READY TO DOMINATE EAT A
OOH, THAT SMELL
Brand Design for the Craft Spirits Industry.
DESIGN FOR PACKAGING, LOGOS, CUSTOM BOTTLES, COLLATERAL, SIGNAGE, WEBSITES & NAMING 2787 napa valley corporate dr, napa, california 94558 t | 707 265 1891 www.cfnapa.com
TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
QUARTERLY GUILD REPORT
What’s going on, state-by-state and province-by-province
DATA BREACH21 How to prepare for what experts have deemed is inevitable
THE CANNED COCKTAIL REVOLUTION25 Brand Buzz with David Schuemann
MENTORING IN A GROWING INDUSTRY
Why working together matters now, more than ever
A brief history of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, its fall to irrelevance and resurrection
APPLYING SCIENTIFIC THINKING
DRINKING IN HI-FI
(UN)FAIR COMPETITIVE EDGE
SMOOTH AS (NOT QUITE) TENNESSEE WHISKEY
To better understand your distillation operations and spirits
Stereo Brewing creates a sanctuary for musicloving beverage aficionados
Submitting single barrel whiskey to competition
The joy of stumbling upon Samuel T. Bryant Distillery
An illustrated guide
FIVE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN EMPLOYING USED EQUIPMENT
VENTURING INTO THE BUSINESS OF BITTERS37 Logistics, options for existing distillers, and business advantages
Cheaper isn’t always better
WITHIN STAGGERING DISTANCE
LOOKING THROUGH GLASS
TO SLOT OR NOT TO SLOT
BELMONT FARMS DISTILLERY
FEEL THE BURN
IN, AND OUT OF, SUSPENSE
OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS
THE CHECKS & BALANCES OF EQUIPMENT FINANCING
HOW TO SHARE THE WEALTH?
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STILL FOR THE JOB
HOW TO LEAD A TASTING 404
WHAT’S IN YOUR BOTTLE?
TOBACCO BARN DISTILLERY
TATTERSALL DISTILLING DIVES INTO THE PAST
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
LET’S GET STARTED
Visiting distillery hotels
HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN THE SPIRITS INDUSTRY
OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD HIRES ITS FIRST LOBBYIST
What distillers need to know about your most underappreciated ingredient
STANDARDIZATION OF BOTANICAL-FLAVORED SPIRITS
Prioritizing yourself in the name of well-being
Recent legislative effort and experience of working with a lobbyist
Considerations for making a useful flavor library
New takes on a very old beloved American spirit
of Culpeper, Virginia
A closer look at the trigeminal effect in spirits
Sugarlands Distilling Company of Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Include valued employees in succession planning without tears
Use cases, marketing, and generating maximum value
Annual Rum Event celebrates the USS Constellation
Distillers and academics find common ground in a collaborative program
An update on issues that confront & can delay the distiller
from the COVER
How can you make the most of your convention experience?
Can anything stop trade practice violations?
Understanding Okinawa’s native distilled spirits
Part 1: Basics and chill filtration
When launching or growing your distillery
Why Denver’s Rising Sun Distillery is certified organic
Do you know the source of “that” smell?
Vodka comes to America
Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Image by Devon Trevathan. See their story on page 60.
Issue 27 /// Summer 2019 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS George B. Catallo Devon Trevathan
Lynette R. Arce Renée Cebula Brian B. DeFoe Carrie Dow Andrew Faulkner Andy Garrison Harry Haller Ashley Hanke Patrick Heist, Ph.D. Reade A. Huddleston Paul Hughes, Ph.D. Joan M. Kasura Tim Knittel
Aaron Knoll Stacy C. Kula, Esq. Dr. Jordan Leasure Rich Manning Jim McCoy John McKee Jason Nadeau Shannon O’Neil David Schuemann Marc E. Sorini Gary Spedding, Ph.D. Matt Strickland Gabe Toth
ILLUSTRATOR Francesca Cosanti PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristina Byrd Amanda Joy Christensen Carrie Dow Andrew Faulkner Eliesa Johnson
Joan M. Kasura Greg Nagel Anna Claire Robinson Ian Roth Devon Trevathan
SALES & MARKETING Ashley Monroe ARTISAN SPIRIT is the endorsed publication of the American Craft Spirits Association. ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine
General Inquiries (509) 944-5919 Advertising (509) 991-8112 PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223 All contents © 2019. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Spirit Media nor ARTISAN SPIRIT magazine assume responsibility for errors in content, photos or advertisements. While ARTISAN SPIRIT makes every effort to ensure accuracy in our content, the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. We urge our readers to consult with professional service providers to meet their unique needs. At ARTISAN SPIRIT, we take the opportunity to enjoy many different craft spirits and adult beverages. However, it’s also our responsibility, and yours, to always drink responsibly. Know your limit, and never drink and drive. ARTISAN SPIRIT’s number one goal is to share and celebrate the art and science of artisan craft distilling. But please remember to follow all the laws, regulations, and safety procedures. Be safe, be legal and we can all be proud of the industry we love.
Irish Distillers Malt from Malting Company of Ireland High Extract - High Yield - Excellent Flavor
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.
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.
The 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.
Cage and Sons Distilling Systems build premium distillation systems and equipment for premier distilleries.
Unlike other agencies that work within a blinding myriad of industries; our focus is 100% within the spirits, wine, beer and other alcohol sectors. This specialization has allowed us to become experts in the alcohol beverage category. We have an exceptional understanding of design that sells, complimented by professional project management and flawless production oversight. The result has been strategic solutions that consistently produce both critical acclaim and strong measurable return on investment for our clients.
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.
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ARCHITECTURE ◆ ENGINEERING ◆ CONSTRUCTION
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.
Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits is the industry leader in supplying fermentation products and value-added 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.
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.
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. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
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.
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 mgpingredients.com/alcohol.
Moonshine University is located in Louisville, Kentucky on the Beverage Campus with its sister company, Flavorman. Moonshine University offers a variety of classes for enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, industry professionals and those seeking careers in the distilling industry. Our distillery was designed as part of our classroom, and all classes incorporate hands-on learning and sensory evaluation in order to provide a complete and comprehensive education. In addition to its knowledgeable instructors, Moonshine University hosts a range of renowned industry experts for specialized instruction and training.
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.
O-I is the world’s largest glass container manufacturer and the preferred partner for many leading spirits brands. O-I delivers safe, sustainable, pure, iconic, brand-building glass packaging to the growing craft spirits market. Glass effortlessly conveys a superior image and delivers the unmatched quality that craft beer consumers expect. In addition to the wide range of bottle options offered through our Covet and Heritage collections, we also offer custom glass design and decoration expertise. Find out more at o-i.com.
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.
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
LEVERAGING OUR BEVERAGE EXPERIENCE, HASKELL HAS DEVELOPED A RELIABLE AND ECONOMICAL TURN-KEY CAN LINE COMPATIBLE WITH THE PRODUCTION OF READY TO DRINK COCKTAILS. CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS SOLUTION.
LOCATIONS: 20 US | 5 INTERNATIONAL HASKELL.COM
A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: I’m writing to you from the side of the road as I wait for a tow truck and marvel at the irony of the situation. On my to-do list today was Write the letter from the editor and my topic of choice was the importance of routine maintenance. The universe has a wicked sense of humor sometimes. Surely we all can agree on the importance of routine maintenance for the equipment and buildings we use to make our products. Many of us bang the drum for routine maintenance of various systems within the distillery — safety practices, employee morale, training refreshers, consumer experience, supply chain relations, etc. What I wanted to wax philosophic about was the importance of routine maintenance of our ourselves, both in body and mind. I was going to write about recognizing how we at Artisan Spirit Magazine had fallen into the passionate entrepreneur trap of putting everything into our new business only to look up some years later having deprioritized our personal needs. It
FET Reform is the Maintenance We All Need. Here is something that we know: if our industry doesn’t step up and take action now Federal Excise Tax relief will expire on December 31st of this year, and small spirits producers will go back to paying 5.4 times more FET than craft brewers and 16.4
isn’t healthy or sustainable to only rest when your body breaks and forces your hand. We didn’t set out with the intention of deferring haircuts, oil changes, hobbies, exercise, visiting family, etc. all in the name of our professional ambitions. Unfortunately, deferring routine maintenance of our bodies and minds was an incredibly easy and unhealthy habit to pick up in those exciting start-up days. As we work to improve our own personal routine maintenance practices, we’ve made it our mission to have at least one article per issue highlight the importance of personal wellness while working in the distilling industry. Just as much as we want you to be safe on the job in an OSHA sense, we want to encourage safe practices that keep you all healthy at work and in your personal life. “Wellness” is the current buzzword, so that’s what we’re using, but I like to think of it as routine maintenance to keep my biological machine humming. I’ve been waiting here by the side of the road for three hours now and I’m super pissed I’ve missed so much work because we didn’t take the time earlier to get that damn oil change. I’m admitting that even as we publish articles on creating a healthy work/life balance, we are still far from perfect. We’re just one group of passionate professionals reminding another group of passionate professionals to perform routine maintenance on their most valuable assets. We want your bodies and minds to stay safe every way for many years to come.
times more FET than small winemakers for equal quantities of beverage alcohol. Permanent FET relief is the change we all need. Right now, FET is the squeaky wheel and we need to grease it like never before. Contact your representatives and bring them out to your distillery. Explain to them all the ways that FET reduction has helped your business and how that money is able to go right back into the local economy. This is the time to act. We encourage you to voice your support for permanent
Amanda Joy Christensen CREATIVE DIRECTOR
firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223
FET relief in any of the following ways:
>> Write your representatives >> Invite your representatives to tour your distillery or industry-supporting business
>> Attend the American Craft Spirits Association and the Distilled Spirits
P.S. This letter is coming from me, Amanda, because Brian Christensen, Artisan Spirit Magazine’s true editor, is performing his own routine maintenance. He’s out of the office and out of service for the next 10 days, taking a much deserved off-the-grid vacation. This is the longest he’ll have been unreachable since we started our business seven years ago. We all have different
Council’s Public Policy Conference July 22-24, 2019, in Washington, D.C.
definitions of personal maintenance; sometimes it means
Visit www.americancraftspirits.org for more information and to register.
floating a river and pooping in a bucket, and other times it’s just about taking the weekend off, turning the phone to silent, and taking stock of all the good things going on in your life.
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
To my knowledge there is simply no better brand-agnostic qualification in spirits. Paloma Alos - Director, Difford’s Guide
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Delivery*: • 26 hours study, of which 14 in a classroom or online course
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Visit our website today to find out how a WSET qualification in spirits could benefit your career or business, or contact us at email@example.com
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Y L R E T R A U Q T R O P E R D GUIL
at in cidence th t’s no coin Guild of the State this edition ost every pdate alm Quarterly U fast say duction, is mething to so s a h d il the FET re u f g o d n e te a e st , th n the pressingly s, either o r, and more a about taxe ye e y a th m f o nd theme ies gful. The e ntatives. level. The Technolog ss meanin se represe le o or federal o th n t c it ntists and ta s ie n e c o k S c a g d m n t in a a ll ti s Dis call ve, but th arch, Society of make those be repetiti ience, rese tion of the sc c ’t already, u e n d th o ve tr e a c h in n u va the g. If yo want to ad pdate with ber of the approachin nerds who ding mem quarterly u n ry e u st th u fo d a to in n is d , an dditio nsen producers an Christe ve a new a scientists, Editor, Bri We also ha g e n in ll zi ti a g is a d pirit M ded by : Artisan S group foun disclosure ll (SDST). A u (F . ry le.) indust arter peop dge of our h much sm it w and knowle g n lo a nization, oned orga aforementi
SOCIETY OF DISTILLING SCIENTISTS AND TECHNOLOGISTS Several members of the wider distilled spirits industry — educators, analysts, publishers and distillers, along with interested administrators from the major distilling societies — have been involved WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
in discussions for several years now about the need to better disseminate relevant scientific findings and the details of methods of analysis to help take all distillers to the next level of professional
development. A solid understanding of the sciences behind distilled spirits production and understanding relevant methods of analysis of spirits is important to ensure the highest quality potable beverage production and the safety for distillery workers and their allied trade contacts. Providing a dedicated scientific body to support the distilling industry (outside of Europe) has been sadly
lacking, whereas brewers and winemakers are adequately covered through several of their own scientific societies that have been in existence for many decades. The proposed Society of Distilling Scientists and Technologists (SDST), to be formed as a non-profit group in 2019, will encourage membership from distillers and scientists associated with 1) research or quality control operations within the larger potable distilling industry, 2) manufacturers of distilling plant equipment, stills, etc., and 3) those supplying scientific and test instruments for the industry and distilling raw materials businesses (maltsters,
ILLINOIS ILLINOIS CRAFT DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION The Illinois Craft Distillers Association worked closely with the Wine & Spirits Distributors of Illinois as well as the Liquor Control Commission to ensure the threetier system was maintained while granting
MARYLAND MARYLAND DISTILLERS GUILD Maryland distillers are celebrating a successful legislative session, with two thirds of proposed bills passed and awaiting
MASSACHUSETTS MASSACHUSETTS DISTILLERS ALLIANCE Working with the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Distillers Alliance has aggregated data from distillers throughout MA to better present a cohesive picture of
botanical suppliers etc.). The name has been chosen to include all the sciences that touch upon distilling and distillation — chemists, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, mathematicians and engineers. All the sciences touch upon the vast technical complexity of distillation and should have a body of experts within the broader membership to assist all distillers in the scientific and technical details of our industry. As a body the SDST will provide for education a library citation resource service for providing the reference details for essential distilling publications — papers,
books and symposium volumes — and a group of experts available to share information to improve the excellence and reputation of new and established distillers The core goal of the SDST is simple: “Focus on the science.” If you would like more information regarding the SDST please contact either Brian Christensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gary Spedding (email@example.com) for further details and future meeting dates.
some additional privileges to gain parity with craft brewers allowing for growth for our industry in our state. We feel this bill, HB 2675, will be a boost to craft distillers of all sizes and the first legislation of its kind to provide assistance for small and larger craft distillers in our state. HB 2675 has passed the state house and is currently before the Illinois Senate. It is expected that lawmakers will support
the bill, which will greatly benefit the state’s 34 licensed craft distilleries, and all those to come. More information about the bill can be found at www.illinoispolicy.org/craftliquor-may-catch-on-quicker-if-illinoischanges-law/
the governors’ signature — all of which increase retail opportunities and customer engagement. Revisions to the current off-site permit allow distillers to attend unlimited farmers markets and more off-site events (34 total, up from six per year); and includes a new on-premise consumption permit that authorizes a local (county)
liquor board to create and issue a permit that permits a Maryland Class 1 distiller to offer limited mixed drinks to customers of legal drinking age.
craft distilling in the state. Distillers will utilize the economic snapshot information when lobbying on the federal, state and local levels. Such efforts include continued FET reduction, parity between all craft beverages, and lobbying for legislation introduced at the MA state house that would allow for distillers to sell at agricultural events throughout the state.
MDA is also continuing with marketing efforts to educate and engage the craft spirit consumer expanding web site functionality including the Distillers Trail. For more information, find us at www.massdistill.com.
Brian Christensen & Gary Spedding Interim Cat Herders & Science Nerds
Noelle DiPrizio Chicago Distilling Company
Jaime Windon Owner/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Co President | Maryland Distillers Guild
Alison DeWolfe Privateer Rum
Where Science Meets Art Yeasts, Nutrients, and Process Aids
At Lallemand Craft Distilling, our single source philosophy provides the highest quality ingredients, tailored technical service and education, and industry leading experience to support your needs. Your spirits are our passion, your needs are our motivation. Contact us to learn more today. www.lallemandcraftdistilling.com
NEW MEXICO NEW MEXICO DISTILLERS GUILD The New Mexico Distillers Guild celebrated a legislative victory this spring with the passage of important legislation resulting in a state excise tax reduction
NEW YORK NEW YORK STATE DISTILLERS GUILD Our annual two-day conference for 2019 was once again held at the Carey Institute for Global Good outside of Albany, New York, on March 28th and 29th. At the beginning of the conference, we welcomed our newly elected seventh board member — Randall Beach of Murray’s Fools Distilling Co. This year’s conference was our most successful conference to date with over 50 member distilleries in attendance. We were joined by representatives from DISCUS, the NYS Liquor Authority, and ACSA Executive Director Margie Lehrman. Educational topics and presentations were enjoyed from more than 10 associate members including a panel on distribution options, ongoing efforts for a regional grain project, and a talk on unconventional distilling. In early May our second-annual New York State Distilled Spirits Competition was completed. As was the case last year, our guild-based competition was conducted in tandem with the Great American
OHIO OHIO DISTILLER’S GUILD While the Ohio Distiller’s Guild is still advocating for craft liquor reform in the new Ohio General Assembly, we are also working with the American Craft Spirits Association in their efforts to extend or make permanent
of 80% for small producers similar to the FET reduction and bringing craft distillers into alignment with the tiered excise tax structure enjoyed by small winemakers and craft brewers in the state. The legislation also allows for private celebration permits so craft distillers can use their licenses to host and serve at private events on- or offsite. The guild is grateful to the leadership of Legislative Chair Skye Morris-Devore of
member Tractor Brewing (and Distilling) Co. for all her tireless efforts! Now attention turns toward developing a signature event to highlight the guild and its members to promote New Mexico craft spirits.
International Spirits Competition (www. gramspirits.com). 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, submissions were afforded the opportunity to enter both without paying additional fees or providing further product. Once judging was completed, spirit entries from New York guild members spirits were separated out in a data cut from the overall numbers to be used for our Guild’s competition. We’ve added a Distillery of the Year award to this year’s competition along with the continued Governor’s Cup trophy being engraved and awarded to the spirit winning best of show designation. This year’s competition saw 155 spirits entered from over 39 New York distilleries. The results and awards from the competition will be distributed and celebrated in late June. Having yet to engage a lobbyist, all our legislative efforts are maintained in house. Our primary focus this session is NY Senate Bill s.246 — Production Tax Credit Relief. Currently, the production tax credit available
to other beverage categories in New York grants relief of 95% up to 103% for eligible state excise taxes. This bill focuses on addressing the inequality and bringing economic parity to all craft manufactures statewide. Other legislative goals we’re working toward this session are expansion of the existing branch office privilege from one location to five locations for farm distilleries, creating parity for A1 licenses to sample and sell their products on-site, streamline pricing posting requirements from monthly to annual, and finally the inclusion of distilled spirits in the existing temporary beer, wine, and cider permit for retail and consumption at events. We’re always interested in working with other industry organizations and guilds. Have an idea for a collaboration or just want to chat? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
the federal excise tax cut. Seeing as Ohio has 16 US house members and two influential US senators, we are educating and motivating our members to lobby the Ohio delegation. Starting a business is very risky. Therefore, if the excise tax cut is extended it will help Ohio business owners minimize their financial risk and increase their chances
of building a successful and profitable business. During our annual Ohio Distiller’s Guild Conference on May 20th, we will go in-depth and explain how important the excise tax is to the craft liquor industry and how to advocate for your company.
Greg McAllister Co-Owner, Algodones Distillery Sec’y/Treas, NM Distillers Guild
Cheers! Cory Muscato Lockhouse Distillery – Buffalo, NY President – New York State Distillers Guild Treasurer
John Singleton Guild Executive Director Government Advantage Group WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
WELL, TASTING EXTRAORDINARY GIN IS PART OF IT.
ATCHISON , KS
At MGP, we’re the nation’s leading supplier of premium distilled gin because we share our partners’ passion for every aspect of the process. Our experts work closely with you to create a custom botanical ﬂavor proﬁle unique to your brand, and precisely right for your customer. And yes, we feel honored to do it.
LAWRENCEBURG , IN
OREGON OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD Nine years ago, there were only 16 licensed distillers in Oregon. Today there are 69. Distillers bring $1.4 billion in economic benefit to the state while selling over $63 million annually. Because Oregon is a control state, there are inherent challenges for small distillers to market their products to drive larger sales volumes. On top of that, the governor has proposed a five-percent markup on all
WYOMING WYOMING DISTILLERS GUILD Our state legislative efforts over the past two years have yielded positive results! Come July 1, we will see a few bills become effective that we fought and lobbied hard for. In collaboration with our Wyoming State Liquor Association and our state senators and representatives, the bills that we presented have now become law. HB 219 is a bill that will grant each distillery 12 “manufacturer’s off-premises permits” annually to help our small businesses promote our brands and boost sales. This will essentially allow us to host off-site events, attend farmers markets, concerts, fundraisers, etc. that otherwise we may not have had the ability to be a part of. Also, with the passage of SF 140,
distilled spirits. Distillers licensed in Oregon are allowed to have tasting rooms, but the current statutory framework makes generating enough revenue to cover costs difficult. Most distilleries have small tasting rooms, but since they generally don’t pencil out, most are open only a few days a week or by appointment. The Oregon Distillers Guild is seeking to improve the economic viability of distillery tasting rooms by allowing distillers to keep more of the money it currently returns to the state from onsite product sales. Our
proposed changes would occur in the OLCC budget bill, SB 5519. The bill would reduce the revenue transfer back to OLCC from 33% to 5% for tasting room sales. It would also split the compensation pool that is currently combined for Oregon Distillery Tasting Rooms and OLCC Liquor Stores. Guild members continue to reach out to their local legislators to get SB 5519 passed.
we are now able to self-distribute directly from our bonded facility into our satellite tasting room. This cleans up the previous need for us to ship our product to the state warehouse, to then place an order to have it shipped all the way back. This will save time, money, energy and resources. We still have hopes to someday increase the number of satellite tasting rooms we can operate. Currently we are afforded only one under Wyoming law, but it would certainly be beneficial to our members if we could at least have our distillery location and one (or more) off-site tasting rooms. We will continue our efforts on this initiative. We continue to focus our federal efforts on making the FET reduction permanent. Multiple members of our guild plan to attend the Public Policy Conference out
in Washington, D.C. this coming July. There is nothing more important that we can do for our business community than to get this legislation permanent. Huge thanks to the ACSA staff and the member distilleries in Minneapolis for an amazing conference this year. Great to see you all there, can’t wait for next year!
Jamie Howard Co-founder/Marketing Sinister Distilling Company ODG Board Member, Treasurer
Travis Goodman Secretary/Treasurer, Wyoming Distillers Guild
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1. IDENTIFY APPLICABLE LAWS AND CONSIDER COMPLIANCE.
Numerous laws and regulations address privacy and cybersecurity, and nearly all of them cover the concept of data breaches. Distillers doing any sort of retail business are likely familiar with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), as PCI-DSS sets the information security standard for all businesses that accept payment card information. Businesses with operations in the European Union have no doubt heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its strict rules related to EU personal data. In general, distillers need to educate themselves about their legal landscape and take a reasonable approach to compliance. In the event of a breach, a business will find itself front-and-center with its privacy regulators, and those regulators will ask for an explanation related to its privacy and cybersecurity practices.
how to prepare for what experts have deemed is inevitable BY MARC E. SORINI AND LYNETTE R. ARCE
2. EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES.
y now, everyone has either heard of a major data breach or been personally affected by one. A business that falls victim to a data breach can suffer serious financial losses, with a devastating effect on the business’ viability. These costs include the initial containment of the breach and resulting remediation, notification to affected individuals and regulators, associated third-party vendor fees, and potential litigation and regulatory scrutiny. Reputational harm can emerge as the most costly piece of a data breach, as breaches can result in decreased sales and the loss of repeat customers. Data security experts often say that there are two types of businesses: those that have been hacked and those who will be hacked. Many small business owners believe they are too small to attract a hacker or to fall victim to a breach, but this is not true. Hackers seeking money for their actions do not care about the size of the business so long as they got paid for the stolen data. Just look at Scotland’s Arran Brewery, which fell victim to a ransomware attack in 2018.1 Arran Brewery lost three months’ worth of sales data after a brewery employee opened an email attachment containing malware. The malware locked Arran Brewery out of its computer system and the attackers demanded two bitcoin as ransom, which totals around $13,000. Given the costs and broad reach of data breaches, small businesses must take a proactive role in preparing themselves for a breach and mitigating its effects. A small business can take practical steps to better protect itself and its brand from the effects of a data breach.
