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few work days were shoveling honey. I live in Vermont, I’m no stranger to shoveling snow, and shoveling honey is far worse. Now, we keep it raw, we store it in the warmest room we have to soften it a bit, and we have an amazing collection of heavy duty pumps.” Finally, a core challenge facing all honey spirit makers is categorization. The Federal Distilled Spirits Standards of Identity does not recognize spirits made from fermented honey, so for now, most honey spirits are marketed as a Distilled Specialty Spirit. “The TTB doesn’t have rules on the books for this stuff, so they have to make judgment calls, which is never good,” says Adam. “We wanted to call it spirit distilled from honey and sweetened with raw honey, but they required us to call it ‘spirit distilled from honey with added honey flavor,’” even though that “honey flavor” was simply honey. Some honey distillers are interested in working together to expand consumer understanding of honey spirits and petition the government to create a new category that would better represent them. “I’d love to get


all the different honey spirit guys together,” says Derrick. “We want to get the TTB to create a new designation. That’s very hard to do, but one thing that makes it possible to go after, [the] E.U. created the category, and when another large market creates a category, you have a shot at doing it.”

INDUSTRY SUPPORT The honey spirit guys might not have to go it totally alone. Recently, the National Honey Board took a volumetric survey to find out what kinds of businesses were buying honey as an ingredient. It turned out that distillers were a much bigger segment of the honey market than anybody thought, ranking as the sixth-largest end user of honey from an ingredient perspective. “It floored us,” says Keith Seiz, Ingredient Marketing Representative at the National Honey Board. “We haven’t focused on the [spirits] market that much from an ingredient standpoint, but we went into it full bore this year. We just finished one research study about the use of honey in

spirits, general best practices, and are embarking on another one where we’re using sensory panel analysis.” Both studies are expected to culminate in the release of best practices and results white papers that will be released to the industry, beginning in October of 2017. The Board also has technical staff available for assistance, ready to answer distillers’ questions and help connect potential end users with the suppliers and information they need to bring honey into the distillery. Find out more on their website, And for distillers ready to jump headfirst on the honey train, this fall, the National Honey Board is hosting a distillers’ summit in Nashville, Tennessee. Modeled on past summits for the baking and brewing industries, the event will feature technical presentations, honey spirit tastings, and general knowledge sharing. “We’re not selling a product,” says Keith. “It’s all about collaboration and innovation, and talking about this really cool ingredient.”


Artisan Spirit: Fall 2017  
Artisan Spirit: Fall 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.