Artisan Spirit: Fall 2016

Page 1

FALL 2016




BRAND AMBASSADORS who, when and how

THE wonders OF WOOD






What’s going on, state-by-state and province-by-province

From the American Craft Spirits Association

From strength to flavor, Dr. Paul Hughes tells why spirit and wood are best buds




ADI @ TOTC, slow distillation, and more

MOVING 27 Sometimes it needs to happen in a hurry


Boost your sales and save your sanity by hiring the right one


31 35

The industry’s questions are answered


Quality is the best marketing


THE AMERICAN SINGLE MALT WHISKEY COMMISSION 39 The effort to define a new category of American whiskey

Shifts in quality, price, and availability

THE CHEMISTRY OF COMMON FLAVOR COMPONENTS 95 Spirit aromas and flavors change — learn what to expect



of Los Angeles, California



Dented Brick Distillery of Salt Lake City, Utah



Money-saving tips on water use, from faucet to drain



Turning a major expense into a money-saving green solution


REACHING ACROSS THE AISLE: WHAT DISTILLERS CAN LEARN FROM BREWERS 104 Brewers-turned-distillers offer their advice



Because they're influencing consumers



Build it yourself

TAMING THE WILD YEAST 57 A conversation with Todd Leopold



Oak demand may be outpacing supply


Water-based sprinkler systems



Talk with your customers, don’t shout at them

from the COVER


An illustrated guide to making your own copper still




(and tips for avoiding them)


Brand Buzz with David Schuemann



An exploration of juniper berry chemistry, location, and how distillers can utilize it in their gin-making





Dented Brick Distillery in Salt Lake City, Utah. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen. See their story on page 100.


Issue 16 /// Fall 2016 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen ASSISTANT EDITOR & SENIOR WRITER Chris Lozier CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS Amber G. Christensen-Smith

Steven Seim


Shawn Bergeron John Cox Brian B. DeFoe Carrie Dow Andrew Faulkner Harry Haller Paul Hughes, Ph.D. Aaron Knoll Margie A.S. Lehrman

Ryan Malkin John McKee John Paradiso Carter Raff Jeanne Runkle David Schuemann Gabe Toth Amber Weygandt, B.Sc.

ILLUSTRATORS Francesca Cosanti Max Makowski

Ashley Monroe

PHOTOGRAPHERS Atima Bennett Amanda Joy Christensen Carrie Dow

Carter Raff Glenn Wensloff

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.

General Inquiries (509) 944-5919 Advertising (509) 991-8112 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.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE DISTILLING INDUSTRY NEEDS MOST? Some of our sponsors answer our latest burning question...







Well, isn’t it obvious … get more people drinking! But, aside from that extremely obvious answer, it’s vital to keep encouraging support from consumers to buy craft spirits. Whether it be local bars and restaurants or your neighborhood liquor store, I feel encouraging these businesses to actively push spirits from area craft distilleries is important for the continued growth. — Jake Lipscomb, Custom Metal Craft



Community is a cornerstone of any budding industry, which in turn requires innovation to grow. In craft distilling this is particularly salient because we are not developing a reality that you can create by wearing special glasses, but by drinking from the glass itself. We are part of a historical tradition, yet we are innovators in product and process. A strong community encourages creativity while preserving quality and reputation. Relationships are at the heart of that community spirit. BSG Distilling means quality and reputation; our relationships create community. — Jake Keeler, BSG



Consistency and diversity: Consistency in terms of supply of raw materials from vendors and consistent support and education from within the industry. Tying right into diversity, at a time when there are so many new craft distillers—and therefore more glutton in the market and on the shelves—I think the market is ready (and primed) for a brand new spirit(s), both in the white and brown spirit realm. Most of all, consistency in unity in the industry, a system designed to help/promote everyone, to create freedom of creativity. — Heidi Korb, Black Swan Cooperage, LLC

The distilling industry needs the same thing that my grandmother needs when taking pictures during the holidays: focus. I’m a little surprised the industry is still in the growing argument over what is “craft,” when the real question is, “Who cares about what ‘craft’ is?” I think that most of the people who care about the definition of “craft” are all in the industry in one way or another, whereas the vast majority of consumers care very little, if at all. I think what we should be focusing on, other than how to educate a huge number of consumers (to care) about the term craft, is working with policy makers to give distilleries the same latitude with taxes, sales opportunities, and ease of opening as breweries and wineries. We’re so busy looking at a shiny object that we don’t realize that we’re not being given the same opportunities as our cousins in the alcohol world. It’s time we stop focusing on what the chimney cap should look like when we’ve got a questionable foundation beneath us. — Colin Blake, Moonshine University D LE







Differentiation in an increasingly crowded premium marketplace is one of the most important issues facing distillers today. As more and more spirits enter the high-end space, distillers need to make sure their products stand out on shelves, whether in stores or behind a bar. Since the package is typically a consumer’s first — and last — point of contact with a product, it needs to make an impression. The package needs to reflect the quality and spirit of the product it holds. Of course, we think glass offers endless possibilities for differentiation. — Brian Brandstatter, Owens-Illinois, Inc. Tax parity is the greatest need facing the distilling industry today. Also important are distribution channels. Distribution starts with education and customer services on the supplier side and is instrumental in helping the distiller get the product packaged and ready to take to market. It is the supplier’s job to educate the distiller on the best possible solutions available to meet their needs. — Leah Hutchinson, Tapi



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 Magazine 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 Magazine, 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 Magazine.









A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Safety first. Well I spent about 45 minutes trying to find a pithy safetyrelated catch phrase online, but most just involved severed-finger puns, or cracks about spouses spending your life insurance payout. This issue of Artisan Spirit Magazine doesn’t specifically revolve around safety, but several of the articles included demand a special recognition of the subject. The topic of DIY still fabrication is covered in two instances within these pages (copper on page 82 and stainless on page 108), and while each article has its own disclaimer, safety is about redundancy. The goal of these articles is to inform and shine a light on still construction and mechanics, but safe stills take skills to build, and there is a reason many professional still fabrication companies have impressive production wait times. Don’t be tempted to take a shortcut with your safety or that of your employees. These articles are NOT an endorsement for building your own stills or operating a still illegally without proper federal and state licensing. Aside from still building, this issue is filled with advice, research and stories from experts in every corner of our industry. Have you ever thought about using local juniper in your gin? Page 66. Do you need to move in a hurry? Page 27. Ever wondered if you could learn a few things from brewers? Page 104. You’re not alone, and inside you’ll find a lot of help from the talented, friendly people we’re so lucky to share this industry with.

Brian Christensen

(509) 944-5919 PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223


Magazine’s rtisan Spirit s, ort” lative effort Guild Rep ation, legis “Quarterly rm fo in s, new n aimed s to share rring colum state guild r fo e c is a reoccu la p is the distilling level. This the entire te-by-state a st ng affairs. at keeping a n o te of distilli a formed st in l d ra n e a n d e eg pdate dated on th industry u munity up m o c e th p d kee events, an


COLORADO COLORADO DISTILLERS GUILD Colorado distillers are hard at it working through the peak summer season. Millions of tourists are flocking to Colorado right now and local spirits are on a lot of their minds. As the awareness of small local distilleries grows, more and more people are adding a WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

distillery visit to their vacation plans. For one of the country’s top tourist destinations, that equals a lot of visitors in our tasting rooms and at our retail partners. With that in mind the Colorado Distillers Guild continues to work with the Colorado tourism office to raise awareness of our members and increase traffic to their tasting rooms. We are also focused on our upcoming meeting and BOD election October 21-23 in Breckenridge; we will be announcing a

call for nominations at the end of August. The Board is also continuing to plan for a Spring 2017 consumer tasting event that should be a lot of fun and shine a bright light on the excellent spirits that our members are making. Cheers, P.T. Wood President Colorado Distillers Guild Wood's High Mountain Distillery, LLC


CONNECTICUT CONNECTICUT SPIRITS GUILD Spirits makers in the great state of Connecticut have come together and are creating the CT Spirits Trail and the CT Spirits Guild. The Trail will officially launch this Fall with about a dozen makers opening up their production facilities and tasting rooms to the public. The Guild will work together to represent its side of legislative issues and will mesh together with an already-established CT Small Brand Council.

DELAWARE DELAWARE WINERIES ASSOCIATION The Delaware Wineries Association (DWA) had a very active legislative season, with a mix of wins and losses. HB 339, signed into law on June 9th, allows craft distilleries to use alcohol not produced on-site in cocktails served at the distillery. HB 227, passed on June 30th, aligns Delaware law with federal law as it relates to meaderies and cideries.

FLORIDA FLORIDA CRAFT DISTILLERS GUILD The Sunshine State’s craft distilling industry has been busy over the past quarter with additional distilleries looking to open by 2017. Currently, there are more than 40 licensed distillers in the state. A few distilleries including, Florida Cane Distillery and Twisted Sun Rum Company, are making the move from remote locales to Ybor City in Tampa to gain better public access and take advantage of the state’s booming tourism


CT has a rich history in spirits-making, most notably by legacy distiller Heublein Spirits Company of Hartford, which was founded in 1875 and over its 100 years became one of the world’s leading spirits companies. CT’s current craft distillers have recently won numerous medals at various spirits competitions. The Guild’s officers are president Tom Dubay of Hartford Flavor Company, vice president Jack Baker of Litchfield Distillers, secretary Dave Rossi of Waypoint Spirits, and treasurer Rich Gummoe of CT Valley Distillery.

Initial Trail and Guild members are: Asylum Distillery, Connecticut Valley Distillery, Hartford Flavor Company, Hickory Ledges Distillery, John Fitch Distilling, Litchfield Distillers, Maple Lane Spirits, Mine Hill Distillery, Onyx Spirits, Waypoint Spirits, and Westford Hill Distillers. We are excited here in CT to get underway with our Trail and Guild and look forward to connecting with and helping our peers across the U.S.! Cheers, Tom Dubay

Previously defined as breweries, meaderies and cideries are now defined as wineries for license and tax purposes. HB 228, defeated during the closing hours of the legislative season, sought to allow craft distilleries, farm wineries, and craft breweries the ability to pour samples and sell their products for off-site consumption at farmers markets and agricultural themed events. The bill easily passed the House but met resistance in the Senate from retailers who felt it would impact their sales negatively. An amendment, SA1, was added to alleviate concern. In the 11th

hour, an additional amendment was added that further lowered the number of bottles sold, and put a three-year sunset on the bill (requiring retailers to report impact on sales). Working with the craft brewers guild we plan to introduce new legislation next year. If anyone has data on the impact of craft beverage sales at farmers markets please reach out to us.

industry. The Florida Craft Distillers Guild, which has more than a dozen members, is in the process of rehabbing its website and will continue to promote craft distilling within the state. This summer brought two exciting programs to the industry including the A1A Cocktail Trail, sponsored by the Florida Department of Citrus and Passport to Explore A1A’s Wine & Spirits Tour, which features Marlin & Barrel Distillery in Fernandina Beach, St. Augustine Distillery in downtown St. Augustine, and Key West First Legal Rum Distillery in Key West. Both programs encourage participants to travel along A1A

while either enjoying craft cocktails or visiting craft distilleries along the route to have their passports stamped and redeemed for unique branded items such as a coaster set and t-shirt. St. Augustine Distillery released two specialty spirits — a sweet red and sweet white Vermouth Barrel-Aged Gin — as well as its long-awaited Florida Double Cask Bourbon. All-in-all, it’s been a busy few months for Florida distilleries with a bright future ahead.

CEO and Wild Life Manager Hartford Flavor Company

Ron Gomes, Ph.D. “Modern Alchemist” Founding Partner Painted Stave Distilling

Kara Pound Director of Communications St. Augustine Distillery


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MAINE MAINE DISTILLER’S GUILD The Maine Distiller’s Guild, MeDG, had a busy and productive first half of 2016 with new legislation and guild marketing initiatives making great progress. Maine made immense headway this year on a problem that had plagued distillers: transportation. Maine distillers were required to transport their finished spirits to the state warehouse and back before they could sell them, even if the spirits were not going into the state distribution system. This is a huge expense for distilleries that are located far from the warehouse and a logistics nightmare, especially during the

NORTH CAROLINA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION OF NORTH CAROLINA Riding the momentum created by last year’s successful lobbying effort to sell one bottle directly to consumers at the distillery, the Distillers Association of North Carolina (DANC) continues to grow, prosper and lay the groundwork for a successful microdistilling industry. The impact of the original distillery sales bill is indisputable: Distilleries’ in-house sales are booming while sales of NC crafted products are noticeably up in the NC ABC system. In a reasonable world this would make moot the NC ABC system’s fears that


Maryland distilleries have begun attending farmers markets under a new law that allows samples and sales of bottles!

Jaime Windon President | Maryland Distillers Guild Owner/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Company

busy months, for everyone. Spearheaded by Luke Davidson of Maine Craft Distilling and lobbyist Dan Riley, LD 1687 was passed (signed into law as PL 2015, chapter 440). This revenue-neutral bill was supported by BABLO, Maine’s liquor control department, and by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee (which handles alcohol related legislation). August 2016 is the first month Maine distillers are not required to transport all spirits to the state warehouse before selling, instead only the spirits that are heading for distribution to Maine liquor stores. MeDG president Ian Michaud of Liquid Riot Bottling Company organized the creation of the Maine Distillery Trail guide. Currently, MeDG has 12 distilleries located

around the state. The trail guide lists distillery locations and directs interested customers to the MeDG website and individual distillery websites for additional information. In conjunction with the trail, Scott Galbiati of The Northern Maine Distilling Company created a MeDG website that coordinates with the trail guide by providing an interactive map. Those interested can pick up a Maine Distillery trail guide at participating distilleries or contact us through the MeDG website MeDG is looking forward to 2017 as craft distilling in Maine continues to grow and prosper. Keith and Constance Bodine

distilleries’ sales will cannibalize ABC system sales. Unfortunately, as we all know this is not a reasonable world and the ABC system still insists that increased distillery sales will harm the system. However, despite not actively lobbying for legislative change during this year’s “short” session, DANC was encouraged that expanding distillery sales to one bottle of each category made it through both houses and was part of the omnibus Regulatory Reform Bill. Unfortunately, the Regulatory Reform Bill was left on the table when both houses unexpectedly ended the session due to an unrelated dispute. An unrelated measure allowing North Carolina distilleries to sell directly online to customers out of state almost made it into the Regulatory Reform Bill, as well.

In preparation for active lobbying in 2017, DANC membership approved a distillery sales “check off” where 2 percent of all in-house distillery sales are set-aside for legislative purposes. DANC is bullish about what we can achieve in 2017 including the aforementioned legislation as well as the creation of a NC Spirits Month. DANC has also benefitted from its partnership with NC Department of Agriculture, which has brought a multitude of international trade delegations through NC. DANC currently has over 30 members, with 50 distilleries expected to come online within the next six months.

This past summer the New York State Distillers Guild was honored to participate in the 2016 National Democratic Convention. New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo

hosted the New York State Party Fair on Wednesday July 27th at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. The event focused on New York state food and farm products, while

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Scott Maitland President- DANC (919) 280-5910


having interactive stations for all event goers. The event was open to NYS delegates and elected officials, though there were many elected officials present from other states as well. This DNC event was a great opportunity to keep our industry in the minds of the NYS elected legislators, and to convince those with influence to vocalize their support for the nationwide FET reduction efforts. We received great feedback and appreciate everything that the advocates of our industry do on a state and national level.

The NYSDG will also be joining the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and other producers this year at the New York Farm Day in Washington, DC on September 14th. It is a tasteful showcase of NY beverages and foods to remind officials in Washington that NY is a major farm state. The event is an invitation-only event (senators, representatives, senior staff, administration, etc.) and typically draws 500-600 people. With another round of guild board of directors elections coming this November, we’re excited to see what new opportunities

and ideas we will be presented with in 2017 and beyond. Our next membership meeting will be our large annual two-day meeting in Albany, NY at the end of January. Visit us at or send us your thoughts and industry opinions at


concurrent House approval of amendments. HB 351 will allow the "brewpub" model to be applied to distilleries and increases the production limits for craft distilleries from 10,000 to 100,000 PGs. Many of the Ohio Distilleries are already in the process of adding full tasting areas and/ or restaurants to their operations. The guild will take the next few months to work with the Division of Liquor Control and Jobs Ohio

to create an implementation plan for the bill changes. Lastly, this fall we will hold our second and third statewide guild events focused on advocacy and distillery awareness in Dayton and Cleveland, Ohio.

Committee chairman Kevin Brady, as well as staff members for representatives Kenny Marchant, John Culberson, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Olson, Roger Williams, Lamar Smith, Bill Flores, Ted Poe, and staff for senator Ted Cruz. Although we still have a long way to go, a substantial amount of progress has been achieved during the current Congress, and from our meetings we gained several new co-sponsors and learned that our biggest hurdle to overcome is not specific opposition to the bill, but rather the challenges of the legislative process itself. With widespread and bipartisan support (273 co-sponsors in the House and 47 in the Senate) we may have several tangible opportunities to move the legislation forward before the end of the year. In order to do so, we still need more help. If your representatives have not yet signed on, please contact them — invite them to visit your facility during the August recess, talk to them about the benefits of FET reduction, and ask for their co-sponsorship

and active support of the bill.

OHIO DISTILLERS’ GUILD Summer legislative sessions brought sizable adjustments to Ohio revised code for distillery operations. After our House victory, HB 351 moved to the Senate where some minor amendments were made and eventually passed almost unanimously with a

TEXAS TEXAS DISTILLED SPIRITS ASSOCIATION Texas Distilled Spirits Association (TDSA) is gearing up for another busy Texas legislative session in January 2017. We are prioritizing our legislative agenda to even the playing field and continue to fight for the rights of Texas distillers to make, market and sell their products. FET REDUCTION UPDATE In early June, TDSA members Dan Garrison and Mark Shilling, along with TDSA executive director Carrie Simmons, traveled to Washington, DC to support our industry efforts to lower the federal excise tax on spirits removals. The two-day fly-in was jointly hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council and the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA). While on the hill, the group met with senator Cornyn and House Ways and Means


Cheers! Cory Muscato Vice President—New York State Distillers Guild

Ryan Lang Head Distiller | Owner Middle West Spirits, LLC

BACKGROUND Nearly 36 years ago, Congress enacted legislation to provide a reduced Federal Excise Tax (FET) for small brewers and vintners, and this led to a boom in craft brewing and boutique wineries. Unfortunately, this favorable tax treatment was not extended to small distillers, likely because craft products in our industry did not exist then. In order to advance the continued growth of the craft spirits industry, similar excise tax relief is urgently needed now. For distilled spirits, currently all producers pay a FET of $13.50 on each proof gallon, and this tax is significantly higher than on beer and wine. LEGISLATION The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, S. 1562 and H.R. 2903, is designed to reduce the tax burden from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 proof gallons a small DSP




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removes from bond (annually). This limited tax savings will help distillers expand capacity and grow their business, generating much needed economic development. The compromise is projected to create over 20,000 new jobs nationally and $740 million in new wages for the craft beverage and related industries. Ironically, the present tax burden means that government tax

collections usually exceed the profits that a distiller earns. S. 1562 was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO). The bill now has 47 cosponsors in the Senate. In the House, H.R. 2903, introduced by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN), has 273 co-sponsors and

would reduce the FET for craft spirits, beer and wine. Carrie Simmons, Executive Director Texas Distilled Spirits Association

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Curating a communal environment that highlights local business and creates an interactive experience is paying great dividends for many distilleries.


he spirits industry continues to surge in growth as more distilleries open and consume a larger share of the beverage market. Craft spirits are mirroring the boom of craft beer, as local, small-batch beverages have become part of the cultural focus. This shift toward craft is not just the result of more distilleries or more products. It is the effect of quality: both quality spirits and quality consumer interactions. Curating a communal environment that highlights local business and creates an interactive experience is paying great dividends for many distilleries. In most states, consumers now have the option to visit a distillery, sample their beverages, and meet the people behind the drink. Recently, Harry Schumacher of All About Beer Magazine wrote an article entitled “The Rise of Taprooms,” highlighting some of the benefits of opening a taproom. Schumacher notes, “With shelves getting crowded and it becoming harder to sell beer outside of your community, the ‘taproom first, packaging brewery later’ model seems to be the one to adopt.” “Spirits” and “distillery” can replace “beer“ and “brewery” and the sentiment still rings true. However, for many distillers, opening a tasting room isn’t just a reaction to competition, it is a positive effort to connect with local consumers and showcase products.


A distillery’s tasting room is an effective space for distillers to promote their brand and bring a community around their products. With samples, tours, and events, distillers manage to bring customers behind the scenes and involve them more intimately in the process than if they bought their spirits at a liquor store. P.T. Wood, co-owner of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, CO, explained that operating a tasting room was a key part of his initial business plan. He noted that about 50 percent of the distillery’s revenue is made there. (That supports the ACSA/Park Street/IWSR preliminary Economic Data Study (March 2016) which reports over 50 percent of the domestic business comes from either direct sales at the facility or other home state business.) Wood also highlighted the ability to connect with other neighborhood businesses: “We’ve partnered with some restaurants so when someone has to wait for a seat at a restaurant, they can come to the tasting room with a buzzer and order some drinks.” Wood shared that he wanted to construct a place where conversations were driven by the cocktails and the atmosphere, saying, “We don’t have many televisions but we have big communal seating areas.” When guests enter the tasting room, the space encourages them to chat with other customers and ask the servers questions.

The tasting room invites curiosity. Similarly, Stephen Corrigan, Assistant Distiller and Tasting Room Manager at One Eight Distilling in Washington, DC, stressed the importance of “cultivating fun.” The One Eight Distilling tasting room is only open on Saturdays, so Corrigan explained that it is important to make the most of that one day of business. To that end, he highlighted some partnerships and events such as recently teaming up with Undone Chocolates for a fun, exciting evening. The idea of “making do with what you have” seems to be an important part of the tasting room culture. Both Wood and Corrigan cautioned against removing the authenticity of the distillery space. Wood’s High Mountain Distillery is located in what used to be an auto body shop and One Eight Distillery calls a former electrical supply factory home. Both spaces had retail fronts which eventually became the beautiful tasting rooms customers enjoy today. Corrigan commented on One Eight’s role as potential historians: “We are trying to preserve...the building. We made changes to properly run a distillery but the integrity of the building is intact.” Even the bathroom fixtures are original, with cleaned pipes as door handles. The One Eight tasting room has an unmistakable industrial aesthetic with metal beams and concrete floors, as well as some modern cosmetic


changes, including appropriate lighting, rustic tables, and a long concrete bar. Nicole Austin, the master blender at Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY, echoes these sentiments. The building that houses Kings County Distillery, located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, used to be the paymaster building. Kings County Distillery, as New York’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, maintains its tradition while updating for the times. The first tasting room is simple and uncluttered, featuring old distilled experiments, similar to a scientist’s laboratory. Though there’s a method to the mad science, customers get a peek behind the mind that produces Kings County’s award-winning spirits. “It’s really the only way to communicate authenticity,” said Austin regarding the original tasting room. Recently, Kings County expanded into another building in the navy yard to build out a cocktailspecific tasting room. Austin elaborated, “It’s important to plan for growth. When building your tasting room, leave space to expand.” Austin and her team were lucky


to make use of an available building about 100 feet away. The Wood’s High Mountain tasting room also makes use of the former space with exposed brick and concrete floors, though the tasting room team has added some couches, artwork, and a hanging wooden kayak. The Wood’s High Mountain tasting room has a more lived-in feel, while One Eight’s is a little sleeker, but they achieve very similar things. The tasting rooms highlight the distillery’s brand, providing an excellent platform for the distillery’s product. Moreover, it becomes an excellent space to host other businesses and collaborate with other craft producers. Wood hosts neighborhood events and feels that the space exudes a welcoming warmth, while Corrigan hosts politicians and DC community members. The importance of showcasing these tasting rooms, and the communities they directly impact, with our legislators cannot be overlooked. These visits powerfully demonstrate how our craft distilleries create a sense of community involvement,

promote local tourism, and support local job growth. Recently, former ACSA president and co-owner/CEO of House Spirits, Tom Mooney, hosted Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the sponsor of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 (the bill to reduce the federal excise tax from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon removed from bond), in Portland, OR. Senator Wyden continues to champion the craft distillers’ fight against the excessive excise tax, recognizing that a tax cost savings could help distillers fund an expansion or build a tasting room to showcase products. A tasting room highlights your brand and tells your story. It creates warmth, fun, excitement, and promotes your delicious craft spirits. So what does your tasting room reveal? Send pics to

Margie A.S. Lehrman is Executive Director of American Craft Spirits Association. Visit for more information on ACSA and to join.