According to a 2018 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute,2 human error is the root cause of 27% of data breaches. Human error, of course, includes employees who report lost or GIVEN stolen laptops, mobile devices, or THE COSTS confidential documents. It also AND BROAD includes negligent employees who skirt company policies, REACH OF DATA mishandle sensitive inforBREACHES, SMALL mation, or email sensitive BUSINESSES MUST information out to unauthorized persons. These TAKE A PROACTIVE actions typically arise out ROLE IN PREPARING of carelessness. THEMSELVES FOR Businesses should ensure the adequate frequency of A BREACH AND training for all employees MITIGATING ITS on their policies related to EFFECTS. information security and proper information handling. Certain employees may also benefit from supplemental training directed at their roles within the company, such as those working in payroll or human resources. Businesses should
2 Ponemon Institute, “2018 Cost of Data Breach Study,” June 2018.
also work to educate their employees about lurking cybersecurity threats, such as phishing and spoofing, so that employees can more readily identify these threats in real time.
3. DEVELOP A PRACTICAL INCIDENT RESPONSE PLAN AND TEST IT. The first 24 hours of any possible data breach incident are critical. A business can make many mistakes during this short period of time that A can set the tone for its ongoing response efforts. An effective and tested incident BUSINESS response plan that outlines precisely SHOULD TEST how to respond when a breach hits can ITS INCIDENT minimize mistakes. RESPONSE PLAN In crafting an incident response plan, distillers should first identify REGULARLY the key individuals to include in the THROUGH incident response team. Depending A BREACH on the size of the business, the incident response team may consist of SIMULATION a few people, but ideally would include EXERCISES. the individuals (some may wear multiple “hats”) who handle issues related to legal, IT, finance, human resources, and public relations. These individuals should understand the day-to-day
operations of the business functions or unit they represent. The incident response plan should identify the names and contact information for the individuals included on the team. It should also outline each individual’s responsibilities in responding to the breach — from the moment of discovery through notification and beyond. The incident response plan should guide the business through the initial steps to take from the minute an actual or potential incident is identified. It should provide a road map for the incident response team to follow when handling a live situation, including when and how to engage outside counsel and other vendors and whether to contact law enforcement or regulatory bodies. A communication plan should outline the parameters of when the incident response team should inform key shareholders of a breach. A business should test its incident response plan regularly through a breach simulation exercise, commonly referred to as a tabletop exercise. A tabletop exercise will help determine whether the incident response plan will function properly in the event of a crisis. Lessons learned from annual testing should be considered and used to update the incident response plan.
4. HAVE SUFFICIENT BACKUPS. With the rampant use of ransomware among hackers, businesses must have a well-thought-out business continuity plan and an
effective data backup strategy. Companies should weigh the costs of having a couple copies of the data in more than one media format with foreseeable costs associated with falling victim to a ransomware attack. Maintaining effective backups can soften the effects of a ransomware attack, make the response more manageable, and curb the temptation a business might have to pay the ransom and retrieve its encrypted data.
5. INVEST IN INFORMATION SECURITY. The increase of data breaches worldwide coincides with a time where companies increasingly rely more on data and accordingly have more to lose. The costs of a data breach likely outweigh the costs of maintaining a reasonable information security program, equipped with up-to-date technology and proper personnel resources. Regardless of the size of the distillery, businesses should appropriately budget to protect the information within their
care. To get started, consider performing a cybersecurity assessment to identify THE COSTS gaps in the company’s information OF A DATA security based on the threat BREACH LIKELY landscape applicable to the OUTWEIGH THE business, then prioritize limited resources to close COSTS OF MAINTAINING those gaps. A REASONABLE Although these tips INFORMATION SECURITY cannot stop a breach from occurring, a distiller PROGRAM, EQUIPPED mindful of data protection WITH UP-TO-DATE obligations and protection TECHNOLOGY AND strategies will be in a stronger position to handle potential PROPER PERSONNEL threats as they arise. RESOURCES.
Marc E. Sorini is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office. He leads the Firm’s Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where he concentrates his practice on regulatory and litigation issues faced by supplier-tier industry members. His practice for craft distillers includes distribution agreements, distribution counseling and litigation, product formulation, labeling, promotional compliance, compliance strategy, and federal and state tax and trade practice enforcement defense. Lynette R. Arce is a senior associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Chicago office. She is a member of the Firm’s Global Privacy and Cybersecurity group, where she concentrates her practice on incident response, cybersecurity preparedness, risk management and regulatory compliance, as well as international and domestic privacy matters.
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CANNED COCKTAIL REVOLUTION
The ready-to-drink (RTD) category has transformed itself from cheap, sugary cocktails with inferior ingredients to a new premium space that is being driven by the craft spirits movement.
o longer relegated to the dusty bottom shelves of retail, these premium RTDs are setting a new bar for the category’s reputation by emphasizing craft and quality as much as convenience and very well may be the new frontier of opportunity and cash flow for many craft spirits producers. According to IBIS World, a leading research company, over the past five years, the RTD Mixed Spirit Production industry in the US has grown by 4.2% to reach revenue of $5 billion in 2019.
CONSUMER TRENDS FUELING CANNED COCKTAIL RTD SALES
CONVENIENCE Consumers are seeking convenience in
almost every sector as a solution to their increasingly busy lifestyles. The added step of having to purchase and then mix all the ingredients for a cocktail after a long day or preparing drinks for guests at a busy get-together is seen as a hassle for many consumers. RTDs are proving a convenient way for consumers to recreate and enjoy their favorite cocktail anytime without the fuss — just chill, open, and pour. According to the global market research agency Mintel, the fact that RTD cocktails “don’t require preparation” was the top response from consumers (44 percent) who were asked in the Mintel survey why they choose an RTD cocktail over other types of alcohol beverages. It’s not just consumers who are seeing the benefit of canned cocktails’ convenience. Airlines who need to serve cocktails quickly, stadium venues where crowds demand cocktails quickly to avoid long lines and even small restaurants with stressed bartending staffs see canned cocktails as a quick solution to their woes, saving time and money.
THE COCKTAIL CRAZE
The cocktail craze appears to be here to stay and the fuel it’s provided for the craft spirits sector is undeniable. Providing classic and inventive cocktails with premium ingredients in a can is a logical next step. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
PRACTICAL & PORTABLE
CRAFT BEER Craft beer has blazed the “can trail” with
Canned cocktails can be sold and consumed where glass is not allowed or is impractical. Events at stadiums where crowds demand quick service, music festivals, pools, the beach. and other outdoor activities are just a few of the top places where cans rule the roost.
consumers reinforcing high-quality products delivered in the convenience of a can. So, it’s not surprising that consumers who are used to buying their favorite craft brew in a can now are thrilled to get their favorite craft spirits in a canned cocktail. “You have a convenience trend happening, you have a lifestyle thing happening, and then you have this can phenomenon,” says Kevin Roberts, the executive vice president of supplier engagement for the alcohol distributor Breakthru Beverage Group, based in the U.S. and Canada. “You put those three together, and then you top it off with a consumer that’s blending and bleeding into other categories, and it’s a very exciting time for prepared cocktails. But they have to be unique; they have to be high quality. We’re definitely seeing the consumer move to more premium prepared cocktail solutions. It’s something that we’re investing in and that we’re really excited about.”
CHALLENGES According to Mintel, if you ask the average consumer their opinion of RTDs historically their responses are varied. While they like the format and convenience, they are often disappointed with what’s inside.
1. “They’re too sweet” was the third most common response (21 percent)
2. “They contain too many artificial ingredients” (13 percent)
3. “They’re low quality” (9 percent)
3 RTD CASH FLOW OPPORTUNITIES: 1) Develop a canned cocktail brand or line extension of your core brand that has far less competition than the vodka and gin categories. 2) Supplement your unaged offerings by developing a canned cocktail brand or extension of your brand utilizing your already developed unaged products, thus diversifying your offering while also allowing consumers to trial your products in perfect cocktails available at a fraction of the cost of your 750ml bottles. 3) RTDs allow smaller producers to stretch their inventory since the products are mixed products by definition and because these offerings are lower in alcohol, they are subject to a fraction of the taxation of higher proof spirits.
PREMIUM QUALITY The craft spirits industry is perfectly positioned to take advantage of this growing RTD trend with their higher-quality products crafted from premium ingredients and brands that ring of authenticity. Over the past few years many brands have begun to emerge as craft distilleries have answered the call with a new wave of RTD cocktail products that are revolutionizing the category. The new entries are made from natural ingredients — many use gin, vodka and whiskey as their base alcohol vs. grain neutral spirits with artificial flavorings or worse, malt liquor — making a strong move to shed RTD cocktails’ reputation for low-quality concoctions. In addition, they have moved away from the overly sweet flavor profiles to more traditional cocktailin-a-glass profiles, side-stepping the “this is too sweet” criticisms of past RTDs.
CASH FLOW For many, if not most, craft-spirit distilleries and brands the cost of start-up is high and the need for cash flow from products has traditionally fallen on the development of unaged products like vodka and gin as they wait for their aged products to mature.
INNOVATION & THE FUTURE The next logical step will certainly be innovation and moving past the typical cocktail offerings like the gin and tonic to more inventive craft cocktails in a can. Cutwater Spirits is a shining success story of exactly this sort of recipe innovation with offerings such as Tequila Paloma, Rum & Ginger, and cold brew cocktail. A few short years after their sale of Ballast Point in 2015, the owners sold Cutwater Spirits to Anheuser-Busch InBev marking AB InBev’s first major foray into the U.S. distilled spirits market. While this might be a lofty goal for many distilleries, the cash flow opportunity and expanded consumer market segment of RTDs provides fertile ground for experimentation, innovation and future growth of the craft industry.
David Schuemann is the owner and creative director of CF Napa Brand Design. For more info, visit www.cfnapa.com or call (707) 265-1891.
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IN A GROWING INDUSTRY WRITTEN BY JOHN MCKEE
here are more people at Los Alamos who know how to make a nuclear bomb than there are people who know how to distill drinkable whiskey,” is something that I used to say early on during the development of Headframe Spirits. It was a thought that came together via the realization that in 2010, there were about 200 distilleries around the nation. Once I put together the number of people needed to run 200 distilleries, that number was fewer than the number of people at Los Alamos. Today, of course, there are 2,000-plus distilleries in the US and that realization I had doesn’t quite math out anymore, but it does speak to something important...in less than a decade, our industry has grown ten-fold! Think about that from the perspective of knowledge and the role of mentoring. I would challenge anyone in this industry on the obvious falsehood of “I did this all on my own.” Ignoring the base fact of the fallacy of that statement in any conversation, the important point in distilling is that in 10 years we’ve grown by the virtue of mentoring and sharing knowledge. After almost 10 years, I still walk away from every distillery operation that I tour or visit with something new, something that I didn’t know before, something that by an immediate sharing of knowledge I am able to put into my ever-growing toolbox of distillery-ness.
As an industry that virtually didn’t exist 10 years ago, we all need to recognize that as new entrants are making their way into the industry,
OUR ROLE OF MENTORING AND TEACHING ISN’T OVER.
As an industry that virtually didn’t exist 10 years ago, we all need to recognize that as new entrants are making their way into the industry, our role of mentoring and teaching isn’t over. In fact, we need to be mentoring now even more than ever. At the 2019 spirits conferences we all saw new faces, the few-years-in faces, and we also missed the faces of those who didn’t make it through another year of running their business at a successful level. Those faces have been you and could potentially be you if you don’t accept that mentoring is a core part of your success. The new faces...they’ve probably read a few books, likely done a few distillery tours, maybe have a location picked out or a brand idea that they’re really excited about...but maybe still think that bourbon can only be made in Kentucky or that the financials of a tasting room pencil out the same way as they do for breweries. Here we find an opportunity to correct a few bad assumptions, potentially encourage a fundamentally new idea, and be reminded that we had that same passion at that same time in the development of our own business. The few-years-in faces...they’re probably pretty tired, having gone through the initial phase of doing everything themselves. They’re wondering how to increase sales, drive down their COGS, hire and retain
great employees, keep their sanity as the business transitions from something new-cool-fresh to something ongoingwith-a-potential-legacy, or at least a payout-during-an-exit. Here we can offer a chance to save $.01 on a COGS by buying raws a different way, or introduce them to a great future employee, maybe even find a way to collaborate and share the lift on something like shipping to an out-of-state distributor together. The didn’t-make-it-through-anotheryear-of-running-their-business-at-asuccessful-level faces…they’re gone. We missed an opportunity to help them think of a new way to sell product, or a distributor/ market introduction, or just a beer to commiserate and leave them feeling less alone and in the dark because you’ve been through the same thing they have. Mentoring doesn’t end because you’ve been around for two, five, or 10 years... mentoring just doesn’t end, period. The reason for that is because you still need mentoring yourself. You still need
someone to help you with the next big question that you can’t answer alone, and if you’re willing to accept that kind of help, then you have to offer it in return. Additionally, mentoring isn’t just an altruistic pursuit. Every time you share your knowledge you elevate the community, and as a result, we have peers making better booze and our customers seeing that in the market. By way of example, have you tried to sell a “white whiskey” lately? Probably not, because early on so many people were making bad white whiskey and the market was put off. We can avoid those pitfalls for our own business’ success by teaching others to be successful in their pursuits. Proactively, make mentoring part of your business model. For instance, we have a board of advisors, from industries other than beverage, who we can rely on for their experience and knowledge. We meet quarterly, often call between meetings for specific advice, or slow down and ask ourselves what would one of them do
when presented with the question we’re trying to answer in that moment in time. In 2010 there were 200 of us at Huber Starlight Distillery doing the ADI conference and tours. It was pretty easy to get to know everyone and be a part of that small group. Now in 2019, there are 2,000 attendees to ACSA and ADI conferences, and you can’t make a connection with all of them. However, you can be impactful, you can be proactive. Don’t wait for an ask, you make an offer. I really dig that in 10 years we’ve tilted to more booze makers and I see no reason that we can’t overcome another level of industry badassery so long as we don’t lose the focus of mentoring each other, always, and at all levels.
John and Courtney McKee are the owners/ founders of Headframe Spirits and Headframe Spirits Manufacturing in Butte, MT. John spilled coffee on his lap while he was writing this article on an iPad in the car on the way to a soccer game and he should have been mentored to do fewer things at once.
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A brief history of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, its fall to irrelevance, and resurrection as a proof WRITTEN BY GEORGE B. CATALLO of origin for craft distilleries.
his isn’t exactly breaking news, but there was this big to-do a few years ago about craft distilleries bottling whiskey not born of the fruits of their own labor. Now, there is nothing wrong with using sourced whiskey! The issue there was honesty. Weaving a tale about greatgrand-pappy’s secret family recipe for Prohibition whiskey while never actually distilling a single drop is supremely uncool. While on the calendar it may be long behind us, honesty is still lingering on consumers’ minds. One way to boldly prove to the world your whiskey is your own and not bottled under pretense is the bottled-in-bond designation. Before getting into just how to do that, let’s talk about the history and contents of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW NOW YOU KNOW, DISTILLA! So way back before TTB regulations, whiskey producers were pirates. They used tea leaves and iodine to color whiskey to seem older, bottled whiskey at lower-thanstandard proof to spread batches out, and so on and so forth. There was no standard of quality. A man by the name of Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. had a vision to change this. While he was far from alone with his vision, he is the most legendary figure associated with the act. Taylor, a man of no actual military service, was in his early life a banker known for funding several distilleries around Kentucky. His title of Colonel was awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in an honorary fashion, much like another notable Kentuckian known for finger lickin’ buckets of chicken. Taylor went on to open some of his own distilleries such as OFC (now part of Buffalo Trace),
Carlisle, and the beautiful Old Taylor Distillery that has been recently revitalized as Castle & Key. Taylor, a band of distillers, and John Garrett Carlisle, who was then the Secretary of the Treasury, lobbied to enact a series of guidelines to ensure the quality of a whiskey with a seal of guarantee granted by the Federal Government called bottled in bond. This proposed law required that:
>> The spirit is the product of one distilling season
>> The spirit was produced by one distiller
>> The spirit was produced at one distillery
>> The distillery is noted on the label
>> The spirit is bottled and stored in bonded warehouses under government supervision
>> The spirit is aged for no less than four years
>> The spirit is bottled at precisely 50% ABV or 100 proof
>> The spirit is without any alteration save for the addition of water to bring the spirit to proof
The proposed act also had financial implications for distillers as well. As an incentive to utilize this program, all excise taxes on the production of the spirit stored under this act were deferred until the end of aging. A true win-win for distillers and consumers alike. The act was signed into law on March 3, 1897.
FURTHER REGULATION AND THE ANTIQUATION OF THE NOTORIOUS B-I-B We’ve come a very long way since 1897 in terms of alcohol law in the United States. Well, excluding the massive regression known as Prohibition that we haven’t fully recovered from, that is. There have always been lots of laws regarding the production and labeling of spirits. Take bourbon, for instance. As per the TTB Chapter 4 Class and Type Designation, bourbon whiskey is guaranteed to be produced in the U.S. at not exceeding 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof) from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn and stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof) in charred new oak containers. That’s so many rules that simply labeling a whiskey as bourbon, consumers are assured of its relative quality. There is very little added value by the Bottled-in-Bond Act on top of modern regulations. In most cases, it’s a novelty at best. A great marketing buzzword. We don’t need it anymore. Or do we?
MODERN PROBLEMS REQUIRE MODERN SOLUTIONS Let’s focus on a couple key pieces of the act for a second here:
The spirit is the product of one distilling season, by one distiller, at one distillery, that is (noted) on the label. For a product that is designated bottled in bond, the distillery on the label must be the producing distillery. There is no possible legal way for an independently bottled or sourced whiskey to be misrepresented. Following these guidelines is a powerful way to show consumers that your product is your own without having to parade them through your production floor so they can see your literal blood, sweat, and tears. An example of this is Finger Lakes Distilling’s McKenzie Bottled-inBond Wheated Bourbon. As consumers can see on the label, it is clearly designated right across the top as B-I-B. There is no need to inspect every inch of the label for a small “Distilled in a different state than the distillery” disclaimer. Bottled-in-Bond can be a powerful tool to instill confidence in the consumer base, and the more confident a consumer is in your product, the more likely they are to purchase it. Don’t give them the opportunity to question your integrity when there is no reason to.
George B. Catallo is the “Whiskey Guy” and Floor/Social Media Manager at Parkway Wine and Liquor in Rochester, NY. He has been in the beverage industry since he turned twenty-one and has worked as the Bar Operations Manager of a wine bar, an Assistant Distiller and Supplier Rep for a craft distillery, and has even hosted a spirits review web series on YouTube under the moniker 'Just One Dram.'
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G N I R U T N E V e h t o int S S E N I S U B S R E T T I B f o ANKE Y A S H L E Y HA N K E WRRI TI TTTEENNBBY A S H L E Y H W
he ability to sell bitters direct to consumers has been a blessing,” explains Lara Nixon, founder of Bad Dog Bar Craft, “but initially, front-end licensing was a bit of a pain in the ass.” Entrepreneurial endeavors in bitters production are particularly high among mixologists who, after experimenting with bitters in-house, embark on a quest to sell their bitters commercially. And although a seemingly approachable venture due to bitters’ eligibility for classification as a non-beverage food product, and thus there is no requirement to obtain a federal basic permit, it is not without its hurdles. Initial overhead costs, lack of commercial manufacturing knowledge, and inexperience with the TTB and other regulating agencies could prove overwhelming for someone without commercial production experience. Just take Nixon, a former bartender, who can attest to the struggles in starting a bitters company from the ground up. Although the production of non-beverage bitters using tax-paid spirits does not require a federal permit, distillers have the requisite knowledge to tap into this market. After all, distillers have manufacturing experience and understand how to navigate regulations and regulators. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
THE LOGISTICS First, let’s be clear: Bitters that are fit for beverage purposes are also alcoholic beverages. These products must be manufactured on the bonded premises of a distilled spirits plant and sold like any other distilled spirit. To sell bitters as a non-beverage food product, samples and formulation must be submitted to the Nonbeverage Products Laboratory of the TTB for review. TTB then determines if the submission should be classified as a non-beverage product, meaning not drinkable on its own. TTB also confirms that quantities of FDA and TTB limited ingredients are not exceeded. If so, the bitters can be sold without a federal basic permit. Further, a drawback claim may be submitted at a rate of $1 less than the effective tax rate paid for the distilled spirits purchased. Nothing prohibits a federal permit holder from producing and selling bitters classified by the TTB as a nonbeverage product, but bitters on which a drawback will be claimed may not be produced on the bonded premises of a DSP.
OPTIONS FOR EXISTING DISTILLERS To produce nonbeverage bitters using tax-paid spirits in an unbonded area of a distillery, you must ensure that the description of the premises matches the notice of registration with TTB. You can amend the description to accurately reflect the proposed production activities, but you must also receive TTB approval before operating any other business on the premises. As an alternative, DSP-bonded premises may be alternated to an unbonded production space for the manufacture of nonbeverage products. Before alternating the premises, you must file and receive approval of the necessary registration. Alternate methods and procedures must be evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis. And while some DSP proprietors find that producing and selling bitters classified as an alcohol beverage keeps things consistent while avoiding any extraneous regulatory requirements that may be imposed upon food processors, others view attaining non-beverage status as a goal rather than an imposition due to the sizable tax drawbacks.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS Unfamiliar food manufacturing requirements may appear burdensome but pale in comparison to the regulation of alcohol within the three-tier system. State laws vary,
but a majority of states require a bitters producer to obtain a simple non-beverage permit in order to procure tax-paid spirits for use in the manufacture of nonbeverage products. Additional considerations are state-dependent but may include registration as a food processor with the Department of Agriculture, minimum standards for food processing establishments and commercial kitchens, state and local health department requirements, and applicable FDA and labeling regulations.
BUSINESS ADVANTAGES Established distillers who branch out into bitters production will likely benefit from lower overhead production costs than businesses starting from scratch due to existing production space (that may even resemble a commercial kitchen) and overlap in production equipment. Some of the first distilleries in the U.S. were regulated more like food manufacturing plants than distilleries, providing distillers with invaluable skill sets for producing a nonbeverage bitters. This was certainly the case for Melkon Khosrovian, co-founder of Los Angeles’ first distillery, Greenbar, when he ventured into the bitters business with a well-established infrastructure and strict operating standards already in place. As one of the first craft distilleries, established in the U.S. in 2004, state and local officials were less accustomed to regulating distilleries and may have overcompensated by imposing stricter
requirements on Greenbar, as if it were a food processing establishment. “We were required to adopt systems in the same manner as a food manufacturing plant, with the highest food safety standards, manufacturing processes, and food processing equipment,” he says. He notes that it was very expensive and “thought it was overkill.” But when Greenbar went organic and started producing bitters, he appreciated the strict regulatory oversight from the local health department. “Operating in this way just became the default,” explained Khosrovian. Existing sales and marketing experience coupled with greater flexibility in channels of trade and distribution should elicit a sigh of relief from distillers accustomed to strict three-tier distribution requirements. The elimination of these requirements equates to a surge in marketplace availability from having the flexibility to sell online, at unlicensed retail locations, and direct to consumers. Whether sold in grocery stores, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Target, widespread accessibility may result in unlikely consumers’ introduction to the brand. Just don’t look to give up your day job of distilling. Nixon says, “it’s more a labor of love.”
