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tender lovin' BARREL CARE











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

Is a written distribution agreement necessary?

Brand Buzz with David Schuemann



Behind the scenes at the first President’s distillery

27 31 35

DEVELOPING A SPIRITS REGIONAL BRAND IDENTITY Show travelers what makes you special


53 55


CORIANDER72 The second most important botanical in gin


American distillers returning to air seasoned cooperage


Christian Krogstad reflects back 16 years

GINNOVATION – PACIFIC NORTHWEST STYLE Evaluating gin infusion strategies


The implications of changes in control



An experiment in developing a taste for the good stuff


Germany’s answer to amari

BLK EYE Vodka contains a surprising ingredient


Something a bit more unique in the world of spirits



















Scientist Liz Rhoades on the benefits of sour mashing

The art of extracting and preserving the exquisite flavors of gin

Tequila’s Chihuahuan cousin






The craft spirits industry starts thinking more seriously about workplace wellness

Italy’s grappa distillers adapt their spirits to modern sensibilities






Nicole Austin is the new leader of Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.

A hands-on guide to the essentials, from receiving to repairs

Tracking costs the right way


10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company



Increase profitability with science

Belgrove Distillery of Kempton, Tasmania, Australia



of Denver, Colorado

Sustainability gets applied at Boardroom Spirits Distillery

It’s best to keep everybody happy

Getting your doors open without losing your mind


of Brooklyn, New York


Make your products seen

82 85

Tapping into consumers’ upscale desires for outdoor adventures

from the COVER Santa Fe Spirits in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen. Read about caring for barrels before the fill on page 41.

Issue 23 /// Summer 2018 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS Devon Trevathan

Margarett Waterbury


Luis K. Ayala Colin Blake Renee Cebula Jeff Cioletti Jeff Clark Brian B. DeFoe Carrie Dow Andy Garrison Harry Haller Bethany K. Hatef Ian Hartzog Drew Hovey Reade A. Huddleston

Paul Hughes, Ph.D. Tim Knittel Aaron Knoll John McKee Jonathan Napolitano Shannon O'Neil Benjamin Peim Scott Schiller David Schuemann Gary Spedding, Ph.D. Chris Thach Gabe Toth Molly Troupe, MSc.

ILLUSTRATORS Amanda Joy Christensen

Francesca Cosanti



Adam Alphin Steve Bashore Allyson Campbell Amanda Joy Christensen


Jeff Cioletti Carrie Dow Travis Hallmark Benjamin Peim

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 © 2018. 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.

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

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.


CAN CAPTURE IT. Every spirit evokes its own, well ‌ spirit. It could be the life of a party. A toast to family and friends. A moment over candlelight. Or a thousand other things. Whatever the essence of your brand, nothing projects it, and protects it, quite like the honest purity of glass from O-I.

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SPONSORS. Our mission at Artisan Spirit Magazine is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. We are humbled by the support of our sponsors. With their help, we can further our common goals of supporting creativity, innovation, and integrity within the industry we all love so much.

American Craft Spirits Association exists because of real-world momentum and a perceived need for a trade association in the U.S. governed by licensed craft distillers on behalf of craft distillers. Our mission includes legislative advocacy in support of a strong business environment for distillers, and through outreach to consumers help build brands and increase consumer awareness. We welcome your ideas, suggestions and participation.

The American Spirits Exchange is a national importer and distributor serving the alcoholic beverage industry (spirits, wine and beer). We provide domestic and international companies with access and support to the U.S. market. Regardless of your size—from micro, craft distiller to publicly traded multinational—our focus fuels your growth. Our flagship Foundations™ program provides companies with access to the U.S. market. We handle your business-to-business functions from start to finish: permitting, brand approvals, purchase order processing, invoicing and compliance.










How do you envision the international spirits market changing in the near future?




The craft spirits revolution has spread from the US to the world abroad and countries like Australia are even creating incentives for craft spirits companies and brands to start-up. I see this trend continuing to grow. This will mean additional new import craft spirits competitors from outside the US entering the US market, but I believe in turn this will also create new markets internationally and opportunities for many of the craft producers in the US as these foreign markets develop their own craft consumers. ­— David Schuemann





As the export of US spirits continues to grow, it’s not the brands we know and love that we’ll see more and more of on shelves overseas. Well, those will be well represented too, but we’re seeing a growing number of private label spirits going overseas. Custom brands built for whatever market they are going to, but fulfilled by a contract distillery in the US. It’s becoming easier and easier for people in foreign markets to create their own brands for their own markets. And since so many medium to large distilleries have contract distilling as part of their business plan, we think this will be a trend that will continue to grow internationally.­— Colin Blake

Although local spirits continue to be in forefront, import products will likely see increasing relevance. This is especially true in emerging markets such as India, Africa, and China, where current international spirit consumption per capita is low and consumers are more likely to trade up to import products as a sign of affluence. International markets also play a role in M&A activity, as multi-national distillers see the acquisition of local distillers as a good means of entering emerging markets and diversifying their global portfolios.­— Melissa Kimball


BSG is focused on supplying craft distillers with the best ingredients from around the world. The craft distilling market trusts BSG to deliver the finest ingredients at competitive prices, without sacrificing customer service. With distilling malts and grains from Rahr Malting Co., Weyermann®, Simpsons, Crisp and Malting Company of Ireland, as well as a full range of yeasts, yeast nutrients, enzymes, botanicals, and finishing products, we have a wide range of distilling ingredients to help you create high quality, artisanal spirits.

Cage and Sons Distilling Systems build premium distillation systems and equipment for premier distilleries. Every element of Cage and Sons equipment is designed and crafted to provide you with the very best distilling experience at an affordable rate because we know that bottom line matters, but so does function. At Cage and Sons, adequate is never an option, and we continue to develop and design new high functioning, cutting-edge distillation systems that enhance the distillation industry. Cage and Sons works every day to bring you the very best distillation systems for the very best value

Distillery Products is your "Go To" source for wholesale premium branded distillery merchandise for your Distillery. Specializing in custom branding and engraving on Glassware, Premium Flasks, Cocktail Tools and Insulated Tumblers and more… Our Marketing Team will work with you to create your custom merchandise line to elevate your brand and capture your market identity. Our goal at Distillery Products is simple, have your target market think of you, your company and your brand first! Distillery Products is your innovative partner and "Go To" source in brand development and brand identity.


Decorative label solutions…we’ve got you covered. Fort Dearborn has the expertise and creative appreciation for development and application of labels for the spirits market. Whether your application needs cut & stack labels with specialty hot stamping and embossing, the “no label” look of pressure sensitive film labels or full body graphics using shrink sleeve labels, we have a product to meet your needs. We service brands large and small. Contact us today to discuss your brand building objectives.


G&D Chillers is as committed to the cold as they are to their clients. They strive to build long lasting partnerships by offering on-going technical support from their team of engineers, all backed by their satisfaction guarantee. G&D Chillers offers a widerange of options from small portable chillers and heaters, to large custom chilling units. All units are ETL approved in both the U.S. and Canada. Most of their standard package chiller designs have been tested for over 20 years in the field.

Haskell delivers Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects, both within existing facilities as well as new brownfield/greenfield projects. Haskell is a fully integrated, single source firm with highly specialized, in-house design, construction, procurement and administrative professionals working across diverse market sectors. The Beer, Wine & Spirits Division is one of Haskell’s most mature markets having served discrete and distinguished clients for decades. Haskell is defined by its people, a culture of transparency and trust, and the delivery of value.


Trusted Oak Expertise Since 1912. We’ve been in this industry for over 100 years, during which time we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great barrel to age great spirits. Our R&D team and account managers have hundreds of barrels currently in experimentation. Partnering with distillers, we think outside the box to develop new products that push your vision forward Our Mission: To craft world-class oak barrels and other cooperage products so our employees, customers and communities flourish.

MGP is known for its mastery in formulating, fermenting, distilling and maturing world-class spirits. The company’s expertise in blending art and science to produce premium bourbons, whiskeys, gins and grain neutral spirits serves as the foundation of a lasting legacy steeped in know-how. Customers benefit from MGP's in-depth experience, state-of-the-art capabilities, and strong penchant for developing tailored formulations and meeting precise product requirements. MGP's entire team, with distilleries in Atchison, KS, and Lawrenceburg, IN, takes great pride in delivering the highest quality results with each and every product made. For details visit


Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits is the industry leader in supplying fermentation products and valueadded services to the distilled spirits industry. We specialize in the research, development, production and marketing of yeast and yeast nutrients as well as a solid belief in education of the distilled spirits industry. A vital part of the alcohol production process, fermentation products from Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits have been designed and selected to create value by tailoring objective solutions to distillery needs.

For over 60 years our company has produced cork stoppers and a wide variety of bottle closures. Family-owned and operated since its inception, Tapi USA continues to develop new products and enter new markets. Tapi USA is proud to support the growth of the artisan distillery industry and is honored to be the Bottle Closure Sponsor for Artisan Spirit Magazine.

Live Oak Bank specializes in financing solutions for craft distilleries nationwide. As one of the largest originators of small business loans in the country, our loan options allow you to meet your customers’ demand and take your business to the next level. Our team is guided by craft experts and peers who have a combined 75+ years of lending expertise in this space. With access to a cash flow business model, industry knowledge and innovative technology, you’ll be able to grow your distillery with a committed partner. Financing can be used for expansion, equipment purchases, refinance, working capital, construction and more.

Total Wine & More is the country’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, beer and spirits. Our strength is our people. We have over 5,000 associates, who must demonstrate comprehensive beverage knowledge before they are invited to join our team. After coming on board, all of our team members undergo an extensive initial training program. We believe that an educated consumer is our best customer. We want to demystify the buying experience for our customers so they will feel confident in choosing the bottle that is perfect for them. Total Wine & More works closely with community and business leaders in each market it operates to support local causes and charitable efforts.


A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: Two quick updates. First up, I’m giddy (you heard me — giddy!) to announce a new project. I’m co-hosting a new podcast with industry personalities Jason Zeno, distiller at Beam Suntory, and Colton Weinstein, head distiller at Corsair in Nashville, TN. Appropriately titled the Still Talking Podcast, we discuss distilling, the industry, and revel in juvenile humor. You are going to love it! And hate it a little too. It’s that kind of podcast. Check it out on iTunes or wherever you listen to your audio-talky recordings. You can also visit the website at: Finally, the broken record that we can’t afford to stop playing. Federal excise tax reduction! This May I joined producers, vendors, journalists, and dedicated industry badasses all with the express goal of not letting the recent FET reduction lapse at the end of 2019. We worked with the American Craft Spirits Association and the Distilled Spirits Council to participate in over 100 scheduled meetings on the Hill, but we only scratched the surface. It’s never too early to start calling your senators and writing your representatives. It will take another monumental team effort to ensure that this significant industry boost doesn’t evaporate all too soon.

Brian Christensen

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



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It has been a few action-packed months since our last update. We had a great turn out in Pittsburgh at the State Guild Round Table during the ACSA Conference. Out of that conversation, we came up with a wish list for the coming Guilds FAQ page when the new ACSA website launches. These include:

• • • • • • • •

Standards and Practices Safety & Consumption Distillery Trails Lobbying Guild Structure Membership Structures and Dues Spirits Judging Competitions

Membership drives We will be working on these over the next few months and would appreciate any help you could offer. In May a handful of distillers and industry supporters were in Washington DC for a joint fly-

in with the ACSA and Distilled Spirits Council in support of extending the FET reduction. I would say that the #1 takeaway is that getting the FET reduction extended is far from guaranteed. We have 18 months left to secure an extension and that should be each Guild and each distiller’s #1 priority over that time. To date, a handful of extremely dedicated distillers have been carrying the load on this, and they need you to get off the sidelines and get in the game. The cost of inaction is $10.80 per proof gallon, can you afford that? The things you should be doing at this moment to continue to save $10.80 per PG: join the ACSA and your Guild, tell your reinvestment story to your Senators and Representatives, and find out how to become involved in the ACSA PAC by sending a request to: P.T. Wood ACSA BOD, Chair State Guild Committee, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, CO


DELAWARE DELAWARE WINERIES ASSOCIATION Painted Stave Distilling Co-Owners Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen (current President of The Delaware Wineries Association), together with the State of Delaware Alcohol and Beverage Control Commissioner, crafted a bill to enable craft beverage producers licensed in the State of Delaware to serve, for onsite consumption only, products created by other craft beverage producers licensed in the State of

MAINE MAINE DISTILLER’S GUILD The Maine Distiller’s Guild, MeDG, met for their third annual guild meeting. With the growing list of members and associate members the MeDG made a number of changes to the guild bylaws which will enable the guild to operate more smoothly and swiftly. The major goals set for 2018 include the building of a new website, the hiring of a law firm for in-state lobbying, and the launch of our advertising campaign “Make Mine from Maine.” The MeDG continues its partnership with Maine Spirits, the exclusive wholesale distributor for spirits in

MARYLAND MARYLAND DISTILLERS GUILD The Maryland Distillers Guild held its second board election, re-electing president Jaime Windon, Lyon Distilling Company, vice-president Brad Blackwell, Lost Ark Distilling Company, treasurer Max Lents, Baltimore Spirits Company, and newly electing secretary Monica Pearce, Tenth Ward Distilling Company. The guild has also assigned a formal Education Committee (in addition to active Marketing, Government Affairs & Ethics Committees), dedicated to expanding


Delaware. With bipartisan support, HB 373 passed the House, Senate, and is awaiting the signature of Governor John Carney. Other proposed acts to amend Title 4 of the Delaware Code Relating to Alcohol: HB 165 would permit wine producers holding a valid license within this State or another state to obtain a license and ship wine directly to Delaware consumers so long as it is done through a common carrier with a carrier permit. HB 198 would permit holders of a “Farmers’ Market Permit or Agricultural Themed Event Permit” to conduct tastings and sell craft beer, mead, cider, distilled

spirits, and wine in sealed containers for offpremise consumption at retail prices at offsite farmers’ markets or agricultural-themed events during the months of April through November. HB 405 would permit licensed craft beverage producers in the State of Delaware to ship product manufactured on their premises to entities under common ownership and control.

the state of Maine. They are assisting MeDG with the roll out of the “Make Mine from Maine” campaign to consumers, bars, and restaurants, encouraging them to choose locally made spirits. Plans are underway for a June launch of the campaign at an all member Maine cocktail event featuring a special pamphlet showcasing all MeDG members’ products. Once again, MeDG will be hosting an event for the Harvest on the Harbor celebration www.harvestontheharbor. com in Portland in October. The guild and members will end 2018 with a tasting event at the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor which celebrates the bounty of farms and manufacturers from across the state. The

guild continues efforts towards expanding events throughout the year. The first grand prize winner was chosen from all the completed entries sent in for the Maine Distillery Trail. Prizes included a gift certificate to use at any member distillery and the best member swag from across the state. You can plan your Maine distillery tour at our website The guild is looking toward a vibrant summer as the interest in locally produced spirits continues to grow. The MeDG would like to thank all those that lobbied and pushed for the reduction in FET which helps us all take a giant leap forward.

the educational resources available to all distillers in the state and surrounding areas. The committee hopes to provide regular and recurring access to high level, productionfocused materials and resources. The Baltimore Spirits Company (formerly Baltimore Whiskey Company) hosted the inaugural peer-led seminar, with head distiller Eli Breitburg-Smith sharing lessons learned as he transitioned from brewing beer to distilling spirits. Along with a continued seminar series hosted by various MD distillers, the committee is in the initial stages of planning a Mid-Atlantic educationalfocused conference, aimed at bringing together distillers to foster collaboration as well as share talent & resources.

MDG is proud to report a number of notable developments by our members: >> McClintock Distilling Company (Frederick, MD) became Maryland’s first ever USDA certified Distillery at the beginning of this year, and is also powered by 100% renewable electricity. >> The Baltimore Spirits Company (Baltimore, MD) is expanding and moving their distillery into a brand new, visitor-focused, collective space (also home to a brewery and other manufacturers) and installing a unique, state-of-the-art geothermal cooling system to reduce waste and save energy.

Ronald R Gomes, Jr., Ph.D. “Modern Alchemist”, Founding Partner Painted Stave Distilling Smyrna, Delaware

Keith and Constance Bodine Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery


>> Tobacco Barn Distillery (Hollywood,

>> Dark Cloud Malthouse (Cooksville,

MD) is on the Maryland Green Registry and offsets over 32% of total distillery energy consumption by combining a solar PV array, custom designed geothermal fields and intensive water recycling. They are in the process of building a 100% solar powered tasting room, and are launching an Indiegogo campaign for “solar panel” sponsorships.

MD) has reignited a key industry — since launching two years ago, they are already expanding and providing locally grown & malted grains to over 40 craft distillers and brewers across the state. The guild continues to build a robust & successful event series. Spirits of Maryland, now in its second year, hosts tasting events all across the state where distillers can sample,


permanent extension of the FET reduction. After successful days in DC, focus now turns to rallying individual MDA members and continue to lobby their members of Congress directly. As Massachusetts continues to review current laws and regulatory guidelines, the MDA will be lobbying on the state level for parity with wineries and breweries. Also, this spring the MDA participated in workshops supporting the craft beverage industry in Massachusetts. Presented by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism and Massachusetts Department

of Agricultural Resources, workshops were developed for producers of beer, wine, cider, and spirits, and consisted of presentations and panel discussions from industry experts with a focus on marketing practices and brand strategy to attract culinary travelers. For more information, find us at

with unanticipated cash flow from the state’s revitalized oil & gas industry, the legislators were not inclined to offer any further tax reductions for our nascent industry. With added membership and interest we hope to push our legislative efforts to this end in next year’s legislative session. Speaking of new members, we’re happy to welcome Dry Point Distillers in Las Cruces and Blackstar and Tractor in Albuquerque, which brings our membership to 11 and adds new experience and talent to our organization. Updates to our website and social media as well as a more targeted

legislative campaign are in the works as a result. On the FET front we want to acknowledge our guild president and ASCA board member, Colin Keegan of Santa Fe Spirits, for his tireless (ha!) efforts on all of our behalves towards making the FET reduction permanent. He was at the recent legislative lobbying fly-in in Washington, DC and met with four of our state’s delegation who all expressed their support. Thanks, Colin, for all you do for your state, ASCA and our industry! Dr. Greg McAllister

MASSACHUSETTS DISTILLERS ALLIANCE The Massachusetts Distillers Alliance continues to work toward promoting distillers throughout Massachusetts. Focus in 2018 continues to be the extension of FET reduction as well as parity at the state level with winery and breweries. In May, MDA Board member Andrew Cabot joined the ACSA in lobbying members of Congress and their staff to push for a

NEW MEXICO NEW MEXICO DISTILLERS GUILD Hoping to capitalize on the momentum from the Federal Excise Tax reduction signed into law in late 2017, the New Mexico Distillers Guild approached the state legislature with a similar excise tax reduction proposal based on the federal model. The proposed law would have brought distillers into parity with state excise tax reductions currently enjoyed by the state’s brewers and wine makers; however, despite being flush

NEW YORK NEW YORK STATE DISTILLERS GUILD This year the New York State Distiller’s Guild held our inaugural NY Distilled Spirits Competition. The competition was open to all


sell spirits, and educate consumers through distiller-led talks. MDG members are also actively participating in cross-industry events & festivals with the Brewers Association of MD and the Maryland Wineries Association.

Jaime Windon

Owner/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Co.

MASSACHUSETTS DISTILLERS ALLIANCE BOARD Andrew Cabot — Privateer Rum Alison DeWolfe — Damnation Alley Distillery Matt Nuernberger — GrandTen Distilling

Algodones Distillery

New York State distillers as guild members. Our guild competition was conducted in tandem with the Great American International Spirits Competition. Partnering with an existing and larger competition allowed our judging to have a reduced cost associated with the staffing, proctoring, accommodations, and logistical operations

needed. Since both competitions were judged simultaneously, entries were afforded the opportunity to enter both without paying additional fees or proving further product. Once judging was completed, New York spirits were separated out in a data cut from the overall numbers to be used for our Guild’s competition.


The entire competition was judged by a healthy cross section of beverage industry leaders and peers including Artisan Spirit’s very own editor and publisher, Brian Christensen. Judging commenced in late April and saw 107 spirit entries in 23 categories from over 36 of New York’s distillers. The results of the NY Distilled Spirits Competition will be announced in late June and celebrated at a public facing promotional event on July 17th at Brooklyn Brewery

NORTH DAKOTA NORTH DAKOTA DISTILLERS GUILD We have begun to initiate the legal foundation for the North Dakota Distillers Guild. Our goal is to file the organizational papers based heavily on the examples as

OHIO OHIO DISTILLER’S GUILD The Ohio Distiller’s Guild recently held elections at the annual meeting in January, voting Greg Lehman of Watershed Distillery to President, Ben Vause of Noble Cut Distillery into the Vice President position, Reese Edwards of Cleveland Whiskey to Treasurer, and Josh Daly of Middle West

OREGON OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD We held our annual TOAST event in March and had a great turn-out. More than 25 distilleries participated from around the state. There was a tasty array of food and of course a vast variety of spirits from the distilleries attending. The 2018 TOAST event also launched this year’s ADI conference here in Portland, which continued throughout the following week. Some of the board was kept extremely busy helping with ADI details, with many attending the multiple sessions,


in Brooklyn, NY. The event will include tastings form New York State distillers that participated in the competition. The event will be open to the media an hour prior to public to allow us to champion all medaling spirits and their distilleries for this inaugural occasion. The spirit winning Best of Show designation will be awarded the “Governor’s Cup” trophy. This trophy will be passed from champion to champion with the winning spirit’s details added to the cup’s engraving each year.

As we begin planning for next year’s competition our intention is to grow this opportunity for our members in both categorical size and promotional scope. For more information on our Inaugural New York Distilled Spirits Competition and its results please visit or reach out to us at newyorkstatedistillersguild@ Cheers! Cory Muscato

shared through the American Craft Spirits Association and other State Guilds. In the past year, there is one additional DSP licensed in the State and another rumored to be nearing completion. This will total six DSP’s in North Dakota with a population of about 750,000. As a Guild, our intention will be to offer professionals and enthusiasts of the distillery industry a common vehicle

to share ideas and resources especially when approaching State and Local entities regarding the production, marketing and general public support of locally produced spirits:

Spirits to Secretary. Just one and a half years after passing a bill to allow distilleries to open an onsite bar and up production from 10,000 to 100,000 proof gallons per year, the Guild introduced a law into committee that would allow local distillers the ability to sell more than two bottles per day to customers. It would also permit Ohio distilleries to open two satellite bars to help market their spirits in different areas of the state.

After the passing of the initial bill to allow for onsite bars and restaurants, the distilleries that took advantage of the growth opportunity saw on-site employment double or triple, creating a vast amount of momentum in the industry directly correlated to the changes in the law.

as well as presenting and holding seminars. Multiple local distilleries participated by having tours and special sessions. ODG spent a significant amount of money and effort to introduce and pass a bill that would give Oregon distilleries an equal taxbased playing field that the breweries and wineries have. This legislative short session’s effort did not succeed in getting the bill passed, but it did open quite a few political eyes and pushed the goal much more into the legislative spotlight by declaring that all alcohol producers are created equal and should be afforded equal rights. The efforts

will continue this coming session, and we are targeting success. ODG continues to make a valiant effort to recruit every distillery in the state to become a member. Current distillery count is 70, and we have achieved 75% membership. This upcoming quarter will see our annual general membership meeting, and with the updated bylaws the ODG board will be increasing the board to nine members, representing distilleries state-wide.

Lockhouse Distillery — Buffalo, NY President — New York State Distillers Guild

Joel Kath Proof Artisan Distillers.

Greg Lehman Co-founder of Watershed Distillery President of the Ohio Distillers Guild

Rick Rickard El Jefe, Rolling River Spirits LLC Board of Directors, Oregon Distillers Guild




At MGP, each step in the process of creating premium bourbons and whiskeys is guided by the pride and passion that come with pouring someone a perfect drink. We work in true collaboration with partners of all sizes to develop and consistently produce the exact flavor profile their consumers prefer. Especially when sharing it with someone they love.





VIRGINIA VIRGINIA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION As of lately, there has been a lot of positive momentum in the Virginia distilled spirits industry — much of which can be attributed to the State’s growing interest in supporting our local distillers, and cumulative efforts by the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) to advance strategic initiatives over the past 20 months. The 2018 General Assembly Session lent itself to new and exciting opportunities for our constituents to promote their products while also creating additional market access. Effective July 1, 2018, Virginia distilleries will be able to serve cocktail samples in their

WYOMING WYOMING DISTILLERS GUILD The Wyoming Distillers Guild will be holding its annual in-person meeting on May 16th in Sheridan, Wyoming at the Koltiska Distillery. Each year the Guild gathers at one of the members’ distilleries to review the year and plan for the future. It has become tradition to follow up this meeting at a local establishment with a public tasting of all of the members’ product offerings. It is always great to show the public what fantastic spirits come out of our state! 2018 has gotten off to a heck of a start with the groundbreaking

tasting rooms with up to 25% alcohol not produced onsite. This means our industry members can produce a proper martini, Old Fashioned, etc. — to better showcase their products. Additionally, we’ve expanded the number of manufacturers’ special events licenses from four to eight for licensed Virginia distilleries. The VDA has met with Virginia ABC to advance ongoing regulatory requests multiple times this year, and to discuss strategic partnerships for the future. There is an earnest feeling that Virginia ABC is working to provide industry support. One of the many steps Virginia ABC has/will be making to support our industry includes the assignment of a dedicated liaison to support our industry’s growing needs. As the VDA continues to focus on short and long-term goals for regulatory matters (as

written in our Vision 2020 / 2025 document), we believe that promotional activities to expand consumer awareness of our industry is equally important. We are investing more resources and time to build owned and earned media opportunities. Furthermore, we are refining our existing promotional resources to be more effective for the future, including: the September Virginia Spirits Month campaign, the Virginia Craft Spirits Roadshow initiative, and unveiling our new consumer brand assets this summer. Lastly, we believe in idea sharing and that a rising tide raises all ships. If there is anything the VDA can do to help other states advance legislative or marketing efforts, please feel free to reach out to:

news that our efforts combined with all of those from across the country resulted in the temporary passing of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act. Many of our members have already taken advantage of the FET savings by expanding operations, adding employees, and increasing marketing efforts. Our goal now is to make this change permanent so that our industry as a whole can continue to grow. Locally, there are still a few state laws that are inhibiting our ability for growth, so we will continue to fight the good fight. Primarily we are looking toward having the ability use our liquor license to host public

events off-site from our distillery, such as Farmers’ Markets, concerts, community fundraisers, etc. This would be a very significant benefit to all of us and allow us to market more directly to our end consumer, which would help generate a buzz in our communities.

Amy Ciarametaro Virginia Distillers Association

Travis Goodman Secretary, Wyoming Distillers Guild Partner, Jackson Hole Still Works

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s a craft distiller, getting your products into the hands of consumers is, of course, critical to your business. As a general matter, state alcohol laws separate the alcohol beverage industry into three tiers (i.e., the three-tier system): the supplier tier, the wholesaler tier, and the retailer tier. To get its products to market, a supplier typically must sell to a wholesaler, which then must sell to a retailer. Of course, state laws today contain a number of exceptions to the three-tier system — for example, many states now license pub distilleries, which may produce spirits on-site (typically a function of a supplier) and make retail sales to consumers (typically a function of a retailer). But generally speaking, a distiller must sell its products through wholesalers. This article will explore the terms that govern the relationship between a distiller and its wholesaler.1

DO YOU REALLY WANT (AND/OR NEED) A WRITTEN DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT? An important first step in entering into a distribution relationship is to determine whether you wish to put your agreement with the wholesaler in writing. This analysis depends on a number of factors, largely depending on the location of the wholesaler and the parties involved. In terms of location, 13 states have alcohol “franchise” laws that govern the distribution of spirits. The franchise laws are largely protective of wholesalers and restrict a supplier’s ability to terminate or modify a distribution agreement. The franchise laws typically require the distiller to show “good cause,” “just cause,” or some similar deficient performance in

order to terminate a wholesaler. In the text of the franchise laws, the definition of good cause often includes a breach of a material term of a written distribution agreement. In the states with franchise laws that cover spirits, then, it is crucial to have a written distribution agreement that imposes standards of performance and other obligations on the wholesaler. Upon a breach by the wholesaler of any of these terms, the distiller has a basis for arguing that it has good cause to terminate the agreement. Of course, franchise disputes often lead to litigation, which can be very costly and time-consuming to resolve. In practice, then, small distillers often find they cannot possibly afford a protracted litigation with a wholesaler — especially a major one with vastly greater resources to fund a litigation effort. But sometimes even the threat of a termination for cause can compel a wholesaler to correct the deficiency that led to the dispute. On the other hand, in states without franchise protection for wholesalers, the calculus of whether to have a written agreement is different. Important considerations include the relative size and bargaining power of the parties. For instance, if you are a small craft distiller seeking to enter a distribution relationship with a startup wholesaler, having a written agreement, where you likely will hold a good amount of bargaining power and accordingly will likely be able to draft relatively favorable language, is probably a good idea. If you are a small distiller seeking to enter into a distribution relationship with a very large spirits A house (e.g., Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits), your bargaining power will be much WRITTEN more limited, and proceeding without a AGREEMENT written agreement (which likely would PROVIDES A favor the wholesaler) may be preferable WAY TO OUTLINE if the wholesaler does not demand one. As a general matter, having a written THE TERMS OF distribution agreement comes with AND THE PARTIES’ some benefits. A written agreement EXPECTATIONS provides a way to outline the terms of and the parties’ expectations for the FOR THE relationship. A written agreement also RELATIONSHIP. gives the distiller the ability to hold the wholesaler accountable to certain standards of performance. And reducing terms in a comprehensive written document vastly limits the amount of disputes that may arise either during the course





New Jersey






New Mexico



1  Approximately 17 states are control jurisdictions for distilled spirits, meaning that the state alcohol beverage authority (“ABC”) controls the distribution of alcohol beverages within its borders. Typically in control jurisdictions, distillers sell to the ABC (or to a third party that has contract with the ABC). As sales are required to pass through the ABC or the contracted third party, suppliers generally do not have much bargaining power in terms of setting performance standards or imposing other obligations on the ABC or third party WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


of the relationship or upon its termination. ABSENT There are some drawbacks to written A FORMAL agreements, though, particularly in nonfranchise jurisdictions. For example, WRITTEN a written agreement may place AGREEMENT, A limits on the supplier’s ability DISTILLER CAN to terminate the relationship, COMMUNICATE TERMS whereas without a written agreement, ordinary contract AND STANDARDS and sale of goods principles OF PERFORMANCE would apply, which generally GOVERNING THE permit termination without cause upon reasonable notice RELATIONSHIP IN after a reasonable amount of time. WRITING THROUGH Absent a formal written agreement, OTHER a distiller can communicate terms and METHODS. standards of performance governing the relationship in writing through other methods — for example, through order acknowledgements and other correspondence.

TOP 10 ITEMS TO ADDRESS IN YOUR DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT Assuming you decide to enter into a written distribution agreement with your wholesaler, we recommend at the very least addressing the following in the agreement:

1. TERM. Specifying a certain time period for the agreement is key in non-franchise jurisdictions. An initial period of a year or two years is common, with the parties having the option to renew for certain time periods thereafter. As the franchise laws generally bind the parties to each other indefinitely, a finite term in a distribution agreement in a franchise state rarely will be enforceable absent a showing of cause.

2. EXCLUSIVITY. Most (but not all — for example Massachusetts and New Jersey) alcohol franchise laws require exclusive agreements. But in states that do not require exclusivity, consider not making the agreement exclusive in order to give yourself the option to “dual” your brands down the road.



Consider whether you wish to offer the wholesaler the right to any brand extensions or new brands (of spirits, or other types of alcohol beverages you may produce). Some agreements give the wholesaler a right of first refusal for brand extensions and/or new brands, which allow the supplier to grant distribution rights to a new wholesaler if the existing wholesaler does not place an order for the new product within a set period of time from the product’s introduction.

4. TERMS OF SALE. At a minimum, the agreement should specify the payment terms for the products (e.g., requiring payment by electronic funds transfer within 15 days of the wholesaler’s receipt of each shipment). This section of the agreement should also give the distiller the right to change prices (upon reasonable notice to the wholesaler), and should specify when title and risk of loss pass to the wholesaler. The most common provision (“FOB”) transfers title and risk of loss upon leaving the distiller’s premises. Also be aware that some states have laws regarding terms of sale, such as New York.

5. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. You should include a fulsome provision in the agreement stating that you are the sole owner of all trademarks, trade names, brand names, etc. used on bottles, promotional materials, and other items supplied to the wholesaler under the agreement. This section should include a non-exclusive, non-assignable grant to wholesaler of the right to use the trademarks, etc. in promoting and distributing the products. You should also specify that the wholesaler’s rights to your intellectual property terminate immediately upon termination of the agreement. A detailed intellectual property section in an agreement also generally includes a requirement that the wholesaler protect the supplier’s intellectual property, including by notifying the supplier promptly of any actual or suspected infringement by third parties.


6. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE WHOLESALER. These are the key business terms of the relationship and may vary widely depending on the business terms agreed upon by the parties. Generally, responsibilities can include, among other things, certain required marketing spending (sometimes decreasing over a period of time), promotional activities, and quality assurance.

7. WHOLESALER CHANGES OF OWNERSHIP. You will want to retain

language of the franchise law, the parties have agreed that the supplier may terminate without cause, typically upon payment of reasonable compensation to the wholesaler (which the agreement may specify, usually as a multiple of gross profits for the prior calendar year). Many wholesalers aggressively push back on including a not-for-cause termination provision in the agreement, though, so expect some negotiation here.

