beehive Distilling has expanded into California, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. Of those, only California is an open state. Barlow says only worrying about delivering their product to a central liquor warehouse in control states has been easier for them than watching as their California distributor competes against other distributors. California restaurants who like Beehive’s gin do not want to order any unless they already have a relationship with their specific distributor. “If you’re not with someone who they already order from, it’s a whole barrier of entry in itself,” he explains. “Bar managers will say ‘I like your stuff, but I don’t like it enough to order from somebody special.’” Despite these challenges, the distributor they’ve chosen has an impressive online presence and provides many benefits for Beehive Distilling. Barlow says that eventually they will make other products besides gin, but there are no firm plans. “We’ve got to do something we want to do,” he said. While they currently reside in a part of Salt Lake City zoned for manufacturing, the city’s zoning rules have changed which allows them the option of relocating to somewhere with better foot traffic closer to town. That also gives them an opportunity to expand production. The three owners of Beehive Distilling have options, but right now their luxury is that they’re not being forced in any one direction. At the moment their hive is profitable, they are enjoying themselves, and they are in no hurry to make big changes. Beehive Distilling is located in Salt Lake City, UT. Visit www.beehivedistilling.com for more info. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
What’s in a Word? THE CURRENT VALUE OF “CRAFT” WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER
espite countless conversations between distillers, distributors, retailers and regulators, there is still no universally accepted definition of “craft” distilling. The discussion is constantly evolving, but regardless of the outcome consumers are already defining the term themselves without an industry consensus. Some states have their own definitions but they vary. On a national level the American Distilling Institute (ADI) has a definition, but the Distilled Spirits Council (The Council) and the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) do not. “There is a handful of members who may want that definitive definition, but ACSA and the founding board members purposefully do not define craft for the industry allowing the consumers to define what craft is,” explains ACSA’s executive director, Margie Lehrman. ACSA has membership criteria and a code of ethics that distillers must satisfy to join, which Lehrman says consumers can trust as a sign that they are truthful and compliant with their local distilling laws and definitions. From there, ACSA believes consumers will choose for themselves. Calling a spirit “craft” often means much more than just making something by
hand or with skill as the word is defined in the dictionary. Craft does not necessarily mean better, but it does have meaning, and many large labels have adopted the term as a result. That is why ADI felt a definition was important, and their decision has been loudly supported by their membership. Just three years old, their Craft Certification Program has accepted 2,117 craft spirits from 435 distilleries, demonstrating the value many distillers see in the term. “They’re seeing encroachment on the word ‘craft’ everywhere so they really need some kind of haven to protect the marketing value of their identity,” explains ADI’s Andrew Faulkner. ADI’s definition is very similar to the Brewers Association’s definition of craft beer. They require the business to be independently owned with less than 25 percent DSP ownership or control by “alcoholic beverage industry members who are not themselves craft distillers,” and they cap production at 100,000 proof gallons a year. As a comparison, ACSA allows members to produce up to 750,000 proof gallons and the Council allows their Small Distiller Affiliate members up to 200,000 proof
gallons per year, though neither association defines distillers above or below their line as craft or not craft. ADI’s choice to include size in their definition is a point of contention, though. While they do not point any fingers, their volume ceiling excludes larger makers, and some argue that many larger distillers are in fact craft because their methodologies are careful and authentic. Faulkner understands what they are saying, but he says there is often a confusion between craftsmanship and craft. “I think there’s a lot of very fine crafting that goes into some of the Scotch whiskies that are produced by very large corporations,” he explains. “But people don’t think of craft as being some guy running a very large factory distillery, even if he’s an independent. They think of an individual entrepreneur that is paying close attention to each batch of spirits that he or she makes.” Defining craft has two important implications: licensing/business practices and marketing value. Some states grant more privileges to distillers they define as craft and that value is appreciated, but the greatest value is the marketing potential. That is why Faulkner says the definition WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
is meaningless if it does not fit what the consumer has in mind. “Perhaps the most correct term is microdistillery,” he explains about ADI’s definition, “but the problem is the general public is not using it, and we’re focused on what the general public uses.”
Do you need to say it? Craft distilling is tough to define because it can mean a lot of things, and often distillers want a definition just liberal enough to include their business model before drawing the line. Some people do not care whether or not it is defined, but much of the industry does. More and more distillers, however, are shying away from using the term due to the ambiguity. “I definitely have not seen it increase, I’ve probably seen a decrease,” shares David Schuemann about distillers’ usage of the term. Schuemann designs and repositions alcohol beverage brands at his company, CF Napa Brand Design, and says that of all the beverages he works with, brewers see more value in “craft” than distillers do, and cider and winemakers rarely ever use it. That is possibly because with wine and cider the quality of their products is typically defined by price. Sweetened dessert-apple ciders and dry cider-apple ciders, for example, are often separated by a wide dollar margin due to the expense of their respective ingredients and production methods. IPAs and bourbons from both large and small makers, on the other hand, typically use similar ingredients and carry similar price tags. Because of this the “craft” distinction in beer and spirits is
worth more, but it is not the only value signifier. “I think there’s been an increase in people focusing in on what actually makes them craft because the license requirements that limit the production levels of craft spirits varies so much from state to state,” Schuemann continues, saying he advises clients to instead bring their story through in their packaging. “If you do that well, you don’t have to put a label on it, you don’t have to say you’re craft, it will just communicate to the consumer that you are.” Like ACSA and ADI, Schuemann says the consumer will be the ultimate judge of craft. They will have their own standards and definitions, and the better you communicate your story the easier it will be for them to decide. When consumers choose small distillers’ products they often do so because of the distiller’s story, local value or innovative methods. Looking at a liquor store shelf they generally accept the quality of the large producers’ products as proven, so if they choose a small producer they are taking a risk based on other factors that brand or bottle communicated. Another powerful consumer influence is access to information. Most consumers will not use their smartphone to check every product they look at on a liquor store shelf, but they can and that ability is powerful. It means if a producer wants to call themselves craft, they are doing so at great risk if they do not fit the traditional consumer definitions. While a consumer may give leeway regarding size or production methods, we have all heard the
stories of brands that were sued because their labels were less than transparent. When consumers think of craft they absolutely think of authenticity and truth, which is an arena everyone can compete in.
“Coping” with Craft When ACSA’s Lehrman showed up to speak at a recent conference, the program listed her section as “Coping with Craft.” “When you hear ‘coping’ it typically means something that is not pleasant,” she laughs, and she started her presentation by saying she was “already below the neutral line.” The craft conversation is complicated but it will continue, and if it is any comfort the brewers had a hard time defining craft beer, too. The Brewers Association (BA) has a definition that is generally accepted now, but it took a lot of time and effort to get here, including the merger of the two national brewing trade associations. And even though it is asinine to argue against their current definition, not everyone agrees with it. That means distillers likely have a long road ahead. “Craft” is not dead as some have said, though it is taking one hell of a beating. You might not have control over how it gets defined, but you do have control over the story you communicate. Labels, packaging and product literature will likely become the true consumer arena for defining a “craft” spirit. A universal industry definition of craft may be important, but when it comes to marketing, your story will hold the most value.
GOOD THING ABOUT BAD REVIEWS WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER
I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y A M A N D A J O Y C H R I S T E N S E N
very product that comes out of your still is the physical manifestation of countless hours and dollars invested into your dream. So it goes without saying that product feedback is going to be a personal experience. Yet, no matter how good your spirits are and how well you treat your customers you are going to get some bad reviews. Whether it’s through social media, blog reviews or listing websites like Yelp, someone is going to say something unflattering about your products or business. While negative reviews are, well, negative, they are also a great opportunity for you to respond in a way that demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to your customers. Each negative review is an individual case, but there are some general guidelines that you should follow. To begin with, understand and accept that people are reading the reviews and that both the review and your response matter. “Most people now are going online to research businesses,” explains Tim Parker, who spends much of his time managing social media and creating online content for small businesses through his business ECS. “Nobody wants to be sold to anymore, they want to go online and find what they want themselves.” Consumers know they will find both the good and the bad reviews online, and can shape their decisions based on this input. This is unfair for several reasons, though. First, reviews can be purchased pretty easily. A distillery with low quality spirits can give someone free product and ask them to write a positive review in exchange. Another challenge with spirits is that taste is subjective. You might put a lot of work into selecting your gin botanicals and impress everyone who tries it today except for one person who does not like cardamom. They might not even know that the flavor they do not like is cardamom, they just know they do not like it. Even though it’s not your fault, they still voice their opinion through a one-star review on your Facebook page with a little “If I could give this disgusting gin a zero-star rating I would” cherry on top. Faced with unreliable positive and
negative reviews like these, the waters are murky for consumers trying to make a decision, but Parker says most people are web savvy enough to see through a lot of the clutter. You might lose some sales due to bogus reviews, but Parker advises his customers to look at the bigger picture. The time you spend fretting about an unfounded review or trying to have it removed (which almost never works) is time you could have spent growing your business. “We’re dealing with people and it’s an art, not a science,” Parker reminds us. “The most important thing you can do is respond.”
ALWAYS RESPOND The only thing worse than a complaint on social media is a complaint that goes unacknowledged. It may seem overly simplistic, but by responding you show that you care and respect your customers. You are redirecting the conversation and regaining control of your reputation, and customers are often more likely to read your response than the original complaint because it shows your true colors, and that is why they are looking into your business in the first place. When responding, you want to do several things. First, acknowledge that you heard the customer’s complaint by restating it, and remember the customer is always right (even if they are not, you have to treat them like they are). If they said your gin is disgusting, tell them you are sorry they did not like it. You are welcome to tell them that many people love your gin, but do not tell them they are wrong or otherwise try to argue with them. They want to know you are listening, and they do not want excuses. Next, offer to fix the problem in your response. Tell them you want to make it right and you value their business. Offer to refund them for the gin, and consider adding another perk within reason. Parker says this is a great advertising opportunity, and one you do not want to cheap out on. “Don’t try to give them a 10 percent discount or only charge them a restocking fee or something like that, go over the top to make them happy,” he explains. It won’t cost you much money to refund their
“ We’re dealing with people and it’s an art, not a science. The most important thing you can do is respond.” — TIM PARKER purchase and go the extra mile. Whether they accept your offer or not is up to them, but other customers reading your response will see that you made the extra effort to please them. Once you acknowledge their complaint and offer to make them whole, provide a way for them to contact you outside that comment thread. You want new customers to see their complaint and your thoughtful response only, not a drawn out negotiation. By providing this alternative contact method — be it email, private message, phone or in-person — you satisfy others reading your response. If they want to come back to complain again after your response they can do that, but you will look better by rising above the fray. Finally, and this is much easier said than done, do not take it personally. You need to respond in a timely fashion, but do not rush into a knee-jerk response fueled by frustration and anger. You put a lot of time, money and effort into your business, but a nasty rebuttal or even a defense is the worst response you can provide. Take your time to craft a reasoned response, and get help from your team if you feel too close to the subject. Just as consumers will make up their mind about your business from reviews and your responses, most will quickly discredit aggressive negative reviewers.
SPIRITS REVIEW BLOGS Another popular research source for spirits consumers are review blogs. There are a lot of them out there, with more coming online every day. One of the largest, The Whiskey Wash, is read by over 100,000 people a month. Founder and editor-in-chief Nino Marchetti says distillers see the value in reaching such a large audience and often send him spirits of their own accord. The risk with reviews is that they can be harsh if the reviewer believes the spirit is poor quality. But that sincerity is also the primary reason readers believe they can trust these sources. “We’ve had a few distillers that have been upset, but our general feedback to them is we’re being honest about it and that’s what our readership appreciates,” tells Marchetti. The worst response he gets from distillers who receive unfavorable reviews is the cold shoulder, but he says that comes with the territory. The Whiskey Wash selects independent
reviewers with good communication skills and good palates but limited industry ties. None of them are seasoned bartenders or distillers, but instead people that “just really love whiskey.” Readers view them as honest and uninfluenced, but more spirits savvy than the average social media reviewer. In Marchetti’s case, he vets them thoroughly and helps them develop their analysis skills to express what they taste and smell, but their sincere opinions and perceived neutral viewpoints are the reason they are trusted. Because of this, even a somewhat unflattering review from a reliable spirits blog, as long as it is not completely negative, is good exposure for your brand. “Most craft distillers understand that their stuff is young and still a little rough around the edges,” tells Marchetti, and consumers know that, too. Consumers do not expect your two-year bourbon to taste like an 18-year Scotch, but if they are reading a review about your product something else already attracted them
to it. Flavor is important, but the story and authenticity is, too. Your unique attributes may help them look past the unflattering sections of honest reviews, and the positive notes could drive the sale home. Distillers need to consider the possible outcomes before submitting their spirits to review blogs. Vet the reviewer first and skip the ones that seem unreliable, but if they seem credible you likely have more to gain than lose regardless of their opinion. Consumers are looking for honesty when they read social media and blog reviews. You cannot control what people say, but you can nearly always use a negative review as a platform to show your professionalism. And remember that while some of the bad reviews will be unfounded, others might show you a pattern of deficiency that you can remedy to strengthen your brand. “Don’t make excuses and don’t ignore it,” Parker advises. “It’s going to be in print for the rest of your life.”
Take pride in american-made spirits bottles It’s no wonder that All American Containers is the clear choice for more than 135 American distillers. We stock more than 25 spirits bottles in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and we can ship large orders (or less than a pallet) within days. Visit www.aacwine.com and click on the “Spirits” tab to view our collection. Contact us today! Stephanie Ramczyk (510) 357-1033 firstname.lastname@example.org
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''SS E N E I N Z I A Z G A AAG M M T I T R I I R P I S P S N A N S A I S T I AARRT
Y E N R O T T A D E D E R E E R E H W S W T N S A N ASK ’S QQUUEESSTTIIOONNSSAARREE A S Y ’ R Y T R S T U S TTHHEE IINNDDU
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ll of us in the alcohol beverage industry are keenly aware that regulations govern nearly every aspect of our business. We’re here to help shed some light on those regulations. Please submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and each issue, alcohol beverage attorney Ryan Malkin of Malkin Law P.A. will answer a few of them. Please remember, the questions should not include any confidential or brand information and should not seek specific legal advice for your business, but should be general inquiries relevant to as many of your fellow distillers as possible.
QUESTION: OUR BRAND HAS HAD
INTEREST FROM DISTRIBUTORS IN EUROPE AND ASIA. HOW DO WE EXPORT?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and the good news is you don’t have to pay the federal excise tax on your exported product. To export without payment of federal excise tax, the DSP will fill out TTB form 5100.11 (www.ttb.gov/forms/f510011.pdf). Contact TTB or an attorney if you have questions about the form. The form is sent to TTB prior to exporting, telling TTB that you’re exporting this particular product. Then, within 90 days, you follow up with adequate proof the product was indeed exported. What documents are acceptable to prove the product was exported to a non-contiguous foreign country? Many DSPs rely on the export bill of lading. Exporting is outlined in 27 CFR part 28, and the bill of lading in particular is discussed in 27 CFR 28.250. The requirements for a bill of lading that will be accepted by TTB as proof of export, although not exhaustive, includes that the bill of lading is signed by the carrier WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
and contains the name of the exporter (if different from the shipper), the name and address of the consignee, the number of packages or cases, and the serial numbers from the 5100.11 form. TTB has helpful information that outlines the process and acceptable forms of proof (www.ttb.gov/itd/distilled_spirits_producer_untaxpaid. shtml). If you wind up shipping product that taxes have already been paid on, not to worry. There is also an option with TTB for a “drawback” where you pay taxes and follow up with proof of export and request your tax money back. Before actually exporting product, you should be sure your distributor knows the market well, including the rules for labels, bottles and importing into that country. In addition, many craft brands leave it up to the distributor to pick up the product at the distillery and get it to the foreign country, as opposed to the DSP dealing with the logistics. Many distillers prefer to receive a down payment in U.S. dollars from the distributor when the purchase order is submitted. The distiller then receives the remainder of the payment upon pick-up.