Ashley Hanke is an attorney at Malkin Law, P.A., a Miami-based law firm specializing in the alcohol beverage industry. For more information, visit www.malkin.law. Nothing in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as specific legal advice.
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Institute American Distilling
WINTER 2018 / 19
The Nature of Colorad o Distillers Todd Leopold’s Chambe r Still TTB Rules Changes Defining America n-Style Rum #What?: The Social Media Time Suck 22 Best Bars in the World
Craft Spirits Conference & Expo Annually, every April. distilling.com/events/annual-spirits-conference/
Judging of Craft Spirits Annually, every February distilling.com/events/judging/
Hands-On Workshops From first-time introductions to master classes in producing, packaging, and marketing craft-distilled spirits distilling.com/events/distilling-workshops/
Annual Distillers’ Resource Directory The most comprehensive compilation of DSP’s and resources in the industry. distilling.com/publications/adi-distillers-resource-directory/ Malting
Craft Floor Malting: A Practical Guide
A Practical Guide
The Nano Distillery: The Future of Distilling
Craft Floor As craft distilling and craft brewing become increasingly localized, producers are likewise looking for local materials - grain, hops, fruit, spices and other ingredients. Floor malting offers the small brewer or distiller an opportunity to source barley from farmers in their area and turn it into malt, the backbone of beer and malt whiskey. While floor malting was largely supplanted by industrial-scale drum malting in the 20th century, the older methods offer a handson opportunity to produce unique malt with less equipment. Craft Floor Malting: A Practical Guide offers an examination of the key stages of the floor-malting process, and a look at how craft floor maltsters approach the day-to-day necessities of malting at a small scale.
White Mule Press
If you’re considering starting a distillery begin here.
The information here is invaluable and reads much like a series of mini-workshops on distilling and the business of distilling.
This book is compiled by the American Distilling Institute, an organization dedicated to the growth of craft spirits.
The American Distilling Institute
The Nano Distillery is a compilation of how-to chapters and real-life experiences of distillers who successfully produce quality spirits on a small scale. Complete with formulas, spreadsheets, and firstperson accounts The Nano Distillery is intended to provide you with enough information to roll up your sleeves and get distilling. Chapters include the necessary considerations of operating a distillery and making spirits—legalities, equipment, record-keeping, recipes, trademarking and design. And finally, you’ll hear the voices of nano distillers themselves, who explain what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.
The Nano Distillery the future of distilling compiled by Bill owens Edited by Brad Plummer and Andrew Faulkner
Niche Books for Lovers of Spirits Thirty titles and growing. whitemulepress.com
New Logo! Same website:
HEALTH & WELLNESS in the SPIRITS INDUSTRY WRITTEN BY DR. JORDAN LEASURE
eadly fungus. Three-hundred-pound barrels. Floods. Fires. Explosions. Poisonous gas. The hazards of working at a distillery can rival threats likely found in a video game. Oftentimes these threats don’t cease to exist when employees punch out. As a distiller, your human capital can be as valuable as your end product. Taking a few steps to ensure your employees are properly educated and supported will provide a greater return on your investments in the long run — similar to the preparation and aging of your spirits. There is a science, art, and philosophy behind every individual distiller and distillery. The key to delivering an excellent product is the daily maintenance of the tools both mechanical and biomechanical. Ergonomics and proper lifting technique is the cornerstone to any organization, but when dealing with weight up to 500 pounds, it’s even more important. Injuries from sprained joints to pulled muscles can take weeks or even months to properly heal, setting back distillery production.
As a distiller, your human capital can be as valuable as your end product. It seems rudimentary, but every distillery regardless of size should implement a course in proper lifting and moving techniques. We recommend the following steps as a foundation to any program: Proper Core Engagement Glute activation exercises daily Proper Warm Up Active motion exercises to prepare for a day of activity Proper Recovery Foam rolling, hydration, and rest after every shift Remember, you don’t have to be working the distillery floor to take care of your
back. Prolonged sitting is one of the top contributors to back pain and workplace injury so you desk jockeys take heed as well. Paul Hletko, founder of Few Spirits in Evanston, Ill, feels it’s a given that safety in this industry has to be a top priority. “Employees are engaged in a dangerous, physically active job. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a safe working environment,” he said. Everyone in Hletko’s organization has 100% authority to shut down the line if something appears unsafe or someone needs assistance. The American Craft Spirits Association has resources on OSHA requirements which should be reviewed by distilleries of all sizes.1 A simple benefit you can provide your employees is a gym membership or even
1 www.americancraftspirits.org/tag/osha WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
an on-site gym. Removing obstacles and making healthy habits simple to maintain will allow these habits to transform into a lifestyle. The combination of location and working hours can sometimes make it challenging for distillery staff to access healthy meals. Providing or encouraging healthy options is another quick and easy foundational wellness benefit that will return exponentially on your investment. I define healthy eating as consuming 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (in a variety of colors), grass-fed and wildcaught meats, and minimal or no sugar or processed foods. There are incredible resources available today, including the Fruit Guys, who will actually deliver farm fresh fruit and healthy snacks right to the distillery. Dave Rindom, CEO and VP of MGP, described how MGP’s wellness programs focus on engagement and education. The wellness committee is led by employees and they do their best to make it fun, challenging, and open to everyone in the company including family members. Given
the large size of MGP (325 employees), they have the resources to implement everything from CrossFit challenges to Lunch ‘n Learns and even biometric screenings with individualized coaching sessions. Beyond the standard medical and insurance benefits seen at most companies, MGP provides a discount at the local YMCA to further encourage physical wellness. Rindom commented that there is often an inverse correlation between alcohol consumption and physical activity, so keep those legs moving! Two stressors that impact everyone in the industry are time and money. Often there’s a shortage of money and a limit on time. The spirits industry is just about the only one where you invest millions of dollars up-front and don’t see a return for years. Both your money and time are working against you in this scenario. In order to address that challenge, it may be necessary to push your existing equipment to the limit by scheduling nighttime runs. Just make sure you aren’t pushing your distillery staff over their limits with long or
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irregular shifts. There’s no magic pill to help you increase revenues or add a few more hours to your day, however, I can help you respond to a deficiency of both. Taking three minutes daily to meditate will actually allow you to utilize the remainder of your time more effectively as well as improve your processes and maybe even make more money. Meditation has been around for thousands of years and is supported by medical literature to have numerous physical, mental and emotional advantages. The Institute for Functional Medicine notes the health benefits of meditation to include:
>> Reduction in pain, anxiety, depression, and stress
>> Strengthens the immune system >> Improves concentration and creativity
>> Decreases pain and blood pressure
• • • • • •
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Setting a solid foundation of healthy habits allows for better recovery when the unimaginable happens. Get started today by literally setting aside an extra three to five minutes. I find it easiest to be compliant by coordinating it with an already scheduled activity, waking up, my lunch break, the conclusion of my patient schedule, or just before bed. No matter where I am at those times I prioritize my meditation. Find a comfortable spot, your desk, a park bench, or even your bed, and sit or lie in a relaxed position. Practice the active breathing techniques you learned in our last article and pay noticeable attention to how you feel in those moments. Are you holding tension in your shoulders or lower back? Do you have positive self-talk or do you find your mind wandering? (I often find
myself making a shopping list or to-do list when trying to meditate.) Determine what works best for you as far as scheduling/ timing and start today. Mindful meditation may even enhance your product. It has been shown to improve white matter maintenance and growth through age.2 We could all use an increased speed of thinking and processing, especially those responsible for the creation of those incredible spirits we all enjoy. Just as it takes patience to create a great spirit, it takes patience and practice to see the benefits of meditation. Is it worth three minutes per day for all the benefits above? I think so! Preparation is key. Setting a solid
foundation of healthy habits allows for better recovery when the unimaginable happens. So take a few minutes each day for self-care and reap the rewards long term.
Dr. Jordan Leasure is the Founding Physician of North Shore Pro-Active Health, a state of the art wellness clinic in the northern Chicago Suburbs. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with a distinction in Functional Medicine. For more information on Dr. Leasure visit www.Healthy-Spirits.com. If you have personal experience with wellness or lack there of in the industry please email DrJordanLeasure@DrLeasure.com with the subject: Healthy-Spirits.
2 Laneri, D., Schuster, V., Dietsche, B., Jansen, A., Ott, U. and Sommer, J. (2015). Effects of Long-Term Mindfulness Meditation on Brain’s White Matter Microstructure and its Aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4712309/
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Open Letter to Craft Distillers Southern Glazerâ€™s Wine & Spirits is a firm believer that craft spirit distillers play an important role in driving innovation in the overall spirits industry. We applaud the entrepreneurial approach that many of you have taken to create your businesses and brands. Your products bring new energy to the marketplace and increase the level of consumer interest in all our products. Our industry is changing and it is precisely this type of excitement that we need to continue to grow and prosper. As part of our ongoing commitment to the craft spirit industry, and our desire to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, we would like to offer all craft spirit distillers access to our distribution platform in your local markets. If you are interested, please contact me at 305-625-4171 ext.1543.
OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD
HIRES ITS FIRST LOBBYIST R E C E N T L E G I S L AT I V E E F F O RT A N D EXPERIENCE OF WORKING WITH A LOBBYIST W R I T T E N B Y M A R G A R E T T WAT E R B U RY A N D A N D Y G A R R I S O N
axes. Politics. Lobbyists. Distillers will often speak happily about mash bills and barrel finishes until the cows come home, but utter those three dirty words and watch their brows cloud and eyes steam. As many have experienced, the stateby-state quirks of the American alcohol industry can make or break a distillery’s business model, but getting the system to work for you can be a maddening and mysterious process. We spoke with Brad Irwin, owner of Oregon Spirit Distillers and current President of the Oregon Distillers Guild (ODG), about their recent legislative effort and the experience of working with a lobbyist.
FALTERING FIRST STEPS Oregon is a control state, where the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) functions as the distributor for all products available in Oregon liquor stores. Distillers are allowed to have tasting rooms but must pay back approximately 30-40% of each retail sale to the OLCC, effectively paying a “distribution” mark-up on products that haven’t ever been handled by the state. This send-back makes generating enough revenue to cover tasting room costs difficult and is especially challenging for smaller distillers who rely heavily on direct-to-consumer sales. ODG identified the tasting room issue as a major focus area for the 2018-19 biennium. With the help of one invested Oregon
Senator, Lee Beyer, a bill was developed and put forward in the middle of the 2018 legislative session. “We instantly learned we are way out of our league,” laughs Irwin. “We’re all volunteers who run distilleries. It seemed like such a small piece of the budget. We learned that if money is involved, people care. We quickly met with resistance and knew we were in trouble.” The bill didn’t pass and ODG was back to the drawing board.
PROFESSIONAL HELP The experience left the guild feeling like they needed professional help. “We knew what we wanted to do, but no one in the guild had any experience” and further “we had about zero dollars,” says Irwin. So the guild
passed a voluntary 1.5% levy on tasting room sales outside of the organization’s regular budget. The proceeds raised enough money to hire ODG’s very first lobbyist, Dan Jarman of Crosswater Strategies. For Irwin, there were two key criteria for picking a lobbyist: issue knowledge and freedom from conflicts of interest with other clients. After some searching and false starts, ODG found Jarman, who had extensive experience in the alcohol beverage space and had worked with the Oregon Winegrowers Association to pass multiple initiatives. Irwin says one of the first things Jarman addressed was messaging. “He really helped us to be focused on the benefits and not on fairness,” says Irwin. “I really thought the situation was not fair, that we have a different tax structure than beer and wine, but he got us to move on from that to the bigger picture of what we want. When you’re talking about fairness, all you’re doing is pissing off bigger fish with negative messaging and if those players want to squash you, they can.” Another major benefit of working with a lobbyist was the ability to gain a more contextualized view of the issues and the larger landscape. “We’re a small cog,” says Irwin. “Dan’s keeping us informed on other related issues and the bigger budget picture that could kill our issue.” That feeds into issue focus, which sometimes means picking your battles. “Dan tells us when we should be quiet,” says Irwin. “We don’t have the resources to fix the whole system, so he’s helped us to focus on our biggest pain.” With a better understanding of how the gears of government turn, Jarman helped the guild develop a plan to pursue an alternative committee-based path to achieve its tasting room sales goals in 2019. The path doesn’t require the introduction of a bill, which means fewer players involved and a potentially better chance of success.
LEARNINGS Like so many other areas of the distilling industry, ODG learned that when it comes to working with government, there’s no such thing as too much money. “We didn’t raise enough money to do everything we should have done, like an economic impact study,” says Irwin. Additional cash for political contributions to senators and candidates may also have been helpful. “If I did it again, I’d put a committee together to raise the money. The cash raise was a lot of work which took me off the real issue,” says Irwin. He found that despite wishes to the contrary, lobbyists are truly indispensable. “As we went through the process, I quickly realized just how important it was to be wired into the political system. The lobbyist is key for opening doors.” “I had negative connotations about lobbyists,” admits Irwin. “They’re associated with corruption. Well, maybe that’s true at the national level, but at the state level, I can’t imagine it’s possible to get anything done without them. It’s a full-time job and they just have a better feel for what’s going on at the state level.”
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Standardization of botanicalflavored spirits Written by Paul Hughes, Ph.D.
critical step in the production of consistent, high quality distilled spirits is the quality management of the raw materials. For a distiller buying neutral alcohol, analytical specifications and sensory acceptance are essential for product performance. Similarly, for distillers performing their own fermentations and rectification, there needs to be confidence that cereals, water and yeast will perform as required. However, a particularly tricky quality journey is around natural colorings and flavorings. Not so much the materials purchased as preprepared ingredients available from suppliers, but those materials where the distiller is endeavoring to derive colors and flavors from raw materials in their own distillery. Invariably these ingredients are plant-based and, as such, are subject to the variables of agronomy, harvest, storage and aging. With these aspects in mind, a set of reference materials against which new botanical intakes can be compared is an attractive thought. So what are the requirements for such a catalog of reference materials? They must be representative both of the botanical being considered and the sensory requirements (color and/or flavor) that it confers on spirit. For instance, if a botanical is to be macerated without distillation, then it should be appraised in the appropriate context. The botanical reference materials should also be of appreciable stability, and ideally, the shelf-life of any physical materials should be sufficiently long to be meaningful. So how might a reference material be prepared? Of the options available (Table 1), there does not seem to be a perfect answer in terms of how representative the reference material is or its stability. The simplest approach would be to pack materials, either in an inert atmosphere such as nitrogen or under vacuum. In any case, the packaging materials should provide an effective barrier to oxygen, light and water ingress. This is likely to be one of the bulkier options and it is likely that the materials would need work-up before being used, which is potentially time-consuming on an ongoing basis. If a botanical is going into the still, then only those components of sufficient volatility will find their way into the distilled spirit. In these cases, a reference material will be more representative if it, too, undergoes a distillation step. There are two broad approaches here, and the choice of a distillation method should mimic as far as possible the production scale distillation. Thus for a botanical used in a gin basket, corresponding reference materials should be distilled likewise in the laboratory. If the botanical is typically macerated, then this should also be the laboratory approach. There has also been interest in the use of vacuum distillation for gin production. An obvious advantage is that lower distillation temperatures are required, which in turn helps to preserve thermally sensitive components, such as floral notes and cucumber. However, efficient cryogenic condensation is required to avoid volatile losses post-distillation and the still itself needs to be manufactured such that a vacuum can be sustained throughout a production run. For such operations, it is prudent to prepare botanical reference materials in a similar manner. This can be through a routine vacuum distillation or perhaps by using a rotary evaporator. Bear in mind
Summary of possible reference material formats for botanicals FORMAT
Dependent on packaging
Typically needs work-up before using as a reference.
Steam distillate (maceration entrainment)
Potentially good if dry and kept out of direct light
Sensitive to oxygen, light. May suffer from thermal degradation.
Potentially good if dry and kept out of direct light
Sensitive to oxygen, light. Less chance of thermal degradation, but may be unrepresentative of conventional distillation.
Extract: organic solvent
Potentially good if dry and kept out of direct light
Most solvents not food-grade; may “scalp” the essential oils when removing solvent.
Potentially good if dry and kept out of direct light
Sensitive to oxygen, light.
Cyclodextrin encapsulation of essential oils
May be too selective, not encapsulating other compounds. 3-6% (w/w) oils.
Resin encasement of botanical
Unknown; keep out of direct light
Needs work-up before using as a reference.
though that rotary evaporation is primarily designed to remove volatiles under reduced pressure and that the primary value is very often in the value of the residue. The large surface area of a typical rotary evaporator condenser can result in losses and perhaps fractionation of the oil sample being prepared so that it is not representative of the vacuum distillation case. Rather than introducing botanicals via distillation, some distillers opt for post-distillation addition, or even replacing all distilled botanicals with downstream additions. If these materials are sourced from a flavor house then samples should be retained directly to use as reference samples. However, if botanicals are macerated and not distilled then extraction, either using solvents or liquid/supercritical CO2, should be considered for reference sample preparation. Most solvents are not typical of aqueous ethanol and while this can be used for reference sample preparation, the resulting sample is bulky. However, it will have a shelf-life similar to that of the final product. The use of other organic solvents can be problematic, with those having outstanding solvation power, such as dichloromethane, hexane and tetrahydrofuran having a range of toxic effects, requiring essentially complete removal of the solvent before any sensory evaluation. The properties of CO2 used for extraction can be varied. Liquid CO2 has a rather narrow window of operation and is relatively non-polar, and so will favor oil extraction. Supercritical CO2 properties can be substantially affected by judicious choices of temperature and applied pressure, and even the addition of co-solvents such as ethanol. However, preparation of CO2 extracts does require specialized equipment, although solvent removal is rapid once the resulting extract is depressurized.
Two other approaches may have merit for the preservation of botanicals. One is the encapsulation of oil components in macrocyclic sugars known as cyclodextrins. The most common of these applied is the so-called β-cyclodextrin, where seven glucose molecules join head-to-tail to form a hydrophobic cavity, with an affinity for compounds of low polarity, such as many components of essential oils. The resulting dry solid is straightforward to prepare and is essentially aroma-free. It has been used in a wide variety of applications but may fractionate the essential oils to create a material that may not represent the flavors required. In our laboratory, we are experimenting with encasement of botanicals in transparent resinous materials (the “Jurassic Park” project), on the basis that we expect that the resin will be an effective oxygen barrier and force the botanicals encased to retain their moisture and water. However, as with the vacuum-/inert-atmosphere packed example above, work-up will be required before a sample can be generated. Ideally, characterization of the reference materials should use both analytical and sensory approaches. A sensory appraisal is essential, given that this is akin to how the consumer will appraise final products, but analytical support, ideally using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GCMS), can be used to generate an analytical fingerprint of the botanical and is a potent method for comparing across samples. For instance, for juniper, relatively high levels of monoterpenes are generally undesirable and can be reflected by the presence of piney, resinous aromas. There is one caveat to the employment of GCMS. Unless sophisticated methodologies are employed, then generally speaking it only detects compounds that are
sufficiently volatile. Thus for botanicals macerated without subsequent distillation (eg. in colored absinthe production) other approaches are required in addition to GCMS, such as UV-visible spectroscopy, which can detect extracted colors and tannins. Another approach that we are actively exploring is the development of near-infrared spectroscopic calibrations for key botanicals. The advantage here is minimal sample preparation and analysis time and has found utility in the quality control of other agricultural commodities. Once a reference material has been prepared it should be stored appropriately. Careful thought needs to be given to the storage volume of a sample, and it is strongly advisable to divide up material into several containers to minimize contamination and oxygen ingress by repeated opening and closing. For instance, for GCMS analysis, a small sample (100 – 1000 μl) in sealed vials restricts oxygen ingress and is highly compact. Brown-colored vials are useful for reducing light-induced degradation, although in some instances these vials are brown due to the use of iron(III) in the glass, which can be a strong oxidizing agent that has the potential to degrade the oil content. For samples required for sensory analysis, larger volumes are generally required, although 5 – 10 ml of oils1 should be sufficient, in the context that gin and absinthe contain around 100 mg and 1.5 g/l oils. For intact solids, a sample of 100 g should be sufficient for work-up to a final reference standard. Whilst it is challenging to prepare a flavor reference library, the benefits can be significant, contributing to the selection and use of botanicals for the production of premium quality distilled spirits. We are currently exploring how such a precompetitive library might be established for the benefit of distillers producing botanically-based distilled spirits.
Paul Hughes, Ph.D. is assistant professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. For more information visit www. oregonstate.edu or call (541) 737-4595.
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1 A rough calculation based on typical recipes and the published oil contents of the common botanicals.
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P E A C H B R A N D Y WRITTEN BY ANDY GARRISON
e abound in the luxury of the peach,” bragged President and Founding Foodie Thomas Jefferson about the 38 varieties grown on his estate. “If I had my little way, I’d eat peaches every day,” exclaimed the other Presidents of the United States. Indeed, there is something magical, perhaps even presidential, about the perfect peach. Peaches are of Asiatic origin, but they are deeply entrenched in American history. Thought to have arrived in Florida with Spanish settlers in the 16th century, they were brought north by missionaries and Native Americans, eventually becoming so established as wild and cultivated plants that some Europeans took them to be indigenous to North America. Settlers in Virginia planted them in enormous quantity, and as a fruit that produces abundantly but stores and ships poorly, it wasn’t long before peach cider (sometimes called mobby) and peach brandy were in production. Peach brandy was much beloved by colonial drinkers, and found its way into several classic tipples like Fish House Punch, but the industrialization of
brandy in 2014 and two newcomers, to share their experiences.