9. POST-TERMINATION PROVISIONS. The agreement should cover what must occur in the event the agreement is terminated by either party. These provisions usually include a requirement that the supplier repurchase any merchantable inventory of the supplier’s products in the wholesaler’s possession, that the wholesaler return any property belonging to the supplier in its control, and that the wholesaler promptly cease use of the supplier’s intellectual property.

control over the wholesaler’s ability to sell your brands to a new wholesaler in connection with a change of ownership. Many franchise laws restrict a wholesaler’s ability to change ownership and require that the supplier first grant its approval of the proposed new owner, sometimes specifying that such approval may not be unreasonably withheld. Even where the franchise law does not contain such express restrictions, though, your distribution agreement should cover changes of ownership of the wholesaler. Specifically, the agreement should define the types of transactions included in the definition of a change of ownership — a sale of all or substantially all of the assets of the wholesaler? A 10% change in stockholders? The agreement also should give the distiller the right to withhold its approval of a change of ownership and the right to purchase the wholesaler’s distribution rights to the distiller’s brands under the agreement.

10. DISPUTE RESOLUTION. Another often-negotiated provision of a

8. TERMINATION. Termination is one of the most hotly-contested

Bethany K. Hatef is a senior associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office. She is a member of the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where she concentrates her practice on a wide variety of regulatory and distribution issues involving alcohol beverage suppliers. Her practice includes counseling on distribution relationships, trade practice compliance, and alcohol regulatory and distribution risks associated with corporate transactions.

provisions when negotiating a distribution agreement. Although nearly all alcohol franchise laws do not allow termination without cause, written distribution agreements can include not-for-cause termination provisions. These provisions give the supplier a strong basis to argue that, notwithstanding the

distribution agreement, specifying arbitration as the forum for resolving disputes under the agreement is usually preferable for a supplier. As the alternative typically is a court action, and local courts (and juries) often favor local (i.e., wholesaler) interests, having your dispute heard in front of a neutral arbitrator, or panel of neutral arbitrators, is generally the way to go.

11. BONUS ITEM: SCHEDULES. You should include at the end of your agreement schedules describing, at the least, the territory and the brands granted to the wholesaler under the agreement. Distribution agreements also often include schedules setting forth requirements relating to issues like quality assurance and marketing investments.


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aming and branding can be a powerful combination when developed correctly. Together they form the vision and the essence of your brand, communicate the benefit of your product, and ultimately support an emotional connection with your target consumer.

Developing and choosing a name is a delicate balance of art and science. Names that follow these 10 key rules will have the greatest chance of success:





Which name candidate best fits your brand’s positioning? Does it conjure positive visual associations that reinforce the brand’s essence or unique selling opportunity? Will the product name appeal to your target customers and their lifestyle?

Does the name allow for unique creative opportunities? Does it conjure positive visual associations that reinforce the brand’s essence?



Research reveals what should be common sense: If your target market can't pronounce the brand name, they won’t ask for it. Is your name easily pronounceable? Picture your brand on a menu with no other visual cues except the name. If your name isn’t easy to pronounce, consumers are likely to order a competitor’s brand instead.






Brand name research shows memorability is the true litmus test of exceptional names. Can the consumer recall your product name after seeing it just once? The ability of consumers to recall a new brand they enjoyed at a restaurant, bar or at a friend’s party is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. Your brand name should tell a story, create an emotional connection with the consumer and connect with a place or visual that is reinforced with the brand’s logo and package design.

Make sure your name is unique — if your name has unique ties to your brand, its positioning or the market space, even better. Your name should be very different from your competitors to avoid consumers accidentally confusing it with a competitor’s product. Simply changing an existing brand name’s spelling or making it plural is not enough to make a name protectable under the law. Names are reviewed phonetically as well, so a brand name that is spelled differently but pronounced the same will prove problematic.





Avoid being too tricky with the spelling of your name. Consider how easily your brand can be searched for online if consumers only hear your brand name on the radio or by word of mouth. What will search engines pull if your name is searched online? If your brand is going to be sold internationally, consider what the name means in other cultures that may come in contact with your brand. E.g. the famed case of Chrysler’s car named “Nova” that was marketed in Mexico. When translated into Spanish “no va” means “no go.”

What positive and negative associations exist with your new product name? What barriers have to be overcome with negative latent associations? Make sure your name has a positive meaning and is suggestive— don’t make your customers guess. How does sound symbolism or phonosemantics (the relationship between sound and meaning) affect the evaluation of a name’s latent association? Is the relationship between the sound and meaning the same in all languages of your target consumers?




Shorter names are generally easier to remember and easier to work with in logo and package design applications. However, simply having a short name is worthless if it doesn’t meet the other criteria. A general rule of thumb: A short name with fewer creative opportunities can be worse than a long name with many.



When naming a brand or developing a product name, the name must connect with your target market. Ask yourself does the name have emotional bonding power? Will my consumers connect emotionally with this name?



Can your name support product extensions? Does it create a theme that can be carried across a spectrum of future offerings, different categories, etc.?

THREE NAMING PITFALLS & MISTAKES TO AVOID Certainly not all of the above criteria need to be met to develop a great name, but a name that passes the filter of most of these criteria will set you on a path towards success. However, in addition to these criteria, there are a few common pitfalls to avoid as well when developing a name.

1) DON’T TRY TO BE TOO CLEVER Names that are too clever can often be perceived as gimmicky or down-market. Don’t over or underestimate your audience with a name that is either too heady to understand immediately or so contrived that it gets perceived as novelty or worse, crass.

2) YOUR SURNAME IS NOT NECESSARILY OWNABLE While your birth name is certainly yours, it does not assure your ability to use it as your brand name. Keep in mind many people share the same or similar surnames and there is a strong potential that someone has already trademarked it or a name similar to yours.

3) NAMES THAT ARE TOO MYOPIC Always keep your larger business plan, opportunities for expansion, and product line future in view when developing a brand name. Carefully consider the ramifications of developing a name that limits the scope of your product offerings, such as Dave’s Bourbon. This might be a fine name, but if you ever plan to expand into another category such as Gin, you’re in trouble if you have limited your brand opportunities with your brand name.

Keep in mind your developed names will need to be checked for availability with the TTB/Cola registry, US trademark registry and in other countries legally if you have international aspirations. This is work best left to a qualified intellectual property attorney and well worth the investment to be done correctly. Your name should also be searched for URL availability to ensure your brand can easily be found online. It can be a daunting task these days to find a name without conflict, but a killer name will make all the difference when developing your brand and in creating a memorable connection with your consumers. One last piece of advice: Don’t apply for a trademark before securing your brand’s URL. The US Trademark Registry is heavily watched by individuals that monitor the registry, and based on applications, snap up URLs not already secured and then hold them hostage for large sums of money later. Purchasing your main URL and any derivatives ahead of time for a few dollars before applying for trademark is well worth the investment to prevent headaches and a bruised pocket book later.

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

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The American Distilling Institute …providing support & resources to craft distillers since 2003. ADI E-Newsletter Industry news weekly, every Wednesday. Over 10,000 subscribers. sign up with

ADI Forum Network, buy, sell, share information on technique, marketing, safety, equipment… Distiller ™

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Vol. 12 issue 3

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As Went Beer, So Goes Spirit s Pay to Play and the Impac Cocktail Culturt on e

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ding and packaging design for craft spirits. designing successful brands to share best lishing your brand strategy, selecting the rcing materials. Distributors, bar owners dering which brands to carry, and successights from the front lines. ers, designers and spirit lovers. Over 150 f excellence in packaging. It offers expert looking to create a premium brand that

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This book was inspired by the recent popularity of rum among the cocktail circles, and by the advent of so many new rum distilleries in North America. Rum is now being made in micro-distilleries all over the United States, including a return to the original epicenter of rum distilling, Newport, Rhode Island. At the time of the American Revolution, there were about 30 rum distilleries in Rhode Island, 22 of which were in Newport alone, and the rum produced there was revered by some as the best in the world. The last Rhode Island rum distillery of that era closed in the 1840s. But, now they are coming back and not only in Rhode Island, but in all of New England, and across the United States and Canada.

White Mule Press Niche Books for Lovers of Spirits Thirty titles and growing.

In this book, you’ll read about the story of rum and how it is made, written by the well-known distillery expert, Michael Delevante. The book also details the ingredients, equipment, and processes used to make rum. You will learn about the lubricious effects of barrel aging, and the various ways that it is done. And, there is a chapter that explains step-by-step how to make a 155-gallon batch of rum mash and how to distill and age it, written by Ian Smiley.This chapter gives a new micro-distillery a proven recipe and process to get a running start in producing their first product. There is also a chapter on the batch distillation of rum using a hybrid batch distillation system comprised of a pot still and a rectification column written by Eric Watson of AlBevCon.

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n our industry there have been great examples of employee-owned models being used to facilitate a sale of a company to its employees, namely New Belgium Brewing. Since very early on my business partner/wife, Courtney, and I have had the intention of selling our company to our employees (we’re not there yet, we just want it to be the final outcome). We’ve always felt that although we might have had the vision and bit-of-crazy to secure the debt, we’ve also known that the company wouldn’t grow and thrive without the employees who work there day in and day out. Although selling the company was our stated intention, we hadn’t really done a lot of work on the details of how that could progress until midSpring this year when we attended the NCEO (National Center for Employee Ownership) Annual Conference...and we were surprised by a lot of the information we got. An ESOP, Employee Stock Option Plan, is a method by which the owners of a company can sell to their employees. The sale structures are relatively simple, but there are some interesting “gotchas” that came to light. To clarify some of those we need to look into three summary points.

ESOP DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN OWNERSHIP First off, an ESOP doesn’t mean that the employees run the company (although it can mean that). Most often, the ESOP is considered WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

a retirement plan for the employees, often in lieu of a 401K. The employees vest in the shares of the company on some sort of schedule, and when they leave the company or retire, they get paid out the value of their shares. Those shares go back into the company for redistribution to new employees. A board continues to operate the company for the ESOP members, but the structure can be such that the ESOP members do not have participatory management rights for the company. We still figured we were good here, because in the sale documents we could enumerate that the employees had some level of management rights, but it was still a surprise to hear many people say “Employee owned doesn’t necessarily mean employee operated.”

THE FIDUCIARY Secondly, the ESOP is managed by a “fiduciary.” This person is usually outside the company structure and is bound by fiduciary laws to act in the best interest of the shareholders, in this case the employees of the ESOP. So to summarize our motivations, we want our company to stay in Butte, continue to add value to the city’s economic base, and to provide jobs for people in Butte for a long time. If we wanted to sell to someone else, there would be no guarantee that the company and its employees would remain in Butte. However, during the conference, we came to find that an



ESOP doesn’t necessarily meet with the goals of our motivations. The core reason orbits around the responsibilities of the Fiduciary. As discussed above, that person is obligated by law to accept any reasonable offer that provides value to the shareholders (the employees). For example, say we sell Headframe to our employees for $10. If the fiduciary gets an offer a year later for some reasonable multiple, say $15, the fiduciary is required to sell the company even if that means that the employees (the shareholders) all lose their jobs because the new company just wants the brand and wants to bottle it somewhere else. If the company is still settling the debt from the original ESOP buyout, the employees might not wind up with much of anything….or a job. Also, importantly to us, the company might not remain in Butte.

THE REPAYMENT OBLIGATION Third and final, the company is required to carry enough cash to reliably pay out the employees leaving or retiring in a certain

year. An entire cottage industry has been built around annual valuations of the R.O. (Repayment Obligation). So, let’s say your widget (in our case booze) is selling well, year to year. You are seeing big growth, you’ve hired more people, the value of the company has gone way up from the original valve of the ESOP sale and things are looking great right? Annually, the company is valued, most often by an outside consultant. If the value of your whiskey brand has doubled in the last year because you won some awards, then the value of the company is higher, which means the value of the shares held by ESOP members is higher, which means you are required by law to put away more money to satisfy the R.O. If you have the money the R.O. analysts says you’re going to need for the next year, you put that in the bank and it can’t be used for capital improvements, reinvestment, new markets sales and marketing, etc. If you don’t have the money, you have to go out and do a cash raise (outside investment, refinance and take on new debt, etc) to

raise enough money to satisfy the R.O. If you can’t raise the money the company may have to liquidate and the employees may be left without a company or the full value of their shares. Once we got into high level details of how ESOPs work, we became increasingly concerned that our motivation for selling wouldn’t have the outcome we hoped for. So we began to look into other models (NonProfits, Trusts, etc..) to see if we could both fulfill our desire to turn over the company and its future value to the employees and see it remain a part of Butte for the long term In the next issue, we’ll share what we’ve learned of those models and why we think they might be a better fit for owners with our same motivations.

John and Courtney McKee are the owners/ founders of Headframe Spirits and Headframe Spirits Manufacturing in Butte, MT. When they aren’t exploring succession planning years in advance they’re exploring implementing mandatory afternoon naps for all employees.

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A conversation with Mount Vernon’s Director of Historic Trades, Steve Bashore, about the on site distillery as well as the experiences of America’s first president (and early distillery owner)

Wr i t t e n b y D e v o n Tr e v a t h a n / / / P h o t o g r a p h y b y S t e v e B a s h o r e


f Thomas Jefferson is remembered as our country’s wine president, then surely George Washington is our commander in whiskey. Around the same time as bourbon giant Jim Beam got its start in the corn-based spirit, Washington was retiring from his position as America’s first president. After returning to Mount Vernon and tending to his sizeable farmland, Washington was inspired by James Anderson, the manager of his farm, to take up distillation. “George Washington’s distillery really has a Scottish history to it,” says Steve Bashore, Director of Historic Trades at Mount Vernon. “Anderson was a Scottish immigrant who had been involved as a merchant and a distiller and also knew a lot about mills, so he was the perfect hire for Washington to run this property.” In 1797, Anderson wrote a letter to Washington proposing a distillery behind the gristmill. The first distillations were made in the estate’s cooperage, and they were so profitable that Washington WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

agreed to build a dedicated distillery on his property, which was completed in March of 1798. The building that Bashore and his team work out of is a recreation of the original, which burned down in 1814, and stays true to the layout that researchers have excavated from the remains. “The reconstruction was done between 2004 and 2007, but it followed on 10 years of research and six years of archeology to be able to reconstruct the building,” says Bashore. The build out included five woodfired copper pot stills, which are placed directly over their original location, in a building that is 75 feet by 35 feet, and the four-story, water-powered gristmill that grinds down the grains used in their spirits. The gristmill was reconstructed in 1932 and is built on the foundations of the original Washington gristmill, which was built in 1771. “That’s how it was in that time period. If you think of all the distilleries throughout the country in the 18th or 19th century, the


mill was critical to the distillery,” says Bashore. It’s certainly critical to the man in charge of Washington’s distillery today — Bashore is trained as a miller and more than happy to bring his trades together. Washington’s grain of choice was rye, and it was the preferred grain for whiskey in his time. But once he started the distillery, he ran into issues in the division of his estate’s resources. He did not have enough grain to feed the people living on his property as well as the needs of his distillery. Ultimately, Washington contracted a relative and another outside source for corn and sometimes rye to fulfill his responsibilities to the business and his home. Today, Bashore and his team source their grain from a farm in Northumberland County, Virginia. Their malt comes from a major supplier, like most, but they try to use Virginia products as much as possible in their whiskey. This, however, is not the only way that they remain true to Mount Vernon’s roots. Everything about the distillery is designed to emulate an 18th century experience as authentically as possible. For instance, Bashore and his team ferment in 120-gallon wood barrels, and they rely entirely on manual labor for their distillation. “90% of what we do is by bucketing or mash by hand and moving spirits in buckets to get them into the stills.” All of which is done in periodappropriate garb, of course. “We try to be true to the history of it, but when we bottle we do have a small bottling system and filtration system that we have to do to get juice into our retail shops.” So what did Washington’s whiskey taste like? Well for one, it was not yet fashionable to barrel-age spirits at that time, so all of his whiskey was unaged. The team at Mount Vernon release their own unaged rye as well. It’s incredibly smooth, with a full body and lots of great spice character, but they do reserve a portion of each run to mature in oak. “Over the years, we’ve aged more because we realize the market is there. We now have started to lay down barrels with the eye toward aging them six to eight years.” This has come after the move to standard 53-gallon barrels. Washington’s whiskey is made from approximatly 65% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malt. That mash bill was deduced after painstakingly picking through the ledgers and noting what was brought in. If you look at the experiences of the Mount Vernon distillery and compare it to other household names that were just getting their foothold in Washington’s time, you’ll find there are little similarities left over. Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace: they all began stoking the fires beneath their stills in the later part of the 18th century, same as Washington, but since that



time they have become titans of the industry. Perhaps that is what draws so many modern distillers to Mount Vernon: the opportunity to witness distillation as it once was. When asked if he feels like there is a natural inclination of the people in this industry towards an appreciation for history, Bashore is quick to agree. “A lot of these distillers I find to be great historians...Fred Noe was in there with us working. It was great to work with him and hear his stories. He loved getting his hands dirty the old way.” This was part of a 10 year anniversary celebration that attracted a host of established distillers, including the current master distiller of Jim Beam himself. But that’s not the only occasion that’s brought today’s top producers to George Washington’s home. When the project was just beginning, Members of the Mount Vernon Preservation and Archaeology Department, then led by Dennis Pogue and Esther White, contacted the Distilled Spirits Council, headed up by Peter Cressy at the time, and discussed the implications of the historical distillery that they were uncovering during archaeological excavations. “He realized, and members of the different companies [involved in the Council] realized that this is a great story that needs to be told.” Major donations were received from the member companies to fund the remaining archaeology and the reconstruction. To assist in fundraising and promotion of the reconstruction project, they had Vendome Copper and Brass manufacture a replica still and set it up outside by the mill. “They made a copy of a 1790s still that’s in the Smithsonian Collection, that was made at Vendome


and tested out there in Kentucky then brought out here to Mount Vernon.” It was run by the likes of Jimmy Russell, Dave Pickerell, Chris Morris, Joe Dangler, and Ron Call, to name a few. Mike Sherman of Vendome also came to work the still in those early days. The resulting small batch distillation was bottled and sold to raise money for the project, and every year since then a similar event has taken place. “It’s been a great partnership, and we still have a number of visiting distillers that help us.” From 2009 until 2017, Dave Pickerell, the master distiller for Whistle Pig, helped on production runs. Joe Dangler, retired now from A. Smith Bowman Distillery, remains involved assisting from time to time. Ted Hubert, of Starlight Distillery, has helped on several brandy runs, as has Thomas Mckenzie, formerly of Finger Lakes Distilling. “It went so well we decided to make a regular run of it every so often, so we’ve done peach on three or four occasions. Sometimes we age it, sometimes we make it an eau de vie. We’ve also done apple brandy.” When the folks at Mount Vernon decided to make a small amount of rum — the release of which will coincide with the forthcoming release of Washington’s Barbados diaries — they reached out to the distilling community once more. “We did a very successful run with thanks to Lisa Wicker [of Saints & Monsters LLC, and Samson and Surrey] and Maggie Campbell of Privateer Rum. In fact, Lisa Wicker has been our key consulting distillery since 2016, providing great advice and direction which has helped our quality and yields.” It seems that collaborative efforts will never cease at Mount Vernon as long as there are spirits to be made and distillers WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

interested in helping to make them. Perhaps one of the most exciting collaborations that’s taken place on Washington’s estate was organized by the Council and Mount Vernon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Scotch Whisky Association. In 2012, four distillers were invited to the estate: Bill Lumsden of Glenmorangie, Andy Cant, formerly of Cardhu and now consulting for Lindores Distillery, John Campbell of Laphroaig, and Dave Pickerell. It was to be a 100% single malt whisky, made in America with Scottish malt and finished in Madeira casks, a favorite drink of the first president. “From my point of view the undertaking of making of a whisky by using the single malt process in an American Distillery and at a distillery with such pedigree as the George Washington distillery in Mount Vernon was an absolute dream come true,” says John Campbell. “I still try and innovate at Laphroaig using some experiences gained from the George Washington distillery to this day and made some friends for life completing this process.” The process, much like the other distillations run at Mount Vernon, was decidedly old-fashioned: the group set out a small number of wooden fermenters for three days, hand sifting all of the solids out of the wort, then charged three stills by filling buckets and pouring them directly into the neck of the still. From there, the stills were lit with an oakwood fire and left to do what they do best. “At this point the three of us had to unlearn a combined 80 years of experience because this was unlike any low wines we had encountered,” says Andy Cant. Due to the full body, character, and strength of the initial distillation, the group did not proceed with a typical second run and instead put the first distillate directly into barrels. “I remember myself, Bill and John sticking our fingers into the distillate stream at regular intervals and tasting as our sole means of quality control.” The whisky made during this experience was subsequently auctioned for charity. “I got to drink with those guys one night here at Mount Vernon and that was so much fun, drinking that whisky and their whiskies after the auction” Bashore says. “And I thought to myself, when am I going to sit with Bill Lumsden, Andy Cant, and John Campbell at the same table? That’s one of those things that Mount Vernon distillery does, like the reunion we had last fall, [it] really brings various people together.”


Bashore and his team know that they are involved in something truly historic at Mount Vernon. Their appreciation for what’s happening now is almost certainly heightened by their interest in our country’s past. Bashore is forthcoming about Washington’s legacy, including both the good, the bad, and the fabled cherry tree. “There’s a lot of 19th century stories that were really meant to illustrate Washington’s character and honesty,” Bashore says. “The real story is much more intriguing. The examples of character and integrity are so replete through his letters and things he did even running his farm...he realized too one of the deep wrongs was the issue of slavery. In his will, he freed 123 slaves that he owned.” Some of those enslaved individuals worked in the distillery, alongside James Anderson’s son John, who was the daily manager. Six of the eight men working there were enslaved — Hanson, Peter, Nat, Daniel, James and Timothy. These men were responsible for the large amounts of whiskey that were produced out of the estate. “We teach that story here of the enslaved people every day at Mount Vernon.” “I think about my fourth grade history, I grew up in Virginia, and you kind of learn about Washington as a mythic figure. For me it’s been great discovering that he’s a human being, quite incredible in many ways but also with faults and flaws just like everyone has.” With so many wonderful projects under their belt, you’d think that the Mount Vernon distillery might take it easy this year, but that doesn’t seem likely. Bashore and his team are already back into full swing as April 1st embarks the opening season for tours of the distillery and gristmill, and they’re hoping to produce more rye whiskey, maybe even to distribute it one day. When asked if they’ll tackle bourbon next, Bashore’s answer is hopeful, if not a little vague. “I think that it’s probably pretty likely that that may happen here in the short term future.” For now, he’s happy to continue working on the spirits that they do have and to further the legacy of America’s first president, a man who stood tall and believed in the restorative powers of a stiff drink.

You can visit the George Washington’s Distillery in Mount Vernon, Virginia from April 1 to October 31. Call (703) 780-2000 or visit for more info.







s a distiller, one of the most satisfying parts of my job is filling a beautiful new cask with fragrant new-make spirit. It gives me a very uplifting sense of possibility, exploration, and excitement for the future. Considerably less exciting is seeing that spirit leak right back out of the barrel. With the right know-how about how to store and prepare barrels (and a few specialized tools), you can set yourself up for the best chance of avoiding leaks and leak-related heartache.

RECEIVING BARRELS Upon delivery, the barrels should be inspected as they are unloaded. New barrels leave the cooperage pressure tested and ready to fill, but a lot can happen during shipment, either through mishandling (dropped off the truck) or improper storage (sitting on hot loading dock for a week), both of which negatively impact the barrel. If the barrels arrive wrapped, you’ll want to leave the packaging intact (unless you plan to fill them immediately) but still look them over thoroughly. This is a great time to confirm you were shipped the correct barrels, especially if you order a variety of barrel types and treatments. Damage to the packaging indicates a deeper look at the barrel is needed. Look for hairline cracks around the bilge (the widest part of the barrel), particularly on the bung stave, which is typically the weakest point of the barrel. If you notice cracks, it is possible the barrels will still be usable but it’s worth documenting and raising the issue with the cooperage. In my WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


experience, a $180 kilndried barrel is much more likely to arrive with bilge cracks than a $350 airdried barrel. Additionally, look for damage at the stave ends which can occur if the barrel is dropped on edge. This type of damage can be difficult to repair. If the head hoop isn’t flush with the chime (the edge of the stave), or the hoops have deformations or hammer marks, it suggests the barrel had to be repaired at the cooperage after construction. Other indicators the barrel has been worked on include excessive wax or paste applied to the croze (the groove in the stave end which the head is inserted into), and doweling or wedges pounded into the head to plug gaps. These aren’t necessarily reasons to reject a barrel, but they can be more prone to leak, so I mark them to be filled first as they can be more challenging to rehydrate if allowed to dry out. Donnis Todd, master distiller at Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, Texas (no relation to article author), specifies to his cooperage suppliers that he won’t accept repaired barrels, as he’s found that in the intense heat of their aging environment, the repairs often fail. These types of relationships with cooperages take time to build, but if you know you have special requirements, do everything you can to communicate them to the cooperage in advance and both parties will be happier.


STORING BARRELS After inspecting the barrels, at least some will likely need to be stored until filling time. The environment the barrels are stored in is important, as poor conditions make the barrels much more likely to dry out. According to Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, the ideal barrel storage environment is 65F with 75% humidity. While some wineries have humidity control, it’s pretty rare in distilleries, so you may have to get creative to mitigate moisture loss from the wood. Garrison Brothers, which orders barrels by the truckload, constructed a specific building for storing the barrels prior to filling to keep them out of the sun and wind. “Early on we learned to keep them shrink-wrapped, and keep them up off the ground on a pallet,” says Todd, as resting directly on the floor seems to suck the moisture out of the wood. At our distillery in Portland, the air is turned over very frequently which tends to dry out barrels rapidly in the summertime. We’ve had better results storing empty barrels in the tasting room (everyone loves to see barrels!) as well as in a shipping container with limited airflow (ie “the barrel sauna”). These steps are all helpful, but the only surefire solution beyond humidity control is to fill barrels immediately upon receipt. Independent Stave Company and Canton Cooperage both stress that any time in storage negatively impacts fill-readiness, and the ideal scenario would be to only order as many barrels as you’ll fill in a month. There are delivery costs associated with that approach, but they might be partially offset by reduced handling of the barrels to get them fill ready.


PREPPING THE BARRELS When you are ready to fill the barrels they should be inspected again, looking for gaps between staves or loose/out-ofplace hoops which indicate the barrel is no longer fill ready. I smell the barrels and record my impressions (officially referred to as “nosing the bunghole for its virtue”) as well as inspect the interior with a dental mirror and flashlight to confirm the toasting and charring align with my expectations. There are a few different methods to prep or hydrate a barrel for filling. At Garrison Brothers, Todd has a six-inch deep concrete “kiddie pool” filled with filtered rainwater. Barrels are stood on their ends in the pool and the recess of the head is filled with water. The barrels are periodically flipped until water stays on top of the head, which can take several days of soaking. By not filling the barrels directly with water, Garrison Brothers cuts back significantly on their water usage. Occasionally barrels fail to swell up, but because of the distillery’s barrel specifications to the cooperages, it’s relatively rare. Experience has shown them that any barrel that needs more help to swell tight will likely leak or perform poorly when exposed to the intense aging environment in Texas, where the barrel may see 500 or 600 100°F summer days over the course of its maturation. Lee Medoff, Head Distiller and Founder at Bull Run Distillery in Portland, Oregon, has had good success with a different approach. For new barrels, he gives them a quick rinse with a spray-ball attachment to remove any sawdust or excessive char. The barrel is then filled with a couple of gallons of filtered 110-120°F water, bunged up, and stood on end. After an hour, the barrel is flipped onto the other head for a spell. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

If no leaks are detected, the barrel is ready to fill. If there are noticeable leaks more water is added to the barrel and poured into the recess of the head. Medoff emphasized that the water must be filtered and chlorine-free, of the same quality used to proof spirits, and that he won’t leave water in a barrel longer than overnight as it may start to go stagnant and turn the barrel musty. He’s also found if you are working with larger-than-standard barrels like 500L puncheons or sherry butts its critical to not let them dry out, as they can be extremely challenging to get back together and tight. At Stone Barn Brandyworks, we follow a similar procedure. After inspection, we fill the barrels with three to four gallons of filtered 140°F water and close them with a silicone bung. The barrel is then gently rolled back and forth, taking care to keep the bung pointed away from the face. The hot water pressurizes the barrel and water is forced out of any gaps between the staves or head, so it’s important to wear appropriate protective gear. Generally, hotter water is more effective for swelling the barrel, but can extract more barrel character. Similarly, rolling the barrel too aggressively can knock a lot of char off the staves, depending on the type of barrel. The barrel is stood on each head for 30 minutes, and after one hour, if no leaks are detected, the bung is removed (there should be a hiss of pressure). The water is dumped and tasted to get a sense of the barrel flavor. If the water has much or any color, the water was too hot or sat too long. Any leaks generally swell shut within the first hour, and if the barrel is still leaking after 24 hours, it is unlikely to swell shut on its own. Leak repair is another ball of wax (and spiles and tools and irritation…), but the simplest and first course of action

is to try tightening the hoops. Using a hoop driver and three pound hammer, pound down the hoops at even intervals around the barrel, starting at the bilge hoop and working upwards. Then, flip the barrel and pound the other set of hoops. If you tighten the hoops before swelling the barrel, it’s possible to overtighten the hoops, which can damage the staves when they do swell. If you don’t have a hoop driver, a squaredoff masonry chisel could be used, but you’ll be happier and safer if you purchase the right tools from Barrel Builders or a winery supply house. (If you ever plan to take a barrel apart, get a head puller while you are buying equipment; it’s the best $10 you can spend.) If the barrel gets too dry, the hoops may slide off if they aren’t nailed in place, which creates some challenges for rehydrating. Using a ratchet strap around the bilge to cinch up the barrel can provide some structural integrity while you position the hoops. Try to return the hoops to their original position (usually there are marks where the hoop originally rested) and hold them in place with L-shaped hoop clips. For very dry barrels, a kiddie pool-style soaking bath is usually more effective than filling, as at first the water will pour out about as fast as it goes in. Be sure to change the water regularly to prevent bacteria from growing, and as you struggle through the process, you’ll have plenty of time to think about improvements to your barrel storage arrangements!

Andy Garrison is Head Distiller at Stonebarn Brandyworks, where he’s worked since 2012, and has distilled at a few other Portland-area distilleries including New Deal Distillery and House Spirits Distillery. For more info, email 43


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hile distillery accounting can be intimidating — it is accounting, after all — a distillery manager just needs the right perspective and properly utilized software to keep tabs on things. At the heart of it is the difference between financial accounting and cost accounting, or accounting focused on various costs at different stages of production, according to David Chew, owner of 451 Spirits and accountant for Whiskey Systems. “Cash accounting is: if I spend it, I expense it. And so I have this huge loss in the first year, I should see a huge loss on my tax return,” he said. In a distillery, though, that outlay isn’t a loss. Because the expense went into product — even a product that may not be salable for two, three, five, or even ten years — there’s no offset or deduction. “That whole concept of cost accounting and collecting all your costs and not being able to take (them) on your tax return for years is against what most people's understanding is,” Chew said. “So if you went out and bought a brick of gold and stuck it in a safe, that's pretty much what you've done with your grain and your process and your barrel,” he said. “You bought this thing. You squirreled it away somewhere, and it is of no value to you from a tax perspective until you've actually sold it to somebody else. We know we're going to lose a percentage. It doesn't mean that we have dollars that went down the drain. It means that my three-year-old bourbon is worth more than your brand new bourbon because it's three years later. “ Shrinkage occurs at multiple stages, in distillation and redistillation, and in evaporation of barrel-aged product. While a tax accountant may look at those heads and tails cuts and the angel’s share as losses, Chew said distillers need to look at it as concentrating the value that the spirit originally had. “You really had no loss, what you did is alter what you have,” he said. “All you did was transfer cash into another form. Theoretically a thousand gallons before it went into the still, you'd have 950 gallons at the end of it. So your cost per unit has increased, your number of units has decreased, but that equation of whatever the value was to begin with is still the value. That 950 gallons is actually worth more to you than it was before because you did something to enhance its value.” There does come a time to deduct those costs, but it’s not until



the product is finally sold. If the materials cost two dollars, the packaging costs a dollar, and labor, utilities and rent costs another two dollars, those costs can eventually be applied to the gross income from the spirit. “[With] cost accounting, and especially accrual method, you never get the benefit from those losses that you paid out of your checkbook until you start selling product,” he said. “And if you sell product at a profit and you do well, your distillery should actually never really see a loss anyway, because all the money you're shoving at it is going theoretically into a product that is sitting there waiting to be sold.” It can be tricky for a new business to handle those costs up front, but on the other hand, if a distiller were to take those deductions early, they would be in a hole later on. “The problem is, you have very little to offset where your cash went in the earlier years, and then you'd hit this stride of a normal revenue-to-expense ratio. Let's say you took all your expenses and deductions and you put your losses on your tax return, and you finally sell that bottle. Now you have a huge amount of revenue with nothing left to offset it. So you're going to have a massive tax bill when things finally start selling.” The way that barrels are accounted for is one instance where there is


some flexibility, though. Depending on how they’re used and reused, they can be written off after a single use or they can be depreciated as equipment if they’re getting reused. “Some people look at it as, 'It’s equipment no different than the tanks.' Some people look at it as, 'The barrel is used up, so to speak, in the process of making a bourbon.' Some people say, 'We're going to sell the barrel for 100 bucks at the end, so I'm gonna add the cost of the barrel minus $100 to the proof gallons that are in that barrel for however many years,’” he said. “Your barrel is part of your ingredient mix. I add a barrel. We bottle it. I throw away the barrel. It's no different than adding your botanicals and throw away the botanicals when you're done. If you can sell botanical remnants for 100 dollars, it's literally no different than your barrel. “The distillery that I have, we do solera aging. So we're using a combination of new and used barrels. So I look at it more as an equipment thing. We’re going to use that barrel for a number of years and then we'll get rid of the barrel. The barrel, it's cost, isn't really directly related to what's in it because it's not a one-time use thing like it is with bourbon. So those sorts of unique conditions to your business help you set the policy of how you do your accounting for it. “It is just like other businesses. It isn't really unique in distilling. Accounting is pretty subjective until you set the rules. Then you just follow that policy that you established for your distillery.