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ADI @ TOTC The American Distilling Institute (ADI) brought the best spirits from this year’s Judging of Craft Spirits in front of hundreds of bartenders at Tales of the Cocktail 2016. ADI partnered with The Liquid Projects to host two tastings, where 30 craft distilleries poured at The Cream of the Craft Crop and The Taste of Gold, introducing their spirits to more than 800 bartenders and influential people in the industry. The tastings publicized the results of the ADI Judging of Craft Spirits and educated decision makers about Certified Craft Spirits™, a program which lists more than 2,117 spirits on “With the force behind craft distillers and over 20,000 attendees, arranging small, concentrated tastings at Tales of the Cocktail is great exposure for our distillers,” said Jennifer Massolo of The Liquid Projects. “The most common feedback I received from guests was, ‘I’ve never heard of this distillery and they are making very good product.’ That makes us all happy!” Joseph Myer, president of Myer Farm Distillers, sampled his estate-grown whiskeys at The Taste of Gold event. Myer said, “It was very exciting to see and taste the high quality level of American craft spirits being made today. The hundreds of visitors whom we had the pleasure of meeting and pouring for renewed our excitement about the level of knowledge and passion of today’s spirit consumers.”


SLOW DISTILLATION The Slow Distillation and Maturation Movement, which launched at the ADI Conference in April, has found a home on the ADI Forums. Please join us to learn about how we can raise the quality of craft spirits and create new standards that will work toward greater truth in labeling. Inspired by master distiller and blender Hubert Germain-Robin, to protect craft spirits against becoming a commodity, the Slow Distillation and Maturation Movement looks to increase the value of our spirits. Distillers face endless possibilities and they represent an opportunity for us to lead the world by offering experience, new technology and a savoir-faire. As the Slow Food Movement has demonstrated, the notion of terroir is essential to the elaboration of artisan spirits. “We, the craft distillers, have the power to do it, but only if we work together with … all the actors of the industry and the government,” said Germain-Robin. “If we follow the right methods of production recognized to be the best, if we aspire to the search of perfection, which is the goal and dream of any artist, we can imagine the future for the next generations.” Take part in the conversation on the ADI Forum:

APPLE BRANDY WORKSHOP A Hands-On Apple Brandy Distilling Workshop with Hubert Germain-Robin will be held October 16-21, 2016 at Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, NY. Learn to combine traditional techniques with New World fruit to create new and interesting flavor profiles. This week-long advanced class offers a rare opportunity to study with the creator of world-renowned Germain-Robin brandies and a true master of spirits production. Germain-Robin is the author of “Traditional Distillation: Art & Passion” and his new book, "The Maturation of Distilled Spirits: Vision & Patience" promises to revolutionize craft spirits maturation in America. For more information, contact or go to:

NOW PLAYING IN LONDON The Fourth Annual Craft Distilling Expo will be October 5-6 in London. For more information, go to:

SAVE THE DATE The 2017 Craft Spirits Conference will be April 3-6, in Baltimore, MD.

Andrew Faulkner is vice president of American Distilling Institute. Visit for more information. 25



Then the aha moment kicked in and we thought, why not “stage” o, let’s move to the Kelley,” was the answer my wife and our way into the Kelley by taking over what we need now and business partner Courtney and I came to sitting in our banker’s building out the full project later. office. Forward in time now, three weeks to today, and contractors To add some clarity to that statement, we need to jump back in and architects are transforming 30,000 square feet of warehouse time. You see, our landlord at our second DSP had walked into our into our new space, all to be completed in another three weeks. offices the day before and said they were going to claim bankruptcy and sell off the assets of the campus in which we were located. To say the least, Courtney and I were not impressed. To further clarify, we need to back up about two years. We’re seriously proud of our hometown Butte, America, the Richest Hill on Earth. The copper our community mined and refined literally lit the world, and the largest of the mines to ever operate was the Kelley Mine. Two years prior, we decided to look pretty seriously at taking over the Kelley and its abandoned mine yard and adaptively reuse it by turning it into the largest distillery west of the Mississippi. We went through an exhaustive effort called a Preliminary Engineering and Architectural Report (PER/PAR) and found that the site could run a distillery operating four 40,000-gallon fermenters, grain management facilities, a wastewater treatment plant, tourism and restaurant space, barrel storage, packaging facilities, and space for us to run our still manufacturing business … and it came alongside a price tag of $20-plus million dollars. We needed to save some money. So our landlord says that a Chapter 7 is coming and Courtney and I have a decision to make. Jokingly, we’ve said for years that we only have one more big distillery project in our marriage, so whatever we decide to do we knew that this would be the final home of Headframe Spirits. We knew we could not do the entire Kelley project since we had not saved enough money yet. So we looked all over town at every building we could think of to make sure we weren’t missing out on an option for the move. Then, sitting with our banker in his office (your banker should know more about your business than you do and you should be able to walk in and ask their opinion at any time — if you can’t do this, get a new banker), he looked at us and said, “What FUTURE MANUFACTURING BAY BEING PREPPED FOR CEMENT POUR. about your Kelley project of a few years ago?” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Concrete, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, carpentry, and upgrades to suit our needs — all completed in six weeks. It’s been a lift, but the end is in sight. We’ve worked with the TTB, thanks to a tip from Nicole Austin of Kings County Distillery (Brooklyn, NY), on getting rapid approval to move our DSP, including our packaged goods. This process, at first a big unknown and scary variable, has turned out to be a simple and well-thought-out procedure provided by TTB. Here’s what we did:

»» »» »» »» »» »»


Amend our F5110.41, Registration of a Distilled Spirits Plant. Fill out a Change in Bond form 5000.18 and provide a revised bond. Revised 5000.29, Environmental Statement. Revised 5000.30, Water Quality Statement. Provide a copy of the new lease or land ownership statement. Provide a letter requesting the new bond cover both facilities for 60 days AND allow the movement of packaged goods between the facilities.

Continuing our theme of timeline jumping, shift forward two years and we might be hitting go on the rest of the project and


building the largest distillery west of the Mississippi. But until then we’re just going to concentrate on moving hundreds of barrels, a 5000-gallon tank farm, a 2000-nine-liter-case-per-day packaging room, a still manufacturing business, 60,000-plus empty bottles, a badass administrative team, and the random detritus of any distillery to our new facility. In the process we hope to help revitalize a core piece of our Uptown business district and keep our marriage sane. I’m pretty sure we’re going to pull it off.

John McKee, along with his wife Courtney, are the owners of Headframe Spirits in Butte, MT. John learned all he knew about moving by watching Richard Pryor’s "Moving," which is saying a lot considering John’s love for Swedish sports cars. For more info, email





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When consumers are choosing a spirit from the shelf or from a bar or restaurant back bar, they are influenced both by analytical and aesthetic cues provided by the packaging and its hierarchy.


ere’s what you need to know about this delicate balance to influence consumers to choose your product over your competitor’s.

TYPICAL HIERARCHY In very general terms a typical label hierarchy from most prominent to the least prominent is as follows:


Brand name.


Product type/flavor (bourbon, gin, vodka, etc.).


Sourcing (the source of grains, botanicals, where the distillery is located, etc.).


Batch number, bottle number, production level.


Endorsements, qualifiers, distiller artifacts (awards, distiller’s signature, handwritten information on the bottle, etc.).


Alcohol percentage, volume and other legal mandatories (legal information required by the country where it is sold).

HOW PRODUCT TYPE AND SALES CHANNEL SHIFTS HIERARCHY When designing your label, consider the various channels in which the product will be sold. For instance, label information for WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

spirits brands that are sold on-premise should be much larger so that it can be easily read by consumers from a distance as they scan the back bar for a choice. The brand name should always be the first read on a spirits package and it needs to be easy to read from a distance. There seems to be a strange design trend emerging where the product type, such as vodka, overshadows the brand name, sometimes to where the brand name is almost hidden. This implies a sort of generic offering at best, but in my eyes it is quite dangerous because in most cases the product type provides no brand equity— anyone that makes a vodka can say vodka on their label. One case where product type and another piece of information may share an equal or similar hierarchy is in the case of flavored products. For example, in order for consumers and bartenders to easily identify what they are looking for, flavored vodkas, liqueurs, etc. may be labeled so that bartenders can easily find the correct flavor to make a pomegranate martini and consumers can quickly call out their favorite cinnamon shooter.


make sure your brand name stands out.


make the consumer search for your brand name because it is too small, in an unlikely place or hidden within a camouflaging design.


Captivating Capsules Top off your


use color, boldness and scale to differentiate hierarchy instead of, or in addition to, location on your packaging.

spirit package

DON'T assume because something is at the top of a label it is highest in the hierarchy. Hierarchy is a visual balance not a top-of-label-to-bottom-of-label exercise. If a piece of information is the boldest item on the label, but located in the middle of the label, the consumer’s eye will go there first rather than to the top of the label, thus it is first in the hierarchy.

with a capsule worthy of your brand


consider whether a fanciful or sub-brand name should be the highest in the hierarchy rather than your brand name.


assume your brand name has to be the highest in the hierarchy. You may want your sub-brand name larger and endorsed by your brand name. This is a particularly useful strategy for less expensive tiers or portfolio offerings that are transitioning to the sub-brand name and away from a connection to the primary brand. It is also crucial in the case of sub-brand or fanciful names that have garnered a following by consumers who have adopted the sub-brand name as their “call.”


Custom color, embossing, stamping and exclusive easy-to-open tear tab

make the type of alcohol descriptor easily scannable on the packaging. Many times it helps to reinforce this information with corresponding flavor cues including color to assist the consumer in discerning the product’s type or flavor profile.

DON'T Ramondin USA Napa CA

assume that since it will be shelved by product type that consumers will easily understand what the product is without strong messaging.



David Schuemann is the owner and creative director of CF Napa Brand Design. For more info, visit or call (707) 265-1891.







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 – Anne-Sophie Whitehead – 973-698-4861 –





et’s keep this going! Thank you to all that submitted questions. Please send future questions to 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.


ANSWER: In typical lawyerly fashion, the answer here is it depends. The Copyright Act, among other things, provides the copyright owner the exclusive right to “perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.” Like most rules, there are exceptions. Here, the “homestyle exemption” may apply to some tasting rooms. Generally, the homestyle exemption means you may play the music as you would in your own home from a


publicly broadcasted source (e.g. radio) without a license. There are various factors to consider when making this analysis, including, for instance, the source of the music (i.e. radio or satellite versus a CD); the size of the space (i.e. there are additional restrictions for spaces above 3,750 sq. ft.); and whether you’re charging to listen to the music (i.e. a listening party versus background music). If the homestyle exemption doesn’t apply to you, purchasing a license from ASCAP or BMI is nothing compared to the process you went through to obtain your distillery license. The typical cost for a small bar is between $500 and $1,000 and can be done online. Check with a copyright lawyer to analyze your specific scenario.



ANSWER: While still not required by the TTB, recently the Beer Institute, a trade group consisting of some of the beer industry’s biggest names, announced its decision to “encourage” its members to display nutritional information on their labels, including calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat per serving size. On the spirits side some suppliers are already voluntarily providing this information online for all products, but remember it’s required for some. If a product makes specific claims such as “low cal,” “low carb,” or “skinny,” there are mandatory labeling requirements related to those claims, in addition to the other TTB mandatory information such as contents, abv, class and type. The 2013-2 TTB Ruling notes that calorie or carbohydrate representations on product labels would be considered misleading without a statement of average analysis noting the number of calories, grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat contained in the product based on a single serving. A “serving” is 1.5 oz of distilled spirits above 24 percent abv. If you plan to release a product with such a claim, be sure to read the advisory and the relevant rules before filing for your COLA.




First, check to see whether all of the ingredients are considered Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. TTB checks your ingredient list for GRAS compliance when you submit your formula for approval. If all of your ingredients are on the GRAS list, you’ll want to be sure your ingredients are in quantities permissible under TTB standards. If it’s a new or novel product on the GRAS list, laboratory testing may still be required before TTB approves the formula or label. The TTB provides a variety of tools online to assist; check out this chart for starters: pre-cola_eval_spirits.pdf. If your product is particularly unique and contains ingredients not on the GRAS list, you’ll want to consider whether you’d like to submit a GRAS notice to the FDA, which is basically the process of proving why your ingredients are safe for human consumption. Even then it isn’t a guarantee that TTB will grant approval so you’ll want to have some preliminary conversations with TTB before moving forward. The first step is to decide whether the ingredient is so novel that it’s worth the time and expense of moving forward. Remember, marijuana is still illegal federally so cannabis is a non-starter. Ryan Malkin is principal attorney at Malkin Law, P.A., a law firm serving the alcohol beverage industry. For more info, visit 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.




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the the

American Single Malt Whiskey Commission Wri ti tt teenn bbyy CChhr ri si s LLoozzi ei er r Wr


that is stifling the growth of a category hether it comes from Scotland, that could provide much interest and Japan, Ireland or elsewhere, innovation. Americans love single malt whiskey. Currently the American single malt In fact DISCUS reports that sales whiskey category does not even exist. volumes for single malt Scotch in the Instead it falls in with every other malt U.S. have grown by 182 percent since whiskey produced in the U.S. under 2002, with a 13 percent increase just ES T D 2016 “malt whisky” as defined in the TTB’s in 2015. CFR in Title 27, Chapter I, Subchapter But what do people think about A, Part 5, Subpart C, Section 5.22 (b) American single malt whiskeys? (1)(i): “Bourbon whisky”, “rye whisky”, That question has a lot of answers AMERICAN “wheat whisky”, “malt whisky”, or “rye — too many, in fact, for many distillers SI NGL E M A LT W H I SK EY who feel that the category is too malt whisky” is whisky produced at COM M I S S ION broadly defined in the wrong not exceeding 160° proof places and too restrictive from a fermented mash of in the places that allow for not less than 51 percent corn, innovation. Fortunately for rye, wheat, malted barley, or them the TTB is ready to malted rye grain, respectively, Define American single malt whiskey as a redefine the category and a and stored at not more than wholly separate and unique TTB-recognized group called the American 125° proof in charred new oak spirit category. Single Malt Whiskey containers; and also includes Commission (ASMWC) has mixtures of such whiskies of Provide protection for traditionally-inspired all-malted-barley single malt whiskey formed to help them do just the same type. distillers. that in a way which serves In hopes of revising this distillers and consumers alike. definition several American Add marketing value to all malt whiskey, be it The ASMWC was founded by Craft Spirits Association single malt or not, by creating clear standards. a group of distillers with the (ACSA) members met at the common goals of defining and national convention in March Eliminate consumer confusion about all growing the American single for an informal “American American malt whiskeys. malt whiskey category. They Single Malt Summit,” and Encourage consumer interest in all American think the current definition, or a number of members later malt whiskeys. lack thereof, creates confusion traveled to Washington D.C. among consumers who are to meet with TTB regulators Allow American single malt distillers to unsure about what they are to learn how to implement compete on an international stage with buying. They also think that changes. The team learned Scotland, Japan, and other countries. distillers are too limited in that the TTB will open parts Respect the tradition of single malt whiskey allowable production and of the CFR for a 120-day production while promoting American marketing methods, a formula public comment period this





Scotch Whisky

Fall. With that in mind the ASMWC developed the following standard of identity that they will present for approval: made from 100 percent malted barley; distilled entirely at one distillery; mashed, distilled and matured in the U.S.; matured in oak casks not exceeding a capacity of 700 liters; distilled to no more than 160 proof; bottled at 80 proof or more. The proposed standards will address several major concerns distillers have with the current definition, one of which is the ambiguity about what is actually in the spirit. Right now a malt whiskey only needs to contain 51 percent malted barley, and that other 49 percent is something consumers have questions about. “Ultimately this is going to help consumers recognize what they are getting,” explains one of ASMWC’s founding members, Matt Hofmann of Westland Distillery in Seattle, Washington. Westland is the largest single malt whiskey distillery in America and since all they make is single malt Hofmann says he is asked the same questions on a daily basis. He says there is so much confusion about American single malt that liquor store owners are not even sure where to place their product on the shelves, often squeezing it in between bourbon bottles. “We want to be placed next to Scottish malt whiskies for a number of reasons, one because that’s closer to what we’re making than bourbon, and two because the price points are more in line just because the raw materials cost more when you use all malt,” Hofmann explains. “It’s American single malt whiskey, not ‘American whiskey other.’”

American Single Malt Whiskey Commission


Amalga Distillery Balcones Distillery Copperworks Distilling Company Few Spirits Headframe Spirits House Spirits Distillery Santa Fe Spirits St. George Spirits

Juneau, AK Waco, TX Seattle, WA Evanston, IL Butte, MT Portland, OR Santa Fe, NM Alameda, CA

Triple Eight Distillery

Nantucket, MA

Virginia Distillery Company

Lovingston, VA

Westland Distillery 40

Seattle, WA

STANDARDS “THE SCOTCH WHISKY REGULATIONS 2009” “Single Malt Scotch Whisky means a Scotch Whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in pot stills.” Single malt Scotch whisky has to be: • Completely made, matured and bottled in Scotland. • Completely mashed, fermented and distilled at a single distillery. • Distilled only in pot stills to less than 94.8 percent ABV. • Only water, barley, yeast and E150A “plain caramel colouring” can be used, no enyzmes aside from those endogenous to the malted barley. • Aged at least 3 years in oak barrels no larger than 700 liters. • Bottled at least 40 percent ABV. Source:

The Relationship of Regulation and Innovation Hofmann says the current definition of U.S. malt whiskey creates a “Wild West” scenario that could scare consumers away. By reforming those regulations the ASMWC thinks consumers will be able to make better choices and actually drive American malt whiskey sales of all kinds, including but not limited to single malt. To be clear the ASMWC has no problem with distillers making malt whiskies that include other grains too, since that is a way distillers can innovate and create their own unique products. The purpose of the proposed standards is not to prevent distillers from doing anything, but rather to give them a clear-cut arena to work within that will add value to every category of American malt whiskey. That said, the group does believe consumers have certain expectations for single malt whiskey based upon the current availability of high quality Scottish and Japanese single malts. The ASMWC thinks that U.S. distillers who want to compete on the international single malt stage ought to be afforded a categorical protection that certifies their products were made in that same tradition. “We would like people to know what they’re getting when WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

they buy an American single malt whiskey,” explains Hofmann. “The restrictions that we want to put in place are just enough to respect the tradition that’s out there.” In addition to the ingredients, Hofmann says another big production concern is aging. Most of the world’s malt whiskeys are aged in used barrels, but current TTB regulations require charred new oak cooperage. Hofmann says every distiller he has talked to has a problem with this. The ASMWC thinks distillers ought to have the liberty to mature their whiskey in new or used cooperage depending on their desired outcome. By relaxing those barrel requirements distillers will have more room to innovate and create their own unique flavors. By loosening or eliminating some rules and creating or tightening others, Hofmann says the ASMWC is advocating for standards that better protect distillers while simultaneously allowing them more creative freedom. “It prevents people from taking advantage of the term single malt, but it’s loose enough at the same time to still allow for innovation,” explains Hofmann, who says most distillers should also appreciate the omission of specific distilling equipment requirements. In Scotland single malt whiskey has to be made with pot stills, but the ASMWC does not currently see that as a useful regulation, permitting batch or continuous-run stills as long as the proof does not exceed 160. Be it through equipment, technique, ingredients, maturation

or philosophy, American single malt distillers are a diverse group producing unique spirits. Hofmann thinks that the proposed ASMWC standards of identity will encourage this growth and innovation to help American single malt distillers compete and excel in a global arena. “I think that is one of the coolest things about it ... the way that American single malt is manifested throughout the country is incredibly diverse,” says Hofmann. “Think about 30, 40, 50 years from now, we’ll have different areas of the country that are identifiable for their malt whiskey producing regions, not just based on the land but also based on the people.” Just as the proposed changes are intended to grow and promote the category rather than smother it, the ASMWC is open to all industry members, be they distillers, distributors, retailers, bartenders or consumers. Hofmann says the more constructive participation they have the better the Commission will perform. “What the TTB wants is one, for it to be for consumer protection, which it definitely is, and two, to get as much consensus as possible so that they’re making decisions that everybody wants,” explains Hofmann. “If you can publicly support the standards of identity and you want to help promote the category and establish category recognition then you’re in. It’s that simple.” Visit for more information on the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission.

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The 2016 Chicago Independent Spirits Expo ISE

“Over a hundred independently owned/operated distillers, bottlers, distributors & importers with nearly 500 hundred spirits from around the world...all under one roof!�

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 4:30pm - 9:00pm The Chicago Hilton Hotel & Tower 720 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL General admission: $65.00 VIP admission: $85.00 Tickets ISE Sponsored by:





any distilleries benefit from a driving idea or mission: make the best gin, be the favorite in their city, license a new method. But husband and wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew founded Greenbar Distillery in Los Angeles, California in 2004 simply to satisfy their own palates. When Mathew couldn’t find many spirits she enjoyed during traditional and cultural drinking occasions, she and her husband began creating their own flavorful infused liqueurs. They started by buying vodka and infusing it at home with flavors they wanted to try. When the blends they were making became popular among family and friends and demand outgrew what they could make in their kitchen they decided to think bigger. When they opened in their first location, Greenbar purchased neutral spirits and began infusing them as an


obvious extension of their original home hobby. Five gallons at a time, and with no knowledge about running a distillery, they experimented with imbuing unflavored alcohol with the flavors they loved. Now, they have grown from those humble beginnings into distilling several unique products all from scratch, and the search for the flavors that they personally enjoy has led them to release inspired takes on everyday styles. Starting their business with almost no knowledge of distilling was actually beneficial for Greenbar explains Khosrovian. He says learning from scratch allowed them to discover older methods that have fallen out of favor, and develop some of their own by borrowing from other industries. Greenbar ages their whiskey in six different kinds of wood, for instance, in order to get the specific flavor they want. They also have a high standard of

consistency, and Khosrovian tells, “We try to achieve 95 percent consistency. We allow 3 percent to be different because we can’t control everything, and 2 percent should be better than the last batch, so nothing is ever done and we’re always striving towards perfection.” That drive led Greenbar to realize that although a pot still has an attractiveness stemming from tradition and nostalgia, it did not give them the fine control they wanted. For that they commissioned a continuous fractionating column still which has both the adaptability to make many different types of spirits and allows them to isolate the exact flavors they want by controlling the exact temperatures in order to reproduce them consistently. When deciding what flavors work in their products their own opinions matter most. They often start by picking a common cocktail recipe they would like to improve,


then work to produce their preferred version of the base alcohol in that cocktail. The daiquiri was the first example, Khosrovian explained, a simple drink of rum, lime, and sugar. He wanted to create a different rum flavor that would stand out more in the cocktail. “You could use a Brazilian or a French rum, but in a daiquiri that flavor is way too grassy, and it overwhelms the palate,” he said. “I needed something in between these.” His search for that rum led the couple to explore many varieties of spirit distilling and aging, and they finally settled on lessons from the white wine industry. Rather than a traditional rum yeast, they

experimented with about 20 varieties and settled on a white wine yeast that gives the rum more floral characteristics. They also played with fermentation temperatures, eschewing the tradition of fermenting rum in high heat by slowing the process slightly at a lower temperature. Greenbar wanted a white rum specifically because they did not want to lose the flavors that the process of charcoal filtering removes during barrel aging. That created the challenge of mellowing the rum without aging it in barrels. When they asked around for advice, the best solution again came from wine: microoxygenation. Bubbling oxygen through the

spirit is the way winemakers mellow out a wine during production without the need to put it into a barrel. Their methods result in a rum about halfway between industrial and agricole. A similar need directed their gin, which is an amber gin that is not barrel aged. They wanted to create their perfect negroni because they had trouble tasting gin in most negronis, and they wanted more flavor than just overpowering juniper. Traditional methods, however, involve re-distillation which removes many layers of flavors that Khosrovian wanted to keep in their gin. Instead they use a method from the 1600s before re-distillation was popularized,






steeping the ingredients slowly during production in order to achieve more complex flavors. Greenbar continues to work on the flavors of each of the base spirits they create, and they value very close control over every aspect of their creation. They receive the wood planks, used for aging their whiskey, new and toast it all themselves. Of the six wood varieties Greenbar uses for aging, Khosrovian said, “Although they taste good, they don’t make good leak-proof barrels.” The planks are put into the barrels in nets, and the flavors are tested every other day, with certain types of wood being removed/ added constantly until the whiskey is done.

“This is the control freak part of our brains,” said Khosrovian. “If we left it all in the same amount of time, you wouldn’t want to drink it. That’s the balance we’re always striving for.” Khosrovian described his preference for using planks rather than wood chips. He likens planks to hamburgers with lots of layers of varying amounts of char. Each layer of char provides a different flavor and Khosrovian wants as many as he can get. Wood chips are more uniformly charred, he said, and thus he believes they have fewer flavors to impart to the whiskey. Another key element of every one of their products is the organic ingredients they

use. Greenbar is very strict about making sure their ingredients can be traced back to their origin, and they are happy to share that information with their customers who want to know exactly what’s in each bottle. Besides their takes on rum, gin and whiskey, they produce several uniquely flavored liqueurs and their own bitters. But their constant drive for improvement means their product line is always evolving, so thankfully we can look forward to many new flavors from Greenbar. Greenbar Distillery is located in Los Angeles, CA. For more information, visit or call (213) 375-3668.






or some distillers, water availability and wastewater disposal are not critical issues, but for many they are two of their biggest expenses and headaches. In some areas they can even limit a distiller’s ability to expand because the municipalities either cannot afford to provide any more water to produce the spirits on the front end, or they cannot process any more wastewater on the back end. This May at the Craft Beverage Expo (CBE) in Oakland, California, Glenn Wensloff and Dr. Todd Webster spoke to a diverse crowd of beverage makers about common water management problems. Wensloff is the owner of Elutriate Systems, a design-build company



offering wastewater solutions like smart bioreactors for food and beverage makers. Webster is the West region vice president and food and beverage market sector leader for Envirogen Technologies, Inc., a North American company that provides water and wastewater treatment, air treatment, and process improvement solutions within the food and beverage industry. Together they talked about the water challenges beverage makers face and gave examples of the technology available to overcome those obstacles. The solutions they presented ranged from simple, low-cost filters to complex water recovery and treatment systems. From the examples they gave, both said that some of their clients were required to use those technologies to meet water usage and disposal demands, while others elected to treat their water because they felt it was more environmentally friendly, saved them money, or both.