A LINK TO HISTORY
American distilling and agriculture caused peach brandy production to dwindle. By the mid-19th century it was more profitable to market fresh and canned peaches, and by 1908 a mere 13,649 gallons were produced. Prohibition was just about the final nail in the peach brandy coffin, and for quite a while authentic peach brandy was more often encountered in books than on store shelves. With the craft spirits movement in full swing, a few upstarts are now working to bring this American spirit back from the edge of extinction. I spoke with four producers, two who started making peach
At the George Washington Distillery at Mt. Vernon, Director of Historic Trades Steve Bashore and consulting distiller Lisa Wicker are a perfect picture of the ‘what’s old is new again’ spirit of the peach brandy revival. The distillery’s small wood-fired pot stills and tri-corner hats are a great introduction for tourists to this historic spirit. Washington operated a large whiskey distillery on his estate, but records from 1798-1799 indicate he also produced a small amount of peach brandy (although it seems like most of this was for “entertaining” at the manor rather than for sale). Inspired by the records and their success producing George Washington’s Rye Whiskey, the first batch of peach brandy was made in 2014 with input from Ted Huber of Huber’s Starlight Distillery and Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling. They continue to produce a limited amount. The distillery is a living history project, with wooden fermenters and 18th centuryWWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
style wood fired pot stills. However, as a tourist destination focused on education some concessions to modern times are made to allow the limited staff to tackle ambitious projects like distilling peach brandy. Their peach mash begins as a concentrated puree which is sourced through a broker Wicker knew from her time making fruit wine in Kentucky. She warns that there can be great variation between producers, and to specify that the puree contains no SO2 or other preservatives as they can impact the fermentation and distillation process. The puree is diluted with non-chlorinated water to an appropriate brix and receives a dose of GoFerm yeast nutrient. The mash is inoculated with a Scott Labs brandy yeast and fermentation begins in 120 gallon upright wooden barrels. They target a five- to sevenday ferment, but the duration is weather-dependent as the distillery is not temperature controlled. The mash is distilled twice in wood-fired 70-100 gallon Vendome copper pot stills. The hearts cut averages between 130 and 145 proof and is done by smell, as there is much variation in flavor between each of the stills. The spirit is put into uncharred or used bourbon barrels at a historically accurate low proof, 104. After a year Wicker finds developed flavors of “peachy burnt sugar and butterscotch pudding”. Some is bottled as a clear eau de vie, which Bashore found “moved a bit slower than
expected” despite good feedback on flavor and quality. Tasters are often not familiar with eau de vie and the unsweetened, unflavored brandy can be a rude shock to a tourist expecting a sticky sweet Fuzzy Navel. For Bashore, “George Washington saves us every day, people are buying a piece of history,” but other producers will face similar consumer challenges.
DIG DEEP “I’m not sure why, but there’s not much market for fruit brandies of any kind,” opines Becky Harris, president and chief distiller of Catoctin Creek Distilling in Virginia. They have been producing peach brandy since 2014, as a collaboration with a local winery. They attempted to process peaches themselves, but found they didn’t have the infrastructure or bandwidth to do it all for such a small production product. (“It was a huge mess, everything was sticky!”) The peach wine, made with no SO2 and minimal additions of sugar or acid, is cloudy but not too thick. The pits are carefully removed. The wine is distilled on a 100-gallon three-plate Kothe still in a single distillation. Harris prefers to run it quickly without a lot of reflux to get a “full, waxy taste” and runs down to a low proof which gives the spirit “lots of texture and viscosity.” She advises that “the peachiness is way into the run, and if you are too conservative or run too cleanly you might miss it.” The brandy is aged 1 to 2 years in used oak,
Peach brandy much beloved by colonial drinkers but the industrialization of American distilling and agriculture caused peach brandy production to dwindle. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
SCIENCE…IT’S THE PITS I had a simple question: Is it safe to include stone fruit pits in the mash during fermentation or in the still during distillation? The more I dug, the more I realized the answer is complex. The issue at stake is related to hydrocyanic acid (HCN), also known as prussic acid, an extremely toxic compound as the heart of Victorian murder mysteries and also linked to stone fruit pits. The pits (and other plant tissue) contain cyanogenic glycosides, a secondary plant metabolite which are relatively non-toxic, but crushing the plant material results in cell disintegration and initiates enzymatic hydrolysis of cyanogenic compounds by B-glucosidases (1). This leads to the formation of HCN and the aldehyde benzaldehyde. Benzaldehyde is thought to be “especially important for the spirits made from stone fruits like plum, cherry, and apricot” and “contributes bitter almond, marzipan, [and] cherry flavors in spirits” (2). While HCN is toxic and HCN content in stone fruit spirits is limited by the EU to 70 mg/L, benzaldehyde is “generally regarded as safe as a food additive in the United States and is accepted as a flavoring substance by the European Union” (1). The TTB Alcohol Beverage Laboratory cited an even lower limit of 25 ppm for prussic acid determined using ion chromatography. Tricky! The next wrinkle is that HCN is thought to be a precursor to the creation of ethyl carbamate (EC), a genotoxic carcinogen subject to much research in the EU. (3) Light exposure causes benzaldehyde to form peroxides which leads to cyanide oxidizing to cyanate, “which reacts with ethanol to form ethyl carbamate.” (3) Stone fruit distillates are often found to have elevated levels of EC and “because of its carcinogenic and mutagenic properties, no limit value below which health risks could be reliably excluded can be formulated for EC. Therefore, the goal must be to consistently reduce the contents by means of technological measures.” (3) The measures recommended are to avoid breaking or damaging the pits, completely destone the mash prior to fermentation (HCN is almost totally liberated in the first day of fermentation), to conduct the distillation with copper catalysts, to avoid overheating the mash during distillation, and to make an early tails cut at 65% v/v (1, 2, 3, 4). Destoning the mash results in a different flavor profile, as it reduces the benzaldehyde content (2) and researchers found “spirits produced from mashes with stones could always be distinguished from those of the stoneless mashes” (4). However, tasters overall had no preference for complete or de-stoned mashes, suggesting that preference for bitter almond flavor in spirits is a matter of personal taste (duh science…). Lachenmeier et al go further to say that destoning has “the advantage that the typical flavor of the fruit itself can now clearly emerge. […]the strong stone aroma does not cover the delicate, fruit typical components” (3).
as Harris finds it is “really enhanced by wood contact.” Sales are best in the bar trade and in the tasting room, where the brandy is packaged in 375 ml bottles to keep the price down. Even so, demand is light compared to whiskey and requires a lot of consumer education for customers expecting something sweet. “It’s a lovely product, I love the cooked peach cobbler smell of it,” said Harris, “but to be a viable category it needs fans who buy it, drink it, and tell all their friends to drink it!”
GEORGIA SUNSHINE FROM KENTUCKY POT STILLS If anyone can get the word out about the deliciousness of peach brandy, it’s Copper & Kings American Brandy Company in Louisville, Kentucky. Founder Joe Heron and master distiller Brandon O’Daniel are some of the loudest evangelists for the American Brandy category, and for the last year they have been at work in semi-secret on peach brandy. They were drawn to the rich history of the spirit in America but O’Daniel says the main driver was that “I absolutely love peach brandy to begin with.” After several small trial batches, Copper & Kings has begun pilot production and hope to continue to scale-up in the future. They contract with a Georgia peach processor to bring in peach juice made from a blend of varieties. “It’s about like orange juice in consistency,” O’Daniel said. Earlier experiments with peach concentrate and peach slurry were problematic to handle or yielded unsatisfactory flavors. The pits are removed by the processor. While they had some safety concerns about the pits (see sidebar) it was mainly a flavor choice as the pits’ astringent, almond taste was not desired. The juice is fermented at 60 degrees F for two to three weeks without the addition of acid or nutrients. The goal is to achieve a clean ferment as O’Daniel
The expense is worth it to connect to the special agriculture of home, and for a chance to bottle the flavor of an American summer. finds with their pot stills “everything, good and bad, is magnified 10x.” The wine gets an “extremely slow” double distillation in Vendome copper pot stills, with the heads discarded and the tails recycled, before proofing down and entering 53-gallon #1 charred barrels. One year in, and Copper and Kings is very happy with the spirit, finding lots of delicate “notes of tropical fruit and sweet candied peaches.” The spirit has gotten favorable marks from visiting journalists, but those eager to try it might have a wait ahead of them as O’Daniel’s not sure how long it will age, claiming “there’s no hurry, we just want it to be great.”
A SOUTH CAROLINA SUMMER High Wire Distilling in South Carolina is another up-and-coming producer trying their hand at peach brandy. Originally founder and co-owner Scott Blackwell had no plans for brandy, but a project to recreate a historical watermelon brandy was a surprise hit with customers and left him eager to explore a spirit with roots closer to home. South Carolina is the number-two peach producer in the country after California, and Blackwell and his wife Ann had many fond summer memories of peaches “from the ridge” and the fervent debate they inspired locally about who had the best. After a very small trial batch three years ago, they decided to “go for it” and connected with a very large peach farmer and processor located mid-state. The processor makes peach fruit cups for school lunches and had the equipment to skin, pit, and pulp the fruit, so High Wire brought in 11,000 pounds of pulp, 600 pounds of skin, and
REFERENCES BIG THANKS TO GARY SPEDDING FOR ALL THE RESEARCH CLUES! 1. Balcerek M., Szopa J. (2012): Ethanol biosynthesis and hydrocyanic acid liberation during fruit mashes fermentation. Czech J. Food Sci., 30: 144–152 2. 2. Nermina Spaho Spaho, Nermina. (2017) : Distillation Techniques in the Fruit Spirits Production. Distillation – Innovative Applications and Modeling 129:152
some pits, which were processed separately. Initially the mash “looked like lumpy orange juice,” but after a dose of pectinase it turned into “squash soup” and fermented cleanly. The pits were roasted, crushed, then roasted again (a process Blackwell brought from his days as a baker making noyaux to flavor pastries) and then hung in the mash to impart an almondy character. The mash was distilled in their Kothe hybrid pot still, and was run as a single pass similar to their Agricole-style rum with reflux during the heads phase and then with two plates enabled to pull off the hearts between 70-75% ABV, an approach which gives a heaviness on the palate, according to Blackwell. They elected to use recoopered, lightly-toasted French oak barrels to avoid imparting the whiskey flavors of used barrels or overpowering the delicate spirit with new oak. Tasting at nine months they found the “floral notes are still there, with lots of peach skin aromatics” and the wood choice “really separates the layers and highlights the nuances” of the fruit. The 11,000 pounds of fruit yielded about two barrels and Blackwell admitted “it’s expensive and hard, that’s why more people don’t do it.” But for Blackwell and other peach brandy pioneers, the expense is worth it to connect to the special agriculture of home, and for a chance to bottle the flavor of an American summer.
Andy Garrison is Head Distiller at Stone Barn 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. He likes PX Sherry and thinks you should too. For more information, email Andy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. 3. Lachenmeier D.W., Schehl B., Kuballa T., Fank W., Senn T. (2005): Retrospective trends and current status of ethyl carbamate in German stone-fruit spirits. Food Additives and Contaminants, 22: 397– 405 4. 4. Schehl B, Lachenmeier D, Senn T, Heinisch JJ (2005) Effect of the stone content on the quality of plum and cherry spirits produced from mash fermentations with commercial and laboratory yeast strains. J Agric Food Chem 53:8230–8238
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
BELMONT FARMS DISTILLERY W R I TT E N BY D E VO N T R E VAT H A N / / / P H O T O G R A P H E D BY A M A N DA J OY C H R I S T E N S E N
hen Chuck Miller began making whiskey on his farm in Virginia 30 years ago, the word “craft” wasn’t part of anybody’s vocabulary. There was no model for this business. His grandfather had distilled, albeit not within the legal realm, which is where he learned the trade. At the time that Belmont Farms was getting its start, you’d be hard-pressed to find an American whiskey made from a pot still. “There was no demand. People weren’t running around looking for stills or bottling equipment. Stuff was really cheap,” says Miller. He managed to track down a man who had purchased property in the Virginia mountains with an old still in storage and was eager to unload the equipment to whoever would pick it up. Miller brought home a 3,000-gallon copper pot still, manufactured after Prohibition ended in 1933. He also secured a 900-gallon doubler and bottling equipment, most of which was made in the 50s. Miller is a firm believer in the power of the pot still, as well as the doubler. “We’ve got this system where you run it the first time and then the second time you take the good whiskey and put it back in the doubler and run it again. You make some pretty good whiskey doing that.” He feels he is able to get a superior flavor and body on a spirit that’s been distilled through a pot, though he acknowledges that the process is more laborious. The extra work certainly hasn’t held Belmont Farms back in terms of variety; they have two different product lines for a total of 15 different SKUs. The Kopper Kettle line includes a Virginia whiskey, a 100% corn vodka, a lightly-aged golden gin, a bonded whiskey, and a bourbon, all of which are singleestate. It also includes a chai-spiced rum and apple whiskey. Then there’s the Virginia Lightning side, which offers a corn whiskey and a moonshine as well as a couple of flavored moonshines, like apple, peach, and cherry. The majority of grain that Miller uses for his mash comes from his farm, the distillery’s namesake. “Occasionally something gets out of rotation and we have to get a local farmer to do it,” he says. “Like we just started rye this year and I contracted that. A guy had to grow my rye because it didn’t fit into my schedule.” Just one of the realities of running a farm and a distillery simultaneously. When they can’t source raw materials from their property or the local area, they make sure to keep their ingredients nationally-grown. Such is the case for their rum, which is made from Florida molasses. Belmont Farms stores their grains in four large grain tanks now, one each for corn, wheat, rye, and barley. “I’ve been buying the malted barley — that stuff’s expensive. I feel like I can make it a whole lot cheaper,” says Miller, showcasing the same pioneering spirit that led him to open a craft whiskey distillery when no one else had. “That’s the project for this summer, get the malted barley business going.” Over the past couple of decades, the folks at Belmont Farms have witnessed the meteoric rise of craft spirits. In
those early days, Miller admits that “people kind of looked at you funny,” but there wasn’t any competition, so sales were good. Eventually, more and more distillers came into the mix. “I wasn’t able to maintain my lead,” says Miller. “A lot of the problem was I started doing contract work too, and a lot of them didn’t like me competing against them. So I withdrew some of my products and helped the other people get going.” Over time, the dips leveled out and Belmont has remained steady. They now distribute mostly in their home state of Virginia as well as neighboring DC and Maryland. They’ve secured exportation contracts, sending product over to China, Japan, and England, which Miller sees as the future for American whiskey makers. “You go out now and competition’s horrendous. So I’ve kind of turned my attention more overseas.” He just got back from Switzerland, which showed a lot of interest in Belmont Farms’ products, and he’s planning to go to Hong Kong later in the year. But the number of distilleries is not the only thing that’s increased; investment and acquisition of spirit brands are at an all-time high. Miller realizes how that’s helped some, but he’s got different ideas. “I like being independent, I don’t have to answer to anyone, I just do what I want,” he says. “So that’s our goal here, keep everything paid for so we just slowly expand and do it on our own.” Belmont Farms is very much a family affair — Miller runs it with his wife, Jeanette, and their son-in-law is now the head distiller. They’re in the process of expansion; they’ve recently purchased a 4,000-gallon pot still to place in their new location, and Miller says he is constantly in need of more space for barrels, which isn’t a bad problem to have. Talks of expansion led us to discuss some of the large production facilities in Tennessee, but Miller is quick to point out he makes Virginia whiskey. “I tell everybody I’m competing against that guy down in Tennessee who makes Tennessee whiskey, that Jack somebody down there,” he jokes. But when asked why Virginia is constantly overlooked in the annals of American whiskey, the tone turns serious. Miller tells the story of bourbon legend, Elijah Craig, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “One day his warehouse caught on fire and a lot of the staves got burnt, but he went ahead and built his barrels anyway so that’s how he got started aging whiskey,” Miller says. “But the congregation that he was a preacher for didn’t like him making whiskey, they eventually ran him out of town. He went over the mountains to Kentucky, started making it there.” Thankfully, history won’t be repeating itself here; this Virginia staple will be distilling whiskey for many years to come.
Belmont Farms Distillery is located in Culpeper, Virginia. For more info visit www.belmontfarmdistillery.com or call (540) 825-3207. 56
FEEL THE BURN
written by Aaron Knoll
A closer look at the trigeminal effect in spirits, spirit production, and what distillers can do about it.
hate gin,” the taster said, his nose scrunched up as he spoke, his countenance contorted into a grimace. “It tastes like pine trees on fire!” This was the first time I led a gin tasting. I thought two things to myself. Firstly, “of course there’s some burn, its alcohol.” Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, “If you drink it like it’s a shot, of course it’s going to taste that way!” What Tim Knittel wrote in this very magazine back in 2017 would have helped a younger me: “Some folks will never get past the burn, and that’s OK.”1 In the years since that tasting, I’ve refined my craft and spent a lot of time talking to and observing consumers as they describe gin (and other spirits) to their friends. One thing I learned early on was that when you’re talking about the taste of spirits with everyday, ordinary, non-industry people, that feeling of “burn” was one of the most important qualities in a spirit. Consumers have a lot of words for it. Some are positive, like “it puts a little warmth in my belly.” But most are overwhelmingly negative: “hot,” “heat,” “scorching,” “fire,” or the understated, “... that’s a little rough.” In my study of consumer taste preferences, consumers strongly prefer to search for gins that don’t have a lot of heat to them.2 How’s a distiller designing a new product supposed to navigate
the paradox of heat in spirits? It’s a property inherent in the craft itself and yet consumers have strong — and at times negative — reactions to it. It seems like a good time to take a look at what this “heat” is, what it’s caused by, why people so readily latch on to it, and what distillers can do about it.
WHAT IS THIS HEAT ANYWAY? Often it’s stated plainly that this heat is just what alcohol/ethanol tastes like, but taste is often used as a placeholder for all of the things that happen when a person puts something into their mouth.3 This simplification glosses over the fact that when a person sips on a spirit, there are three (!) sensory systems working together that drives a person’s impression of your spirit. First, there’s the sense of taste. This is the most basic of the sensory systems. Taste is capable of perceiving salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. A study looking at just the taste of ethanol found that 100% of participants thought a 10% ABV solution tasted bitter.4 Olfaction is the next sense and perhaps the most important one when it comes to explaining what something tastes like. Volatiles and aromatic molecules from the substance are released through chewing and swallowing that register as the familiar flavors of food and drink.
1 Knittel, T. (2017). Distillery Visitor Experience. Artisan Spirit, Spring 2017, 123-125. 2 Knoll, A. J. (2019). Consumer Taste Preference in Gin: 2018 Report for Distillers and Spirit Creators. Denver, CO. 3 Pigott, J. (Ed.). (2012). Alcoholic Beverages: Sensory evaluation and consumer research. Philadelphia, PA: Woodhead Publishing Limited. 4 Scinska, A., Koros, E., Habrat, B., Kukwa, A., Kostowski, W., & Bienkowski, P. (2000). Bitter and sweet components of ethanol taste in humans. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 60(2), 199-206. doi:10.1016/s0376-8716(99)00149-0 — but it’s worth noting that it also found that about 30% of people thought it also tasted sweet. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
However, those volatiles also act upon a person’s trigeminal system when released. The trigeminal system “is a third chemical sense in addition to olfaction and gustation.”5 It produces sensations through a series of nerves in a person’s face that are responsible for detecting certain substances as a protective function. This system is triggered by the chemical sensitivity of mucous membranes, which is known as chemesthesis. Not all volatiles stimulate this system equally. Some activate receptors in miniscule quantities, while others require much larger amounts. These volatiles, acting upon these receptors, trigger feelings such as astringency6, freshness, coolness, stinging, tickling, and warmth.7 For example, there’s one specific receptor that is activated by eucalyptus that creates that feeling of coolness. Cinnamon activates a completely different receptor that registers a feeling of “warmth.” Capsaicin and camphor both activate the same receptor, producing either the burning sensation of a hot pepper or a tingling coolness.8 Finally, there’s the TRPV1 receptor, which is activated by ethanol and is presumed to be the reason for the “burning and irritant sensations” experience when drinking a spirit.9 However, it is not ethanol alone which activates these trigeminal sensors. One such effect that has been reported is that the “smoothness of distilled spirits increases over time and trigeminal burn decreases.10” If the ethanol levels do not change, what else could be causing it? This question led Kokkinidou and Peterson in their groundbreaking 2016 study to identify other organic molecules that increase/decrease the perception of burn. Identifying aldehydes and ketones responsible for burn has exciting potential for the future of spirits design and manufacture. Octanal, which is one of the most important flavor-active ingredients in orange peel,11 was shown to be one of the most
potent of these molecules. It increased the perception of burn in quantities as small as 0.05mg/L.12 2-heptanone was the most burn-inducing, with participants rating it as the “hottest” if present in amounts of over a gram per liter.13 Nonanal and benzaldehyde were the others identified as having significant effects according to Kokkinidou and Peterson.
WHY DO CONSUMERS REACT SO STRONGLY TO HEAT? To better understand why consumers react so quickly to feelings of heat, we must empathize with these tasters. Most consumers aren’t experts in cooperage or wood, nor have they tasted the difference between the flavor of lavender and coriander distilled as opposed to their natural forms. One thing that they are secure in assessing, though, is the gut feeling that the spirit is “hot,” or “smooth.” The trigeminal effects of spirits are familiar and accessible. It has been asserted that English only has three words to describe scents that are not the names of the objects themselves.14 An example of this would be when someone tries cinnamon and says it tastes like “cinnamon.” Thus far, the trigeminal sensations we’ve mentioned such as heat, cooling, and stinging are familiar sensations that all people bring with them into a tasting room for the first time. This is why most people will react to “heat” first and then work backwards to other aspects of a spirit’s flavor. Another reason for this connection is that “emotional processes, on the other hand, seem to be more central to the lower senses of taste, smell, touch and trigeminality.”15 These senses often work together and can strengthen memories of emotion when they’re triggered together.16 Perhaps this
5 Frasnelli, J., Albrecht, J., Bryant, B., & Lundström, J. (2011). Perception of specific trigeminal chemosensory agonists. Neuroscience, 189, 377-383. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.04.065. 6 Pigott, J. (Ed.). (2012). Alcoholic Beverages: Sensory evaluation and consumer research. Philadelphia, PA: Woodhead Publishing Limited. 7 Filiou, R., Lepore, F., Bryant, B., Lundstrom, J. N., & Frasnelli, J. (2014). Perception of Trigeminal Mixtures. Chemical Senses, 40(1), 61-69. doi:10.1093/ chemse/bju064. 8 Ibid. 9 Brasser, S. M., Castro, N., & Feretic, B. (2015). Alcohol sensory processing and its relevance for ingestion. Physiology & Behavior, 148, 65-70. doi:10.1016/j. physbeh.2014.09.004. 10 Peterson, D. (2014). Identification of Compounds that Influence Alcohol Smoothness [PDF]. Minneapolis: Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Flavor Research and Education Center. Retrieved From: https://www.chicagoift.org/assets/understanding-alcohol-flavor_peterson.pdf. 11 Varnam, A. H., & Sutherland, J. P. (1994). Beverages: Technology, Chemistry and Microbiology. Boston, MA: Springer US. 12 Kokkinidou, S., & Peterson, D. G. (2016). Identification of compounds that contribute to trigeminal burn in aqueous ethanol solutions. Food Chemistry, 211, 757-762. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.05.117. 13 Ibid. 14 Yong, E. (2015, November 07). Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/11/the-vocabulary-of-smell/414618. 15 Pigott, J. (Ed.). (2012). Alcoholic Beverages: Sensory evaluation and consumer research. Philadelphia, PA: Woodhead Publishing Limited. 16 Sell, C. (2014). Chemistry of the sense of smell. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
is why the visceral memories of a bad night in college are so strongly encoded in minds — the heat of the spirit, the flavor, and waking up the morning after with a fire in the head. When a consumer tastes a spirit, they bring all of this to the table.