Choosing an accountant Naturally, it’s important that whoever a distillery relies on, whether it’s an in-house accountant or someone in an advisory role, understands the nuances of how the product evolves and is accounted for. “My biggest recommendation to all business owners: not just distilleries, never take business advice from a tax accountant, because that's an entirely different type of accounting that has no relevance to how you establish the costs of what went into your bottle at the end of the day,” Chew said. “All they're interested in is revenue minus expense, and this is what you owe in taxes. If they're not doing your taxes, you're in the wrong place. “You really need an advisor who understands cost accounting in some way if you're going to do production numbers or cost estimates of any scale that need to be pretty accurate for you. I would start with somebody that has knowledge of distilling. I would then go to somebody who has knowledge of cost accounting and I would then go to somebody who has knowledge of business accounting and advising on how to create a successful company.” A specialist in distillery accounting isn’t absolutely necessary, though. Chew recommends finding someone who has worked in an industry that involves a liquid product, whether beer, soda, juice, milk, or anything similar. “The benefit of the beverage industry is they're used to dealing with fluids, as opposed to assembling products out of widgets or kitting things together or something like that. It's much more of a fluid concept, so I


would posit that anyone from a dairy or a juice (company) or some other kind of background would fit in very well,” he said.

Finding the right software The best CPA with the best data available is going to have a long, uphill battle to try to apply standard accounting software to distillery tracking. It can quickly become unwieldy to try to calculate the actual cost of a product, given variations in yield, cuts and evaporation. “No accounting package out of the box deals with proof gallons as a finished product. A thousand gallons are now 950 gallons, but it's worth the same if not more depending on what I put into it. The software isn't really designed for that,” he said. “I have a master's degree and a CPA and I sat down, when I first started, with a spreadsheet. And after about four months, I thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’ Because of how fluid every batch of spirit is, you need the specialized software.” Most of the distilling packages on the market now will track those variations, whether yield was high on a mash, or a fermentation went wrong and deeper cuts were made, or a barrel sat near a sunny window and had higher loss due to evaporation. “What Whiskey Systems has, what I'm sure Distillery Solutions has, and the 100 software packages that have come out in the last couple of years, somebody is tackling that problem in some way, tracking the financial transactions and matching it to the proof

gallons. It's tracking it per distillation and per redistillation. You can even see if you bought the grain for all the same amount.” “Your cost of the spirit is constantly changing because it's a fluid that is being mixed and remixed and have different outputs every time you run the still. But that's where the software handles that. So you may have, at the end of a year, 100 barrels where you started with the exact same recipe but every single barrel has a slightly different value because it performs slightly differently.” A specialized distillery program is a complement to, not a replacement for, regular tax accounting software, though. “You just can't do it all in one software,” he said. “The proof gallons may have changed but your accounting system says you've got X amount of product, your distillery software says I have X amount of proof gallons. This is what I did and this is what I have to report to the TTB. So by making sure that your transactions equal in both systems you can run an effective distillery reporting software alongside your accounting software and not have too much complication. Knowing it gives you an edge. Tracking that data gives you the ability to make better decisions.”

Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver and Loveland, CO. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be found up in the mountains or at

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The craft spirits industry starts thinking more seriously about workplace wellness


ildland firefighter. Commercial crab fisherman. Bomb squad technician. Underwater welder. Brand ambassador? Workplace danger comes in many forms, and while distillers may think first and foremost of forklift and fire safety when they consider on-the-job hazards (important issues, to be sure!), there are other, subtler dangers for people who work in the drinks industry. The temptation to overdo on alcohol and dining out — and underdo on sleep and restorative time — is ever present, and the hospitality industry has historically WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

struggled to build workplace wellness into its culture. In 2011, Business Insider reported that white male bartenders were 2.33 times more likely to die from alcoholrelated causes than the average white male, and white female bartenders were 2.89 times more likely. Hazardous alcohol consumption and lopsided work-life balance are still major issues facing the drinks industry today, but things might be starting to change. “I know a lot of people who are trying to get their health back,” says Clyde Davis, regional director for Pacific Edge Wine and Spirits

and the former owner of a spirits import company. “People are actually talking about it now, whereas before, they weren’t talking about it.” The resulting conversations about what it means to strive towards wellness, how to balance the demands of personal and professional life, and how to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol are starting to have an impact. People and companies are making shifts aimed at preserving professional longevity rather than always being the life of the party.


] is the r e d n u fo ’s r e te a iv ndrew [Pr A . n w o d p to take the e u th o y e c n O .’ k in r “It starts at d mood for a e th in t o n ’m ey feel, ‘I th y t a h w y a s to first one to sa y the abilit le p o e p e iv g d n a y pressure awa self.” it f o e r a c s e k ta it ch M ell, PRIVATEER RU it’s funny how mu — Maggie Campb

DRINKING IN MODERATION Excessive alcohol use isn’t the sexiest topic in the drinks industry, but it’s one of the most important issues facing the people who work in it. Perhaps no other factor is as important to manage when it comes to a sustainable career within the industry, yet it remains challenging to discuss, especially in an industry and national culture that values the ability to “hold your liquor” or glorifies overconsumption. The Center for Disease Control defines moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women, or two drinks per day for men — and those are standard drink sizes, which means a pint of 7% IPA beer or a Manhattan cocktail made with two ounces of bottled-in-bond rye counts as two drinks, even if it comes in one glass. Over time, excessive drinking elevates the risk for health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, depression, and anxiety. Clearly, most people in the drinks industry aren’t following those official recommendations to a T, but that doesn’t mean we should stop paying attention to our behavior around imbibing. Quitting cold turkey is not the only option. Many report that drinking less or taking regular booze breaks can have powerful positive repercussions on a personal and professional level. Michael Ray, Massachusetts’s field brand specialist for Maestro Dobel Tequila, has worked in the drinks industry for 25


years, with much of that time spent behind the bar. Several years ago, he decided to change his relationship with alcohol. “I went through a period where I didn’t touch alcohol for nine or 10 months, and when you come out the other end, you realize you really don’t need it,” Ray says. “Your personality is your personality. It doesn’t really change with or without the alcohol or food or anything else.” Ray drinks occasionally now, but much less than in the past, and the shift set off a cascade of positive changes in his life. He started eating better, working out more, lost weight, and began to develop a newfound sense of clarity. “When you start making the changes physically, the mental gets better as well,” explains Ray. For Jeff Kanof, Vice President at Copperworks Distillery in Seattle, Washington, moderation often means tasting drinks without finishing them. “I’ve realized I can’t be drinking every sip. You take some small sips here and there, I always welcome the opportunity to smell or taste new cocktails and new spirits, but I try not to overdo with full quantities,” says Kanof. And when he knows he’s headed to an event where he’ll drink two or three cocktails, he makes sure he has a way to get home without getting behind the wheel. Others say having a go-to low- or noalcohol drink to fall back on is helpful. Maggie Campbell, head distiller and president at Privateer Rum, recommends soda water with a dash of chartreuse as a delicious, flavorful, and low-proof drink to nurse at work events, while Ray enlists the

bartender as a partner in booze reduction. “I have gone to a bar, walked in, given the bartender $20, and said ‘People want to buy me drinks. I don’t care what anybody orders for me, you’re going to pour me water and cranberry juice. I’m not drinking,” Ray laughs.

SUPPORTING EACH OTHER In an industry that has long undervalued wellness, drinks industry professionals who talk candidly about the challenges they face and the steps they’re taking to take care of themselves can serve as powerful role models. “One thing about social media is now people can see what you’re up to,” says Davis. “It’s encouragement. People can think ‘I want to do a race because I saw Clyde do a race, and if he can do it, I can do it.’” It can be challenging to balance moderate drinking with the demands of regular industry events and account visits, and many industry members worry that too many dry days could negatively impact their brand or their work relationships. Yet most of those who have made a commitment to drink less say their colleagues are supportive. “We’re in the hospitality industry, and that means we’re not used to saying no,” says Davis. “But you always have to be your own advocate, to be able to tell people no and set your own boundaries, and then the pressure goes away.” Davis says a commitment to fitness is a big part


of his personal wellness picture. When he was training for his first marathon in January 2018, he stopped drinking entirely. During his company’s annual national sales meeting, he says his colleagues were completely supportive of his decision to skip the booze. “Nobody was upset I wasn’t drinking. In fact, most times, people aren’t even paying attention to you.” “People who are new to the industry think they need to go drink at every place, so they end up drinking a lot, and it creeps into life and grows in ways that can be unhealthy,” says Campbell. She thinks modeling sustainable drinking is an important responsibility for industry leaders. “It starts at the top down. Andrew [Privateer’s founder] is the first one to say ‘I’m not in the mood for a drink.’ Once you take the pressure away and give people the ability to say what they feel, it’s funny how much it takes care of itself.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF DOWN TIME While less easily quantifiable than the amount of alcohol consumed, truly restorative time away from work is often a casualty of the fast-paced, entrepreneurial culture of craft spirits, to the detriment of workers’ physical and mental well being. “The best policy we have is no texting after 6 pm,” says Campbell. “Health is not just calories and protein and yoga. It’s also if you’re being texted at 8 pm about something you don’t need to hear about right then. We really respect people’s time off.” When Ray revised his relationship with

alcohol, he also started to reconsider his longtime career as a bartender, where unhealthy habits felt ingrained in the culture and lifestyle. “You try to slowly set the example by not having 10 drinks after work, not having that late night pizza at the last call spot, not having the after work shift drink, and all of a sudden you start saying, this might not be the right path for me,” says Ray. “When you become a family guy and have kids, you think, ‘How long am I going to do this and be away from my kid, my family, and my friends?’” So he made another shift — moving from behind the bar to in front of it, as a brand ambassador, a role that leverages his extensive experience as a bartender but doesn’t demand the same intense schedule of weekends and late nights. “I’m still around booze every day, but there’s no more late nights unless I choose to, or I have an event. I don’t have to do weekends. So all of a sudden, you realize there’s a whole new world out there.” As the company has grown, Kanof says Copperworks consciously encourages staff to take true vacations, although he acknowledges the challenges coverage can pose to their small team. “A lot of small business people struggle taking time away from work,” says Kanof. “At Copperworks, we definitely make a point of taking real vacations, but even now, it’s tough. Sometimes it can be easier to go away for longer times, because it’s the same amount of work to get people prepared to take on extra tasks.” People who enter the spirits industry from

traditional Monday through Friday, nine to five jobs can often find it disorienting to have bars and restaurants transformed from places designed for relaxation into places that represent work. Kanof recently moved about 30 minutes away from Copperworks, which he says has changed how he spends his leisure time for the better. Living closer to the company, he says he felt pressure to be always selling, even when he wasn’t technically on the clock. “You feel like you’re ‘on’ all the time, even if you’re just trying to sit at dinner with your friends and family. You always have to be ready with your message because you don’t know who’s going to come up to you,” says Kanof. He says hanging out at bars and restaurants that aren’t target accounts has been a relief. “You can sit and enjoy that time instead of thinking ‘Why don’t they have our booze on the back bar?’” There’s no single template for wellness or work-life balance in the spirits industry — or any other industry for that matter. Everybody’s situation is unique, and different jobs and career stages demand different kinds of trade-offs. But it’s good news for everybody that the industry is starting to talk openly about the challenges workers face and the best ways to help people enjoy long, happy careers.

Margarett Waterbury is the managing editor of The Whiskey Wash and regularly contributes to other publications about food, drink, and agriculture. She was named the 2017 Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year by Spirits Business Magazine.

“A lot of small busines s people struggle takin g time away from work. At Copperworks, we definitely make a poi nt of taking real vacations, but even now , it’s tough.” — Jeff Kanof, COPPERWO




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Grappa Grows Up

ention the word “grappa” and you’re likely to get the type of polarizing reaction that few other spirits typically evoke. Grappa hasn’t had the most stellar reputation in the U.S. — nor in much of Italy, for that matter. But such negative attitudes toward the spirit correlate directly with the quality of grappas to which the drinking public has been previously exposed. Much of what’s available at the odd Italian-American restaurant is pretty harsh and challenging stuff. But that could be changing as grappa distillers in Northern Italy are making a fresh push to get consumers at home and abroad to (re-) discover their traditional grape pomace brandy. In April I was part of a small group of American journalists invited to tour eight distilleries in and around the Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions — the heart of grappa production in Italy. The tour was part of the Hello Grappa campaign, co-funded by the European Union and promoted by AssoDistil (Associazione Nazionale Industriali Distilatori di Alcoli ed Acquaviti), the local distillers’ association. The common misconception around grappa is that it’s a lesser beverage because it’s made with the refuse from the winemaking process. While that may be technically true — pomace, also known as marc, encompasses skins, stems and seeds left over from the wine-making process — there’s as much pride and craftsmanship in the grappa distilling process as there is in winemaking. In many cases, these are family businesses in their third, fourth, fifth or sixth generation of operation that are as meticulous in their selection of pomace as wineries are in growing and harvesting the grapes themselves. And, in the past couple of decades, new traditions have emerged to adapt to the evolving needs of worldwide spirits drinkers. For one thing, single-varietal grappas have become much more prevalent, with individual bottlings based solely on chardonnay, moscato, Barolo (Nebbiolo), and other signature red and white varieties indigenous to the region. It’s easy to pick up the different flavor and aroma nuances when you taste single-varietal grappas side-by-side. Some exhibit more minerality, while others express more pronounced floral notes. In addition to the rise of single varietals, the demand for barrelaged grappa has surged as well. Two decades ago the concept was virtually nonexistent within the category. “A big change started to happen at the end of the ’90s as we started focusing on aging,” notes Alessandro Marzadro of Distilleria



With an eye on tradition, Italy’s grappa distillers adapt their spirits to modern sensibilities.

Marzadro in the town of Nogaredo in the province of Trento. “We were able to introduce grappa to people not used to it. People in central and southern Italy weren’t drinking it, but now they are. If we’re able to get it to central and southern Italy, we can get outside [Italy’s] borders.” The strong market performance of other brown spirits has given consumers a taste for two-year, three-year, seven-year, 10-year-old, and even older grappa expressions. At the distillery Castagner Acquaviti we sampled one that had matured in oak barriques for 20 years. Castagner is actually one of the younger players in the business. Founder and master distiller Roberto Castagner, who remains at the company, bet big on barrel aging two decades ago. His company had been operating as a contract distiller for other companies before he launched the family brand in 1997. “He understood that the grappa market would switch from white to aged and that’s why he decided to invest in the barrique cellar,” says Giulia Castagner, Roberto’s daughter, who, along with her sister Silvia and cousin Carlo, represents the second-generation management team. “He thought the barrique cellar would be the future and he was right.” Castagner’s bread-and-butter products are its three-year-old and seven-year-old. The company also markets a 14-year-old. And there’s absolutely no messing around with such age statements on the boot, as Italian government regulation on spirits production is pretty intense. Think the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 on steroids. Customs officers typically have their own work stations at private distilleries, as they’re usually on the premises a couple of times a week. There’s a large, circular metal seal on the door to each barrel room and the proprietors are only allowed to enter it in the


presence of those public officials. At most sites we visited, we were only able to peek through windows at the rows of filled cooperage as there were no government officers present. The day we toured Castagner wasn’t one of the two weekdays such officials were usually there. “We asked the officer to come today so we could go in to see the barrique cellar,” Giulia Castagner reveals. “Someone has to be physically here to make sure nothing weird happens.” That goes for the stillhouse as well. When a producer finishes distilling for the season — most activity takes place between September and April — the government agents affix a seal with wire to every seam of every still. When production commences the following season, the official is on hand to remove the seals. Most producers partner with select wine makers to procure a reliable supply of pomace, though some operate as both winery and distillery. For red varieties, the skins usually arrive postfermentation, as they’re fermented along with the must. Distillers typically have to ferment the pomace from whites before they distill. At many distilleries, a large Archimedian screw pump will transport the fermented pomace into the still for the first round of distillation. The solid marc is then steamed and distilled to about 27 percent ABV. It’s then usually distilled twice more (frequently using a combination of pot and column stills) to no more than 86 percent ABV — otherwise the distillery can’t legally call it grappa. When we dropped in on one of Italy’s largest grappa production facilities, Bonollo Umberto Distillery, large trucks carrying multiple tons of pomace were dumping it into gargantuan mounds occupying a sizable chunk of the 800,000-square-foot building. About 100 trucks a day deliver roughly 30 tons of pomace to Bonollo. There’s a very tight window of time between collection and distillation of the raw material, as it’s known to spoil quite quickly. That, of course, raises the question of what happens to all of those skins once they’ve gone through the distillation process. At Bonollo — and many other distilleries — the spent pomace becomes fuel. Bonollo prides itself on being 100 percent self-sufficient. The exhausted marc is burned to power a large horizontal cylindrical drying machine that separates the seeds from the skins of a fresh batch of pomace (Bonollo distillers say they use no gas whatsoever in the facility). The distillery removes seeds prior to distillation, as their known to impart harsh, tannic qualities to the finished product. Bonollo then sells the seeds to companies that produce grapeseed oil. Very little, if anything, gets wasted in the production process. Sustainability appears to be the norm across many of northern Italy’s grappa producers and it represents an embrace of modern operational realities — just as a focus on premium, single-varietal and barrel-aged expressions reflects a desire to evolve with the tastes of 21st century consumers. But, even with such an eye on the future, centuries-old family traditions remain safely intact.

Jeff Cioletti is the editor at large of Beverage World Magazine, creator of The Drinkable Globe website, and hosts the web series, The Drinkable Week. 54 






he hottest trend in tourism globally is the idea of location as consumable through food and drink. Distilled spirits have an obvious home within this concept, but — with one very notable exception — there is no strong US-based spirits tourism culture. Developing a tourism destination which incorporates multiple distilleries requires developing a new regional brand identity, crafting experiences for tourists and marketing the destination to potential visitors.

WHAT IS A REGIONAL BRAND IDENTITY? Tourists choose to visit a region based upon their anticipatory perception of the experience they might have there. That perception is shaped by regional stereotypes, popular culture, traditional media, destination marketing, social media, word of mouth and other factors. Perceptions of multiple destinations are weighed before travelers commit to a trip. So with 2,000+ operating distilleries in the United States, how do you differentiate yourself to encourage tourism? In other words, why should someone spend their time and money to visit you, when they likely have a distillery near their home? What experiences can you offer that a staycation could not? The answers to those questions are found through the development of a unique regional brand identity, which consists of three (obvious but out-of-order) parts:

REGIONAL Visitors travel to a place. Your region must be defined by clear boundaries delineating what is included and what is excluded. Vague or fuzzy boundaries make it harder for potential travelers to anticipate their travel experiences. And although it’s the most common way of defining one, a region does not have to match state boundaries. Sub-state, city, sub-city, district, cross-state, etc. can all function effectively for a destination region. Consider these regions: >> New England

>> Las Vegas & The Strip

>> Kentucky

>> Florida Keys

>> Napa Valley

>> The Distillery District of Lexington, KY

>> Gatlinburg

Your region is the answer to: Where is the destination, how big is it and what is included within its boundaries?



IDENTITY Identity is specific differentiation. It is the nouns and adjectives that, in combination, make your region unique among all regions in the world. Identity is not a function of geography, it’s a function of what’s within the geography. Is it primarily urban or rural, or a mix of the two? Is it mountainous, flat, coastal, forested or entirely settled? Does the region have historical significance? (There doesn’t have to be a direct relationship to the spirits industry, although a tie-in would be useful.) Perhaps it’s more modern and progressive? What is the primary culture and what significant sub-cultures are present, especially those not found elsewhere? Beyond sociallevel cultures are there historic, culinary, industrial or technological cultures? Even if there’s no obvious overlap between your region’s identity and the distilled spirits industry, existing elements will shape your destination marketing strategy. Your identity is the answer to: What is authentically unique about your region?

BRAND Brand (in this context) is the framing and messaging of the elements of the identity. It is the emotional layer on top of the established identity of the region and shapes how the potential visitor will relate to the destination. Brand encompasses the public-facing choices of font/typography, color, graphics style, iconography, text structure, tone/voice, tag line and the like. Those choices will be determined by a internal brand style guide which will also incorporate specific details about your target audience, brand ‘personality,’ key words and phrases, and other directing details. Through branding, you determine how you want a potential visitor to perceive your destination region, and especially how that perception differs from their perception of other regions. Without branding, you might know why your region is special, but your potential visitor may not. Your brand is the answer to: What makes your destination so special it’s worth visiting?

POTENTIAL STRUGGLES While all tourism destination development has challenges, spirits regions have specific struggles.

WHAT’S IN A NAME? The default and obvious naming convention for a spirits region is: [State/Region Name] [Spirits/Distilleries] [Trail/Tour/Program/ Experience/etc.] While this communicates effectively, it doesn’t communicate specifically, emotionally or compellingly. Left out are all of the elements of identity and brand as determined in the previous section. A name which incorporates more specific details is better, but might be difficult or impossible to come up with up. Even then, a specific name risks losing memorability. For example, “Shenandoah WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


Spirits Trail” has no major cultural connotations and may not even make obvious to potential tourists what state it’s in. Recognizing when a name is insufficient and utilizing a tagline or secondary marketing tool drawn from the identity and branding elements can compensate and create the necessary emotional memorability. Consider these examples of sufficient vs. supported names: >> Kentucky Bourbon Trail® >> Colorado Spirits Trail: Inspired by the Mountains ‘Bourbon’ and especially ‘Kentucky Bourbon’ have existing cultural branding, so no supporting modifiers are needed. ‘Colorado’ does not have an inherent spirits identity, so a branding-specific tagline is added.

THE CHALLENGE OF BEING NEW Because the current incarnation of the spirits industry in the United States is a new phenomenon, there is very little cultural identity associated with craft distilling. Much of modern food and drink tourism is built on traditional and historic regional elements, so finding an overlap is not obvious. Many small-scale distillers are attempting to differentiate themselves with brand elements such as entrepreneurship, craft, hand-made, scrappy, local, etc. While those elements might differentiate a small distillery from a multi-million case brand, they do not differentiate small distilleries from each other. The other common phrase is, “We’re just trying to make the best spirits we can.” But so is everyone else. A regional brand identity cannot be built on those elements. As they say in creative writing, the opposite of clichè is specificity. Where there is no strong spirits tradition to lean on, the specificity of the regional identity becomes the supporting elements for the spirits region. In other words, embrace where you are, and clearly add that story to your spirits region story.

BEYOND SPIRITS: FOOD & DRINK AND LOCAL ATTRACTIONS Unless you’re fortunate enough to be making the sole signature spirit within your associated region, you’re going to need more than some distillery visits to attract tourists. The best way to get attention for your spirits regional identity is to leverage the existing regional identities. Since spirits are a consumable, what is the historical culture for food and drink in your region? It doesn’t matter if it’s BBQ, Tex-Mex, Old Bay on everything, campfire roasting, fresh catch, deep fried everything or something a little more nuanced than any of those examples. What matters is that it be specific, and ideally unique, to your region. What about non-spirit drinking traditions? Partnering with breweries, wineries and cideries can expand the appeal of visiting your region.



Beyond food and drink, what else is there to do? What are the existing regional brand identities for regions that overlap with the distilleries on your list? What existing perceptions can be bonded to your spirit region? Having an identity of distilling as a subset of the greater cultural identity of your region can make it easier for potential tourist to generate a perception of your destination, and make them more likely to come.

THE DISTILLERY EXPERIENCES, OR, WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU COME The branding and identity shape the perception of the region, but what is it visitors will do and experience when they come? A distillery tour is essentially a factory tour, and all distilleries operate in pretty much the same the way. Making distillery visits a compelling experience is the request your visitors make of you. They’re giving you their time and often their money, and they want something of value in return. Distillery visitor experience design is beyond the scope of this article but is the subject of my 2017 fourpart series in this publication. Remember that’s it not enough to bring people to your region and your distillery; the goal of those visits is to enhance your business through direct sales and the secondary effects from creating brand enthusiasts. Consider this quote:

“Service is the technical delivery of a

product… hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel.” — DANNY MEYER, AUTHOR OF SETTING THE TABLE

Hospitality. Guest feeling in a distillery sells brands and bottles. Further, as part of developing a distillery destination region, coordinating across member distilleries to differentiate each visit experience is exceptionally valuable. ‘How distilling works’ gets old on the second stop. ‘What’s unique here’ is always new.

MARKETING YOUR RBI Once you’ve determined the elements necessary to stand out among other destinations and bring tourists your way, the next step is organize and begin marketing, then analyze your destination’s performance for continuous improvement. The second part in this series will cover those topics.

Tim Knittel is a Bourbon educator, writer and event specialist in Lexington, Kentucky. He formerly managed the culinary and VIP hospitality programs for the Woodford Reserve Distillery and currently manages events operations for The Kentucky Castle. He also runs Distilled Living which provides private Bourbon education, brand representation and distillery consulting services. He holds the titles of Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave & Thief Society and Adjunct Professor of Tourism, Event Management and Bourbon Studies at Midway University. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  



v a st c i t s a t n a f d an s

l a c i n a t o b f o wo rl d

the art of extracting and preserving the exquisite flavors of gin Written by Molly Troupe, MSc. and Gary Spedding, Ph.D.




in is the combination of three simple ingredients: ethanol, water, and botanicals. Ethanol is produced by fermenting cooked mash to produce a high-ethanol beer and distilling this beer repeatedly to concentrate the alcohol to approximately 96% ABV. Grains that are typically used for gin production include corn, wheat, rye, or malted barley, but less traditional sugar sources can also be used. Water affects gin quality at every step in the process, and in particular, the finished product. The flavor quality of water is dependent on the region as well as the method of purification, or lack thereof. The last ingredient of gin is botanicals, and the flavor source discussed in this article in terms of the flavor compounds found in botanicals and extractions via different distillation methods. Gin’s primary flavor is juniper. It is the only botanical that must be used in order to call a spirit gin but is not often the only botanical used. Gin is a highly creative


canvas for distillers due to the abundance of botanical choices that can be added for their flavorful essential oils (see Part 2). Botanical selection is dependent on the desired flavor profile and the taste of the end-product is not the sum of its components (1) which makes distillation of gin a challenge. Not only can flavor be impacted by the type of botanical used, but also how said botanical is processed. Processing includes ground versus whole, fresh versus dried, maceration versus basket, as well as the distillation method. Distillation methods can vary widely and depends on the rate of distillation, still shape, cuts determination, and applied heat. All these are added variables that affect gin flavor. Applied heat, in particular, can dramatically affect gin flavor profiles. Traditional distillation involves the application of heat to a still. Heat is applied to a still that is filled with alcoholic solution and the heat causes this liquid to change

state to vapor. This vapor travels up the still until it encounters a condenser filled with cool water which forces this vapor back to the aqueous state. The boiling point of ethanol dictates the heat needed to affect this change of state but the boiling point itself is not fixed. It can be altered with the right circumstances.

Vacuum Distillation Vacuum distillation, which lets the distiller use low heat to accomplish distillation runs, can help preserve delicate flavors. Vacuum distillation works by applying a vacuum to a distillation system which, in turn, lowers the vapor pressure. The vapor pressure of a pure substance is the pressure exerted by the substance against the external pressure. This external pressure is usually atmospheric but is not when a vacuum pump is applied to a distillation apparatus. Normal temperatures for distillation range from 70 to 80ÂşC. With a lowered WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

vapor pressure, the boiling point of ethanol is also lowered which means a lowered temperature can be applied for distillation. Temperatures for vacuum distillation range from 20-60ºC and are completely dependent on the pressure applied. More extreme temperatures can also be achieved by using a stronger vacuum system and distillation can be run at as low as -5ºC. Using a vacuum still is not new. The pharmaceutical industry has also used vacuum distillation technology for drug research and development. It has been used in the perfume industry for its apt ability to distill essential oils. The perfume industry’s use of vacuum distillation to extract essential oils is highly relevant as it is essentially what gin distillers are achieving with just a different end goal in mind. Vacuum distillation is highly capable of extracting flavor and preserving fresh flavors that can degrade with high heat. When juniper berries are distilled in a vacuum apparatus, the monoterpene levels are increased and present in a more stable oxygenated form (2). It’s not just juniper that changes when distilled at low temperatures. With a vacuum still, fresh ingredients can be introduced in ways they could not be before. Delicate botanicals are scorched with high heats and using a basket may not invite the wanted aroma. When vacuum distilled, that freshness is preserved.

This opens up the flavor wheel to include a variety of new points and expands the botanical selection even further. Not only can a vacuum still achieve new flavors, it can also produce higher yields which makes it a more economical still (3). Vacuum stills are not largely used in distilleries, but there are plenty of examples of distilleries who are using this technology. Townshend’s Distillery in Portland, Oregon, uses a kombucha base in their vacuum still to make a variety of products including gin. Durham Distillery in North Carolina also has a vacuum still and uses it to create different gins. Oxley Gin, a Bacardi-owned brand, is one of the first gins credited using the vacuum distillation technique (4). Oxley Gin was launched in 2009 and uses an impressively low temperature to distill their gin (-5ºC). These distilleries all utilize large vacuum stills to create their products, but there is another way to implement vacuum distillation without a large setup.

Roto-Vap A rotary evaporator (Roto-Vap) allows for smaller scale vacuum distillation. As with any distillation set-up, the concepts are simple and the equipment more complex. A Roto-Vap consists of a sample flask, a condenser, and a receiving flask. The sample flask is placed in a water bath that can be operated using distilled (DI) water. The water bath has temperature controls

FIGURE 1 (LEFT) A tabletop Roto-Vap. The sample flask is filled with berry and alcohol and attached to the vacuum duct.


that allow for temperatures as high as 60ºC. Once the sample is attached to the vapor duct and placed in the water bath, it can be rotated. Rotation is allowed by two elements: the vapor duct and the internal motor. The vapor duct is a piece of glassware that connects the receiving flask to the condenser and is aligned so that it can rotate the sample flask to allow for an even distribution of heat and prevent sample bumping. Vapor passes from the sample flask through the vapor duct and up the condenser where it comes in contact with a cooling source and is collected as a liquid in the collection flask. This distillation apparatus is connected to a vacuum system such as a vacuum pump. A Roto-Vap is a small vacuum distilling apparatus that can fit atop a table. Its small size is accompanied by an equally small volumetric capacity, which makes it difficult for large scale production. However, a Roto-Vap can be used to create flavor bombs. Flavor bombs are potent or highly concentrated essential oils distilled from the combination of ethanol and botanicals. In a broader sense, a RotoVap is not limited to just botanicals. Fresh ingredients like cucumber, rhubarb, citrus, blackberries, and mint can all be preserved using a vacuum still. Roto-Vap and vacuum distillation can help widen the spectrum of botanicals and flavors that distillers can use to create beautiful gins.

FIGURE 1 (RIGHT) A sample flask. Filled with cucumber and

alcohol yet to be vacuum distilled.



COMMON GIN BOTANICALS with details of associated and general flavor notes




Juniper berries

Juniperis communis

Pine, spruce, resin — see Figure 2. (14)

Coriander seed

Coriandrum sativum

Citrus, grapefruit, lemony-citrus, spicy, floral — See Figure 3

Angelica Root

Archangelica officinalis

Lemon peel

Citrus limon

Earthy, savory, dry, bitter herbal, incense, musky-wood, slightly minty Citrus, zesty, candied lemon peel (post-distillation)

Orange peel (sweet)

Citrus sinensis

Warming, citrus, zesty

Orange peel (bitter)

Citrus aurantium

Marmalade, dry citrus

Orris root

Iris pallida

Floral. Parma violets, (arguably helps “fix” other flavors)

Amomum cardmomum

Pungent, green, grassy, slightly peppery, eucalyptol, smoky

Licorice (Liquorice)

Glycyrrhiza spp.

Anise-like, aniseed, star anise, ouzo, hay-like, woody, dark-crystalized sugar nuances

Cassia bark (“false cinnamon”)

Cinnamomum cassia

Heat and sweet cinnamon-like, faint licorice-like

Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Sweet, pungent, classic and true cinnamon flavor

Cardamom spps.

Cinnamon bark Fennel seeds Cubeb berries Nutmeg Aniseed Grains of Paradise Calamus root Chamomile flowers Ginger root Szechuan pepper



Elderflower & elderberries Cucumber Nutmeg Rose Cumin Honey

Foeniculum vulgare Piper cubeba

Anise, black licorice and bitter Woody, camphoraceous, lavender-like, cracked pepper

Myristica fragrans

Earthy, clove, cinnamon, nutty

Pimpinella anisum

Star anise, fennel and licorice

Aframomum melegueta Acorus calamus Chamaemelum nobile Zingiber officinale Zanthoxyum simulans Sambucus spps. (S.nigra) Cucumis sativus Myristica fragrans Family Rosacea (Rosa) Cuminum cyminum

Woody, piney, citrus and peppery Pungent, sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (known as German ginger) Floral, chamomile tea Fresh, pungent, spicy, lemon-citrus, earthy, soapy Tingly spice, numbing, warmth Floral, rose-like or jam-like respectively (13) Green, cucumber, mild melon, old papery/oxidation, waxy, slight bitter taste Earthy, clove, cinnamon, nutty Floral, rose-like Rich spicy, musky

Honey bees and plant species Sweet, floral with nuances based on origin of the bee variants for honey produced. pollinated plants Citrus hystrix

Lime, citrus, herbal. Rinds and leaves emit intense citrus fragrance


Carum carvi L.