QUESTION: CAN WE SHARE BRAND SHARE POSTS ABOUT BARS/RESTAURANTS OR LIQUOR STORES IN OUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEED?
This is very different state-by-state, and varies depending on what the post says. For instance, simply announcing where a bar spend event will occur may be permissible in some
QUESTION: IF WE WANT TO ADD SOME
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE HISTORY OF OUR PRODUCT AND PRODUCTION PROCESS TO OUR LABEL, DO WE HAVE TO REAPPLY FOR A NEW COLA?
The TTB currently has 34 allowable label changes that do not require a new COLA. You can see all 34 here: www.ttb.gov/labeling/allowable_revisions.shtml. The first item on the list notes that you can “delete any non-mandatory label information, including text, illustrations, graphics, etc.” Notably, this does not allow you to add non-mandatory information without reapplying. While you can add information about medals, a website, and several other exceptions, adding a full story or history about the brand is not one of those specified additions so a new label
states (e.g. New York). On the other hand, taking a photo of a new drink list where your product is on the menu and saying, “Thanks to this great account for the awesome placement!” may not be similarly permissible. The former is providing information whereas the latter is simply providing free advertising to only that account. Such free advertising for one account may be deemed offering an impermissible thing of value to that retailer (27 CFR 6.41), and in addition be in violation of applicable state rules.
submission would be required. Another handy tool is the allowable label change generator (www.ttb.gov/allowable-revisions/labelgenerator.shtml). Here, there is a drop down menu for distilled spirits and, in this case, choose “add.” The generator will list all of the permissible label additions that you can make without applying for a new COLA. But even if you re-apply, you shouldn’t have to wait too long (TTB, as of publication, is stating less than one month for approval of distilled spirits labels). Plus, you can still sell product with the old label in the meantime as they are already approved. Ryan Malkin is principal attorney at Malkin Law, P.A., a law firm serving the alcohol beverage industry. For more info, visit www.malkinlawfirm.com or call (212) 600-5828. Nothing in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as specific legal advice. Questions may be altered or rephrased to apply to a broader audience. Even if your question is answered, it is done so for educational and information purposes only and not as individualized legal advice.
SPENT GRAIN POTENTIAL
TURNING SPENT GRAINS INTO CASH W R I T T E N B Y K U R T A . R O S E N T R AT E R
s the alcohol industry continues its explosive growth, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world, there are many questions to ask and challenges to be overcome, for example: How do I deal with government regulations? How do I improve the quality of my spirit? How do I optimize yield from my grain? How do I improve the distillation operation? How do I better control my systems? No matter the size of your distillery, these challenges are common. One particular area that most alcohol producers either neglect or have not adequately considered is what to do with their spent grains. Many operations will choose to give the spent grains away to local farmers, landfill the solids, or dump the spent grains and process water into the municipal wastewater system (fines and surcharges vary by location, and can be quite expensive in some places). But all of these options are lost opportunities for your operation to make money, because spent grains contain proteins, fats, fibers, minerals, and yeast cells, making them a valuable source of nutrients for any animal diet. In fact, for more than 100 years spent grains (both wet and dry) have proven to be excellent animal feeds, and they are in high demand throughout the world by livestock producers. Dry spent grains are most often sold as Distillers Dried Grains (DDG) or Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (DDGS). Wet spent grains are sold as Distillers Wet Grains (DWG) or Distillers Wet Grains with Solubles (DWGS). Over the years, U.S. livestock producers have proven that maximum levels for dietary inclusion of spent grains can be nearly 40 percent for beef cattle, 30 percent for dairy cattle, 50 percent for swine, and 15 percent for poultry. Of course successful use in livestock diets will
depend on the quality of the spent grain as well as the other ingredients used in the diet. So just how much can you make from selling your spent grains (besides avoided fees)? Figure 1 shows historical price data for DDG since 1980, and as you can see the price has fluctuated from less than $100 per metric tonne to more than $300 per metric tonne. Similar behavior can be seen for wet spent grains, and in recent years (Figure 2) DWG sales price has increased from less than $40 per metric tonne to more than $100 per metric tonne.
FIGURE 1 Price of DDG over time.
HOW IT WORKS So how do you get started? First you have to separate the non-fermentable solids from the fermentation water. Some operations do this before distillation, others do it after. There are several types of equipment available for solids separation, including screens, filters, decanters, and centrifuges, each with different capital and operational costs. The machine you choose will dictate how much spent grain must be sold in order to break even. For example, if we assume the DWG is a 50 percent water and 50 percent solids mixture after separation (which is common), and we look at two types of separators (low cost and high cost), and two sales prices for the DWG ($50 or $100 per metric tonne), Table 1 shows how many tonnes would need to be sold to break even. As you can see, the higher the DWG sales price the lower the quantity of spent grains that need to be sold in order to break even, and since more expensive equipment necessitates a higher quantity of spent grains, it is readily apparent that the separation equipment must be chosen based on the distillery size.
FIGURE 2 Price of DWG over time.
Amount of DWG (tonnes) required to break even for four scenarios combining two different separator capital costs and two different DWG sales prices.
SEPARATOR CAPITAL COSTS $35,000 SOLIDS SEPARATOR $100,000 DECANTER CENTRIFUGE
AMOUNT OF DWG AT BREAK EVEN POINT $50 PER TONNE
$100 PER TONNE
FIGURE 3 For a $35,000 separator, when DWG sales price is 50 $/metric tonne, 700 total tonnes of spent grain are required to break even. Payback time depends on distillery capacity.
Looking at the low cost separator from Table 1, how long will it take to achieve the 700 tonnes of spent grain production required to break even? Letâ€™s assume after fermentation that your fermenter has 5 percent solids and 95 percent water and the separator is going to dewater to approximately 50 percent solids and 50 percent water.
FIGURE 4 For a $35,000 separator, when DWG sales price is 50 $/metric tonne, 700 total tonnes of spent grain are required to break even. Payback time depends on distillery capacity.
Figure 3 indicates how the size of the distillery (gal/week) affects payback time, and Figure 4 shows how the quantity of spent grain (tonnes/week) affects payback time. For the case of 70 tonnes/week of DWG production, it will require 10 weeks to break even. Smaller scale facilities will require more time, larger will require less. Producing and selling wet spent grains as DWG will likely be the easiest and least expensive way for your distillery to capture value from your non-fermentables. If you want to produce DDG or DDGS, you will need to install a drying system. That can cost considerably more and is generally only seen in large distilleries. Something else to consider is sales of your coproducts. It is not enough to just produce a DWG product. Livestock producers will not just buy your feed ingredient because you are making it. You will also need to market it. Again, this is something that most distilleries should consider before they begin operations, not after. The Distillers Grains Technology Council is available to help if you have questions or need assistance. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you. Kurt A. Rosentrater is with the Distillers Grains Technology Council in Ames, IA. For more info, email email@example.com or call (515) 294-4019.
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Y R S D GING G I D ITH SM EN- NSEN S N E E IST HRIST HR G C JOY C R BE NDA AM BY Y AMA N E B Y ITT WR GRAPH TO O PH
n the El Dorado Hills of California lives beauty and history that defines a piece of the United States with the gold rush exploration of the 19th century. The men and women of that period founded towns that evolved into the populations which are there today in modern forms; they make up the rich heritage of people and places in time and have inspired much of what Cris Steller and Gordon Helm created at their modest operation — Dry Diggings Distillery. When you come upon the distillery, it is initially unimpressive, located in a typical California tech industrial park, complete with concrete and steel everywhere. But the magic occurs when you enter the building that is anything but common. Reclaimed barn wood covers the walls and floor, a picture of Placerville during the gold rush era adorns the wall, distinct masonry surrounds an antique steel door, and windows and doors are actual remnants of the 1860s — even the wallpaper is accurately printed on a printing press and is complemented by the copper tile ceiling. As Steller states, “The goal was to make it look like you’re walking into 1860.” Steller and Helm have achieved their goal of creating a piece of the mid-1800s with their tasting room. A corrugated metal roofing panel is formed over the bar that has a unique story of it’s own. “If there are a mix of couples in the groups coming through [for tastings and tours], I’ll ask the men if they recognize the bar which normally gets some funny looks along with a ‘No’ answer,” begins Steller. “Then WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
I’ll say, ‘Ladies, well at least you know they haven’t been to one of those houses in Nevada.’” The bar and kick rail were an auction win from a house of ill-repute as Steller points out, which is just another tidbit that interests the patrons coming through Dry Diggings’ doors. While the distillery was officially licensed in 2012, Dry Diggings did not release products until recently in 2015. Steller and Helm initially jested about the idea of opening a distillery: “We jokingly talked about it after high school saying we’d do it when we’re rich and famous,” tells Steller. But their real careers took over for the next 30 years and the idea was out of sight and out of mind. Eventually the two men realized they needed to do something different in their lives and they began brainstorming ideas — with that the plot for Dry Diggings was born. The distillery, per their website, advertises three types of whiskey and a vodka, but that’s not all they make. “We have 17 labels currently — we don’t have deep aging or a hundred of every barrel, but we are constantly trying new stuff and constantly making new things,” shares Steller. Soon they will have six new brandy products coming out in the summer of 2016. They also work with local groups in the community, making slivovitz for the local Slavic church, which is a specifically made plum brandy. They have also experimented with a kirschwasser cherry brandy that has historic roots and ginger vodka that was inspired by their wives’ Japanese heritage. How are they able to dive in and
experiment on a whim so often with their production? “We don’t have to answer to investors on this,” explains Steller. Dry Diggings is self-financed which means they get to make the final choice in all areas. “We feel there really is a big difference; we haven’t had to compromise a single label, product, or any decision in any way except between ourselves. We know we can look at each other and say we did this together.” That pride in their work keeps Steller and Helm sane. Still, they appreciate their supporters in the community even though they get to make the final decisions: “We listen to the public on every product and we’ve adjusted a few things to come out with new things,” tells Steller, who notes it is the supporters that have brought them to this point and that it is important to hear them. When Steller and Helm set out to create Dry Diggings, they had a lot of optimism and naivety according to Steller. “We weren’t from the industry. We just dove in and thought if there was something to be done we could do it. We were so focused on production, that selling wasn’t the focus.” The two were sideswiped by what work was ahead for them: “The reality hit that we would have to distribute or something like that; but when we looked into distribution we discovered there wouldn’t be a profit margin or volume we wanted.” That is where Steller was able to use his prior work in legislation to make things happen at the capitol that would really benefit his business and many other craft distillers in the area. To begin with, he helped found the California Artisanal Distillers Guild. From there, he worked to get more freedom for small distillers to be able to do tastings and sell from their own business. After two years of fighting, they were finally able to
pass AB 1295 that allowed them to sell three bottles per person per day at the distillery. While this was a very expensive and time consuming endeavor, it paid off in Dry Diggings’ favor. Steller says that while this legislation was a big leap in what they could do as a distillery, there are still more pieces that need to change: “We cannot import anything from out of state to use in our products. For example, if we need low-wine sugar cane ethanol or we need some barrels, we can’t use those if they come out-of-state. As it stands now, we can’t bring in any raw materials that have had work done to them — we can only bring in basic materials.” For now, Steller and Helm are focusing on their business and stepping back from legislation for a bit. They have found that distilling is a difficult job that requires a lot of work. “We’re growing and hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,”laughs Steller. In the end, however, Steller and Helm just want to build community, include and celebrate all versions of spirit makers, and make something they love. “There are lots of ways to make stuff; there are great bottles coming from blending and cooperative projects,” begins Steller. “It sure would be nice if people stopped hiding behind terms. We don’t even call ourselves a ‘craft distillery.’ I want to be known as a ‘small distillery.’ We don’t hide behind terms to somehow differentiate us. We’re a small distillery that does what it does and hopefully the public likes it and buys it. That’s what the bottom line is. Can’t we all just get along and support each other?” Dry Digging Distillery is located in El Dorado Hills, CA. For more information, visit www.drydiggingsdistillery.com or call (916) 542-1700. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
COACHING CUSTOMERS IN THE TASTING ROOM WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER
ike people, spirits only get to make one first impression. When someone visits your tasting room you have the chance to make that first introduction a positive lasting impression of your brand instead of an average “Thanks for the sample!” hitand-run. Learn to think of yourself not just as an ambassador of your spirits, but also a tasting coach. Some people know a lot about how to appreciate spirits, but your average visitor probably does not. If you teach them to love spirits by showing them how to evaluate yours they will think of you as a spirits expert and by default your products will become expertly-distilled. They will remember the aromas, flavors and sensations you helped them discover and regard your spirits as a
benchmark for quality. Many variables affect your ability to guide their tasting experience including state sampling laws, your tasting room environment and the amount of time you get with the customer. While you cannot control everything, leveraging the factors you can will earn you more sales and more fans.
GLASSWARE, APPEARANCE AND ENVIRONMENT One of the most important parts of your tasting presentation is your glassware. In Artisan Spirit Magazine’s Winter 2015-16 issue we discussed different options for
tasting room glassware, but in summary the message was this: Unless you are prohibited from doing so because of health codes or other restrictions, real glass or crystal glasses with a spirits-specific shape to capture aroma will present your spirit immeasurably better than little plastic shot glasses. WhiskyBack Beer owner Stuart Ramsay regularly coaches spirits newbies at his Portland, Oregon tasting school, Ramsay’s Dram, and he prefers Glencairn or other tulip-shaped glasses. “It’s really important, not just the shape of the glass but also the material,” he explains. “The key is that you’re trying to capture the aroma, but it also has to feel good in your hand.”
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We want you to enjo y our spirits any way you like, but in case you are curiou s, here are a few tip s ab out how to get the most from yo ur experience at ho me... 1. Use quality glas sware. We like tulip -shaped glasses whe and rocks, Collins an n drinking spirits ne d martini glasses w at (straight), hen mixing cocktails 2. Appreciate the . spirit’s color and visc osity by inspecting glass to let the spiri its appearance and t coat the sides so yo twisting the u ca n wa tc h the legs fall. 3. Sniff the top of the glass gently befo re taking a sip. Your least 70 percent of ta sense of smell accoun ste, so don’t miss ou ts for at t on th e be st part! 4. After you take a sip, swish the spiri t around your mouth your palate. , allowing it to coat every part of 5. Look for caram el, mint, and other de licious flavors with the spirit’s structur each sniff and sip, an al characteristics lik d consider e balance, length an d finish. We craft our produc ts very carefully, an d the better you know how to appreciate them the better your experie nce will be. Vodka
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By tulip-shaped, however, do not think of snifters. International spirits consultant Hubert Germain-Robin calls snifters “liars” in his new book, “The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience.” Due to the large liquid surface area created inside balloon-shaped glasses, he says that too much alcohol evaporates, creating a strong attack on the nose, and since most of taste is smell this will limit their tasting ability. When cleaning your glassware, Hubert recommends avoiding detergents and simply scrubbing with hot water before hanging them on a rack to drip dry. This prevents dish soap, laundry detergent on a dishtowel, or other aromas from coating the glass and affecting your spirits. He also says you should try to offer tastings in a calm, comfortable area away from noisy or strong-smelling parts of the distillery, that way customers are able to focus on the spirit without distractions. Once you begin the tasting, Hubert recommends only pouring a small amount in the glass. Some states limit samples to a
quarter ounce, but with the right glass that will be adequate. Now, have your customers evaluate the spirit’s appearance. If it is a clear spirit, ask them to admire the brilliance of the light in the liquid. If it has color, tell them about the barrel wood or fruit infusion that gave it that color. Next, Ramsay says you should have them tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle and roll it around. Ask them to watch the legs dripping down the glass, and explain how this illustrates the spirit’s oils and viscosity. Through this visual process you introduce your customers to a more dynamic spirits evaluation than they have likely ever experienced. You have shown them enough that they want to know more, and most importantly you have built anticipation for the nosing and tasting to come.