WHAT THINGS AFFECT THE HEAT IN YOUR SPIRIT? Much research has been done into what things affect perception of heat in a spirit, but what can a distiller do with it? One study of Greek pomace brandy found that there were lower levels of aldehydes in the spirits made by professional distillers when compared to homemade spirits.17 This suggests that training and making the right cuts can increase the palatability of a spirit. Another study of brandies showed that an aging system — stave, chip or barrel — had an impact on aldehyde content.18 However, as it predates the Kokkinou and Peterson study, it did not examine the molecular contributors like octanal and heptanol that they identified. Overall, this study suggests a future avenue for research. Distillers who work with botanicals or infusions in particular have another way they can affect the heat perception in their spirit. Among the volatiles that activate other trigeminal receptors are cinnamaldehyde and eucalyptol19 (both of which can be imparted into a spirit such as gin through distillation. In the research done with gin drinkers, they tended to lump trigeminal sensations together — heat, astringency, and stinging, including those coming from tannins. Impressions of heat therefore can be affected in combination with other trigeminal sensations that either amplify or ameliorate the base spirit’s character. The oldest trick in the book for reducing trigeminal effect of ethanol is dilution. Nolden and Hayes observed that at ethanol concentrations of 32% and higher generally elicited a predominant note of burning/tingling, at 16% and lower, study participants described it as bitter.20 However, distillers
in most cases are not diluting pure ethanol. One study showed that reducing the ABV of a rum with distilled water did not have a significant reduction of heat perception at all. It muted some of the other aroma flavors but did not significantly affect the perception of astringency.21 The study’s authors note that more research is necessary as it was “the first study to evaluate the sensory effects of ethanol on distilled spirits.” But perhaps the most exciting development has come out of the work of Kokkinidou and Peterson. They identified a naturally occurring and GRAS sweetener trehalose that was able to reduce the presence of molecules which contribute to burn in vodka and brandy.22 They’ve since patented several methods for reducing burn in spirits23 — which could hopefully reduce the reliance on additives like glycerin for increasing smoothness.
CONCLUSION Across all categories of spirits, mouthfeel and smoothness is second only to flavor in importance to consumers. Its visceral nature, however, means it’s likely the first thing to be communicated and perceived about your spirit. The downside of the literature is that research into specific spirits in regards to ethanol and trigeminal perception is in its infancy. Nearly all of the studies note the paucity of work in this space and the opportunities for future researchers to move it forward. Encouraging steps forward like Kokkinidou and Peterson’s groundbreaking study into the molecules underlying burn — and the excitement of 2019 Jogue Scholarship winner Zhuzhu Wang, who is conducting her doctoral work specifically on the effect of ethanol on flavor perception in distilled spirits24 — make this an exciting space to keep an eye on in coming years.
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 TheGinisIn.com in 2009.
17 Apostolopoulou, A., Flouros, A., Demertzis, P., & Akrida-Demertzi, K. (2005). Differences in concentration of principal volatile constituents in traditional Greek distillates. Food Control, 16(2), 157-164. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2004.01.005. 18 Caldeira, I., Anjos, O., Portal, V., Belchior, A., & Canas, S. (2010). Sensory and chemical modifications of wine-brandy aged with chestnut and oak wood fragments in comparison to wooden barrels. Analytica Chimica Acta, 660(1-2), 43-52. doi:10.1016/j.aca.2009.10.059. 19 Filiou, R., Lepore, F., Bryant, B., Lundstrom, J. N., & Frasnelli, J. (2014). Perception of Trigeminal Mixtures. Chemical Senses, 40(1), 61-69. doi:10.1093/ chemse/bju064. 20 Nolden, A. A., & Hayes, J. E. (2015). Perceptual Qualities of Ethanol Depend on Concentration, and Variation in These Precepts Associates with Drinking Frequency. Chemosensory Perception, 8(3), 149-157. doi:10.1007/s12078-015-9196-5. 21 Ickes, C. M., & Cadwallader, K. R. (2018). Effect of ethanol on flavor perception of Rum. Food Science & Nutrition, 6(4), 912-924. doi:10.1002/fsn3.629. 22 Peterson, D. (2014). Identification of Compounds that Influence Alcohol Smoothness [PDF]. Minneapolis: Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Flavor Research and Education Center. Retrieved From: https://www.chicagoift.org/assets/understanding-alcohol-flavor_peterson.pdf. 23 Peterson, D. G., & Kokkinidou, S. (2017). U.S. Patent No. US20170036974. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 24 Jogue Scholarship Winners. (2016, March 16). Retrieved April 20, 2019, from https://flavorchemists.com/jogue-scholarship-winners. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
OUR SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS
Greg Eidam chalks up Sugarlandsâ€™ success to good fortune and great people. WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY DEVON TREVATHAN
riving down the main parkway that runs through Gatlinburg, you would be forgiven if you didn’t immediately recognize it as home to the year’s best whiskey producer, according to the American Craft Spirits Association. After all, the area is slightly garish; large, branded attractions loom over you from every direction, and the sidewalks are clogged with tourists baking in the sunshine. It’s a far cry from the gently rolling hills of Scotland or Kentucky’s tall rickhouses, yet distillers everywhere could learn a thing or two from their peers in Moonshine country, specifically Sugarlands Distilling Company. With over 16,000 individual reviews and counting on Tripadvisor, Sugarlands has managed to maintain a perfect five-star rating. Guests regularly leave comments praising their guides and applauding the welcoming atmosphere, as well as the quality of its ‘shine. Greg Eidam, head distiller of Sugarlands, admits that the position of tour guide, which they call “tastemaker,” is a tricky one to fill. The person must be warm, engaging, quick with a joke, and able to project their voice over the din of visitors, but its team members like these that he credits with Sugarlands’ success. “Our brand ambassadors are the people who come here and are entertained. Our people transfer their passion and energy to our guests and make that guest experience special.” Of course, their location doesn’t hurt either; the distillery is situated at a crook in the road that makes the building equally visible from either direction of the main parkway and is positioned so that tourists funnel past on a regular basis. The scale of visitors drawn to the area each year cannot be overstated; Sugarlands alone sees more foot WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
traffic than the whole of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Gatlinburg is not just a town, it’s a destination, especially for those who grew up in Tennessee and the surrounding states. “One of the things that we learned when we were preparing to open our distillery is that people come here for attractions and to be entertained, so with the distillery we wanted to build something that was an attraction,” Eidam says. “It wasn’t just you come here to drink or you buy something — we wanted them to have a good time.” For Eidam and Ned Vickers, owner and CEO of Sugarlands Distillery, this meant putting added emphasis on the customer experience. Gatlinburg is a walking town, so visitors often arrive tired and hot by the time they reach the distillery’s doors. They’re in need of something cool to drink and probably a little reprieve from the rest of their families. As they gather around one of the distillery’s circular tasting bars, in the center of which stands a tastemaker, “all of the sudden they’re leaving all that day behind them and they’re having a good time,” explains Eidam. “They’re hanging on every word the tastemaker is saying and they really get into it.” There are rules at Sugarlands, one of which is that everyone drinks together because, according to Eidam, the family that drinks together “goes to jail together.” While the jokes are plentiful, so is the energy in the groups gathered ‘round. No part of this was coincidental. Eidam and Vickers visited distilleries small and large when Sugarlands was still in its preliminary stages. They made note of the elements they liked and what they felt they could recreate in their own distillery. A lot of work went into designing a friendly, inviting space that attracts guests and makes a
lasting impression. It was Vickers who first came up with the idea of opening a distillery. The two had met in college in Tennessee. After school, they began homebrewing together, and the hobby took. A civil engineer by trade, Eidam was feeling burnt out professionally by the late 2000s. The friends looked into opening a brewery, but at that time the brewing landscape was already heavily saturated. When Vickers’ work as a developer in Gatlinburg brought him to the lot where Sugarlands now resides, he proposed a different idea: why not a distillery? Startup was slow going, with many variables to parse out, but one element that was never a question was what Eidam and Vickers would produce. Appalachia was, after all, a “Moonshiner’s paradise,” according to acclaimed American travel writer Horace Kephart. It had a long and established history of spirits distillation in place. Hundreds of years ago, immigrants from Scotland and Ireland settled the area because “the land, the ruggedness
of the country, this was very similar to them,” explains Eidam. “It was just like home, so they naturally migrated into this Appalachian region.” Sugarlands gets its name from one such community profiled in Kephart’s book. The people that landed there were primarily from farming towns where distillation was an essential tool to preserve leftover grain at the end of the season. The resultant spirit could then be stored without risk of spoilage or transported to market where it would be bartered or sold to provide for the family. In the early 20th century, state and local governments began to ban distillation. Instead of wasting leftover crops, the farmers packed up their stills and headed for the backwoods, where they would make their spirit by the light of the moon. Starting a fire to cook the grain risked capture, so the moonshiners began supplementing raw sugar into their wash with a small portion of cracked corn to begin the fermentation. Those ingredients would be dissolved into a barrel of water and allowed to ferment before racking off some
of the liquid, adding in more sugar, and keeping that going in a process analogous to sour mashing in bourbon production. Sugarlands’ first product, the Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash Moonshine, is an homage to those early innovators. “When we decided to open a distillery here we thought it was very important that we tell the story of the history and how moonshine originally was made and were true to that process, which is why we started with that Silver Cloud Moonshine,” says Eidam. Of course, not all moonshine was created equal, especially the kind made before pH meters or hydrometers were widely available, so flavoring emerged as a way to mask inferior product. Though the overall quality has improved significantly over the last hundred years, additions to the spirit became customary. Today, Sugarlands has over 15 varieties of moonshine, many of which utilize traditional flavors like blackberry, peach, and southern sweet tea. But Sugarlands did not just stop at moonshine; they have experienced
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
incredible success with their first aged whiskey, the Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye. Each of their seven releases thus far has sold out completely, some in as little as a half an hour. Online whiskey reviewers express unanimously positive opinions, and this year Roaming Man took home the American Craft Spirit Association’s award for Best Whiskey. Things are done a little differently at Sugarlands. Eidam uses a stone mill from Europe instead of a hammer mill to grind down their grains. They ferment in open-top receptacles before distilling in a hybrid still manufactured by Vendome, which Eidam prefers to column stills. The portion of rye in the Roaming Man mashbill is on the lower end for the category: 51%, with 45% corn and 4% malt to finish it out. Compare this to rye giant Bulleit, which clocks in at 95% rye. Seasoned barrel staves toasted to char three and four contribute significantly to the flavor. The greater corn content does give this spirit some notes most often associated with bourbon, like caramel and cream, but it still delivers that distinct rye spice on the palate.
For Eidam, winning that award and receiving such esteemed recognition for a whiskey he made was a pretty special experience. “We’re known for our moonshine. How many people have had our whiskey? Some don’t even know if it’s good or not. Whiskey drinkers turn their nose up to all the moonshine and kind of paint us in a little bit of a corner like, ‘Oh, there are those commercial moonshine guys.’” Even in their own state, at the distillers guild which Sugarlands helped to cofound, Eidam has noticed the sly comments and small asides. There is an existing assumption that moonshine isn’t as good as aged whiskey, that it’s somehow less legitimate, and that its producers don’t make the same quality juice. Eidam and his team are happy to continue disproving that theory to everyone who manages to score a bottle. With the success of Roaming Man and their continued popularity within Gatlinburg, Sugarlands has finally decided it’s time to expand. They resisted at first — Eidam and Vickers didn’t want to grow too much too quickly and put the quality of their product in jeopardy — but now seems
as good a time as any for an upgrade. A second production space is already under construction; it will feature a 3,500-gallon pot still as well as a 24-inch column, and eventually, a tasting room. Eidam is eager to begin playing around with new styles of whiskey, specifically single malts and a classic Tennessee whiskey, complete with an as-yet-undetermined level of charcoal filtering. “We’re working with the University of Tennessee. They’ve got a guy that’s getting his masters, he’s playing around with our distillate and experimenting with contact time, analyzing it to see what the changes are, what’s being removed, things like that.” Sugarlands has also been named the official moonshine of Nascar, bringing the racing sport back to its bootlegging roots. No matter the changes that Sugarlands makes to its production space or product lineup, you can guarantee that they will continue to welcome newcomers into the family as long as the doors are open.
Sugarlands Distilling Company is located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. For more info visit www.sugarlands.com or call (865) 325-1355. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
illian had a problem. Against all odds, she’d managed to build a successful spirits business, selling her specialty, a truly weird (but utterly unique) habaneroflavored whiskey, into 47 of the lower 48 states. For some reason, she just couldn’t crack New Hampshire. In any event, her hooch was quickly becoming the hottest item in taquerias (other than tequila and tacos, of course) and she was doing well. But she was tired. She’d put her nose to the grindstone years ago and left it there — pushing harder and harder as she tried to make the business a success. Now the business was booming but her nose was a nub. She was exhausted and ready to quit. Lillian wasn’t a quitter, however. And even if she wanted out, she didn’t want to leave behind her two star employees: Mayford and Bertha. Those two had been with Lillian since the venture was little more than a dream. They’d worked hard, too. But without the stress that flows from the responsibilities of ownership, they were still eager to continue. What’s more, they were interested in elevating the business to the next level, capturing New Hampshire and perhaps even taking the product global. Lillian had a choice. She could cozy up to a larger producer and see if the business could be sold (a prospect she hated) or she could try to transition the business to Mayford and Bertha. But unless they were hiding it well, neither Mayford nor Bertha appeared to have the wherewithal (alone or together) to buy the business. This problem, or some variant of it, crosses my desk with some regularity. And regardless of whether the entrepreneur wants to pass along all of the business or simply some portion of it, the fundamental challenges remain the same. You can’t easily sell something to someone if they can’t afford to buy it — and you may not even be able to give them a part of it without also giving them a problem. So what is Lillian — or someone similarly situated — to do? To answer that question, we have to know what it is that Lillian really wants. For example, does she want to be out of the business entirely, and the sooner the better? Or alternatively, does she want to retain some portion — maybe even a controlling portion — of the business indefinitely? Lillian’s answers to these and similar questions must inform her thinking about how to proceed. If she wants to wash her hands of her habanero-whiskey empire completely within the next month or two, and is insistent on passing it along to Mayford and Bertha, then her options are actually somewhat limited. She can sell it to them outright, but unless they can come up with financing then she may need to adjust her expectations about the value of her business or either the timing or the completeness of her exit. For example, it might be possible for her to achieve a complete exit through the use of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), but even if such a plan is feasible it will take some time and effort to establish. Conversely, she might be able to achieve a quicker exit if she provides seller financing, but in most cases that will mean that she is likely to remain tied to the financial success of the venture well beyond the date of sale. Alternatively, if she wants to retain some portion of the business, WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
HOW TO SHARE THE WEALTH? WRITTEN BY BRIAN B. DEFOE
and simply wants to bring Mayford and Bertha into an ownership position — possibly a position that increases in size over time — then she will have more options at her disposal. In any event, there are a host of things that Lillian needs to consider as she approaches the problem. They include the following:
AN EMPLOYER CAN’T REALLY MAKE A GIFT TO AN EMPLOYEE. On several occasions, I’ve had entrepreneurs ask me if it is possible to simply gift shares of stock or LLC membership interests to key employees. And being reasonably kind-hearted (for a lawyer, at least), I appreciate the sentiment. It feels good to give. Unfortunately, the law itself isn’t a soft touch. And so in situations where an employer gifts anything of value to an employee, the law (tax law, specifically) will treat that “gift” as taxable compensation. For Lillian and her trusty employees that means that if she tries to simply give them an interest in the business (let’s assume she’s running a corporation and therefore giving them shares), and not require them to pay anything for it, they’re going to get taxed on the value of that interest at the time of the “gift.” And since Mayford and Bertha work for the company, the company itself is also going to have a withholding obligation with respect to that compensation. In practice, this can be a real problem. If Lillian’s business is worth $1 million, and she transfers shares equaling 10 percent of the ownership to each of her two employees, then she’s saddled each of them with somewhere in the neighborhood of a $24,000 tax problem — and no cash to satisfy the tax. (I’m
making some assumptions here with regard to their tax filing status and the like, but bear with me.) Can’t you just imagine the joy on their little employee faces when they open that gift?
ESOPS AREN’T ALWAYS THE ANSWER. ESOPs are a bit like cold sores. They seem to come and go at random. Well, actually the ESOPs don’t come and go, the recommendations to use ESOPs come and go, with consultants and advisors (often those who will receive a fee if an ESOP structure is used) periodically popping up to talk about how they’re a great solution to Lillian’s problem. And they can be. But they can also be a miserable failure in certain circumstances. I’ll explain, but first a shorthand explanation of what an ESOP is and how it is supposed to work using Lillian as an example. If she wants to use an ESOP (a type of retirement plan that holds company stock), Lillian will sell her shares to a newly created ESOP trust. At the same time, the trust will borrow money to pay Lillian for her shares. The business itself will be on the hook to use its earnings to make taxdeductible cash contributions to the trust to pay off the loan. The stock in the ESOP will be credited to employees as the loan is paid off. Sounds good, right? We get to transfer ownership and there’s a tax advantage. Feels like a good deal. It certainly can work, but in practice a number of things can become problematic. First off, it may be difficult to find a lender who is willing to step in to make the loan to buy Lillian’s shares. This could be because the business isn’t spinning off a ton of cash and lenders don’t see it as a good credit risk. Alternatively, it could be because lenders don’t like to lend in situations where they can’t actually own the collateral securing the loan — and lenders are justifiably spooked by the question of whether they can actually own a spirits business without having the appropriate licenses in place at the bank. In any event, no loan means no cash to buy the shares. This makes Lillian sad. But even if a lender is identified and funding is secured, the basic structure of the arrangement puts the business at risk. The loan repayment obligation can be a strain on cash flow, hampering the company’s ability to make future investments in the business and leaving the company with inadequate working capital until the loan is repaid. In addition, if the business suffers any downturn while the loan is outstanding the lender may get nervous and call the loan. Making matters worse, if times do turn bad and the company is forced to lay off a worker or two, the company may be required to pay them for the value of their interests in the trust (i.e., their ownership stake in the business) some time after they leave the company. Finally, there’s the basic problem that Lillian’s business may be too small to even make the ESOP work. Depending on the complexity of the situation, an ESOP can commonly cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 to set up — and there are annual maintenance costs as well. So even if Lillian is able to find a lender, it may be so expensive to get this put into place that the tax advantages it might offer in a larger deal simply don’t materialize. 66
So with all that in mind, what’s Lillian to do? Lucky for us, Lillian is a fictional person. So let’s take advantage of our ability to rewind the tape and offer Lillian some advice before she gets so frustrated that she’s ready to throw up her hands and quit. With a little bit of planning on the front end, she can manage this problem such that it is less difficult to transition ownership later on.
LILLIAN SHOULD BRING MAYFORD AND BERTHA ALONG EARLY. If Lillian knows early on that she’s got two star employees, she should seriously consider offering them a stake in the business. This does many things, most of which are good. First, by allowing them to acquire an ownership stake in the business, Lillian will be encouraging Mayford and Bertha to think like owners of the business (because they will be). That shift of perspective, from employee to owner, will likely make them more reliable, productive and valuable employees. They will have skin in the game and will want even more to make the business a success. Second, by giving them the opportunity to acquire ownership, Lillian may actually be able to reduce the cash hit to the business from their overall compensation. This may seem counterintuitive, so let me explain. Remember when we said that if Lillian gifted shares that would be taxable? It was taxable because it had value at the time of grant. Even if they don’t appreciate the tax hit that comes from that award, Mayford and Bertha will still appreciate that they are receiving something of value when they get the shares. And since the resulting tax hit is only a percentage of the value of the shares, the incremental discomfort they feel is less than the value of the award. It is true that employees often feel more sharply the pain of the tax hit than they do the joy of the stock award. Therefore, Lillian, if she’s feeling particularly generous, might cause the company to give Mayford and Bertha — in addition to a stock bonus — some modest cash bonus to help to cover the tax bill from the shares. But here’s the trick: unless Lillian and Mayford are making a whole lot of money, the company will get a tax deduction for the value of any bonus paid — stock or cash. So the company will be able to deduct as an ordinary business expense cash and stock compensation of — say $175,000 (assuming for the sake of argument $50,000 in salary, $100,000 in stock bonus and $25,000 in cash bonus) — but the cash flow impact to the Company will only be $75,000. [Note: this is an extreme oversimplification of the actual tax analysis — which could use enough ink to fill multiple issues of this fine publication — and is simply meant to illustrate the general principle. Please consult with your accountant or tax advisor before moving forward.] Moreover, Mayford and Bertha can still purchase their ownership interest — it need not be awarded as a bonus. It is true that starting earlier is likely to impact the valuation at which her employees buy in. But again, by making her employees think and behave like owners Lillian is likely reducing employee turnover and increasing the business’ likelihood of success. If she wants to go this route, Lillian should strongly
consider allowing the employees the opportunity to buy in at set intervals (e.g., at the end of every year) so that it is easy to determine an appropriate value for their shares at the time. To encourage ownership, Lillian may even want to provide Mayford and Bertha with an annual cash bonus intended to help pay the cost of the share acquisition. By providing this type of an opportunity in sequential years, it is possible for a company to provide a meaningful ownership stake to key employees without ever putting the employee in the position of having a hefty tax burden or requiring a major cash outlay at any one time. Regardless of how Lillian chooses to approach the issue, either by stock awards or allowing her employees the chance to buy in, she will want to be sure that she works with her accountant and attorney to put the structure in place. The accounting must work, both from a cash flow and a tax perspective. And the appropriate legal pieces must be put into place to ensure that Lillian’s business doesn’t inadvertently trip over a legal requirement (e.g., securities considerations associated with the transfer of the shares) or create a perverse incentive for her employees (e.g., she will likely want to put forfeiture provisions
in place in a shareholders’ agreement so that neither Mayford nor Bertha can extract value from the company by leaving early and demanding cash payment for the shares). Finally, Lillian will want to work with her advisors to ensure her approach to this problem is part of a comprehensive plan intended to get her to her ultimate objective of exiting the business — in whole or in part — on her terms and timetable. By doing so, she may be able to approach the ultimate transition of ownership in a streamlined fashion — having engaged employee owners who are ready to take the reins and who need only to fund the purchase of just over a majority of the business (rather than 100 percent). Since a smaller purchase is required under this scenario, it may be easier for the company to find financing. Alternatively, Lillian may herself be amenable to seller financing — where she sells her remaining stake for a promissory note payable over time. But in either case, Lillian will have positioned herself in the best possible posture to achieve her objective of having captured the value in the business she built and transitioning it to her employees for its future growth.
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 email@example.com, via phone at (206) 223-7948, on Twitter @BrianBDeFoe or Instagram @HoochLaw. Visit www.hoochlaw.com 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 attorneyclient relationship with our readers.