Aromatic, peppery, menthol/minty, earthy anise-like flavor — adds “freshness” to gin


Lavandula angustifolia

Kaffir Lime leaves

Lemongrass Pink grapefruit

Cymbopogon citratus Citrus paradisi

Unique & characteristic floral notes Grassy, lemon, citrusy Unique “delicate” grapefruit notes in distilled gin

Pink peppercorn (a “false” pepper)

Schinus mole (Peruvian peppertree)

Resinous, pinene-like, fruity


Rosemarinus officinalis

Piney, fresh, savory

Saffron Yuzu Green and black tea Hibiscus flowers Hops Violets


Crocus sativus Citrus junos Camellia sinensis Hibiscus spps. Humulus lupulus (or japonicus) Violaceae family

Sweet, grassy, hay-like, savory Cross between grapefruit and lime aromatics/flavor Green tea: grass-like, vegetal, seaweed. Black tea: Malty, smoky, earthy, spicy, nutty, leathery, caramel, honey Bitter, floral taste Varied — species dependent notes: — floral, spicy, herbal, resiny, piney, fruity, minerally Distinct floral notes — sweet floral, woody-floral/earthy


Rooting out and leafing around for the botanicals Gin’s history dates back to the 17th century and methodology, while improved, has kept its historical roots in many cases. More modern techniques, using lower temperatures and vacuum technology, can be used to achieve different results. For example: when juniper berries are distilled in a vacuum apparatus, the monoterpene levels are increased and present in a more stable oxygenated form (2). Monoterpenes can cause undesirable off-flavors or instability in the finished gin. These oxygenated monoterpenes represent an aromatic group of alcohols, esters, and more, with linalool as one of the biggest contributors (5). The first part of this article dealt with a modern way to extract the gin botanical essential flavors — the robust and prominent and the delicate and highly volatile components that give gin its distinctive and well-known characteristics. From both a traditional perspective and a contemporary approach — with

Notes derived from References 4, 6-9, 11-12. And other web-based data sources. Juniper is the key and highly intricate component botanical offering pine, green, herbaceous/waxy and woody/resinous notes (12). Classic gins in which the different characteristics can be found are highlighted in some of the References 4, 6, 9, 12. Details as to how the flavors play in layered roles, or with each other note present in various gins may be found in Reference 4. And, over 117 general gin aroma terms to mull over are covered in Reference 12. Two flavor terms that appear in relation to gin and terpene compounds, and which are a little confusing, deserve mention here — balsamic and camphoraceous. Balsamic notes are described as providing warm and or sweet sensations and are often associated with resinous materials. For our purposes here, an example would be fir trees. Camphoraceous flavor chemicals elicit cooling sensations and thus “fresh or invigorating” notes or a medicinal character — associated with the essential oils of many herbs and plants such as rosemary or eucalyptus. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

the use of an ever-growing number of botanicals– gin and its variants as discussed earlier may prove to be the most complex of the distilled spirits from an overall flavor contribution viewpoint. We continue now in part two to address some of the flavors derived from the many botanicals. Besides the classic three botanicals — juniper, coriander and angelica, followed by lemon, orange, orris root, cardamom, licorice, cassia and cinnamon — there are listed some 276+ lesser weight- or percentage-use plant materials (leaves, stems, roots, fruits, woods, flowers, seeds and rhizomes) used in the making of gin (6-9). This gives the contemporary gin producer so many overall flavor profile possibilities and an astronomically huge number of potential formulations. For

those interested in the vast array of botanicals already used in the world’s best gins see Roskrow (9), and for a broad range contemporary usage list of botanicals see Reference 6. Moreover, some of the botanicals used are also outlined in Table 1.

Core chemical components found and extracted from gin botanicals While many component botanicals are used in the manufacture of gin, many of the essential oils from the plants (typically the seeds or fruits) contain similar compounds, notably terpenes, sequiterpenes and oxidized terpenes (10). These compounds — which are vast in number — confer protective properties upon the plants and

indeed many are stated to have human health benefits. As the largest known class of plant chemical compounds with an intricate and complex chemistry, this group requires the interested reader to delve elsewhere for the full chemical details (10). A range of the main terpene compounds determined in Juniper berries, Juniperus communis L, and coriander seeds, Coriandrum sativum L, and those found in gins, along with pictorial descriptors to aid in memorization of those key flavors, are illustrated in Figures 2-4. Key flavor descriptors (aroma and taste) are also summarized in Table 2 — alongside the respective associated chemical identities. Components presented in Table 2 are listed, top-down, in order of percentage composition within the respective oils or


the RANGE of the MAIN TERPENE COMPOUNDS found in juniper berries, coriander seeds and in sample gins L i sted f rom high est to lowest % con stitue nt (o f the te n li sted he re) in the e s se ntial oil o r te sted g ins (1 1 )



α-Pinene Intense woody, piney, cedarwood, earthy, fresh herbal, camphoraceous and with a turpentine note Woody, vegetative, herbaceous, musty, spicy, peppery, β-Myrcene balsamic, geranium, citrus-fruity-tropicalmangos and leafy minty nuances Fresh, piney, polish, woody, terpy β-Pinene and resinous with slight minty, spicy and camphoraceous nuance Sweet, citrus, orange, mint, herbal, Limonene terpenic, camphoraceous, cilantro and green juniper berries Nutmeg, bitter, peppery-woody, Terpinen-4-ol earthy-clove-spicy with a citrus or 4-terpinenol undernote, cooling, musty Pine, woody, terpy, lemon and limeTerpinolene like with a slight herbal and floral nuance γ-Muurolene Herbal, woody, spicy Woody, spicy, and camphoraceous, Sabinene terpenic, citrus, pine spice, green oily Sweet, fresh woody, spice, clove, pepper-like, camphoraceous γ-Cadinene spicy with a citrus background, herbal, chamomile, phenolic Rancid, woody, pepper (bell p-Cymene pepper), oregano, oxidized citrus — fresh, solvent, cumin, cilantro



Floral, waxy, slightly spicy and Linalool woody, citrus — orange, lemon, green blueberry, coriander, lavender, rose p-Cymol — Terpenic, rancid, with slight wood para-cymol oxidized notes, citrus, spicy bell (aka p-cymene) pepper and oregano nuances balsamic, camphoraceous, Borneol Woody, herbal, minty, earthy-woody Intense woody, piney, cedarwood, α-Pinene earthy, fresh herbal, camphoraceous and with a turpentine note Terpenic, citrus, lime-like, oily, green γ-Terpinene with a tropical fruity nuance (lime and pineapple?) Floral, geranium, rose, waxy, fruityGeraniol peach nuanced, citronella, passion fruit Fresh, piney, polish, woody, terpy β-Pinene and resinous with slight minty, spicy and camphoraceous nuance Sweet, citrus, orange, mint, herbal, Limonene terpenic, camphoraceous, cilantro and green juniper berries Woody (fir needle, pine), herbal, green-spicy, mintyCamphene citrus-lime, cooling, camphoraceous, mothball, eucalyptus Woody, spicy, and camphoraceous, Sabinene terpenic, citrus, pine spice, green oily



Floral, waxy, slightly spicy and Linalool woody, citrus — orange, lemon, green blueberry, coriander, lavender, rose Intense woody, piney, cedarwood, α-Pinene earthy, fresh herbal, camphoraceous and with a turpentine note Woody, spicy, and camphoraceous, Sabinene terpenic, citrus, pine spice, green oily Woody, vegetative, herbaceous, musty, spicy, peppery, β-Myrcene balsamic, geranium, citrus-fruity-tropicalmangos and leafy minty nuances Sweet, citrus, orange, mint, herbal, Limonene terpenic, camphoraceous, cilantro and green juniper berries γ-Muurolene Herbal, woody, spicy Nutmeg, bitter, peppery-woody, Terpinen-4-ol earthy-clove-spicy with a citrus or 4-terpinenol undernote, cooling, musty Floral, geranium, rose, waxy, fruityGeraniol peach nuanced, citronella, passion fruit γ-Terpinene Terpenic, citrus, lime-like, oily, green (gamma- with a tropical fruity nuance (lime terpinene) and pineapple?) α-Terpinene Woody -pine, terpenic, lemon(alpha- herbal, medicinal, juicy citrus — terpinene aka. lemon, lime, with spice, thyme and Terpinolene) mint nuances

Many other monoterpenes, oxygenated monoterpenes and so-called sesquiterpenes including chemical derivatives of the tabulated list of compounds are found in botanical essential oils and extracted into the alcohol used in the gin extraction process. Note, some of these terpenes and a few different compounds are also illustrated in Figures 2-4. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


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tested gins (but the percentage of each not presented there — see Reference 11 for that data and just a few pointers below). While there is a cross-play in several components arising from juniper and coriander and, as present in gins, it will be noted that there are differences in the overall spectrum of components derived from these two botanicals. Compare the relative amounts and the order of prevalence of the components between the juniper and the coriander columns and then the spectrum of chemical compounds appearing in gin. Many other gin botanicals convey the same flavors, as their oils hold similar terpenic species. The main flavor profiles of most gins, though, will originate with the components noted in the table. Many other monoterpenes, oxygenated monoterpenes and so-called sesquiterpenes, with potent low detection and identification thresholds, including chemical derivatives of the tabulated list of compounds, are, however, found in botanical essential oils and extracted into the alcohol used in the gin extraction process as discussed in Part 1. Complete listings covering dozens more components found in gins or gin botanicals may be found elsewhere (5, 15-20).

during gin production (15). It incorporates the major first tier descriptive or general classes and more specific terms for the families of components under each class heading. The wheel covers the key components, including offflavors that may be found in typical gins. Whether it can keep up with the growing body of botanicals being used and the associated flavors or be considered for use with modern gin formulations is unclear at this time. As a very broad stroke, the wheel authors and others break down gin evaluation into: the various flavor nuances of juniper biochemicals (pine, green, herbal and woody); citrus and fruity notes (coriander and citrus fruits); green, fresh and ethereal characteristics (cucumber-like, herbal and grassy); rooty or earthy aromas and flavors (forest floor notes, licorice and orris root); spicy (cinnamon, ginger, peppery etc.); florallike (various flowers — chamomile, roses, lavender and violets); aniseed (anise); nutty (almonds) and sweet (such as cocoa, vanilla and honey). Missing, so far, from the gin wheel are the identities of the key aromatic chemical names associated with the more hedonistic or generic vocabulary terms (see Table 2 for a top ten listing of aroma/flavor molecules arising from juniper and coriander, and as found classically in most gins and their associated aroma/ taste profiles). Table 1 provides a listing of over 35 gin botanicals which convey other flavor nuances to the gin world. There are, as noted, many, many more.

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compounds extracted via distillation from juniper berries.

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Understanding and Interpreting Gin Flavor Part 1: Yes Ginny, there is a Flavor Wheel A burgeoning number of flavor wheels — as the tools of choice for aiding understanding or memorizing the descriptors and vocabulary pertaining to the plethora of flavors present in a food or beverage (wine, beer and Scottish whiskey to name a few) — have appeared in the literature and in the ether (aka the web). First came wine, then beer and then the fantastically detailed Scottish whisky wheel. But no Gin wheel? Well yes there is — a bit of a closely guarded secret perhaps (at least not highly publicized) but there were attempts to develop flavor wheels for gin. By the Scottish Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) no less! (15) The gin flavor wheel was developed as a quality assurance tool to better assist in the control of sensory characteristics

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FIGURE 2 Juniper berry flavor wheel. Ten key terpene


α-Pinene FIGURE 3 Coriander seed flavor wheel. Ten key terpene compounds extracted via distillation from coriander seeds.



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The molecular structures, written and pictorial descriptors for ten key aromatic flavor components are shown. The percentage composition of all these essential oil-derived compounds, as found in various gins, is not reflected here — see Table 2 and reference 6 for more on this. However, α-pinene (#1 noted on the outer circle) is the second most abundant component from this study (11), and Linalool (#2) is the main fractional component (highest concentration) in the tested gins (11). More details on descriptors appears in Table 2. Pictorial descriptors aid in memorization of the flavors when assessing gins. Note the differences between the compounds α(alpha) and (gamma) γ-terpinene and the associated flavor nuances. There exists also a molecular form (beta) β-terpinene. Flavor in gin is exceedingly complex.

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terms, including those listed above plus a few others, and illustrates how the volatiles — the essential oil chemicals derived from juniper berries, orange peel, coriander and orris root — project out to those flavor terms (16). Effectively mapping out their contributions and the intensities of the

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Trained sensory panels evaluate products based on more specific and defined flavor terms. These trained evaluators then provide numerical values representing the intensity of perception of the various components based upon their understanding of the detection threshold concentrations of such species. Such data are then translated into flavor maps known as radar plots or spider diagrams, based on how they appear visually (see Figure 5). Figure 5 shows the breakdown α-Pinene (1) into specific descriptive l


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Understanding and Interpreting Gin Flavor Part 2: Bring on the spiders

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The molecular structures, written and pictorial descriptors for ten key aromatic flavor components are shown. The percentage composition of these essential oil-derived compounds is not reflected here — see Table 2 and reference 11 for more on this. Though Linalool (#1 — noted in the outer circle) is the main fractional component (highest concentration) in the coriander seed essential oil. More details on descriptors appear in Table 2. Pictorial descriptors aid in memorization of the flavors when assessing gins. Note similar compounds and differences between Figures 2 and 3.

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Shown on the map are the projected characteristics of juniper berry, coriander seed, orange peel and orris root. For juniper berry distillates it is clear that the major flavors and sensory descriptors derived from this key botanical are noted as pungent, herbal, juniper-like and solventy and with citrus and floral terms also making important contributions. Details for the other botanicals are noted in the text. [Figure adapted from Reference 16].

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of perception of the essential oils extracted, via distillation, of juniper berries, coriander seed, orris root and orange peel as mapped graphically following a sensory evaluation.

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FIGURE 5 Flavor spider (or radar) profiles of gin  botanical distillates. The flavor characteristics and intensity

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Understanding and Interpreting Gin Flavor Part 3: Getting jiggy with the chemicals Flavor wheels, using more general terms or class, or family names and basic spider/radar plots may be all that is needed in competitions or group gatherings in assessing favorite gins — memory joggers. However, a more careful training, to add knowledge of the chemical components responsible for conveying those general and more specific descriptive terms, can teach much more about potential and distinctive recipe formulation and finetuning of gin flavor profiles. Understanding a few key components and their origins — asking “which botanical’s essential oil contains which flavor species?” — provides a powerful arsenal of information and allows a better appreciation and marketing, or holistic


various flavor notes provides for a more complete descriptive picture of the respective botanical’s flavor profile. What such work, leading to the type of profiles seen in Figure 5, showed was that, while juniper berries are the primary botanical used in the greater amount in gin formulations, and which give rise to its predominant flavor, the overall juniper distillate lacked complexity. Thus, the other botanicals chosen will add more layers of structure to a gin. Coriander as the second most commonly used botanical adds citrus, floral, fruity, sweet and soapy attributes (16). Orris root conveys oily and stale characteristics. Other botanical distillates can be prepared as discussed in Part 1 of this article and assessed by panels and their evaluations expressed using such spider plots.


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description, of each gin. The most common and historically relevant botanicals, as alluded to above, are the triumvirate — juniper, coriander and angelica. These are noted in Table 1 along with another set of key flavor players (7-9). Again, as already noted above, the natural chemicals known as the terpenes form the most important flavor contributors to gin. The class comes in the form of monoterpenes (high impact and highly volatile), oxygenated monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and oxygenated sesquiterpenes and some diterpenes (10). Some 77 different chemical species from within this group are said to represent 80% of the total flavor of juniper essential oils (5). A core of flavors will dominate the gin flavor profile, as seen in Table 2 and in Figure 4, with subtle variations between gins. Other chemical components, including various WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

aldehydes and alcohols present in the botanicals will add even more subtle flavor nuances to the gins made with their use. Of course, as noted in Part 1, juniper is the most important botanical lending to the actual official and legal definition of gin. In summarizing, ten of the terpenic flavors, extracted from Juniper berries along with the molecular details and common descriptors, are shown in Figure 2 (11), those extracted from coriander seeds are shown in Figure 3 (11) and those as identified in gins are shown in Figure 4 (11). Descriptors for other common flavors derived from various botanicals are seen in Table 1. Moreover, the other 276+ botanicals to be experimented with may provide distinguishing nuances, and a different spectrum of compounds, to each gin, but the core set will need to be understood and evaluated organoleptically by anyone professing to be a gin “expert” or acclaimed aficionado. Then the layers of flavor added via the use of lesser known or unique botanicals can start to be addressed. For coriander the main component is the tertiary alcohol terpene called linalool which adds the citrus, fruity and floral notes (see its importance in gin in Table 2). Coriander is classed into two varieties — Coriandrum sativum var. vulgare (large fruit) and C. sativum var. microcarpa (small fruit). The smaller fruit (seeds) has the higher percentage of essential oil than the large fruit variety. In addition to the linalool (60-70% of the oil) many other key flavor volatiles are also present — some noted in Figure 3 and Table 2. Angelica root is the third in the triumvirate of the most important gin botanicals. Its use is said to convey a green-spicy “top note” and a pleasing musky dry finish to gins,


and its oil is composed of similar and some different and unique compounds to those in juniper and coriander (5). Flavor/organoleptic descriptor terms for many chemicals listed in the references cited may be found from the website of the Good Scents Company (21). Experiments such as those described in the first part of this article might assist in designing unique flavor profiles for the distillers’ own new gin adventures. Simply stated there is much in the literature and in gin formulations/ botanicals for the distiller to better understand, dissect, and distill in learning about the key flavors in each botanical. Starting with basic extractions and expressions in grain neutral spirit then on to small-scale experiments described earlier in the article, and basic sensory evaluations of the products of such tests. Initially understanding a dozen or so components, their aromatic properties and how they taste (meaning how they add flavor), and how best to obtain them from key botanicals will go a long way in creating or recreating some classic gins and then lead to even more creative contemporary expressions of gin in all its glorious forms.

Molly Troupe is currently the Master Distiller of Freeland Spirits, based in Portland, Oregon. She has a Bachelors of Chemistry and a Masters of Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the American Craft Spirits Association.  Gary Spedding, Ph.D. is a brewing and distilling analytical chemist with special interest in the origins and development of beverage flavor and in the sensory evaluation of beer and distilled spirits. He owns and operates Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services, LLC and the new division — Brewing and Distilling Educational Services in Lexington, KY.


After preparing this article we became aware of another new paper on the rediscovery of gin by Putman (2018) See reference 22 for another important modern review on this topic. 1) Notman, N. (2017). The science of distilling gin. Chemistry World. pp. 1-14. 2) Greer, D., Pfahl, L., Rieck, J., Daniels, T., Garxa, O. (2008). Comparison of a Novel Distillation Method versus a Traditional Distillation Method in a Model Gin System Using Liquid/Liquid Extraction. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. (56). pp. 9030-9036. 3) Riu-Aumatell, M. (2016). Gin. In Encyclopedia of Food and Health. B Caballero, P.M. Finglas and Fidel Toldra (Eds.). Elsevier Ltd. pp. 222-226. 4) Gin Foundry. (2018). 5) Riu-Aumatell, M. (2012). Gin production and sensory properties. In Alcoholic Beverages: Sensory Evaluation and Consumer Research. John Piggott (Ed.). Woodhead Publishing Ltd. pp. 267-280. 6) The gin is in. (2018). 7) Pauley, M. and Maskell, D. (2017). Mini-Review: The Role of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the Production of Gin and Vodka. Beverages. 3 (13); 1-11 8) Piggott, R. (2009). Vodka, gin and liqueurs. The Alcohol Textbook (Fifth Ed.). W.M. Ingledew, D.R. Kelsall, G.D. Austin and C. Kluhspies (Eds.) Nottingham University Press. pp. 465-471. 9) Roskrow, D. (2017). Gin: A guide to the world’s greatest gins. Collins Little Books. Harper Collins Publishers. 10) Breitmaier, E. (2006). Terpenes: Flavors, Fragrances, Pharmaca, Pheromones. Wiley VCH. 11) Guerra-Hernández, E. (2003). Gin/Composition and Analysis. Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. B. Caballero, L. Trugo and P.M. Finglas (Eds.). Academic Press. pp. 2894-2898. 12) The Aroma Academy and Dodd, G. (2011). Aroma Academy Gin Aroma Kit Guide Book. 13) uploads/2016/05/The-Chemistry-of-Elderflower-Elderberries.pdf 14) uploads/2015/04/The-Chemistry-of-Gin.pdf 15) Jack, F. (2011). Reinventing the wheel. A new flavour wheel for gin. Brewer & Distiller International. Sept 2011: 32-33. 16) Phelan, A.D., Jack, F.R., Conner, J.M., Reid, K.J.C. and Priest, F.G. (2004). Sensory assessment of gin flavour. In Distilled Spirits Tradition and Innovation. J.H. Bryce and G.G. Stewart (Eds.). Nottingham University Press. pp. 53-58. 17) Dussort, P., Depretre, N., Bou-Maroun, E., Brunerie, P., Guichard, E., Fant, C., Le Fur, Y. and Le Quere, J-L. (2012). Understanding the aroma of gin: A Gas ChromatographyOlfactometry approach. In Distilled Spirits Science and Sustainability. G. Walker, R. Fotheringham, I. Goodall and D. Murray (Eds.). pp. 175-183 18) Clutton, D. W. and Evans, M.B. (1978). The Flavour Constituents of Gin. Journal of Chromatography. 167: 409-419. 19) Vichi, S., Riu-Aumatell, M., Mora-Pons, M., Buxaderas, S. and Lopez-Tamames, E. (2005). Characterization of Volatiles in Different Dry Gins. J. Agric. Food Chem. 53: 10154-10160. 20) Vichi, S., Riu-Aumatell, M., Mora-Pons, M., Guadayol, J.M., Buxaderas, S. and Lopez-Tamames, E. (2007). HS-SPME coupled to GC/MS for quality control of Juniperus communis L. berries used for gin aromatization. Food Chemistry. 105: 1748-1754. 21) The Good Scents Company. http://www. For a source of flavor — organoleptic descriptors associated with flavor chemicals. 22) Putman. R. (2018). Gin makes a comeback. Brewer and Distiller International. April 2018. pp. 18-26.



Summer has arrived. That sentence may not apply to all readership (sorry, folks in Chicago or Minnesota), but down here below the Mason-Dixon, we’ve felt it coming for some time. Summer brings many gifts: the opportunity to wear shorts, take a trip, and perhaps best of all, summer means a new favorite spirit. This year, I’m looking at sotol. You’ve likely heard whispers of sotol’s tenacious, herbaceous flavor, a profile so wild you can practically taste the boots that walked the rough Chihuahuan slopes from where sotol is harvested. It is made of Dasylirion wheeleri, also called Desert Spoon, spoon flower or sotol, a species in the Nolinaceae family of the order Asparagaceae, the same order as agave. There are currently 16 known species of Dasylirion that sotol can be made from. Sotol takes longer to mature than agave, an average of 15 years, but unlike its relative, which flowers only once in its lifetime, the Desert Spoon will produce a flower stalk every few years. Each plant typically yields one bottle worth of product. Sotol is especially influenced by terroir. The flavors of the desert, forest, or grasslands from where the plant was sourced are evident in the final product. At once, any given sotol will be green, herbal, and quite smoky, with variable flavors of citrus and minerality. These are just a few of several possible descriptors. Typically, sotol is enjoyed unadulterated in its home country. The nose on the bottle that I have at home, Flor del Desierto, is extremely green and smoky. This particular sotol distillery exists in the rocky northern state of Chihuahua and roasts their piñas underground to intensify the flavor profile of their final spirit. The palate was not what I expected; it’s smooth, a bit sweet, and goes down without a hitch. The production of sotol is akin to many of the artisanal mezcals coming out of central Mexico. Its official denomination of origin includes the northern territories of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila, but sotol grows in southern states like Oaxaca and as far north as Arizona, Texas, and WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

Photo by Travis Hallmark


New Mexico. Like agave, sotol has a piña, or heart, that is either roasted or steamed then fermented by wild yeasts to create the juice for distillation. Though steaming was common for a couple of decades, many sotoleros (producers of sotol) are returning to the older practice of roasting below ground in large pits. Sotol has a fascinating and dramatic history. From the days that it was once used in religious ceremonies, medical procedures, and as a common household item, sotol eventually developed into the base of a drink that the regional elite considered to be a sort of “moonshine,” especially compared to the fine European spirits that they enjoyed. During the time of Prohibition, sotol became a steadfast border spirit, being smuggled into states in the Southwest on a regular basis. The Mexican government eventually decided to crack down on the production of sotol. They called it a drink for “peasants” and attempted to besmirch its reputation. When Mexican police officials found a sotol distillery, it’s said that they would open fire

upon the stills and equipment to ensure that they were no longer functional. The reasons for their newfound distaste of the regional beverage — and hostility towards its producers — are usually attributed to America’s ongoing mission for Prohibition and a desire to protect the economic interests of rival spirits like rum and tequila. America’s relationship with sotol is no simple matter. There are copious records during the 19th and 20th century that mention sotol, though I cannot find mention of the distillation of sotol in the effort to make a potable beverage. Instead, sotol was used either to create denatured alcohol for fuel or as a rich food source for livestock. In a 1917 edition of the El Paso Herald, a story was run that details the formation of a new company called “the Sotol Products company,” which had plans to build a manufacturing plant to make use of native sotol in El Paso. “The Sotol Products company owns a patented process by which all the starches and gums of the plant are inverted into

a digestible sugar,” the Herald reads. Sounds like an excellent start to sotol distillation, but that was not the company’s stated intention; instead, they planned to create feed for livestock. “The resultant sotol molasses produced by this process, combined with the pith and a small amount of alfalfa meal is said to produce one of the best and most nutritious molasses’ known.” Texas natives have lore of local moonshine, and like the homemade spirits of northern Mexico, theirs comes from sotol (of a locally grown species different from the ones used in Mexican sotols). Desert Door distillery, opened in Driftwood, Texas, in December of 2017, produces sotol and has expressed an interest in making it the state spirit of Texas. “We’re 100% ranchto-bottle Texas,” says Brent Looby, one of the cofounders of Desert Door and native Texan. Looby informs me their production keeps efficiency and sustainability in mind. “It’s all wild harvested, we don’t cultivate. We attempt to shear the plant off and leave the structure intact so that it

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could regenerate. Because it is a lowyielding fruit, we use steam pressure in our cooking process, so that way it maximizes not just sugar conversion but retention.” Looby compares the flavor of his product to many favorite spirits around the world. “We have a similar profile [to Mexican sotol]. It’s a little more delicate because I use steam pressure and there’s no smoke in it. But it does have a depth of character much like a mezcal, much like a gin, much like a Scotch — it’s just softer. It’s very grassy and herbaceous on the front end, but the way it finishes, it’s very earthy. If you were a wine person you would say terroir. It really drinks like a very delicate desert gin. We like to think of it as a transportive experience. It tells you what it is, and then it finishes by telling you where it’s from.” While the distillery is experiencing a lot of positive feedback here in the US, there are questions about the validity of calling something made in America

“sotol.” As of 2004, the term does possess a legal designation of origin (DO), though it’s only recognized in Mexico and does not carry the same weight as the international naming rights of things like mezcal and tequila. Whatever the future holds for sotol, I encourage you to go out and sample it for yourself. A wilder, more diverse spirit seems hard to find. If you’re fortunate enough to live in larger metropolitan areas, you can find sotol at a handful of bars. (Bar Amá in Los Angeles features a couple of sotols to sip on, as does Leyenda in Brooklyn.) Or secure a bottle for your home bar and enjoy it as the spirit of the season. Brent Looby puts it best: “I think the sky’s kind of the limit right now.”

Devon Trevathan is a writer based out of Nashville, TN. She loves spirits that are older than she is, grower-producer style, and dogs.

Cooper’s Select Barrels Our Cooper’s Select barrel uses 18-month seasoned staves, a process that changes the oak chemistry, adding complexity and softness to the palate. Learn more about our Cooper’s Select barrel by visiting our website. Chad Spalding • 270.699.1557






oriander has been used in juniper spirits since the days of genever — and perhaps even earlier. Just like juniper, coriander’s origins in distilled spirits date back to the apothecaries of central Europe. Coriander water was a popular cure-all for a variety of maladies ranging from cramps to toothaches to parasites. Furthermore, as one of the few spices of the Renaissance era that was native to Europe, it was affordable and widespread; in short, it should be of no surprise that the progenitors of gin saw fit to use it. And lots of it. When we talk about coriander in terms of gin, we’re talking about the seeds of Coriandrum sativum. Some cultures refer to the leaves as coriander as well, but Americans probably know those leaves better as cilantro. Coriander is a part of the Apiaceae family of plants. Closely related to fennel, dill, caraway, angelica, and anise (just to name a handful), coriander is just one of a handful of particularly aromatic plants that early European distillers and pharmacists put to use. It’s perhaps not surprising that many of the longest tenured gin brands have coriander in their recipes. Gordon’s (1769), Tanqueray (1830), and Beefeater (1863) all include coriander prominently in their botanical blends. Recipes of the period suggest ratios of juniper to coriander by weight ranging from 2:1 all the way up to parity and beyond.1 Historicity aside, coriander is still widely regarded as the “second most important botanical in gin.” In terms of frequency of use in publicized botanical lists, it ranks only behind juniper.2 I’ve even had colleagues of mine from the other side of the pond remark, “Americans sure love their coriander” in response to the number of coriander-heavy gins he’s encountered. What I find fascinating however — or perhaps what remains the greatest missed opportunity — is the way the gin community approaches coriander. Old Young’s Hand Crafted Spirits from Australia talks about their use of “Tuscan Juniper.” Beckett’s Gin and Crossbill gin both prominently highlight their UK sourced juniper berries. The Jullius Distillery features local Israeli juniper. Helsinki Dry Gin and Hepple Gin both highlight their “Balkan juniper.” Even Tanqueray Bloomsbury Gin talks of “Tuscan juniper,” while adding coriander merely as an afterthought among a list of “other botanicals.” From a botanical and distiller’s perspective, what makes this even more startling is that the literature on coriander seed essential oil suggests that it’s more variable and that location has a stronger correlation with flavor. In other words, the terroir of coriander is wellsupported by evidence, and is yet another tool that distillers can use to add unique character to their gin. And if you’re approaching some of the ratios cited in the literature and by other distillers, why wouldn’t you pay as much attention to your coriander as your juniper? 1  One recipe suggests a 5:6 ratio, that is more coriander than juniper by weight. 2  Which is legally required — it might be perhaps better said, “coriander is the most important supporting botanical in gin,” but I digress. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

LOOKING UNDER THE HOOD Traditionally speaking, distillers assess the effects and interactions of the aromatic compounds in gin by scent and taste; however, some distilleries are harnessing other tools to take a look under the hoods of their gins and see exactly what compounds are present. Bombay Sapphire was perhaps the first brand to acknowledge in 2017 the use of gas chromatography — a methodology that separates and detects molecules in a gaseous mixture — to ensure a consistent fingerprint for the aroma in their gin. Though the technology doesn’t exist yet to craft a product solely through combining aromas at a molecular level, there’s a layer of control that can be exerted by understanding coriander as a collection of variable sub-components rather than a static ingredient that is merely a sum of its part. The most important component of the aroma of coriander is a compound called linalool. It makes up between 50-95% of the flavor and aroma. Therefore, an analysis of coriander as an ingredient is inextricably entwined with an analysis of linalool.

ESSENTIAL OIL VARIATIONS “Some say the corianders from Siberia and what not produce the best coriander,” described Alexander James, distiller and CEO of Peru’s London to Lima Spirits. Alex was referring to coriander’s tendency to produce a higher percentage of essential oil by volume based on climatic conditions correlated to latitude. Argañosa et al. found that Russian grown corianders had between 2.4 and 2.6% essential oil, nearly 15 times that of more Southern sources.3 A cross-literature review of coriander essential oil profiles shows a loose correlation as well. While Turkey and Greece with longer, warmer, growing seasons had less essential oil by volume, Turkey’s more mountainous neighbor Armenia had a higher yield based on Orav’s 2011 comparative study. In short, while many aromatherapists swear by coriander from northern climes due to their higher essential oil content, distillers should be aware of their sources. One is apt to get more linalool and coriander character from seeds with higher essential oil content; in other words, with some regions a little bit goes a long way. Furthermore, coriander seeds can vary from year to year — just as a vineyard’s grapes can — based on the growing conditions in a given year. For example, Masada et. al. noted, “cloudy days and lower temperature during maturation and high amount of rainfall may have adverse effect on the accumulation of linalool.”4 The myriad ways that coriander essential oil content can vary means that even season-to-season or year-to-year that distillers need be aware of their sources and the potential for variance. Ripeness of seeds can have a dramatic effect on flavor. “Unripe seeds have a haylike strong odor while the ripe seeds have a sweet,

3  Arganosa, G.(1998) 4  Msaada, K (2009)


spicy, and nutty flavor with a hint of bitter orange.”5 Masada’s work also found that essential oil profile varied a great deal depending on at what stage of a plant’s maturation the seeds were harvested. Furthermore, storage time (like with many other botanicals) can also adversely affect coriander’s essential oil content6 — fresher coriander was generally found to be higher in terms of oil and aromatic compounds.

LINALOOL Despite being only a very minor component of juniper berries, Linalool has been repeatedly found to be among the most common volatile compounds present in commercially available gins. For example, in five of the six gin samples studied by Aumatell in 2011, linalool was by far the most common aromatic compound. In the four London Dry type gins, linalool was ten times more prevalent than the pinene which was primarily contributed by the juniper. In other words, the aromatic profile of many gins is defined in a large part by coriander.7 The human nose is incredibly sensitive to linalool, able to detect it at merely 4 to 10 parts per billion.8 Pure linalool has been 5  Raghavan, S. (2007) 6  Nadeem, M. (2013) 7  Vichi et. al. found similar results in their 2005 study Characterization of Volatiles in Different Dry Gins 8  George, B. (2010). Fenaroli’s handbook of flavor ingredients. CRC Press (Sixth)


described as having a scent either similar to Fruit Loops cereal, or being sweet, somewhat floral and reminiscent of petitgrain.9 Humans are also quite sensitive to it on the palate. At five parts per million, linalool registers as “green, apple and pear with an oily, waxy, slightly citrus note.”10 While some higher linalool content coriander seeds exhibit this slightly more floral or fruity aroma, most coriander, especially those from drier climes like Morocco, has what is often described as a “spicy, citrusy” flavor. Coriander distilled on its own with neutral grain spirit tastes a bit dustier with a dry, faint spiciness to it earlier on, while some of the heavier, richer, floral tones come on a bit later in the process. High linalool amounts found in commercially available gin is due in part to coriander, but it’s not the only source for linalool. Depending on the rest of the botanical blend, a high coriander-tojuniper ratio could be amplifying the linalool in other botanicals such as thyme, nutmeg, ginger, clove, cinnamon, orange and cardamom.