NOSING, TASTING AND EVALUATION Even though your customer is eager to taste what is in their glass, it is essential
to start with nosing. Hubert says this takes a word of caution, though, because when many people think of nosing they think of wine and they try to stick their nose inside the glass, but this will immediately numb their olfactory senses. “If you smell at the top of the glass you have less attack and your nose is going to last longer,” he advises. After your customer gently sniffs the aroma coming from the glass, ask them about their first impression. “Start off with common sorts of descriptors or flavors: ‘Is it fruity? Is it floral? Is it spicy?’” explains Ramsay. Some people will be unsure, so give them hints if they are struggling. “Then you can go out from there and ask, ‘What are the fruits? Is it apple? Is it cherry?’” After they give their first impression, have them take a sip and slosh the spirit around in their mouth for several seconds before swallowing, allowing it to coat the majority of their palate. For some customers this will be hard to do because of the alcohol content, and
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Ramsay says distillers should consider having a vase of filtered water on the counter in case customers want to dilute their sample. Using pipettes to add the water gives more control and sophistication, and if state sampling limits allow you can pour one sample with added water and one without to help them gain a deeper appreciation of that spirit. Regarding ice, Ramsay says he does not use it unless it is a large sample. He says you may want to cool a spirit, but avoid chilling it as cold liquid will numb the palate. Depending on state laws, this initial nosing and sip might be all your customer gets, but if there is enough spirit left ask them to nose and taste it a second time. See if they can identify particular flavors that disappeared or new ones that emerged. Throughout the nosing and tasting process encourage them to specify what they taste and help them move beyond “smooth.” During his spirits coaching sessions, Ramsay gives customers aroma wheels tailored to the spirit they are tasting,
whether it is bourbon, scotch or rye. While tasters do not have to use them, aroma wheels are encouraging educational tools that help people home in on what they smell and taste. Similarly, Hubert says distillers can provide a piece of paper with tasting notes on it and spaces for customers to make their own notes. This is something they can take home, too, and possibly share with friends. Some wine tasting brochures pinpoint specific aromas like plums or blackberries, and he says distillers can do this too if they think it will help their customers better appreciate the spirit. “Personally I never focused on the description like that,” he tells, saying he’s more interested in the spirit’s structural strengths and weaknesses. “I’m looking more for length, balance, depth, finish and complexity. You can always come back to details if you smell sage or blueberry or something else.” As you guide your customer through the evaluation, try combining both specific flavor descriptors as well as structural
descriptors. It is likely they will relate much more to specific flavors, especially if they do not know what makes a spirit good quality, but the two methods of evaluation work well together, regardless. When sampling multiple spirits, start with the delicate spirits and save the most intense for last. Between samples you can offer palate cleansers like bland crackers, and Hubert writes in his book that you can also open a cotton ball and breathe in-andout through it to absorb and neutralize some of the aromas. As an alternative, he tells that you can smell the inside of your elbow and your familiar odor will partially reset your nose. More than anything, make the tasting enjoyable and help your customers feel like evaluating a spirit is fun and rewarding, not a snobby, elitist ritual. Encourage them to equate appreciating spirits to appreciating food, because both taste good and make us happy. “It’s not scientific where you say that’s a specific aldehyde, that’s an ester,” Ramsay concludes. “Make it easy on people.”
CODE MADE EASY W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N
n the Winter and Spring issues we made our way through how codes work, provided information about your occupancy and discussed how and where your new distillery can be built. In the Spring edition we left off in the milling room, trying to keep you from blowing up, with interesting facts about explosion-proof fans. Let’s bring the removal of explosive grain dusts from that milling room to conclusion so we can move farther into your wonderful new home. When we parted I mentioned the need to replace the air that is exhausted when your crazy-cool-explosion-proof fan is removing dust from the milling room and yes, seriously, replacing that air is something you have to do. The walls of your mill room will not suck inward nor will the ceiling collapse if you don’t, but the fan won’t work as it should and the dust won’t go away. What you are looking for is “makeup” air and here is what you need to do to provide it: Look closely at your exhaust fan, or almost any fan for that matter, and you will find a label attached that will tell you its capacity in CFM which stands for “cubic feet per minute,” the volume of air your fan can move. Now let’s say your
spacious new mill room is 20 feet wide by 16 feet deep and 10 feet tall. Take a trip down memory lane to sophomore geometry to calculate the volume of that room and you will arrive at 3,200 cubic feet, perfect high-school math. Coincidentally the label on your new 18 inch fan tells you it is rated at 3,200 CFM so theoretically this means that in one minute your fan can exhaust all the air from your mill room, carrying those booger-forming particles outdoors. Now if we remove that air and the particulate grain dust that is suspended in it, how do we replace it? The easiest way is to allow the make-up air to infiltrate your fire-resistant room in some manner but when you do there are a few things to consider:
»» How does this air infiltrate my
otherwise quite tight mill room?
»» Where is it coming from and might that be a problem?
»» How much air do I need to provide? »» If it’s coming from outdoors, are there other considerations?
We need to get the make-up air into your otherwise closed room and the easiest and least expensive way to do this is to install a passive supply-air louver.
PASSIVE SUPPLY-AIR LOUVER Passive, you say? Well, there are different types of louvers, and passive louvers just sit there and allow air to move through. If your louver is mounted on the exterior wall you need to be sure it is adequately far from the exhaust fan, otherwise the fan’s exhaust plume is going to develop a lovely circular pattern where the grain dust goes out and then comes back in…you don’t want that. Also, you need to be sure the louver is adequately far away from things like a vented gas meter or the exhaust from your water heater as you do not want carbon monoxide or propane wafting into your mill room along with what should be a supply of clean make-up air. You also need to consider if the exterior wall is fire-rated (remember the type of construction from the Spring edition?) because if it is, you are going to have to install a fire-rated louver with an appropriate fire rating. Louver details — yet another topic that is so cool you will use it to impress your friends as they sip your latest creation. A passive louver is a louver of the simplest form. Really, it’s a hole through the wall, albeit a hole that you’ve carefully thought about. You will begin with louver
size or more specifically, its ability to allow air to pass through called the “net free air capacity.” You already know your exhaust fan is rated at 3,200 CFM. Your louver needs to allow that much air to pass through it otherwise your fan will spin and spin but never function at maximum capacity. Now, consider that everything that moves across a surface, including air passing through a louver, experiences friction, and in the case of a louver that friction inhibits free air movement. Look closely at a louver. There’s the outside frame that is used to attach the louver to a surface and then a series of vanes (or “slats”) run across. Additionally, an exterior wall louver will have insect screening to keep the outdoor creatures outdoors. The vanes have a size, a physical area that partially blocks free air flow, and even those little tiny wires that make up the insect screen have physical area, too. Those vanes and screening negatively affect net free air flow through your louver, so with that in mind, how big does your louver have to be? A good quality louver, like your good quality fan, will have a label attached or some literature provided. Somewhere in this information you will find reference to the “net free area,” which is the measurement of the real opening of the louver after all the obstructions have been considered. A rule of thumb often used in the ventilation world will tell you to provide one square foot net free area (for intake ventilation) for every 300 CFM of powered ventilation air flow. That tells us that your 3,200 CFM fan will require almost 11 square feet of net free ventilation area, a large opening in the side of your building. My suggestion is this: purchase your exhaust fan and make-up air louvers from the same reputable company and ask them to “size” them so they will work together. Also, remember to tell that reputable company if the wall where your louver will be installed is fire-rated and if it is, you will be in for a greater (more expensive) adventure: a fire-rated louver. What if you don’t want a big, ever-present hole in the wall because your distillery is in Siberia and it’s going to let in a lot of cold WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
air? Talk to your supplier about providing an electrically interconnected motorized louver that only opens when the exhaust fan comes on. You will no longer be dealing with a simple passive louver, but you will avoid contributing to global warming. Before leaving louvers one item of warning: fire-rated louvers are designed to close and close quickly should an increase in temperature, like a fire in your mill room, occur. These are aggressive little beasts with often-sharp rotating vanes that can at least substantially harm but possibly remove things like...fingers. DO NOT EVER test the louver’s function, or your fan’s function for that matter, with anything that resembles your hand, fingers or anything that can bleed or needs to be used again!
MOVING ON TO THE RETAIL AND TASTING ROOM... Alright, the milling room is behind us but there is more we have to do. Our quest towards the ever-elusive Certificate of Occupancy continues and we have yet to get to the retail and tasting room. Remember that from the very beginning I harped on the need to know your occupancy and we determined your distillery was probably going to be recognized by the Codes as a High Hazard (H-3) occupancy? Then what “Use Group” or “Occupancy” is your retail area? Is it a hazardous area like the distilling space? Thankfully this is another area where the Fire Codes and Building Codes work nicely with each other so we can work with just one book instead of two. Let’s start with the International Building Code. In the whacky “use and occupancy classification” chapter, we are looking for your retail and tasting room. The Code makes no reference to a tasting room however we can find “retail” listed in Section 309 “Mercantile Group M.” “Mercantile” — isn’t that what they called the general store in “Little House on the Prairie”? (“Hey Pa, let’s go see Mr. Oleson at the Mercantile.” Do you suppose Nels Oleson sold hooch?) In the mercantile use group we find “retail” and “sales room” so let’s
go with that. In addition to your H-3 occupancy you are also the proud owner of a Mercantile occupancy! Wow, the owner of two use groups, what do we do now? The intelligent people that develop the codes have determined that when two use groups occur in the same building there’s a real possibility that one can have an (generally bad) effect on the other. That leads to the code folks thinking they should divide up the building using fire-rated “assemblies” to slow down the spread of a fire from one building area to the next. The codes will allow us to somewhat intermingle your use groups, however we are then required to apply the fire and building code requirements for the most hazardous of the occupancies throughout the entire structure. The latter method means we would have to construct and occupy even the retail (mercantile) area as we do the area where your gleaming still is doing its thing (the hazardous area). Well, as of now we have yet to move into the Electrical Code requirements (as one example), but without having gotten that far, trust me when I say you are not going to want to purchase an explosion-proof cash register or blender. In order to be code compliant, I’m suggesting you “separate” your occupancies using a fire-resistancerated separation — a “fire barrier” in accordance with the requirements of Section 707 of the International Building Code. Once again it’s quite possible we will be having a conversation with your code guy. It happens almost every time we are dealing with separating use groups. One or more of the code
the length of the wall, and the maximum area of any single opening shall not exceed 156 square feet. Wow, that’s horrible — the wall length between your retail and the folks distillery is 40 feet and you wanted a 20 start foot window 10 feet tall and 200 square talking feet overall. Not to panic just yet, but I bet about the we’re going to have another one of those need for us to code conversations. construct a “fire First look at Section 715 to find the wall” and that’s bad necessary fire rating of your window and because a “fire wall” is you will see it needs to be fire rated for very different from what the one hour. This is not the end of the world codes really require which is a “fire as one-hour rated windows and frames barrier.” How different? It’s like the are available. Now, let’s get back to those difference between a cheap wine and your dimensions. A maximum aggregate width absinthe. The International Building Code of 25 percent of the wall length tells me definitions are as follows: your 20 foot (desired) window is down to 10 feet (25 percent fire barrier: “a fire-resistance-rated wall assembly of materials designed to of 40 feet) because restrict the spread of fire in which continuity is maintained.” that’s what math does. Then we have fire wall: “a fire-resistance-rated wall having protected openings, which the 156 square foot restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the limit which gives you foundation to or through the roof, with sufficient structural a window that’s 10 stability under fire conditions to allow collapse of construction feet wide by 15.6 on either side without collapse of the wall.” feet tall for a total opening area of 156 square feet. Your window is fine in overall equipped throughout with an automatic You can see the only resemblance is the area but not wide enough. sprinkler system installed in accordance “fire-resistance-rated wall” part and the Let’s think about this. If we could rotate with Section 903.3.1.1.” We’ve yet to get remainder of the requirements of a fire that window 90 degrees so it becomes to sprinkler world so far, but let’s pretend wall are substantially more restrictive and 15.6 feet wide by 10 feet tall, we’re really for the moment that I know something you therefore more expensive. Most of us have close to the window you first wanted and don’t know and as your consultant we’re seen what a fire wall does when we pass the size of the opening in terms of area going with the one-hour separation. a partially burned down structure and see is fully code compliant. That determined, One-hour separation, now that should a masonry block wall still standing with how do we present this to the code folks? sound familiar. Remember when we charred ruins on one side and a smoke First, the reasoning — the opening size constructed the mill room we needed to stained building still standing on the other. is determined by intelligent conclusions construct a two-hour rated fire barrier? That’s what fire walls do, but unless you reached by code-world folks who have You know all about fire barriers so there opt to build one as the separation between calculated the dimensional restrictions and are no great secrets here, but when your distilling and retail you can construct what tested their hypotheses under controlled customers come into retail and sip on the codes call for, the lesser fire barrier. test conditions. These people spend some your fine product, you need them to stare Let’s look at what a fire barrier really is by of their days burning things intentionally longingly into the distillery area, visually reviewing Section 707 of the International and it’s all legal because it’s in the name absorbing your gleaming equipment and Building Code. of science. This leads them to recommend gorgeous personnel...you need a big-ass Once within IBC Section 707 we move the information in the IBC which prescribes window in this wall! But can we do that? quickly to Section 707.3.8, “Separated a specific area of opening allowed in the Go to International Building Code Section Occupancies,” which sends us on a code barrier wall, but common sense is not ruled 707.6 and you’ll find that openings (your ride to Table 508.4, providing the duration out. The limited opening size is what it is big-ass window) in a fire barrier are required (in hours) for the required fire barrier but if you rotated your window 90 degrees to be protected in accordance with Section between your Mercantile and Hazardous what would that do from a fire safety 715 and openings shall be limited to a occupancies. Working through this table perspective? maximum aggregate width of 25 percent of we see separation durations ranging from one hour to four hours, but mercifully the duration requirement for the barrier between your two occupancies is either two-hours or one-hour and of course you’re going to choose one-hour as it’s less costly to construct. Whoa now…not so quick on that decision! The Code allows a one-hour or a two-hour separation but look at Table 508.4 more closely and in the second row from the top there are some letters… seemingly innocuous letters…“S” and “NS.” Bring yourself way down below Table 508.4 and you’ll find that “S” refers to “buildings equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with Section 903.3.1.1,” and “NS” is, you guessed it, “buildings not
Well, we all know heat rises and fire science (more smart people in lab coats) tells us the temperature at the ceiling of a compartment (a room) is always significantly higher than at floor level. The higher your window, the closer it is to the ceiling and the higher temperature the glass will be exposed to, and with the glass being the weak link in the barrier, wouldn’t it be better if it were lower? Of course it would and you’ve just developed your intelligent argument for being allowed to rotate your window so the size better works for you! If your local code folks don’t believe they can make this decision, gently move them towards International Building Code Section 104.11 which tells everyone involved in the decision making process, “The provisions of this code are not intended to prevent the installation of any material or to prohibit any design or method of construction not specifically prescribed by this code, provided that any such alternative has been approved. An alternative material, design or method of construction shall be approved where the building official finds that the proposed design is satisfactory and complies with the intent of the provisions of this code, and that the material, method or work offered is, for the purpose intended, at least the equivalent of that prescribed in this code in quality, strength, effectiveness, fire resistance, durability and safety.” What does that mean? It means that a code official has the authority to make reasonable decisions based on reasonable justification to accept modifications from what the code specifically requires. Some officials may accept this authority for what it is and others may say you need a certification from a reputable agency or an engineer’s seal of approval. Either way, the requirements of the codes are not chiseled in granite as long as alternatives are legitimately at least as safe as what the code is looking to accomplish using its prescriptive requirements. Now your new window is pretty close to what you originally imagined. From here there remains much more to talk about. You need to learn a little more about some general building safety items. We still have the boiler installation and sprinkler and fire alarm systems to talk about and, possibly, for those who are really starting from the ground up, maybe we should talk about site selection and where your distillery should be located in the first place. It looks like we have some more planning and code fun in front of us. Have a wonderful and happy summer!