THE LOCATION CORRELATION Of all the factors affecting the cost of water usage and disposal, Webster says geography plays the largest role. “It’s very simple,” he explained, “It’s availability, quality and the cost of water, that’s really what you’re looking at.” In places with an abundance of high quality water, incoming water costs will likely be low and that water will typically require little to no treatment from the distiller. Many distillers even use their water source in their marketing: Kentucky distillers are proud of their limestone spring water and Colorado distillers boast about their fresh mountain snowmelt. But in water-strapped places like Southern California, incoming water costs can be very high, and sometimes businesses are literally unable to get any more water. When a municipality has very little water to spare, they will usually allocate it to housing before industry. If you have trouble sourcing enough water for your DSP, or if that water is very expensive, there are several ways to either use that water more efficiently or reuse it, sometimes endlessly. One simple option is to install tanks to capture some or all of your wastewater (process water, not septic from your bathrooms). Then you can use those thanks to blend your low pH wastewater with your caustic water from cleaning, thereby potentially neutralizing it



to the municipality’s standards without having to add extra chemicals or fresh water for dilution. Those tanks also allow you to reuse that water. Reuse options range from floor cleaning with tank rinse water which requires very little treatment (usually just solids removal), to more complex water recycling systems. Most water recycling systems can clean the water to nearpotable standards, and though a distiller may choose not to use that recycled water for distilling, they can use it for cleaning over and over again. In this scenario, all of a DSP’s purchased front-end water can go to production rather than cleaning, allowing them to increase production even if they have a capped limit on what they can purchase. Even though recycling systems can be costly, they often pay for themselves in areas with high water rates or in the above scenario where you can actually increase production with the same amount of incoming water. Plus, distillers can lease them or install small systems to start with. “You can jump into reuse at any point — you can go 100 percent reuse, you can go 50 percent reuse — whatever level you want or whatever makes sense to you financially,” tells Wensloff. “Up to this point, who really thought about optimizing water usage as being part of the business model? Who thought, ‘Maybe if I decrease my water use by half I can increase my profit margin?’” Another money-saving option in areas with high wastewater surcharges is to treat that water yourself. For example, Wensloff says that the first rinse of a tank after fermentation or mashing can register high in the three measurements municipalities really regulate (and charge for): TSS (total suspended solids), BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) and pH (most municipalities want a five or higher, but DSP waste is usually about four). By capturing that high-demand water and separating it from the rest, called side streaming, you now have the bulk of your surcharged wastewater isolated so you won’t be billed at that high rate for all of your water usage. Then distillers can employ aerobic digesters, membrane bioreactors or other technologies to treat that water in-house. In most cases this level of treatment does not make sense, but for larger DSPs and those looking to expand it is usually cost-effective, and in some places it is even required. Back on the front end, what if your incoming water is poor quality, i.e. it tastes bad for producing and proofing spirits, it hinders your yeast activity through fermentation, it is hard on your equipment or all of the above? Webster says this is a geographical question too, advising that some areas of the country have better quality water that needs no treatment, while in other places treatment is necessary. Even within a community this can vary depending on how far away a distillery is from a chlorine-injection station, and it can also depend on the distiller’s desires. “Some distillers want to remove everything from their incoming water, then add back in only the necessary minerals for their particular distilling process requirements,” explains Webster, saying their only limits are space for that equipment and their budget. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

For some distillers, water availability and wastewater disposal are not critical issues, but for many they are two of their biggest expenses and headaches. The simplest form of front-end treatment Webster employs at Envirogen is a granular activated carbon filter system, which he says is small, easy to maintain and effective at removing chlorine and chloramines. Excessive levels of chlorine compounds not only affect spirit taste and aroma, they can also cause equipment damage like pitting and corrosion, even in stainless steel. In some rare cases excess chlorine can also generate toxic fermentation byproducts. The next level up from carbon filters is deionization and reverse osmosis which can remove cationic and anionic minerals from the water. Excessively mineral-rich waters not only affect the fermentation efficiency and flavor of the spirits, they can lead to premature equipment failure and excessive cleaning due to scaling. In these cases, those systems are cost-effective not only because they improve product quality, but they also reduce labor, cleaning and equipment costs.

FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS All beverage producers face very similar water challenges. While each business will have its own unique problems, this common ground has resulted in one great benefit: Just about every water problem from the front end to the back end has been solved. Water treatment technologies vary widely in both cost and complexity, but when a distiller has a water problem they can often find a solution that actually pays for itself in saved water and electricity costs. Those solutions often benefit the environment too, and subsequently add an eco-friendly marketing edge to the distillery. Whether you currently have water problems or you want to plan for the future, look to your neighbors, municipality and watermanagement experts to find what’s right for you. “When it comes to wastewater we’re all in this together,” said Wensloff. “Feel free to reach out to your comrades in the industry and ask them what their costs are, what they’re doing, what their hookup fees are, what they’re doing for treatment, what they’re paying and they should have no problem talking to you about it.”


Keep your ears open for possible community partnerships, as well. Some bioreactors create compost teas that can then be sold, offsetting the equipment costs even more. And sometimes local utilities will offer rebates for new wastewater equipment because they save electricity. Occasionally your neighbors might even want your wastewater. In Modesto, California Do Good Distillery was paying nearly $200,000 a year to dump just their wastewater down the drain after spending an hour and a half each day removing the solids. That changed when they partnered with a local farm that had an anaerobic digester (story on page 51), who takes all of their wastewater for free. All Do Good pays for is shipping the waste 10 miles to the farm, costing them roughly 90 percent less than the sewer option. While most distilleries do not have access to a digester, there are other solutions for their waste streams besides paying hefty sewer bills. Do Good owner Jim Harrelson says the first question he asks aspiring distillers is if they have checked with their municipality about wastewater fees, saying that it can break a business if not accounted for. “New distillers always think about the shiny equipment and their recipes,” he shares. “People never think about the downstream side of it. I think new distillers getting into this business need to budget for this — you need to plan for it.” Webster says the most efficient way to plan for it is to start before you even select a location. He says many businesses get hung up on properties like historic buildings or storefronts in high-


traffic areas only to find out later that their wastewater will cost exponentially more to dispose of than another site 10 miles away in another municipality. One last tip from Webster is that if you do get to plan your distillery, do not mix the septic wastewater from the bathrooms with your production wastewater until after any sump pumps, if applicable. Those lateral lines can join before the sewer main without any problem, but he says you should avoid routing them to the same pump or spot where they may be tested by the municipality. “If you ever get into that position where you actually must perform some level of treatment on your wastewater from your distilling process, you don’t want to also be dealing with pathogens,” said Webster. “It’s a whole other world.” If your current front- and back-end water fees and processes are good right now consider yourself lucky, but with a growing population and fluctuating weather patterns, that could change. And even if the water availability itself does not change, cash-strapped municipalities are increasingly looking for and finding new revenue by charging more for water usage and wastewater disposal. Regardless of your situation, it does not hurt to consider new options for better water management. Envirogen Technologies, Inc.’s West region vice president Dr. Todd Webster can be reached at 877-312-8950 x1145, or visit Elutriate Systems founder Glenn Wensloff ’s phone number is 805-474-9390, or go to


Do Good Distillery's Wastewater Solution WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER



odesto, California’s Do Good Distillery just installed a flux capacitor that looks like the model on Marty and Doc’s DeLorean in “Back to the Future,” and like the original it runs off of garbage, too. Except Do Good’s version will not be used for time travel—instead it will save them big bucks and turn their wastewater into electricity and compost. Founder Jim Harrelson says that while they fashioned their flux capacitor after the movie version, in reality it’s just a level switch on their wastewater storage tanks. But that, he says, doesn’t make it any less cool. “Basically we turned a major expensive WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


problem into a green solution that benefits the environment,” he tells. The project started when Do Good found out it would cost them almost $200,000 a year to get rid of their wastewater via the municipal sewer system. Harrelson started exploring other options and eventually got a permit to dispose of it by land-applying it at his friend’s farm, though that plan was quickly replaced by something much better. During that time he was researching how to build a centrifuge and other equipment to take out the solids, neutralize the pH, etc., and the process grew increasingly complicated. Then he visited the Fiscalini

family farm. Harrelson says the Fiscalinis make cheese on their dairy farm with the same passion that he employs when making spirits. They already offered cheeses made with local beer and wine, and they invited Harrelson for a visit to explore the possibility of making a whiskey cheese. While touring their property, he saw a huge dome—an anaerobic digester that turned their farm waste into electricity. “It was like the end of the rainbow where you find a jackpot,” he laughs. “I said, ‘Oh look at that thing, I know exactly what that is!”


Besides using the digester to break down their own farm and dairy waste, the Fiscalinis were also taking organic waste from several other sources. Most of the time they charged a fee to dispose of it, but Do Good’s wastewater was exactly what they needed to fuel the digester so they agreed to take all of it free of charge. “They wanted all the grain in the water, everything,” said Harrelson. “They said, ‘The only thing is we’re not going to pay you,’ and I said, ‘No problem!’” To get started, Do Good installed 10,000-gallons worth of storage tanks to hold all of their wastewater, and each week a shipping company comes and hauls away 7,000 gallons. The only water that goes down the drain now comes from their two bathrooms and about 30 gallons a day for floor cleaning. Now all Do Good pays for


is shipping the 7,000 gallons a week, which at roughly $20,000 a year is about 10 percent of what they would have had to pay to dump just the water down the drain, not to mention the extra hassle of removing and distributing the solids. “That saves us about an hour and a half a day, not separating out 1500 gallons of liquid and solids, and maintenance on another piece of machinery that I don't have to use anymore,” said Harrelson. As an added benefit, Do Good no longer has to worry about adjusting the wastewater pH or any other measurements because the microbes in the digester don’t care as they break down the organic wastes in an oxygen-free environment. During the process the microbes emit flammable gases, which are captured and burned in a generator to



create electricity. The Fiscalinis use that power on their farm, and if they make more electricity than they use they sell it to their local utility. The digester produces enough electricity to power 300-400 homes every day. Once the process is finished the digested matter is hauled to locations with poor soil to improve their chemical and biological health since it is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer. Harrelson says that he knows of one other similar operation in California where a large anaerobic digester turns wine wastes into electricity, but the winemakers have to pay for the disposal. Being able to dispose of their wastewater for free, with the added benefit of turning waste into energy is a win-win-win for Do Good, the farm and the city. This solution also gives Do Good a marketing platform as an eco-friendly distillery, something that comes up in tours when their customers see and ask about the flux capacitor. “It always leads to the conversation


about what we do to maintain some form of green energy and doing something different,” said Harrelson, adding that they will soon have data about how many houses their wastewater energizes. “It's a great talking point.”

PLANNING FOR WASTEWATER When planning their distilleries, Harrelson says new distillers need to consider how they will handle their wastewater. He says municipalities are increasingly focused on the extra resources needed to process brewing, winemaking and distilling wastewater, and the revenue they can generate from charging those businesses. “Any residual alcohol really spikes your wastewater fee, any solids, any acidity— everything is calculated,” he says. “They have parameters for what you’re legally allowed to dump down the drain but you’re going to get charged very heavily for it.” As more municipalities begin charging extra for wastewater treatment, Harrelson

encourages other distillers to explore their local options, as well. Every gallon that doesn’t go down the drain is a savings to the municipality, who doesn’t have to spend extra energy and tax money treating something they don’t want to deal with, which in turn equals big savings for the distillery. “That 200 grand, that's a huge amount of operating capital for anyone,” says Harrelson. “It allows us to free up a lot of cash to do marketing, to hire additional employees, things of that nature. And next year, say our capacity goes up, that's an additional savings.” Through their progressive thinking and cooperative partnership, Do Good Distillery and the Fiscalini family have created an environmentally and financially-beneficial solution to a problem all distilleries face. While this flux capacitor may not take you to the future, it certainly makes that future much brighter. Do Good Distillery is located in Modesto, CA. Visit or call (209) 484-6406 for more info.





artenders are integral promoters and drivers of the spirits industry who encourage consumers and distillers alike to diversify, experiment and improve their palates and products. Whether you work with them directly or indirectly, they influence your sales and generate demand for your spirits, all the while creating new opportunities and flavors. Most influential bartenders and their employers are part of at least one hospitality organization, and one of the largest is the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG). Founded in 1948, the USBG has over 6,400 members nationwide, making the organization a catalyst for new ideas, shared information and better industry career opportunities. With a mission of “uniting the hospitality community to advance professional bartending” they offer a wide array of benefits to their members, many of which are distillers. They have three membership levels: hospitality (bartenders, others), associate (distillers, others), and enthusiast (non-industry public)—and all members get to attend and participate in the once-a-month USBG meetings. Chapters range from 40 to about 500 members, and Brenna McHugh, vice president of the Rochester, New York chapter, says hers has about 100 members, most of which attend the monthly meetings which cover diverse topics affecting their industry. “Meetings can include anything from really technical rum training to financial planning and setting up a 401K,” she explains, sharing that the USBG’s goal is to promote bartending and hospitality as a respectable and viable career opportunity. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM



“You're not a bartender 'right now' because you're looking for a ‘real job,’” she emphasizes. “It's actually something that could be a career and something that could build long-term.” McHugh says the meetings and membership benefits apply to people at all stages of their career. While many new bartenders join to learn more about their trade and are hungry for new information and collaboration, older bartenders in the USBG are connected to an organized industry pipeline that can find them jobs outside of high-volume late night work. “Twelve hours standing behind a bar operating at high volume is not humanly possible after a certain time in your life,” tells McHugh. “When your body starts to break down and you need a little bit more of a normal schedule or you want to start a family, we have the tools to segue into that next step of your life without having to leave the industry entirely.”

BENEFITS FOR DISTILLERS Monthly USBG meetings are sponsored by partners which are usually supplier brands that range from large, like Campari, to small, like a startup distiller. There are different levels of sponsorship available, usually determined by the individual chapters. While greater sponsorships obviously buy more exposure for a brand, McHugh says there is something for everyone, explaining that cost is not a barrier. “We get to give a voice to the little guys in addition to a platform


for education and exciting events and big stuff with the larger portfolios,” she tells. When a partner sponsors a meeting the USBG takes care of promoting the event and they usually have a good turnout. She says this is a big benefit for smaller brands who get their product to the lips of new influential tasters who may want to buy that bottle for their bar and reach an even larger crowd. McHugh says the Rochester chapter has hosted small distiller events ranging from meeting tastings for startups with limited marketing budgets to full distillery tours. “Apple Country Spirits is located just outside Rochester and they actually put together a bus to take our entire chapter out to their distillery, do a full distillery tour and tasting, and a casual party at the distillery,” shared McHugh. “It made a really lasting impact on everybody that got to go.” The Rochester chapter has also worked with local Honeoye Falls Distillery and they have held several meetings and events at intown Black Button Distilling. The chapter hosts a “Third Tuesday Throwdown” every month where three bartenders take a wild-card spirit from a local distillery and design a cocktail around it. They bring that cocktail to an event that is open to the public where both members and consumers vote for their favorite. “It's a great way to highlight new spirits from our local distillers,” tells McHugh, who says that Black Button’s Lilac Gin was one of the club’s favorites. “Having something like this where we can get 100 new people into a room to taste it, and taste it in three very


different cocktails, then feel a little bit of ownership in voting for our favorite, it creates some buzz around these brands.” This year the Rochester chapter partnered with the nearby Buffalo chapter to host the Throwdown, and now they alternate every month to showcase a different spirit from one of their respective local distilleries. This spreads the word about regional spirits, not only between bartenders but also between the featured distillers who find ways to partner and cross-promote their brands. The USBG is designed to benefit its members, be they bartenders, distillers, brand ambassadors or cocktail enthusiasts. By working together to share ideas and education they elevate bartending and foster stronger relationships with spirits brands of all sizes. If you have a local chapter consider contacting them to find out how you can work together to get your products in front of some of your area’s most influential ambassadors. McHugh says it’s a symbiotic relationship that benefits the distillery just as much as the USBG members, and something bartenders are thrilled about. “Being able to bring attention to all the cool stuff that's being made right outside our bars makes this a much more exciting endeavor," says McHugh. "Now we can have high quality, wellproduced competitive spirits coming from our backyard as well." Visit for more info on the United States Bartenders’ Guild.












or Todd Leopold, co-founder and head distiller at Leopold Bros. Distillery in Denver, Colorado, distilling is about controlling the uncontrollable. That is what drew him to brewing in the 1990s and then distilling in the 2000s. It excites Todd, and yet, keeps him up at night. Constantly cited as one of the national leaders in the distilling industry, Leopold Bros. won the American Distilling Institute’s Distillery of the Year award in 2014. They are known for making an amazing variety of spirits including vodka, gin, absinthe, and small batch whiskeys. When the Denver distillery moved into a larger facility in 2014, Todd was able to put his 20-plus years of distilling skills to the test using techniques both vintage and modern, which brings us back to the issue of control. When he was brewing, controlling yeast was paramount. “In the brewing world things are aseptic (free from contamination),” he says while sitting at a log table in the distillery’s mountain-style tasting room, wearing his signature tan overalls. “You don’t want wild yeast. It’s an unknown. You’re trying to make it so you have one organism in that bottle. You don’t want any off flavors; you don’t want bacteria.” However, distilling is a different world so this new 20,000plus square foot facility is specially designed to bring wild yeasts from the distillery’s own garden into the fermentation tanks. A row of windows along the south wall frames a lush landscape of honeysuckle, rose, lavender, cherry trees and peach trees. While gorgeous, this greenery serves a purpose. Todd opens the windows

so the plants can provide the spark that spurs fermentation. Vents in the roof pull in yeast-carrying air from the garden and float it over the fermenters before being pulled up and out. However, Todd emphasizes that the yeast aren’t the only thing driving the flavor. “Yeast has something to do with it,” he says, but not everything. “You are not operating aseptically, whether you know it or not, and a lot of the new younger distillers don’t necessarily understand that. Not very many people talk about it, so they’re under the impression that what’s driving the flavor, in whiskey for instance, is yeast.” Todd explains that brewers have the advantage of boiling their wort, but, “In distilling there’s no boiling, so whether you’re making whiskey or vodka, the grain is never moved above that 180-degree mark. You can’t boil the malt because it has enzymes and that is what does the work. You’re working with bacteria whether you like it or not, so where your plant is located makes a difference. Where your malt comes from makes a difference. Bacteria is what’s really driving the long term flavor. The bacteria is going to consume things that the yeast can’t.” Todd uses wooden fermenters at Leopold Bros. which cannot be cleaned with chemicals. As a result, tiny amounts of bacteria get trapped in the wood giving the tanks more complex character with each new generation, a biological terroir so to speak. While many spirit makers strive for consistency, Leopold Bros. strives for uniqueness. This is what makes their spirits so interesting from year to year and gives them an enthusiastic fan base. “What larger plants do is they add their yeast, ferment out the 72 hours and they go straight to the still and that’s the end of it,” said

“You can’t boil the malt because it has enzymes and that is what does the work. You’re working with bacteria whether you like it or not, so where your plant is located makes a difference.” — TODD LEOPOLD



“You need to know what environment, what pH, what nutrients do these bacteria need? You have to think like bacterium.” — TODD LEOPOLD Todd. “We let it sit for an extra day or two to allow the bacteria to go to work. This was something that was more common in older days.” While his is one of the larger DSPs in the micro-distilling community, Todd says they want to be recognized as a well-regarded family distillery. He says that while it may sound silly, he does not view Leopold Bros. as an international brand. “What I mean by that is that Beefeater has to be the same every time,” he begins. “It’s being poured all over the world. It’s expected. Now in my opinion it’s a world class gin and has beautiful notes to it, but hallmark for those larger, international brands is the consistency.” Instead of consistency, Todd wants his brand to be recognized for quality and he says the two are not synonymous. Further, he thinks you have to sacrifice something special when you are tied to consistency. “You can lose some of the soul to it,” he said. “When you’re going for consistency, you can miss out on some of the lows, but you can also miss out on some of the highs.” While encouraging bacterial fermentation influence is part of their house style which will encourage product variability and intrigue, that does not mean their products are out of control. “Now I can’t have it to where somebody buys a bottle of my gin and is like ‘What the hell is this?’” he laughs, “but I want them to have a bottle and say, ‘The juniper is a little sweeter in this batch than what I had last year.’” Todd suggests that just as distilling and blending for consistency takes a lot of work and patience to perfect, so too does controlling and working with the variables they encourage at Leopold Bros. “You need to know what environment, what pH, what nutrients do these bacteria need? You have to think like bacterium. Try to


make sure that you’re encouraging the correct ones and not the others. You have to understand how to manipulate, how to make it so that you get what I would consider to be favorable bacteria. Learning everything there is about gin distillation has made me a better absinthe distiller. Learning about absinthe has made me better at amaros. All of these things intertwine and as I learn more about these different raw materials and different yeasts that makes me a better distiller,” explains Todd. The new building is also designed with minimum environmental impact. The design comes from Todd’s brother and co-owner Scott, who has a master’s in Environmental Engineering from Stanford. Because of recycling and composting, Todd says the waste the facility creates only fills a standard 36-gallon trash can roughly once a week. The wood fermenters require only a fraction of the rinse water that metal tanks need. The 8,000-square-foot barrel house next door has an earthen floor which adds humidity that is beneficial to the aging process, and a translucent roof that lets in enough natural light that the building does not require electricity. The property is so efficient that even though they have increased production they still only have eight full-time employees. It also allows Todd more time to concentrate on controlling the outcome, which is his favorite part. “I thought that brewing was my thing, I thought that’s what I wanted to do, but there’s nothing like distilling,” he reflects. “There’s a lot more thinking that goes into it. It’s basically brewing with all these added components. To me it was a lot more intellectually stimulating.” Leopold Bros. Distillery is located in Denver, CO. Visit for more information.


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n the past few issues we’ve touched upon the basics of how to interpret building and fire codes and how to work with code officials as you plan and develop your distillery. You may recall the process in which we determined the ever-important occupancy classification and we struggled between being a “Factory” occupancy or a “High-Hazard Occupancy.” Your ever-knowing code consultant (that’s me) warned you that fooling yourself into the less-restrictive and less-costly classification, the Factory occupancy, would eventually haunt you so we’re never going to talk about this again! Your distillery is a High-Hazard occupancy, and as your mother told you, you made a decision, you acted upon it and now there will be consequences. When working with clients we always have to compare what they’d like to have against what we know the codes require while they


end you will accept that the damn “s” word toil to produce fine hooch that will allow is not the end of the world. them to retire in luxury and create the In order to understand the benefits need for off-shore banking. As long as your of a sprinkler system you first need to distillery is not constructed atop the San understand the basics of what makes fire Andreas Fault, my first concern for keeping happen. What you’ll learn very quickly is you safe and your distillery in existence will that everything a fire needs is present in probably be the prevention of fire, and I’m your distillery and the possibility of a fire not the only pessimist thinking this way. is realistically quite high. In the basics of History has shown that fire in buildings is fire science we talk about the fire triangle, bad, and fire in High-Hazard occupancies or combustion triangle, which looks like the can be really bad, so for those reasons your image at left. In order for any fire to occur High-Hazard occupancy is required to have — and that can be the joyful bonfire on automatic fire suppression. What does that the beach to a catastrophic distillery fire mean? It means that in order to comply with — there needs to be heat, a fuel source, most building and fire codes your distillery oxygen and an ongoing chain reaction. will have a water-based automatic sprinkler We know your distillery has fuel, some system — an array of valves, pipes and of which is inherent in the building ports that can help to keep you in itself and some in day-to-day use. existence and make your insurance That 500 gallons of spirit that’s company happy. This isn’t as bad waiting to be bottled is not as it sounds, it’s just something only your magical product, else that you’re going to need Heat it’s perhaps one of the best to learn about so you don’t fuels in existence. Oxygen waste your precious money — of course you have and don’t buy the wrong oxygen! If you don’t sprinkler system. Chain have oxygen your Let’s move into the Reaction boiler won’t run why and the how and the distiller of sprinkler Oxygen Fuel will be dead. systems, and I That leaves hope by the


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two of the four necessary components missing: heat and the chemical or chain reaction. Just how much heat do we need you ask? The answer to that question can be argued for a long time so let’s just consider what follows. First, flashback to high school Physics and remind yourself of the basic states of matter as they will exist in your distillery — solids, liquids and gases. There’s a fourth, plasma, but you probably won’t have any lying around so we’re going to ignore that one. Now, fast forward to the bonfire on the beach. While consuming last year’s remaining absinthe and staring into the flames you may have noticed the flames are actually above the burning logs — the logs themselves are not really burning! What you’re witnessing is the result of the physical change of a solid to a gas, caused by heat, one of the two final missing components from our fire triangle. This weird phenomenon is actually quite well understood by the wizards that work to keep your distillery from burning, and it’s the result of a process known as pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is the chemical decomposition of a material into one or more other substances resulting from the application of heat. The application of heat to the log has converted the solid log to a gas and it’s the gas that is burning above the surface of the log. And you thought you were seeing la fée verte, the green fairy! What you think you’ve seen with the burning logs is real and similar changes occur with burning liquids, however in the case of your spirits it takes less heat energy to develop the extremely flammable gas layer above the liquid, and this is much of the reason that your distillery is considered a hazardous place. That leaves one component still missing, the elusive chain reaction and that’s really not that elusive. Picture this: We are at your distillery in January and we’re having a bottling party. It’s a cold, crisp, winter-air night, one of those nights where every time someone touches the light switch or the faucet a coolblue static electricity spark snaps through the air. You and some friends are having the occasional taste, filling bottles, capping and applying labels. Someone spills some WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

80-proof — no big deal, it happens. Then someone goes to move the stereo and there’s that coolblue spark which initiates the chain reaction. The spark ignites the vapor above the spilled 80-proof, the heat from the flame begins to heat the surrounding area including everything within, and we now have the unintended chain reaction that is going to end badly. In order to prevent a fire in your distillery we need to remove at least one component from the fire triangle and the code-required water-based sprinkler system can actually remove two. When we’re looking at potential fire extinguishing agents for your distillery water is the agent of choice because water is fully miscible with alcohol. As soon as we add water to alcohol the two form a homogenous mixture that immediately becomes less flammable. The higher the percentage of water the less flammable our spirits become. With very little effort we are actually removing fuel, one component from the fire triangle! What’s more, when the water is heated it turns into steam, and during that process expands to 1,700 times its original volume. This expansion fills the room with water vapor helping to smother the fire (oxygen deprivation) and reduce the temperature in the space as the steam absorbs a lot of heat. The simple application of water to a distillery fire removes heat and fuel, and when we are looking to eliminate fire it doesn’t get any better than this. A distillery full of steam simply cannot support a fire. OK, you now know what makes a water sprinkler system so good, but what makes up your sprinkler system? Are they difficult to install, tough to maintain and expensive? Let’s proceed.