CORIANDER FORWARD Though not frequently highlighted on labels nor in marketing materials, distillers formulating gin recipes need be aware of their 9  The leaves and twigs of the bitter orange tree — for the non-perfumists in the house 10 George, B. (2010). Fenaroli’s handbook of flavor ingredients. CRC Press (Sixth)


coriander sources. With a perhaps even more predictable association between climate and flavor than juniper even, distillers can more easily plan around their coriander without a house chemist. Look for fresh coriander from Northern localities to get a higher oil content and a slightly more floral flavor. A little bit of these go a longer way. Drier, warmer localities produce a crisper, more traditionally citrus/spice flavor. The lower oil content of these corianders means you can dial up the ratio without it becoming overwhelming. And of course, all of these are subject to the whims

SOURCES CITED & FURTHER READING ON CORIANDER Arganosa, G. C., Sosulski, F. W., & Slikard, A. E. (1998). Seed Yield and Essential Oil of Northern-Grown Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.). Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, 6(2), 23–32. De Figueiredo, R. O., Marques, M. O. M., Nakagawa, J., & Ming, L. C. (2004). Composition of coriander essential oil from Brazil. Acta Horticulturae, 629, 135–137. George, B. (2010). Fenaroli’s handbook of flavor ingredients. CRC Press (Sixth). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.


of weather in a given season, so better yet, get to know your local coriander farmer or become one yourself and embrace the coriander of your local climate.

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.

Ishikawa, T., Kondo, K., & Kitajima, J. (2003). Water-soluble constituents of coriander. Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 51(1), 32–39.

(2011). Essential oil composition of Coriandrum sativum L. fruits from different countries. J.Essent.Oil Bearing Plants, 14(1), 118–123.

Msaada, K., Taarit, M. Ben, Hosni, K., Hammami, M., & Marzouk, B. (2009). Regional and maturational effects on essential oils yields and composition of coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) fruits. Scientia Horticulturae, 122(1), 116–124.

Padalia, R. C., Karki, N., Sah, A. N., & Verma, R. S. (2011). Volatile constituents of leaf and seed essential oil of coriandrum sativum l. Journal of Essential Oil-Bearing Plants, 14(5), 610–616.

Nadeem, M., Muhammad Anjum, F., Issa Khan, M., Tehseen, S., ElGhorab, A., & Iqbal Sultan, J. (2013). Nutritional and medicinal aspects of coriander ( Coriandrum sativum L.). British Food Journal, 115(5), 743–755. Orav, A., Arak, E., & Raal, A.

Raghavan, S. (2007). Handbook of Spices, Seasoning and Flavors (Second). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Riu-Aumatell, M., Vichi, S., Mora-Pons, M., López-Tamames, E., & Buxaderas, S. (2008). Sensory characterization of dry gins with different volatile profiles. Journal of Food Science, 73(6).

Shahwar, M. K., El-ghorab, A. H., Anjum, M., Butt, M. S., Hussain, S., Butt, M. S., … Nadeem, M. (2012). Characterization of Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L .) Seeds and Leaves : Volatile and Non Volatile Extracts, 2912 (July 2017), 37–41. Said-Al-Ahl, H. A. H., & Khalid, K. A. (2010). Response of Coriandrum sativum L. essential oil to organic fertilizers. Journal of Essential OilBearing Plants, 13(1), 37–44. Vichi, S., Riu-Aumatell, M., MoraPons, M., Buxaderas, S., & LópezTamames, E. (2005). Characterization of volatiles in different dry gins. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(26), 10154–10160.


the TASTE of



istillers who produce aged spirits spend a lot of time obsessing about barrels—how big they are, what kind of oak they’re made out of, the level of toast or char on the interior, the atmospheric conditions around them, and, of course, the development of the stuff inside. But there’s another variable that, until recently, rarely made that list: The length of time the staves were seasoned in the open air.

what is AIR SEASONING? For centuries, air seasoning has been an essential step in the production of European oak casks, and until the years after Prohibition, it was also used in the United States in the manufacture of American oak casks.1 From a high level, the process is simple. Staves are stacked on pallets and stored in open-air yards in full exposure to the elements to dry the fresh wood. After several months, the moisture level of the wood drops enough that the staves can be worked into barrels. Easy enough, right? Not so fast. There’s a lot more going on in a stave yard than simple evaporation. As the staves spend time in the yard, a microbial culture infiltrates the wood, helping to break down tannin and lignin to initiate a cascade of chemical changes that give the oak a softer, more integrated flavor profile. Repeated wetting, freezing, thawing, and drying supports hydrolysis, the chemical

pathway used for tannin reduction, and releases wood sugars that feed the microbial culture. The longer a stave spends outdoors, the longer this microbial process can proceed, and—in general—the softer the tannic structure of the final cask. Other flavor molecules in the cask are affected during seasoning, too. The few studies focused on air-drying American oak casks for the spirits industry find that vanillin, one aldehyde responsible for vanilla’s remarkable flavor, increases during air seasoning for the first 12 months, then decreases over time until about 36 months, when it starts to rise again. For producers of American whiskeys, vanillin is often a desired flavor — and, in fact, one study suggests that too much air seasoning may not be ideal for bourbon production. In “International Barrel Symposium Research Results and Highlights from the 5th, 6th, and 7th Symposiums,” sponsored by Independent Stave Company, Harlan Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace Distillery, presents the results of an experiment testing the impacts of air-dried barrels on bourbon production by using various ages of wood to mature a whiskey made of corn, rye, and barley for 78 months. After conducting tastings, he reported that 12-month air dried casks were significantly preferable to six-month or 24-month casks, and slightly preferable to 18-month casks, aligning with the rise and fall of vanillin during air seasoning.2

1  International Barrel Symposium, St. Louis, Missouri, 1997. 1997. Pp. 26-37. Independent Stave Company. 2  International Barrel Symposium Research Results and Highlights from the 5th, 6th, and 7th Symposiums. 2008. Pp. 265-266. Independent Stave Company.



Of course, air seasoning is just one factor that impacts the organoleptic qualities of a cask. “It’s not just about what air seasoning does alone; it’s how it fits in with the rest of the mix,” explains Brad Boswell, CEO of Independent Stave Company. “Air seasoning is really a function of microbial activity: the microflora is feeding on the wood and breaking it down. It’s a slow, gentle process, but over time, that wood will break down to carbon just as if you were to catch it on fire. So we might air season for longer times and to complement that, we would generally toast or char with a little less intensity, because mother nature has done a lot of the work already.” For high-quality air seasoning, the right climate is paramount — and, surprisingly, a drier climate isn’t necessarily better. Boswell says climates that are too dry reduce the moisture in the wood too fast for the microbial culture to do its work. “If you take wood that’s freshly cut and put it in a very arid environment, it’s almost like kiln drying it,” he says. “You’re not giving the microflora a chance to work on the wood.” Independent Stave says its air seasoning yards are sited in humid regions with 40-50 inches of annual rainfall per year. “We want to have an environment where the microflora can flourish,” says Boswell. Much like the process of whiskey maturation, air seasoning involves a complex series of sequential and simultaneous chemical reactions, not all of which are understood, and it seems to resist efforts to shorten or accelerate the process. Yet the urge to shortcut is human, and for a few decades in the middle of the 20th century, air seasoning almost vanished entirely in the United States.

the LOSS and RETURN of AIR-SEASONING in AMERICAN COOPERAGE The air-seasoning process can be lengthy, and in some parts of North America, it’s too wet to do it at all. In the years following Prohibition, a new kilndrying system was introduced that zapped moisture out of freshly cut staves quickly, allowing coopers to make more barrels more rapidly and eliminate their huge, mildew-y stave yards. But it also had another, unintended effect on the flavor profile of the oak, creating harsher tannins and more astringent, “green” notes in the wines and spirits it was used to mature. For winemakers in particular, this was a problem. “If you look at the wine industry in the 1960s and 1970s, many winemakers were using really crappy kiln-dried wood and making dill pickle cabernet,” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

says Dan Farber, owner and distiller at Osocalis Distillery in Soquel, California, which produces brandy. Independent Stave Company puts it more diplomatically in the proceedings of its 1997 International Barrel Symposium: “During the 1980s…winemakers were realizing that kiln dried wood was less than ideal for their purposes.” Fueled by the wine industry, cooperages began air drying their oak staves again, and soon, California, Oregon, and Washington wines were competing on the global stage. Today, contemporary winemakers are adamant: Oak staves should be air-dried for at least 18 months, and for some styles, 24 or even 36 months is better. Yet most spirits producers have been content with wood that’s kiln-dried. Part of that has to do with the differences between American oak, which has little tannin; and European oak, which is highly tannic. Charring is another factor to consider, as deep charring, traditional in the American whiskey industry, further serves to break down tannin. For reasons like these, air dried cooperage remains the exception, not the rule, in the American spirits industry, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Craft producers, however, leave no stone unturned, and many distillers are turning to the use of air-dried casks as a way to fine-tune their products and eliminate the green or resinous flavors they see as attributes of kiln-dried wood. David Day, area sales manager at Canton Cooperage, says he’s starting to see distillers who have historically purchased just one barrel type starting to diversify. “I have clients now who are using all three of our tiers — 12 month air dried, 24 month air dried, and 36 month air dried,” says Day. “And they’re asking for different charring levels, with some pre-toasted and others not pre-toasted.” Boswell echoes that sentiment. “We’re seeing a greater demand for a wide variety of barrels, including barrels with different air seasoning regimes.” Distilleries that do opt for longer air-seasoned casks report a range of benefits. “I think there’s a significant different in complexity and depth of flavor,” says Miles Munroe, head distiller at House Spirits Distillery in Portland, Oregon, which has used kiln-dried, 12-month, 24-month, and 36-month air seasoned cooperage. “Our white dog has a close flavor profile to a blanco tequila, in that it has some floral notes and some pleasant but heavy vegetal notes. I like to interplay those notes with the 36 month casks, which has a low level of tannin and a slight rise in vanillin that really lets those herbaceous notes shine through, rather than a heavy vanillin level that will hit you over the head with cloying sweetness.”


Westland Distillery in Seattle, Washington, has also transitioned from using kiln-dried American oak exbourbon barrels to a combination of two different airseasoned casks from Independent Stave Company: Cooper’s Select, which is made from 18-month air seasoned American oak with a light toast and heavy char; and Cooper’s Reserve, made from 24-month air seasoned American oak with a heavy toast and light char. “For our first 200 barrels, we just used kiln dried used bourbon barrels,” says Scott Sell, operations manager at Westland Distillery. “As they got closer to the three or four year mark, they got very tannic, with a lot of pine, a lot of resin. You can really taste the difference between those and the Reserve and Select.” For Quercus garryana, an oak type Westland uses that’s native to the West Coast, air seasoning is even more important. “It’s three years minimum for staves,” says Sell. For more tannic garryana, longer air seasoning is important for achieving the desired flavor profile, but it’s also a side effect of the fact that the wood itself is distributed widely across Northwest mills but in small quantities, with no formalized distribution network. “We have some five-year staves, some seven-year staves, and some 20-year air-dried staves, which will be really interesting,” he says. “Independent Stave Company says 36 to 48 months is about the maximum for American oak, so we’re all excited to see if the 20-year staves turn into a barrel, or just sawdust.” At Osocalis Distillery, Farber uses only 24 to 36 month air-dried French oak, and he believes that air seasoning is essential. “It doesn’t pass the ha-ha test that you don’t need to air dry wood,” says Farber. “If you go out and cut down an oak tree and put your nose up and smell a new cut, you get that very green, herbaceous, resinous character, and those characters are not the characters we really want to see in wine or spirits.” “We use predominantly Quercus robar, which has chunky, big, very astringent tannin, so it absolutely, positively requires that seasoning prior to its use,” he says. To ensure that every cask is just right, Osocalis buys its own green staves on the open market, leases space in a European stave yard, and contracts with a cooperage to season and cooper to its own specifications. Farber thinks consumers have simply grown accustomed to the green, resinous flavor of kiln-dried oak. “Consumers are trained to associate those very green notes with bourbon. It’s one of those things


where we trained you to like this, and now you demand it. You’re just used to being slapped in the face, so it doesn’t hurt anymore.”

the BOTTOM LINE The downside to longer air seasoning? The longer a stave is air seasoned, the more expensive the barrel becomes. “If you asked a winemaker today in Napa how much they pay for a [24- or 36-month air-seasoned] barrel, you would never find somebody paying less than about $400 a barrel, and French wood can go up to $800 or $1,000 a barrel. For a spirits producer, $200 a barrel can be a lot,” says Farber. “A good friend of mine who is a high level executive in the Kentucky spirits industry said ‘Dan, we would go out of business if we paid that much money for a barrel.’ And I’m like, every winery in California would go out of business if they used your barrels,” laughs Farber. “It’s an area craft producers have a leg up. We don’t produce in volume. We can do things with more care to fine detail and invest in higher quality ingredients and get top dollar for our spirits. It’s one of the number one areas where massive improvements could be made in American brown spirits by understanding oak in a way winemakers have for years and European brown spirits producers have for centuries.” That philosophy is echoed at Westland. “The cost is significant,” says Sell, “but it’s worth it. The flavor is fantastic versus the kiln-dried barrels.” Director of marketing Steve Hawley sees spending more on longer seasoned barrels as an essential component of an overall investment in quality. “Corn is seven cents per pound. Our cheapest malt is 34 cents. Why would we invest such an exponentially larger amount in our malt and then throw it in a cheap barrel? So yes, the costs are compounding, but if you sacrifice on one thing, the rest of the things you’re doing are totally futile.” For distillers able and willing to make the extra investment, this may be a good time to take the plunge. “There is a worldwide glut of [well seasoned] wood because 2017 was a very poor wine harvest” says Farber. “This is the best year ever.”

Margarett Waterbury is the managing editor of The Whiskey Wash and regularly contributes to other publications about food, drink, and agriculture. She was named the 2017 Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year by Spirits Business Magazine. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

HOUSE FINDS A HOME 16 years on, House Spirits Distillery founder Christian Krogstad reflects how his business has changed and what it takes to survive nearly two decades in the spirits industry WRITTEN BY MARGARETT WATERBURY PHOTOS PROVIDED BY HOUSE SPIRITS DISTILLERY


n 2004, the first year House Spirits Distillery opened its doors, consumers were just beginning to wrap their minds around hoppy IPAs and barleywine ales. Absolut Vodka and mixto tequila dominated the global spirits industry. Craft whiskey? That wasn’t a thing—heck, regular whiskey was still struggling. Today, of course, times have changed—and so has House Spirits Distillery. With the sale of the Aviation Gin brand in 2016, House Spirits Distillery is all-in on whiskey, with a purpose-built new facility in Portland’s central Eastside churning out 1,200 barrels of its single malt whiskey brand, Westward, each year. How did House Spirits Distillery grow from a bootstrapped alternating proprietorship in sleepy Corvallis, Oregon, to the flagship distillery in a town known for its global leadership in drinks? Beer, accounting, and good partnerships were all part of the equation.


THE EARLY DAYS Brewing, not distilling, was Christian Krogstad’s first entry to the world of booze. After falling in love with homebrewing in the 1980s, he moved to Portland in pursuit of a brewing career. His first industry job was washing kegs at McMenamins’ brand-new Edgefield property in 1991, an unglamorous gig that nevertheless opened the door for better things to come. After a decade working as a brewer, Krogstad was introduced to distilling when McMenamins opened a distillery at Edgefield. Lee

Medoff (now the owner/distiller at Portland’s Bull Run Distillery) was the head distiller at the time, and as brewery manager, Christian oversaw the department responsible for providing the whiskey wash. Quickly, he became fascinated by the natural link between brewing and distilling. “I realized the distilling part was just one more extension beyond brewing,” he says. So in 2002, he and Medoff hatched a plan to start their own distillery: House Spirits, named after the Slavic pre-Christian belief in small, (mostly) benevolent spirits that inhabit hearth and home. At the time, it was much more


challenging to get a new DSP approved, so they went a different route: buying another existing operation. Another Northwest distilling pioneer, Tad Seestedt of Ransom Spirits, was running a small grappa distillery in Corvallis, Oregon, about 75 minutes south of Portland. “Tad only used the still about four weeks a year,” says Krogstad, “so we made him a deal: We bought it off of him, took over the rent, and allowed him to come back in for his grappa production every year with an alternating proprietorship.” Vodka was the first project they tackled, but Krogstad says they began working on a gin recipe early on. It took almost 18 months to develop the botanical program. There were precious few mentors or resources in the early days, which meant Krogstad and Medoff relied a lot on trial and error. “We kind of made up a lot of it as we went along,” says Krogstad. “There just weren’t a lot of other people in the industry to ask.” Yet they persevered. By early 2006, House Spirits had moved to a new facility in Southeast Portland, and in the spring of the same year, it launched Aviation Gin.

SETTING THE FOUNDATION In 2006, Portland was poised on the brink of immense cultural and economic growth, and House Spirits was in the right

place at the right time. One of the first, and most important, relationships Krogstad formed was with Ripe Restaurant Group, an early project of Naomi Pomeroy, now the James Beard award-winning chef and owner at Beast. “They asked me to devise a gin for them for their restaurants,” says Krogstad. “That was a pivotal time. We hadn’t realized the importance of cocktails. When we started, we were very production and product focused, but when we started working with restaurateurs, it changed us to be more customer focused.” Aviation Gin was among the first to de-emphasize juniper to highlight other botanicals, and the socalled ‘New Western’ gin style caught on with consumers and other producers. With cocktails in its DNA and the craft cocktail revolution in full swing, Aviation Gin grew quickly. (Christian even reports seeing it on the shelves in Asian markets that House Spirits didn’t distribute to, a testament of its ability to cross even greymarket boundaries.) At the same time, Krogstad Aquavit began to make inroads with bartenders excited to experiment with gin’s under-the-radar Scandinavian cousin. As the company grew, so too did its facilities needs, and by 2014, Krogstad was beginning to contemplate an expansion. “Our lease was coming up, so we had to either renew or move,” he says. The company found a suitable facility not far from the original location and still squarely in Distillery Row, the consumerfocused, passport-enabled tasting experience House Spirits helped create with other local distilleries. But it turned out that finding the building was the easiest part. “It took us two years from signing the lease to moving in, because the design and permitting process was so ghastly,” says Krogstad. “Everything takes a lot longer than

you think it’s going to take, and the city certainly didn’t help with that.” There was even a six-month period in 2015 where House Spirits Distillery had no operations as it scrambled to finish the new facility.

GROWING UP Finally, in fall 2015, operations resumed at the new location, a 14,000 squarefoot, $6 million, purpose-built facility designed specifically to make Westward whiskey, a product that was produced in small quantities at the original Portland location and on which the team wanted to focus more closely. “We really got to design the workflow and process flow, which is absolutely one of the best parts about the new space,” says Krogstad. “There’s just so much more involved in the whiskey process.” Today, Westward is the company’s flagship product, a single malt whiskey made from a mash produced in much the same way as beer. The wort is boiled and fermented in closed, sanitized tanks, producing a beer that, with the addition of a few hops, would pass muster at any nearby taproom. That wash is double distilled on two pot stills: a 3,000-gallon Vendome pot still for the wash, and House Spirits’ original, angular stainless steel pot still for the spirit run. In 2016, ten years after its launch, House Spirits sold its flagship Aviation Gin brand. While it still makes the gin in Portland, sales, distribution, and marketing are now handled by Davos Brands—and, as of February 2018, actor Ryan Reynolds (no joke). Krogstad says that sale has initiated a major switch in marketing gears at House Spirits. “Aviation is an on-premise brand, a bartenders’ brand, a cocktail ingredient. Whereas Westward is more of an offpremise brand, a beverage unto itself, so it’s a very different attitude and a different customer,” he says. Another major component of House

“When we started, we were very production and product focused, but when we started working with restaurateurs, it changed us to be more customer focused.” 80 


“Most people don’t get into distilling so they can be treasury officers, but if you aren’t good with your books, you’re not going to get to be a distiller for long. You’ll hear this time and again: What sinks small businesses isn’t necessarily profitability; it’s cash flow.” Spirits’ growth was the support of outside investors, who began to come on board before the move. For distillers contemplating taking on outside cash, Krogstad has some advice. “Make sure you have patient investors. So many have a five-year time horizon; they want to have liquidity in five years. Well, that’s a nice goal, but if you’re in a position where you have to liquidate someone in five years, then that’s going to cause some problems.” Investors not only brought muchneeded capital; they also opened the door to an unlikely partnership with Ingenio Magdalena S.A., an immense sugar plantation, refinery, and distillery in western Guatemala. Magdalena produces huge amounts of neutral spirit for global drinks brands, industrial applications, and manufacturing, but has been unable to secure a license from the Guatemalan government to make its own rum. So it partnered with House Spirits to create a new brand, Casa Magdalena Ron Blanco, produced at Ingenio Magdalena under the guidance of the House Spirits team. Instead of using the refinery-sized primary still at Ingenio Magdalena, Krogstad instructed the distillers to fire up a smaller decommissioned still whose size (80 feet tall, with five five-foot wide columns) still dwarfs even the largest American craft operations. Using a form of sugar called “miel A,” a golden syrup containing low concentrations of the ash, minerals, and impurities that give molasses its heavy flavor, Krogstad extended Ingenio Magdalena’s standard fermentation times to develop more aromatic esters, and


tinkered with yeasts and column settings to boost flavor further. “We basically figured out lots of expensive ways to make their super-efficient equipment less efficient,” laughs Krogstad. Then, Ingenio Magdalena fired it up. A single day of production on the custom rig produced several year’s worth of product, a portion of which was transported to Portland for maturation in used bourbon casks. Some of those were decanted at six months, filtered to remove all but a kiss of color, and bottled for the first batch, while other barrels are still maturing in House Spirits Distillery’s offsite warehouse. The resulting light, cocktail-friendly rum not only represents a new avenue for House Spirits’ growth, it also points to an ongoing commitment to collaboration. “When you’re small, you don’t always have all the resources by yourself to do what you want to do,” says Krogstad. “As long as you have aligned goals and a similar attitude and purpose, collaborations can work out great.”

LESSONS LEARNED Krogstad has a few key pieces of advice for other craft distillers planning a major facilities expansion. “It’s going to take longer than you think,” he says. “Even though you’ve done it once, it’s entirely possible that when you go to expand or rebuild, you’ll find there are changes in the regulatory environment that are an unpleasant surprise. So act like it’s a startup, and don’t take anything for granted.” Another suggestion? Know your books— and the best way to know them well

is to manage them yourself. “In 2002 and 2003, I took a bunch of accounting and finance classes, mostly at Mt. Hood Community College or Portland Community College,” says Krogstad. Then, he did the first few years of bookkeeping himself, gaining an intimate knowledge of payables, receivables, and — critically — cash flow. Taking care of the books yourself, at least for a time, gives distillers “an intimate understanding of where the money’s coming from, where it’s going, how much you have, how much you need, and when you’re going to need it. If you‘re really involved in the bookkeeping, you can anticipate when you’re going to have a cash shortage and you can cope with it.” “Most people don’t get into distilling so they can be treasury officers, but if you aren’t good with your books, you’re not going to get to be a distiller for long,” says Krogstad. “You’ll hear this time and again: What sinks small businesses isn’t necessarily profitability; it’s cash flow.” In the grand scheme of distilleries (and certainly in comparison to Ingenio Magdalena), House Spirits Distillery is still a small business, with the same capacity constraints, new product jitters, and growing pains that afflict craft distilleries around the world. But things have come a long way from the humble shared space in Corvallis, and Krogstad seems to know it. As he gestures toward the forest of gleaming stainless steel on the brewery side, he smiles. “We kind of feel like we’ve arrived.”

House Spirits Distillery is located in Portland, OR. For more information visit and (503) 235-3174. 81

Ginnovation PACIFIC NORTHWEST STYLE Written by Paul Hughes, Ph.D. & Ian Hartzog


he growth of the gin market has been remarkable, with a plethora of craft gins sitting alongside the global brands in bars and stores across the US. The popularity of gin amongst the craft distillers can probably be attributed to a number of factors including:


Quick turnaround compared to matured spirits (“make it in the morning, drink it in the afternoon”)


Few compositional restrictions in the U.S. and elsewhere, beyond the requirement for juniper flavor and a minimum alcohol content (40.0% ABV in the US, 37.5% in the EU),

allowing the distiller considerable latitude when designing new products


Broad market appeal of gins

Before we embarked on any gin research, we wanted a “control” gin to work with. Published recipes are sparse and so we followed the lead of Simpson and settled on a simple, juniper- and coriander seeddominated recipe which we denoted ginzero (Table 1). This is only one part of the control of variables in gin production. Botanical quality, entrainment vs maceration of the botanicals, and alcohol strength in maceration and/or during distillation all

FIGURE 1 Representative analyses of “ginzero” spirits by SPME-GC-MS. The upper trace represents the entrained sample (B). HUGHES & HARTZOG 100 80 60 40

play a part in the final composition of gin. One of the first questions that we asked about gin was how much oils from the botanicals are present in, say, a liter. Analytically this is not so straightforward to answer, but based on published oil contents of our ginzero botanicals (which we used at around 14 g/L alcohol), we estimate that there is a maximum of 100 mg oil/L gin (or around three drops from a pipette), and this assumes 100% transfer of oils from the botanicals. So the gin distiller is faced with an interesting task: to manage the composition of up to three drops of oil for every liter of final product. This sounds like a straightforward enough task, but there is a huge catch here. The oil in gin is not a simple mixture (Fig. 1) and indeed the direct analysis of botanicals in gin is relatively uncommon. So there are a few things that need to be understood, not least variability in the oils of the botanicals themselves and the impact of the still on the recovery, or not, of specific components. A further consideration is whether the




0 -20 -40 -60 -80 -100 5











g/3.4 L @50% ABV

Juniper “berries”


Coriander seeds


Cinnamon bark


Angelica root


Lemon peel




FIGURE 2 Experimental set-up to assess impact of entrainment vs maceration (B vs MB) and additional reflux (M vs MB). HUGHES & HARTZOG

chemical activity of copper metal can induce some changes at a molecular level to the oil components themselves. These are some of the problems we are currently investigating in our laboratory. Our initial work has focused on how still configuration affects oil delivery into the distillate. Using a copper benchtop still (capacity around six liters) we defined three experiments, utilizing the ginzero recipe (Fig. 2):


Macerate 1: distilled with the gin basket absent (M)


Macerate 2: distilled with the gin basket present (MB)


Entrained: botanicals suspended on gin basket (B)

This gave us two meaningful comparisons. Firstly, M vs MB was designed to provide insight into whether additional reflux surface (in this case provided by the gin basket in the MB set-up) materially affected the oil yield in the final spirit.

MACERATE no basket (M)

MACERATE with basket (MB)

Secondly, by comparing the spirits from MB and B, we were seeking insight into how maceration and entrainment affected the final oil profile in the spirit. Using sophisticated analytical methodology (SPME-GC-MS) we were able to detect and roughly quantify a range of botanical oil components, including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and a range of esters (Fig. 1). Comparing a selection of botanical oil components (Table 1) clearly indicates that

FIGURE 3 A sensory comparison of the gins produced by maceration (with and without basket, M and MB) and the gin produced by entrainment (B). As reflected by the instrumental analyses, the entrained sample, B, was the least intensely flavored, whilst the high aniseed rating for the MB sample at least partly reflects the presence of elevated levels of anethole. HUGHES & HARTZOG Cool Mouthfeel




Warm Mouthfeel









Herbaceous Woody


Dried Leaf

Roasted Earthy

Dried/Ripe Fruit Nutty



MACERATE with entrainment (B)

the entrained sample, B, was the lightest overall in flavor components, whereas the additional reflux provided by the basket in the MB vs M comparison generally had only a minor effect, with the exception of anethole, which we presume comes from the cinnamon used. A comparison of sensory profile data for the three distilled samples reflected the analytical observations. Specifically the MB sample scored highly on aniseed, which was in keeping with the higher levels of anethole in that sample. Additionally, the entrained sample, B, generally showed the lowest scores for the various sensory attributes tested. Overall, though, it is important to recognize that the balance of flavors also impacts on perception and product preference. For instance, floral, aniseed and astringent/drying varied widely across the three samples even though the botanical recipe was unchanged. To further understand the role of copper in botanical flavor expression for gin, we constructed two glass still configurations (Fig. 4). Copper mesh was used to introduce a defined surface area of copper in the still and, as a control, a stainless steel mesh of identical mesh size to the copper was used, to ensure equivalent levels of reflux. Our aim here was to understand whether there was any chemical interaction between copper and the oils from the botanicals, perhaps in turn leading us to discover novel chemistry



FIGURE 4 a) Glass column fitted with copper and stainless steel mesh to evaluate the chemical role of copper in the profile of botanical oil components. To ensure equivalent levels of reflux, copper was substituted with stainless steel of equivalent area and mesh size, and b) details of a bespoke glass vessel that allows different metals to be inserted to mimic a basket. In our case the work is currently restricted to stainless steel and copper. HUGHES & HARTZOG

during gin distillation. The research so far is in its early stages. but inspection of over 100 individual botanical components has not led us to observe any systematic influence of the presence of copper on the profile of oil components in the final spirit. The complexity of gin is clear, and the nuances that affect its flavor profile are subtle. In our studies, we are trying to understand the sensitivity of the gin botanical profile in terms of production variables, specifically material of still construction, how the botanicals are presented and the degree of reflux afforded by still design. Until now we conclude that, in decreasing order of importance, gin composition is affected by: maceration vs entrainment

additional reflux

copper vs steel for still construction Nevertheless we do need to broaden the range of botanicals used and to extend the range of reflux and still configuration options to more firmly establish our initial observations. Acknowledgement: We would like to acknowledge our colleague Professor Elizabeth Tomasino for her substantial input into the development of a gin analysis method and making her instrumentation available.

Paul Hughes, Ph.D. is assistant professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. For more information visit or call (541) 737-4595.





icture this. Bernadette has received a permit for her DSP and has begun production. She’s making a great product that is well received in the marketplace. Her grain-to-glass, artisanal, heirloom variety, organically grown freekeh-based whiskey (just go with it) has won a few awards and she’s even starting to get distribution in far-flung locations both inside and outside the United States. The recent reduction in federal excise tax (FET) has taken some of the pressure off her operation, but since she’s no fool (and she reads the pages of this fine magazine) she knows that relief could be short-lived. So, she’s using that relief to invest in her business and lay the groundwork for success if the FET reduction isn’t renewed (or, hopefully, made permanent). In short, things are going really well. In fact, they’re going so well that Bernadette decides now is a good time to bring in some new capital. She talks with a potential investor (and her securities lawyer!) and ends up raising quite a bit of money. Her ownership stake in the company decreases, but by her estimation it is better to have a smaller slice of a big pie than all of a small one. And now things are going really well. The business is firing on all cylinders, and even though Bernadette now owns less than a majority stake she’s seeing the value of her interest surge ahead. Plus, she was smart about the terms of her offering so she gets to continue to control her destiny and her new WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

investor can’t push her out without a fight. Things are good. Fast forward a few years or so. Bernadette receives notice that her business is subject to a routine audit by the TTB. “Not a big deal,” she tells herself, as she’s hired good people and is confident that the business’ records are accurate and it has been paying its taxes. The auditor comes and goes — and then the bottom falls out. The result of the audit is word that the business’ basic permit automatically terminated months ago. As a result, Bernadette’s friends at the TTB believe the company owes many thousands of dollars in back taxes, as well as some pretty substantial fines. And while he doesn’t yet know about the problem, her investor friend is going to be pretty steamed when he finds out.

THIS CAUTIONARY TALE IS ALL TOO REAL. And every year a few folks find out the hard way that it isn’t enough to get square with the TTB at the outset, you need to stay vigilant and monitor any changes in your business that might require you to take action. In our dream-turned-nightmare scenario above, the failure was in not notifying the TTB that a change in control had occurred. And, unfortunately for Bernadette, there really isn’t much she can do about it now. Several relevant provisions of federal law bear on this — but the most troubling for Bernadette is found in 27 U.S.C. §204(g), which provides as follows...

A basic permit shall continue in effect until suspended, revoked, or annulled as provided herein, or voluntarily surrendered; except that (1) if leased, sold, or otherwise voluntarily transferred, the permit shall be automatically terminated thereupon, and (2) if transferred by operation of law or if actual legal control of the permittee is acquired, directly or indirectly, whether by stock-ownership or in any other manner, by any person, then such permit shall be automatically terminated at the expiration of thirty days thereafter; Provided, That if within such thirty-day period application for a new basic permit is made by the transferee or permittee, respectively, then the outstanding basic permit shall continue in effect until such application is finally acted on by the Secretary of the Treasury. Let’s unpack this provision for a moment and strip out the legalese. In sum, it means basically two things for Bernadette: First, her business wasn’t allowed to sell its permit. Second, her business wasn’t allowed to bring in meaningful investment without reapplying for that same permit. “But wait,” you say, “she didn’t sell her permit, she just brought in a new investor!” And you’re technically correct. She didn’t actually sell the permit (or


even try to sell it). But from the TTB’s perspective, it doesn’t really matter. The statute treats a sale of control of the DSP as if it is a sale of the permit itself. So, when someone new acquires a controlling position in an existing DSP it is the same as if someone had purchased the entire business. We know from our hypothetical that Bernadette went from 100% ownership of her business to something less than 50% — so she clearly sold a controlling stake. And when she closed on that transaction and brought in her new investor, Bernadette’s business had 30 days from the date of that sale to submit an application for a new permit (and had the privilege of being able to continue operating during the pendency of the application). But of course she didn’t do that. So what does that mean?