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HOW TO LEAD A TASTING 404:
USE CASES,MARKETING, AND GENERATING MAXIMUM VALUE WRITTEN BY TIM KNITTEL
THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF TASTINGS WITH EQUALLY MANY TYPES OF POTENTIAL VALUE. PLANNING, SCRIPTING, MARKETING, BUDGETING, AND EVALUATING ARE THE KEY STEPS TO ENSURING RETURN. 68
astings are a necessity for a spirits producer but they cost time, labor and product at a minimum — plus potentially other expenses as well — so ensuring return is critical. Tastings are also a key mechanism of marketplace growth but only if managed correctly and elevated beyond a sampling (pouring shots) to an experience. The first three parts of this series explored. >> Flavor message development plus matching venue, audience and time; > > Tasting as performance and considerations of pour size, environment and use of accessories; and >> Scripting the experience using a story framework. Here, we’ll conclude by reviewing top-level strategies applied against the myriad types of tastings your company will likely engage in. With this guideline, you and your tasting staff can move beyond handing out shots to building your story and growing your audience through tasting experiences. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT [PLANNING] Like with many elements of the distilled spirits industry, production goals and expectations are much clearer than those around the softer, customer-facing aspects. You know that you want to produce and sell great spirit, but why is it that you host tastings? “Because that’s what the industry does” is a common answer, but it’s one that falls short of achieving a clarity which can be acted upon or evaluated against. However, there are specific goals for tastings which can be achieved by understanding the audience and its relationship to the beverage alcohol industry. For the most part, the closer to the industry then the greater the potential value; in this chart each successive (lower) level builds on the levels above it: CONSUMERS LEVEL I: CATEGORY NOVICES >> Brand awareness, potentially brand enthusiasm* > > Social media follows, email sign-ups > > Social media posts (with account tags and preferred hashtags, of course)
TRADE LEVEL I: DISTRIBUTORS >> Brand attention over competitors TRADE LEVEL II: RETAILERS (LIQUOR STORE AND BARS)
> > On-the-spot sales of drink, package and/ or merchandise (venue permitting)
>> Account activation
CONSUMERS LEVEL II: CATEGORY ENTHUSIAST
> > Premium placement
> > Brand enthusiasm, potentially brand evangelism
> > Special promotions
> > Barrel pick sales
> > Cocktail menu placements (onpremise only)
> > Scheduled private tasting events > > Retailer introductions > > Long-term relationships
*Remember that having someone aware of your brand is quite different than having them be interested or enthusiastic about it! Some audiences are special cases with unique potential values: GENERAL MEDIA
(TV, RADIO, NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES)
CATEGORY MEDIA (ENTHUSIAST
OR INDUSTRY PUBLICATIONS AND PODCASTS, INFLUENCERS AND HIGHFOLLOWER-COUNT BLOGGERS, ETC.)
> > Brand awareness and messaging reach
>> Brand awareness and messaging reach including deeper story and/or tasting review
> > Value perception positioning
>> Potential for long-term relationship with outlet
> > Potential for long-term relationship with outlet WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
VIPS >> Relationships with local influencers, politicians, etc.
USE CASES [SCRIPTING] Once you know your potential values, the tasting needs to be designed to achieve them. The key is matching your base brand story to your audience and their expectations while considering limitations of venue and time available.
HOME TURF I: DISTILLERY VISITORS VISITING CONSUMERS want a brief introduction to your products. There are two components to communicate: flavor message and relation of each product to your brand story. End-of-tour tastings are likely no more than 10 minutes but specialty tasting experiences can be longer. Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown, KY offers both a Mashbill Tour which includes a rickhouse walkthrough plus a guided tasting of whiskeys from three mashbills ($10) and a Whiskey Connoisseur Experience which is a 40-minute long guided tasting of four premium or limited release whiskeys ($20). INDUSTRY AND SPECIAL GUESTS want more time and special attention. Break out your special products and consider creating ‘behind-the-scenes’ flights with new spirit, in-development products, straight from the barrel pours, etc. These guests may sit through an hour if the educational content is unique and interesting. Each pour is an opportunity to reflect back on your brand story — why you made the decisions you made and how you’re achieving your company’s goals. BARREL SELECTIONS can be simplified to just “pick one” or can be elevated to deep brand experiences. When a retailer (or enthusiast group) is expending the time and money to invest in a barrel of your product, they’ll value any tools to help move the bottles as quickly as possible. Stories sell and the more detailed the story the better. Why did you pick those barrel for your guests to select from? Where were they in the warehouse, how old are they, what are the proofs? Was there anything interesting or unique about the days those barrels were filled? How does your team think about those barrels’ flavor profiles related to your brand standards? And for the mechanics of the tasting, do you taste at barrel strength and/or bottle strength? Do you allow the customers to combine two or more barrels for a batched selection?
HOME TURF II: DISTILLERY SPECIAL EVENTS Events are an opportunity to spend more time with high-value guests. Hosting a PUBLIC EVENT like a new product launch party, pairing dinner or even a concert or trivia night can generate cash flow as well as brand
enthusiasm. Going beyond ‘Welcome’ and ‘Goodbye’ to intentional strategic communication encourages guests to relay your brand message either on social media or via word-of-mouth. Hosting a local celebrity chef is an opportunity to reinforce your products’ flavor messages and your commitment to your local community. PRIVATE EVENTS typically include media exclusives for product previews, new staff meet-and-greets and even infrastructure expansion show-off opportunities. These are always a financial loss so they’re only effective if they generate sufficient earned media. Writers and reporters value telling a story with minimum investment of their time, so artfully constructing your message for them is more likely to create a return.
FIELDWORK When you’re out and about, tastings can reach a wider audience but that audience usually has less concentrated value. In a LIQUOR STORE, your message needs to very tightly explain your unique brand story and flavor message: hook + engagement = on-the-spot bottle sales. With no hook, people walk past; with no engagement, people take their shot and move on. At a BAR, guests will give you a little bit more of their time but there’s typically no opportunity to convert to a direct sale. Again, story makes the experience more memorable to convert later value. And whenever you’re in-market, try to double up by educating the retailer’s staff as well as their customers — this is where shelf features and cocktail menu placements can be secured.
SPECIAL EVENT PARTICIPATION If you’re attending an event and not selling drinks, you’re spending money without a direct income opportunity. Secondary value is critical as the return. EXPO-STYLE EVENTS like charity fundraisers, fairs/ festivals and concerts might give you large exposure but you’re competing for memorability with all of the other vendors. Extending your story into give-away items can assist; this means moving beyond logo-only cards or stickers to something that incorporates your brand message in a meaningful way. DEDICATED EVENTS like cocktail competitions and pairing dinners provide a lot of time with valuable demographics. Your brand story can be layered into each drink or dish making it more enjoyable for the guest and also more enticing to share with their friends.
GETTING THE WORD OUT [MARKETING] Once you’re committed to a tasting, marketing can increase your return through increased attendance and social media exposure. When you’re the one developing an event, marketing is doubly important and when you’re participating in someone else’s event, you can leverage their reach. A common fail point for events is the mistaken belief that ‘if you build it, they will come.’ An event marketing strategy needs to accomplish four components: generate interest, communicate specifics, reach the right audience and convert to sales. Use a checklist like this: 1) The foundation of an event is its unique appeal. Just like selling anything else, in order to ‘sell’ an event, first identify why someone should give their time and money to it. FOMO (fear of missing out) is built from the limited availability of the experience and the social value derived from it. Why are you having this event and why should anyone else care? Being explicit in those components is the foundation of your event marketing. 2) It’s easy to leave out a critical piece of information necessary for someone to attend your event! Ensure that all event details are included in all of your event marketing: Event name
Date and time
Charitable cause (if applicable)
Included food and/or drink
3) Marketing requires time plus money. Calendars, especially online, are usually free but take time to submit to. Advertising via traditional media, social media boosts, posters, etc. costs money. Spend the time to analyze if a marketing investment will reach people likely to attend. 4) Finally, be sure there’s a way for guests to either add a free event to their personal calendar or buy a ticket. In the moment when a potential attendee is exposed to the event and interested, an explicit call to action must be apparent. ‘Buy your tickets here’ links should appear in every online event promotion or ‘Mark your calendars!’ if the event is free.
GENERATING MAXIMUM VALUE [BUDGETING + EVALUATING] CAPTURING & CONFIRMING VALUE “What gets measured gets managed.” — Peter Drucker
Are your tastings successful? What are you measuring to answer that question? Since each tasting has different potential returns, establishing budgets and goals on a per-event basis — while time-consuming — is the best path to ensuring value. In addition to developing metrics from the Planning section above, marketing and reach metrics can be included. How many people did you WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
meet? How many views, likes and shares did your social media get? What was the adplacement value of any earned media? Finally, how much did it cost for the return that you achieved? Remember that expenses include product, swag, labor, transportation, and marketing costs. Was it a solid ROI or do you need to refactor your budget based on this information?
DESIGNING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA Social media can create value not only during a tasting event but also before and after. It’s okay to be explicit asking for likes and shares by the tasting guide in person or prompted at a selfie station. You can even include account names and preferred hashtags in tasting mats, handouts, signage, etc. Capturing e-newsletter sign-ups and social media follows might be enhanced by having a tablet available to hand to guests in the moment of interest. And whenever possible, respond to social media mentions positively to encourage more and to build deeper customer-brand relationships.
CONSIDERATION: SELECTING AND TRAINING A TASTING GUIDE Bear in mind that you as the distillery owner might actually not be the best tasting guide. A quality tasting guide is a presenter and storyteller. The two questions are: is a tasting the best use of your time, and are you the best at engaging customers with your brand? But sending someone with instructions to “Go pour our stuff” is unlikely to generate value for you. Anyone representing your brand and products needs to intimately understand your brand — and that requires you to have formalized your story and messages first! Conversely, someone with a lot of experience might not be automatically valuable, either. “I’ve done a bunch of these” doesn’t make a person good at them. Standing in a bar pouring free shots is a lot of fun but it doesn’t automatically convert to business value. Make sure your tasting guide understands the specific goals and measurable outcomes of the tasting and debrief with them afterward.
FEEDBACK & FOLLOW-UPS
A large amount of value comes post-tasting. Having systems in place makes these tasks easier:
While the activities of planning and analyzing do require a time investment, once you’re already committing financial resources, those tasks are the best chance of getting a return. To begin getting the best return for your investment in tastings, follow these five steps:
Any product feedback should be captured and communicated to the production team. Business cards and contact info for potential activations, cocktail menu placements, barrel sales, media, etc. should be processed into a CRM system and acted on or delegated out. Lessons learned for story improvements or systems enhancements should be captured and communicated to the entire tastings team.
1) Plan your goals 2) Script for your audience 3) Market your events 4) Budget your resources against the return 5) Evaluate for continuous improvement
Tim Knittel is a bourbon educator, writer, and event specialist in Lexington, KY. He formerly managed the culinary and VIP hospitality programs for the Woodford Reserve Distillery and is currently the Bourbon Steward-in-Residence for The Kentucky Castle. He 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.
TOBACCO BARN DISTILLERY’S
ANNUAL RUM EVENT CELEBRATES THE USS CONSTELLATION
WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOAN M. KASURA
he fourth voyage of Tobacco Barn Distillery’s USS Constellation Rum launched on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, not only a balmy, sunny March day but also a 180-degree turn from the three prior voyages. “The day was the first time we had a day above 32 degrees and winds less than 25 knots,” said Scott Sanders, one of Tobacco Barn’s three co-partners. “I think we’re going to target Opening Day from here on out,” continued Sanders, “because last year we were shoveling snow off the deck.” David Miller, a Glen Burnie, Maryland, resident who attended this year’s Rum Event, heard about those adventures with snow and ice on the rigging. Even if this year’s conditions had been similar, Miller declared, “I still would have absolutely showed up and helped shovel that snow off the deck.” A history buff, as well as a longtime wine aficionado, Miller represents exactly the type of visitor both Tobacco Barn, and the Historic
Ships of Baltimore, wish to attract to the 19th century U.S. sloop-of-war. The ship can be found permanently anchored in the Chesapeake Bay’s Inner Harbor located in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. Born of the two organizations’ mutual desire to actively highlight Maryland’s naval history, Tobacco Barn’s use of the Constellation as a floating rickhouse for its Constellation Rum “has been a super partnership that raises the ship’s profile along with unrestricted funding for its restoration and preservation. It also helps [Tobacco Barn] to promote their distillery,” said Chris Rowsom, Executive Director of Historic Ships in Baltimore and Vice President of Living Classrooms. “From a state economic development perspective that promotion brings more people to Maryland,” he added. It certainly brought Miller and his family into Baltimore and the Constellation when he heard about the fourth annual Rum Load Out event through a post on Tobacco Barn’s Facebook page. “I originally thought I’d just go down and observe from the sidewalk,” explained Miller. “I never dreamed I’d be able to participate. I was thrilled when Sean [Coogan, one of Tobacco Barn’s co-partners,] invited me to help with the capstan.” Capstans, a drum that operates on a vertical axis to wind in a line of rope, are a critical component in hoisting freight aboard wooden ships such as the Constellation. Manually operated, the Constellation ’s capstan requires a crew of at least eight to operate. Kevin Atticks, Executive Director of the Maryland Distillers Guild, vividly remembers his turn manning the capstan as part of the crew composed of a dozen or so members and friends of Tobacco Barn on the load-in of the First Voyage in mid-December 2016. “It was cold,” said Atticks, “15 degrees.” Although that very first event involved loading in only two of the 500-pound charred bourbon barrels into the Constellation’s hull, Atticks remembers wondering halfway through, can’t we find a crane somewhere? WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
“That’s certainly one of the options,” explained Rowsom. He pointed out that the mechanics of getting stuff in and out of the ship’s hull leaves them with two options: The aforementioned crane, or “to do it ourselves with block and tackle and a capstan, run by people power.” Given that the underlying objective of the annual Rum Event is to both celebrate Maryland’s maritime heritage and help promote the USS Constellation, Rowsom decided to come up with a mechanism that would do the job. The original idea for the Rum Event was born out of the 2016 commissioning of the USS Zumwalt in the Port of Baltimore during that year’s Fleet Week. Although a ship’s commissioning can be done
administratively, more often this final act marking a ship’s entrance into active service with her nation’s navy is a large ceremonial event, requiring a committee of various civilian and naval personnel for its planning. Chosen to serve as Chairman of the Zumwalt’s Commissioning Committee, Sanders, a retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy, had just started the distillery in 2015 with Coogan and their third partner Dan Dawson, on whose farm Tobacco Barn Distillery sits. Wanting to attract the Zumwalt’s commissioning to Baltimore, Sanders got to know Rowsom during his work for the committee and also began wondering how to get the word out on the Constellation. The answer came when Sanders read about Jefferson’s Ocean, a Kentucky-based bourbon aged by loading its barrels onto ocean-going research vessels. Sanders, whose distillery had just crafted Big ‘Z’ Rum, a small-batch, aged rum that commemorates the Zumwalt’s commissioning, proposed doing a similar specialty rum to promote and raise funds for the Constellation. Rowsom “didn’t have to think too long about (Sanders’ proposal). I’m always up for a fun project and this was something that I thought would be pretty fun.” In the end, the biggest hurdle was securing permission
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from the State of Maryland Comptroller’s Office to use the Constellation as an offsite storage site for Tobacco Barn Distillery. Initially concerned about the barrels’ security in the Constellation’s hull, the office took a tour of the proposed storage site four levels down from the Constellation’s deck, which ameliorated their concerns, particularly when it was explained there were no mechanical means to lift the quarter-ton barrels out of the hull. “Once we laid out what we were doing,” said Sanders, “there wasn’t any pushback from the state. They came out and took a look and understood how it would benefit all the parties involved.” Noting the variety in how each state’s offsite storage permitting processes works, Sanders expressed appreciation for the willingness of Maryland’s comptroller to support the project. “In theory,” explained Sanders, “the comptroller could go at any time to inspect the security of the barrels.” In recognition of that fact, Tobacco Barn also agreed to band the barrels together with metal banding straps to provide additional assurance that the barrels had been untouched since their placement in the hull the prior year. Once in the hull, the science begins. Although the Constellation rarely leaves its anchorage at Pier 1 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, “the ship is always moving on the water,” said Rowsom. That constant movement, which intensifies whenever storms sweep through the area, keeps the rum moving inside those four charred bourbon barrels. “Because of those good, seasoned barrels, which add color to the rum, you end up with a pure-made, natural rum versus adding sugar or caramel color at the end,” said Bill Mohler, a self-described “Collector, Evaluator, Judge, Speaker and Promoter of all things rum,” who has been involved with Tobacco Barn’s rum-making efforts since their first go at creating an aged rum. Like Sanders, Mohler, who also comes from a Navy background, appreciates the high-quality ingredients that Tobacco Barn uses in making its USS Constellation Rum. Neither the Royal Navy nor the American Navy would have used such high quality molasses for their sailors’ rum rations. Dawson, Tobacco Barn’s distiller, agreed with that sentiment, noting that thanks to the entire combination of, “gourmet molasses, Caribbean yeast, and a (historic, wooden) ship that serves as a rickhouse, we’re getting a rum that drinks like a bourbon.” Indeed, each component — the molasses processed in the Maryland factory just across Baltimore Harbor, a high-temperature yeast that thrives in Southern Maryland’s hot, humid summers, and a warship steeped in Maryland’s deep maritime history — contributes to the unique story behind every numbered bottle of Tobacco Barn’s Constellation Rum. Echoing an oft-repeated sentiment of those who had participated in the distillery’s March adventures, whether frosty or balmy, Sanders stated, “It is a labor of love.”
Tobacco Barn Distillery is located in Hollywood, Maryland. For more info visit www.tobaccobarndistillery.com or call (240) 243 9151.
TATTERSALL DISTILLING DIVES INTO THE PAST
A cross-disciplinary project yields delicious results
WRITTEN BY GABE TOTH PHOTOGRAPHS BY ELIESA JOHNSON
attersall Distilling has found some unusual partners and taken a deep dive into the world of historical spirits, culminating in a multi-faceted collaborative program that featured spirits distilled from 18th-century recipes, a history lecture, and tastings of food and drink inspired by the cuisine of the 18th century. After being contacted by the Minnesota Institute of Art and the University of Minnesota to take part in a project involving spirits from the 1700s, Tattersall Chief Officer Jon Kreidler and Distillery Manager Bentley Gillman took the opportunity to research old recipes at UMN’s Wangensteen Library, which contains distilling books going back hundreds of years. Kreidler and Gillman pulled a few recipes out for production, sorting through a variety of drinks with names like milk punch, saffron bitters, and plague water. Kreidler said there were “a lot of akvavits,” lots of different cultures that use fennel to create a big, anise-y base spirit. They saw a lot of odd or dangerous ingredients, such as ambergris and mercury, and had to figure out volumes and how much of the plant to use. (Kreidler speculated that distillers in the 1600s were using entire plants, rather than isolating parts, such as leaves, that would be more commonly used today.) “We basically had to get the books translated. While they were in English, they were a bit tricky to read,” said Kreidler. “Some of the stuff they were using was pretty crazy, stuff that we hadn’t considered before. A lot of it definitely wasn’t on the GRAS list, but it’s pretty fun to see.” They recreated several of these recipes to see how they compared and were surprised and impressed with what they found. The cherry water tasted like a maraschino liqueur, flower water was “shockingly close” to Tattersall’s floral liqueur, and plague water, which
was meant to be preventative medicine that would stave off the plague, was reminiscent of a chartreuse base. “We thought a lot of this stuff was going to be pretty undrinkable,” Kreidler said. “Some things were a little more extremely bitter than what people are used to now, but really there wasn’t anything that was incredibly different than what we’re used to.” They even took a recipe for quince ratafia, tweaked it to use local fruit in the form of Minnesota pears and an apple brandy base, then produced and bottled a small volume of it to sell at local
liquor stores. “That one turned out pretty incredible,” he said. The project came about when Nicole LaBouff, the associate curator of textiles at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, began looking at avenues to reinterpret the period rooms, generally 18th century European and American settings. One room was built around the wall paneling from an 18th-century Parisian tax collector’s home and staged how it might have been at the time, with “some artistic license.” The room was set for a party, and the question would arise, what would people be drinking? Wine was a major tax
commodity, but would there be spirits, mixed drinks, anything beyond wine? Another period room, the Providence Parlor, a shop from Providence, Rhode Island, also featured alcohol. Jamaican rum was included in the list of objects sold at the store, and LaBouff wondered if or how these two pieces related to each other. She reached out to Emily Beck, assistant curator at the University of Minnesota library system. The two had worked together in the past, including a project that involved making pies from historic recipes in the university test kitchen. Beck oversees the Wangesteen Historic Library of Biology and Medicine, which includes historic distilling texts in its collection of about 72,000 volumes that span five centuries. Originally, they intended to put together “creative interpretations” of some of the recipes using storebought materials, LaBouff said, with a tasting at the museum. Logistical hurdles prompted them to reach out to Tattersall, where Kreidler and Gillman took the project well beyond what they’d planned. The program, dubbed Alcohol’s Empire, finally evolved into a lecture by Bertie Mandelblatt of the University of Toronto, at the institute on Sunday, March 3, and a tasting the following day at Tattersall. The lecture by Mandelblatt, a historian of rum and slavery, discussed the roots of molasses and rum in slave labor
TOP: Installation view of "Living Rooms: Up All Night in the 18th Century." 22 April 2017 - 15 April 2018. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Grand Salon from the Hôtel de la Bouëxière, Gift of the Groves Foundation, gallery 318. BOTTOM: Installation view of "Living Rooms: Just Imported: Global Trade in 1700s New England." 22 April 2017 - 15 April 2018. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Providence Parlor, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund, gallery 335. PHOTOS © 2017 MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART.
and its transformation from a low-value commodity to a higher-profile, international product that stood next to other alcoholic mainstays such as wine, whiskey and gin. “She could really speak to the ways that imperial powers and colonialism dictated what was available,” LaBouff said. The tasting portion at the distillery involved six stations, each featuring a historic spirit and an 18th-century dish, such as pigeon stew or pickled tongue, paired with it. “If you go back 100 years ago, people weren’t just eating chicken breast,” Kreidler said, noting that much of meat preparation was dedicated to curing, pickling and otherwise preserving foods. “My son loved the beef tongue, it was almost like a pate on a little cracker. He thought it was the greatest thing until I told him what it was.” The project also incorporated an online recipe book, videos and interactive publication.1 In the end, the project offered academics an opportunity to convert their learning into tangible products, while giving artisans — distillers — the chance to learn about the historical underpinnings of their field. Beck described the cooperative venture as “an exemplar of what collaboration can look like. You can take really serious scholars like me and Nicole, and mush us together with people who are at the top of their craft.” “I love working with artists, it helps me in my scholarship,” she said. “The legacy of these historical medicines was neat. To face it in a tactile way was very useful.” She said it was impressive that the spirits, many of which were originally intended as medicine, compared so closely to what’s currently available. “You often expect historic food to be terrible. Our palates are not far removed from those 18th-century people.” LaBouff described it as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” She’s read “hundreds of recipes. You still have no sense of what they tasted like. To actually see these brought to life was incredibly revealing for us.” Kreidler said the flavor parallels between 18th-century and modern craft distilling provided a compelling lesson: “The realization that distilling hasn’t changed as much as we like to think it has.” Perhaps, he said, craft distilling is more of a return to older ways after big industrial alcohol skewed distilling towards conformity and uniformity. “They were doing a lot of really cool things. It’s almost like this resurgence, the craft distillers coming back and experimenting and doing some of these weird things, that’s essentially what was happening a couple hundred years ago.”
Tattersall Distilling is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more info visit www.tattersalldistilling.com or call (612) 584-4152.
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LET'S GET STARTED
n 2013 I wrote the original version of this article, covering the basics of what a new distiller should consider when preparing to file their application to establish a Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP). Looking at changes in this process in the past six years, I felt it would be a good idea to refresh the information. Legal and procedural changes, a couple of policy updates, and a revised online application database are the leading reasons that the original article is somewhat outdated. The first item on the compliance agenda of the new distiller is to create and submit the Federal application for an FAA Act Permit and to register the Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP). Let’s look at the five most common issues that confront and can delay the distiller when putting together their permit application and registration:
the FIVE MOST COMMON ISSUES THAT CONFRONT & CAN DELAY THE DISTILLER
Establish premises. Whether owned or leased, the distillery has to be secured and meet state and local requirements for the type of operations planned. Our focus is on the Federal rules, which call for the plant to be secure and located in commercial premises; the law does not allow for any distillery to be located in a residence, nor in a building containing a residence. Documentation of the premises includes a copy of the lease or evidence of deed to the property. The legal description is required, along with a point-to-point (feet/inches by direction) description of the area covered by the distillery bond. TTB requires a diagram of the premises; nothing too fancy, just a simple drawing of the plant layout, with dimensions, doors, and windows. Use colored lines to outline the bonded and “other” premises. The diagram has to have the name and address of the applicant, and compass direction indicated (an arrow with “N” depicting North will suffice). This “Bonded Premises” must be secured to ensure no one has unauthorized access to spirits held under the Federal bond — see updated bond information below. Under the Federal rules, if the DSP has a retail or tasting room, that area cannot be on the bonded premises but may be next to it. Please note the separation between the two must be complete, with the bonded area required to have its own separate outside entrance. Each still, tank and other major piece of equipment for containing or handling spirits is to be listed: serial number, capacity and use.