Shawn Bergeron is an NFPA and ICC certified fire protection specialist and building official with Bergeron Technical Services in North Conway, New Hampshire. For more information or assistance call (603) 356-0022 or visit www.bergerontechnical.com. They will be happy to help you with your distillery no matter how near or far.
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RE:USE AT RE:FIND WRITTEN BY AMBER G. CHRISTENSEN-SMITH
PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
espected author Annie Leonard states, “There is no such thing as ‘away.’ When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.” Such is the thought behind Re:Find’s distillery project — the result of Villicana Winery owners Alex and Monica Villicana’s drive to find a use for their winery’s unused grape juice. Founded in 1993, Villicana Winery sits in the wine country of Paso Robles, California. Alex had fallen in love with the process of winemaking through working with other winemakers and attending viticulture classes at UC Davis. This passion helped him dig deep into his craft and create a strong business that he and his wife ran for 10 years before any other entrepreneurial thoughts snuck into their minds. As winemaking in the region grew so did the Villicana’s own business and they bought their own land, started their own vineyard, and began a full-time winemaking
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operation. At the time they started their winery there were only 17 wineries in the area — now there are over 300. “We produce about 2,000 cases of wine which is on the small side,” tells Alex, “but we sell all of our wine direct through our tasting room and to our club.” This volume is enough to keep their business in the black and make them happy with their work. Eventually, though, something occurred to Alex and Monica. The two wanted to know how they could reuse the must lost from bleeding their grapes, known as saignee, and efficiently use more of their materials. This free-run juice pulled from the grapes during winemaking is 10-30 percent of the raw material that essentially gets poured down the drain. While to most winemakers this is part of the business, Alex wanted to do more. “You’re throwing away an incredible
base material and it drove us crazy,” Monica explains. “Because we farm our own vineyard, we felt like we were throwing so much away. We like to watch everything and we don’t like to waste anything.” The Villicana’s kept trying to figure out what to do with their unused saignee, and that’s when they learned vodka and gin could actually be made from grapes. “A lot of people are under the assumption that vodka is made from potatoes and only potatoes,” says Alex. “This is only 6 percent of vodka that is made, however.” For three years, Alex worked on the logistics of opening a distillery — taking classes, convincing Monica he wasn't crazy, and figuring out the logistics of the business. Finally, everything seemed to make sense and they dove in, buying a new still and creating a complementary venture to their winemaking craft. During the first year they used the juice
from their wine production and from a neighbor’s operation. “We probably produced a couple hundred cases of spirits that first year and the biggest problem was getting it in the bottles fast enough,” explains Monica, who says consumers were excited and interested. The fire of something new was burning. The next year they collected 10,000 gallons of juice from wineries around the area, and the following year they reached 25,000 gallons. Alex and Monica had found a great way to reuse something from their winery and the other wineries around them, turning waste into profit. “Our winery is designed for about 8,000 gallons so squeezing 25,000 gallons in here is quite the task,” shares Alex. Towering in the winery and distillery area are tall skinny tanks and 200-gallon totes for the juice which are stacked everywhere during harvest time. In the beginning the distillery side of Villicana was not meant to be a big deal. “When we started it, we thought it was just going to be a neat little side business to
utilize the raw material, but we actually saw that there were so many other benefits that we didn’t even take into account yet,” shared Monica. They learned that equipment that sat idle during off-season could now be utilized yearround, which not only justifies its cost but also keeps it in good working order since it is not just sitting stagnant. Alex also says the grapes they use are of such high quality that they do not have to overfilter or strip away the good stuff in order to get a great product. “We’re getting the best grapes,” he explains. “If you start with really clean base materials and do a good job of fermenting them so you don’t produce off aromas, then you don’t have to over-process or hard-filtrate the spirits.” Another benefit of opening the distilling business is it has afforded Alex more room to be creative. “It has actually given me a lot more flexibility and has giving me the money to invest more in our vineyard and winemaking. Also, it has given me the freedom to experiment more. The two businesses are truly symbiotic,” he shares. Previously, he could not go rogue with his wines because making ends meet for the family and his business were top priority, but his additional spirits revenue stream has changed that scenario. Alex especially loves that he can experiment in different ways with distilled spirits. Layering in botanicals for the gin has been an
exciting piece for him, offering freedom he did not previously have in winemaking. The Villicanas are proudly producing grape based vodka, gin, a cucumber flavored vodka, and limoncello with produce fresh from the farmers market, and they are now adding bourbon and rye whiskeys to this mix. They are also working on a grappa that will be aged in French oak barrels. Currently, the Villicanas are encouraging regional distilleries to take pride in using similar base materials to help create a regional flavor profile. In the same vein, they also helped start the Paso Robles Distillers Trail, collaborating with eight other distillers, seven of which are also winemakers. While wearing both hats of winemaker and distiller can be a whirlwind and incredibly exhausting — especially during the craziness of harvest time — Alex and Monica say it is fun and affords them creativity. But the biggest payoff for them is creating value from a previously-unused raw material. The most excellent moment for the Villicana family was the realization that 150 tons of grapes that would normally go to waste are now being used. As Monica says, both fiscally and emotionally, “It’s rewarding to be sustainable.” Re:Find Distillery is located in Paso Robles, CA. For more info, visit www.refinddistillery.com or call (805) 239-9456.
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Distilling Apple Brandy WRITTEN BY STEPHEN GOULD
The nights are getting cooler and the leaves will soon turn. Fall is coming. Farmers and growers will soon begin their fall harvest, and that means it’s time to start thinking about what to do with all the lovely fermentable fruits that will be available. Typically the first fruits that come to mind in the fall are apples, especially these days as apples and the alcohol beverages made from them are hot right now. The market for cider (often referred to as hard cider in the U.S. and simply cider in Europe) and related products is exploding in the U.S., Europe and around the world. Small producers are springing up all over the U.S. and large alcohol beverage producers are either launching new apple-based products or expanding their existing apple-based product lines on a global basis. This is true in the distilled spirits world as well, with apple spirits appearing with increasing frequency on spirits menus and being used in an ever-growing number of cocktails in the U.S., Europe and Asia. As such, and with the wide-spread availability of apples of various types, many artisan distillers are already making a variety of different apple spirits and many more are considering it. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
A Brief History of Apples and Cider Production The first trees to produce fruit similar to what we know of as an “apple” today were likely from one hillside in Kazakhstan, near the modern city of Alma-ata. These trees grew tens of thousands of years ago and were likely the result of crossbreeding between the Asiatic and European crab apples. Apples were used as food across the ancient world. One of the earliest examples of ancient people eating apples comes from stone-age sites in Switzerland dating from between 4000 B.C. and 500 B.C. These sites, once home to the “Lake Dwelling People,” contained carbonized apples that were gathered and stored for future use, along with other foodstuffs. It is believed that these apples were both eaten and used to make a crude form of fermented cider.
Apples in the Ancient World Apples were present and possibly cultivated in the Nile Delta as early as 1300 B.C., and were cultivated in Ancient Greece as early as 300 B.C. In Ancient Greece they were a common and valuable food item, so valuable in fact that throwing an apple at someone was considered a marriage proposal. There are also some academics that believe that early forms of distillation were
used in Ancient Egypt and Greece for religious purposes and that fermented apples may have been the basis for some of those spirits. Apples were extensively cultivated in the Roman Empire and throughout much of the ancient world from at least as early as 100 B.C. onward. There is evidence that a fermented cider-like beverage was being produced in what is modern-day Kent, England in about 55 B.C. when the Romans invaded the British Isles.
Apples during the Medieval Period By the fall of the Roman Empire in roughly 500 A.D., cider was known in major cities in the Empire. Its popularity continued to grow and by the ninth century A.D. cider was well established throughout Europe and was regularly consumed by a substantial portion of the population. Over the next century (about the time of the Norman Conquest of the British Isles) orchards cultivated specifically to produce apples for cider production became common and monasteries began to sell cider to the public. It is also likely that the first apple spirits were produced during this period of time, likely for medicinal or religious purposes. “Burnt Waters” (brandies) were
documented as being served as beverages beginning in the late 1400s, including spirits made from grape, pear and apple.
The Colonial Period By the 1600s cider was being produced in the “New World,” and likely distilled apple spirits, as well. Pieces of small alembic stills, likely used by apothecaries, have been found at the site of the Jamestown settlement (founded in 1607) and on shipwrecks in the Americas dating from the 1600s. By the 1700s apple brandies, typically called “Applejack,” were being produced extensively in the Americas, both by potstill distillation and in the northern regions by “freeze-distillation”
or “jacking” (the process of freezing cider and then removing the frozen water crystals to increase the alcohol content, known as congelation). Applejack is often considered America’s original spirit, along with peach brandy, as both were produced extensively during colonial times.
Cider and Apple Brandy Production Today Today, apples are cultivated for alcohol beverage production (both cider and apple spirits) throughout Europe, North America, Japan, Southern Australia, and New Zealand. Areas in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon and China also produce cider and in some cases apple distillates.
Common Types of Apple Spirits Apple spirits are produced around the world today and, regardless of where they are produced, they can be divided into three basic categories.
Apple Eau de Vie — Apple 1 spirits that are typically unaged or lightly aged.
Apple Brandies — Apple spirits 2 that have been aged, typically in oak, for a period of time.
Vodkas — Apple spirits 3 Apple that have been distilled to a point where they are considered neutral, typically to at least 95 percent ABV 190 Proof (required in the U.S.). Within these three categories there are numerous different designations. Some of the more common are:
Calvados This is the type of apple brandy produced in the Normandy region of France. Calvados can be produced on two different types of stills:
or alembic still. This is »»Aoftenpot thestillCharente Alembic that is commonly used in the production of Cognac, but it can be other types of pot stills as well.
continuous still known as a »»Afractional still, reflux still, “Alembic a Colonne,” and often referred to as an “Armagnac Still.” The majority of Calvados is produced on
the latter, but the highest quality Calvados, known as Pay’s d’Auge, is produced on a pot still and must by law be double-distilled. The name “Calvados” is a protected designation under European Law, and may only be used for apple spirits produced in the designated Calvados region and made from fruit grown in that region. It is defined under U.S. Law as “Apple brandy distilled in the Calvados region of France in compliance with the laws and regulations of the French Government.”
Applejack This is the type of apple brandy traditionally produced in the United States. Colonial Applejack — During colonial times applejack was typically produced in pot stills located either at or very close to the cider mills. It was typically produced using a single distillation and was only aged minimally (usually only from the time it was collected in the barrel at the time of manufacture until it was sold at market). Ice Cider “Applejack” — A low-alcohol spirit produced beginning in colonial time using the process of congelation. Congelation is the process of separating alcohol from cider (or any fermented alcohol beverage) through freezing. The still liquid “core” containing the majority of alcohol is poured off, leaving the frozen crystals containing mostly water behind. This process was also very popular during prohibition and is still used today to produce ice ciders and ice wines in various countries around the world.
“Modern” Applejack — A generic term for any apple brandy made in the U.S. Applejack can be single or repeatedlydistilled, or distilled using a continuous still. It is typically aged for a year or more. The term applejack is defined by U.S. law as “Applejack or Apple Brandy — Type of Fruit Brandy made from apples.” Blended Applejack — Designation created in the U.S. for Laird & Company, the oldest and largest producer of apple spirits in the U.S. Products of this type are blends of neutral (typically corn) spirit and apple spirit. The term Blended Applejack is defined under U.S. Law as “Blended Applejack or Applejack A Blend — A mixture of at least 20% on a proof gallon basis apple brandy that has been stored in oak containers for not less than 2 years and not more than 80% on a proof gallon basis neutral spirits, bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).”
Pommeau Cider fortified with apple spirit. Typically made in Northern France, but also made in the U.S., Argentina and elsewhere.
Apple Eau de Vie Unaged or lightly aged apple brandy.
Apple Brandy/Cider Brandy/Cyder Brandy Generic terms for a multitude of distilled spirits based upon apple.
Apple Vodka A highly rectified neutral apple spirit (that meets the legal definition of “Vodka”). WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
Typical Cider and Apple Spirit Production Processes In virtually all cases the process of producing cider and then apple spirits follows the same basic steps...
1. Picking & washing
Fruit is removed from the orchard and cleaned.
Fruit is crushed into a pulp.
Crushed fruit is then pressed to extract juice (though there are a small number of distillers, typically in Austria or Switzerland, that choose to distill on the mash instead of pressing the cider).
The juice is placed in a fermentation vessel, yeast is added and the juice is allowed to ferment. Once fermentation is completed it is “cider.”
Cider 5. Aging
The cider is placed in either oak casks or other types of containers and allowed to age.
The cider is racked and/or filtered to remove sediment and residual yeast.
The cider is bottled, canned or kegged for sale.
8. Postpackaging conditioning
In some cases ciders are bottleconditioned in much the same way that sparkling wines are.
Cider is placed in a still and distilled. Types of stills and distillation procedures will vary.
6. Resting/ Aging
Finished spirit is typically placed in oak or ceramic/earthen, glass or stainless containers to rest or age the spirit.
Once the spirit has been sufficiently rested or aged it will typically be filtered in some manner to remove any sediment.
Apple spirits are typically bottled.
Raw Materials – Apples Classified as table, commercial and cider apples. All apples are basically suitable for alcohol production, even selected table fruit (sweet apples) and “windfall” fruit. The sugar content of average quality apples is between 8 and 12 percent. Fruit selection depends upon the desired quality and flavor of the final product, and the quality of apple brandy produced typically rises with the quality of the fruit used. Ripe, healthy fruit is always desirable. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Requirements for good distilling fruit:
»»High sugar content. »»Consumption ripeness. »»Distinct aroma. of foreign elements like dirt, »»Free grass, stems, etc.
Some distillers look for a single variety of fruit, while others will want a blend of fruit. Single variety brandies will have the aroma of that variety.
Raw Materials Processing As previously discussed, apples must be crushed and are typically then pressed. These processes have not changed since cider was first produced over 2,000 years ago, but the methods used to both crush and press the fruit have changed. Today, large producers use huge mechanical crushers and
presses of various types, while smaller producers use a combination of smaller new equipment and equipment that has not changed in design for over a century (or in the case of the stone troughs used in some parts of Europe, several centuries).