Yo u r waterb a s e d sprinkler system begins with, obviously, water, and when choosing your water supply there are attributes that you are going to look for:

Volume: Your system needs enough water to extinguish the fire and keep it extinguished. Pressure: Your system needs enough water pressure to distribute water based on the design of the system and the system components that are installed. Reliability: If the water supply can provide 1,000 gallons of water per minute with wonderful pressure but crashes often then you’ve got nothing. Murphy’s Law tells us your bottling party fire will occur when the water distribution system has crashed. For most distilleries there will be one of two water sources available. The easiest and least problematic is a reliable public water supply consisting of large underground pipes that deliver water throughout your community. This is the preferred situation as most municipal water sources are very reliable and can provide lots of water at great pressure. This will make your life easier as the sprinkler system will be less complicated since there will be fewer parts, and you don’t need anything else to repair


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your v e r y own water cistern or storage tank. Cisterns and tanks come in an array of shapes, sizes and materials and can be factory constructed and delivered to your site or built in place. When thinking about your own on-site water supply make sure adequate consideration is given to upfront costs, necessary maintenance and inspections, and the life expectancy. Also talk to your insurance company to make sure they know that you’re going to be storing a lot of water on the property they are insuring, as some may consider this an additional risk. When our clients need to provide on-site

water storage my method of choice is the combination of a concrete foundation/storage cistern beneath the building. This design turns a portion of the distillery’s foundation into an underground water storage tank, using long-lasting materials (reinforced concrete) and keeping the cistern within the building footprint, which eliminates having to use additional real estate. With this method, however, the design details and care during construction are important as getting this thing wrong is a real problem. Having to lift your distillery to repair the cistern is not something you want to be doing! Don’t be afraid, just make sure it’s done intelligently. When building a cistern the first question

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 and click on the “Spirits” tab to view our collection. Contact us today! Stephanie Ramczyk (510) 357-1033

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that always arises is “How big — how much water does it need to hold?” The answer to this question isn’t mystical. Start with your sprinkler system design company, often a licensed and/or certified company that does both sprinkler system design and installations. They will need to see accurate plans of your building and then they will calculate how much water you will need to store in the cistern. A typical volume is roughly 35,000 gallons, which sounds like a huge tank but it’s really not. Let’s look at using part of the foundation beneath your new distillery for water storage. Let's set a hypothetical example: Your new distillery is planned as 60 feet long and 32 feet wide and has 12 inch thick foundation walls. We can divide up the basement area so as to have a storage cistern 30 feet long by 20 feet wide and still leave you with a basement space of 30 feet by 38 feet, plenty of space for the boiler room, the fire pump room, electrical panels and glassware storage. If this cistern is 8 feet deep the volume calculation is 8 feet x 20 feet x 30 feet providing 4,800

cubic feet of space for water storage. Since 1 cubic foot can contain 7.48 gallons your cistern can hold 4,800 x 7.48 = 35,904 gallons! Presto, your very own fire suppression water supply that can be used not only for your new distillery, but often also for other buildings on the same property! Further, this water can be used for process cooling water as we often integrate the chiller design into the fire suppression water storage. This allows for a smaller chiller, no valuable cooling water being dumped down the drain and no stagnation of water in the storage tank. These are all good things that lead toward the heart of the sprinkler system. Where do we go from here? Well you now know how fire works and how easily it can happen in your distillery. You also know about the first component of your sprinkler system, the valuable water supply, and how to get that supply. Next time we’ll talk about the various types of water-based sprinkler systems and why only one of these is appropriate for your distillery. We’ll talk about dry systems versus wet systems and

we’ll talk about fire pumps, controllers and alarm integration. Lots more in the effort to make your distillery code-compliant and safe. Until then, minimize sources of ignition and keep track of your vapors!

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 info or assistance call (603) 3560022 or visit They will be happy to help you with your distillery no matter how near or far.


what is



e're all familiar with the litany of issues that craft distillers face in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Distribution. Shelf space. Standing out on that crowded shelf. Price versus cost. But what about your audience? What are their issues? While you think you’ve hit the nail on the head with an attractive bottle and good placement, that’s only part of the solution. Content marketing can take your bottle off the shelf, and into the hands of your new customers. What is content marketing? As defined by The Content Marketing Institute, it is, “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Overall, marketing has altered


course to become a conversation, not an interjection. Information is presented in a way that blends into a customer's lifestyle without being invasive. Think about the last time you were talking with someone, and another person walked up, stuck out their hand and said, "Hi! I'm Bob, YOU SHOULD DO WHAT I SAY RIGHT NOW!" Most people don't interact that way, and neither should your brand. Looking at the marketing in the craft distilling industry, I've noticed that most information centers around two basic messages: “Buy our spirit(s) at your favorite retailer(s)” and “Visit our tasting room.” When too many communications only say a version of "buy our booze," you start to sound like Bob the interjector. While these are absolutely the actions you want customers to take, purchasing decisions begin with a need/want and end with a solution, with research and consideration in between. Content marketing can help you close that gap in a way that works for both you and your

audience. The most important word in the definition of content marketing is “valuable.” You may think that telling consumers to visit your tasting room is valuable because of the quality of your spirits or the great tour you provide — but have you actually talked about those things in any way beyond the basic statements? The second most important word in the definition of content marketing is used in the term itself: “content.” Content marketing isn’t focused on tweeting 15 times a day, that’s covered under the social media section of your marketing plan. Content marketing is a long-term strategy focusing on longerform pieces. Your goal is to create engaging, interesting posts and articles that add value to your customers’ experience of your brand. Even if you’re not spending much money on your marketing, you may be unintentionally throwing away a valuable commodity: consumer awareness. You’ve caught their eye, make sure you keep their attention. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

Here are some tips to get your content marketing up to speed:


You have a subject for your content (your great tour) and a deadline. Check. But you are staring at a blank screen, unable to get started. Now what? Try writing for just one person, not the shapeless, intimidating group you are picturing in your head. PRO TIP Pick a person you know and have a conversation with them (real or imagined). Writing content might feel daunting, like you are addressing a room full of strangers, so having a chat with your friend is much easier!


Just like with resumes, typos and other preventable errors in your marketing makes your business look unprofessional. Poor grammar isn't endearing, it's annoying. PRO TIP Don't write and post all in the same day; give yourself a day in between. Read through it one more time; the paragraph or idea you struggled with yesterday may be more clear today.


While it doesn't have to be every week, you need to have consistency. If you only have time to write a single content post per month, pick the same day each month and stick to it. It’s better to increase frequency later than create an expectation you don’t fulfill. PRO TIP Guest writers can be helpful — and sometimes free! Enlist a respected cocktail or spirits blogger to write something for your site by offering a sample of your spirits. Don't forget to ask them to link to your content in their own social media.



Think of your marketing strategy like a wellmade cocktail: Each ingredient should add complexity without being overpowering, creating a balanced and enjoyable end result. While you want to get as much bang for your buck as you can out of your content, don’t be excessive. And when you post it on social media make sure to tailor each post for the platform, rather than just copying and pasting. PRO TIP When you post your content, immediately copy the link and put it into the template for your next newsletter, that way you won’t have to look for it later.


Posting cocktail ideas in the spring using fresh local fruits and flowers is relevant. Posting the latest cat or whiskey-centric meme probably isn't. You're developing a consistent brand and message — don't dilute it with today's shiny object. PRO TIP If you can't decide between what's relevant and what's a fad do some research first. While the latest virtual reality craze may drive people through your door, are those the people you want inside? If the answer is yes because that’s part of your overall strategy then go for it. If the answer is no check out other industry sites for inspiration, like cocktail blogs.


Oh no, it's almost Thursday again and you don't have any idea what you're going to

post! Keeping a running list of topics is an easy way to combat that panic. Jot them down as they occur to you and you will always have a pool of ideas to use when the well runs dry. PRO TIP Add a few words of explanation along with the idea. What seems like a brilliant idea that you summed up in one word today might not be so clear when you look at it next week.


While you need the words, pictures are an essential part of your content. You can write the most engaging article, but if no one stops to read it, it doesn’t matter. Visuals are an important piece of your message. PRO TIP Minimize the filters and photo editing. People like to see engaging content that’s real. Leave the rest to the Kardashians.

BONUS TIP You need to measure and analyze the impact of your marketing. Analytics can be as basic (and free) as comparing the number of likes your Facebook posts receive. If a post about buying a bottle gets five likes, but a video of bottling gets 50 likes and 10 shares, that’s important information. Your customers are giving you insight into what they like and want to see — make sure you’re listening! Jeanne Runkle currently lives in the Northeast. You can also find her whisk(e)y musings at




An exploration of juniper berry chemistry, location, and how distillers can utilize it in their gin-making.


in has always been a spirit which is uniquely able to express one’s local food culture. From the exotics that grew halfway across the world in colonial times to the local bush food that grows in the Australian outback, gin distillers have always found ways to showcase what was interesting and available. Until recently, juniper was mostly outside of this movement, and many distillers still rely on predictable ever-available juniper from Southern Europe. However a growing number are now looking outside their distillery windows and seeing juniper growing in abundance in their backyards … and some of them are putting that juniper in their gin. Though some deride the local food movement as a fad, millennials have shown an increasing interest in “traceable craftmade products,” (Gin Trap, 2016). There is a great deal of overlap among an already mature foodie culture who are interested in the story of their food and those who are now interested in the story of their drink (Henry 2016). In fact, the “liquor locavore” movement (Coeli 2016) is in full swing, and looking for local sources for common gin ingredients might be more than just adding a local touch, it can also be a good business decision. But is it a good decision from a distilling standpoint? And to what degree is natural variation real and how does one account for 1


it in their gin? Juniperus communis has one of the widest global distributions of any plant on the planet (Thomas 2007). If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re likely within juniper’s natural range. But just how much does a juniper’s location affect the character of its berries?1 And to what degree is that character uniquely tied to its location? Among the first to answer this question through an appeal to the taste buds is the British retailer Master of Malt. In 2012 they released a series of “single origin” juniper gins featuring juniper from seven locations across Europe. The Bulgarian gin is herbaceous and slightly floral while the Dutch tastes woody and the Macedonian has a resinous character. Despite all being “just juniper,” each gin clearly tastes different.

METHODOLOGIES FOR ANALYZING While taste is an important indicator, scientists have a way to get a level deeper. When you taste a gin your sense of smell is detecting a wide array of aromatic compounds. These aromatic molecules qua juniper vary from plant to plant and they are responsible for the different manifestations present in the terroir collection and in the work of distillers around the world. Perfumers and essential oil producers

Juniper berries are actually cones a la pine cones, but we will continue to refer to them as “berries.” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

have made extensive use of gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) to figure out just what aromatic molecules are present and in what quantities. Here’s how it works: An oil/ distillate is added to a device where it is heated. When an aromatic reaches its boiling point and vaporizes it is charted to calculate what percentage of the original it was, and then fed to a mass spectrometry machine where their molecular weights are charted and substances can then be identified.2

THE CONSTITUENTS OF JUNIPER Fortunately, Juniperus communis has been the subject of a great number of such examinations throughout the last 30 years, and by doing a quick literature review we can get a good idea of what some of the place-based variation looks like. Amongst the literature reviewed we find that the same compounds appear fairly consistently across sources: α-pinene, myrcene, sabinene and limonene. These four combine to form the backbone of the classic juniper aroma. Limonene has an intense citrus and lemon odor. Myrcene is complex with vegetal hints in addition to some herbaceous, balsamic and woody notes. Sabinene is intensely green and woody with a camphoraceous quality and α -pinene is fresh pine. But wait, there’s more! Juniper is made up of far more than just these four aromatic molecules. Studies show that it can be as few as 30 or as many as 80.3 However, not all of the volatile compounds

found in juniper are transferred to gin. Some are not soluble in ethanol, and others require higher temperatures before they can be evaporated. Of all these 3080 volatile compounds found in juniper, only a handful routinely appear in distilled gin. Two studies analyzed the aromatic constituents of gin and found that some common juniper constituents were not often found in gin, and other major constituents of gin were not found in large amounts in juniper. For example, germacrene B, which has a woody/spicy aroma on its own and was found in several juniper samples reviewed, shows up in only trace amounts in the gins analyzed by Vichi et al. Linalool4 was the primary volatile compound in nearly all of the gins studied across Riu-Aumatell et al. and Vichi et al.; however, it is only found in some junipers and in very small amounts.

LITERATURE REVIEW For this literature review we will focus on a handful of compounds which appear in both the gins and juniper samples tested, and focus more narrowly on the variations within this small subset of compounds. Most of the juniper berry samples analyzed had α-pinene as the primary volatile compound, however the variation was 40 percent across all of the studies reviewed. The Finnish samples had α -pinene as high as 58 percent and as

LIST OF CONSTITUENTS List of volatile compounds present in a single sample of Lithuanian Juniper. Butkienė et al, 2006. A single specimen collected in Družilai contained the following: (E)-α-atlantone, 1,10-di-epi-cubenol, 14-hydroxy-9-epi-β-caryophyllene, 14-hydroxy-αmuurolene, 1-epi-cubenol, 2-undecanone, abietadiene, abietatriene, borneol, bornyl acetate, cadina-1(2),4diene, camphene, camphor, caryophyllene oxide, cis-muurola-4(14), 5-diene, citronellol, citronellyl acetate, citronellyl butyrate, citronellyl isobutyrate, cyclopentadecanolide, elemol, endo-1-bourbonanol, epi-α-cadinol, epi-α-muurolol, eudesm-7(11)-en-4-ol, eudesma-4(15), 7-dien-1-β-ol, germacrene B, germacrene D, germacrene D-4-ol, humulene epoxide II, limonene, linalool, m-cymen-8-ol, methyl citronellate, myrcene, myrtenol, nonadecane, octadecane, p-cymen-8-ol, p-cymene, p-cymenene, pinocarvone, p-mentha-1,5-dien8-ol, sabinene, spathulenol, terpinen-4-ol, terpinolene, trans-cadina-1(6), 4-diene, trans-myrtanyl acetate, trans-pinocarveol, trans-verbenol, verbenone, xylene, α-cadinene, α-cadinol, α-calacorene, α-campholenal, α-copaene, α-fenchol, α-humulene, α-muurolene, α-muurolol, α-phellandrene, α-pinene, α-terpinene, α-terpineol, α-terpinyl acetate, β-caryophyllene, β-cubebene, β-elemene, β-oplopenone, β-phellandrene, β-pinene, β-sesquiphellandrene, γ-cadinene, γ-elemene, γ-eudesmol, γ-muurolene, γ-terpinene, and δ-cadinene.

TA B L E 1

SUMMARY OF SOURCES Throughout the Literature Review, we'll be referring to juniper sources by their provenance. These are the sources for the data referred to.


Kallio and Junger-Mannermaa 1989 Gonny et al. 2006 Chatzopoulou 2006 Data Analytics Committee 1984 Shahmir et al. 2003 Hajdari et al. 2015 Butkiene et al. 2006 Sela et al. 2011 Damjanović et al. 2006

Full citations and source information are in Bibliography at end.


This is an all-too-short description of a complex process. For more details I recommend checking out Husnu Can Baser and Buchbauer’s “Handbook of Essential Oils.” Chapter 2 has an extensive overview of the techniques available for the curious.


Butkiene et al. 2006 found 80 compounds in a Lithuanian juniper sample.


Unsurprisingly, both studies found linalool to be the volatile which occurs in the greatest amount in nearly all of the gins sampled. Linalool is the primary volatile compound of coriander which is nearly as common in modern day gins as juniper itself.






Gonny et al 2006











Woody, green, camphoraceous1

















































Herbaceous, woody,

myrcene carrot/celery1, pleasant, balsamic, plastic2


Citrus1, lemon odor, pleasant2

terpinen-4-ol Musty, earthy1 Camphoraceous,

β-pinene eucalyptus1, peppery, nutmeg nuance2

α-cadinol Herbal, woody1 β-caryophyllene Woody, spicy, clove1 δ-cadinene Thyme, woody, herbal1


Data Analytics Committee 1984

Shahmir et al. 2003

Kallio and JungerMannermaa 1989



Hajdari et al 2015



Damjanović et al 2006



Sela et al. 2011


Fresh, pine, cooling1, nutmeg-like nuance2


Chatzopoulou 2006



Butkiene et al. 2006










<1 %














<1 %



1) The Good Scents Company 2016. 2) Burdock 2009. 3) Avg of multiple samples in analysis. 4) Only Range Reported. 5) Masked by Sabinene in experiment, and unable to be accurately measured. 6) Present in small amounts, but percentages not give.n 7) Range of variation for the entire review across the nine studies (difference between highest and lowest).

20 percent α -pinene. Sabinene smells of pepper and wood and is detectable by the human nose in incredibly small quantities. The French juniper samples did not even have a trace and the ripe Lithuanian samples came in nearly as low at just around 1 percent of each berry by volume. The variation in sabinene was nearly as great as the variation in α -pinene. Among the samples that showed a relatively low level of α -pinene, the results instead showed very high levels of limonene.

low as 18 percent. Macedonian juniper samples varied from 16 percent to 43 percent. Greek and Lithuanian juniper samples came near the high end of this range, whereas Macedonian juniper was closer to the lower end of the range. Though often described as being responsible for the distinctive flavor of gin and juniper, α -pinene isn’t always the most prevalent aromatic compound in gin. Iranian juniper has a surprising amount of sabinene, nearly 37 percent, to only

The French study had berries with an astonishingly high level of it—nearly 50 percent. The Iranian juniper also had a relatively high amount at nearly 10 percent while the other samples ranged between 2 and 4 percent by volume. Hajdari et al.’s study of wild Kosovan juniper populations found a range of limonene between 3 and 5 percent. The range was more striking because of the relatively small size of the country (4,200 square miles). The study said

TA B L E 3


















α-pinene 57.6% 40.9% -16.7% 48.1% 39.7% -8.4% 59.1% 43.5% -15.6% 64.9% 51.9% -13.0% 45.6% 27.7% -17.9% sabinene















myrcene 11.2% 14.5%































Source: Butkiene et al. 2006



TA B L E 4














α-pinene 50.7% 62.0% 60.6% 64.8% 45.4% 56.2% 40.4% 54.6% 55.9% 59.4% 62.1% 61.7%
















limonene 10.0%













1) Difference between the highest observed percentage and lowest observed percentage. Source: Raal et al, 2010.


such as Looman and Svendsen (1992), have found that the cold also contributes to higher quantities of α -pinene and β-pinene. These studies suggest that the whole plant, berries included, may undergo significant variations in volatile compound content throughout the year.

there do seem to be a couple of patterns which savvy foragers can take advantage of. Junipers which grow at lower altitudes in colder climes tend to have oils that are better suited to a more pine-forward gin. Chatzopoulou and Katsiotis discovered an interesting phenomenon in their study of wild Greek juniper berries. In their study, they found that juniper berries when WHAT CAN pulverized released more α -pinene (on DISTILLERS DO? average, nearly 15 percent more), while Though the myriad studies seem to releasing less terpinen-4-ol and limonene. indicate that juniper can be unpredictable, The Lithuanian studies found that although unripe TA B L E 5 berries may have less essential oil content, the character of that oil may be more traditionally ginlike, having a general pattern of containing At 120° C for 40 minutes, percent yield for headspace more α -pinene than extraction of Juniperus communis berries ripe berries. The greatest COMMINUTED INTACT certainty that the 51.3% 37.7% α-pinene literature provides distillers is an 11.1% 8.4% sabinene understanding that juniper is immensely 16.7% 14.5% myrcene variable and even 2.4% 3.9% limonene locality alone can’t predict with certainty 0.7% 4.1% terpinen-4-ol the volatile compounds in the berries. 3.1% 3.0% β-pinene Distillers looking to provide a consistent 1.8% 0.8% β-caryophyllene product, whether from 0.2% 0.1% δ-cadinene batch to batch or in the long term, may 1) α-cadinol omitted because it was not found in study. be in for a challenge; Source: Chatzopoulou and Katsiotis 2006.




“[the variability] seems to reflect the environmental impact on the composition, influenced by differences in the habitat,” including altitude and microclimatic conditions. Among just Kosovoan populations tested there were large swings in β -myrcene (10-18 percent), sandaracopimarinal (1-5 percent), sabinene (5-16 percent) and α -pinene (23-35 percent). This suggests Master of Malt’s Single Estate gin from Istog, Kosovo should not be taken to be representative of Kosovo’s national juniper. Similar differences were found across Lithuania with significant swings in α -pinene and myrcene. Climatic effects were also witnessed in Finnish juniper, with data showing more specifically that proximity to the coast had an effect on the presence of certain volatiles in the juniper berries. The Finnish also found the shape of the plant to be predictive of α -pinene and overall essential oil content. Small, creeping junipers had the greatest amounts, while the tree-like ones had the least. Another element of juniper variation that warrants closer research is seasonal differences. A 2010 study from Raal et al. in the journal of “Baltic Forestry” found significant differences in the essential oil content of juniper branches, with α -pinene content peaking from February to April and dropping off precipitously in summer. Limonene content is highest in the winter, while myrcene varies by only about half a percent up or down at any point throughout the year. Most importantly, the study found that the percentage of monoterpene hydrocarbons (a.k.a. terpenes) peaks in the cooler months of the year. Other studies,


however that hasn’t stopped distillers from experimenting with local juniper. In fact, the practice of using local juniper is becoming increasingly common. To understand at a more practical level how distillers are dealing with the variations described in the literature we asked a few to share their experiences. Matt Montgomery, co-founder and distiller at Three Wells Distilling Company in Tucson, Arizona incorporates local Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) harvested from a single tree5 growing on nearby Mt. Lemmon, just north of Tucson, for their eponymous Mt. Lemmon gin. The juniper is not intended to be the dominant flavor of their gin, but instead a complementary aromatic. The team harvests “as needed throughout the year and have not noticed any significant differences” based on how it is used. They use the foraged juniper promptly after harvesting and maintain proper storage techniques to ensure consistent quality 5

and availability throughout the year. Dawn Lennie from Legend Distilling in Naramata, British Columbia has multiple species of juniper growing right in her backyard. “We have a couple of very large Rocky Mountain Juniper trees that we have picked berries from, although we have found that the berries from Rocky Mountain Juniper are not quite as pungent and fragrant as more traditional Common Juniper.” Where possible they source it wild in the hills nearby, though because of the quantities required for their burgeoning business they complement the local juniper with outside sources, as well. Tim Keenleyside describes the genesis of Toronto, Ontario’s Georgian Bay Spirit Co.’s local juniper use in the words of his grandmother, remarking upon the abundant juniper among the local Georgian Bay fauna: “Why doesn’t someone use all of these junipers to make gin?” The juniper that goes into Georgian Bay Gin is harvested the old fashioned way, by

hand. They select only the ripe berries in the autumn. “Juniper needs a long, hot, dry summer to get all of oils that add to the flavor,” explains Keenleyside. There is some variation from batch to batch, but he doesn’t ascribe it to just the juniper. Each bottle and batch is hand numbered, and the distillery embraces the spirit of “subtle differences between batches.” However, relying on just local juniper is too risky for a growing company. Combining local juniper with Italian juniper creates a more consistent flavor profile. “Harvesting enough local juniper can be a challenge,” because of varying yields and supply consistency, Keenleyside says. Ultimately, when it came down to decisions, the taste reigned supreme. “The sum was greater than each individual part.” Emily Vikre says that she sourced the juniper for Duluth, Minnesota’s Vikre Distillery’s gins with the help of a local botanist. “One of our big challenges with our juniper is just harvesting it,” she says,

Although a different species of juniper, the lessons learned are applicable to distillers using the more common Juniperus communis, as well.