Bond – TTB Form 5110.56 Distilled Spirits Bond, if required, must be executed perfectly, and the operations coverage must be sufficient for the tax value of all spirits on hand at the distillery at any one time, plus bulk spirits in transit to the DSP from another DSP. Since 2017, a DSP paying less than $50,000 in excise tax during the calendar year is permitted to operate without providing a bond. When taxable removals reach $50,000 during a given year, a bond must be provided within 30 days. The minimum bond for a distiller who will be making, storing and bottling products is $15,000, plus additional withdrawal coverage for deferral of taxes on the products withdrawn from the DSP for sale or use as tasting samples. This amount covers about 1,100 proof gallons, or about 1,375 gallons at 80 proof/40% alcohol. Expect to experience delays in getting the application processed, if the submitted bond is not perfect. In respect to taxes, through the end of 2019, distillers can benefit from a reduced rate of tax on products removed from bond for sale. Absent action by Congress to extend or make permanent the reduced rate, in 2020 the full rate of tax will be due, and bonds will be required to cover withdrawals at the higher tax rate.
WRITTEN BY JIM MCCOY
Source of Funds must be documented. This can vary; if the money invested comes from personal funds, such as a loan against a retirement account, a commercial loan, or withdrawals of savings, the source would be documented (i.e. statement from investment account showing withdrawals, matched to deposits in the DSP business account) and images of that documentation submitted with the DSP application. The government does this to ensure that the ownership and interest in the business are clear and correctly presented.
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Organizational documents are required to be submitted; this would be a copy of the company articles of incorporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) organization, corporate by-laws or LLC operating agreement, and unless the authority to act for the company is spelled out specifically in the documentation, a resolution of the board or members granting signature authority (by title) may be needed. A listing of the company officers, directors and persons owning 10% or more interest in the company is required, and if a corporation, the number of shares authorized and outstanding and the number held by each of these persons is required. For an LLC, a list of members and persons having 10% or more interest is required. If an LLC member or a major stockholder is another business entity, the articles for that entity are required to document its existence. TTB can ask for more information regarding ownership entities if they choose to.
Personnel background is documented for each of the persons noted above using the data requested on a completed TTB Form 5000.9 Personnel Questionnaire. In 2018, the required data for this form was greatly reduced. The form no longer requires references, residence history or employment history. It is a good tool for gathering the necessary data required for personnel questionnaire entries in the online permit system described below. If a person involved was previously employed in an alcohol business that fact would need to be reported on that form. If an owning LLC member holding 10% or more interest is another LLC, the members of that firm must also submit personnel backgrounds. If unclear what to do, it is best to contact the TTB with your questions. The customer service group in the TTB National Revenue Center in Cincinnati will be happy to assist; their contact information is on the TTB website at www.ttb.gov. A significant change was made in 2018 to the TTB Permits Online system, which is the best and primary method to apply for your DSP permit and registration, and to maintain your DSP registration. Persons who had previously applied using paper documentation will now find their data easily accessed through the Permits Online system. You can go to the TTB website, find the Permits Online access page, review online tutorial and instructive materials, and self-register on the system. Once registered, you can submit an access request to be able to see your online DSP record, and begin submitting changes through that portal. Permit maintenance is pretty much completely automated, as all required documents, including bonds, are accepted as uploaded images. Functionally, TTB has in its comprehensive update to Permits Online restructured the process to begin with a series of questions which when answered enable the system to create the requisite application package needed for the application type and purpose. The records in the system are arranged by creation of an “Entity” record, which documents the business organization and related information, such as power of attorney forms, ownership details and ownership documentation, with a separate “Commodity” record which documents the specific permit/registration for the business. An Entity is entered as one record, which may be linked to multiple Commodity records, such as a DSP, winery, brewery, or import permit. One thing to be wary of is the approach to amending the records. If one amendment to the record is submitted and is pending TTB review and approval, it seems the system prevents the submission of any other amendment until the pending item is approved. For example, if you have submitted a power of attorney for an employee, and that change is pending, you may be blocked for weeks from being able to submit applications to receive spirits in bond, to add another location, or to make other changes required for your operation.
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Success in addressing these five areas, as well as learning the Permits Online system, will provide the distiller applicant with a strong foundation for getting their approval as quickly as possible. There is a myriad of details underlying each requirement, and no guarantees of speedy processing. However, the complete and clear application gets prompt attention because it offers the government reviewer an approvable submission that involves minimal follow-up. If your application has numerous shortcomings, it will get set aside to await your efforts to make corrections and enhancements to complete that reviewer’s checklist. If corrections are requested, you will be allowed 15 days to correct the application before it will be abandoned and you will start over. To get on the fast track and stay there, be accurate, be complete, and respond quickly to TTB questions. And be sure to complete your application using TTB’s Permits Online — once you get used to how it functions it will save time as future changes required the permit file to be updated.
Jim McCoy is managing consultant of J. McCoy Alcohol & Tobacco Compliance Consultants LLC. Jim served over 32 years with ATF and TTB, establishing his consulting firm in 2010 to assist alcohol and tobacco businesses in their efforts to meet Federal regulatory and tax requirements. Jim is located near Cincinnati, Ohio, and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APPLYING SCIENTIFIC THINKING TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR DISTILLATION OPERATIONS AND SPIRITS
WRITTEN BY GARY SPEDDING, PH.D.
This article represents one of two stand-alone pieces derived from an understanding of the scientific process as gleaned from a book written by Dr. Stanley A. Rice — “Scientifically Thinking – How to Liberate Your Mind, Solve the World’s Problems, and Embrace the Beauty of Science.” Prometheus books. 2018 (1). This part covers the actual process of scientific thinking and application to resolving problems and dealing effectively with scientific analyses and projects. If the reader finds any value in the following article — which is merely my personal reflection only — I encourage them to have some awesome fun and read this book in its entirety. It’s delightfully wonderful!
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s a trained scientist I often answer to clients posing either simple or more sophisticated questions that could, with a little more scientific training or knowledge on their part, be more easily answered by themselves. Questions such as: Does or will the flavor of the resultant spirit originating from this year’s crop of barley or rye be significantly different from last year’s crop? Is “whisky spirit terroir” really a thing? How can we prove or disprove it? Is my whiskey or gin better than my competitor’s version(s)? Does the new still make a qualitative difference in the raw spirit distillate compared to that produced by the old unit? If answers follow to such investigated projects and questions, they must have valid support behind them. Many boastful statements do not give me the facts: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… Many of the studies done in the name of science rely on an understanding of the words “control” or “controls,” understanding that many variables are involved, and having at least some knowledge of statistics and many potential biases (or as we commonly say, pitfalls). Biases affect the design and the interpretation of an experiment or project, and an understanding of some other terms can help us avoid such biases, traps and pitfalls. Other readers of our “purportedly scientific” conclusions can be more confident in our findings if we address these concepts and issues and explain how we handled them. For us to better know what our colleagues have discovered and presented to us is indeed decent science instead of hocus pocus bunkum an author, Stanley Rice, wrote for us a fascinating book that many should be encouraged to read regardless as to what they are doing in life as a way to learn more about the fascination of doing real science and doing the job well (1). “After picking up a copy of Scientifically Thinking at my library, I was enlightened and somewhat humbled by what I did not know well enough to be able to explain to others. My own thinking was also challenged at a recent meeting by a scientist, turned fantastic distiller, with WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
an understanding of mathematical and physical science way beyond my mind’s way of sorting things out. So, giving credit where credit is due — and hopefully without plagiarizing too much — the gems of value I note below were embedded in delightful and sometimes terrifying stories, or stories with important consequences for us as a species, by Rice (1). If distillers can learn a bit more of the language and the concepts associated with scientific thinking, it will help raise the bar in their providing truly significant, useful, and enlightening data with respect to the production of distilled spirits. The definitions presented below, while being a little dry without the context of Rice’s own colorful examples, will hopefully help us become better amateur scientists, or remind those of us with more formal scientific training what we have sometimes forgotten about our own discipline and activities. I also hope to help our distilling colleagues couch their own scientific projects or experiments in solid terms (to follow) and to show us they have done their best to present their data and conclusions in a reliable manner or in the best possible light. (By the way, Dr. Rice viewed the early version of this text and will be happy to know that I did in fact buy a copy of the book — the original copy I read is now back in the library for others to enjoy.)
ARRIVING AT CORRECT & VERIFIABLE CONCLUSIONS,
HYPOTHESIS TESTING, AND PROBLEM SOLVING, DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN CORRELATION AND CAUSATION AND VERIFYING RESULTS AND STORIES Data, data, data everywhere and not a drop to waste — at least in the right hands it’s powerful stuff and should be a key element of any decision (3). Supposedly the American statistics guru W. Edwards Deming stated “In God we trust. Everyone else, bring data.” (Quoted in ref. 3). However, data can be misconstrued and misunderstood even when we think we oversee the interpretation of it (1, 3). One of the biggest of misunderstandings
is clearly between the terms and principles underlying causation and correlation (3). According to the Bureau of Statistics, correlation is “a statistical measure (expressed as a number) that describes the size and direction of a relationship between two or more variables.” One thing correlates with or impacts another with a magnitude variable (small or large) but is not an actual cause of it. Whereas causation “indicates that one event is the result of the occurrence of the other event; i.e. there is a causal relationship between the two events. This is also referred to as cause and effect.” (3). The classic causation vs. correlation example that is frequently used is that smoking is correlated with alcoholism but doesn’t cause alcoholism (direction but not magnitude illustrated here). Smoking does cause an increase in the risk of developing lung cancer (3), which illustrates causation. We often take statements thrown out at us as the truth, so we must be careful here. To cull a big piece from reference 3, “Causality is an area that is frequently misunderstood and it can be notoriously difficult to infer causation between two variables without doing a randomized controlled experiment.” Rice covers cause and effect at length in chapter 9 (1). “Furthermore, correlation can be a useful measure but has limitations as it is usually associated with measuring a linear relationship. But understanding that correlation does not imply causation and knowing the difference is a good place to start.” Consuming modest quantities of alcoholic beverages is said to have beneficial health effects on the body and on stress levels etc., but is this caused by the consumption of alcohol, or is this a correlation and more likely associated (partially or fully) with other factors involved with an alcohol-consuming lifestyle? We hear that there are health benefits from various studies but sometimes these are in contradiction with one another. (Rice deals with the example of vitamin C and colds in a similar though more robust manner, 1). Reference 3 directs the interested reader to understand how statistics is
used to determine causal relationships and which factors are involved in the implication of causation. Reference 4 is also worth looking at to grab a handle on this topic.
THE SCIENTIFIC PROCESS IN A NUTSHELL
To think scientifically Rice tells us that we need to first create a statement about cause and effect — a claim about how something works (1). This is the statement known as a hypothesis. Then the idea is to gather evidence that tests the hypothesis. The evidence must be something accessible to anyone (external) and not just to the claimant (internal). The evidence will show that the hypothesis is true, false, or as-yet unknown (1). Through this process we come to better understand the world around us. The outcome of the hypothesis is testable and can change. External evidence allows another person or group to test it out and present better or newer evidence and lead to a different conclusion. Understanding this will lead the reader to understand that complex topics such as “rapid maturation” and the concepts on “spirits terroir” will take a lot of experimental work to generate the evidence that will resolve (accept or refute) the claims being made within the spirits industry these days.
ERRORS, THE BRAIN, THE WORLD AT LARGE,
MODELS, AND HOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD AIDS US AND HELPS US SEE THE WAY FORWARD
As the world is big (including the distilling topic of interest to us), science tends to focus on chunks of our world to reduce the complexity. We cannot put an entire distillery in a test tube and monitor all the factors and interactions at play — milling energy, saccharification times, fermentation and yeast performance, temperature, humidity, still mechanics, copper contact and so on. Nor can we put a barrel into a chamber and examine the myriad of reactions going on as a whole
— so we must dissect it and examine just the process of immediate interest and make hypotheses based on simple models of that reality which we think we perceive (1). Then we try to fit the piece into the larger jigsaw picture and maybe move on to the next bit we perceive as important. We simply cannot take every possibility into account but once you have a hypothesis you can put it to the test. This often means conducting an experiment by which you control what is going on by eliminating as many outside (extraneous) factors as you can. How is the variable of interest (what you intend to measure) influenced by any other variable at play in your experiment or model evaluation? How will you control for that? To test any hypothesis, we must have something to compare it to. What will measurements look like if the hypothesis is not true? So, we add a term here — the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis statement is a note about what you would expect to see if the main hypothesis you claim is wrong (1). What variable, or set of related variables, would we measure to prove, or disprove, that smaller barrels give better maturation flavor to spirits than larger ones? Think about the complexity of this experiment a little and how you would know if the hypothesis is proven or the null hypothesis wins the day. The treatment is based on the hypothesis and the control is based on the null hypothesis (1). A little digression here — but a focus on controls. Even in simple tests — for alcohol concentration determination for example — we receive many questions about instruments not performing correctly or not delivering expected answers and yet no control samples are in place. (A control being a defined standard of accurately known, verified and verifiable concentration which will tell you [assuming your instruments are calibrated and accurate] the true value you seek.) You are encouraged to read up on accuracy and precision and know the difference in context to this entire topic. An excellent book discussing such matters is that published for brewers and edited by Charles Bamforth (5). See my chapter
in that book and other works by Bamforth on quality control matters (6). Back to hypotheses and models though; you must understand and find the right controls for your experiments to be valid and for the right conclusions to be made. Some students involved in research for higher degrees spend many years in research only to be told, when defending their thesis, that they did not have the right control(s) in place and then they must start up again in order to complete their project and gain their degree. Note: their supervisor should be to blame here. This is not to put you off but rather to suggest that you do just a little reading about the terms noted here and in the cited references, if setting up your own research project. Again, the message — think controls! What control(s) would you use to test the “terroir” (or provenance) concept for making spirits from grain grown in different regions or soils? In studying the effect of light on bottled spirits (there are light-induced flavor changes in spirits as there are for beers) how would you control and account for temperature? Would all the bottles be held under otherwise identical conditions? Think about how samples are stored and presented in bars to better understand this important, though rarely thought about, topic. How about the oxidative flavor changes in gins once the stopper is removed (and removed at varying frequency depending upon demand for pours)? Rice is a botanist and he may have some answers for the reader on these light and oxidative damagerelated topics (1). He also has a neat story concerning the sex life of fruit flies and their alcohol consumption. They too get frustrated and relieve stress by drinking — maybe you too have been frustrated and wonder why fruit flies are prevalent pests around your alcohol operations or tap rooms? Trust me here, reading the stories in Rice’s book will make you a better player in the game of science and a more well-rounded and entertaining individual overall. Replication (duplicate or triplicate set-ups or more) is needed for statistical relevance and in case of mishaps. So, a WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
smattering of knowledge about statistics is to be obtained by those serious in communicating their ideas and proving or disproving their hypothesis. A test on one control and one test-variable barrel is grossly inadequate. What if one barrel is dropped or leaks so badly as to take it out of consideration? A popular joke serves well here: An experiment to test a new drug was done on rats. The student relayed the results as follows: one third of the rats responded to the treatment, one third did not respond to the treatment and the other rat died of other causes. The underlying hypothesis and null hypothesis are clearly untestable as such, and the experiment requires a very careful redesign. When testing for the project it is also necessary to have duplicate or triplicate test measurements performed on each sample. Multiply that by the number of replicate barrels and the number of control barrels and you can see that it can get timely and expensive to do such projects. Creating a detailed plan and timeline (which should be adhered to) for measurements or ongoing treatments may be called for too. This attention to detail is all necessary. We see more and more talks at conferences by craft brewers and distillers where both they and their audiences may be biased into accepting, trusting and being wowed by meaningless and/or hurried results. So, we need to get this right. It’s fun but serious stuff all at the same time. If you have a validated hypothesis or your null hypothesis stands ground, you know how to proceed and either shout to the world the results and conclusions or revise the hypothesis and try again. In your case you may have completed the work you wished to do and are where you wanted to be with answering your initial question. The scientific method is summarized by Rice (1). “You have an observation that you need to explain. You propose a hypothesis and then you test it”. (Maybe test a series of hypotheses.) “Eventually, unless the problem becomes so complex that you decide it is not worth the time and money to solve it, you will reach an answer.” Common sense, process of search and elimination — Science! (1). WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Rice further codified the process (summarized and extended here):
>>COME UP WITH AN IDEA. Specify a hypothesis and a null hypothesis. You try to make your hypothesis falsifiable by seriously thinking about the observations or measurements you could make to possibly show your own (biased) belief is wrong. (This is essentially all about asking the right question to begin with and avoiding the wrong question to start with.)
>>RESEARCH THE LITERATURE AS WELL AS YOU CAN TO ENSURE THAT SIMILAR OR THE SAME WORK HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN DONE BY OTHERS. An extensive body of literature is out there - try to locate it. You may also glean new ideas this way to test for a novel project or to extend research on one spirit to another style or type. So, read around the subject as they taught you in college. Don’t forget to record and cite your sources! There is a need to research and find out what has been done already or published (outside the major distilling research groups). Avoid repeating projects.
>>DESIGN TESTS FOR THE HYPOTHESIS AND ELIMINATE OUTSIDE (EXTRANEOUS) FACTORS. Think about how the system is impacted by variables. What are they and how might they play into your studies and how to control for them if you cannot eliminate them? An experienced scientist or technician learns quickly how variables rank in importance and which need to be focused upon in quickly resolving problems with tests or experiments. Think about the position of barrels in a warehouse on this one. It is said that two “identical” barrels (if that is not oxymoronic in and of itself) with identical fills may lead to a difference in maturation of the spirits. Barrels should at least be housed together and not at scattered locations in a large rickhouse if the expectation is that they mature the spirit in an almost identical manner. Think about the variables in this situation as an example. And how you will measure and know the difference(s) if any occur? Maybe the hypothesis alluded to here needs retesting by craft distillers? Is it fact or hearsay?
>>Leading on from the last statement — think hard about all the ways you could be wrong. TRY TO PREVENT THINGS GOING WRONG BEFORE THE RESEARCH rather than trying to figure out what went wrong after you think the project is over and the data are collected. Remember the note about controls and graduate students in the text above. And think about the number of replicates to have in place and why.
>>PERFORM THE RESEARCH, BE CAREFUL IN KNOWING THAT YOU ARE TRULY MEASURING WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE MEASURING — a concept known as construct validity (defined but not detailed here — see Chapter 11 in reference 1 and see 7. [Construct validity is “the degree to which a test measures what it claims, or purports, to be measuring”.])
>>GATHER THE REQUIRED DATA. Keep a log with as many detailed notes as possible. Nothing is irrelevant to note down. Sign and date each entry in case you discover something before others do. Be careful observers in general as well as carefully taking and recording any and ALL appropriate measurements.
>>RUN STATISTICAL ANALYSES ON ALL RESULTS — seek assistance here if necessary. Then draw the right conclusions. Present your data at the next ACSA, ADI, or SDST meeting. Consider submitting to a journal for peer-review. Hope you don’t get caught out on missing any of the steps noted in the list and get it published? Another article in Artisan Spirit Magazine covered tips on record keeping and writing manuscripts for possible publication (8).
>>Paralysis through analysis or ANALYSIS PARALYSIS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Analysis_paralysis). “Analysis paralysis describes a moment where over-analyzing or over-thinking a situation can cause it to become ‘paralyzed’, meaning that no action was taken therefore a solution is not reached”. If a problem bears investigation, you clearly must start somewhere. If designing tests for a hypothesis that eliminates
all extraneous factors is too daunting, perhaps you need to consider a more limited hypothesis. That is, prove a small part of the broader problem. Einstein’s theory of general relativity was proposed in 1916 and 100 years later is still being researched and its parts proven using solid scientific methods. In a spirit judging context, if having 60 judges evaluate 8,000 entries in two days is likely to lead to inferior results/assessments or endanger the health of the judges, consider limiting entries or getting more judges. With thanks to a reviewer for this last paragraph. For neat examples and extensions on the topic a review of Rice’s book will be useful, fruitful and fun (1). A final note for this section concerns false positives and false negatives with regards to your hypotheses. If you conclude/accept that the hypothesis is correct when it is not, you will wrongly accept a false positive result. (This is also, of course, a rejection of the null hypothesis when it is true. As a statistical concept in hypothesis testing this is known as a Type I error and is also known as a false alarm. A Type II error occurs as a result of accepting the null hypothesis when it is false (9, 10).) Also, a wrong interpretation — a false negative is to accept a hypothesis as deemed wrong when it is in fact correct. Both false results are wrong but have different consequences — it is worse to have a false positive than a false negative interpretation. An example of a false negative scenario might be a barrel warehouse maturation issue. Supposing a false negative concludes that there is no
evidence that maturation occurs faster on the sunny side of the rickhouse when, in fact, it does. Extending from Rice’s example (one of drug trial evaluations) this might lead to the distiller redesigning the experiment (east side-west-side/northsouth/top-bottom levels configurations) or reformulate the program for the selection of barrels for testing ready for blending, leading to a waste of time and money. Or if the distiller is not to give up just yet on the original hypothesis, an inspired redesign might just end up being productive and useful. Read Rice’s Chapter 4 for more on this (1). A false positive in our hypothetical scenario, indicating that the maturation of spirits does occur faster on the sunny, rather than the “shadowy-dark side” when in fact it does not, might lead to design changes — lighting/heating etc., or situation of new rickhouses (again my speculations here) which would also be costly and redundant. Again, for implications on false positives and negatives delve deeper into Rice’s book (or other sources) (1). Note here: I believe that it is accepted wisdom that sunny-side up is best here for rickhouse maturation storage. You might seek out any evidence though for this, or test it yourself under your own rickhouse program. Finally, we can never be sure that we are right or wrong, so we bring into play statistics and probabilities — odds in favor or against. Most statistically relevant reports accept a five percent risk of being wrong. The tolerance on accepting a false positive or false negative is set at a probability (a risk tolerance) of five percent or less (or 20-to-1 odds of being right but no less). Statistics
books and online discussions will allow the reader to discover more about this — I am 95, even 99% confident I won’t be going into more detail here (you be the judge by reading what follows). However, there are big implications for scientific careers in these odds (see Rice ), but I just make the note that many projects we have seen presented at craft-meetings are simply and totally lacking on the statistics needed to validate the claims the authors make.
SUMMARY The overall idea behind this paper was to better illustrate how to set up test projects involving the study and evaluation of distilled spirits, distillation, and maturation processes with clear scientific principles in place and in mind. Rice’s book has provided a readable framework for using scientific thinking to help us resolve several issues within the industry and to better approach projects and investigate and resolve problems in an authentic manner. This will provide for more trustworthy presentations and a clearer understanding of facts presented at conferences and beyond. Maybe this will also whet the appetite to further explore the depths of the world of spirits production — looking at it in a whole new light. May the spirit of science be with you!