Yeast and Fermentation Fermentation (for the production of alcohol beverages including both cider and apple spirits) is the breakdown of sugars by microorganisms to produce ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide and small amounts of other products. A microorganism is a small living cell only visible through a microscope at a magnification of about 100 times. The main type of microorganism used in alcohol production is yeast. For the purposes of modern alcohol beverage production the species of yeast used is Saccharomyces cerevisiae or “budding yeast.” Other species of yeast are used in limited alcohol beverage production, most notably Schizosaccharomyces pombe or “fission yeast” for certain types of rum, but these are not recommended for fruit distillations. Yeast cells must be alive and must be in a water suspension in order to effectively ferment sugars. Ninety-five percent of the sugar taken in by the yeast will eventually be released as alcohol or carbon dioxide. The remaining 5 percent of the sugar is used by the yeast to produce more yeast cells at the start of fermentation, produce glycerol and succinic acid during fermentation, produce fusel oils and flavor compounds and produce heat
Yeast Selection As the distiller works to develop a new apple spirit, he or she will need to make decisions about both the strain of yeast and format of yeast used for the product. A strain of yeast can be considered similar to a breed of dog. Different breeds of dogs have been bred for specific characteristics such as size, speed, and the ability to do certain things. Similarly, strains of yeast have been bred to perform different types
of fermentation and other tasks. Strains are often better suited to some types of fermentables than others. Additionally, and of great importance, is the small amount of fusel oils and flavor compounds mentioned above. Each strain of yeast will produce different combinations of these. As such, the choice of yeast can have a significant effect on the efficiency of fermentation, the final yield and the final flavor of the product. The distiller should consider the following things when selecting a strain of yeast:
»»Clean, fast and efficient fermentation. of the yeast strain to convert »»Ability sugars to alcohol and specifically to do so well with the raw material at hand.
types of congeners (flavor »»What compounds) the yeast will produce (i.e. how will it affect the flavor of the final product). For apple spirit, the yeast should facilitate and enhance the complex flavors of the apple(s) used.
»»The use of wild versus bred strains.
A few common strains used for apple spirit production are:
»»White Labs WLDK1 »»White Labs WLP775 »»White Labs WLP760 »»White Labs WLP720 »»Lallemand EDV 493 »»Lallemand EDV 46 »»Lallemand K1 »»Lallemand 71B (English cider yeast) (Cabernet yeast)
(Sweet mead yeast)
It should be noted that the same or
similar strains of yeast will be produced and/or packaged and sold by multiple manufacturers, so the distiller should research multiple sources and formats for the strain or strains he or she is interested in. With respect to wild yeast, yeasts are dispersed throughout our environment. As such, in some cases, using those naturally occurring “wild” yeasts may give a favorable flavor and add terroir since these are organisms that occur naturally in the local environment where the fruit is grown and/or fermented. The risk is that wild yeasts may not give a desired flavor profile and that they are extremely unpredictable. Having said that, there are many distilled spirits (and wines, beers and ciders for that matter), including many brands of Calvados, that only use wild yeasts and allow their fermentations to occur naturally without adding a bred yeast. Therefore, if the distiller is considering using wild yeast then he or she must take the time and experiment with wild fermentations prior to going into full-scale production or risk having product that may be unsalable due to off flavors or other problems. Next, if the distiller is working with bred yeast, he or she will need to select the type of preparation that will work best for his or her specific circumstance. Dry yeast (dry matter 95 percent by weight) — Probably the most common, especially with smaller distilleries. Dry yeast is shelf stable and easily stored. It is reliable and convenient. It is also the most expensive. Most large distilleries keep a supply on hand in case their liquid or cream yeast has issues. “Fresh” cream yeast (dry matter 18 percent by weight) — Must be stored in a temperature controlled environment at 4 C and used within a week. Many distillers WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
feel that they get a better result using cream yeast due to increased cell viability and ease of use. “Fresh” liquid yeast (dry matter 28 percent by weight) — Must be stored in a temperature controlled environment from 1-4 C and should be used within a week. As with cream yeast, many distillers feel that they get a better result using liquid yeast. Pressed yeast (baking yeast) — Inexpensive and easily available, and while typically not as efficient for fermentation as other types of yeast, it is used extensively worldwide for alcohol beverage production.
Fermenter Selection Fermentation of cider to produce apple spirit can be done in a variety of different types of fermentation vessels, depending upon the desired results and the distillery’s space and budget. Food-grade plastic barrels and totes — Many small producers all over the world simply ferment in either food-grade plastic barrels or food-grade plastic beverage
totes. The advantage to these is that they’re inexpensive and easily moved. They do have some risks and problems that should be taken into consideration though. They are harder to clean, prone to bacterial infestation (usually in the valve body at the bottom of the tote, and/or due to bacteria hiding in scratches in the soft plastic material) and ultimately they will wear out pretty quickly as they are made of a soft food-grade plastic. They are an excellent choice for the small distillery that is only distilling apple spirits for a few months every fall, or for those on a limited budget. Stainless fermenters — These are used by breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries the world over. They are reliable, easily cleaned and can last decades if cared for. Stainless is likely the best choice for anyone looking to produce anything fermented on an ongoing basis. They can be purchased/manufactured with many additional features including jackets to allow for temperature control during fermentation. Stainless is also, unfortunately, expensive, and larger
fermenters are not easily moved. Wood fermenters — These are also used by breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries all over the world. They look great, and because they are wood they will develop a family of bacteria within them that will impart flavor and complexity to the final product. Wooden fermenters are also, unfortunately, prone to bad bacterial infestation, and as such need to be maintained on a regular basis. These are only suitable for distilleries that are distilling year-round and that are capable of maintaining them. Ceramic, cement and earthenware fermenters — These have been historically used in certain parts of the world, and are becoming more popular as producers look for ways to differentiate themselves. These natural materials offer great insulation, and depending upon what the fermenter is made from they can impart minerals that both affect the efficiency of the fermentation and the resulting flavor of the final product.
Still Selection Apple spirits can be distilled in virtually any type of alcohol distillation equipment, from the crudest and most simple pot still to large and complex column and vacuum distillation setups. As such, the distiller can either adapt the process of making an apple spirit to the distillation equipment he or she has on hand, or can select equipment that have specific capabilities the distiller wants for the spirit he or she wants to produce.
Types of Stills The oldest type of still that is commonly used to produce apple spirits is the Alquitar (Alquitara). This design of still predates the alembic still. No one knows for sure how old this design of still actually is, but it is likely thousands of years old and possibly originated in Asia. The Alquitar consists of a bottom boiling chamber with a chimney on top. Above that is a crude condenser consisting of an “upside-down” bowl with a second bowl above it containing cool water. Around the rim of the “upside-down” bowl is a channel that collects the condensate, which then flows out of the still through a tube on one side. These types of stills are typically single-skinned (i.e. without a water or steam jacket) and are commonly used in Spain, Portugal and parts of Eastern Europe to this day. In fact, many distillers on the Iberian Peninsula (i.e. Spain and Portugal) consider the Alquitar as the best type of still for producing fruit spirits. Many modern Spanish and Portuguese WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
distilleries use groups of hand-shaped Alquitar stills, fitted with external steam-jackets and in some cases placed into hydraulic frames and plumbed to facilitate a more automated process of producing spirit. It is also common to find these types of stills on farms and orchards being used over open fires during harvest season.
The Alembic Still The alembic or pot still is the most common type of still in use today for alcohol beverage production, and it is commonly used for apple spirits. These can be any form of pot still, from the most simple and inexpensive “copper pot” to extremely complex stills. Some of the more well known types include the Charentais Alembic “Cognac Still,” commonly used in Normandy to produce Calvados, various modified types of modern pot stills with columns either atop the boiler or adjacent to it, and the Alembic Armagnacais “Armagnac still,” which is a type of continuous pot still.
Considerations in Still Selection Distillation is a purification process, and still efficiency affects alcohol purity. The more pure the alcohol, the less of the other chemicals and substances (called congeners) that give spirits their flavor will remain in the final product. Therefore the art of distilling is the management of the efficiencies and inefficiencies of the distillation process and equipment used in that process to produce
a spirit with the character and flavor profile desired. Often, modern distillers tend to select very efficient equipment, such as the pot stills with attached columns that are commonly seen in most craft distilleries in the U.S. and parts of Europe today. The problem with this for apple spirit is that the more you rectify an apple spirit the less it will have the taste profile of its base ingredient. Therefore, the distiller intending to produce an apple spirit needs to consider just how inefficient their equipment is, in order to get the proper amount of congeners for the character of apple spirit he or she wants to produce. If the distiller is looking for a cleaner “less apple-y” spirit, then the equipment should be more efficient. This is the case with, for example, much of the apple spirit produced on the Alembic Armagnacais type of still. This apple spirit is specifically designed to be cask aged, and when
finished typically has far more oak character (i.e. flavor gained from the cask) than apple character. Special consideration should also be made if the distiller plans to ferment and distill “on the mash” (without removing the crushed apple pulp by pressing). While this is not very common in apple spirit production, there are some distillers that choose to do so. As such, the distiller will need distillation equipment that is both suitable for distilling with solids in the boiler and preferably that has some way of minimizing or preventing the risk of scorching the solids (which will result in off flavors). Large sumps (facilitating the removal of solids from the boiler), water (bain-marie) or steam jackets to prevent scorching of solids in the boiler during distillation, or even simple perforated plates preventing solids from touching the bottom of single-wall stills can be used.
A Few Thoughts on Cask Conditioning Many apple spirits are cask conditioned, but not all. Apple vodkas are highly rectified and are bottled without any cask conditioning, though they may be rested in glass or stainless for a period of time prior to bottling. Apple eau de vies are less highly rectified, and are also commonly bottled clear (i.e. without cask conditioning), though some may be lightly “oaked” either
by conditioning them in a cask for a short period of time or by using oak chips, spirals, blocks or even old barrel staves to impart color and flavor to the eau de vie prior to bottling. Most other apple spirits are conditioned for a period of time in some sort of a wood vessel (typically oak casks). The distiller must make the decision as to just how much of the spirit’s character
will come from the wood as opposed to the fruit and adjust their cask conditioning program accordingly.
Stephen Gould is proprietor and distiller of Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, CO. For more information, visit www.goldenmoondistillery.com or call (303) 993-7174.
L I Q U E U R S WRITTEN BY GABE TOTH
he American cocktail market is creating a bitter opportunity for distillers. Or maybe it’s an Amaro opportunity, or Amer. Whatever you want to call it, the herbal liqueur category is allowing producers to create bold, unique flavors that bartenders and cocktail drinkers are searching for. Once used medicinally or to aid in digestion, they can range in flavor from deep, palate-coating licorice, to sharp citrus, to complex and herbal. They can be sweetened, a little or a lot, they can be intensely bitter, they can be fairly simple or include a list of a dozen or more ingredients. They can be enjoyed neat, but thanks to the growing craft cocktail scene, bartenders are increasingly introducing them to customers, both in revived classical drinks and new formulations. “The palate of the American cocktail drinker is changing and maturing,” said Stephen Gould, who makes herbal liqueurs at his Colorado distillery, Golden Moon. “The market for these products is growing rapidly. Bartenders are figuring out that there is such a variety. It gives them huge additional reach.” Those bartenders are
“The palate of the American cocktail drinker is changing and maturing. The market for these products is growing rapidly. Bartenders are figuring out that there is such a variety. It gives them huge additional reach.” — STEPHEN GOULD, GOLDEN MOON DISTILLERY
gradually growing the segment for these products by introducing one customer at a time, one cocktail at a time. For Tremaine Atkinson of Chicago’s CH Distillers, a bartender even went so far as to push him into bringing out something new. Atkinson was trying to get his spirit picked up at a local establishment when the head bartender told him, “If you make an amaro, I’d sell a ton of it.” Three or four months later, the CH
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amaro hit the shelves. “I was familiar with amaro, but I hadn’t really had a lot of amaros,” Atkinson said. “A lot of the amaros on the market are too sweet for me.” In crafting his amaro, he took some liberty with the Italian-inspired spirit, using the CH rum as the base and adding bitter chocolate to infuse with the botanicals. “I wanted to develop something according to my own taste,” he shares. “It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work.” About a year later, the Dogma Group, a collection of industry consultants, came to him to create a fernet that they wanted to use at a bar they were working on. They had a specific flavor profile in mind, and CH was able to put it together, aging the product in barrels before release. Now, both the fernet and the amaro are moving reliably and gaining steam because bartenders are reaching for them. “Probably 80 percent of our (amaro and fernet) business is for on-premise accounts,” Atkinson said. When it comes to experimenting with herbal liqueurs and judging consumer response, San Diego-based Ballast Point’s head brewer and head distiller, Yuseff Cherney, is enthusiastic about the opportunities opened up by California’s new Type 74 license. Now they can sell directly through their tasting room without a distributor, a luxury that distillers in some other states are used to. “The tasting room aspect of the new law will allow for a more diverse selection of products,” begins Cherney. “The recent changes allowing direct sale really opens it up to be putting out these one-off products. The spirits geeks out there will be able to go directly to the distillery.”
A CHEF IN THE DISTILLERY The process of assembling a liqueur infused with botanicals is different from what some distillers might be used to. Both Cherney and Atkinson describe the design process as working more like a bartender or a chef. “The infusion process, without redistillation, allows flavors to be added over time, in layers,” Cherney said. “That’s where the innate chef in the distillery comes out. There is a lot of creativity, a lot of art that goes into choosing ingredients and creating it.”
“The infusion process, without redistillation, allows flavors to be added over time, in layers. That’s where the innate chef in the distillery comes out. There is a lot of creativity, a lot of art that goes
er Rum J sum
into choosing ingredients and creating it.” — YUSEFF CHERNEY, BALLAST POINT BREWING & SPIRITS
R UM F EST
“It’s a really fun experience,” tells Atkinson. “It’s a different process, it requires different tools. You get so much more intensity from infusing. You have a lot more control over the flavor.” At Ballast Point, the Opah liqueur was a result of home concocting.
According to Cherney, Ballast Point owner Jack White had a recipe for “liquid Good & Plenty,” an intensely anise-y spirit in the vein of arak or ouzo. To release it commercially, they touched it up with a bit of cinnamon and allspice. “That kind of rounds out the heavy anise — it tends to have a little more broad appeal,” Cherney said. “There’s such a strong FernetJägermeister market here in San Diego. It’s more of a cult favorite.” He said Ballast Point is preparing to release a small batch of amaro. They’ve already settled on a recipe of “17 or so ingredients” and are awaiting formula approval. It’s a result of “being inspired by our travels and coming home and reinterpreting.” “We’re taking ideas of these brands that we’ve come to love, and making them fit our tastes more exactly,” he said. “We put our San Diego twist on them.” Back in Colorado, Gould’s lineup includes classical liqueurs such as Amer dit Picon, a genepi, and an absinthe, and he maintains a collection of historical distilling texts and treatises. He is perhaps more rooted in the past than some, but is also determined to create something that isn’t already available. “I do tend to use the older ways, but I want to make my interpretation of what these classic spirits are,” he said. He is also getting ready to launch an Amaro Vespetro, which uses caraway and angelica among other ingredients. “It’s my take on an older amaro,” Gould said. “It’s pretty unique. There’s nothing on the market like it.” He believes there are still enormous opportunities for distillers to revive old styles. “There’s thousands of recipes to be discovered,” shared Gould. “There was a time in Europe and the United States where every little town had a distillery. Every monastery had an herbal liqueur. Every town in France and Italy had a distillery that made a digestif.” Atkinson compares the nascent market for herbal liqueurs to the American winemaking industry, where “you had a few pioneers who studied European techniques, and applied it to American conditions. (It’s) what Americans do tremendously well, which is reinterpreting it and making it our own somehow.” “I would be optimistic about the market for really interesting flavor,” he added. “This is an area where craft distillers can really shine.” Cherney sees a potential parallel from the brewing world that could be the future of the herbal liqueur market. “We never really expected IPAs to be the number one selling beer across the nation,” says Cherney. “It really could come out of nowhere and take everyone by surprise.” The similarities are compelling: a big, robust profile replete with citrus character and hop bitterness. “It’s not that far off the mark, but it’s all about exposure,” Cherney concludes. “I think it is an evolution of taste, but it’s completely within the realm of possibility.”