SOURCES CITED/FURTHER READING Burdock, George. Fenaroli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients, Sixth Edition. CRC Press, 2009. Butkiene, Rita, Ona Nivinskiene, and Danute Mockute. “Differences in the Essential Oils of the Leaves (Needles), Unripe and Ripe Berries of Juniperus Communis L. Growing Wild in Vilnius District (Lithuania).” Journal of Essential Oil Research 18.5 (2006): 489–494. Print. Carr, Coeli. "The heady growth of craft booze." Inc. June 2016: 72+. Business Collection. Web. 13 July 2016. Chatzopoulou, P. S., and S. T. Katsiotis. “Headspace Analysis of the Volatile Constituents from Juniperus Communis L. ‘berries’ (Cones) Grown Wild in Greece.” Flavour and Fragrance Journal 21.3 (2006): 492–496. Chatzopoulou, P. S., and S. T. Katsiotis. “Study of the Essential Oil from Juniperus communis ‘Berries’ (Cones) Growing Wild in Greece.” Planta Medica 59.6 (1993): 554–556. Chatzopoulou, P. S., and S. T. Katsiotis. “Procedures Influencing the Yield and the Quality of the Essential Oil from Juniperus Communis L. Berries.” Pharmaceutica Acta Helvetiae 70.3 (1995): 247–253. Cioletti, Jeff. "Gin-novation: don't let the numbers fool you. There's plenty of excitement on the high-end of the gin category, despite the struggle of high-volume brands." Beverage World July 2015: 16+. Committee, Analytical Methods. “Application of GasLiquid Chromatography to the Analysis of Essential Oils. Part XI. Monographs for Seven Essential Oils.”


Analyst 109.10 (1984): 1343–1360. Damjanović, Biljana et al. “Isolation of Essential Oil and Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extract of Juniperus Communis L. Fruits from Montenegro.” Flavour and Fragrance Journal 21.6 (2006): 875–880. "Gin trap; Scottish distilling." The Economist 16 Jan. 2016: 29 (US). Gonny, Marcelle et al. “Analysis of Juniperus Communis Subsp.alpina Needle, Berry, Wood and Root Oils by Combination of GC, GC/MS and 13C-NMR.” Flavour and Fragrance Journal 21.1 (2006): 99–106. Hajdari, Avni et al. “Chemical Composition of Juniperus Communis L. Cone Essential Oil and Its Variability among Wild Populations in Kosovo.” Chemistry & Biodiversity 12.11 (2015): 1706–1717. Kallio, Heikki, and Katharina Junger-Mannermaa. “Maritime Influence on the Volatile Terpenes in the Berries of Different Ecotypes of Juniper (Juniperus Communis L.) in Finland.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 37.4 (1989): 1013–1016. Looman, Anja, and Anders Baerheim Svendsen. “The Needle Essential Oil of Norwegian Mountain Juniper, Juniperus Communis L. Var. Saxatilis Pall.” Flavour and Fragrance Journal 7.1 (1992): 23–25. Raal, Ain, Margarita Kanut, and Anne Orav. “Annual Variation of Yield and Composition of the Essential Oil of Common Juniper (Juniperus Communis L.) Branches from Estonia.” Baltic Forestry 16.1 (2010): 50–56.

Renata Ochocka, J. et al. “Enantiomers of Monoterpenic Hydrocarbons in Essential Oils from Juniperus Communis.” Phytochemistry 44.5 (1997): 869–873. Riu-Aumatell, M. et al. “Sensory Characterization of Dry Gins with Different Volatile Profiles.” Journal of Food Science 73.6 (2008): S286–S293. Sela, Floresha et al. “Chemical Composition of Berry Essential Oils from Juniperus Communis L. (Cupressaceae) Growing Wild in Republic of Macedonia and Assessment of the Chemical Composition in Accordance to European Pharmacopoeia.” Macedonian pharmaceutical bulletin 57.1,2 (2011): 43–51. Shahmir, F. et al. “Secretory Elements of Needles and Berries of Juniperus Communis L. Ssp.communis and Its Volatile Constituents.” Flavour and Fragrance Journal 18.5 (2003): 425–428. Sybilska, D. et al. “Enantiomeric Composition of Terpenic Hydrocarbons in Essential Oils from Juniperus Communis L.” Journal of Chromatography A 659.2 (1994): 389–394. Thomas, P. A., M. El-Barghathi, and A. Polwart. “Biological Flora of the British Isles: Juniperus Communis L.” Journal of Ecology 95.6 (2007): 1404–1440. Vichi, S et al. “Characterization of Volatiles in Different Dry Gins.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 53.26 (2005): 10154–10160.


before elaborating, “and then there’s the flavor. We’ve been working hard over the last two years to dial in our distilling techniques to get precisely the flavor we want out of the berries.” She describes the fresh berries as being “too musty and fruity,” so to better create the flavor they’re looking for they dry them. “I feel like I can get a cleaner flavor from the dried berries,” she explains. Vikre Distillery also complements their local juniper with dried organic berries because the local supply is not adequate to meet all of the distillery’s needs. New Riff Distilling in Newport, Kentucky is doing something similar with their Kentucky Wild Gin. Jay Erisman says, “The local juniper augments traditional Juniperus communis, it does not replace it … it adds another shade of flavor to the juniper component of the gin.” He describes the flavor as being “piney-er [with] more cedar-like spice to it.” The local juniper is harvested by local farmers in the Ohio Valley, who do the work through a combination of manual methods including ladders and climbing, though he too describes some

of the challenges with sourcing. Not every tree bears fruit every year, and there’s only really one harvest each year in the autumn. Because of that the fruits are dried before being stored in a freezer for year-round use. Since his gin isn’t strictly a seasonal distillation, sustainable storage is a vital part of keeping Kentucky Wild Gin going year-round.

CONCLUSION Unlike commercial juniper sources, there is significant variation in wild supplies. In light of the variations from plant-to-plant and region-to-region that the literature demonstrates, distillers have evolved a series of techniques that permit them to use local juniper without sacrificing key characteristics like relative consistency, supply reliability, and a predictable gin flavor. Mixing junipers seems to be the technique of choice utilized by many distillers experimenting with local berries. Although there seems to be a significant

seasonal variation at play in juniper, many distillers are working around that by harvesting once and concentrating on preservation in order to protect against other uncertainty. In conclusion, it seems that the promise of local juniper may be greater than its potential at the current time from a practical standpoint. But at the same time, the range of expressions that juniper can take on leaves much left for gin distillers to capture with plenty of room for expressing local character in unique ways. While the challenges are clear and present, distillers and craftsmen should approach their local juniper trees with full awareness of what is going on botanically in order to create the best products while getting the most out of their local flora.

Aaron Knoll is a noted gin historian, critic and consultant. He authored 2015's “Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival,” which has since been translated into three languages, and additionally co-authored 2013's “The Craft of Gin.” He also founded leading gin website in 2009.


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he wooden cask was a sensational invention. Immensely strong, yet enabling a single person to move up to half a ton single-handed, the cask was the go-to furnishing for the storage of liquid and solid goods from Roman times until the beginning of the 20th century. Whilst the initial utility of casks was undoubtedly for storage, their continued use today has evolved into something more subtle. Interactions between wood and spirit, together with interactions between spirit and oxygen in the air that finds its way into the cask, all combine to transform the contained spirit into some of the most outstanding tipples on the planet. I should qualify that slightly, and state that for the purposes of this article the discussion is restricted to the production and quality of wood-aged spirits, as there are no doubt superlative examples of non-aged spirits too. To be specific, we are considering whiskies, brandies and aged renditions of




tequila, rum, and even vodka, embodied by the often super-smooth starka.

CREATING THE CASK The production of casks with “tight” cooperage (i.e. suitable for retaining liquids without leaking) is a highly-skilled art. A quick appraisal of the geometry of a cask reveals the reason for the cooperage skills required. The staves themselves are tapered at either end and thickest in the middle, so that when the staves are shaped and bent a batch of staves will form a closed surface. For this surface to be tight, the sides that abut neighboring staves are also slightly tapered, the magnitude of the angle being dependent on both the number and the widths of the staves in the cask. But, for a cask using 30 equal-width staves, this taper is a mere 6 degrees off normal. Even before the cask is produced there

is the critical stage of harvesting and seasoning of the oak. The age of a mature oak varies widely, with American oak maturing in 60-80 years, whilst the slowergrowing European oaks take 180-300 years to reach maturity. Once ready, the tree is cut down and then cut into planks and stacked almost like a giant Jenga® puzzle. This allows air to move between the planks, encouraging the wood to gently shed moisture. This can be done in the open air or accelerated by kiln drying. Most agree that the former is preferable, with infestations of fungi helping to break down some of the tough lignin and cellulose which facilitates flavor release. The chemistry that facilitates the maturation of spirits is primarily based on oxygen exchange and the contact surface of the wood itself. This can be raw wood, which is typical of the head pieces in European casks and represents around 20 percent of the cask’s internal surface area. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

The body of the cask can be toasted or charred, or even toasted then charred. The severity of these processes is clear from inspection of the wood, and a common classification is to designate char severity on a scale of #1, the lightest char, to #5, which is not far from pure carbon. This affects the flavors released from the wood, and indeed the impact on flavor has been demonstrated on more than one occasion. More on the flavor contributions from the wood later.

WHAT WOOD WORKS? With a few exceptions, oak is the material of choice for spirit maturation. There are several reasons for this which can be attributed to chemical and physical properties that seem to optimally combine in certain wood species. In terms of physical properties it is important that casks do not leak and that, further, any evaporative losses of contained liquid into the outside world should ideally be modest. There are three factors at work here. Firstly, the cask should be constructed such that the joins between the various wooden components are sufficiently tight to eliminate, or at least minimize, the leakage of liquid, which in some cases can be considered to be an unaccountable loss. With losses through joins under control, the second point to consider is the movement of liquid through the wood itself. Over a period of years liquid can slowly migrate through wood, driven by evaporation of vapor that migrates to the external surface of the cask. It turns out that oaks possess medullary rays within their structure. These are sheets of cells that run radially through the oak trunk, and they provide an impermeable structure through which liquid cannot migrate. The most popular oaks used for cask production have what are called multiseriate medullary rays, meaning the rays are several cells thick. Others have uniseriate rays, and these oaks are generally less suitable for spirit maturation. The medullary rays also provide an additional structural benefit. The creation of curved staves requires three steps: WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM â€

partial hydration of the wood, heating, and application of pressure to induce the bend. The medullary rays can be thought of as slivers of spring steel, providing resistance to the bending but at the same time reducing the risk of splitting the wood. Another feature of oak that makes it less porous is the clogging of transport channels (used by the living tree to move water and nutrients from roots to leaves). These channels could in principle result in significant losses of alcohol and water from a cask, but oak forms a substance known as tylose which effectively dams up these channels, reducing the porosity of the oak. There are also chemical aspects of oak that make it a material of choice for the fabrication of casks. Oak makes a number of critical flavor contributions to the maturing spirit. Now many flavors that originate from wood are not unique to oak. For instance vanillin is derived from the degradation of lignin, a phenolic polymer common to all woody plants. Similarly the simple sugars found in matured spirit, such as glucose and arabinose, as well as caramel and toffee notes, are generated by the thermal degradation of cellulose and, especially, hemicelluloses during wood toasting and charring. However, compounds such as the socalled whisky lactones are much more characteristic of oak flavor, although they have been found at lower concentrations in chestnut wood. So, it is fair to say that at present these lactones confer a degree of distinctiveness on oak-derived flavor. As with many flavor experiences though, it is the balance between flavor contributors, rather than the presence of unique flavors, that defines the sensory experience. The severity of toasting

and charring does affect the composition of the extracted flavors. Higher degrees of charring release more vanilla and color into the spirit, whereas lighter chars retain estery and spicy characteristics. The other impact of heavier charring is that chars #4 and #5 develop an alligator skinlike appearance which allows the spirit to penetrate the wood underneath. This wood will have experienced some thermal degradation and result in the extraction of additional flavors.

INNOVATING MATURATION The interring of spirit in cask is a venerable practice, the results of which speak for themselves. Nevertheless there is an understandable desire to innovate in this area, which is reflected in the existence of various acknowledged procedures and patented approaches. Indeed there is a long history of efforts to accelerate maturation. There are four compelling reasons to consider here: speeding up the process (less inventory to carry, quicker product to market), the creation of novel flavor profiles, tighter control/improved consistency of flavor profile, and lower wood costs. The addition of wood to spirit, rather than spirit to wood, has much to commend it, not least because there is no need to construct casks, and the surface area of wood to spirit volume ratios can be changed arbitrarily. But, coming back to the previous discussion on the pivotal role that oxygen has on spirit maturation, wood in spirit on its own is not likely to result in authentic spirit, something that we will



return to later. The wine industry though, has made progress with micro-oxygenation, dialing in small quantities of oxygen to “manage” the oxidation processes and so the opportunities are clear. One final point concerning wood in spirit is that the physical properties of oak on which cask construction are so reliant are not a consideration in this context, so not only can oak be used but also woods that lack the necessary structural integrity yet can, in principle, be used to impart novel flavors. Other approaches are focused on augmenting maturation within the cask. Perhaps the simplest approach is to add additional wood into the cask itself, providing more wood surface area even though it does not necessarily follow that oxidation, controlled by the porosity of the containing cask, will be affected. Alternatively, some form of spirit agitation is likely to result in more rapid interactions between wood and spirit. For instance, casks that are stored in a moored raft or boat will have increased rates of various

maturation processes (as would storage in an actively seismic location!), much as laundry in a washing machine will clean more effectively if agitated. Indeed, Seven Fathoms Rum from Cayman Islands is matured seven fathoms (42 feet) below the ocean surface in sealed casks. Other, patented processes, apply combinations of heat and light, or ultrasonic agitation, to accelerate spirit maturation. One other innovative approach that may be worth considering is the development of wood flavor extracts that can be added back to a spirit. This does not get around the subtractive and interactive reactions that occur during spirit maturation but nonetheless provides options for wood extractive augmentation of spirit and, if extracts are made from spent cask wood, there is a potential opportunity for increasing the sustainability of oak. All of these options will generate spirits of at least acceptable sensory performance, although for some spirits such suggestions will fall foul of the regulations surrounding the production of certain categories

(e.g. Cognac, Scotch whisky). But while accelerated processes can in principle be tailored to mimic traditional maturation processes on the basis of analytical data, analysis is typically a poor predictor of sensory performance. My personal view is that accelerated maturation has much to commend it from a business perspective, but it is likely to be more successful when applied to new products, rather than if trying to shift from traditional to accelerated maturation for existing brands. One final point here is that a final product on the shelf could be a blend of traditional and accelerated maturation liquids, offering a compromise between production costs and acceptable flavor profile. If I was the brand manager of an international brand though, I’d be wary of making the decision to do anything that may change the flavor of the product unless I had no choice! Paul Hughes, Ph.D. is assistant professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. For more info visit or call (541) 737-4595.

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s a distillery owner no one is more passionate and enlightened about your spirits than you are. You can answer any question a new account has about your product — how it was made, where the ingredients are sourced from, what makes it unique — and give them the story behind the bottle that can drive the sale home. Right now you might be able to approach those new accounts and field all those questions on your own, but what will you do when you grow? Say someone wants to carry your product but they cannot get answers about it because neither they nor your distributor can get in touch with you while you slave away trying to keep up with demand. Then it might be time to hire a brand ambassador (BA). BAs work the streets, generating new sales and keeping your current accounts happy. They are the product experts your customers and distributors can go to when they need a quick answer — a conduit to your distillery distributing the good news about your brand and bringing


information back to you so you can improve. That said, they are usually one of the largest costs outside of running the distillery, and good ones can be hard to find. Bad BAs can do more harm than good if they misrepresent your brand, but good ones can be your brand’s greatest ally, driving sales and building a personal connection with your customers that is far more powerful than standard media advertising. “It’s amazing how you multiply your passion through other people and what they can do for your brands,” explained New Liberty Distillery’s (Philadelphia, PA) Tom Jensen. Jensen is an American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) board member who introduced a BA panel at the organization’s 2015 national convention. The panel included Tony Bagnulo, head of sales and marketing for Ghost Coast Distillery (Savannah, GA), Sarah Macfarquhar, distillery ambassador for North Shore Distillery (Green Oaks, IL), Craig Hiljus, director of the Craft Division


at Windy City Distributing (Aurora, IL), Martin Duffy, U.S. brand representative for Glencairn Crystal, and Aaron Zacharias, owner of multiple bars and restaurants in the Chicago area with 18 years of industry experience. Combining their perspectives they offered advice on how to choose, work with and deploy a good BA.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD BA? BAs are brand experts who professionally represent your products outside of the distillery. The practice originated several decades ago with Scotch brands who were sending their distillers around the world to do just that. But taking the distillers away from the distillery took a toll and thus the BA position was invented. There are many skills a BA needs to be successful, and the responsibilities for developing

those skills are shared between them and the DSP. One of the most important requirements is a familiarity with your product, something they need to actively pursue and you need to actively teach. “Whether it’s with the public, with the buyers, or with the suppliers, I want to have every answer I possibly can,” tells Sarah Macfarquhar of North Shore Distillery. “I’m the face of the brand out.” If you hire a BA, bring them into the distillery to work through the whole distillation process, take them to meet your ingredient suppliers, and make sure they understand the minute details of why your product is unique. They should know your brand and products intimately, and Craig Hiljus says distributors expect this depth of


knowledge from BAs. “Our sales reps want the information, they want the education, they want somebody that they can go to at a moment’s notice for whatever question that they might have,” he explains. While his reps do all the selling to the accounts, the BA needs to encourage those accounts to ask for the product. While the reps may be good at their job, they cannot know every detail of every product, and that’s where a good BA can get your product on the order form instead of your competitor’s. Hiljus says this works best when the distillery, BA and distributor meet and make sure they are on the same page, aligning their tactics and goals strategically for a more powerful presentation. Beyond product knowledge,


a BA should have a solid understanding of what the distributors and their customers want and need. Many BAs have previous experience in at least one branch of the industry; but even if they don’t, this is something you can train them to understand. “Training is more than just product knowledge and immersing them in your brand,” emphasized Hiljus. “There has to be some level of sales training, there has to be some level of industry training.” The BA position is a lifestyle job, not a nine-to-five, and they need to be out in the market every night with few exceptions. If they are not good at managing their time this can be a real hazard, and some distilleries use apps and other software to track their sales

and time. Spending lots of time inmarket helps the BA stay upto-date with current trends and where your product fits in. Restaurateur Aaron Zacharias says that market familiarity is critical because BAs need to be able to accurately assess and understand what a new account might want. He says the BA might be the best salesperson in town, but if they try to sell a flavored vodka to a bartender who has no flavored vodka on the shelf, they’re going to seem uneducated. “(They need to) understand what we need and what we do first, and then we’ll know if it’s going to be beneficial to both parties to move forward,” said Zacharias. BAs should also watch for new restaurant and bar openings, visit new accounts,

and spend time at their current accounts just to maintain a relationship. Buying a drink at a regular customer’s establishment strengthens personal friendship and trust, which is critical in a relationship-based industry. And since relationship building is so important, personality traits are usually the make-or-break characteristics of a great BA. You can teach time management, product, and industry knowledge, but you cannot teach passion, engaging confidence, leadership, trustworthiness and influence. It’s also important to work with people that know how to drink responsibly. A BA, or any employee for that matter, who gains a reputation for overindulging can negatively impact your own brand. They


can and should be the kind of person who enjoys sharing a drink with accounts and clients, but getting sloppy on the job is never going to end well. This job is not for everyone, and it is a waste of time, energy and resources to hire a BA that is not an outgoing, likeable, natural marketer.

SUPPORT AND PAYMENT In some states BAs are not employees of the distillery but instead independent hired guns. That means they sometimes represent multiple brands, which can be both good and bad. BAs that represent multiple brands may direct less attention to your brand if the other brands pay them more or their market


seems more interested in those other products. The flip side of that scenario is that you are not wholly responsible for their paycheck and it will probably cost less for them to represent your brand. And, if your brand is a complementary product to another brand they represent, i.e. you make a gin and they also represent a craft tonic, then that synergy may buy you more exposure. So how much does it cost to hire a good BA, and how should you pay them? That question has a lot of answers, but in every case the payment schedule should be mutually agreed upon by the DSP and BA, working within their state’s laws. While those laws will differ, salary and commission payment models are both usually viable. Some DSPs

pay based upon sales and give bonuses for cocktail list placements, etc. It is up to you to decide which will net your brand the best return, but it is important to remember that if you are not paying them well they will not be inclined to represent your brand well and go the extra mile, especially if they are too broke to buy a drink when approaching a new account. Beyond payment, DSPs, BAs and distributors should work together to figure out who pays for product swag and information. While a BA does not necessarily need to carry around boxes of free stuff, it is important for them to have some product literature they can give to accounts to review before the distributor comes to take their order. “It’s really important that the

b r a n d ambassador has something to leave behind,” explains Martin Duffy of Glencairn Crystal. “You have to get them revved up about the brand.” If you are at the point in your business that you want to hire a BA, choose a good partner that can grow your business and represent your brand just as well or better than you can. If you find the right one they will more than pay for themselves not just in sales, but also in brand reputation. “Any good brand ambassador out there, people still talk about (them) a year later,” says Duffy. “They’ll remember aspects of the brand primarily because of how it was presented and the passion behind it.”




usinesses fail. In fact they fail at an alarming rate. By some estimates, nearly 80 percent of businesses fold within their first 18 months of operation. Certainly many of those business failures can be attributed to factors outside of the control of their founders. If you opened the doors of your distillery in New Orleans on August 1, 2005, there is a very good chance that your business never recovered from the arrival of Hurricane Katrina 28 days later. But the vast majority of business failures result not from violent cyclonic weather systems but from entrepreneurial errors, which can be distilled down to a few common missteps. And while simply avoiding those pitfalls won’t ensure that your business will thrive, you can nevertheless take comfort that you are giving your venture the best possible chance for success. So, let’s discuss some of the most common reasons for failure and what can be done about them.

FAILING TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK Would you buy a shiny new piece of expensive distilling equipment without studying its specifications? Would you bottle and offer for sale the distillate trickling from that gorgeous copper monstrosity without first tasting it? Of course you wouldn’t. And yet, this type of mistake is the root cause of a great deal of entrepreneurial suffering. I say “type” of mistake because a failure to do homework reveals itself in a number of ways, each of which is a symptom of the problem. Some common symptoms include:

NOT FULLY UNDERSTANDING YOUR BUSINESS’S COSTS If you don’t understand what it costs you to make the product, you can’t accurately determine how to price your product. And if you can’t determine how to price it you run the risk of losing money


on every unit sold. Commonly, this symptom results in part from entrepreneurs not recognizing the costs of their own services. In that way, the entrepreneur’s good intentions (seeking to protect the business’s cash flow at startup) can result in the unintentional but still quite damaging consequence of pricing the product below a level that would provide adequate margins.

NOT FULLY UNDERSTANDING THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE You might think that your business has no real competition. If you do, you are probably wrong. Few and far between are the situations where a business arrives on the scene without any competition. Even in the context of products that are truly revolutionary there is usually some form of competition in the early stages. Consider the automobile. When Karl Benz put the first internal combustion engine vehicle into production in 1888 there were no similar contraptions on the road — but there were horses. You need to have faith in your product to succeed, but if that faith blinds you to the existence of meaningful direct (or even indirect) competition, then you will fail to plan accordingly.

NOT GIVING HOUSEKEEPING ITEMS DUE ATTENTION There is nothing glamorous about running errands or taking out the trash. But if you fail to pick up the dry cleaning or manage the recycling your household will usually suffer. Similarly, there are myriad essential but truly pedestrian tasks that must be handled with due care on behalf of your business or else the business will suffer. In the context of a spirits business these chores obviously include regulatory compliance, but like all businesses the list of to-do items doesn’t end there. The entrepreneur must also be mindful of basic corporate maintenance, ensure that the business’s intellectual property is appropriately protected (and, perhaps even WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M

more importantly, ensure that the business does not infringe on the intellectual property of others), attend to the safety of the workplace and a host of other items. Allowing any one of these crucial tasks to go unaddressed can be the undoing of any startup venture — regardless of how well received its product may be.