UNFORTUNATELY FOR OUR HEROINE, THE TERMINATION OF HER DSPS BASIC PERMIT RESULTED IN SOME FAIRLY DRACONIAN CONSEQUENCES. The first and most obvious of these is that Bernadette’s business lost its ability to legally make her hooch. Distillation of spirits in the United States without a valid permit is flatly illegal and if Bernadette’s business continues distilling now that it knows its permit has been terminated, then the business (and Bernadette herself) could be subject to civil and criminal prosecution. Second, the letter from the TTB informed Bernadette that her business owed many thousands of dollars in taxes. This confuses our heroine, as she has good records suggesting that she paid all taxes owed throughout the time that — as it turns out — her permit was invalid. Here’s the rub: Bernadette’s hooch had been so well received that she was starting to export it to markets outside the United States. And because Bernadette’s no fool, she knew that her business was entitled to withdraw from bond tax-free any spirits that were being exported. But, unfortunately, that entitlement only applied when Bernadette’s business had its permit in place. Which


means Bernadette’s business now owes federal excise tax on all spirits that it exported while operating without a permit. Perhaps even worse, Bernadette’s business may owe $10.80 per proof gallon for all spirits removed from bond but not exported during the period. That $10.80 is the difference between the FET imposed on spirits generally and the temporary FET reduction that went into effect on January 1, 2018. It “may” owe that amount because there is some ambiguity in the language of the statute that reduced the FET for small distillers. Certainly some commentators have suggested (and the TTB may claim) that the reduction is only available so long as the taxpayer has a valid permit in place. But a technical reading of the language also suggests that the reduction in FET might be in place regardless of whether the permit has expired. So, again, there is ambiguity that might work in Bernadette’s favor. But of course the deck is stacked against Bernadette. If she wants to dispute the amount of the tax owed, she has essentially the same choices that she might have in connection with any other federal tax case. She can choose to pay the assessment and then sue for a refund in either a federal District Court or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Alternatively, she might choose to litigate the matter in the U.S. Tax Court — an avenue which does not require her to first pay the tax. But none of these options allow Bernadette to address the real crux of her dilemma — the question of whether she should be able to obtain relief from the termination of the business’ basic permit. In fact, the recent case of Gulf Coast Mar. Supply, Inc. v. United States, 218 F.Supp.3d 92 (D.D.C. 2016), addressed this particular problem. In Gulf Coast, the plaintiff business was engaged in the sale of alcohol and tobacco to commercial ships for consumption outside the United States. Just like Bernadette, Gulf Coast did not pay excise tax on these products since they were being exported. And also like Bernadette, Gulf Coast experienced a change in control without recognizing the impact of that event on its basic permit. After the TTB’s

assessment (a cool $7 million and change in FET for the tobacco alone!), Gulf Coast sued in Federal District Court alleging, among other things, that it hadn’t been afforded due process with respect to the termination of its permits. Gulf Coast lost that argument — both at the trial court and on subsequent appeal — because of the basic fact that the termination of its permit was not an action that was taken by the TTB. If it had been necessary for the TTB to take some form of action to terminate Gulf Coast’s permit, it might have won its case. But, in fact, the TTB didn’t need to do anything to terminate Gulf Coast’s permit. The termination is automatic — spelled out right in the statute quoted above — and happens without the TTB taking any action whatsoever. Put simply, that lack of any action by the TTB (or any other federal authority) means that federal courts don’t have the necessary subject matter jurisdiction to decide a case relating to the termination of the permit. Basically, those courts don’t have the authority to decide the case. That meant no relief for Gulf Coast — and the same goes for Bernadette. So, what is our intrepid protagonist’s best course of action? Well, Bernadette can cause her DSP to apply for a new permit. But if she does, there is unfortunately no guarantee that a permit will be issued. The permit application requires disclosure of whether the applicant or any of its controlling individuals (e.g., Bernadette) has ever had a permit denied, revoked or terminated. Put another way, the TTB will look at the termination of Bernadette’s prior permit as a strike against the granting of a permit to the business as now constituted. This is not to say that Bernadette’s new permit will be denied. In fact, if she’s been living a clean life, has not previously experienced any particular unpleasantness with the agency and engages in a certain amount of groveling, she may be able to get a new permit in place relatively quickly. But she can’t continue operating the business while she waits for the new one. Of course, Bernadette has at least two more constituencies that she should be thinking about. First, if maintenance of WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

TTB permits was a required component of compliance with her state’s liquor laws (as is the case in many states) then Bernadette and her counsel need to do some quick thinking about how to handle the state licensing issue. It is possible that her state doesn’t yet know that her TTB permit terminated. And so Bernadette may be tempted to let sleeping dogs lie and not alert her state authorities of her plight. That is probably a mistake — this particular sleeping dog is likely to awaken and bite her.

IT IS QUITE LIKELY THAT THE SAME TRANSACTION THAT WAS A CHANGE IN CONTROL FOR PURPOSES OF BERNADETTE’S TTB PERMIT WAS ALSO A CHANGE IN CONTROL FOR PURPOSES OF HER STATE’S REGULATIONS. That means her business’ state license, permit or other authorization may have already terminated as well — or at a minimum she may be in violation of its requirements.

Also, just as Bernadette’s parents may have suggested years ago that coming forward to self-report youthful indiscretions is likely to be looked on with favor and result in reduced discipline, federal and state authorities also value and encourage selfreporting. If Bernadette comes clean now with her friends at her local liquor authority, that could go a long way toward reducing any sanctions they may want to impose if her business for operating without a valid state permit since the change in control, and may also help assuage any concerns they might have about allowing her to restart operations once her TTB situation is resolved. In terms of her second constituency, Bernadette will need to think seriously about what she should say to her new investor. She doesn’t necessarily have a legal obligation to update him on these developments if she isn’t asking him for additional capital or to make decisions (e.g., voting on annual director elections for the business). But even if she doesn’t

have a duty to tell him, principles of good corporate governance and stewardship would suggest that she needs to let him know. Of course, all of this could have been avoided if Bernadette had simply remembered that when something significant happens in the life of a DSP, the DSP needs to look carefully at that occurrence and consider what, if anything, needs to be done in order to maintain compliance. What’s that old saying about an ounce of prevention?

Brian B. DeFoe is a business lawyer at Lane Powell, where he focuses his practice on helping companies in the customer-facing food, beverage and hospitality industries. Brian can be reached at, via phone at (206) 223-7948, on Twitter @ BrianBDeFoe or Instagram @HoochLaw. Visit for more thoughts on spirits and the laws that govern them. 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.

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or any distiller, the transformation of sugar into alcohol should be at the heart of the distillery’s business plan: Inefficient fermentations can cause yields to drop, production costs to rise, and growth potential to stagnate. Conversely, efficient fermentations allow for a faster ROI and for more profits to be allocated to other areas of the business.

STOICHIOMETRIC AND ACTUAL YIELDS Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Stoichiometry as: >> A branch of chemistry that deals with the application of the laws of definite proportions and of the conservation of mass and energy to chemical activity >> The quantitative relationship between constituents in a chemical substance or >> The quantitative relationship between two or more substances especially in processes involving physical or chemical change Stoichiometry helps us understand how things react or are transformed, as well as the rates of such transformations and the expected quantities of their outcomes. In plain terms, it defines what should happen when we combine stuff. Stoichiometry is important in fermentation because it explains how sugar is transformed into alcohol, which is at the core of a distiller’s quest for commercial success. But not only does it explain how it is converted; most importantly, it explains how much alcohol can be produced from any given amount of fermentable sugar. People have known for millennia that sugars can be converted into alcohol. This knowledge has helped societies in the production of wines, beers and other fermented beverages. Surprisingly however, it was not until 1815 that science was able to explain just how this transformation takes place at a molecular level. It was in that year that French chemist Joseph-Louis Gay Lussac first ascertained, in verifiable terms, how fermentation works. His original equation is as follows:

C12H22O11 + H2O  4 C2H5OH + 4 CO2 If the calculations are based on sucrose, the production of ethanol and carbon dioxide is increased by the stoichiometric equivalent, namely 1.053 (calculated from the ratio of the molecular masses of dextrose and sucrose: (2 × 180.16)/342.30).



One of the pitfalls of this equation was that it did not differentiate between fermentation and distillation process losses of ethanol. To solve this issue, the formula was updated into a form that is now the most widely-used method for determining ethanol yields from fermentation alone:

C6H12O6  2 CO2 + 2 C2H5OH Reaction C6H12O6 Molar mass balance 1 × 180.16 (kmol × kg/kmol) Mass balance (%) 100.00

 2 C2H5OH

+ 2 CO2

2 × 46.07

2 × 44.01



What the above equation means, is that for every molecule of C6H12O6, the maximum theoretical yield is two molecules of carbon dioxide and two molecules of ethanol. In other words, once we take the weight of each molecule into account, the theoretical (stoichiometric) yield of 100 parts by weight of glucose should be 48.86 parts carbon dioxide and 51.14 parts ethanol. Many years later, Louis Pasteur (Lussac’s contemporary scientist, also French) demonstrated that the maximum practical yield is actually 48.40 mass units of ethanol per 100.00 mass units of dextrose, because some of the dextrose is consumed by the yeast during the growth and metabolism involved in the production of ethanol. Consequently, the maximum practical yield from the GayLussac equation is 94.6% (calculated: 100.0 × 48.4/51.14).

FERMENTABLE VS. NON-FERMENTABLE SUGARS Now that we know how much alcohol can be obtained from the sugar, the next step is to understand the difference between fermentable and non-fermentable sugars. Knowing this difference we can then estimate stoichiometric fermentation yields and compare them to our actual yields. The sugarcane plant takes nutrients from the environment in WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

which it grows and transforms them into many things, including the soluble disaccharide — also known as sucrose — as well as fructose and glucose. Other products include lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, all necessary for the plant’s growth. Between 3540% of the sugar produced is consumed by the plant itself as a source of energy for cell expansion, division, nutrient uptake and maintenance during plant development.1 The concentration of sugar in the cane, the yield of sugarcane by surface cultivated and the yield of sugar per mass of cane cultivated will be explored in detail in a future article. For now we move our attention to the sugar mill, where the cane is crushed and pressed in order to extract its juice and the sugars that are dissolved in it. It is here at the mill where we can encounter a variety of aerobic, microaerophilic and anaerobic bacteria. Most all of these bacteria have negative effects on the fermentation process, the worst ones being Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Leuconostoc paramesenteroides. L. Mesenteroides is a very dangerous threat because it polymerizes sucrose molecules into dextran, a form of sugar which is un-fermentable, meaning that the actual alcohol yield from fermentation will be much lower than the practical yields observed in the absence of this bacteria. Another cause for reduced yields is caramelization of sugars due to the heat applied to boil the freshly-pressed cane juice. The boiling of the juice is a necessary part of the process of producing sugar, since it removes the excess water from the solution until there is not enough remaining liquid to keep all the sugar dissolved and thus the sugar is able to be removed in the form of crystals. When buying concentrated cane juice, High Test (HT) molasses or other forms of cane syrups, suppliers are likely to quote only “sugars” or “total sugars,” as opposed to only the fermentable sugars, which distillers are interested in. Thus, it becomes the distiller’s responsibility to quantify fermentable and nonfermentable sugars, in order to determine fermentation efficiencies and to have better quality and cost control.

HOW TO MEASURE SUGARS FROM SUGARCANE (NOT FROM BEET) The easiest method is to have the analysis conducted at the sugar mill, by trained personnel whose livelihood depends on their ability to carry out those tasks. Most craft DSPs, however, do not even register on the sales’ radar of the mills, thus Fermentation they are unlikely to have the leverage efficiency based on Stoichiometric Yield to request — and be provided with — those reports. 100% The next easiest alternative is to have a qualified lab do the tests, but this 94.6% involves shipping delays plus the cost of the tests themselves, making it an 94.0% 1  Hall, D.O., and Rao, K.K.(1999): Photosynthesis, Cambridge University Press WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

expensive and impractical solution in many cases. There are several methods available for the determination of sugars, each method requiring a different level of knowledge and varying degrees of laboratory equipment dexterity. Below is a brief listing of methods, those interested in learning more about them can easily search the internet for procedures and, in some cases, even instructional videos: >> Determination of Sucrose by polarimetry (Clerget Method): a. Invertase Method or b. Jackson and Gillis' Method IV >> Determination of Reducing Sugars: a. Lane and Eynon's Volumetric Method or b. Munson and Walker's Method or c. Berlin Institute Method >> Determination of Dextran: a. Wet Chemical Methods, such as the Haze Method, AOAC Method (Roberts Copper Method) and various enzymebased Methods and b. Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (highly-specialized laboratory only!) The presence of dextran should always raise a red flag, especially because it can be a sign of an active contamination that will only get worse when the wash is prepared with the water (L. Mesenteroides will actively attack all sugars in the wash once the osmotic pressure is reduced by the addition of the wash water). If there is an active contamination, it can be addressed via the use of antibiotics or by pasteurizing the wash prior to the pitching of the yeast.

YIELDS OF LARGE DISTILLERIES Once you find the amount of fermentable sugars in your wash, you can then use the previously-discussed formulas to determine the maximum theoretical and maximum practical yields. Then measure the actual amount of alcohol you produced and see how far your results are (I will discuss distillation efficiencies in a separate article). The following table shows average values from large distilleries that produce sugarcane ethanol. These values represent yields that

Fermentation yield in tons of anhydrous ethanol (100%) per ton of fermentable sugar

Fermentation yield in liters of anhydrous ethanol (100%) per ton of fermentable sugar




Maximum theoretical value, not attainable in real life



Maximum practical yield






Average operating range for large distilleries




Below average yields at or below this point


are maximized through careful control of fermentation conditions and nutrients throughout the fermentation cycle.2 Craft distillers will never be as efficient as their larger counterparts, mainly because the large companies have full-time microbiologists and engineers devoted to maximizing these yields and because the focus of the large companies tends to be more volume-centric than quality-centric. The problem arises when the craft distiller achieves neither the quality nor the minimum yields needed to remain profitable! I have come across craft distillers who, after analyzing their numbers, realize they are operating at 40-50% efficiency (from stoichiometric), highlighting immediately an area that, when addressed (via nutrition, environmental conditions and/or best practices), can have an immediate impact on their bottom line.

AT THE END OF FERMENTATION The serene and smooth surface of a wash at the end of fermentation seems to be begging the distiller to pump it into the pot or column still. After the vigorous foaming/bubbling that takes place during a normal fermentation, such calmness is symbolic of victory and of a complete transformation. But, if we are not careful, we may be sending fermentable sugars to the still a bit too early, resulting in losses in yields and profits.

2  B.P. LAVARACK, Sugar Research Institute, Mackay, Qld

The fermentation may appear to be “done” but, is it? If you know the quantity of fermentable sugars at the beginning of fermentation, and if you are assuming that a large percentage of those sugars were transformed into alcohol, then you should have an idea of how much alcohol there should be in the wash. So, before pumping the wash into the still, there are two tests you should conduct: 1. ALCOHOL IN THE WASH. If the ABV of the wash is nowhere near where you expect, it could be due to one or more of the following reasons: a. incomplete fermentation of fermentable sugars b. lower quantity of fermentable sugars than expected c. yeast death (by temperature, contamination or even ABV beyond its tolerance level) Sugars dissolved in water will increase the water’s density, but alcohol dissolved in water will reduce the water’s density. Using a density meter (optical or physical) to determine either sugars or alcohol in a solution where both are present in unknown quantities is a shot in the dark. So what is the best method to determine alcohol volume? For craft distillers, the method is micro distillation, using a laboratory-scale glass still, such as the one to the right. A precisely-measured volume of the wash is placed in a boiling flask, above a heating source (use an electric heating mantle, not an open flame!), and the distillate is collected and measured. For detailed procedures, consult the International Oenological Codex or

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contact the TTB lab for laboratory distillation/ABV determination instructions at 2. FINAL SUGARS IN THE WASH. The same methods described at the beginning of the article; for the determination of sucrose, reducing sugars and dextran can be applied at this stage to determine their presence or absence.

SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS Distillers are in the business of producing alcohol: the more efficient they are at fermenting, the less time and money it will take for them to have a profitable product. Fermentation efficiency starts by knowing how much fermentable sugar one has and then by comparing the real outcome to the maximum potential yield. Any delta between actual vs. potential is then addressed by finding the sources of the deficiencies and correcting them one by one.

Luis Ayala is an international rum consultant and broker of specialty aged rums. He is founder of The Rum University, Rum Central and Got Rum? magazine. Visit or email for more information





hen last I spoke with Tasmanian distiller Peter Bignell, he was about to board a plane to Paris to collect wine festival spittoons—not the receptacles themselves, mind you, but the unwanted deposits left over from the tasting sessions. “I’ll get the wine and distill it and turn it into an eau de vie,” explains Bignell, owner and distiller at Belgrove Distillery, located on a farm in the rural Tasmania town of Kempton. “Basically, I’ll take it back next year and sell it to the


people who spat it out.” And it’s not the first time he’s made spirits from the dregs of drinking glasses. Before he was ready to go global with the endeavor, he worked with festivals a bit closer to home—Sydney’s Rootstock, to be precise—to turn one drinker’s trash into another distiller’s treasure. “I think the first time we got 500 liters of wine,” Bignell reveals. “The next year we got 300 liters. A lot of the stuff is not actually spat out. When people are trying

200 wines, they really can’t drink much so it just gets dumped into spittoons or buckets. What a dreadful waste!” It would be an even bigger waste, logistically, to try to ship all of that wine back to Tasmania—which is why he produced his batches at distilleries near the Sydney and Paris events. And he, of course, didn’t cart the individual dump buckets to the production sites. He transferred all of their contents to large drums for collection. It’s projects like this that have


helped Bignell earn the reputation as a maverick—the term “mad scientist” has been uttered more than a few times—among distillers in both his home state and Australia as a whole. When most Tassie producers had been making a name for themselves producing Scotch-style single malts, Bignell would much rather be known for his 100 percent rye whisky made from grain grown on the 350 acres surrounding the distillery. “I don’t think anyone else [in Australia] is making 100 percent rye,” he says. “There are two that I know of that have corn and barley in theirs.” Bignell gets creative with some of Belgrove’s rye bottlings, offering everything from peat-smoked to Shiraz-barrel aged whiskies. That’s not to say Bignell hasn’t himself played with other grains. He’s produced a bit of malt, as well as oat whisky. He malts the grain himself in a contraption he fashioned out of an old clothes dryer (which


he demonstrated for me when I visited Belgrove Distillery a few years back). As the grain tumbles in the cylinder, sprinklers inside provide the necessary moisture. The device also doubles as a smoker. When he wants to produce a batch of peated whisky, he lights a fire and smokes some peat underneath the unit as the rye gently turns. Bignell has experimented with other smoke-able materials, namely dried sheep manure. He raises those sheep on a second farm about 20 miles away, feeding them spent grain from the distillery. “If they go in the shearing shed, their droppings go down to some slats in the floor to dry out,” he explains. “I shovel that up and use it instead of peat in my smoker. I’ve got a whisky now that’s not far off from being ready that’s been smoked with sheep manure. That’s just a bit of a fun project—I’m doing all of these sort of one-off things.” It’s certainly a sustainable practice, when you consider

that the sheep’s droppings are a byproduct of grain that had already been turned into whisky. Sustainability is in Belgrove Distillery’s DNA. Where many operations strive to achieve carbon neutrality, Bignell believes his has gone a step further. “I haven’t been audited— nobody’s come and run all the numbers—I just think I am carbon-negative,” he reveals. “I certainly use minimal fossil fuel.” Biofuel derived from waste cooking oil powers the still, and the distillery also taps into the local hydroelectric power grid. The abundant rye crop itself captures quite a bit of carbon. “There’s a huge amount of straw that [rye] produces,” Bignell notes. “One of the reasons a lot of people have turned away from growing rye is that it produces so much straw and not very much grain. It’s not very efficient as far as economics go, but it does tie up a lot of carbon and stores it in the straw.” Once the grain is harvested,


the straw remains on the ground, enriching the soil. Belgrove’s spirits portfolio is just as quirky as some of its production practices. Aside from grains and the occasional abandoned wine, Bignell is likely to distill just about anything else that isn’t nailed down. Among those ingredients is ginger beer, which he turns into a spirit called Ginger Hammer. He’s also converted grape pomace into barrel-aged grappa. Additionally, there’s the Calvados-like spirit he calls Apple Hatchet. “I call it that because it wasn’t aged for two years, which you have to do to call it brandy in Australia,” he notes. Then there’s the distillery’s other apple-based product, Belgrove Pommeau, which incorporates a bit of apple juice before it’s barrel-aged. Its flavor is closer to that of a liqueur, but there’s no sugar added beyond that already present in the fruit.


Some of the strangest of Bignell’s eaux de vie are his pear brandy and apricot liqueur. Those may sound fairly straightforward— until you notice that a few of the bottles have whole, full-grown fruit inside them. “I get all sorts of questions about how I get the fruit in the bottle and everyone’s always looking for cut marks on the glass,” Bignell says. “But it’s a bit of trick. The fruit is actually grown in the bottles because I put the bottles on the trees.” But the most popular product within Belgrove Distillery’s portfolio is Black Rye, a liqueur that combines unaged rye with coffee. “The coffee liqueur is the biggest seller of the lot, but it’s not really what I push,” he notes. “I really push the rye whisky.” But, he says, Black Rye enables him to further stand out from

his peers as the Australian craft distilling industry expands rapidly. When I visited the distillery in early 2015, Belgrove was one of only nine operating producers in Tasmania. Now, Bignell says, there are about 30 on the island— of nearly 250 across Australia. Many of those have turned to gin to enable immediate cash flow as they wait for their whiskies to mature. But Black Rye is doing most of that heavy lifting for Belgrove Distillery. “So I have that little cash cow, the coffee liqueur, instead of doing gin,” he says. “I’ve steered away from doing what everyone else is doing.” An understatement if there ever was one.

Belgrove Distillery is located in Kempton, Tasmania, Australia. Visit for more information.


Scaling to New Heights 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co.



ombining their love of whiskey, passion for the mountains, and inspiration from military vets, Christian Avignon and Ryan Thompson created the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company with a key location in the heart of Vail, Colorado, and an excellent business plan. “It was just a natural progression when Christian and I were ready for a new challenge—to seek something out that hadn't been done here in Vail Valley yet. We both enjoy our spirits and thought starting a whiskey company was a good idea,” says Thompson. “We knew that sooner or later, someone in town was going to make spirits, and we said, ‘It might as well be us.’ So here we are today.”

SURMOUNTING OBSTACLES “What most people don’t know about the business is the midnight oil we burn—either on the legal side of it, or the craft design of it, or talking about what we're doing next, or running the War Angel, which is our 500-gallon still, or bottling, or barreling,”


says Thompson. “There’s a hell of a lot of work that goes into it that people don’t see—a lot of stress managing all the logistics behind it.” Thompson says, “At one point we were out of money, more or less. And Avignon says, ‘Well, what do we do now?’ I said, “Let’s just act like we have all the money we need, and let’s just keep on moving forward, and let’s just see what happens.’ And that's what we did.” Eventually reality caught up with their mindset and things have been booming since.

GLEANING INSPIRATION While the two passionately pushed on to expand their spirits business, they wanted the venture to be about more than just that. They wanted to build on the lifestyle of Colorado and incorporate the history of the region. The 10th Mountain Army Division trained in Colorado for mountainous and arctic warfare in the 1940s. It was very personal for Avignon, whose grandfather was one of the original 10th Mountain division members. “Without the 10th guys, we all wouldn't be here enjoying the mountain outdoor lifestyle that we do today,” says Thompson. Honoring veterans and the military isn’t just something that Avignon and Thompson talk about or slap on their bottles; it’s at the core of their brand and lifestyle. The company is heavily involved with the Vail Veterans Program, which offers therapeutic programs to wounded warriors and their families. The program offers activities including skiing and snowboarding in the winter as well as hiking, fly fishing, zip-lining, rock climbing, rafting, and adaptive mountain biking in summer. The company’s involvement with veterans is a two-way street; Avignon and Thompson often feel like they're getting back more than they give.


“The support from the vets that we get is amazing. The guys will come in and give us these very humbling gifts—from the different patches you’ll see around in the tasting room, to the flags that we fly at the distillery,” says Thompson. “They’ll come in, and we’ll sit around and swap stories. Some of those times are just amazing.” Avignon adds, “When we were first starting out, one of our early events was at the Vail firehouse with a lot of the Veterans. And there was one gentleman who had lost both his legs, and he got up and gave a quick speech. And for us struggling through startup stuff, it was a wow moment. We have nothing to compare to that. The way he put it was, ‘When I had an injury, I felt I was out of the game. I came to Vail and felt like I was back in the game. It changed my whole life, my family, everything.’ That was a really humbling moment. It was very moving for us at the time because it was early on in the business for us.” That type of inspiration has continually helped the two overcome the difficulties in building their business.

CATERING TO SUCCESS In the next five years, the two say they plan to move into additional states, increase volume and continue to expand the brand. The time appears to be right as the spirits industry continues to grow and evolve. As changes in laws dating all the way back to prohibition continue to evolve, small distillers will see an easier path to selling their products directly to consumers. And those consumers are driving many trends in the marketplace, with millennials to baby boomers turning to local products. They want to know who makes their products and where they are sourced. There is a ton of opportunity in the marketplace.

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company is located in Vail & Gypsum, CO. For more info visit or call (970) 524-2580. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

K R O Y from NEW  E E S to TENNES N f I o T y a S w U A by Nicole Austin will help define (and redefine) Tennessee whiskey as general manager and distiller of Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEFF CIOLETTI


hen the George Dickel Distillery became Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. earlier this year, the switch was about much more than a name change. It, of course, will continue to produce the George Dickel brand and remain the steward of the whiskey legacy that began with its namesake’s first batch nearly a century and a half ago. The new moniker symbolizes a major turning point for the Diageo-owned company: it underlines the role that innovation will play in the distillery’s future. And the author of this new chapter in the 148-year-old Dickel story is Nicole Austin, who’s earned a reputation as a spiritsindustry visionary over the past decade. Austin, who studied chemical engineering in college, joined Kings County Distillery as master blender in 2010. She also has worked at Dave Pickerell’s Oak View Spirits consulting firm, where her expertise encompassed everything from raw material sourcing to contract negotiations. Additionally, she served as project commissioning engineer for William Grant & Sons at the Tullamore Distillery in Ireland. Austin has also been a committed advocate for industry-related government issues. She was a founding board member of the American Craft Spirits Association and she helped lead the Association’s federal excise tax relief efforts. She’s afforded considerable autonomy as general manager and distiller of Cascade Hollow, reporting directly to a Cascade Hollow-specific board of directors rather than corporate management. Artisan Spirit had the chance to chat with Austin about her new role and what’s on the horizon for Cascade Hollow and Tennessee whiskey in general.


What was behind the name change to Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.? NICOLE AUSTIN: I can’t speak to what was in their heads when they created it, but I can tell you what I’ve been told and about my own lived experience. Part of it is a reconnection to the history of the distillery. The distillery was originally called Cascade Hollow, or Cascade Distillery at different


points in its history. So that’s one aspect. More broadly, what was driving the name change was really getting behind the entrepreneurial model that [the company was] launching. It’s quite unique and it’s actually one of the most exceptional things about this role and what motivated me to come here— the idea of me not just being a distiller in name only or some kind of marketing figurehead but actually creating an entrepreneurial position that is truly the head of the company. And so if you are going to do that you need a company. And we wanted it to be bigger than just George Dickel, the brand, in order to really give me some room to get creative and drive future innovation.


Does that mean you may launch other brands beyond the Dickel label? N.A. Cascade Hollow Distilling Company produces and is the home of George Dickel, but it could be any number of things, so it really opens up a lot of opportunity for me. And that’s part of what makes it really appealing. There’s a certain amount of freedom that comes along with that, so we may launch other brands.

Could you describe the management structure with the Cascade Hollow board? N.A. The structure of this role is really unique—I can’t think of a lot of other things that are like it. Rather than plugging in to the corporate structure, I actually report to a board of directors inside the company— they’re really putting their money where their mouth is. [Diageo SVP for North American Whisk(e)y] Sophie Kelly is the chair. It’s also got the president of Diageo North America and other marketing and supply folks on it who support this company, but really gives me a lot of freedom to define the strategic direction and then go and execute it.

What are your immediate plans in the role? N.A. Right now what I’m focused on is getting to know the people, the place and the whiskey that’s here. What I don’t want to do is just bring the same ideas I had in New York and try to plug them in to what’s going on in Tennessee. My ethos about whiskey making is that it should really be driven by the place and the agriculture that’s in the area. So what I’m doing is trying to get to know what grows here in Tennessee and what is the whiskey expression of this area. Part of it is familiarizing myself with local growers and local producers and then also familiarizing myself with the key capabilities of the facility.


Consumers’ whiskey knowledge base is the best it’s been and they’re getting more educated every day. What sort of opportunities does that create for you? N.A. I’m excited about what consumers are imbibing and that works in our favor because my ethos in whiskey making is hugely driven by authenticity, transparency and a real respect for the consumer that they know what they’re buying, know what they’re imbibing and what kind of world they’re creating with those decisions. That’s becoming more and more important with consumers across all spaces and I’m grateful for that. More broadly, the thing that excites me about Tennessee

whiskey is that it has this incredible heritage, but there’s also still a lot of opportunity to define it because people aren’t as familiar with it. Since I got here, I’ve been asking people a lot what they think of when they think Tennessee whiskey and I hear “smooth, mellow” and I also hear “bold.” It seems to me that there’s a lot of room to define and stretch the category. It’s been dominated by one player for so long, but one player can’t define the category.

What’s it like transitioning from a newer, startup distillery to one with so much heritage behind it?

N.A. The people who work here—so many of them are from the area—have worked here for a long time and are hugely passionate about the whiskey. So I feel a huge responsibility to their legacy, ensuring that I’m showcasing that and being responsible with that. At the same time I feel really grateful for the experience that I had innovating in that lower-stakes context. It’s really informing what I’m going to bring here. It’s helping me be more educated and a little more forward-thinking and I think it’s a good mix. It feels like a real Goldilocks moment for me. It’s not too big that it’s afraid to innovate or they’re not willing to experiment, and not to small to not have the resources to see some of these innovations come to fruition. It feels just right for me and I’m really excited about that.

Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. is located in Tullahoma, TN. Visit for more information.

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hen I started in the industry six years ago I had a colleague that held a secret that she talked about in hushed tones. A minor embarrassment that needled her soul. Something she wished she could change but didn’t know how…the fact that her husband didn’t like bourbon. Living in Louisville and working in the bourbon industry acted as two weights that she couldn’t shrug off when going out to work events with her husband. Forced to watch him wave off rare samples and turning down tasty cocktails. It wasn’t only her job, but something that she enjoyed, and it was a passion she wanted to share with the one she loved. Since she and I shared an office, and often talked about all aspects of bourbon and how best to teach people about bourbon, it was a burden that I started to share with her. Because we both believed the same thing: People should be able to drink what they want, and they should never be judged for what they like or how they want to drink it. Pappy and diet? What type of glass would you like that in? A bourbon with sprite and grenadine? Nice variation on a Dirty Shirley! We weren’t going to give him hell for not liking bourbon, but we wanted to come up with a respectful way to help him start appreciating it. As with so many other grand plans that escalate over time, we decided that we were not only going to help appreciate bourbon, but love it. So we set a lofty goal: “In one year we will take him from enjoying a sweet bourbon cocktail to enjoying a neat, barrel strength bourbon.” We came up with a month-by-month program to help her husband achieve this. And I want to make clear that we did this with his full knowledge. It wasn’t like an 80’s movie where we could sum up this experiment in a montage with Oingo Boingo playing over a series of hijinks riddled moments of us switching out his drink every time he turned his head. Part of the fun of this experiment, for all of us, was the engagement and education that came along with this process. I’m sharing these steps here, in hopes that it will provide inspiration to others who struggle with imparting their spirits passion to friends, family, and customers alike.


KENTUCKY BUCK We thought this would be the best jumping off point. Even though the Kentucky Buck is not a wildly popular cocktail, it’s well worth a try, especially in summer. It is a lightly sweet, balanced, delightful long drink. It’s easy to do a session with this cocktail and enjoy every sip and second along the way. It’s a simple introduction to bourbon because the bourbon is more of a background flavor than the primary flavor, plus it’s slightly sweet with fantastic fruit and ginger notes. We were thrilled to find that it served to be the perfect introduction we were looking for. He loved the cocktail.


MAKES 1 COCKTAIL (From INSTRUCTIONS Muddle chopped 1 chopped strawberry, lemon strawberry juice, and simple 3⁄4 oz. lemon juice syrup in a cocktail 1⁄2 oz. simple shaker. Add syrup bourbon, 2 dashes 2 oz. Wild Turkey bitters, and ice. Shake and strain bourbon into an ice-filled 2 dashes Angostura bitters highball glass. Top with ginger 2 oz. ginger beer beer; garnish with Strawberry slice, a strawberry slice. for garnish INGREDIENTS


OLD FASHIONED This classic cocktail was a bit of a dice roll for us since we knew that he had had Old Fashioneds in the past and disliked them. But we half believed that they must have all been poorly made and half believed that our enthusiasm (and unbridled genius) would make a short memory of his previous experience with the cocktail. It’s an easy transition from the Kentucky Buck to an Old Fashioned. It’s still sweet and slightly fruity, but a little more bourbon forward. A baby step forward, sure, but it was a step forward nonetheless, and in this case a successful one.