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Gabe Toth is a distiller at Santa Fe Spirits in Santa Fe, NM. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be reached at email@example.com. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
A COMPARISON OF
Steam & Classic Distillation FOR PROOFING SPIRITS WRITTEN BY ALEX WHITE
he Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) reported that in 2015, 77 percent of the spirits they found to be noncompliant were due to the alcohol concentration not matching what was on the label. Distillers should know that the tolerances for label claims and excise tax reporting are much stricter for distillers than for producers of beverages with lower alcohol content. Distillation is used to proof many spirits with relatively high extract content in order to produce a solution comprised of only ethanol and water so that ethanol concentration measurements using density meters or hydrometers are as accurate as possible. The fines
The TTB reported that 77% of the spirits they found to be noncompliant were due to the alcohol concentration not matching what was on the label. 88â€
and penalties that can be imposed for distillers who are out of compliance can be quite steep and thus it is of particular importance that consistently accurate alcohol concentration measurements be regularly performed on all products. The aim of this study is to examine the accuracy and repeatability of proofing using the two most widely used distillation methods: steam and classic distillation. Distillation is an approved method of TTB for all classes of spirits, regardless of proof or solids content. TTB does not demand the use of any type or brand of distillation apparatus when used for proofing but does recommend using the apparatus that is specified in AOAC Method 942.06 which describes a classic distillation apparatus consisting of a boiling flask, heating mantle, condenser, and collecting flask. Another method used for proofing by distillers due to its relative ease of use and speed is steam distillation. Steam distillation was designed in an effort to keep immiscible mixtures from decomposing by using steam to lower the boiling point of the mixture. Neither ethanol nor water, which are miscible in all proportions, are heat sensitive so the advantage of steam distillation effectively lowering the boiling point of the mixture is lost in this application. Steam distillation can still be used with miscible solutions as the steam will transfer its energy to the solution and primarily bring over the more
volatile components, resulting in a distillate composed mainly of ethanol and water. Modern steam distillation units are fairly compact and almost completely automatic. TTB advises for distillation to occur between 30 minutes to one hour if starting with 100 mL of sample, presumably to minimize carryover and distillate evaporation. Steam distillation typically takes 5-10 minutes and the â€œsteam powerâ€? for the model used in this study could not be adjusted to allow for a longer distillation. Only ethanol/water mixtures with an ethanol content range of approximately 40 percent were used in order to exclude any influence of other volatile components in a sample and to ensure accurate concentration measurements could be performed before and after the distillations with a TTB-approved density meter. The method used for preparation, distillation, and alcohol concentration determination is the same prescribed by TTB as specified in 27 CFR Part 30. The distillation (steam or classic) method that produces the closest alcohol concentrations (ideally identical) when compared before and after distillation should be considered the more appropriate for proofing as any significant loss of ethanol would lead to the assumption that the method would not be suitable for use in spirit alcohol determinations, particularly considering the samples contained only ethanol and water. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
RESULTS Steam Distillation SAMPLE
% V/V ETHANOL BEFORE DISTILLATION
% V/V ETHANOL AFTER DISTILLATION
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
45.42 45.42 45.42 45.42 45.42 37.18 37.18 37.18 37.05 37.05 37.05 41.30 41.30 41.30 40.12 40.12 40.12 40.12 38.13 38.13 40.84 40.98 40.98 40.98 40.98
45.29 45.28 45.32 45.27 45.29 37.13 37.10 37.10 36.96 36.93 36.92 41.21 41.24 41.24 40.06 40.08 40.05 40.09 38.05 38.05 40.73 40.92 40.88 40.86 40.90 MEAN = STD DEV =
Classic Distillation DIFFERENCE
% V/V ETHANOL BEFORE DISTILLATION
0.13 0.14 0.10 0.15 0.13 0.05 0.08 0.08 0.09 0.12 0.13 0.09 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.04 0.07 0.03 0.08 0.08 0.11 0.06 0.10 0.12 0.08 0.09 0.03
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
43.71 43.71 43.71 39.28 39.28 39.28 39.15 39.15 39.15 41.68 41.68 41.68 42.11 42.11 42.11 40.45 40.45 38.96 38.96 38.96 40.13 40.13 40.13 37.33 37.33
Steam Distillation: difference (%v/v)
% V/V ETHANOL AFTER DISTILLATION
43.68 43.69 43.68 39.28 39.29 39.25 39.15 39.13 39.13 41.69 41.67 41.68 42.05 42.08 42.07 40.40 40.43 38.93 38.96 38.95 40.08 40.09 40.10 37.31 37.32 MEAN = STD DEV =
0.03 0.02 0.03 0.00 -0.01 0.03 0.00 0.02 0.02 -0.01 0.01 0.00 0.06 0.03 0.04 0.05 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.05 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.02 0.02
Classic Distillation: difference (%v/v) 0.16
0.00 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
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Distillation is an effective method for separating mixtures containing liquids of varying volatility but some loss should be expected as ethanol simply cannot be completely isolated from water using distillation alone. The standard deviations and mean differences of the two techniques clearly show that classic distillation gives superior recovery and repeatability, which should be of particular concern to those under the intense scrutiny of the TTB. It should also be considered that the cost of the two apparatus types is significant. The steam distillation unit used for this study costs more than twice the two-place classic unit used (the same model used by TTB). A classic setup also allows for two or more simultaneous distillations, and although distillations typically take three times longer using the classic system, the majority of proofing time is spent bringing the sample to temperature before and after distillation as required by TTB. This study will be extended to finished products of varying extract and alcohol concentrations to determine what effects, if any, components typically found in spirits have on distilling/ proofing using both distillation techniques. Alex White is a product specialist for Anton Paar's Lab Density and OptoTec products. For more information, visit www.anton-paar.com or call (804) 550-1051.
F O O D VS. F E E D GRADE GRADE
GRAINS WRITTEN BY JAMES BECK
MINIMUM TEST WEIGHT PER BUSHEL (LBS)
U.S. NO. 1
U.S. NO. 2
U.S. NO. 3
U.S. NO. 4
U.S. NO. 5
1. You know that you are starting off with
calls from someone offering a screaming deal on grain or flour. Oftentimes this will a higher starch and sugar content mean a No. 2 grade or worse which is the which will result in the best alcohol same quality that the local feed mill can yields. offer you. Since feed is their primary goal 2. You no longer have to worry about they can purchase a lower quality grain and other grains, sticks, stones, or brokens grind it up to stay competitive in the feed affecting your distilling process. market. 3. Choosing a USDA No. 1 grade grain When you purchase from a feed supplier, lowers the possibility of insects you need to consider what else they may infecting your distillery and grain. grind in the mill used to create your flour. Would you want your customer to find out Many distilleries have received phone that your vodka or bourbon flour came from a mill that also makes MAXIMUM LIMITS OF: blood meal or fish meal? Next, you want to find out if the DAMAGED KERNELS BROKEN CORN grain you want to purchase has AND FOREIGN HEAT DAMAGED been tested for mycotoxins. Asking AL (%) MATERI TOTAL (%) KERNELS (%) that question alone will show you 2.0 are more educated and informed, 3.0 0.1 and they will not likely offer you 3.0 5.0 0.2 that “fire sale” deal. The two 4.0 most common toxins are aflatoxin 7.0 0.5 and vomitoxin, and in 1988 the 5.0 10.0 1.0 IARC placed aflatoxin B1 on the 7.0 list of known human carcinogens, 15.0 3.0
ourcing quality grains is one of the most important decisions that a head distiller makes. What makes one grain supply better than another? One differentiator is food grade vs feed grade. The USDA has created requirements to help the buyers and sellers of grain decide what quality of grain they are actually purchasing or selling, and distillers should start their search here. The USDA has a basic grading scale which is easy to follow. A distiller should be looking for a U.S. No. 1 grade grain for a few reasons.
meaning it can cause cancer. In order to determine if your grain has any aflatoxin or vomitoxin you will need to send it to a lab if it was not tested first. One other common toxin to look out for is ergot which is found in rye. It is much easier to spot than aflatoxin (corn) and vomitoxin (wheat and barley), and you can identify ergot in rye by looking for darkblack-looking seeds. Going back to the “screaming deal guy,” most of their customers are often dairy or beef cattle producers who have much different tolerance limits for aflatoxin. To compare the two, feed for beef cattle is
capped at 300 parts per billion aflaxtoxin while a dairy cow can only have 20 parts per billion. When it comes to humans it needs to show a negative reading or it cannot be used for human consumption. Getting your grain tested is extremely important to protect your business if anyone were to become ill. Finally, ask if your grains come with any supporting documents. This can be a lab report, certificate of analysis, or any type of spec. sheet. If possible, ask for all three on every shipment or at least semi-annually. This will help you keep better records of your incoming grain and track the quality
MORE INFO: U.S. STANDARDS FOR CORN U.S. STANDARDS FOR ALL GRAINS AFLATOXINS
of your finished product. If the vendor asks you what you are looking for on a spec. sheet, ask for the following: bushel weight, protein, moisture, falling number, percent brokens, and foreign material. This will also be used to correct any problem loads that may come in. Do not be afraid to ask your grain supplier for assurance that you are getting great food grade grains, and if they cannot give you straight answers the answer is probably “No.” Grain quality does not just affect flavor, but also health, safety and distillery operations. From start to finish, in order to create the best possible spirit one needs to use the best quality ingredients. James Beck is with Cereal Byproducts Company, headquartered in Mount Prospect, IL. Visit www.cerealbyproducts.com for more info.
Will Home Distilling Be Legalized? WRITTEN BY JEANNE RUNKLE
I L LU S T R AT I O N BY A M A N DA J OY C H R I S T E N S E N
Distilling alcohol without the proper licenses, permits, and bonds is illegal in the United States of America. Doing so without said requirements puts you and those around you in serious danger of federal prosecution. Artisan Spirit Magazine cannot and does not endorse such activities.
ou probably know about “Moonshiners” on The Discovery Channel, a reality TV show that follows men who are trying to stay one step ahead of the law while they make moonshine and money in the hills of the modern-day South. I’m not saying that profiting from an illegal distillation operation is OK, but what if you want to make liquor for yourself with no intent to sell it? Or you want to open a distillery and would like to get a head start on recipe formulation while you wait for the myriad permits and licenses? Is there a way to legally do that?
The Law Today
Death and Taxes
Home distilling is illegal under federal law, but not under every state law. In Missouri you can legally distill up to 200 gallons a year if you are over 21, but because federal law supersedes state law, you run the risk of being arrested and charged by the federal authorities. Seven other states already define what legal home distilling means for their residents if and when it becomes allowed under federal law: Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Rhode Island. When author, speaker and self-described homesteader Victoria Redhed Miller wanted to add home distilling to her diverse skillset, she attempted to obtain the licenses necessary from her home state of Washington and promptly discovered that the current laws are only written for people wanting to open a commercial distillery. After multiple rounds of Q&A with both state and federal authorities, Miller decided to work toward a larger goal. "This isn't just about being allowed to make booze,” stated Miller. “It's the bigger picture of unfair, archaic laws that restrict the flow of information and innovation.” In her latest book, “Craft Distilling: Making Liquor Legally at Home,” she talks about her ongoing struggle for licensing and includes a how-to guide for new home distillers.
There are two main issues preventing legal home distilling: government taxes and the safety of still operation, potentially by someone with no formal training or license. There is also a secondary safety concern from accidental methanol poisoning.
The Government's Cut Liquor taxes were originally levied to help pay for the war our fledgling country had fought against the British. While the tax was repealed in 1802, it was reinstated in 1813 and it has been a fact of life for commercial distilleries ever since.
The Garage In 1996, New Zealand legalized home distilling. After two decades of legal home distilling, has there been a rise in garage explosions or fires? According to Rick Morris, founder of the Texasbased Hobby Distiller’s Association (HDA), there is no data to support that claim.1 While working to get hobby distilling legalized and to help educate legislators, Morris and his staff have conducted extensive research, including statistics on household fires. In New
Zealand, the number of still-related fires was so small in comparison to other types that it was statistically insignificant. Here in the U.S., cooking is the leading cause of residential fires. That number spikes significantly at Thanksgiving, when turkey deep fryers see their annual use in driveways all across the country, sometimes resulting in garage fires. Even though the U.S. population is much larger than NZ, inattentive home cooks are still likely to be the cause of more fires than home distillers.
Legislative Updates The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1562) is a bill that in addition to reducing federal excise tax to a manageable level for small distilleries, will also legalize home distilling on a limited basis. What does "limited" mean? As long as you do not sell your booze, an adult (either 18 years old or the age at which you can buy liquor in your home state, whichever is greater) can produce 24 proof gallons each year, and own and use one 15.5-gallon mash container (the size of a beer keg) to do so. While that may not sound like much, that is quite a bit of hooch, not to mention the amount of time and effort that goes into making a batch. "This is the natural 'next step' in the distilling industry, like it was for home brewing and winemaking," hobbies that have been legal to pursue since 1978, emphasized HDA’s Morris. With 1400 members nationwide, the HDA has been working hard to raise awareness of the lack of alcohol parity with the country’s legislators, hiring their own lobbyist from funds raised through membership and Morris’s own company, Brewhaus.
Rising Tide Lifts All Boats If someone is thinking of opening a distillery, they may be testing their recipes at home already, despite the risk involved. While there is a big jump from making your own 15.5-gallon batch at home to making a 500-gallon batch at a distillery, some of the basics are the same. Understanding fermentation and the distillation
process are skills that can translate to a larger operation. With more home distillers, finding new employees with at least some distilling knowledge may not be as hard as it has been in the past. A shorter learning curve getting your new assistant distiller up to speed means a faster increase in your productivity. Home brewing is often cited as the basis for the boom that the craft brewing industry is experiencing. Not only are more brewers opening commercially, but an entire wave of enthusiastic fans has been created. The same could happen for craft distilling: more people introducing their friends to craft spirits who will then visit your distillery. For more information on HDA or to contact Rick Morris, visit www.HobbyDistillersAssociation.org. Victoria Redhed Miller’s awardwinning book is available on Amazon.com.
Footnote 1: www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/fire-causes/appliances-and-equipment/cooking-equipment
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SPOKANE INDUSTRIES OFFERS VOLUMES OF VESSEL ADVICE W R I T T E N
C H R I S
L O Z I E R
/ / /
P H O T O G R A P H Y
A M A N D A
J O Y
C H R I S T E N S E N
nside a repurposed World War II naval supply depot, the Metal Products Division of Spokane Industries is massive. Sprawling in-housebuilt turntables hold enormous stainless steel tanks, sometimes as large as 42,000 gallons, and hydraulic metal benders and shears, welders, cranes and other huge machines seem small inside the mammoth space. It’s lunchtime so it’s much quieter than usual as marketing manager Steve Santjer shows us around. Normally, this place is buzzing with 50 employees planning, engineering, measuring, cutting, welding and polishing stainless steel vessels. Distilling mash tanks and fermenters occupy much of the space between January and March, then wine tanks fill the shop through September to ensure no one gets bored. Started in 1952, Spokane Industries is a family-owned business, and alongside their tank work at the Metal Products Division, they also offer large-scale and precision metal casting. Bottom line: they know stainless steel. "Food, beverage, juice, water, dairy, chemical, photobioreactors for algae, nutraceuticals, agriculture, lawn care — if it's an application that requires a stainless vessel we do it,” tells general manager Nate Batson. Sixty percent of their fabrication work is beverage related, and they ship tanks all over North America. They are well known in the wine world, and after entering the distilling market five years ago their customer list is growing quickly thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations between distillers and their visits to ADI and ACSA trade shows. They have a five-person engineering crew, two certified weld inspectors, all of their welders are certified and they can produce AAA, ASME, AWS, DOT and UL approved vessels. They nearly always
have their materials laser cut for precise manufacturing, and they are able to source over 80 percent of their materials from the U.S. Using high quality stainless steel, their vessels are extremely durable. Stainless steel does not like high concentrations of chlorine, but beyond that it is tough to wear out. “That’s a problem for us!” jokes Batson about the lack of repeat business. Stainless is easy to clean, and Batson says people choose stainless for two reasons: to protect the vessel from the product or to protect the product from the vessel.