THINKING YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF You are an entrepreneur. You are driven, focused and smart. So why would you look to others to help you in this venture? After all, it is your business. Well, to start with, you’re only one person. And no matter how hard you work you will still be only one person, with the same number of hours in the day and days in the week as everyone else. So until cloning technology gets exponentially better, you’re likely to need some help. After all, you probably can’t simultaneously run the still, bottle the booze and staff the tasting room all by yourself. But secondarily, let’s be honest about your skills. Not too many people demonstrate excellence in multiple disciplines — and yet this is exactly what is needed to get a new business off the ground. You may have tremendous knowledge about your product, but what do you know about distribution, marketing and sales? What do you know about forecasting cash flow and planning business expenditures accordingly? How much do you know about regulatory compliance? Just as there is a big difference between lemonade and limoncello, there is a big difference between the level of expertise necessary to make a lemonade stand profitable (especially when mom’s buying the lemons) and getting a spirits business to stand on its own feet. To make this work, you must have, or at least have access to, core competencies in multiple areas. To recognize your limitations is not an admission of weakness. On the contrary, knowing what you do not know is a strength. It allows you to seek out experts who, by applying their specialized knowledge, can jumpstart your business and dramatically improve your chances of success. Conversely, failing to avail yourself of help means that you run the risk of personal burnout, make mistakes that might easily have been avoided if you would have had expert assistance, and generally impede your own progress. Note that finding this assistance need not always be expensive or involve adding someone to the payroll. Many resources exist for small businesses looking for guidance without wanting to (or having the wherewithal to) commit significant sums to the effort. For example, local chambers of commerce commonly offer workshops and other learning opportunities on key business skills. The savvy spirits entrepreneur will avail herself of programs like these, along with similar opportunities made available by a local distilling guild or similar organization, to get a leg up without spending an arm and a leg. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM

IGNORING AVAILABLE SOURCES OF CAPITAL One fact of entrepreneurship is that success typically doesn’t come cheaply. To move from the idea of a business opportunity to its harvest will in most cases require significant amounts of capital. Occasionally, the business will have opportunities to defray some capital expenses by taking advantage of early victories: the fruits of a quick (and well-accepted) product launch can help the bottom line. But if you rely only on bootstrapping the business, you can be fairly confident that what you thought were bootstraps were actually leg irons. Capital is the oxygen of your business. When you deprive your enterprise of an appropriate level of capitalization, the best you can hope for is lackluster performance. More commonly, failure is the consequence. Few would dispute the importance of funding. So why is it that businesses suffer from the lack of it? Often, entrepreneurs believe adequate levels of funding aren’t available. This belief is sometimes correct, but more common is the situation where the entrepreneur is mistaken in this assessment. Sources of funding do exist for small businesses and can be accessed with modest effort. This is not to say that all sources of funding are ideal — or even appropriate. In fact, some are quite ill-advised (research the final days of the Delorean Motor Company). But before you let your business wither on the vine, know that there are options available for obtaining cash without violating federal drug trafficking laws. Whether in the form of small business loans, tax incentives, gifts from friends and family, or cash from equity investors, you have options. So why not take advantage of these opportunities? In many cases, entrepreneurs do tap friends and family for funding, but it simply isn’t sufficient. Other options may not be fully understood (see earlier note about failing to do homework). Perhaps the most abundant source of funding, and yet the most commonly resisted, is seeking third-party equity investment. Make no mistake, changes in federal securities laws make it is easier to obtain equity funding in the U.S. today than it has been since 1933. So why is this resisted? Because entrepreneurs often focus entirely on the issue of control (and a fear of losing it) without recognizing the simple truth that it is better to own a slice of a business that is successful (or even solvent) than it is to own all of a business that fails. This isn’t complicated arithmetic. Acknowledging this requires a certain amount of swallowing one’s pride and admitting a need for help. But as we’ve discussed, help is something you probably need. And capital is something you definitely need. Without adequate sources of capital your business will almost certainly fail, although business owners should thoroughly vet and ensure they trust and feel comfortable partnering with potential investors, because diverging business goals and expectations can lead to failure, as well.




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Let’s talk about failure for a moment. Business failures can be found in several forms. There is, for example, the kind of spectacular failure that we see in the press — the kind seen when a large business suddenly shuts its doors never to be seen or heard from again. Cases in point include the recent bankruptcies of big box retailers Circuit City and Borders Books and Music. This breed of failure is full of sound and fury, playing out on a grand scale. But there is also a more insidious kind of failure that rarely makes the news. In this kind of failure a business limps along for years but never turns the corner toward profitability. The owners endure year after year of losses, toiling away in obscurity without any meaningful hope of a change in circumstances until they finally give up and move on. Thinking on a small scale generally does not cause the kind of spectacular catastrophic failure events that make the evening news, but it regularly results in whimpering entrepreneurial submission. Entrepreneurs fall victim to small thinking in a number of ways. One common example is seen in hiring. When a business is still in startup mode and is not yet generating significant revenue, the natural inclination is to keep expenses as low as possible. Oftentimes, that means making hiring decisions based solely on cost. But hiring the cheapest employee is often a false economy. The cheapest employee may be less skilled than a more expensive alternative. Or he may be less productive. In many cases he may even be less reliable. By choosing the least costly alternative in hiring, the entrepreneur hasn’t actually saved money, rather the money has been wasted because it hasn’t generated an appropriate return. This penny-wise and pound-foolish approach isn’t limited to hiring decisions, however. Similar thinking can lead the entrepreneur to skimp on marketing expenses, defer needed capital improvements and pass up opportunities that could be transformative for the business but happen to be more expensive than maintaining the status quo. It is this desire to maintain the status quo that is so dangerous for an entrepreneur, for if a business is not moving forward then it is almost certainly losing ground.

FAILING TO DEFINE HOW YOU MEASURE SUCCESS AND SET APPROPRIATE GOALS Perhaps you want your business to stay small, develop a cult-like following and produce the best-kept-secret booze in the world. If so I salute you, wish you tremendous success and hope that you will send me a note letting me know where I can find your amazing elixir. If you go this route you may never achieve monetary success or world renown, but you may at least survive through dogged determination and the support of a small dedicated following. Alternatively, you might hope for a financial home run — the kind of success that results in fame, worldwide admiration and a


retirement home in the Caribbean. If this is your aim I salute you as well, wish you great monetary reward and would encourage you to consider philanthropy as a hobby along the way. But regardless of whether you choose door number one, door number two, or any of the infinite number of other doors, you’re not going to get to your intended destination without planning, setting some realistic objective goals and striving toward your ultimate audacious objective. If you fail to do this your business will be unfocused — and unfocused businesses fail. Note that the focus required isn’t as simple as an identification of what you want the end result to be. You certainly need a view of the desired ultimate outcome, but you also need to identify interim goals that will lead you to that destination. So, for example, if your goal is to double your sales within a certain period of time, an interim goal might be to secure a certain number of new distributor relationships, to increase consumers’ awareness of your brand in one or more new markets, or to obtain a certain number of meaningful product placements that may help drive sales. Note that each of these examples of interim goals is measurable. This aspect of goal-setting is often overlooked but immensely important. To be most effective in achieving the desired outcome (i.e. moving your business toward the objective you’ve set), you need to be able to measure the progress your business is making toward that result. Measurement allows you to see what steps you’re taking that aren’t having the desired effect, giving you the chance to change course if necessary. This is important if you are to avoid continuing down a path that ultimately leads to a dead end. But because measurement also allows you to see what actions are having the desired effect, it gives you the opportunity to shift resources and energy away from unproductive efforts and towards those efforts that are moving your business in the right direction. By setting appropriate goals and measuring your efforts against them regularly you substantially increase the likelihood of your business’s success. The sad reality of entrepreneurship is that even if you avoid making these mistakes — or any mistakes for that matter — your business may still struggle and ultimately fail. Category 5 hurricanes happen, but they are relatively rare and you really can’t do much to prepare for them. But by avoiding the most common mistakes you increase your odds of surviving the smaller tropical storms that approach with regularity and continually test your preparations and resolve. With effort, good counsel and determination, you will weather those storms. 33803

Brian B. DeFoe is a business lawyer at Lane Powell where he focuses his practice on helping companies in the customer-facing industries of hospitality and retail. Brian can be reached at, or at (206) 223-7948, or on Twitter @BrianBDeFoe. For more thoughts on spirits and the laws that govern them visit This is intended to be a source of general information, not an opinion or legal advice on any specific situation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with our readers.





Spreading ideas is central to our mission at

Artisan Spirit Magazine and the following article does just that. However, this article describes in detail how to fabricate a functioning still, and that warrants a warning:

DISTILLING CAN BE DANGEROUS AND EVEN FATAL WHEN FAULTY EQUIPMENT IS USED. Never use a still that leaks, pressurizes, creates a vacuum or otherwise operates in a faulty and unsafe manner. If you do not know how to test for or recognize faults in a still and do not know how to use any of the following tools, materials or methods, please consult with someone who does.


lmost anyone can build a still. Yes, if badly made it can explode and kill you. Yes, using the wrong materials can taint the distillate and kill you. Yet a single reassuring fact rings louder than all the cuphalf-empty ones: Ever since the alchemist Cleopatra invented the alembic still over 2,000 years ago, most have been the construct of the under-educated and the illiterate. Johnnie Walker never went to college. Neither did Jack Daniel or any of the Beam family. None were engineers or mechanics or scientists. The technology behind still design is a known quantity. An immense supply of patience is a must — it takes a lot of time doing a lot of the same thing over and over again to turn a flat sheet of copper into a uniform curved design — but the process can be extremely rewarding even if you never finish. Learning how to make a still helps build a greater understanding of distilling. There is also a unique



benefit which can only come from building your own still. Many master distillers believe the design of a still affects the spirit's flavor profile, which means making one yourself is guaranteed to enshrine your liquors with a truly one-of-a-kind taste. Now I will hand it over to our guide for this journey, self-taught still-builder and instructor Max Makowski, who suggests the following:


If you can take a course with an experienced blacksmith, do so.


Search the internet for Turkish, Iraqi, Serbian, Iranian, and Indian coppersmiths. Not still-makers — coppersmiths. Also look for videos featuring traditional tinsmiths in the United Kingdom.


If you do not possess a strong ability to solder, weld, and plasma cut, find someone who does. Someone who can arc weld copper onto copper is ideal. A good joint is paramount, don't shortcut this step. Never use lead or any toxic metal.


There are various methods for shaping copper. None are wrong. You may even come up with your own method. Use the one which works best for you.


Experiment with different gauges of copper. Find the lowest gauge you can work with. Thicker is better but too thick will make the whole thing impossible.


Unlike most metals, copper remains annealed when cold so after heating quench the copper immediately (dunk in cold water), before you start shaping it. This will significantly reduce the chances of getting burned.


If you have a way to learn the English Wheel, Helve Hammer, Planishing Hammer, or Shrinker/Stretcher go for it. Using these machines can reduce days of work down into a small pocket of hours. And don't worry, in many circumstances you won't have to fork over the huge sums to own any of them. Various metal shops across the U.S. exist which offer affordable daily rates for full access to all their tools.




We're going to build a 10-gallon alembic still. In theory, everything here can be used for making one of any size. Overall techniques do not vary. However, larger stills require thicker copper so additional tools may be needed.


It is legal to own a 10-gallon still as a decorative piece. Using it is against the law without the proper permits and licensing.

THE LOG You can use a dolly or a pipe. We will be using a log.


Find a log around knee high and two feet in diameter.


Add a depression to one side. It should be circle- or oval-shaped with a deep side gradually leading toward a shallow side like a swimming pool. Two inches is a good maximum depth. This can be created quickly with power tools, such as using a chainsaw then smoothing it out with a rotary power tool, or it can be made old-school-style by burning, digging, and finishing with sandpaper.

THE GUIDES These serve as references to ensure each piece of your still is true to its design.


Draw or use design software to create guides for each part of the still's curvature. Base them on the inside measurements. Keep in mind, this will only work with simple curves so make sure you break up the pieces of the still into uniform shapes.


Cut these guides out of plywood or metal. The advantages of using metal will be explained later.

Tip: What's the difference between a simple and complex curve? Any curve which remains constant is a simple curve. If the angle changes — getting narrower or wider or shifting direction — you're dealing with a complex curve.





There are two ways to do this. You can cut and anneal each piece of the still first then move on to shaping the metal, or you can cut, anneal and shape one piece at a time.


Measure out and mark the design of each piece of the still onto the copper sheets.


Cut leaving an extra inch around all sides.


Anneal the copper. To do this, move the flame back and forth over the copper sheet — never hover. Once different colors start to radiate from the heat source — red at the center rainbowing out to blue on the edges — the copper is annealed. Try to avoid moving the flame over already annealed areas.


Quench the copper. In other words, drop it into the bucket of water. There will be a lot of steam so don't stand over the bucket.




The entire process of shaping copper is solely about drawing (stretching) and upsetting (shrinking) the metal. As soon as you have a grasp of the relationship between these two, you're set.


Begin by using the rounded side of the ball peen hammer to draw the copper. For circular shapes start on the outer edge and work around in a spiral towards the center. For every other shape start at the point where the deepest curve will ultimately be and work out from there. The copper will draw out in two ways:


In all directions due to the ball-shape of the hammer.


In the direction of the strike.

So don't add an angle to your blows until you've mastered drawing. Hit directly down.


Folds/wrinkles will form. Once you have more folds than smooth spots, it's time upset the metal. If the folds are large, use the flat side of the hammer — striking directly down — to flatten these undulations.


As you hit the copper it will start to harden. Once you see little effect to your blows, anneal. With the portable torch you can anneal specific sections. Just keep in mind, doing it this way means working with hot metal.


Use the flat side of the hammer or the planishing hammer to smooth out the copper.


Place the guides against the inside of the shape. Move them across the copper. Once there are no gaps, you're done. The advantage of using a metal guide is, as you move it along the copper it will leave fine scratches, letting you know where the shape is inconsistent.


Cut out the final shape.


Tip: Be purposeful. Don't strike the copper all over the place. You are literally moving the

metal so, much like prepping dough for a pizza, you want to do it in a way where you are in control of how the shape is being formed.






The assembly —


Using the dimensions from the still design, mark and cut off the excess metal.


Weld/solder each part together — using either copper or silver — making sure you have room to put the steam coil inside the pot.


The finale — almost.


Have an experienced welder plasma cut out the holes for:

a. The vapor in. b. The vapor out. c. The pressure release valve. d. The thermometer. e. Optional — pressure gauge. f. Drain. 2. Have the expert weld/solder everything in place.

3. Do the final welding/soldering.



The finale.


Using a 20 percent muratic-acid-towater solution — add the water to the acid, not vice-versa — wash the whole still.




Take fine sandpaper to the discolored parts and welding/soldering lines.


Polish with Brasso and a soft damp cloth.


Rub with a soft dry cloth.


Optional — tint with a patina to give it an old-school vibe.

You're done. Enjoy. Harry Haller is an independent consultant focused on working with sugarcane-based distilleries. He can be reached at or (310) 933-6430. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM


Ransom Wines & Spirits Q UA L I T Y I S T H E B E S T M A R K E T I N G




“ make the best product I thought, ‘I want to

that I possibly can, I’ll price it as fairly as I can, and try to design a nice package and hope that that works.’” — TAD SEESTEDT 88


/ / /





alk into any good cocktail bar in the Northwest and you will probably see at least one Ransom label. Whether it’s the Old Tom Gin, Dry Gin, The Emerald 1865 Irish-style whiskey or another one of Ransom Wines and Spirits’ products they are everywhere, and they all came from Tad Seestedt’s farm and distillery in Sheridan, Oregon. Ransom distributes to more than 40 states and a handful of export markets, and managing that distribution keeps Seestedt hopping — they even have two distributors in some states, one for wine and one for spirits. Their widespread success is remarkable, especially since it was not a feat of marketing, but rather word-of-mouth



sharing between spirits lovers, writers, and bartenders who think Ransom’s spirits taste like what they hoped small distillers were capable of creating.

A Quality-First Approach From the beginning, Seestedt has spent his time, money and energy working on the farm and in the distillery rather than investing in marketing. It’s where he loves to be, and that dedication to the process created such a strong reputation and demand for Ransom’s spirits that the sixperson team is having trouble keeping up. “Promotion and marketing is really not my strong suit — at all,” laughs Seestedt. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

“I can’t really get my head wrapped around it.” Seestedt says that one of the first distributors he worked with asked him what his marketing plan looked like. He said he didn’t have one, and didn’t even know where to start. He really just wanted to make good wine and spirits. “I guess that was my philosophy, which is in a lot of ways kind of naïve, but I thought, ‘I want to make the best product that I possibly can, I’ll price it as fairly as I can, and try to design a nice package and hope that that works,’” he explains. While that approach may not work now with some estimates putting the number of DSPs at over 1,000 in the U.S., it did work for Seestedt, and Ransom’s products virtually promoted themselves. He says he got lucky with some good press and conversation, but luck was only part of it. Once people tried Ransom’s spirits and believed they got what they paid for or more, they kept buying them and sharing with their friends. That success did not come easy, though. Opening Ransom in 1997 after working as a winemaker in the ‘90s, Seestedt


started by making eau-devies and brandies, but most Americans didn’t know what to do with those spirits at the time. “That was really not the best business model, even though that was a very fervent passion of mine,” he tells. That said, he thinks those fruit spirits would be much better sellers today thanks to a more mature spirits and cocktail culture. In Ransom’s early years Seestedt moved his business four times around Western Oregon while battling with municipal authorities who interpreted the codes with a restrictive attitude. When he spoke with regulators in Sheridan, he said they took a more progressive approach so he sank his savings into his current farm and distillery. In Sheridan he chose a distribution model rather than the tasting room model, partly because he thought it would give him more time to make wine and spirits, and partly because it improved his chances of getting a conditional use permit. In his rural community his neighbors were able to weigh in on his application, so he chose to try to keep them happy by forgoing the tasting room and public tours. “The planners told me that if I wasn’t going to be open to the public and this was purely agricultural use, there’s really no objection that would stand up so I played it safe,” he explains. Now, 19 years after he founded Ransom he just opened his first tasting room 18 miles away in

wine-saturated McMinnville. Located in the Willamette Valley, the area is known for its pinot noir and that draws a steady stream of wine lovers. When those tasters stop by to try Ransom’s wines they try their spirits, as well, allowing Seestedt to reach a wide variety of beverage enthusiasts.

An Innovative Blend of Wine and Spirits Ransom’s wine and spirits programs mix well at the farm where they grow albariño grapes for wine, walnuts for nocino, botanicals for their gins and vermouths, and 30 acres of Alba six-row barley, a variety that was bred 50 miles away at Oregon State University in Corvallis, one of Ransom’s previous haunts. Much of the equipment crosses over between wine and spirits, too, including barrels. They age their Old Tom Gin and whiskeys in used French oak pinot noir barrels, using their own barrels first and buying extras from their neighbors. After a good cleaning, Seestedt says they are fantastic for maturation. Alongside the farm and facility, many of


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the wine and spirit-making techniques also cross over, something Seestedt says influences his approach to distilling. “I think I have a little bit more focus on fruit-based distillation and fermentation,” he shares, saying his wine background taught him early on just how important fermentation is. “Understanding fermentation is critical to making a good distillate, because really whatever comes out of the condenser is basically a reflection and a concentration of whatever you put in the pot to start with.” Using specific yeast strains for each spirit he makes, Seestedt says he likes slightly warmer-than-average fermentation temperatures which produce more ester-y washes. In an effort to showcase those aromatics he uses two French-made Prulho alembic charentais stills which are 300 and 700 gallons, respectively. Early on Seestedt was looking for classic whiskey pot stills when he ran across the smaller alembic. Hand-hammered in 1978, it was shipped from France to a California man who wanted to take it to Tahiti to make brandy with pineapples. That plan fell through and the still sat unused for decades before Seested found it. “This is the still I’ve always wanted,” said Seestedt. “This is like my dream still.” He bought the 700-gallon version as Ransom grew, and its history was just as rich. Built in 1971, it was originally used by a French cognac maker, then sold back to Chalvignac Prulho for refurbishing before Ransom bought it from them. Both stills are direct-fire and one has a thicker copper base to accommodate intense wood-fire heat. Seestedt says the craftsmanship is impeccable, and tells that even though other still designs are more efficient he thinks he gets more complex flavors in exchange. “It’s less efficient, it takes more time, we use a lot more fuel, we have a lower recovery rate of our starting alcohol, but I think in the end the product is better,” he explains. “I think we end up with more viscosity, definitely more depth of flavor and aromatics.” Ransom showcases those aromatics in all their products, even in the base for their popular gins, opting for a flavorful spirit which they integrate their botanicals into rather than a neutral spirit. By doing things their own way and putting quality first, Seestedt and the Ransom crew have earned a reputation for making unique and flavorful spirits by blending agriculture, science and art. For Seestedt, the business is in many ways a return to his roots since he grew up on a farm in upstate New York where his family raised livestock, grew field corn and made maple syrup and apple cider. “I got out of high school and thought I never wanted to sit on a tractor or have anything to do with farming again — until I got my college degree and started working for corporations and the government,” he laughs. “I realized that maybe an agricultural lifestyle was really what I wanted, and I wanted to focus not just on growing something but creating a finished product.”




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Ransom Wines and Spirits is located in Sheridan, OR. For more information, visit or call (503) 876-5022. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


Climate Change and Your Ingredients WRITTEN BY CHRIS LOZIER

What happens when your beloved local ingredient will no longer grow locally?


magine your distillery is wellestablished, your recipes have been dialed in for over a decade and your products are in high demand. Then one day you get a call from a fruit supplier who tells you the local peaches you have been buying since you first started making peach brandy, the ones you built that product’s reputation on, didn’t come to fruition this year. In fact, she says, no one in your entire region has any peaches, and the only peaches available will cost a fortune due to increased demand, low supply and longdistance refrigerated shipping. Not only will the fruit cost you more, so will your packaging since you will have to change your label that says “Made with local peaches.” So what do you do?


That is a hypothetical scenario, but the reality is it could happen. Due to changing weather patterns your ingredients may not always be available from your normal sources, or they may not be of the same quality, or you may not be able to find them at all. It may just happen once, but many scientists expect it will likely become the new normal due to the impact of climate change. Whether you believe the climate is changing or not is up to you, and there are plenty of people on either side of the fence. One person who is sure it is changing is Dr. Michael P. Hoffmann, the founder and executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture. Hoffmann spoke to a crowd of distillers

at this year’s American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) national convention in Chicago. He began his speech with a lighthearted request for a show of hands from climate change deniers and told that he was used to talking to people who didn’t agree with him. Then he dove in, informing distillers of the likelihood of changes in the quality, price, and availability of their ingredients. “You’re getting sources of product from all over the world, but that’s changing,” he said, citing instances of commonly used distilling ingredients that have been affected by changes in weather and overall temperatures. “Most everything, in one way or another, is changing.” Hoffmann painted a global picture of what these changes looked like, explaining how vanilla beans, saffron and other botanicals distillers use are currently being harvested in lower numbers, or being grown in new areas because their original WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

growing regions are no longer suitable. He also explained that it was not just exotic ingredients that were changing, but also the highest volume class of U.S. distilling ingredients: domestic grain. Last year (2015) was the hottest year on record by a reasonably wide margin, Hoffmann said, and due to the consistent increase in temperature, growing zones are shifting north and south away from the equator. As a result, in the last decade Manitoba, Canada’s grain production has blossomed from about 20,000 acres to over one million. While that may sound great for Manitoban grain growers, farmers in the traditional grain-growing regions like the West and Midwest are having trouble with unpredictable weather, especially around harvest time. Aaron MacLeod, a malt and grain chemist and director of the Hartwick College Center for Craft Food and Beverage, says this is a real problem for malting barley growers. “Three out of the last five years in Western Canada, and in North Dakota and Idaho, it's been a very wet late August and early September,” he tells. “That's not how it used to be, and so that different weather pattern caused all the grain to sprout and the quality was really down. It's one of those things — you think you understand your environment, and the plant breeders are working to adapt things to the environment, but when the environment changes on you, well then it changes the game doesn’t it?” While that sprout-damaged barley was able to be used for other products, it was no longer good for malting. If that continues, distillers can expect to see higher prices and possibly even shortages of malt in the future. Hoffmann says those changes in precipitation are one of the most-felt effects of climate change in North America. While

some regions are experiencing droughts, others are seeing their average rainfall now come in the form of intense downpours rather than moderate showers, like in the Northeast where downpour events are up 71 percent. “We did some videos of farmers giving their impressions of climate change perception and a couple students went to a farm and the farmer was not happy,” tells Hoffmann. “He had just lost $50,000 worth of seed that he’d put in the day before — probably alfalfa, very small seed — but a heavy downpour came through and it was over.” Those downpours and unseasonably wet conditions can ruin entire plantings in some regions, affecting the farmers and their end users, the distillers. While Hoffmann agrees that year-toyear weather variability is a normal occurrence, he says that weather shows symptoms of the bigger picture of overall climate. “Weather is what’s happening out there right now, short term. Climate is decades,” he explains. “Just because we’ve had two cold winters doesn’t mean things have changed, there’s still that natural variability. The long-term trajectory is still the same.” Beyond grain and botanicals, nut and fruit harvests have been generally unpredictable, not just because of droughts or excessively wet years, but also because of warm winters. Most nut and fruit trees need cold periods of dormancy to produce good fruit, and in some regions the winters are not cold enough anymore. Dan Farber of Osocalis Distillery in Soquel, California introduced Hoffmann at the ACSA convention, and he said that their vineyards and orchards, as well as their neighbors’, have performed very

Watch Dr. Michel P. Hoffmann's TEDx talk Climate Change — It’s Time To Raise Our Voices WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

unpredictably recently. “It’s not because of the major drought in California, it is because we have had very warm winters,” he explained. “Things came out of dormancy, and just a little rain caused amazing problems.” Farber says they looked at their regional global circulation models (GCM) and other climate and weather data before growing their own fruit and determined their area would be a good fit. But the variability they have seen in recent years has not matched what they predicted, and one or two bad years is enough to severely injure perennial orchard and vineyard crops. “Even with the best intentions and a lot of research,” said Farber, “we really, really now understand that we don’t know what we’re facing.”