WHISKEY SOUR Again, at the early stage we knew that we had to do incremental steps forward — no big leaps yet. The Whiskey Sour dials back the sweetness a bit while letting the fruit and bourbon stand out more. Plus, I would like to point out

that it had to be a freshly made cocktail, no sour mix, just fresh fruit and simple syrup. A bad or precariously made cocktail could throw our whole plan out the window. But out the window this did not go. He took to this traditional whiskey cocktail like he was in the cast of Mad Men, minus the misogyny.



ultimate balancing act. One ingredient out of balance will make this a horrible cocktail. It’s the tightrope walk of bartending; A properly made Mint Julep should be bourbon forward,

MINT JULEP As many of you probably know, the Mint Julep is the


Luckily for us, he liked it. It wasn’t his favorite step, but he did enjoy the cocktail on occasion, but not as occasionally as some of the cocktails before. It gave us pause that we might not have structured the steps as we should have, but after 5 months we weren’t going to stop.

We were told that this was a dubious choice. That Mint Julep was an advanced play and we were introducing

Here we go. The first step in to bourbon (mostly) unto itself. Getting rid of all the sweeteners and mixers. The training wheels were off! Granted we added a twist of orange to help soften the alcohol intensity of the Bourbon, but this was the step we viewed as make or break, if this transition didn’t go well it might be the end of the experiment. For the base we chose to go with wheated bourbons. Wheated bourbons are known for being

OLD FORESTER ON ICE Here is the step into rye bourbons. We picked a bourbon with a bit lower proof, 86, in order to help soften the intensity of the flavors that generally come along with having rye in the mash bill. We also decided to put the Old Forester on the rocks to help dilute the intensity that can come along with a rye bourbon. Another reason we picked Old Fo’ was because of its fruitiness on the nose and palate. We find that Old Fo’ has a high banana note to it, which helps tamper the traditional rye boldness.


Our goal here was to pull out the citrus, dial back the sweetness, and start introducing more herbal



He took to this bourbon like a champion. Not only did he like it on ice, he also asked for some neat so he could see how it differed.

flavors. It was our attempt to prepare him for the switch to a savory cocktail.


MANHATTAN This was the most nerve-wracking step for me. Well, not nerve-wracking, I mean it wasn’t going to trigger a nuclear strike, but it was the big question mark in our plan. We knew we couldn’t go straight from sweet cocktails to bourbons on the rocks, we needed some sort of transition, and the Manhattan was the choice. It’s like picking a star wipe transition in video editing, it’s a brave choice that can get a laugh, but it also might make the viewer turn off the TV.

slightly sweet, and have mild mint hit you midpalate and in the finish.


LARCENY By this point we knew we were on the gentle downward slope of success. But even after you hit a home run you have to round the bases, nay, you get to slowly meander around the bases taking in the applause and waving to


adoring fans. The next baby step forward took us up to 92 proof, still in the world of wheated bourbons. This time, no fruit, and no ice to dilute the spirit. It was the first bourbon neat he had tried as part of this process. Again, the speed of the sipping slowed down, but he finished the drink undaunted. He may have even asked for another.


it too early in the process. However, not only did he take to this drink like a champ, he bought a suit, a boater’s hat, and became a fixture at the Churchill Down paddock.

soft, sweet, nutty, and mellow. Just the transition we were looking for into the realm of unadulterated bourbon. Rebel Yell itself is soft, with an approachable palate at 80 proof. Even neat Rebel Yell is easy sipping, but by adding the twist to add a perceived sweetness and ice to slowly dilute the Bourbon, making it less alcohol-intense, we hoped this would be a gentle entry into Bourbon alone. Even though he raised his eyebrows, wide-eyed a time or two getting used to a higher proof drink. He enjoyed it. This drink went down a little slower than the cocktails, but isn’t that what sipping whiskey is all about? Needless to say, he made it to the bottom of the glass, and we made it to the next month.


spirit alone. It’s all about baby steps at this point.

MAKER’S MARK ON ICE It was time to go all in. With Maker’s Mark we stayed in the wheated bourbon arena but increased the proof to 90 and removed the twist. Again, just small incremental changes in the bourbon neat to help his palate slowly adjust to the

With this bourbon we removed the ice and chose a Four Roses Small Batch because of the slightly higher proof of 90, and the more robust, earthy, oaky, sweet flavors. This is

And he baby stepped his way into this bourbon like a champ. Undaunted with the removal of any hint of outside fruity flavors, he enjoyed the drink quite a bit. He even talked about all the new things he tasted as the whiskey became diluted. He really took to this whole project more than anticipated.

the brace going into bourbons above 100 proof with much more robust flavors. Did he like it? You bet your ass he did.




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WILD TURKEY 101 This is the largest jump in proof we had in the program, 11 proof points. But even at 101 proof Wild Turkey 101 is sweet, fruity, and oaky which balances perfectly with the spicy, herbal qualities of the rye and the intensity of the alcohol. By this time we knew his palate would be acclimated to bourbon and a certain level of intensity, so we knew it was a safe enough jump.

**FULL DISCLOSURE NOTICE: By this point in time he already loved bourbon and had tried many, many more that we’ve laid out on this list. So even though we had achieved our goal, we are completionists, and needed to take the last step to feel like we could properly celebrate our achievement. I mean, you still watch the end of the movie even though you know Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.


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Finally, we served our guinea pig a glass of Booker’s neat. Close to 130 proof. While it was slow drinking for him. He loved it. No longer would my coworker go to events and have her husband not share in the experience. He was not only a bourbon lover, he loved all things about bourbon. He has been known to jump behind the bar at events to help pour and start talking about various bourbons. While this year of planned growth and drinking was fun for my coworker and I, it really solidified one simple thing for us. People should be able to drink what they want to drink. And everyone needs to respect that fact. If you want someone to enjoy a spirit like you do, educate them, don’t shame them, which I see too many individuals do. Because most distillers care less about how their product is consumed, and more about the fact that the consumer picked their product.

Colin Blake is the Director of Spirits Education. For more info visit or call (502)-301-8130. The perfect blend of passion and expertise Europe | North America | Latin America | Middle East | Africa | Asia





o most Americans, the sight of a Jägermeister bottle brings back memories of late night college partying and misspent youth. However, for some it's a reminder of just how interesting liquor can be. Believe it or not, Jägermeister is not one of those anomalous products in a category all its own. Jägermeister is in fact part of a well-established class of German liquor called Kräuterlikör, which accounts for nearly 22% of all German spirits consumption.1 What exactly is Kräuterlikör? The answer to that question can be a little complex. The 1989 European Economic Community’s definition and descriptions of spirit drinks, which was used to codify the production of many spirits, merely recognizes all Kräuterlikörs as liqueurs and gives special status to those produced in Bavaria. Unfortunately, those guidelines give little information about production methods or flavors that are to be expected in Kräuterlikör.2 This means that in order to really learn what Kräuterlikör is, we need to delve into the history and culture that has evolved around its production in Germany. Like its close relative Italian amaro, Kräuterlikör started as a medicinal beverage concocted by Catholic religious orders. Kräuterlikör, which translates directly into English as “herbal liquor,“ was often drunk after meals to settle the stomach. The earliest written record of Kräuterlikör’s production comes from 12th century monastic texts written by the Benedictine nun Saint Hildegard of Bingen. In her extensive medical treatise, Hildegard describes how the monks and nuns of Germany would mix many different herbs and spices with spirits to produce a “medicinal” beverage.3,6 Interestingly, Saint

Hildegard is also credited as being one of the first to record the use of hops in beer.5 There were hundreds of monasteries dotting the German countryside at this time, and each of them would have probably had their own unique recipes that were sold almost exclusively to the local population.6 This all changed, however, after Martin Luther published his De Votis Monasticis in 1521, four years after the famous 95 Theses. In the De Votis Monasticis, Luther argued for the closing of monasteries, believing that there was no scriptural basis for monastic life. Almost immediately, Protestant forces throughout Germany began to suppress monasteries, and monks were forced to halt all activities and leave their orders.7 As monasteries closed, many aspects of monastic life, including the production of medicinal drinks, became the purview of families and local tradesmen.6 For the next few hundred years Kräuterlikör production moved into households, and families or groups of neighbors produced their own recipes based on what they had learned from the monks.8 Eventually, some of these family recipes became popular enough that their creators saw a chance for economic gain.9 These newly established merchants, often peddling fantastical stories of moonlight guiding their ancestors, began to sell many different mixtures that promised good health to those who partook.10 These commercial Kräuterlikör gained widespread popularity with the masses and soon became so prevalent that owners of a brewery in Dusseldorf were prompted to erect a sign in their gasthaus warning patrons that the consumption of anything other than beer was bad for health and business. Unfortunately for

Believe it or not, Jägermeister is not one of those anomalous products in a category all its own. Jägermeister is in fact part of a well-established class of German liquor called




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the brewery, this attempt to curtail consumption did not meet with much success, though the sign does remain. During the the late 19th and early 20th centuries the number of commercial Kräuterlikör producers grew exponentially, with many town apothecaries making their own unique recipes. Major brands such as Underberg and Schierker Feuerstein were marketed nationally, sometimes using fantastical stunts. Schierker Feuerstein, for example, celebrated the wedding day of its creator’s daughter by filling a fountain in his hometown with free Kräuterlikör for all citizens. However, this golden age of Kräuterlikör consumption would not last.9 World War I and II put considerable strain on Kräuterlikör producers. Faced with strict rationing requirements during the wars and economic stagnation during the interwar period, many manufacturers were either forced to slow or halt production completely. This dire situation did not improve after the end of World War II. The division of Germany into East and West caused social and economic upheaval that made acquiring the necessary ingredients for Kräuterlikör difficult.9 However, as the economy eventually settled, manufacturers were able to restart production, and new recipes were developed. In 1955, a new Kräuterlikör called Killepitsche was founded in a small shop in Dusseldorf, and it has since grown into one of the most widely consumed Kräuterlikör.11 Kräuterlikör production is relatively simple and has not changed much over the centuries. Nonetheless, there are some important distinctions between its creation and other bitter liqueurs. These differences must be taken into consideration when making an authentic Kräuterlikör. The first step when crafting a Kräuterlikör is choosing the right neutral base. Germany has long been considered part of the breadbasket of Europe; in 2016, 45,000 metric tons of cereal grains were produced. This equates to roughly 15% of all of Europe’s grain. Unlike America, where corn is king, the majority of this grain is either wheat or barley. Germany also produces roughly the same amount of sugar beets as it does wheat each year.12 This means that the most available starches and sugars for distillation in Germany come from either wheat or sugar beet. It’s no surprise then that wheat and sugar beet neutral spirits are often used as bases for Kräuterlikör. Once the base has been selected, the next step is to choose the flavorants. Like many liqueurs, Kräuterlikörs often boast extensive ingredient lists that are considered strict family secrets.11 However, there are a number of key ingredients that always seem to appear. Cinnamon, clove, gentian, juniper, and fennel are some of the most common. Unlike other bitter liqueurs, Kräuterlikörs also tend to include fresh fruits and berries such as buckthorn and wild blueberry. This gives Kräuterlikör a fruitier, bright flavor. Traditionally, these ingredients would have been mixed together in a large earthenware jug with the base spirit added on top, much like making a rumtopf.11 They would then be set in a cellar, or another suitably dark and temperature stable location, for up to a year. These days, most commercial Kräuterlikör producers now utilize stainless steel tanks and mixers for this step. The WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M

resting period lasts at least a few months before the flavorings are removed from the liquor and strained.13 The product is brought to proof and the flavor is adjusted with a sweetener, often simply sugar but sometimes honey or other exotic sugars.10 The Kräuterlikör is then ready to be bottled. Some of the larger facilities have the ability to produce upwards of 20,000 20mL bottles per day.11 Today, a visit to the average American liquor store won’t turn up much in the way of Kräuterlikör. Sure, there’s the previously mentioned college party staple that is Jägermeister, and if you’re in a particularly well stocked store, you might run into a packet of tiny bottles called Underberg, which has seen a recent rise to prominence thanks to craft bartenders. But there’s no Kümmerling, Butzelmann or Harzgeist; brands that would be expected at the most mediocre of German corner stores. However, as American palates begin to move on from late night Jägermeister fueled parties and embrace craft distillers, we might just see that change.

small batches. big selection. one clear choice.

Reade A. Huddleston is Head Distiller at Deep Ellum Distillery in Dallas, Texas. He received his Masters Degree in Brewing and Distilling Sciences from Heriot-Watt University, and is fascinated with all things drinkable. If you would like to contact him about Kräuterlikör, or any other strange and forgotten spirit, please email him at

References 1) Germany Trade & Investment, 2017. The Food & Beverage Industry in Germany. Industry Overview, pp 5. 2) Council Regulation, 1989. Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1576/80. Available from < EU030_15> [April 16, 2018].


3) Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018. St. Hildegard. Encyclopedia Britannica. Available from <> [April 18, 2018]. 4) Throop, Priscilla, 1998. Hildegard Von Bingen’s Physica: The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing, Inner Traditions/Bear Publishing. 5) Oliver, Garret. 2011. The Oxford Companion to Beer, Oxford University Press. 6) Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, 2018. The Monasteries. Encyclopedia Britannica. Available from <> [April 18, 2018]. 7) Zeller, Winifried. 1975. The Protestant Attitude to Monasticism, with special reference to Gerhard Tersteegen. Sage Journals, 93(312) pp. 178-192 8) Harz-Spirituosen & Wein GmbH, 2018. Harzgeist. Available from < > [April 15, 2018].

Ask for Ray or Claire on the Spirits Packaging Team 800-457-5657

9) Möller, Bitta, 2018. Personal Communication. April 24, 2018. 10) Bernard-Massard GmbH, 2018. Die Legende Vom Butzelmann. Available from < > [April 29, 2018]. 11) Merkens, Hans Joachim, 2018. Personal Communication. April 11, 2018. 12) Eurostat, 2017. Agricultural Production-Crops. Available from < php?title=Agricultural_production_-_crops> [April 16, 2018]. 13) Likörfabrik Peter Busch GmbH & Co.KG, 2018. Killepitsch. Available from <> [April 15, 2018]. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM  

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odka’s always had one of the more flexible definitions, as far as its fermentable base is concerned. But it’s not likely that black-eyed peas were on too many distillers’ ingredient short lists. And the makers of BLK EYE Vodka say that gives their flagship spirit a point of difference in a cluttered category where it’s difficult to stand out. It also makes the vodka decidedly Texan. “I never planned on being a distiller,” says Todd Gregory, co-founder of Fort Worth, Texas-based Black Eyed Distilling Co. “I had grown up on a farm and grew and shelled many black-eyed peas in my day. I was in banking for 30 years and this brought me back to my farming roots.” Black Eyed Distilling was more of a rebirth than the launch of a completely new concept. About a year ago, Gregory and business partner Scott Billings bought the idea from Trey and Deborah Nickels, who launched TreyMark Black Eyed Vodka in 2014. But, as is a common refrain among many startups, the original operation was under-capitalized. Billings and Gregory brought the necessary investment to reinvent the distillery and its innovative spirit. “Basically, we acquired the intellectual property and the license, closed down the distillery, recapitalized it and rebranded it,” Gregory explains. “We almost had to start over.” Now, Billings runs the day-to-day production operation (with Gregory’s help), while Gregory manages the sales effort. The new branding features label artwork by local landscape artist Pat Gabriel, whose illustration depicts sunflowers growing in a field of the black-eyed-peas. Gregory acknowledges that black-eyed peas are not a typical source of starch, which creates some of its own challenges. “Technically, they’re a legume,” he says. “They do have starch in them, but it’s not a very efficient starch. It was a real struggle figuring out how to get starch out of the peas.” The mash doesn’t consist entirely of black-eyed peas. There’s a substantial amount of corn thrown in to supplement the main ingredient. Gregory plays it close to the vest when asked about the pea-to-corn ratio in the mash bill. “We really don’t want to give away the secret,” he says. “There are hundreds of pounds of both. We were loading the mash tun this morning and there

INTO THE BLACK BLK EYE Vodka demonstrates that fermentable bases can come from some of the most unlikely places.




were a lot of five-gallon buckets of both that we had to throw in.” When Gregory and Billings first took over the company in 2017, they were able to extract only about 20 percent of the already low concentration of starch in the peas. Since then, with the help of an enzyme chemist, they’ve been able to get close to 100 percent of the starch. And, despite the fact that black-eyed peas are significantly more expensive than corn — an acre of land will yield about nine times the weight in corn as it will in peas — and yield far less starch, it will remain the core starch source for the product, given its flavor profile. “People who would never sip vodka straight sip this with hesitation and then it’s like a nirvana moment,” Gregory reveals. “It’s incredibly smooth and it has a light nose from the peas. We get a lot of hints of vanilla, we get people who say it’s nutty and we get people who say it smells


a bit like sake.” Fermentation usually takes between seven and nine days. Once distilled, only the hearts make it into the bottle. “We throw 100 percent of the heads away and 100 percent of the tails away,” Gregory notes. Each production run typically yields about 2,200 750-milliliter bottles from 3,000 gallons of fermented mash. In its first 10 months of operation, the company sold about 7,000 bottles across the state of Texas. It’s also earned several highprofile awards during its first year of operation. BLK EYE won double-gold in the Best Traditional Vodka category in the 2017 Global Spirit Awards, gold in the 2017 Fifty Best Awards, and silver medals in the 2017 San Diego Spirits Festival and 2017 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. One of the key selling points for BLK EYE, beyond its main ingredient, is that

only a relative few of its peers in its home market can claim the same farm-to-bottle cred that it can. “Our distributor tells us that we’re one of fewer than five grain-to-glass vodkas made in Texas,” Gregory says. “There are plenty of neutral grain spirit vodkas in the world. To actually make a vodka grain-to-glass with something unique that has a unique flavor profile is really what drew us into the business.” Black Eyed Distilling Co. recently began discussions with distributors outside of Texas to expand its footprint. “That effort’s just beginning at this point,” he notes. “As you move through the South, places like Louisiana, those are the states we’d look to first. But Texas is a big state and we still have a long way to go there.”

Black Eyed Distilling Co. is located in Fort Worth, TX. For more information visit or call (817) 349-9977





ny conversation about alcohol made from honey inevitably becomes a conversation about mead. arguably the oldest humanmade spirit, but not the only ancient honey-based liquor. Roughly 5,000 years after mead came to be — around 2,000 BC — the Mayans in Mexico started fermenting their own version. They called it Balche making it from honey pulled from the nectar of the Xtabentun flower. It was considered to have sacred and magical powers and was used often in purification ceremonies. Probably the most unorthodox part of Balche was how it was consumed. The Mayans would introduce the Balche into their bodies using enemas. Once the Spanish arrived they tried to ban it. Although not successful it is incredibly rare to find nowadays. Only the Yucatec Maya still make it. The closest iteration available on the commercial market is Xtabentum, an anise / rum infused honey liqueur. Enema not included.

Harry Haller is an independent consultant focused on working with sugarcanebased distilleries. He can be reached at



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For distillers looking to tweak their whiskey flavor profile, adjustments to their fermentation regimen offers a number of routes for improvement.


ith an eye on sour mashing and the practice of using backset, Diageo Senior Research Scientist Liz Rhoades discussed several ways that fermentation affects flavor optimization at the American Craft Spirits Association conference in Pittsburgh this year. She noted that while 95 percent of the energy yeast consumed during fermentation is converted into ethanol and carbon dioxide, at a roughly 1:1 rate, the additional five percent is where all of the congeners, heat, and (early on) propagation of new cells comes from. “That five percent seems like a small amount, but it actually has a huge impact, and there’s a lot of different avenues to get to flavor,” Rhoades said, defining congeners as any byproduct of fermentation other than ethanol. That includes methanol, higher alcohols, esters, sulfur-containing compounds, ketones, and organic acids such as caproic, lactic, succinic and acetic. Major influencers on fermentation profile and the development of flavor-active compounds include yeast metabolization, growth conditions, yeast strain and genetics, and contamination. The way a yeast metabolizes based on the levels of available sugar, oxygen, and nutrients has major implications for the flavor downstream. “Most of the fermentation products that we’re saying are contributing to flavor profile are really byproducts of biosynthesis of lipids, nucleic acids and proteins,” Rhoades said. “That’s where you’re going to get your higher alcohol production and your ester production, coming through those pathways.” With adequate oxygen, nutrients, and available sugar, yeast will ferment aerobically and reproduce. Once the yeast runs out of oxygen, it is unable to create fatty acids, phospholipids, and sterols, “which are really important for generation [of] cell wall material for a new cell. If you don’t have those, that’s really your limiting factor for growth.” At that point, the yeast switches to an alternate metabolic pathway, taking up sugar and creating ethanol and CO2. Rhoades used the fate of pyruvate as an example of the different pathways that a yeast can go down. In aerobic fermentation, pyruvate enters the Krebs cycle and produces ATP, making energy available for cellular reproduction. “That’s really where you’re getting your higher alcohol production, and the fatty acids and sterols, and that’s where you’re getting that ester generation,” Rhoades said. In an anaerobic environment, pyruvate is metabolized to


acetaldehyde, which is in turn converted to ethanol. In that situation, acetyls (generally acetyl coenzyme A) are recycled and lose a part of the acid group in the process, creating acetic acid which esterifies into ethyl acetate, the most dominant ester in spirits “because of this metabolic pathway.” The growth conditions during fermentation also play a crucial role in flavor development. Increased dissolved oxygen and higher fermentation temperature lead to an increased growth rate. “Generally speaking, you’ll have increased higher alcohol production that’s due to less available nitrogen,” she said. “Again, that’s directly related to that pathway of nucleic acid and protein synthesis, and you’ll see decreased ester production. You have less coenzyme A recycle, which won’t release that acid group and you won’t be able to form that acid.” On the other hand, with decreased growth from lower dissolved oxygen and lower temperature, “you’ll see the reverse happening:” a reduction in higher alcohols and an increase in overall congener production. In addition, Rhoades said, there is “huge variation” between yeast strains. “Your selection of your particular yeast strain has a big impact.” Brewers have coined the designation POF +/-, to denote whether a yeast reacts with ferulic acid in the malt to create the phenolic “off-flavor” 4-vinyl guaiacol. “For those of you who make rye whiskey, you know it’s not an offnote,” Rhoades said. “Basically, this has to do with a specific gene in that yeast strain,” which strips a carboxyl group from the ferulic acid to create the spicy phenol. Contamination is a final significant fermentation flavor impactor, for better or worse. Generally for lactic-acid producing bacteria, acetic-acid bacteria, or wild yeast, “the main component of all of these is going to be an organic acid that’s created, which is directly correlated to esterification.” “Out of all three of these, the most prevalent and common one you’ll probably see is lactobacillus. That’s pretty standard for distilling,” Rhoades said. What makes lactobacillus so common is that it ferments in the same conditions as yeast: an anaerobic, lowpH, ethanol environment. It also has a much shorter doubling time, so it can get out of control quickly. “You really need to keep an eye on that and control it. It can shift the flavor profile.” Contaminating bacteria can be homofermentative, producing WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

only lactic acid, or heterofermentative, producing lactic acid, ethanol, energy and acetic acid. Pediococcus is known for producing diacetyl, a buttery/butterscotch character that has a similar boiling point to ethanol and is difficult to separate, while acetobacter and gluconobacter convert ethanol and glucose to acetic acid. Wild yeasts picchia and hansenula are aerobic, but can create esters very quickly before dissolved oxygen levels drop. On the anaerobic side, brettanomyces can create acetic acid, as well as flavors commonly described as barnyard or horsey. “Brett fermentations take quite a long time compared to saccharomyces cerevisiae, so that’s probably not going to be a heavy hitter. It’s probably going to be more on the acetic acid side, but it’s something to take note of.” Rhoades also noted that after fermentation is finished, the beer well/charging vessel can be a commonly missed source of contamination. “It could be finished in fermentation, it could be sitting there. That’s when you’ll typically see a crop-up of lactic acid bacteria, depending on your level of contamination,” she said. “That can be something that people might overlook, and if that’s not cleaned out regularly that can be a source of contamination. Even though you think, ‘Hey, fermentation is over, I hit my yield,’ you could have an off-flavor or not hit the brand profile if you’re not taking a look and taking care of your beer well or charging vessel.” Finally, Rhoades addressed the utility and flavor optimization of sour mashing. While defined slightly differently from distillery to distillery, it generally involves using leftover material from the previous batch, which adjusts the pH for consistency. In some cases lactobacillus is added at the beginning of fermentation, as well. The use of backset — low-pH stillage from a previous batch — does a number of positive things for a new batch. It helps to curtail contamination by starting with a lower pH, and adds a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients that were in the lysed yeast from the prior batch. “All of these really lead to flavor effects,” Rhoades said. There’s also the reuse of material and the lower demand on utilities and water, if you’re into that.” But does it make a difference in the product? Rhoades analyzed sweet versus sour mashes — the addition of backset to a mash versus water — at the Dickel distillery. The sour mash distillate had an increased concentration of higher alcohols, which she attributed to a higher amount of solids and increased yeast growth. There was also a decreased concentration of acetaldehyde and acetal. “We definitely saw very different clusters, signifying that this is actually doing something from a volatile perspective,” said Rhoades. “What we saw was that the sour mash…was significantly different from a sensory perspective.”

Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver and Loveland, CO. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be found up in the mountains or at WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

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Bear Creek Distillery Crafts Heavy Medal Spirits WRITTEN & PHOTOGR APHED BY CARRIE DOW


he crowded cocktail bar at the award-winning Bear Creek Distillery in southwest Denver is buzzing on a chilly Tuesday afternoon in December. The crowd is here to sample, for the first time, what the owners have been working toward since they hatched the idea of a distillery six years ago: Bear Creek Straight Bourbon and Wheated Bourbon. The bar lights glow red and green, reflecting the holiday, and festive seasonal cocktails flow from the bar to appreciative


drinkers. Next door in the rentable party room, founder and owner Jay Johnson enthusiastically serves samples of Bear Creek’s new bourbons to the myriad guests with a broad bearded smile. Both creator and consumers look pleased. Neatly lined on the shelves above the bar are Bear Creek spirits, each bottle displaying the medals the contents have won since the distillery opened. Will these bourbons bring home any hardware in 2018? WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

“Wouldn’t it be great if...?” Bear Creek Distillery started the way most do, a bunch of people hanging out drinking. Those drinks were actually beer, but we’ll let that slide. Johnson says it was more about the drinking than a serious endeavor, but the next time these friends — all graduates of Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado — assembled, opening a distillery again became the topic du jour. “That turned into weekly meetings that were more focused,” says Johnson. “We said, ‘hey, you look into this and I’ll look into that.’ During our build out process Jeff Dickinson, Owner/Head Distiller, and I immersed ourselves in all things distilling.” Dickinson trained at respected distillery Koval in Chicago while Johnson took a weekend class at Denver’s Downslope Distilling. Near the end of 2012, the group purchased an 8,000 squarefoot former printing house near Overland Park. Construction took a year and production began in 2013. In November 2014, they opened a cocktail bar to the public and released their first spirit, Silver Rum. That spirit received a silver medal at the 2015 Denver International Spirits Competition. More medals followed. To date the distillery has won 15 medals, most recently gold and bronze at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition for their Rye WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

Vodka and Spiced Rum, respectively. Not bad for a six-year-old business. “When we won our first gold medal, that was huge,” says Johnson. “It was for our Cask Strength Rum (2016 American Craft Spirits Association). [Winning medals] is definitely a marketing tool, but at the same time it’s a good measuring stick. People were coming in here telling us it was good, but it’s nice to get a neutral viewpoint. Putting ourselves in those situations is a bit of self-validation, but it also gives you an idea of how you’re doing.”

What did you do to vodka? Bear Creek is winning these praises with slightly non-conventional spirits. The most decorated spirit is Bear Creek Rye Vodka, which has won four medals, including gold at the 2017 American Distilling Institute. The companion Wheat Vodka, made with grain from Colorado’s eastern plains, has won two medals. “Everything we’ve done has been just a bit different,” chuckles Johnson. “We wanted to focus on those flavors more. None of us is ‘classically trained’ so sometimes we try things that people haven’t thought of or they know better. Jeff wanted to try rye vodka and it’s phenomenal. The wheat is just a little bit softer. Think of a wheat




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beer, a little softer, sweeter.” “The vodkas have been well received, but they’re different. Sometimes people say ‘wow,’ and ‘it’s a refreshing change,’ but other people say, ‘what did you do to vodka?’ We’ve dug our heels in with that.” The same is true for Wheat Whiskey, which won Silver at the 2017 San Francisco Worlds, and now Wheated Bourbon. “That just has more character than a regular Straight Bourbon. We started filling bourbon barrels with 100% wheat and 100% rye just to mirror what we did with the vodka. There’s not many people making 100% wheat whiskey. We had a little pushback on that at first, but once people tried it and figured out what it was, people really embraced.”

What’s next? Winning awards is more than validation, says Johnson; they help Bear Creek to pay it forward. “We’ve had countless people starting distilleries in the state, out of state, Florida, Minnesota, reach out to us,” he says. “We’ve done our best to help as people have helped us. We try to pay it back because we did the same thing. When we were coming up, we’ve forged wonderful relationships. As we’ve become busier, we don’t have a whole lot of time for that, but, what it is they say, a rising tide raises all boats.” Johnson says Straight Bourbon is already the distillery’s best seller followed by Rye Whiskey. The Spiced Rum is also popular, but since it’s infused with hard to procure and expensive ingredients, including vanilla bean pods, ginger, orange peel and black peppercorn, they don’t make it in bulk. “It’s more of a boutique spirit,” he says. Is there a gin in Bear Creek’s future? “We don’t make gin,” laughs Johnson. “None of us like gin. We make what we like.” “I think this year will be our most telling,” muses Johnson. “To see where our numbers are at with our full spirit line up. We’ll be able to set ourselves apart and be in the same sentence as Leopold Bros., Stranahan’s, Laws, and Deerhammer. I feel we are at that table now. Twenty eighteen is going to be a really good year for us.”

Bear Creek Distillery is located in Denver, Colorado. For more information visit 114 



This is the first article of a three-part series that will outline and highlight sustainable design, engineering, and building practices that can be applied in the distilled spirits industry. The scope of this series will focus primarily on the Boardroom Spirits expansion to the tasting room space and the existing production space. This article will provide an overview of the project, describe the project oardroom Spirits is a family owned site, and define what achieving a LEED Certification means. distillery located in Lansdale, Part two will provide detailed guidelines to achieve a Pennsylvania, and is led by the husband LEED Certification for a tasting room and HISTORY and wife duo of Marat Mamedov and Zsuzsa distillery production floor, and the Palotas, as well as Maratâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s brother Vlad. OF final installment will focus The distillery opened in February 2016 and BOARDROOM on outdoor green quickly gained popularity. As a result, the practices. SPIRITS DISTILLERY


Boardroom Spirits team determined it was necessary to upgrade production capacity as well as the hospitality experience of their current space to a connected, neighboring building. The distillery currently utilizes practices that reduce the impact on the environment with bottle recycling programs and repurposing byproducts of distillation, such as spent grain or fruit scraps for livestock feed or compost, and repurposing the heads of the distillation process as cleaner. With this expansion project, the owners wanted to extend green practices to the construction of the tasting room as well as capitalize on opportunities to repurpose and reuse the energy and water loss that occurs through the production process. Beyond installing green practices at Boardroom Spirits, the owners wanted to create a simple and standard template for other distilleries that want to apply similar practices with a path to become LEED Certified while reducing the overall impact on the environment. To achieve this goal, Boardroom Spirits distillery partnered up with Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM â&#x20AC;

Distillery and New Tasting Room

Boardroom Spirits currently operates in a 3,225 square foot facility. This space is broken down into office and lab (600 sq. ft.), tasting room (400 sq. ft), manufacturing floor (1,625 sq. ft), and barrel room (600 sq. ft). The new building will provide an additional 2,300 square feet of developed space to help in the everyday activities of the distillery as the space will include a larger bar, seating areas and will house the bottling equipment. The expansion will provide a space that incorporates local materials and energy efficient fixtures. The distillery is the building on the right while the tasting room is the building in the foreground of the below image. Further, Boardroom Spirits is currently upgrading their production still and installing equipment to run a more energy efficient operation.

An aerial image of Boardroom Spirits. 115


The purpose for this project is to apply sustainable design methods to the expansion of the Boardroom Spirits Distillery tasting room and distilling process. Sustainability is the physical development of institutional operating practices that meet the needs of users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly regarding the use and waste of natural resources. Within this framework, the team would create a comfortable, modern tasting room while staying within the owner’s budget. To accomplish this goal, a classification system known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, would be used. LEED is a global rating system that was created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) that evaluates the environmental performance of a building and encourages market transformation towards sustainable design. Sustainable buildings, according to the USGBC refers to “places that are environmentally responsible, healthful, just, equitable, and profitable.” The most important concept of sustainability for the USGBC is the concept of the “triple bottom line” or measured success through environmental, economic, and social dimensions. LEED has been a leader in sustainable design and construction in the United States and is one of the driving principles of this project.


LEED offers the springboard for the expansion and renovation projects to become sustainable and green. By following the guidelines and exceeding the baselines established by the USGBC, Boardroom Spirits would implement features that would achieve the triple bottom line. Green technologies and programs would show the community the minimal impact that the buildings would have on their ecosystems and local environment. Proving their significant energy reductions could inspire local businesses to choose the LEED route. This type of community impact is part of the goal of LEED and could create a chain reaction throughout the town. With the distillery going towards LEED Certification, it would have a reduction of the impact on the environment. LED light fixtures, energy efficient HVAC systems, and green materials such as recycled wood and metals are important examples of green design and engineering practices for the new tasting room that will be discussed further in the article. After these implementations, Boardroom Spirits would see an energy reduction of nearly 25% and with that reduction, significantly lower utility costs.


An example of the LEED v4 Core and Shell checklist with corresponding credit categories and credits.