PLANNING AND DESIGNING STAINLESS DISTILLING VESSELS When building or expanding a distillery, still construction often takes the longest, but tanks can take a while to complete, too. Batson says that while vessel planning, design and production can all be completed in less than a year, and typically much less than that, distillers should talk with their tank makers early in the process. This ensures timely completion as well as a smoother and more accurate design
and planning process, which is valuable to distillers. “We can help them with their designs, we can help them with their facility layout, we can help them with their PID (proportional-integralderivative controller) and all that stuff,” he explains. Sales manager Ken Ovnicek says that lead times depend on a few factors. First, designs will pass between Spokane Industries and the customer several times during engineering. Some distillers choose elliptical, rather than round, tanks to save space. Most distillers need heating and cooling jackets, and Spokane Industries can put these on the sides and even the bottoms of many vessels. Cleaning ports, connections, mixer sizes and more are all considered and integrated, so working through this customization phase can take a little while. After plans are agreed upon, manufacturing starts, and build times range from eight to 20 weeks depending on the vessel and the current workload. Ovnicek says sometimes tanks will be completed rather quickly, only to have to wait for the mixer to arrive. Mixers often take more than 12 weeks to manufacture and deliver, but Ovnicek says it is essential to have them custom made. “We go to a mixer manufacturer that actually designs a mixer for our tank,” explains Ovnicek. “It's specific to this application — there is no one mixer for all, they're all custom.” Aside from cooling and heating jackets, cleaning ports, connections, sizes and mixers, Ovniceck says distillers also need to consider the shape of the bottom of the tank. Some of their customers choose standard flat-bottom white wine fermentation tanks, but a new option they developed through working with nearby Dry Fly Distilling is a truncated bottom. “A truncated bottom is a cone, but it's an offset cone,” explains Ovnicek. The shape
helps distillers clean their tanks more quickly by using gravity to help clear the solids, and it is stronger than a standard sloping bottom which requires supports to prevent it from bowing under the weight of the tank’s contents. Because of considerations like these, Ovniceck and the engineers typically spend a lot more time consulting with distillers than with winemakers. When a winemaker calls and says they want a 6500-gallon wine tank, the plans are typically finalized quickly. When a distiller calls it is a different story. “The typical distiller might tell us they want a 1,000-gallon fermenter, then we have to start asking a lot of questions,” begins Ovnicek. “How do they heat the mash, what is the steam pressure, how are they cooling it, what's their glycol system like, their voltages — I have to know all that. They tell me the capacity that they want and then we work around it and what product's going in it.” Spokane Industries does all this consultation at no charge, even though fewer than 10 percent of inquiries actually turn into sales. They say distillers should expect this level of participation from their tank manufacturers, and if they do not get the support and help they are looking for they should find another manufacturer. When purchasing tanks, Ovniceck says distillers should look for vessel material quality and thickness, craftsmanship and product guarantees. Good tank manufacturers should be able to produce specification sheets of the steel they are using and explain the differences. Even more important, he tells, is the manufacturer’s experience and willingness to offer support, and for all of these reasons he recommends choosing North American manufacturers.
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Batson says a lot of people that call are kicking tires, unsure of whether they want to get into distilling. Spokane Industries is honest with them about the costs up front, and only serious parties choose to move forward. While some equipment manufacturers offer smaller vessels, the smallest distilling tanks Spokane Industries will build are 300 gallons, and their most successful customers are at 1,000-gallon capacities and larger, with 12,000 gallons being the largest distilling tank they have built so far. "I see people wanting to start out with really, really small production, but it's difficult to survive when you do that,” shares Ovnicek. Batson agreed, saying it’s a bigger deal than many aspiring distillers realize. That said, Batson says they regularly get calls from hobby distillers which are often entertaining. "I talked to a guy one time that wanted some tanks, and he said he was a third or fourth generation distiller,” begins Batson. “I’m thinking, 'Third or fourth generation?' and he says, 'I'm thinking of going legal. Grandpappy would be rolling over in his grave if he knew!'" Spokane Industries is located in Spokane Valley, WA. For more information, visit www.spokaneindustries.com or call (800) 541-3601. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
DISTILLERY COMPLIANCE 101 PREPARING FOR A TTB AUDIT WRITTEN BY JEFF CLARK
s a craft distiller, you run your small business with tremendous vision and passion to produce some fine American spirits. Your distillery operates successfully because of the time and energy you invest in its daily operations.
However, the tedious tasks of logging, reporting, and paying taxes on your monthly production can be a significant burden.
This process can consume valuable time and resources, or get overlooked altogether. Going through a TTB audit or implementing a reporting plan can be overwhelming, but with proper knowledge, planning, tools, and experts on your side, you can handle whatever compliance-related issues come your way. Recently, the craft distillery experts from Distillery Solutions and Stoel Rives LLP teamed up with us us at Live Oak Bank to collaboratively explore the TTB audit process with more than 40 craft distillers through a live webinar. This online interactive event covered compliance strategies, reporting solutions, and implications for financing decisions. The panel included Jason Lippa, former distiller and current president/founder of Distillery Solutions in Westminster, Colorado, and Bernie Kipp, former TTB auditor and current alcohol compliance advisor at Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, Oregon. What follows are the top five important questions that distillers posed and our expert panelâ€™s response to each. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM â€
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON TRIGGERS FOR AN AUDIT?
ALCOHOL CONTENT AND FILL NON-COMPLIANCE
The TTB performs Product Integrity Audits, randomly purchasing finished products from the marketplace to test for label content compliance. It is critically important that proprietors measure content and fill (taking into account atmospheric conditions) and record results during each bottling/packaging of finished products at the distilled spirits plant (DSP).
MISSING/INCOMPLETE FEDERAL MONTHLY REPORTS OF OPERATIONS
Failure to file monthly reports with the TTB is the best way to ensure a phone call and visit to your distillery. If you have any outstanding monthly reports that have not been filed, get them filed as soon as possible.
UNDOCUMENTED LOSS, EXCESSIVE LOSS, INVENTORY MISCALCULATIONS AND MISSING INVENTORIES
Ensure accurate and meticulous recordkeeping for all spirit movement within your DSP and make certain that all documented loss is properly reported to the TTB. Affirm that quarterly inventory information is submitted on the Monthly Production Report and that all required periodic inventory reports are created and retained internally.
Because the federal excise tax is remitted on bonded spirit that is exported to foreign countries, it is important that a proprietor files and retains all relevant export documentation required by the TTB. Failure to submit export paperwork without the payment of federal excise tax is a big red flag.
GROWTH, SUCCESS AND TIME
Inevitably, the TTB will visit you anyway, and may review records and schedule periodic reviews to check in with DSPs. The purpose of these visits is to make certain that the distillery is compliant with TTB protocols and address any potential issues within the DSP on reporting or compliance. It is not a question of if you will receive a TTB visit, but when you will receive a TTB visit.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL I GET TO PREPARE FOR AN AUDIT? If the TTB deems it necessary for an on-site visit to your distillery it is typical to receive notice anywhere between one to four weeks in advance of the visit, but this may vary on a case-by-case basis. Typically, the proprietor will receive written notification from the assigned TTB investigator/auditor. It is common for the TTB representative to outline both the information that will be reviewed as well as the timeline in which the review will cover. If the TTB representative does not outline this information, it is important that the proprietor asks for clarification to understand how to best prepare for the site visit.
Common types of audits are cyclical, risk-based, and random. Cyclical is for large distilleries with annual tax liability greater than 1 million dollars. Risk-based is to ensure that distillers are complying with laws and paying the correct excise tax. Random is simply any distillery.
HOW DOES SERIAL NUMBER LABELING WORK? Directly from the Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR 19.490 b)—
When a proprietor fills cases containing bottles or other containers of spirits during processing, the proprietor must identify the cases consecutively beginning with “1” and continuing the series until the number “1,000,000” is reached. When the identification in any series reaches “1,000,000”, the proprietor may begin a new series with “1”. Case serial numbers are a part of the required markings that a proprietor must affix to the side of each case of spirits filled within the processing area. 27 CFR 19.489 outlines the required case label markings and consists of (a) a unique case serial number, (b) the kind of spirit (class and type of spirit as set forth in 27 CFR, Part 5) contained within the case, (c) the DSP number where bottled, (d) the date in which the case was filled, (e) the labeled proof at which the spirit was bottled, and (f) the volume of spirit (in liters or proof gallons) contained within the case.
HOW DOES TTB MEASURE THE FILL? The TTB frequently performs a type of compliance review in the form of a Product Integrity Audit. Product Integrity Audits are typically performed without the knowledge of the proprietor as bottled spirits are purchased directly from the marketplace and tested and reviewed at TTB facilities. During these reviews, the TTB will look to verify the contents and information displayed on the product label to ensure adherence to the proprietor’s submitted
and approved COLA on file for the product under review. Additionally, the alcohol content and fill volume will be tested for adherence to information stated on product labels. The proof of the bottled spirit is typically verified through obscuration testing and lab redistillation per TTB outlined protocol. Once obtained, the proof can be used in conjunction with the weight of the spirit contained within the bottle to get an exact volume of fill that is independent of atmospheric or environmental conditions (temperature and atmospheric pressure). The CFR states that good commercial practice must be employed and that all fills should be checked for discrepancies resulting from errors in measuring that occur during filling. The volume quantity (fill) must be kept as close to 100 percent fill as the equipment and bottles in use will permit and the tolerance permitted for the quantity contained in a bottle may not vary from the quantity stated on the label or bottle by more than plus or minus (a) 1.5 percent for 1.0 and 1.5 L bottles, (b) 2.0 percent for 500 and 750 mL bottles, (c) 3.0 percent for 200 and 375 mL bottles, and (d) 4.5 percent for 50 and 100 mL bottles. The variations in alcohol content, subject to a normal drop that may occur during bottling, must not exceed (a) 0.25 percent ABV for products containing solids in excess of 600 mg per 100 ml, (b) 0.25 percent ABV for all spirits products bottled in 50 or 100 ml size bottles, and (c) 0.15 percent ABV for all other spirits and bottle sizes.
WHAT ARE THE TOLERANCES FOR LOSSES FOR REPORTING AND HOW DO YOU PROPERLY DOCUMENT THEM? The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) stipulates that spirit loss within the storage account is deemed excessive when the quantity of spirits lost during a calendar quarter from all storage tanks and bulk conveyances exceeds 1.5 percent of the total quantity of stored spirits during the quarter. The TTB will not collect tax on spirits that are lost, destroyed, or otherwise unaccounted for while in bond, with the exception of some instances of theft, voluntary
destruction, or unexplained shortages of bottled spirits. The CFR outlines that a proprietor must determine if a loss of spirit has occurred each time a tank is emptied, upon discovery of an accident or unusual variation in gauge, and when required to take physical inventories (typically quarterly). The proprietor is liable for all taxes on spirits and must file a claim for remission of the tax on spirits lost in bond with the TTB. The details and requirements for filing claims of this nature can be found in 27 CFR 19.262 and 19.263. It is best-practice to document and record all spirit loss in as much detail as possible, recording loss date, gauges, and any related notes within daily batch records. In the case of an accident involving spirit loss, documenting the loss with photographs and creating a formal loss report (to be retained internally) will help to mitigate any questions that may arise at a later date related to investigations surrounding spirit loss.
FINANCING IMPLICATIONS Compliance issues and TTB audits can also present considerable risk to a distillery’s ability to access financial capital that is needed to expand and grow. For example, if your distillery was to be fined or have its license revoked, this could impede your ability to repay the bank’s loan. Banks also typically look at compliance reports before extending credit because it indicates whether the distiller has an inability to be compliant or has questionable character. Also, all federal and state taxes supersede any bank liens, which increase the repayment risk of the bank. Regardless of the tasks and challenges involved with compliance, aligning yourself with the proper industry experts is a critically important step to maintaining access to financing and other valuable resources that will keep your business growing. Consult an expert today to assist you with implementing a compliance and reporting program, as well as preparing for TTB audits. Jeff Clark is the craft beverage domain expert at Live Oak Bank. Visit www.liveoakbank.com for more information.
fundamentals of gin WRITTEN BY PAUL HUGHES, PH.D. I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y A M A N D A J O Y C H R I S T E N S E N
ust thinking of gin conjures up a range of images for most people. Some may think of balmy summer days sipping a gin with its common counterparts of tonic, ice and a citrus slice. Others may recall that it is prone to cause melancholy in those that over-refresh themselves with gin-based drinks. Yet others may have come across Hogarth’s salutary warnings about the evils of gin, compared with the benevolence of beer. All of these are facets of the convoluted history that has brought gin to where it is today. Gin was popularized in England, and specifically London, beginning in the late 17th century thanks both to the exposure of English forces to genever (“Dutch courage”) during military campaigns in mainland Europe, and to the preferences of the Dutchborn William of Orange, who acceded to the throne of England in 1688 when King James II fled to France. He happened to be married to Mary, daughter of the exiled James, so William and Mary ruled jointly (at William’s insistence) until Mary’s death in 1694.