Eventually many plant species will somehow either have to adapt, perish or change zip codes.

The Future of Cultivated Crops Alongside fruit, nut, botanical and grain growers, agave growers in Northern Mexico are experiencing new challenges, as well, and Hoffmann says that eventually many plant species will somehow either have to adapt, perish or change zip codes. But even if they can withstand or adapt to the increased temperatures and changing weather, insects and weeds may gain a competitive advantage over those cultivated species. That said, distilling ingredients will not be wiped out overnight. “There are possibilities to adapt,” said Hoffmann, citing methods some growers are implementing to use their now-limited water more efficiently. And thanks to plant breeding technologies like trait selection methods we may be able to develop plants that can adapt quickly and effectively to the new conditions.


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The primary culprits behind all this trouble are excess carbonbased greenhouse gasses emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, Hoffmann explained. In the U.S., agriculture often takes a lot of the blame, but Hoffmann says domestic agriculture actually only contributes about 10 percent of those emissions, versus 28 percent from transportation and 33 percent from electricity generation. While the earth’s atmosphere naturally contains greenhouse gasses, he compares our current situation with a bathtub that is filling up with water faster than the drain can get rid of it. “The rate of warming is fast and it will take a long time to turn this puppy around even if we shut down everything today,” he says. While the outlook may seem bleak, Hoffmann says we do have a chance to make a difference. He explained that many major food companies have recognized their ingredient shortages as an opportunity to spread the word through their marketing and packaging, and he recommends distillers do the same. “Both the food industry and your industry, you’re positioned to tell this story,” he suggests. “Everybody drinks, everybody eats, it’s a mechanism by which we can kind of share the story and get more people aware of what’s happening through your businesses.” Beyond spreading the word, he said that small decisions you make at your distillery can add up to a large aggregate decrease in carbon contribution. He suggested considering packaging and process changes that will not only reduce your energy and resource consumption, but will also likely save you money. He also encouraged distillers to enact a culture of sustainability at their DSP, saying that he and his colleagues did that in the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station over the past several years. “I asked about 10 staff if they would be willing to get together as often as they wanted to, to come up with better ideas of how they could operate,” he tells. “They did amazing things. Since we started this we actually saved several million dollars in energy costs and that was their doing.” When Hoffmann asked those staff members what they thought about the new practices, he says four out of five agreed it was the right thing to do, which he called “changing a culture.” Whether you think the increased global temperatures and weather changes are a result of climate change or natural variations, Hoffmann and many others are convinced our current course of carbon contribution is a concern we cannot afford to ignore any longer. Our planet is changing, and Hoffmann says we should care not only as distillers who need these ingredients, but as humans that need this planet, which he compares to the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.” “They’re pretty much reliant on their spaceship,” said Hoffmann. “So are we. Not a lot of places we can move to.”

Dr. Michael P. Hoffmann is founder and executive director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture. For information visit






he distilled spirits industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Whether you are involved in the industry directly or just a well-informed consumer, the bounty of spirits to choose from, or compete with, is hard to miss. This growth has emboldened distillers to create unique products using new techniques in order to grow or maintain their edge in the marketplace. Although the spirit types are generally the same as they always have been, the assortment of flavors available and the addition of non-traditional alcohol-containing products have created a market that is vastly different than it was before this large growth period. This article focuses on the complexity of alcoholic beverages and the origins of some of the most common flavor components. Another intricacy of this ever-evolving industry is the large amount of small-scale craft producers that have been able to join the market. The numbers show that it isn’t just the large companies that are making gains by producing spirits. According to Park Street, “Smaller brands have been gaining share. The non-top 5 brands gained between 12 and 37 percentage points over a 20 year period and between 2 and 9 percentage points in the last 5 years.” However, the analytical tests used to track the parameters which are important to quality, consistency, and classification of a spirit have not WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM


The more a producer, or consumer, understands the chemical diversity of distilled spirits as a mixture of science and art, the better they can appreciate the complexity of these products. 95

developed as quickly as the products themselves. As an analytical lab that focuses solely on alcoholic beverages, it is sometimes difficult to find answers to the questions clients are asking: Why are you getting a different proof than I am? It isn’t possible that my congener levels are that high, I did the cuts myself! What should I add to be more like product “x”? The list goes on. Unfortunately, no one has the answer to every question. Although there are many journals and research papers available covering an exorbitant number of related topics in this area, the trouble has been putting all of the data together to give practical answers that explain the complexity of these beverages. The relationship between ethanol, water, and the numerous other chemicals naturally produced in the crafting of spirit styles creates a complex multifarious solution created through endless chemical interactions. As spirits evolve, it is important to remember where flavors come from during the production process before any additions are made. The three major steps to create spirits are fermentation, distillation, and maturation. Each step creates, refines, or converts chemical compounds on a path to attain the desired finished product. The more a producer, or consumer, understands the chemical diversity of distilled spirits as a mixture of science and art, the better they can appreciate the complexity of these products.

Fermentation Many characteristic flavors come from the mash bill or raw ingredients used in the production of spirits. For example, the concentration of protein derived from the raw ingredients is directly correlated to the amount of fusel oils (n-propanol, iso-butanol, isopropanol, active and iso-amyl alcohols) produced. However, it is the biochemical process of fermentation that transforms the raw materials into a complex array of compounds that form the foundation of each distinct product. Yeast metabolism is a very involved biochemical process and flavor production can vary based on the yeast strain used as well as many other factors such as temperature, pH, etc. One study on the characterization of volatiles written by Yu Ping Zhao et. al of Yantai University, shows there are around 25 compounds that are found most commonly in the top six spirits types. During yeast metabolism, some of the common compounds produced are:

• acetaldehyde • ethanol • fatty acids • esters • diacetyl • methanol • higher alcohols The concentrations of these compounds along with the presence of oxygen can have important effects on the end product.


Distillation Other contributors to the origins of flavor compounds are the stills used to clarify the ethanol produced during fermentation. The shape and structure of a still affect how ethanol is purified and which compounds make it into the hearts cut, as well as the amount of ethanol removed in each run. Materials used to make a still can further contribute to clarification of a spirit by removing undesirable items such as sulfur compounds. The choice of which part of the distillation is kept to become the final product is another key player in flavor. The major components in a new distillate are referred to as congeners and include the compounds mentioned above. Trained distillers understand the contribution that congeners make, but oftentimes measure them as total congeners rather than focusing on how they perform individually.

Maturation The last step in production is maturation. Not all spirits are matured and that, in and of itself, becomes part of those products’ flavor profile. There are many ways to mature a product, but it is generally the combination of one type of distillate with any one type of cask that leads to the development of a particular flavor profile relative to time and other physical conditions. It has been found that approximately 200 substances are formed during the wood aging process as stated in an article on wood chemistry found in Brewer and Distiller International. The interactions between spirits and wood is a very involved chemical process and many studies are currently being done to understand these relationships. Cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, the three most prevalent wood polymers, do not directly contribute to flavor. Through chemical reactions during maturation, compounds from the distillate and wood are converted, lending themselves to desirable taste, aroma and visual attributes. Several of these traits would not be acquired without the unique chemical properties of ethanol. Furthermore, the way wood is treated before it ever becomes a maturation vessel for spirits plays a major role in determining which compounds are available to be modified and extracted by the distillate. Multiple byproducts from toasting add flavors during the maturation step. Maillard reactions, the chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that are typically found in browned or “toasted” foods, are highly reactive and vary based on what the starting compounds (amino acids and sugars) in the wood are. Maillard reactions from toasting happen to a greater extent in barrels toasted at low heat while caramelization of sugars and charring happen more as heat is increased. However, it is possible to have all three levels of toasting present and contributing during maturation. Charred wood contributes flavor but also aids in removal of unpleasant rubbery flavors. Other aging vessels can be used and have an effect on the volatile compounds in the spirit as well. No process is better or worse than another, just different, and it is important to consider these differences when crafting your desired flavor profile. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM






Sugar source

Higher protein concentration in the raw materials is directly related to an increase in fusel oils in the product.


MILLING MASHING PRESSING CRUSHING FLAVOR NOTE: Half of the sugars available to the yeast will become ethanol through fermentation.

FLAVOR NOTE: During distillation

compounds are separated using a variety of stills. This allows a distiller to refine the product, concentrate the ethanol and choose which COPPER compounds will STAINLESS become a part of POT STILL the final product.





majority of congeners found in spirits are produced during fermentation and are related to the yeast and the sugar source.

Yeast cells

Fatty Acids Esters Barrel aging



FLAVOR NOTE: A distillate can

be finished in numerous ways depending upon the product style. Artificial and/or natural flavors can be added. Flavor diversity can also come from a variety of maturation Bottling as is processes. Barrel aging can add hundereds of compounds to a spirit Flavor additions through the breakdown and conversion of wood compounds. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM â€

FLAVOR NOTE: Spirits made up 37% of

alcoholic beverage sales in the market, and some estimates show over 1,000 licensed DSPs now. This competitive environment continues to contribute to the diversity of products available to consumers 97

The Chemistry Products are constantly reacting and converting in solution, and many of the compounds produced during one chemical reaction are simultaneously being consumed as the reactant in a second reaction. A relevant example of this complex set of interactions is the production of ethanol and acetaldehyde from metabolism and the oxidation of acetaldehyde to ethanol. Both reactions occur within solution and can affect the speed and equilibrium of each independent chemical process. This relationship dealing with continuous reactions must be acknowledged throughout the process. In fact, the way a product is diluted, bottled, and shipped affects the uniformity from bottle to bottle that consumers receive. Most changes during these processes are minimal from a sensory perspective as noted by the average consumer. Because of that, the complexity and effects of the interactions are often forgotten. The best way to produce a high quality product is to account for these reactions at every step and to maintain consistency throughout. Sensory evaluation with trained panelists is currently one of the best tools to analyze a spirit. No current analytical methods can give a measurable value for how something feels in the mouth or exactly which compounds contribute to the subtle sweet flavors noticed in a favorite pour. There are some lab tests available and ways to track the consistency of production runs, but currently there is no one test or even series of tests which can be used to define spirits solely by analytical parameters. Gas chromatography can be used to quantify volatile compounds, but with the large number of compounds present in a given product, accurate quantification can become prohibitive or difficult at best. A paper by Poisson and Schieberle illustrates that, over a period of more than 40 years, more than 300 volatile compounds have been identified in whiskey alone; this number does not include non-volatile compounds that stay in solution (Poisson paper). Another study on the aroma characters of distilled spirits by Yu Ping Zhao found 158 volatile compounds in six common distilled spirits using solid-phase microextraction on a GC-MS system. This is a very helpful comparative study, but the values were qualitative and many of the compound identifications were tentative. Identifying all possible compounds is the first step to understanding flavor profiles of spirits, yet this still does not account for the flavors perceived by the individual consumer which are created by chemical interactions as well as the individual’s own taste thresholds for each chemical. Compound interactions create the intricacy and variability of perceived tastes and aromatic characteristics; the most common flavor attributes in distilled beverages can rarely be associated with a single compound. However, knowing the characteristic compounds for each beverage is an important piece of sensory training. Individual compounds are what can currently be quantified and tracked to create specifications to aid in quality control.



To add to the complexity of spirit analysis the language used in sensory evaluation is not always chemically relevant. A sensory analyst will often use terms that are well known or familiar descriptions but not necessarily chemically congruent. An example of this would be the use of the descriptor word vanilla in a product that does not contain the chemical compound vanillin. Despite the obstacles that surround analytical methods to test for all off flavors, a sensory evaluation by a group of trained analysts can easily detect when compounds are out of specification for a certain product. However, not all compounds have the same taste threshold, and therefore a more potent compound at a low concentration may be more palpable than a less potent compound with a higher concentration. A threshold value is the concentration at which an aroma or taste can be detected in a sample, with a recognition threshold being a concentration at which a compound can be positively identified. Threshold values are dependent upon a number of variables including the matrix in which it is detected. A person trained in whiskey evaluation is not a valid analyst for brandy evaluation without further training specific to brandy samples. The flavor threshold of a single compound or compounds varies depending upon the product being analyzed due to competing flavors and interactions with other compounds. Sometimes thresholds are synergistic, meaning a group of compounds together can alter the perceived threshold of any one component within the group. This may also affect the perception of compounds if variability occurs or any off flavors are present batch to batch for the same product. This makes a standard set of taste threshold values impossible for the alcohol beverage industry to develop.



Corporate Office West Coast North Northwest Canada British Columbia Pleasantville, NY Windsor, CA Geneva, NY McMinnville, OR Montreal, QC Kelowna, BC

Summary The differences throughout the processes are in the end what has allowed for the growth and development of this everchanging industry. Every consumer can find “their favorite” on the shelf. In fact, it has become difficult for many to choose just one. No matter what variety of flavors is added to a spirit or what novelty item gets alcohol added to it, it will always be the chemical process of fermentation, distillation and maturation that make each product possible. As a producer of spirits, it is important to know your process and understand the chemistry occurring in each step. It is the craftsmanship that goes into distilling that differentiates a brand in its class of spirits. With the analytical side working in harmony with the distillers, the future of the spirit industry will be an interesting one filled with endless opportunities.

Amber Weygandt, B.Sc. is lead chemist at Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services, LLC. For more information visit or call (859) 278-2533.







Recently, I had the privilege and elation to journey to Jamaica. Beyond the typical “Ya mon” and “Respect” that you are sure to hear, you are also sure to be offered anything and everything associated with rum—straight rum, cream rum, rum cake, rum this, rum that—reflected by the fact that rum sales are on the rise. Some speculation is even touting that premium rums may jump by 50 percent in sales over the next few years. All in all, this makes it a great time to make rum, even in the states, and Salt Lake City, Utah’s Dented Brick Distillery is taking advantage by sharing its first released product—a white rum—with the public.

through his father’s business in Idaho, and over the years he made many friends in the wine industry. But when deciding what to do he knew something besides beer and wine were in his future: “Wine is saturated; it’s a really hard market. Beer is just foreign to me. So I just started distilling a little bit and playing around, and my neighbors really thought I could make a good spirit.” Miller previously worked with High West Distillery in Park City, Utah and New Deal Distillery in Portland, Oregon, and is happy to make a return to Utah: “Being at New Deal, I learned a lot. Portland was awesome, but this is where I grew up and I have family here.” He knows Salt Lake City well. It’s an area known for its conservative Mormon religious culture—but a lot of that is changing.



While the Dented Brick Distillery itself is new, head distiller Ethan Miller has been around the block. That’s probably why when asked questions and when giving a tour of Dented Brick he and owner Marc Christensen (no relation to author, photographer or editor) seem calm in their speech and casual in their demeanor … even for just opening a few weeks prior to our interview (March 2016) and a day prior to a local television appearance that showcased their distilling and bottling process. But perhaps when you are facing the apex of your dream, the pieces just fit together and the path doesn’t seem all that treacherous. Christensen was familiar with winery life as a supplier of hoses

“I’m starting to get the feeling that Utah liquor laws are not that bad,” shares Christensen. “There’s a lot of hype around it because of the Mormon church. It’s a control state like 17 other states, but they’ve been very cooperative as long as we have our federal stuff so it really hasn’t been an issue.” Christensen goes on to share that the state is even allowing tastings and tours making it easier to interest customers in their products. Additionally, taxes are fairly low compared to the national average. Miller notes the “Zion Curtain” as the exception, and it is one of the quirkiest alcohol laws in the nation. Within Mormon culture, alcoholic drinks being poured and mixed in most restaurants must




be done so in a concealed way—behind the Zion Curtain—and business serving cocktails must obtain a special license to get around it. “That’s the biggest casualty because Utah is behind the times on cocktail culture,” Miller explains. “People aren’t as knowledgeable about taking something home and making a cocktail themselves. That’s one thing we’re trying to chip away at.” Since many people love to watch bartenders craft their drink the Zion Curtain is definitely a barrier to imbibers wishing to learn how to concoct a cocktail at home. “Utah normally catches up with the world, but they just need time,” Christensen interjects, and Miller agrees. “Once they realize they can make money, then it usually starts to change.”

UNIQUELY YOURS Christensen and Miller are excited about the uniqueness of their property and endeavors. The property they found has two artesian wells, and Miller loves being able to create spirits with the natural well water that is full of minerals. “These minerals are really good for the yeast,” says Christensen. They are lucky to have not only artesian wells, but also city water and several different filtration systems. They also saved all the bricks from the original building. Each brick—even the dented ones (hence the name)—were saved and are now part of the new building. Club members have their name put on the bricks in homage and some members have even added encouraging notes for the distillers like “HAVE COURAGE.” Miller likes to use artesian well water, organic, and non-GMO products. He works to source ingredients that will enhance his spirits and be conscious of customer wants and needs. Getting back to Dented Brick’s first product release, their white rum is called Antelope Island Rum, taking its name from Antelope Island in the Salt Lake. In the near future, Dented Brick is working on a dark rum, a gin, and a couple of aged spirits. “I really want each product to stand out in its category,” Miller says. “I want it to be uniquely good. The well water and our recipes make a big difference. I’m giving our items more depth and character. I think those things and being organic and non-GMO will set us apart.” Christensen also adds that because of the farm-to-table movement people love to hear that everything is made in-house at Dented Brick. Dented Brick organized a farmers market for their grand opening that turned out to be a great party with a band and people of all ages.

SUPPORTING THE SYSTEM Dented Brick planned their space to easily add another still and other distilling equipment so that they can double in size without constructing a new building. Since Salt Lake City attracts so many tourists, this is all very feasible. Winter



sports are very popular, but mountain biking and hiking in the area during the summer have also grown in popularity. These seasonal attractions make for good business for Dented Brick. “Tourism is almost a year-round thing now,” Christensen adds. With the growth of the distilling industry in Utah and his knowledge from working in Oregon, Miller was able to launch a distiller’s guild in Utah. Currently five distillers are included with hopes that others will join in time. Miller has a lot planned with the guild: “We’re going to do a lot of co-marketing and co-support. We plan to do some advertising outside of the state to attract tours and we are working on an adventure map. We’re hoping tourists can see that you can actually get a good drink in Utah—and the distilleries

are spread out so it will encourage people to really explore the state.” Additionally, Miller says they plan to get linked up with the local winery tour, work with the chamber of commerce, and bring in different people to educate their distillers. With a lot in the works and a strong foundation, Miller and Christensen are set on a path to making and doing great things in Salt Lake City. It was nice of the club member to tell them to “HAVE COURAGE,” but I think they’ve got this.

Dented Brick Distillery is located in Salt Lake City, UT. For more info visit or call (801) 326-3913.





ew distilleries are popping up all the time, but it can still be a lonely business with less than 1,000 distillers in the country. However, malt whiskey distillers aren’t in this alone. They’re not the only ones out there working with malted barley, and they might just be able to learn a couple tricks from their brethren in the brewing industry.

Ryan Quinlan, assistant distiller at the nascent Bently Heritage Distillery in Minden, Nevada, and former head brewer at Great Basin

“Different strains of yeast, that’s what a lot of brewers focus on. They’re like little alchemists. A lot can change with that one variable...” — Ryan Quinlan, Bently Heritage Distillery

Brewing Co. in Reno, said the first thing that jumped out at him upon entering the distilling world was how underappreciated the fermentation process can be. “Some distillers look at it as just a necessity,” said Quinlan. “(Instead) look at your fermentation as part of a recipe, with the same emphasis and concern as you operate your still.” Quinlan says distillers should appreciate the galaxy of different compounds that the wide variety of brewer's yeasts can produce. He thinks of it as a library of flavors that can be utilized for inclusion in the final spirit. “It’s a selection process,” he explains. “If you’re not putting as much into your fermentation, you don’t have as much in your library. Different strains of yeast, that’s what a lot of brewers focus on. They’re like little alchemists. A lot can change with that one variable ... It’s another ingredient.”

Andy Causey, technical sales manager at Brewers Supply Group (BSG), said an interesting practice he has seen catch on is the usage of specialty malts — such as toasted, caramel or chocolate — in whiskey. Too much will overwhelm a spirit, but a small touch can add yet another layer of character. “I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anybody would use specialty malts,” he said. “But there’s a definite complexity that comes from using specialty malts.” Not everything from the brewing canon is a sure thing, though, and there are some methods that brewers-turned-distillers have adopted which might be reconsidered. Causey said he sees a lot of former brewers using brewing practices, such as vorlaufing (a wort clarification technique), when they do not need to. “In brewing, you have to spend a lot of time concentrating on clarity, because you have an unstable product,” he said. When asked if the author and other distillers are wasting 10 minutes of every mash on clarifying, it was an unequivocal “Yes.” In fact,

“Separating solids takes a back seat. You don’t have to separate it out. And some feel it contributes to the congeners in a distilled spirit, where it detracts from a beer.” — Andy Causey, Brewers Supply Group


the practice could even be stripping out eventual flavor-active components. “Separating solids takes a back seat,” explains Causey. “You don’t have to separate it out. And some feel it contributes to the congeners in a distilled spirit, where it detracts from a beer.” Another issue he’s helped troubleshoot is helping distillers achieve a complete fermentation. Brewers aim to leave some residual sugars — dextrins — in the final product to lend it body. But in distilling that’s wasted extract. “They’re used to alcohol yields that don’t achieve full attenuation, but you shouldn’t be leaving any points after fermentation,” he said. “I see a lot of guys leaving a lot on the table there. They’re getting 10 percent less yield. If you’re hitting zero or below zero, I wouldn’t worry about it in the least. If you’re not reducing dextrins, a low-temperature amylase would pay for itself.” Unlike Quinlan, Causey is a believer in the “hot and dirty” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

fermentation method, grouping it in with letting solids in as a way to introduce compounds — “small off-flavors in beer that are considered positive in spirits” — which will turn into flavorful esters over time. “Some of those esters are bonded with higher alcohols,” Causey explains. “Esters are more important than the higher alcohols, but they occur together in the fermentation ... some funk is good. Those are things that would be horrible in a beer, but it adds complexity, another layer of flavor that might be the difference.” At

“We treat (our wort) much like a beer ferment. We boil. We discard the hot break.” — Christian Krogstad, House Spirits Distillery

House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon, founder and master distiller Christian Krogstad, who began brewing 25 years ago and is a graduate from the Siebel Institute of Technology, is taking a brewer’s approach to his wash from beginning to end. He notes, as Quinlan does, that vorlaufing homogenizes enzymatic activity and sets the filter bed. “We vorlauf — I guess it’s probably not super important unless you find yourself with a lot of stuck beds,” he said, noting that they try to remove solids at every stage. “I agree with not being dogmatically set in your ways. There’s some differences of opinion.” Krogstad also says they boil the wort because they want a sanitary ferment, since one of his concerns is putting up a consistent product for aging. He’s knocking out boiled wort into a sanitary fermenter so that it can sit in the fermenter an extra couple of days if it has to without having the pH drop in an uncontrolled manner. “It can sit around — nothing’s really changing,” Krogstad said. “If you haven’t sanitized it, you have an active bacterial infection. If that’s something you intend and you have reproducibility, that’s fine. We treat it much like a beer ferment. We boil. We discard the hot break.” Krogstad does use acidulated malt, and has used an acid rest, to create lactic acidity in his wash. That said, he feels that allowing lactic fermentation in the fermenter can be unpredictable and create inconsistent results. “It can be hard to control once you let that out of the box,” he said. Interestingly, he is also going against common practice by discarding the cold break — yeast and other solids — from his fermenter instead of distilling it to increase yield and extract specific character. “We discard that,” tells Krogstad. “There’s a lot of sulfur when you autolyze that yeast. I guess we haven’t done a good job unlearning those brewing lessons.” With the still he’s running, though, he doesn’t get very targeted


heads and tails separation, so this gives him less that needs to be cut. “I think we get less separation because we get less reflux,” he says. “We’re really just trying to collect what’s already there, instead of cleaning it up.” He also has different compounds to work with than if he were using a standard whiskey yeast. Instead, House Spirits uses an ale yeast for their whiskey fermentations. “We like some of those different fruity esters and the flavors that develop,” tells Krogstad. Recently, Krogstad sat on a panel with Dave Pickerell, master distiller at WhistlePig and former master distiller at Maker’s Mark, and Angostura Rum’s master distiller Jean Georges, where he explained the different techniques he uses to get a high quality product. “They have a different approach,” Krogstad said. “Because they have great tools to use, the wash doesn’t have to be delicious. They can separate out the undesirable fractions later.” To be sure, there is no single right way, and there are many opinions about what techniques and materials can cross over between brewing and distilling. The right answer depends on your goals and the limits of your equipment, but distillers can certainly look at brewers’ methods when they are looking for something that might be missing from their existing playbook. “I felt like I had to unlearn a lot of things, and apply a lot of other things that I hadn’t been doing,” Quinlan said. “It’s a process of learning and unlearning at the same time. When you have interdisciplinary crossover, there’s a lot of opportunity for creativity.” 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







t often takes an outsider to spur radical change in a timehonored craft like distilling. It was true with Sir Perrier, the inventor of what was to become the continuous still, and the same mantra stands for Cezary Trzcinski, the genius behind the GENIO brand of stills.