Project Specific LEED

The project team had discussed several options to achieve a LEED v4 Core and Shell Certification, the most recent certification standard offered by LEED. First and foremost, to receive a LEED Certification, the project must meet all LEED requirements and then successfully complete corresponding credits. Each credit is assessed a numerical value and is sectioned under a specific credit category. An example of this would be the credit Indoor Water Use Reduction for a maximum of 6 points in the Water Efficiency credit category. With 12 prerequisite credits and 50 regular credits, the project must obtain at least 40 credits to become LEED Certified. The goal for this project is LEED Silver which is between 50-59 credits. As of now, through preliminary calculations, the project is looking to have 34 points. Although this is not at the level for certification, it bodes well for more in-depth calculations to determine a more accurate depiction of the final point tally. The preliminary analysis looked at the location of the site including the land it’s on, access to quality transit, as well as the surrounding density and diverse uses of the area. These credits wouldn’t change during the project so they can be calculated in the preliminary report.

CORE SUSTAINABLE FEATURES The expansion to a new tasting room space offers a blank slate to implement sustainable features across different trades (electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.). The following section briefly describes these types of features and the energy savings that can be realized. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

Water Efficient Fixtures

The additional space and existing distillery would install lowflow water fixtures and water closets that would reduce annual water usage. To receive points for indoor water use reduction, Water Efficiency Credit 4, distilleries should select toilets and sinks that use less water per use. Instead of 1.60 gallons per flush, energy efficient toilets would use 1.28 gallons per flush, saving 4,000+ gallons of water annually This is based off of the amount of employees (full-time equivalents) and visitors to the distillery as well as the percent of occupants projected to use the fixture. Other changes include switching bathroom and kitchen faucets to use less water per use as well as using Energy Star labeled appliances and devices. A dishwasher, which is a staple in any bar, would use less water per load while maintaining performance. The switch from a standard dishwasher to an Energy Star dishwasher saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year by itself based off of estimations from the Environmental Protection Agency. These minor adjustments result in savings after a few months in service and can have a serious impact on operating costs in areas with high water usage rates as well as on the environment.

Sustainable Materials

The new tasting room and existing building would be retrofitted with sustainable materials. These materials would be locally sourced and labeled as environmentally friendly according to Energy Star and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To be considered environmentally friendly materials, the products used in construction must be made from recycled materials, created from natural resources, or be easily recycled products. In addition to using sustainable materials, LEED evaluates the distance it takes for the product to reach the project site. A longer distance forces the truck, plane or barge to consume more fossil fuels. Reducing this distance lowers the emissions and improves the LEED score. According to the EPA, transportation and deliveries account for nearly 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions, a measure that quantifies impact on the environment. For this project, the tasting room would aim for a modern rustic look. For instance, the bar top combines stone with a metallic finish. This combination of materials is a representation of the detail that went in the design of the new expansion. Most of the materials used in the project would be made from recycled materials and sourced from within 100 miles of the project site. For example, Manayunk Timber is an urban sawmill that specializes in locally sourced logs and reclaimed wood. According to a journal published in Pergamon from 2000, when local materials are utilized the energy used in the building process decreases by 215% and the energy used in transportation decreases by over 450%. To the right is an example of how recycled wood add a unique touch to a space. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM â&#x20AC;

A cutsheet of the Sloan Model: 110 which has the option of operating in 1.6 or 1.28 gal/flush. A fixture that has 1.28 gal/ flush or lower is recommended to reduce water usage.

Efficient MEP Systems

To accommodate the production expansion of Boardroom Spirits, a 528 gallon (2,000 liter) still will replace the existing 119 gallon (450 liter) still. Further, a new Trane chiller as well as two Sondex plate and frame heat exchangers would be installed to properly maintain a constant temperature of the water used to cool the reflux column and condenser during the distilling process. This will allow for the closed loop system to utilize the water that cools the stills in order to optimize the energy used by the building. The goal of redesigning the mechanical system is to allow the energy output to equal or exceed the energy being generated by the system. A cooling tower is being installed to capture and condition water to feed the distilling process which completes the closed system. The heat discharged from the distilling process can be utilized to


supply hot water to fixtures, or can be sent to the new heat exchanger, ultimately lowering the energy usage. The unit below is an example of a cooling tower which can transfer heat energy to other systems in the building such as hydronic floor heating. Heating and cooling systems would be Energy Star certified, ensuring savings to energy and cost without sacrifices in performance.

the condenser to make different types of spirits. Further, water is used to clean additional equipment such as fermentation tanks, storage tanks, etc. The water that is used is subject to minimal contamination because of the stainless-steel cooling elements. The water is then run through a filter and then reused throughout the facility. At the capacity that Boardroom produces spirits, this proves to be a major waste of energy and an operating cost. For example, a 119 gallon (450 liter) still could run anywhere from 30-125 gallons per hour of cooling through the reflux columns, depending on the product and how aggressively the distiller is cooling the column. This does not factor in the flow rate of cooling for the condenser during the distillation. A four to 10 hour distillation can result in significant operating costs for distilleries operating in locations where water is expensive due to local rules and regulations. Instead of wasting the water and dumping it, the greywater can be used for different systems around the distillery. The captured greywater would be used for surrounding irrigation for landscape, water fixtures or, with proper conditioning, for a geothermal heating system to heat the space in the cooler months. The Drexel Team is in the A diagram of a more efficient Cooling Tower. middle of conducting analyses to determine the most cost and energy efficient option for the expansion project. The reuse of wastewater is a key component Site Location of the sustainable goal and LEED certification. The Boardroom Boardroom Spirits is located in an industrial complex near a Spirits expansion lends itself to this type of sustainable design with residential neighborhood in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. The site the vision and ambition of the owner. yields sustainability opportunities as it is located a quartermile from the SEPTA Regional Rail Lansdale Train Station and is in a densely populated area. Lansdale is a suburb of Philadelphia with an estimated population of 16,500 people. There are certain limitations that exist because of both the site LEED gives credits to projects if the site is close to mass of the project and size of the space allocated. Boardroom Spirits public transportation and meet certain density thresholds. is in the residential area of Lansdale. Because of the business’ This is quantified by analyzing the types of buildings and proximity to residents, there are certain civil ordinances that need infrastructure in the ½ mile radius from the site. Therefore, to be abided by. These things can include noise pollution, unwanted points were already achieved solely based on the site’s traffic, and digging. The project must be designed and constructed advantageous location. with the community’s wellbeing in mind because these people are the patrons that help support Boardroom Spirits. Because Greywater Reuse from Distilling Process the project is a renovation of an existing space, there is a space The major sustainable implementation of the project confinement. Designers and engineers are forced to work within the would be to reuse the greywater from the distilling four walls of the existing space, thus restricting the different types process. This would significantly reduce the load on the of design concepts that can be implemented. drainage system and annual utility demands needed for the distilling process. Boardroom Spirits uses a reflux column still, and as a result, requires a large Due to the low amount of exposure to distilleries in the United amount of water to cool both the reflux column and States, the market for LEED distilleries is relatively untapped.





Thus, drafting a guide that explains the positive ideals that correspond to designing with the society and planet in mind can help your company organically achieve a gradual profit. Incorporating a closed loop will create a system which is driven by renewable resources. Lowering the energy output will reduce the strain on the energy grid during peak hours and will help foster a sustainable environment for generations to come. As a rising market, there has been a higher demand for distilleries to create an achievable precedent for future businesses to grow sustainably. Since the distilling industry is relatively new to green design, previously developed sustainable technologies can be integrated inside various facilities. Examples of these technologies include, but aren’t limited to, geothermal heating, radiant flooring, passive cooling, green stormwater management systems and solar panels. Including these technologies will also yield a future profit for the companies due to the reduction of resources. By creating a closed loop system, energy will be conserved and reused throughout the manufacturing area and new expansion for Boardroom Spirits.

INSPIRATION While the Drexel team was researching sustainable design, we discovered that green design isn’t a groundbreaking concept for distilleries. Big Spring Spirits, which is located in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, recently became the second distillery in the United States to achieve a LEED certification through a combination of site location and recycling of greywater. For example, by working in a closed looped system, they were able to reuse the heating energy from the distilling process and put it back into their building. This design is what inspired the team to consider hydronic floor heating options to reuse wasted energy from the distilling process. Big Spring Spirits integrated a HVAC system that enhanced the energy saving of the tenant space to perform 30% better than the ASHRAE standard 90.1. Strategies were included that reduced the water usage by the tenants by 30%, not including the irrigation methods for the outdoor garden. Sustainable design yields many advantages; the buildings use less energy which, in turn, costs less to operate. Sustainable buildings have the possibility to earn tax benefits as well. According to the new tax laws, businesses can get up to 30% tax credit if they implement alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. Section 179D, also known as the Energy Efficient Commercial


Outdoor garden used to enhance water efficiency. Deduction, rewards businesses for going green and incorporating things like high efficiency HVAC systems and tightening up building envelopes. It is estimated that businesses can get up to $1.80 per square foot reduction if the building can achieve an energy reduction of 50% or more. The lingering question still standing is why don’t more distilleries build to be LEED certified? Or why isn’t green design more popular in the industry? The upcoming articles will address the various challenges companies face while achieving LEED certification. Being able to perform adequate cost analyses to provide a realistic payback period for a company is important to sway the owner to use sustainable design.

Drew Hovey is a BS/MS Architectural Engineering student with concentrations in Building Energy, Indoor Air Quality, and Mechanical Systems, as he has 18 months of experience in the MEP consulting industry. Jonathan Napolitano is a BS/MS Environmental Engineering student at Drexel with a focus on Water Resources and Environmental Treatment Modeling. He has a passion for sustainable development and is LEED Green Associate accredited. Christopher Thach is a Senior Architectural Engineering student with the Digital Building concentration and is pursuing a Minor in Construction Management. He has experience working in both project management and MEP design. 119


Ray Furman from MGP Ingredients noted several yeast stress factors and criteria that help to optimize fermentation, for attendees at the annual American Distilling Institute conference in Portland. “In order for it to be effective, you have to keep the yeast free of contamination and under optimal conditions,” Furman said. These factors include pH, temperature, osmotic pressure, ethanol, nutrients and oxygen, and other less-common stressors. Acetic acid levels above .05% and lactic acid levels above .08% can affect fermentation. “Those are still fairly small levels, but it doesn’t take much to affect the metabolic pathways and the overall flavor profile of the distillate.” Contamination is the biggest factor, so maintaining a sterile environment is the best way to control pH. Using backset or another acid to lower the pH of a wash also helps, since yeast prefers levels below pH 6, while bacteria thrive above that level. The wash will drop to a pH of about 4 by the end of fermentation. “In a distillery, you can use some quality control tools to monitor the formation of acids during fermentation. Probably the easiest one is a simple titration, where you can quantify the amount of acid it takes to neutralize sodium hydroxide,” said Furman, recommending that distillers track that information during a fermentation. “It’ll give you a guideline of what your acid rise is from start to finish. Typically you’d want the smallest acid rise possible,” from a starting range of 2mL to neutralize a 10mL sample of sodium hydroxide to a finishing range around 6mL. “Another useful tool is HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography). It’ll give you your sugar, acid, and alcohol profile all at once. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes.” He noted a case at MGP where a batch came in with higher acidity, leading to a lower-yield, more sour-tasting product, and calculated an annualized loss in yield for a distiller producing 50,000 cases per year at a cost of $2/proof gallon at around $18,000, not including extra labor to make up for the lost product. Another common issue is temperature stress, which will cause yeast to mutate, die, and autolyse. While most yeasts have an optimal range of around 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, at the upper end of that range a distiller can see decreased sugar conversion and yield. It can also cause the fermentation to lag, going from a normal 3-5 days to a week or longer. “This is probably the most severe of the yeast stressors,” Furman said. For distillers who allow their fermentations to free rise with the heat yeast produces during conversion, a thinner mash will lead to a slower rise. A lower starting temperature, in the 65-75 degree range, can help prevent it from heating up too much. In the same hypothetical 50,000-case distillery, a potential loss of yield due to heat-stressed yeast could cost nearly $70,000, a sum that puts the cost of lab equipment to monitor issues into perspective. “It pays for itself if you can prevent this,” said Furman. Yeast can also experience ethanol stress from a fermentation that is too strong. “Depending


Happy yeast makes happy wash. Yeast can impact the flavor quality, the yield, the speed of fermentation, and the distillery’s bottom line.



on the yeast strain, once you get about five percent or higher you’ll see a significant decrease in sugar conversion as the yeast slows down a little bit.” Tolerances vary between strains, so it’s crucial for a distiller to know the strain they’re working with. Past a certain point, it’s possible to increase the sugar content of a mash by 30 percent but only increase yield by one percent. Proper nutrient levels and healthy yeast can mitigate this, but adding other stress factors will multiply the deleterious effects. “One of the things that’s true of any yeast stressor: by itself any one stress is bad, but when you combine it with the others, say you have alcohol stress combined with temperature stress combined with acid stress, it’s gonna be way out of control,” Furman said. Nutrients are invaluable not only in higher-gravity situations, but in all fermentations. Options that distillers can consider include yeast nutrient blends, specific individual nutrients such as DAP, or backset, which contains the remains of lysed yeast from a prior batch. A target range of 300 ppm free-amino nitrogen is a good place to start. Oxygen, as the driver for yeast cell growth and reproduction, is just as crucial. Yeast uses oxygen to create fatty acids and sterols to build cell walls. Furman recommends a target of 8-10 ppm of oxygen at the start of fermentation. For distillers running high-gravity fermentations, osmotic stress can cause sluggish fermentations. With too much sugar in solution, yeast has trouble absorbing it through the cell membrane, reducing efficiency and causing the formation of glycerol. Furman said that delaying the addition of glucoamylase until after yeast is pitched could help by reducing the amount of sugar immediately available, leaving less food for bacteria and lower osmotic stress on the yeast. “Basically, you control this by optimizing your glucoamylase dose and optimizing your mash. You want to have the right number of pounds of grain versus water to not shock your yeast.” Other, less common stressors can include dissolved CO2 lowering the pH, very tall and narrow fermenters creating atmospheric stress, high levels of fusel oils, and ions from chemical residue, such as sodium ions from a caustic cycle. A microscope is helpful to detect stress; distillers can look for evidence of budding and healthy, regularly-shaped yeast cells. “Basically, a good, reliable yeast culture is really what you want in any fermentation,” Furman said. “In order to get that, you’ll have to manage these yeast stressors. It can tolerate maybe one of these stresses, but not a combination of several. It’ll drastically reduce your distillery performance. It will cost you time and money.”

Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver and Loveland, CO. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be found up in the mountains or at WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

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It’s time. Grab your old Europe cassette, pop that bad boy in the boom box, and press play. Yo ur distillery has officially en tered the “Final Coun tdown.” So far in our se ries, we’ve covered each phase of a detailed pr oject delivery model from business plan ning and concept develo pment to detailed de sign and equipment pr ocurement. Now comes th e most critical part of the whole process: start-up and commissi oning. Although it’s te mpting to just flip the sw itch and get straight to making product, there is actually a careful, met hodical procedure for launching any new proces sing facility or prod uction line. To help en sure a smooth, effic ient, low-risk launch , follow this five-step ch ecklist for your start-u p and commissionin g process.





multitude od band has a Just like any go ing in tists specializ of talented ar t-up and ents, your star m ru st in t en er diff to include g team needs commissionin s, field illed engineer a variety of sk , equipment ade craftsmen mechanics, tr nicians, , start-up tech manufacturers yone who ecialists. Ever and controls sp voice on your oject needs a t touches the pr way to preven . It’s the best am te up tar st tbacks. rprises and se unwelcome su utilities, the experts in In addition to erations, pment, and op ui eq s, em st sy all of your to make sure you also need on the e represented stakeholders ar g their input . Incorporatin start-up team ions will help their expectat g in ag an m d an . essful start-up ensure a succ your moving along, To keep things signate a de so needs to al am te up tstar on will be , the right pers leader. Ideally n delegate vidual who ca a dynamic indi a multitude s and manage responsibilitie and fferent needs of folks with di also be the is leader will motivations. Th g decisions sible for makin person respon l moments put) at critica in am te ith (w ess. during the proc

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Once assembl ed, your team ’s first objectiv is to create a e start-up and co mmissioning schedule. Alon g the timeline, you will select Key Performan ce Indicators (K PIs) to assess the team’s prog ress toward co m pletion. Each of the selected KPIs should be focused on goals that are “SMART” — Specific, Measurable, At tainable, Rea listic, and Tim based. Each go eal should build toward the project’s overal l success, whi ch may be de by the quality fined of the end prod uct, the speed at which you’ re able to hit production go the volume of als, product create d, or another benchmark yo key ur team identifi es. Your schedule should be brok en down into KPIs for indivi duals, disciplin e/functional groups (system s team, autom ation team, electrical team , etc.), as wel l as larger scale KPIs set for th e project as a w hole. Each KPI will start with a baseline targ et that meets the minimal re quirements ne eded to satisfy your objectives . Beyond the baseline, sele “stretch” goal ct a that would ex ceed expectat for the team. io ns Finally, choose an attainable, high level benc but hmark as your “wow!” goal.




something well you plan, No matter how your When firing up will go wrong. r the first fo t testing it ou d an t en pm equi counter ld expect to en time, you shou en obstacles. a few unforese

STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TEAM Another means for mitigating your risks is effective team communication. Throughout the startup and commissioning phase of the project, you should hold quick, focused, daily start-up meetings with your team to assess where you stand with each of your KPIs. Technology can also provide a simple way to keep everyone informed of day-to-day updates. Tools like mobile apps can help to track each part of the start-up process so that team members in the field can easily share regular status updates with their teammates who are not on the job site.

ic ill be a dynam The start-up w changing ly nt ith consta w t en nm ro vi en go well and me tests will conditions. So others will hedule, while advance the sc hedule. impede the sc go poorly and



Once each indi vidual piece of equipment ha s been assess ed for performan ce, it’s time to put the full pr ocess to the test. Start with a dry cycle featuring no pr oduct or water , just to see if ev erything is reacting acco rdingly. If that goes well, your team can transition to a wet cycle and test how the sy stem runs in real world si tuations. Your tests shou ld not only cover the func tionality of the system, bu t the product it makes as w ell. Is your


t to changing critical to adap s it’ , ep st is In th available utilizing your s, conditions by techs, operator uding service e resources incl ag also man time. You can materials and d strategy for ving a planne ha by ks ris your contingency some flexible mitigation and dule. in to your sche options built

production lin e creating spirits with th e right taste, color, and cons istency? And most importan tly, is the final product meeting the proper safety regulations? You have to m ake sure you can see the un seen. If you’re making an old product on a new produc tion line, is it coming out the same? Does it have th e right flavor profile you wan t to hit? While you’re ex ecuting practice runs, you should also make sure your team is trained and re ady to operate your distillery. Different methods includ e classroom

s, these five step u’ve completed yo ce S on IS K y, e ka O pump som cassettes and h itc is sw y n er ca you ur distill rs because yo ke ea sp e os th through and roll! ready to rock

training, deta iled equipmen t manuals featur ing screenshot s of the Human -MachineInterfaces (HM Is) throughout the facility, an d simulated or emulated en vironments. Virtual reality, once the science fiction of your childhood, is now another key training to ol. VR allows engineers to ge nerate an exact replica of your facilit y in which your staff can learn how to operat e each piece of machinery an d how produc t will flow throug hout the process — all without causin g any costly dam age to the equipment or wasting produc t.

ide s helped prov -part series ha ur fo is th pe We ho eams off the ur distillery dr yo t ge to t gh some insi ground.

Anthony White leads the Beer, Wine & Spirits division at Haskell which is dedicated to engineering and installing world-class manufacturing systems and facilities for clients in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Markets. Anthony graduated from the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business with a Master of Business Administration and from the University of Florida with a Bachelors in Construction Management, and is a Certified General Contractor. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM  




rad Estabrooke is passionate about what he does: making spirits from scratch with local ingredients. He’s the founder and owner of the Breuckelen Distilling Company, which sits in an industrial area of Brooklyn, New York’s most populous borough. Estabrooke first landed on the idea of starting a small distillery in 2007, the same year he moved to New York City. He had spent the past six years working in finance after having graduated from college. While he was making good money, he didn’t have a passion for how he made a living. “I realized


that the finance job I landed in was a huge mistake,” he said, looking back. He had grown enamored with the idea of the independent craftsman. A person who works with his hands and takes a raw commodity and makes something with it, thereby transforming it into something special. Doing some research, he learned that a small distillery could actually be economically viable. And that’s ironic, considering that up until then, he’d always considered himself a wine person. He now appreciates spirits just as much as wine, and sees the

two as fundamentally similar. “Everyone’s doing the same basic thing,” Estabrooke said. “But there’s so many nuances to it that make all the difference, just like wine.” In 2008, the economy imploded, and the Great Recession followed. Estabrooke found himself out of a job. He had saved up some money, and he decided that then was the time to launch a distillery. His finance industry connections paid off in helping him find enough money to get the distillery started. He rented a warehouse in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, bought his first still, and

produced his first whiskey later that year. Breuckelen is still in the same location almost a decade later. And where does the Breuckelen name come from? He decided on the name after discussions with his wife, Liz. They wanted something that was historical but had a unique sound. They were inspired by an old map that hung in their apartment building lobby which depicted colonial-era Brooklyn with the name that the Dutch — New York’s first colonists — had bestowed on the borough: Breuckelen. As a distiller, his philosophy is to let flavor be his guide. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

He’s not hemmed in by tradition. He’ll try a new approach and, if it tastes better, he’ll incorporate it into what he does. Estabrooke also strives to keep things local and organic. He sources whole wheat grains from a farm in Newfield, New York, and tries to restrict his other ingredients to places in New York state. The distillery doesn’t outsource any part of the production. Estabrooke prefers to make everything from the very beginning. “I ask myself, what would I like to drink, and can I make it from scratch?” he said. Estabrooke mills, ferments, and distills all on site. Finally transferring the spirits to 25and 53-gallon barrels, and trucking them to a warehouse in another part of Brooklyn, where the spirits age. The warehouse lacks heat (a dry sprinkler system allows for this), so its interior temperature fluctuates with the seasons. This benefits the whiskey, Estabrooke said, as the changes in temperature drive the interaction with the oak barrels, which he gets from a cooper in Kentucky. The distillery puts out Glorious Gin, 77 Whiskey, and a Project Number One Whiskey. The project, which is bottled in bond, is the first in a series. It’s a straight bourbon and is fermented from a mash of 60 percent corn, 20 percent red wheat, and 20 percent malted barley, gathered from Hadley, Massachusetts. Estabrooke distills it twice, to around 150 proof, and then ages it for four years. He bottles it at 100 proof. It has notes of caramel, vanilla, cherry, and cinnamon. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

The Glorious Gin is distilled to retain the honey and buttery tastes of the grain. The base spirit is then redistilled in batches with juniper, fresh grapefruit peel, fresh lemon peel, ginger and fresh rosemary. Since 2011, Estabrooke has let portions of the Glorious Gin rest in oak barrels. He’s produced several unique batches with different oak treatments and continues to experiment with the process, trying new oak, used oak, and different sized barrels Then there’s the distillery’s 77 Whiskey, made with a column-style still, which produces spirits that are soft and sweet. The distillery produces approximately 4,000 sixpack cases a year in total. Estabrooke estimates that 75 percent of his business is whiskey and 25 percent is gin. Most of his business comes from selling to bars and stores across Brooklyn and Manhattan. He also sells to places in Colorado, California, Florida, and the DC area. He employs one fulltime salesperson and three part-timers for bottling and deliveries. With over a decade of distilling experience Estabrooke and Breuckelen are a powerful example of a successful craft distillery. Something our still-young industry can look to for guidance, inspiration, and a healthy sense of pride.

Breuckelen Distilling Company is located in Brooklyn, NY. For more information visit or call (347) 725-4985.





E L T T A B E H T R O F R A B K BAC The backbar is the spot to be, but often it feels as though craft producers have an unfair disadvantage when it comes to securing that location. Here are some tips that may increase your chances of getting a piece of the pie.




ompetition is tough out there for a fledgling distillery. Not only are they up against the behemoths of the spirits industry — and the money and recognition that accompanies that position — but the list of craft DSPs seems to grow longer everyday. In a saturated market, it can be difficult to guarantee that any one move will effectively promote a product — that is with the exception of placement on the backbar. “Having your bottle on a backbar is like free advertising in a sense,” says Charlie Nelson, cofounder of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery. He and his brother Andy know full well the power of bar presence. When a spirit is placed on the backbar, the proprietor of that particular watering hole is giving an implicit stamp of approval. They have to believe that bottle will sell, otherwise it’s a waste. It’s no wonder that the battle for the backbar is very real indeed. “Our thinking was, if someone goes and buys one bottle at a liquor store, that’s great, you’ll sell a bottle. But if you sell a bottle to a bar, then there’s a chance that that bartender could sell 10-15 people bottles by getting them interested in the product, taking one bottle and turning it into a couple cases.” Small producers don’t have it easy when it comes to securing that coveted location or snagging a guest spot on the cocktail list. When you start small, you don’t have the same brand recognition that comes from dedicated marketing campaigns. You have to rely on grassroots appeal, the power of your story, and the stuff inside the bottle to sell your product. If all else fails, you might just make it with a little extra hustle. For Nelson’s Greenbrier, it was that last bit that made a difference. “Everyone always said ‘the brands are built on premise,’” says Nelson. “I would have a list of bars and restaurants and go, one after the other, and have a drink at each one until the bars closed.” It couldn’t have been easy to maintain much of a personal life during that time, but the brothers’ persistence helped make Belle Meade Bourbon a rising star in the spirits game. Not only did they convert people into fans of their spirit, they gave them a story worth remembering. If you’re approaching bars on a regular basis, you’ll want more than just a dedicated mindset. “Know going in that your product fits with the type of bar you’re approaching. That means doing some advance research on each account, but that is always time well spent,” says Chall Gray of Slings & Arrows Consulting. Without an idea of what a particular bar sells or how a bottle will fit into the overall theme, producers might find themselves misusing valuable time. Just as each distillery has a unique sense of identity, so do the bars they hope to court. No two buyers will be exactly alike, and you shouldn’t expect their philosophies to be either. “Quality is the number one factor on deciding what new bottles make it to our shelves,” says Bill Thomas, WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM

owner of Washington D.C.’s Jack Rose Dining Saloon. “What's in the bottle is all that counts, [and] our staffs’ opinion is what matters here. There are a lot of brands with big bucks and marketing but their whiskey isn't very good, so they don't get shelf space.” While that is certainly true for the country’s preeminent whiskey bar, the same might not be said for a more lowkey joint. To ensure that you’re setting yourself up for the best outcome, consider how you package your product. “Your spirit may taste amazing—but some bar managers might not even taste it if the bottle is overly cumbersome and will take up more shelf space than average,” says Gray. “Just because Patron or Woodford can get away with a large bottle doesn’t necessarily mean you can.” “Something we say a lot is that staying local will get you your first sale,” says Jeff Wuslich, cofounder of Cardinal Spirits in Indiana. It may seem obvious to go after the local market first, but it’s good to be reminded of that. Distillers or distillery representatives should stay mindful of the accounts they have as well as the accounts that they want to add. “The real challenge comes upon getting repeat business from bars, and really that has to do with, do you have any customers coming in and asking for your products? Or can you get the bar team excited enough to put you in a cocktail menu and start to recommend it?” Equally important is that you give bartenders — the industry’s proverbial gatekeepers — something to connect with. “Consider that despite the work they put into things, [craft whiskey producers] are competing with Kentucky bourbons that have centuries of lineage but cost $25 a fifth. Make sure your products are a) good enough to beat that bottle, and b) that your story justifies a higher price,” says Chuck Cerankosky, co-owner of Good Luck restaurant in Rochester. “I'd say that taste [and] quality trumps all, but not by a lot. The personality, story and stance of the brand is very important as well.” Finally, keep in mind that it’s never too early to start building relationships for the sake of your brand. Even if you’re months away from having your product in market, there are things you can do to help yourself later on. “If you’re thinking about starting a distillery, or you’re going to be a few months out, I would say start embracing bartenders right now. Get them involved in the process, have them to your distillery when you’re doing the build out, make them a part of your team as much as possible,” Wuslich advises. “Looking back, I wish I would have had almost an advisory board of bartenders.” Success in on-premise sales comes down to a lot of factors. It is a confluence of packaging, price, presentation and product, but at the end of the day, it can be your passion as the producer that tips a buyer in your favor. Fortunately, the industry has never been more receptive to craft spirits. With a smart plan and a damn good We work well together. spirit, you can find success at your accounts and land the top spot at the bar.

Devon Trevathan is a writer based out of Nashville, TN. She loves spirits that are older than she is, grower-producer style, and dogs. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

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or many, summertime is when we spend the most time enjoying the outdoors. We head outside to hike, paddle, camp, and take in nature's splendor. Some take a minimalist approach with the lightest of gear and supplies, while others go the opposite extreme with all out glamping. Glamping is “where stunning nature meets modern luxury,” according to, one of many websites devoted to this upscale outdoor style. It’s more than just a fancy tent or vintage Airstream, it’s about the sumptuous fare — including libations. The strenuous activity of outdoor adventure demands refueling. For glamping, hot dogs and PBR will not do. Glamping implies meals fit for the gourmand, libations to please the cocktail connoisseur. Although the term “glamping" is relatively new, it has a long history. In fact, creation of the National Park Service came about in part because of a carefully planned glamping excursion that happened over 100 years ago. In July 1915, a group of wealthy businessmen, publishers, and politicians embarked on a 10-day adventure in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The tour was the idea of Stephen Mather, a founder of the National Parks, with the goal of persuading these influencers of the day to put pressure on Congress to create the National Park Service. These were city folk accustomed to luxurious living and Mather knew that, “give [a man] a poor breakfast after he has had a bad night’s sleep, and he will not care how fine your scenery is.” So he made sure the eating and drinking were top shelf. The Mather Mountain Party had a chef and his assistant plus two mules for carrying such luxuries as linens, silver, and a sheet-metal stove. Tie Sing, the Chinese-American chef, had a reputation for being the best backcountry chef in the West. After slumbering on the latest thing — air mattresses — with bedding, guests woke up to Sing’s breakfasts of hot cakes and maple syrup, eggs, freshly baked sourdough rolls, steaks, and trout with


WRITTEN BY RENEE CEBULA I L L U S T R AT E D B Y potatoes. Dinners AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN were served on white linen tablecloths laid out under the ambiance of Japanese lanterns. Dinner included soup, salad, fried chicken, venison and gravy, and English plum pudding with French brandy served with coffee. The adventurers enjoyed other drinks as well. Nightly gatherings around the campfire with Cuban cigars paired well with whiskey. Mather’s glamping expedition was a success — Congress created the National Park Service the following year. The idea of glamping also became fashionable with the rise of the horseless carriage. The opening of new national parks coincided with the popularity of the automobile. Henry Ford had introduced his Model T a few years before, and newly-mobile Americans found the National Parks an irresistible destination. By the 1920s, some manufacturers were beginning to produce camping trailers to tow behind the horseless carriages. These early recreational vehicles not only provided the comforts of shelter off the ground but made it easy to bring along luxuries like the makings for lavish eating and drinking. Prohibition drove drinking outside to remote areas, but not necessarily to take in nature’s beauty. It wasn’t until the midcentury when outdoor recreation began to flourish and more Americans began to experience glamping. What had been a leisure activity for the wealthy — those with time, money, and automobiles — in the early twentieth-century, became available to large numbers of people after the Second World War. The prosperity of post-war America fueled the rise of a middle class. By 1960, the average American had twenty percent more purchasing power than in 1945. Gross National Product tripled, unemployment was the lowest in history, homeownership grew nearly fifty percent, and private car ownership doubled. Young people married and had children, fifty-million between 1945 and 1960. These middle-class families now had the time, money, and cars to go explore the outdoors. Access to


the national parks, like Sequoia and Yosemite that had hosted Mather’s Mountain Party of glampers, got a huge boost from the Interstate Highway Act. Another result of the war was out-ofwork aeronautical engineers and a surplus of aluminum leading to the rise in RV manufacturing. Travel was never easier for so many so far and with such luxury. As these factors led Americans outside, the old fashioned and daiquiri went outside too. The rise of cocktail culture in mid-century America responded to this interest in the outdoors with products to keep the cocktail hour alive and well during vacation. Smaller portable versions of the home bar went vacationing as well. Small suitcase-like travel bars and attache cases accessorized with aluminum cups and jiggers were ready for Mom and Dad’s vacation destination cocktail hour. Drinkware took advantage of the aluminum surplus churning out kitchy barware and cocktail glasses. These drinking vessels were lightweight and durable and chilled nicely in the new Coleman portable ice chest. This galvanized box kept the liquor and mixers cold and made Coleman the most recognizable name in outdoor camping equipment. Today, outdoor adventures are more popular than ever. According to National Park Service data, last year the parks experienced a record number of visitors. The sales of high-end camping equipment and recreational vehicles are strong and there’s the cocktail renaissance fueling interest in mixed drinks and the spirits that comprise them. This growing popularity of outdoor recreating and the continuing cocktail renaissance means summer is an opportunity for your brands to bring these trends together. Consider creating specialty cocktails with outdoor themes. What are the local and national parks near your distillery? Any well-known mountain or geological features to name cocktails featuring your brands? Feature brand-specific cocktail samples in the tasting room. Include complimentary recipes with each purchased bottle. Consider stocking a few travel-worthy but fancy items like stainless steel cocktail glasses and shakers. There are some great options for shatterproof glass-like ware by Govina and others. Create a variety of “Glamping Packages” featuring spirits paired with a collection of outdoor-themed recipes and glasses. Re-think the tasting room hours. With people heading out of town on the weekends, create a midweek event giving customers the opportunity to taste, learn, and stock up before the next glamping expedition. Inspire them to create (or use one from your distillery) a signature drink for their adventures. On the last night of the Mather Mountain Party expedition, Chef Sing prepared special food and drink with a handwritten “future fortune” for each member of the party. “Long may you search the mountains.”

Renee Cebula is a cocktail historian. She is the owner and curator of Raising the Bar: Vintage & Badass Barware. FB: Raising the Bar Northwest, Insta/Twitter: badassbarware, WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM  




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Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

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