William would have been well-versed in the positive attributes of botanical distillates since the progenitor of gin, genever, hailed from the Netherlands. Indeed, genever itself was not originally considered to be a social lubricant, but rather a convenient way of administering juniper extracts to those citizens ailing from a wide range of illnesses and diseases. The Dutch government soon discovered that its population enjoyed its medicine rather too much and set about imposing taxes on those seeking medical relief through the agency of gin. It should be pointed out here that while gin was derived from genever, the products are quite distinct. Gin is often neutral spirit flavored in some way with botanicals, whereas the alcohol base in genever is generally much more flavorful and, especially when matured, more akin to a whisky than a gin. As a final thought about genever morphing into gin, it is worth noting that gin did not diverge from genever by design, but rather because the English seemed incapable of making authentic genever-style spirits. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
what’s in a gin? The raw materials for contemporary gin production are a spirit source and one or more flavor components. The spirit is usually neutral grain spirit (but not always, see below), and the flavors are almost always plant-derived (ants and dairy cream being two exceptions). This flavor, though, must be predominantly derived from juniper and, according to EU regulations, for a product to be called gin this juniper must be a specific species, Juniperus communis. (The TTB aren’t so prescriptive about the variety of juniper used in gin.) Of course quite how one determines when juniper flavors are predominant or not is a moot point! Juniper confers a broad range of flavor attributes such as woody, fruity and citrus notes. Piney and resinous flavors can also be present, but often juniper samples rich in these characters are rejected by the gin-maker. After juniper, almost any botanical can be used to create a unique gin. Commonly cilantro or coriander seeds are used in many if not all gins, conferring citrus notes to the final spirit. Beyond juniper and coriander seeds, citrus peels (sweet and bitter orange, lemon, lime, pomelo etc.) can be used in almost homeopathic quantities to reinforce that refreshing citrus flavor. Roots are also very commonly used during the production of gin. Orris root is often considered to give “structure” to gin, acting as a so-called fixative. This translates as a material that helps to slow down the evaporation of volatile components derived from other botanicals. Orris can also have a pronounced aroma of violets due to the presence of the highly aroma-active series of compounds known as irones. Other roots, such as angelica and licorice, are commonly found in the gin-maker’s botanical armory. Beyond these, warming botanicals such as cinnamon, cassia and a variety of peppercorns can be used to create interesting nuances in the final product. Gins vary widely in the range of botanicals employed during production. Some are proudly juniper only, whilst other brands boast 50 or more distinct botanicals. In any case, the sheer flexibility in recipe formulation and production methods make the gin category unique in terms of innovation opportunity. Of course to produce gin a source of ethanol (alcohol) is required. Often this is a neutral spirit source of at least 95 percent ABV (190 proof), perhaps of vodka quality, although there is a little more scope for easing the analytical criteria for spirit used in gin production. Critically, spirit used for gin production should be free of taints present either as components found in the initial fermentation or picked up during storage, so it is essential to nose the spirit (preferably diluted to around 20-25 percent ABV (40-50 proof) to reassure the producer that in fact the spirit is taint-free. Analytical measurements can help but often taints are intensely flavor-active and do not readily show up during routine analytical screening.
bringing botanicals and spirit together The recognition that gin is a “distilled spirit” can cause some confusion as that does not necessarily mean that the botanical
flavors are wholly introduced via a distillation process. In European terms, a product is a distilled gin only if this is the case, whereas a product merely defined as gin can contain flavors added postdistillation. This is common for products that contain, for instance, chemically labile flavors such as cucumber. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that essential oils from juniper and most other botanicals are introduced by a distillation process and there are two main approaches: maceration or vapor infusion. Maceration is a process whereby botanicals are soaked in an alcohol/water mixture, typically for a day or two. This helps to soften the structure of the botanicals and start the extraction of the volatiles that can find their way into the distillate. As oils tend to be relatively insoluble in water, macerations are typically carried out at high ABV concentrations, perhaps 80-85 percent ABV. Nevertheless, attempting to recover volatiles in a distillate of this strength will result in lower yields of oils, so dilution of the macerate with water just prior to distillation will help to volatilize more of the oils into the distillate. Diluting to as low as 25 percent ABV will improve the recovery of volatile oils, but this comes at the expense of still capacity. An interesting feature of all water-alcohol distillations (at ambient pressure) is that the initial ABV percentage of the collected spirit is rather insensitive to the liquid alcohol concentration. Thus a pot ABV of 30-80 percent yields initial ABV’s of 75-85 percent. As the distillation progresses the ABV percentage of the liquid leaving the condenser drops slowly until a critical point where the ABV percentage begins to fall more sharply. Alternatively, botanicals can be “suspended” in a stream of hot vapor from the still. For large stills this often takes the form of a gin basket into which botanicals are carefully loaded and the boiling alcohol-water mixture in the still is allowed to permeate and pass through them, volatilizing some of the oils into the final spirit. In smaller stills, bagged-up botanicals are literally suspended above the vapor, again allowing alcohol-rich vapors to evaporate oils into the distillate. Which method a gin-maker chooses is really a matter of personal choice and indeed the two can be combined, for instance macerating the juniper and cilantro seeds and putting other botanicals in the vapor stream. This is an additional area where a gin-maker can adjust the process and the flavor attributes of the final product.
how to enjoy gin? As a disclaimer here I should say that I firmly believe that if you are buying gin it is up to you how you enjoy it! The gin and tonic is arguably the most famous “and” drink but it is not always the best way to compare gins. The presence of carbonation and other flavors in the tonic (i.e. bitter quinine, sweetening agents) all help to mask the delicate flavor profile of the gin itself. To delve into the flavors of gin, dilution with an equal volume of taint-free still water helps to bring out the botanical notes. Now
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while this is a good way to compare and contrast gins I would also advocate this as an alternative way to sip gin. There are plenty of cocktails that also rely on gin as the alcoholic base, many of which are very well-known: the gin martini, Tom Collins, negroni and the gimlet. Probably the closest to the consumption of the neat spirit is pink gin, a combination of gin and a few drops of Angostura bitters. In terms of garnish, gin has always led the way, with olives and pickled onions in martinis and Gibsons, respectively. The increasing use of dehydrators has also promoted the use of desiccated citrus slices, presenting the consumer with alternative decoration in their glass.
ginnovation In 2014 I worked with The Gin Guild in London to put on the first Ginposium, where we aimed to bring those with a passion for gin together under one roof. The attendees were diverse, from botanical suppliers, distilleries that were either unborn, new or well-established, and a smattering of scientific and technical geeks. Since then at least two of the unborn distilleries — Hepple and LoCa — have launched products and a new player, Arbikie, has launched its gin based on spirit produced from potatoes from their own farm. Minus 33 from LoCa distillery is not legally a gin, being 33 percent ABV (the EU sets a minimum of 37.5 percent ABV whilst the U.S. minimum is 40 percent ABV), but nonetheless it is a good example of how innovation in and around the category is progressing. Innovating around the preprocessing of botanicals, Hepple includes locally-sourced juniper to play in the super-premium category. In terms of process development, Oxley Gin from the Bacardi stable is produced from a still under a partial vacuum, reducing the heat load on the delicate botanical flavors. It is also worth mentioning innovation around product presentation. At a gin event late in 2015 I had the opportunity to try gin and ginger ale. This is not unknown, but the gin had been tailored to express warmer flavor attributes, primarily through the use of cassia and cinnamon, which complemented the ginger flavor superbly. During my time working at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in Scotland, some of the graduate students had fun creating carbonated gin (which had a very intense botanical hit) and even the “reverse” G&T, where we loaded botanicals into the tonic and added it to vodka. The opportunities for innovation and surprising the consumer in the spirit drinks category are substantial for gin. The selection of botanicals to accompany juniper (if any), modifications and technical innovation in the process itself, and developing new presentation platforms to share gin with the consumer all bode well for gin’s future. For the small-scale distiller gin has one last crucial advantage — it can be made and sold within days, so potentially there is little burdensome product inventory required! Paul Hughes, Ph.D. is assistant professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. For more info visit www.oregonstate.edu or call (541) 737-4595. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
MATURATION OF DISTILLED SPIRITS
WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER
PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
espected distillation and blending consultant Hubert Germain-Robin recently released his second book, “The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience.” Like his first, “Traditional Distillation: Art & Passion,” it was edited and published by White Mule Press, the publishing arm of the American Distilling Institute (ADI). While the first book focused on distillation, the second follows with maturation and blending. Hubert says he’s been working on it forever, citing his lifelong experience in the distilling industry. Born in the Cognac region of France, he comes from a family of distillers. “I’m a tenth-generation cognac maker,” he tells. “I can say I’ve worked my whole life with my hands, and most of my experience is working in the fields, working in the cellar, working in distilleries.” When he was young, his father got him a job with Martell Cognac, one of the oldest and largest cognac producers. There, he was immersed in a substantial maturation and blending program with access to cognac over 100 years old. Working with his family, Martell, and other cognac makers large and small, he learned every step of the production process. He later went to college to study fermentation and vineyard management, then grew more interested in starting his own distillery and decided he wanted to do it in North America. He followed the Pacific coast in the early 1980s and met his business partner Ansley Coale in California. They started assembling the Germain-Robin Distillery in 1981 and began distilling the following year. — Hubert Germain-Robin With his intimate knowledge of traditional brandy production, Hubert took his own bold path
“I’m a tenthgeneration cognac maker. I can say I’ve worked my whole life with my hands, and most of my experience is working in the fields, working in the cellar, working in distilleries.”
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and used wine grapes native to his area rather than heritage varieties. His plan worked, and many experts say his brandies are among the world’s finest. Drawing upon this background, “The Maturation of Distilled Spirits” is filled with a diverse array of proven maturation and blending techniques, information and stories. Blending for and consulting with distillers in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, England and the Caribbean, he has worked with a multitude of ingredients, products, barrels, equipment, environments and people, and all those experiences influenced this book. At 129 pages you can read it in a day and keep it around as a manual for future reference. It is enjoyable and enlightening, with detailed, expert instruction and advice alongside colorful anecdotes from his lifelong distillation and blending experience. Throughout its entirety, he keeps his explanations brief for busy distillers. “My goal was not to do too much blah, blah, blah, but to get to the point and be practical,” he tells. “Make it simple and accessible.” For Hubert, blending starts in the field, so the book moves systematically through the process from oak selection to final tasting and evaluation. Within this broad linear architecture he focuses on the minutiae, because small details can have a large impact on the final spirit. The entire maturation process is covered, from the first extractions and subtractions of the barrel to the final proofing and blending. Every part of the process is important, he says, and should be completed with the final goal in mind. “Aging is inseparable from the art of blending,” he explains on pages 41 and 42. “The master blender must have a sense of vision with a good dose of common sense.” At each step of the maturation and blending process he explains how to encourage or discourage specific flavors and aromas like rancio, and tells why distillers might choose to develop or avoid them depending on their desired product. More than anything else he emphasizes the importance of planning and designing your final product rather than leaving it up to chance. Once you decide what you want to create this book can help you get there, step-by-step. The book dives into details like what types of water to use for proofing and how to make proofing adjustments to avoid saponification. Guidelines for cellar/barrel storage environments, including temperature and humidity, are also covered in detail, as well as how to maintain and repair barrels. If the natural maturation and blending do not achieve the desired outcome, Hubert explains how to make syrups and boisés to adjust the spirit as needed, and he tells when to make those adjustments and how. He also offers his experience with nontraditional aging methods, such as “kinetic aging” where barrels are tethered to the ocean floor and left to sway with the sea currents. Hubert is not a fan of shortcuts, and he explains the pitfalls of several accelerated and artificial aging techniques in Chapter 22. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
He advises distillers to think as long-term as they can afford to when designing their aging programs. “Nothing has yet replaced time and traditional methods of aging,” he shares, “give time to time.” Though he still visits and owns share in the Germain-Robin Distillery, he works full time as a consultant and blender now and loves it. Utilizing that experience, this book walks you through his techniques and explains why he does what he does. He has a deep respect for traditional maturation and blending techniques, and he shares why deviating from those rules can result in u n d e s i r e d outcomes, and how following them can add more tools to your blending toolbox. That, he says, is a lot of fun. “By blending d i f f e r e n t components you are creating new components, so something very strange happens sometimes,” he explains, “which makes it very exciting and you — Hubert Germain-Robin learn always something, I mean always. Until my last day I will learn something from distillation or aging, for sure.” The book is not a complete volume on any of the subjects covered and it does not pretend to be. Instead, Hubert covers the aspects that he feels are most important regarding barrels, proofing, evaluation, etc. If a distiller wants to learn more about oak, for example, this book gives a detailed overview of a distiller’s primary oak concerns and from there they will know how to explore oak more thoroughly. On the other hand, his short chapter on Torula and other molds that occur in barrel-aging cellars will likely answer all the questions a distiller will ever have about the mold in their cellar. “The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience” is a valuable resource for distillers. This is the next best thing to hiring an expert blender and it can help you take your blending and aging program to the next level.
“By blending different components you are creating new components, so something very strange happens sometimes. Which makes it very exciting and you learn always something, I mean always. Until my last day I will learn something from distillation or aging, for sure.”
Hubert Germain-Robin is an author, distiller, blender, and full-time consultant based in Mendocino County, CA. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
A RT E R R A F F WRITTEN BY C
The goal of tastings is simply to get the product into the hands of your audience 108
o the untrained eye it looks like distillers are just having fun, but as you know distilling requires a massive amount of hard work. Any edge you can gain against your competition is well worth the effort, but that’s easier said than done since many brands have large budgets and marketing departments. Fortunately, with a little time management and networking we can distinguish our products and be cost effective by mastering the art of self-promotion. One of the most effective avenues of selfpromotion is the in-store tasting. With in-store tastings, the opportunity to get a sample to the mouth of a target consumer with the ability for them to purchase the product immediately is priceless. The fact that they are in the store already is exactly what makes them your target consumer. This is your chance to make an impression with your name recognition, branding, and product tasting. But can you sell in-store? Every state and sometimes even counties have different laws regarding this. I can only speak to California law and more specifically License Type 86: Instructional Tasting. There are some funny regulations to this so I won’t get into all the details, but I will mention some to show what kind of regulations you might have to deal with.
In California, the liquor store has to obtain the Type 86 license. The area in which the tasting is held has to be roped off from general public and store employees are not allowed to enter. The tasting must be held by the manufacturer and they have to check IDs. They cannot charge for the tasting, the customer cannot leave the roped area with the tasting, and you are limited to three quarter-ounce pours. The store may and probably will have their own stipulations, too. Be sure to abide by them, keep your area clean, and do not bring too many things that might get in the way of other displays, such as large signs.
THROWING YOUR PITCH When it comes to the pitch just remember most consumers are well versed in the arena of people trying to hand them things in hopes of buying their product. I try to approach the pitch by conveying a targeted message. Most of the time that is something along the lines of craft and locale. With my products I almost always start off with, “Hi, I’m a local distillery right here in San Francisco.” That usually cuts through their ambivalence of trying to pass by without being harassed. Then I go through the usual, “I’m craft,” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
and so forth. You want to get the name of your product out and recognizable. Education in a short amount of time is key and it’s hard, but find ways to get your point across without wasting their time. Remember they are there to shop.
PREPARATION The goal of tastings is to get your product into the hands of your audience. This seems easy enough, but there are two oftenignored aspects of tastings that are critical to success: insurance and promotional materials. When it comes to in-store tastings some stores have some weird ideas of what’s needed. One major chain requires that your car be listed on your business insurance policy for when you are transporting liquor and yourself to the premises for the tasting. Make sure you get a requirement sheet from the store far in advance so you can prepare. Some stores provide tasting cups, but take nothing for granted. Keep a bin in your vehicle with anything you might need: tasting cups you like, multiple signs of different sizes, product, promotional materials, business cards, measured pour cups, paper towels, an easel for a sign, spit bucket, duct tape and a staple gun. These are, for the most part, essential. I cannot stand it when I see other vendors show up to events unprepared. If you make the product with care, show it in your preparation! I use one-ounce soufflé cups from Smart & Final, so I bring my own in case the store-provided ones are too big or ugly. Also, make sure you have clean, measured pour cups, as most tastings are limited to a certain quantity like in California where it is a quarter-ounce. Some places might allow you to add things to your product. I cannot comment on whether or not you should, but you may decide a cocktail presentation might help your sales. All I can say is in my early days, and up until recently, I used to make cocktails for regular spirit tasting shows. People loved them but sometimes people think the cocktail you just served them is the same thing that is in the bottle and you do not want to confuse the public. In some states you will not be able to add anything to your sample, not even water. In most cases this probably will not matter but since I make true traditional French absinthe, not being able to add water to 136-proof alcohol is not going to go over well with regular supermarket shoppers! Regarding promotional materials I like postcards. Make sure you have enough on hand, and I prefer to only display the product I am tasting that day. I do keep postcards of my other products under the table if anyone is interested when I am giving my pitch. Some producers seem to have six postcards for each product, but I think you should keep it simple. I like having a decent description of my distillery, info about the product and sometimes a cocktail recipe. Just remember to keep it short and sweet. In-store tastings are a premium opportunity to show the public the passion you have for your product. Put on a smile and sell! Carter Raff is owner and master distiller of Raff Distillerie in San Francisco, CA. Visit www.raffdistillerie.com for more information. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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