The Man “I must point out I am not a genius,” he emphatically said, giving credit for his revolutionary designs to a combination of environment, passion, dog-headedness, and the purity of mind which comes from no formal training in still-making or distilling. Born and raised in Communist Poland, Cezary, or “C” for those who find it hard to pronounce his name, learned at a young age to be resourceful and creative. “There were no businesses that provided plumbing, electrical, or [general] repair services to households,” he explained. “In 90 percent of the situations, if you could not do these things yourself, then it just did not get done.” When the Wall came down opportunity rose, and although Cezary graduated from high school as an “Electronic Technician,” he chose to pursue an MBA because of a desire to provide for his young family the best way he saw fit: starting a business in order to tap the fast-growing new world of capitalism. His construction and coal companies soared until the 1997 world financial crisis. Poland’s young economy was hit exceptionally hard, forcing Cezary to shutter his doors in 1999. Cezary, however, is quick to note the fate of his businesses was no fault but his own, their demise born from his little experience and far too great expectations. He decided it was time to play things safe. Starting as a regional salesman for Fiat he soon moved to the solid rockbed of the


banking world, but that childhood filled with building and inventing laid too firm a foundation for him to ignore forever. He needed an outlet which involved creation. Fortunately he possessed a propensity for scientific thought and an ease with tools. He was also a native of the country which both invented vodka (sorry, Russia, but it’s true) and taxed sales of the spirit at around 63 percent. In other words, tinkering with a homemade still was an extremely inviting challenge (although one should note, Cezary first decided to build a replica Shelby Cobra ... why not, right?). Cezary presumed the best product was the purest product — one with no odor and no taste. He was also determined to make the output of his still a perfect 96 percent abv spirit from the “first to the last drop.” In retrospect, Cezary accepts the insanity of this quest. “I know now that if my father or a master distiller would have taught me distilling, then I am 100 percent sure that I would have just duplicated their teachings and I would have considered it as the only correct method,” he explains. But in 2008 he saw the whole thing as nothing more than a technical problem which needed to be solved. He spent countless hours after work and on the weekends at the computer or in his garage coming up with one crazy design after another. One year later Cezary emerged from his workspace with a fully functional manually-operated still. Word got out, and by 2010 demand was such he had to hire someone to work on assembling the stills during banking hours. Busier than ever, Cezary was no less determined to develop the fullyautomatic version of his vision. He found a recent graduate in robotics to help, WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

created a software based on algorithms generated by hundreds and hundreds of performed processes, went through nine iterations, came close to giving up, and struggled to create consistency in the distilate, but Cezary finally acheived the impossible. His automated still had become a reality. The final step came in 2012 when he quit his job at the bank to focus on GENIO full time. And in doing so Cezary vindicated himself — erasing his past failings as an entrepreneur with a fastgrowing, successful and well-revered still-building business.

The Machine So what exactly is the GENIO? Some may recognize it as a more refined version of Cezary’s earlier creation, a still sold by a thirdparty vendor under the name iStill. But that still begs the queston: What IS the GENIO? In a nutshell, it is a paradigm shift in still design. It looks more like Sputnik than a pot still or column still. Glass and matte-black metal all but replace traditional copper. It’s electrically powered, and in just four feet the GENIO’s column achieves up to 40 HETP (height equivalent to a theoretical plate). It is a self-contained ecosystem of sorts whereby all parts tie into one another giving the entire device control and stability. The reflux system uses a unique project head which allows for a flow rate accuracy of up to half a fluid ounce per minute. Heat is generated by a direct electrical system which, combined with extensive insulation, significantly reduces energy loss while maintaining a firm grip on possible temperature fluctuations. The brain controlling the whole thing is based on six digital temperature sensors, two pressure sensors, flow sensors, and a liquid level sensor sending information to a software program which steers four solenoids, controls a stepper motor, and varies heating power from 5,000 to 18,000 watts. In other words, you fill the tank with your wash, select the desired distillation parameters, and never touch anything again. As ingenious as the GENIO is, Cezary admits the still is not for everyone. For “people who specialize in alcohols that are rich in taste ... for this group, nobody has ever built, and I don’t believe ever will build a fully-automated still,” said Cezary. “From [sic] the very prosaic reason — the notion of ‘taste,’ ‘soul,’ ‘artistry’ can never be replicated by a binary computer program.” Nonetheless, artisanal distillers may still find a use for the GENIO. Using the GENIO as an auxiliary unit for distilling heads, tails, and unsuccessful distilation runs (low abv, off-taste, etc.) adds the ability, “with minimal investment of time and money, [to produce additional] spirits of maximum quality for further use.” Whether or not the GENIO is for you, the journey Cezary took to manifest his moon-shot should at the very least be inspiring. So chase your dreams, or as Cezary quotes from Mark Twain, “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


21 2. 292. 81 93










W O R D S & P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y C A RT E R R A F F

Spreading ideas is central to our mission at Artisan Spirit Magazine and the following article does just that. However, this article describes in detail how to fabricate a small test still and that warrants a warning: Distilling can be dangerous and even fatal when faulty equipment is used. Never use a still that leaks, pressurizes, creates a vacuum or otherwise operates in a faulty and unsafe manner. If you do not know how to test for or recognize faults in a still and do not know how to use any of the following tools, materials or methods, please consult with someone who does. The heart of the distillery, besides all the hard work we put in, is our stills. They are the cornerstone of the institution we call a distillery. In the past I have written about some simple DIY projects, and now I’m going to outline how to make a test still. Now all the regular safety concerns apply times 10 for several reasons. For starters, you are going to be mixing electricity with liquid and this is always a dangerous combination. This project is not for the faint of heart as it involves full-on fabrication, but I will try to explain some simple ways of doing things when it comes to welding, brazing, soldering, electrical and machining.

SIZING AND MATERIALS We will be focusing our efforts on creating a pot still, but it can be transformed into a reflux still of sorts. Just like your production still, the size of the test still matters so our first concern is choice of vessel for the pot. One caveat


I must mention is if you are going to be using this as an actual test still it is recommended that its configuration, construction and form match the still you will be using for your large batches. Having said that, even if it is not it will still give you an approximation of what your test batch will taste like in your production still. There are many containers that can be used as your pot and almost anything will work that is strong enough and made of the right material. If you’ve read my other articles you have seen a list of what materials can and cannot be used in a distillery which you can cross check. We will be making the majority of the still out of stainless steel as it is very common, inert and easy to work with, and the vessel we will use for the purpose of this article is a keg. Kegs are easy to find and you most likely already have one on hand. There are different shapes of kegs and the standard 15.5-gallon Sankey North American keg is what I will use here. If you want something smaller

PARTS LIST: 1x 15.5-gallon stainless steel keg 1x Pressure relief valve – McMaster Carr 3x 4” sanitary (triclover) long ferrules 2x ½” NPT stainless steel half couplings 4x 1” NPT stainless steel half couplings 1x

1” ball valve

1x 1” NPT close nipple for ball valve 2x 2000-watt 115V low density water heater elements 1x 4500 - 5500watt 220V low density water heater element 1x 2” pressure gauge 0-30 PSI


12GA power cords


10GA power cord


220V prong plug


115V prong plugs


2’ x 4” copper tube

1x 3’ x 1 ½” copper tube 3x

1 ½” copper elbows

1x 4” x 1 ½” sanitary cap reducer – not the long cone-shaped one 4x 1 ½” sanitary ferrules 2x

2” sanitary ferrules

2x 2” sanitary x ¾” NPT adapters 2x ¾” NPT male x ¾” female garden hose adapters 1x

Garden hose


the best thing to do is look for a five-gallon keg that is used for soft drinks — not corny kegs but an actual mini keg. Around my area BevMo has them for root beer and they look like a regular Sankey keg but smaller. You should also avoid the regular fivegallon beer kegs that are tall and skinny. Those cannot be used as the heating element will not have enough room at the bottom. The next issue we must address is the type of heat source: direct immersion elements or a double boiler. I will work with the former, but describe the latter for those of you who want to attempt to make one of those. In both cases the metal scrap yard is going to be your best friend. For a double boiler you are going to have to find another stainless vessel that can house your keg with at least an inch of spacing around the entire diameter and about five to six inches minimum on the bottom. You will also need a host of other items on the outside vessel such as a pressure relief valve, a pressure gauge, a sight glass for water level, a fill port, fittings for the heating elements, drains for the inner pot and a drain for the outer pot. For the test still we will fabricate the pot (keg) first. Here you will need hole saws, a 4 ½” grinder, a die grinder with a burr rated for stainless steel, a torpedo level and TIG and MIG welders. The 4 ½” grinder is your best bet for making the parts we need. It does not have to be an expensive one, just make sure you test it out after you buy it because some of them vibrate like crazy and those are hard to use. You will also need some cutting discs for WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

the grinder. Usually grinders only come with a grinding disc which is very thick and, of course, used for grinding down metal. The cutting discs we need are thin and rated for the type of metal, so make sure you buy ones that are for stainless or mild steel. Also, when ordering parts you do not need SAE grade 316 stainless steel, 304 is fine, although when it comes to machining parts 316 is actually easier to work with. Stainless is very hard to machine and tough on cutting tools so I will give some tips during this article on ways to help combat this.

GETTING STARTED Take your keg, make sure it is clean and empty and remove the stem valve. If you do not know how, check out for help. Put your keg on a level surface and put a small torpedo level on the top

stem and level the keg. It should be perfectly level. Then take your 4” sanitary ferrule and put it over the keg stem, put the torpedo level on the ferrule and move it around until it looks to be in the center and level. Hold it down and mark the inside with a fine felt tip pen. With your grinder, safety glasses, earplugs and a respirator, cut the old stem off to give you some room to work, then cut out the hole for the ferrule to the inside of the line you made. Put the ferrule back on and see where adjustments need to be made, then use your die grinder to adjust the hole. You will also want to deburr the hole with a file. Next take your 1” NPT coupling and measure the outside dimension and get a hole saw that matches. Near the bottom of the keg where the bottom is actually welded to the body make three marks spaced about 4” apart. Mark enough up from the bottom weld so that the bottom of the coupling is about ½” up. Now drill those holes and make sure when drilling that the center hole is angled down a bit, but straight in, and the holes on either side of the center hole are angled down slightly and parallel to the center hole so it won’t be straight in toward the center of the keg, but offset. This is so the heating elements will not hit each other when installed. Use a very slow speed on your drill and use a cutting fluid such as a cutting oil. If you do not have that use a constant stream of flowing water. You might need a helper for this. Make sure to spot drill with a small drill with about an 1/8” bit. Then follow it up with a ¼” bit which is what most hole saws use as a pilot bit. The reason for using a regular ¼” bit to spot drill and not the one on the hole saw is twofold. If you dull the hole saw bit, then you will have to go buy a special bit at the hardware store, and second when that ¼” pilot busts through,


the drill and you will go with it and the hole saw will break some teeth off. Next drill one in the same height location but on the side for a drain. Then drill a hole with the proper bit size in the top near the outer edge for the PSI gauge’s ½” NPT half coupling. Leave enough room so that coupling can be welded in. You might have to cut the top ring of the keg off, so decide this before doing any work as it will make cutting the top part out easier if that ring is already gone. Then on the opposite side of the hole for the drain, on the side of the keg near the bottom, drill for another ½” half coupling about 2” from the bottom. This will be for an optional temperature probe and it is best to do it all at once instead of adding it later.

FITTING AND WELDING Once all those holes are drilled and deburred we will go ahead and weld them, and remember that back-gassing is necessary for welding stainless. Fitment is the key — good tight fitting joints are necessary for TIG welding. If you find that the holes are a bit big you can always use a MIG welder with stainless wire and then follow that up with a TIG. The reason for this is a MIG weld will never hold water since they are not for liquidtight or sanitary applications. (Side note: Sanitary welding is always done with TIG, but seeing as this is for distillation and not fermentation then sanitary methods are not necessary. Anything you make in this will be automatically sanitized by the nature of the alcohol and boiling of the wash.) First put in a 1” NPT coupling angled downward in the center hole and tack it in place on just the sides. Small tacks are best. If you need to adjust the coupling more downward after you tack it then put a 1” NPT x 10” pipe nipple on the coupling, twist it finger tight and use the nipple as a handle to bend the coupling downward. In doing so you adjust the coupling so when the heating element is in the keg it is pointing downward to get it to the lowest part. Then if we get too low on a distillation


the element will not burn out since these elements need to be submerged during use. If your hole is too tight you will have to adjust it ahead of time with your die grinder on the top and bottom of the hole to make it oblong. Once that is done tack the top and bottom of the coupling and weld it in. Repeat for the other two elements making sure to put in each element as you weld in the coupling to make sure the elements do not hit each other on the inside. If the elements do not screw in easily after welding you might need to chase the threads with a 1” NPT tap. The 1” coupling on the side can be welded on straight as this is for a drain. You can get fancy if you want and weld a 90-degree elbow on the bottom for a drain that will completely drain the keg, but then you will have to add legs to the keg to keep it off the ground for clearance of the drain. On the other side and the top of the keg weld the ½” coupling on straight. Then weld on the 4” sanitary ferrule.

CLEANING AND TESTING THE POT At this point I suggest you clean the keg thoroughly with dish soap and water. Then plug up the holes and fill the keg with water and add some powdered brewery wash (PBW) and let it soak for a couple days. While it soaks you can pressure test it by filling it up all the way and putting a 4” sanitary cap with a ¼” NPT port in it. Hook up an air compressor and pressurize it with no more than 2-3 PSI! Check for leaks and fix any you find. This is very important because your still absolutely cannot leak — that is when bad things happen. Be careful when removing the air line from the keg as water does not compress but air does, and it might spit some water out at you. Never pressure test anything with just air. The reason we use air here and not a garden hose is that the water pressure out of a garden hose is anywhere from 60-90 PSI which is way too much. You could use just water if you have a water pressure regulator, but most people don’t.

MAKING THE COLUMN For the column we will be using a 2’ section of 4” type L or K copper tube. Those are the thicker types, and type M is just too thin. I like making things that are universal and this will be the case for our column. With this design you will be able to add to its length or change its configuration as well as clean it thoroughly. Make sure the ends of your tube are cut square. Then take your tube and die grinder and grind the inside of the tube until you get a very snug fit with your ferrule. Do this for the other side. Once that is done put a ferrule in and level it as you tap it in with a mallet. Once it is secure and level take your tube and brace it and braze it in using silver braze. Repeat for the other side. Now take a stainless wire wheel and clean the outside and inside. As with the keg, thoroughly wash it with dish soap and water. Put some caps on and test it thoroughly for leaks (again, this still cannot have any leaks) then soak the inside with PBW for a few days. Then use a dental mirror to check the inside joint to make sure all the flux is gone. If it is not, clean up the remaining flux with a wire wheel and/or die grinder and repeat the cleaning procedure. For the lyne arm use 1 ½” copper tube type L. Cut a piece of tubing 5” long (this can be adjusted so that the height of the condenser is where you want it to be for your collecting vessel). Grind the inside so the ferrule has a very snug fit. Braze this on and clean up as mentioned above. The reason we are brazing now is because it is easier to see inside and clean up. Then use the 1 1/2” copper elbow and as much 1 ½” tube as necessary to position your condenser where you want it. I like it about 5-8” away from my pot, but no matter what you want at least 5” of tube above the condenser, no less. On the other end attach another 1 ½” ferrule. The condenser is going to need some machining. For a still this size you will want at least a 3’ condenser 2” in diameter;


bigger is better. What I will describe here and in the parts list is for 2” — just switch out those dimensions if you are going to change it. This condenser routes the cooling water through the tubes and the vapor around the tubes, which is very efficient. Get some 2” O.D. stainless steel tube with a wall thickness of .065” or thicker — not too thick though — and weld a ferrule on both ends. To help with this use a long piece of all-thread and some large fender washers and nuts to hold the ferrules tight and in place as you weld. Then drill a hole for a 1 ½” ferrule on the side — for this you do not want the ferrule to slip inside the hole, but rather sit on the hole. Place it pretty close to the 2” ferrule on top while still being able to fit a sanitary clamp on easily. Then with the grinder and a grinding disc or whatever you are comfortable with, fish-mouth the ferrule so it fits on the 2” tube. Repeat this on the opposite side and at the other end of the tube. This is for the inlet of the ethanol steam and the exit. Weld these on. Then you will need to cut two stainless discs out to fit inside of the 2” ferrules on each end. Once you have those you will need to lay out the tubes to go inside the condenser; the more the better. Use ¼” I.D. stainless tubing with at least .065”

wall thickness. Find the correct drill size and drill the holes in these discs. The spacing between the tubes can be 1/16” or bigger. Weld one of these discs about ¼” down inside of the ferrule. Then cut some ¼” I.D. stainless tubing about 1/16” longer than needed. At this point you can weld the ¼” tubes in on the one side. Flip the condenser over and line up the other disc and weld it into the ferrule; then weld the tubes. For the outlet of the 1 ½” ferrule you can make a parrot’s beak or whatever you like. Pressure test this condenser thoroughly for safety before cleaning.

ASSEMBLY Now comes the fun part. When I’m ready to wire the still I like to take the replacement rubber feet for medical crutches, which most hardware stores have, then drill a hole in the end for ½” electrical screw cable clamp connectors (strain reliefs). Use some silicone sealant on the threads and put them on with the nut. When the silicone is cured put your wire through these and wire up your heating elements. Then use some more silicone sealant on the inside of the tip and slide it over the end of the heating element. Make sure to use the pressure relief valve on the ½” NPT fitting on the top of the keg — this is mandatory,

not optional. When running this still try different combinations of the heating element. I like to use all three elements for initial heatup then turn off the large 220V one and use just the 115V ones. You can also use a variac to control the voltage and fine tune the amount of heat input. For those that want reflux buy some pure copper gauze — not scrubbing pads! Most of the time scrubbing pads are not all copper. The copper gauze can be pretty tightly rolled inside the column, but make sure air can still get through so the column does not become a plug and create a hazardous situation. While several manufacturers sell small-scale test-size stills, you might enjoy building your own. If any of this information exceeds your ability level, please consult with a professional who can help you do this safely or buy a still from a reputable manufacturer. Every portion of this still needs to be pressure tested for leaks and capable of relieving any pressure build-up. If it is not safe, it cannot be used, but if you build it well it will last you a long time. Carter Raff is owner and master distiller of Raff Distillerie in San Francisco, CA. for more info visit

Disclaimers: 1. Metalworking can be a dangerous business so please take care when working with tools, power or otherwise. Make sure you understand how to use the tools you are using and to use proper protection, such as safety glasses. 2. As a distiller you are taking a risk by making and using this equipment in and around your distillery as ethanol is highly flammable. This article is only intended to entertain those curious about making their own equipment. Proceed with caution, no guarantee is expressed or implied.





All disturbances, manmade or natural, can affect oak regeneration, both in its proliferation and its suppression. 112

barrel shortage is last year’s news,” “T he my friend Jay said to me the other

day. He was right. Last summer we all read the reports on the slowdown at the stave mills when wet weather was keeping loggers home. But larger cooperages stated that demand was being met, and that soon supply would be moving forward. However, as the craft distilling market grows, and demand continues to rise, will there be enough oak to keep up with demand? Stave mills can increase production as new cooperages continue to open, but will there be enough oak to sustain this demand in coming decades? The U.S. Forest Service and leading ecologists and foresters in the field say no, oak forests are declining. Let's take a closer look at the oak forests of North America and how changes could affect our industry. This is the first in a two-part report. In this issue, we’ll look at the history of our forests and how they’ve changed. In the next issue, we’ll cover the struggle and obstacles that affect oak regeneration and what we can do, as an industry, to make sure our oak forests grow and are harvested sustainably.

Here at the cooperage fire is one of the most important tools we have. We use fire in a controlled way to toast and char the oak. Fire ironically is also the same tool man and nature have used to alter the forests. Studies show that Native Americans used the technique to clear land for grazing. Early European settlers used fire to provide forage for cattle and sheep, and they also employed machinery to clear cut the landscape for agriculture. And nature has other tricks up its sleeve to disturb the forests, such as blight. All disturbances, manmade or natural, can affect oak regeneration, both in its proliferation and its suppression. To better understand how forests change, let’s look quickly at how oak regenerates. Oak is rather shade intolerant and, without breaks in the forest canopy, it is very difficult for saplings to mature. Without disturbances, such as windstorms and timber harvesting, to open holes in the canopy, shade-tolerant trees such as maple and beech are more likely to thrive. Mike Saunders, associate professor of forestry at Purdue University, has studied the oak regeneration process in eastern forests for WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

nearly a decade. “Oak begins its life by shunting much of its resources into roots,” said Saunders. “In doing so, it shows an adaptation to disturbances, primarily fire, that kill many understory trees and some overstory trees, keeping the forest very open and park-like. Without these fires, oak is in a precarious state; it cannot persist in the understory of a shady, closed-canopy forest, yet cannot outgrow some highly shade-intolerant species, such as tulip poplar and sassafras, that are adapted to high-light environments.” The prominence of oak in our Eastern forests today is a result of centuries of manmade and natural disturbances. The cycle of fire that occurred before the U.S. was settled produced enough of a disturbance that the oak was able to not only regenerate in the understory (by burning competitive shade-tolerant species), but to also allow for recruitment of oak trees by occasionally killing mature trees. Recruitment is when smaller trees in the understory are able to gain dominance into the overstory and mature. “These fire cycles continued throughout the early settlement period in the 1800s, even intensifying in some areas like Missouri, often after widespread timber harvesting,” explains Saunders. “Oak gained in dominance because it was the only group of species that could tolerate that level of disturbance. However, in the early 1900s, a significant paradigm shift happened as the U.S. Forest Service was founded. Large-scale fires of the mid- to late 1800s and early 1900s (most notably the ‘Big Burn’) shifted public opinion from use of fire as a management tool to an ‘evil’ that needed to be fought. The era of Smokey Bear and widespread fire suppression began.” By the 1950s, it became obvious that oak was the loser in this equation; its regeneration was stalling and oak was slowly being lost from the overstory. This has continued to this day, leaving an ecosystem that Saunders says “may be on the cusp of a wide-scale shift to maple dominance.” For reference, history has shown that our tree species are vulnerable to both blight and overuse:

»»Brazilian Rosewood

»»American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

Once representing one-quarter of the American silviculture, it was annihilated by a blight which killed over 3 billion trees.


(Fraxinus ssp.)

Currently under attack by the Emerald Ash Borer in the mid- and Eastern U.S., hundreds of millions of trees have been killed.

Meanwhile oak demand is high. According to Henry H. Work in “Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels,” “Some 90122 million board meters of white oak are harvested each year — a minor portion of the total 51 million cubic meters of the total annual hardwood harvest.” Plywood, furniture, and especially pallets dominate the hardwood market. In fact, during the 1990s, 50 percent of all harvested white oak was used for pallets. Stave mills compete for a small fraction of this white oak market, and as we saw over the last few years they are susceptible to fluctuations in supply . In the next issue we’ll see what’s being done on the forefront of oak regeneration, visit a controlled burn site, and see what we can do as an industry to make sure our oak resources are sustained John Cox is owner of Quercus Cooperage in High Falls, NY. Visit for more information.


(Dalbergia nigra)

After being in high demand for centuries for furniture and musical instruments it is now on the restricted list of endangered species. | 866-504-0555

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6 & 18





7 & 17

White Star Yeast by Winemakeri Inc.




InLine Filling Systems, LLC 105

Ramondin, USA


Saxco International




Tapi USA

6 & 115

McFinn Technologies

FINANCING Brewery Finance




The NEAT Glass




TASTING EVENTS Chicago Independent Spirits Expo




Total Wine & More


Paulson Supply

Creamy Creation




G&D Chillers





ENZYMES & YEAST Ferm Solutions



Liquor Bottle Packaging


113 6&9

Fort Dearborn


7 & 28


TOTES & TANKS Custom Metalcraft

6 & 47

Spokane Industries



ARTISAN SPIRIT sponsors 114â€



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Can you remember your dreams? Most are simply impossible to give form. Now you can. Saverglass has invented Art & Touch®, an innovative high-precision finishing technology that pushes the boundaries of creation and design. Art & Touch® by Saverglass fundamentally changes what can be achieved in relief decoration, opening a whole new landscape of possibility and marking a new era in 3D glass engraving: an era where anything and everything is possible. Extreme finesse in decorative motifs and design, a new depth of graphic reliefs, Art & Touch® inspires creativity and celebrates imagination so that your visions and dreams of prestige and distinction can become reality.

SAVERGLASS INC. Napa (CA): (707) 259-2930 East Coast (NJ): (201) 825-7100 Pacific North West (OR): (707) 337-1479 Mid West (KY): (859) 308-7130 HAUTE COUTURE GLASS