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.
Rice, S.A. (2018). Scientifically Thinking – How to Liberate Your Mind, Solve the World’s Problems, and Embrace the Beauty of Science. Prometheus books.
Sternberg, E. (2016) NeuroLogic: The Brain’s Hidden Rationale Behind Our Irrational Behavior. First Vintage Books.
Bamforth, C. W. (Editor) (2016). Brewing Materials and Processes. Academic Press.
Bamforth, C.W. (2002). Standards of Brewing: A Practical Approach to Consistency and Excellence. Brewers Publications.
Bentley, J.N. (2017). A Brief Overview of Manuscript Writing. Artisan Spirit. 21 (Winter); 124-126.
Meilgaard, M.C., Civille, G.V. and Carr B.T. (2016) Sensory Evaluation Techniques (Fifth Ed.) CRC Press.
10) Lawless, H.T. (2013). Quantitative Sensory Analysis. Wiley Blackwell.
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STEREO BREWING CREATES A SANCTUARY FOR MUSIC-LOVING BEVERAGE AFICIONADOS
Drinking in Hi-Fi WRITTEN BY RICH MANNING
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GREG NAGEL
n eclectic mix of music fills my ears as I drive toward an industrial park in Placentia, California. Classic stuff like Simon & Garfunkel and Van Morrison. New songs by Twenty-One Pilots and Broken Bells. A moldy oldie by Gene Vincent. A “how is this song over twenty-years-old?” ditty from Beck. This is how one properly prepares to interview Rick Smets and Amanda Pearce Smets, the husband-and-wife duo behind Stereo Brewing. Technically, Rick’s the owner and brewer, and Amanda’s the operations director. They don’t produce spirits but their business and innovation intersect all things craft alcohol, and there are lessons to be learned from people this passionate. Push all that aside, and they’re music geeks — big-time music geeks. Ergo, cranking the radio en route is essential. Our talk continually oscillates between beer and music with equal doses of nerdiness. Discussions about the nuances of Cascade hops somehow morph into conversations about Grateful Dead shows and Led Zeppelin doing reggae before bouncing back into the wonders of high gravity brewing. The topics occasionally mesh; we spend time breaking down the success of Stereo’s first can series, a limited run of brews named after 1970s protopunk band Modern Lovers. Eventually, Rick informs me that he’s pushing Stereo toward the Revolver/Sgt. Pepper phase of its existence. He’s working on a collaboration with fellow Placentia brewery and GABF darling The Breuery to make their first singleuse bourbon barrel-aged beer in 2019. “I’ve always wanted to try to make a bourbon barrel-aged beer,” he says. “I’m big into the science of brewing, and I’ve long been fascinated by processes like barrel-aged fermentation. I make mash for a living, so it makes sense to play around.” He says his choice to work with the Breuery was an easy one to make, given their massive inventory of bourbon barrels and the fact that their spirit-aged brews are routinely outstanding. The type of barrel to use for his initial foray was also a no-brainer. “Single-use bourbon barrels are kind of the catch-all barrel to use because you’re almost guaranteed to get something fun out of it if you know what you’re doing,” he says. “If we like the results, we may start playing around with rye whiskey, tequila, or mezcal in the future. For now, we’re all pretty WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
excited getting started with everything.” Indeed, the pair’s love of music equals Rick’s passion for making his award-winning beers, and it’s something they’ve flaunted freely since they opened for business in 2016. The first beer ever brewed here was named after a Bob Dylan album — appropriate since the two first met at a Dylan concert. The taproom features beers named after Nick Drake songs and Phil Spector recording concepts. Each brew they make comes with its own curated playlist. They host occasional vinyl exchanges. The staff spins records brought in by their customers. It’s Shangri-La for craft beer-loving crate diggers, and it’s precisely what they were aiming to build. “We wanted to create a place that was like a clubhouse, where friends could get together, listen to music, and drink some good beer,” Rick says. “It helps build a sense of community. It’s why we went with the name. It conveys the right vibe.” He’ll also admit that the concept is a bit pragmatic. “I live for music,” he confesses. “Music is my passion, and craft beer is my craft. Stereo allows me to bring the best of both those worlds together.” It would be cliché to call Rick a rock star of his craft. He has the pedigree for such a designation; after all, he made his bones at craft beer titan Firestone Walker and California cult favorite Left Coast Brewing Company, serving as the latter’s head brewer. Still, given his admitted disdain for ‘70s-era corporatized arena rock bands like Bad Company and Foreigner, it feels more authentic to call him an acclaimed indie rock artist that the cool kids are into. By that rationale, the beer world appreciates him like Pitchfork digs Mitski these days: His creamy Wall of Sound Oatmeal Stout won consecutive golds at the Great American Beer Festival in 2017 and 2018, and his malty-yet-immenselydrinkable Robot IPA took home a silver last year. Stereo’s also poised to live the rock ‘n’ roll in-joke of being “big in Japan” — Wall of Sound is scheduled to ship to the Asian country this year. Rick appreciates the respect he’s received from the industry,
but he emphasizes that such acclaim is ultimately a very cool B-side to what truly matters. “We don’t do what we do to win favor,” he says. “Our goal is to just bring in a steady flow of people — not necessarily beer geeks, but people from the community — and make them happy.” “They also don’t need to understand the music references, either,” Amanda adds, referring to the beers’ tuneful monikers. “We have an American Pale Ale on the menu called ‘Emotional Rescue.’ Now, we know it’s named after a Rolling Stones song, but it doesn’t matter if the customer knows. They could just be coming into our taproom after a brutal day at work, take one at the name, and think, ‘Oh, man. I need an Emotional Rescue!’” ” Although people that don’t know Brian Wilson from Bryan Adams are welcome to stop by for a pint, it should be reiterated that Rick and Amanda are music snobs of the most glorious kind. Some of the house rules revolve around this. Bro-country or anything lyrically referencing red Solo cups are verboten. They don’t dig on Journey, either. “We have a ‘No Journey’ policy here. It’s listed on our application form,” Amanda says. “If the person we’re interviewing brings that up during the interview, we instantly know it’s a person that understands us.” The music talk continues to wind up, Rick runs to his office at the end of the interview and comes back with albums by The Bats and The Clean, two New Zealand indie bands I’ve never heard of before. I return the volley by bringing up Haken, an obscure British prog band he mishears as Hawkwind, which is another group doomed to an esoteric existence among most of polite society. All this audiophilic weirdness happens over pints of Perfect Day, an IPA named after a Lou Reed song that tastes bright and citrusy (and thankfully not like heroin and anger, because Lou Reed). It’s a great conversation, held over terrific beer in a chill, comfortable setting. It’s exactly what Stereo Brewing Company was designed to provide.
Stereo Brewing is located in Placentia, California. For more info visit www.stereobrewing.com or call (714)993-3390. 88
R I A F ) N (U E V I T I T E P M O C EDGE
LE BARREL G IN S G IN T S U B M IT T IT IO N E P M O C O T W H IS K E Y TALLO GEORGE B. CA WRITTEN BY
ithout naming names, it’s no secret that a very large distillery has won a very prestigious competition with a single barrel offering. There are very valid arguments on both sides of whether or not it is ethical to enter single barrel offerings to competitions. Let’s take a look at both sides of the coin.
(MIS)REPRESENTATION The unnamed distillery probably has more barrels laying down than some countries produce in a year. They have an immense wealth of barrels to choose from at any given time at the age range and in the mash bill for that particular product. Seeing how distilleries have control over what they submit to a competition, any distillery could hand-bottle only enough to enter the competition from the best barrel they have on hand without even having to dump it. I am not saying that is what happened; I am just saying that it’s possible. The complaint, in theory, is that a competition winning whiskey could never be available to a consumer. Now, for argument’s sake let’s say that the submitted whiskey was from a barrel released to the public. That would mean there were a few hundred bottles at best floating around. This particular product has national distribution, that definitely means a majority of consumers will never have the opportunity to even see an actual
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bottle of the award-winning whiskey, much less ever try it. Consumers are purchasing the bottlings available to them with that label under the pretense that it is the awardwinning whiskey. It is arguable that it misrepresents the brand as a whole. Is that right? Is it ethical? Either way, the bottles are selling. They made the whiskey, it’s damn good — the whiskey deserved the award. That can’t be taken away from it.
THE GOOD — REPRESENTATION Now we look to your rickhouse of dozens, hundreds, or — if you’re rolling deep — maybe a few thousand barrels. Most mature barrels taste pretty damn good, some are not so great, and some are absolutely spectacular. Then there’s that one that is the best damn whiskey you’ve ever tasted in your life. It is simultaneously too great to share while also needing to be spread far and wide to show the world your creation! You are so taken
aback by its beauty you can almost not believe you made it yourself. But you did make it yourself. While it may not be representative of your everyday releases, it is representative of your skill. You always need to put your best foot forward. That’s the stuff to submit to a competition. Let’s say that you have that absolute ringer of a single barrel. You have a large enough supply in your warehouse to substantiate some rapid growth. A well-timed entry and win in a notable competition could be the exact catalyst to get meetings with new and larger distributors in new and larger markets. Everyone wants to have the next “big thing.” We can also look at a scenario where your whiskey is still in its infancy as a viable product for the mass market. You have some other products in distribution, but your whiskey is distillery only. Getting excitement for the future of your whiskey being hitting the market can be beneficial too. Many whiskey drinkers also drink other spirits. Hardcore whiskey enthusiasts also like travelling for whiskey.
THE BAD — DRAWBACKS There could be some drawbacks to winning big with a single barrel. The first being that, as mentioned before, you may be unintentionally misrepresenting yourself. The people who get a whiskey that isn’t quite at that same level could be very disappointed in your product. First impressions are everything. Winning back someone let down by the hype is, while not impossible, incredibly difficult. You could also end up having serious issues keeping up demand and you don’t want to over-extend yourself. It’s never good to have to pull back your products in an existing market to supply a new one. Empty slots on shelves get filled with new products if left empty for too long. Don’t give up your spot.
A SPIRIT THIS WELL-CRAFTED DESERVES AN ARTISANAL GLASS.
IN THE END IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s ethical or not to be submitting a single barrel whiskey to a competition. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to that question. The spirit is judged by how it sits in the glass. It’s an opinion about that spirit in that moment. If it’s good, it’s good. That being said, I personally would be quite thrilled with larger competitions further segregating single barrel entries from whiskey that is prepared with the distillery’s normal methods. But that’s just one man’s opinion.
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1/29/19 9:16 AM
George B. Catallo is the “Whiskey Guy” and Floor/Social Media Manager at Parkway Wine and Liquor in Rochester, NY. He has been in the beverage industry since he turned twenty-one and has worked as the Bar Operations Manager of a wine bar, an Assistant Distiller and Supplier Rep for a craft distillery, and has even hosted a spirits review web series on YouTube under the moniker 'Just One Dram.' WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
SMOOTH AS (not quite) TENNESSEE WHISKEY The Joy of Stumbling Upon Samuel T. Bryant Distillery Written by Rich Manning ///Photographs by Kristina Byrd
t’s April 2018, and I’m traveling down I-40 from Memphis in the middle of a family vacation. The trip’s been full of discoveries, both anticipated (Graceland is as kitschy cool as I hoped) and unexpected (doughnuts and champagne are a superb breakfast combo, especially when it’s your wife’s birthday). Our sights are eventually on Nashville, but I’m not ready to hit Music City just yet. It’s time to sip some spirits, and I’m not going anywhere near Lynchburg. I’m heading to the small town of Jackson, to a little craft spot called Samuel T. Bryant Distillery. I’m intrigued, and not just by the opportunity to imbibe in local hooch. I discovered Samuel T. Bryant Distillery purely by happenstance. I was scouring the route between Memphis and Nashville on Google Maps, in search of a lunch spot that wasn’t festooned with golden arches or didn’t serve their hash browns scattered, smothered, or chunked. I did find a joint that ended up serving killer hushpuppies, but I also stumbled upon Samuel T. Bryant’s tiny dot, pinned to Jackson’s outskirts just off the interstate. A quick visit to their unassuming website revealed no hint of mega-corporate tomfoolery, no flash and dazzle of a big PR engine. It was just a humble craft distillery selling their creations, just as they’d been doing since they launched in the summer of 2016. It was the drinkable match to my independent culinary search. I was in. We arrive at the tasting room and walked to the counter. It’s a long walk by design. The space is 3,600 square feet and doubles
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as an events center, and it’s drenched in rustic barnyard charm. Sam, the fellow that lends his name to the distillery, stands at the counter along with a couple of spirits and several jars of moonshine. The crooked slapped-on labeling on a few of the bottles provides insight to the operation’s small size. Before we taste what’s behind the skewed packaging, Sam directs our attention to the door we walked through. “If you look up from the door, you’ll see an old still,” he says. “That was my grandfather’s.” The word bootlegging is winked instead of uttered, and it conveys plenty of family history and tradition. I smile wide. We start with the first brown spirit, a whiskeystyle concoction called Tennessee Sam. “We can’t technically call this whiskey on the bottle,” Sam says as he pours. “It has to be made a certain way to meet Tennessee whiskey standards, and we don’t do it in that way. We do our own thing.” I don’t press for details, but that’s because I’m enjoying whatever method he uses far too much to care. Its oaky, slightly sweet nose gives way to a luscious peach and stone fruit palate before transitioning to a smooth finish with just enough burn to remind you what you’re really drinking. We buy a bottle and eventually regret we didn’t by two more. The rest of the tasting proves Sam isn’t just a hobbyist carrying on grandad’s legacy. The next spirit he pours is an agave-based spirit named TNKilla (those pesky naming regulations strike again), and it’s the first spirit of its kind made in Tennessee. The moonshines range from traditional apple pie to more exotic flavors like coconut. They display a level of craftsmanship that I wasn’t anticipating, and it compels me to go into journalist/spirit geek hybrid mode. “So, what’s your distribution like?” I ask. “Right now, my distribution goes from that wall to that wall,” Sam says as he slowly points his index finger to the left before dragging it to the right. “Hopefully that will change one day, but that’s all we got right now.” The rest of the tasting experience probably can’t be replicated in Lynchburg. Sam shares stories about how he, his dad, and a few of his friends built the tasting room from scratch. His dad, Samuel P. “Pete” Bryant, pops into the tasting room and chats with us for a couple
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of minutes. It’s all so damn special. Nashville beckons, but I’m reluctant to leave.
A few things have happened over at Samuel T. Bryant since Google Maps put them in my consciousness a year ago. They’ve struck a distribution deal with Great American Craft Spirits that gets their juice into 47 states — from that coast to that coast, if you will. Sam’s also working on getting his products into local liquor stores. When I catch up with Sam over the phone, he tells me the distillery’s not quite as hidden anymore, either. “We get all kinds of people coming in here these days,” he says. “We’ll get tour groups from Europe stopping by here on occasion.” Sam embraces the growth. At the same time, he’s also very conscientious about growing on his own terms. “If we’re going to grow more volume, we have to do it without sacrificing quality,” he says. “We’ve actually delayed expansion because we want to make sure we’d be able to maintain the quality that we have now. We know taking it slow like this may cost us a new customer or two, but we need to make sure we’re making our existing customers happy first. I don’t want to lose the whole ball of wax by not taking care of what we already have.” Sam’s still not allowed to call Tennessee Sam whiskey. He’s okay with this. Instead of getting the green light from the Volunteer State, he’d rather keep using his distilling method, which involves cutting and toasting his own oak staves instead of buying pre-made barrels. “I started making whiskey with my own staves because I couldn’t afford to buy barrels at first,” he says. “It was initially out of necessity, but I think it actually produces a better product. There’s no need for us to change just so we can officially be called something. We’re comfortable with just doing what we do. The important thing is that our customers appreciate what we’re doing.” Speaking as a customer, Samuel T. Bryant’s work is indeed much appreciated.
Samuel T. Bryant Distillery is located in Jackson, Tennessee. For more information visit www.samueltbryant.com or call (731) 467-1221.
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FERMENTATION WRITTEN BY HARRY HALLER WITH SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION BY PATRICK HEIST, PH.D. /// ILLUSTRATED BY FRANCESCA COSANTI
ermentation. Without it, alcohol wouldn’t exist. A natural process that happens as surely as flowers bloom and birds sing. Mother Nature, it seems, likes to get her buzz on.
As it moved from the great outdoors into the hands of brewers and distillers, fermentation evolved from a wild happening into an exact science where yeasts of the saccharomyces cerevisiae strain are used — sometimes with assistance from specific enzymes — to convert plant-based sugars into alcohol. (For a more technical explanation see Dr. Pat Heist’s Fermentation Guide to the right). But even with great strides having been made in narrowing fermentation to a precise step-by-step methodology of production, there are still unorthodox and alternative means of getting sugar molecules to morph into hooch. Here are a few:
1. DUNDER PIT Arguably the most well-known opposition to the more sanitized workplace of modern-day distilleries, the dunder pit was a ubiquitous part of Jamaican rum-making back in the day. A large hole in the ground was filled with dunder — these are the leftovers found at the bottom of a still, commonly referred to as stillage. Then goat heads, dead bats, rotted banana skins, and other colorful wastage was added. Once it was deemed ready, a portion of the dunder pit’s contents was placed in a soup of molasses and water. And that’s basically it. After distillation you had yourself some authentic Jamaican Rum.
2. HUMAN SPIT From the rainforests of South America to the rice paddies of Asia, saliva has proved to be useful in making liquor for hundreds of years. In Japan, a sake called Kuchikamizake (literally meaning “mouth-chewed sake”) is made by masticating cooked rice then spitting it out. In the Amazon, various indigenous tribes would do the same with the root of the cassava plant. They’d chew the tuber, spit it out, cook it, then place it in terracotta pots to ferment. In Peru, it is known as Masato de Yuca. In Brazil, Cauim. Unlike the dunder pit, with both the Kuchikamizake and the Masato de Yuca/Cauim the saliva does not produce yeast. Instead, it provides a necessary enzyme which breaks the carbohydrates in the cassava root down into fermentable sugars. Wild yeast would then find its way into the welcoming slurry. 94
DR. PAT HEIST’S
IT RELATES TO DISTILLED STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FERMENTATION ASSPIRIT PRODUCTION...
Fermentation is a biological process by which microorganisms, including yeast, metabolize sugars to produce alcohol and/or organic acids. Fermentation starts with a sugar source ... Bourbon and other whiskies are made from grains. Rum is made from fermented sugar cane. Tequila is made from fermented agave.
Rum and tequila are made from readily fermentable sugar sources containing sucrose, fructose and glucose.
A typical fermentation temperature is 90º F and lasts between 3-5 days.
As fermentation progresses, the pH decreases and becomes more acidic.
In grain-based fermentations, amylase enzymes (biological catalysts) are required to break the starch down into fermentable sugars (maltose and glucose).
During fermentation, the yeast (scientific name Soccharomyces cerevisiae) consume the sugars to make energy, creating ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide as two of the primary byproducts.
The distillery must be kept very clean or the fermentations can become contaminated with wild yeast and bacteria.
The number of yeast cells in fermentation can exceed 300 million per milliliter.
The amount of alcohol produced in a typical fermentation is between 7-10% by volume.
3. FECES aka shit. Or, for the grown-ups reading this, manure. Cow, horse, pig, and chicken poop have been used to kick-start fermentation. The field of contestants has now widened with samples from elephants, sheep, goats, and giraffes presently being studied. The secret to this crap-to-liquor alchemy is the previously overlooked gut fungi which have been shown to effectively breakdown crude cellulose into sugars. So, much like saliva, “the caca” is a catalyst. I.E. yeast and feedstock not included. Keep in mind, this has yet to manifest itself in any consumer products.
4. MUSHROOMS Speaking of fungi, two yeasts have been found in mushrooms which do as good a job at fermentation as saccharomyces cerevisiae. They are pleurotus ostreatus and agaricus blazei. Both wine and beer have been made with these yeasts and, yes, unlike poo-poo liquor they are available for the curious to buy.
5. FLOWERS A traditional source of fermentation for the Australian Aborigines. The most common flower used is the banksia, a blossom which produces an astronomical amount of nectar. It is from this ambrosia that the liquor is made. The chemistry, yeasts, and bacteria behind this flower spirit are still somewhat of a mystery. Fortunately, scientists at the University of Adelaide are upping their investigations into this ancient alcohol. Anyone genuinely interested can contact the project’s leader, Professor Vladimir Jiranek, Professor of Oenology and Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production at the Waite campus, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. PALM TREES Much like the banksia’s nectar, it is the sap from the palm tree which makes the liquor. This plant source has been used since by-gone times throughout Africa, North India, Sri Lanka, Central America, Borneo, Mexico, Myanmar, and the Philippines. The method of production varies as much as the geography where it is made. The two most common techniques are to either cut the palm flowers and drain the sap from the remaining stump or to fell the entire tree, light a fire at one end (speeding up the discharge of the sap at the opposite side), and collecting the whitish liquid at the other end. Wild yeasts soon taint the sap and in around four hours a spirit with roughly 4% APV materializes.
7. WASPS AND BEES Scientists have discovered that wasps and bees carry saccharomyces cerevisiae in their stomach. In fact, wasps pass on their belly yeasts and additional microorganisms to grapes thereby starting the fermentation process before the grapes have been picked which, according to Duccio Cavalieri, professor of microbiology at the University of Florence, is vital to why wines taste the way they do.
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8. VAGINAS Yup. You read that correctly. Warsaw’s very own Zoe Stavri has isolated yeast from a woman’s nether-parts to make beer. Enough said.
All in all, it seems to be self-evident: where there is a will to make liquor there will always be a way. Whether by the wave of nature’s magical wand or the tinkering of human hands, fermentation will happen and alcohol shall forever be a part of Planet Earth.
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Harry Haller is an independent consultant focused on working with sugarcane-based distilleries. Reach him at email@example.com. Patrick Heist, Ph.D. is well known in the Bourbon whiskey and distilled spirits industries for his problem solving skills relative to the microbiology and biochemistry of fermentation and process optimization. Dr. Heist is Co-Owner and Chief Scientific Officer for Ferm Solutions, Inc. based in Danville, Kentucky, a provider of specialty yeast, fermentation products and technical support to the fuel and beverage ethanol industries. Dr. Heist and his research team collaborate with industrial and academic partners on projects relating to yeast strain selection, fermentation optimization, and bacterial contamination, among others. Francesca Cosanti is a talented illustrator available for commissions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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John McGinn (262)-909-7267
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN EMPLOYING USED EQUIPMENT WRITTEN BY SHANNON O’NEIL
hen it comes to choosing the right equipment for your distillery project — whether it’s a greenfield or a capacity expansion — it can be cost-effective to purchase used equipment instead of procuring all new pieces. But there are some additional risks and potentially hidden costs that could quickly turn your project savings into an expensive nightmare. In order to avoid these pitfalls and get the most value out of used equipment, make sure you take into account these five considerations.
1. WILL THIS EQUIPMENT PASS REGULATORY INSPECTIONS? Safety is an issue that can’t be overstated in any production environment. When working with used equipment, it’s critical to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the machine prior to use. Ideally, this evaluation should be conducted prior to purchase, and again once the equipment is installed onsite, prior to start-up. Consider the safety mechanisms and potential threats not only of the machine itself but of all the electrical, plumbing, and other utility connections running from your site to the piece.
2. ARE THE CONTROL SYSTEMS MORE OUTDATED THAN A CASSETTE PLAYER? Depending on the age and origin of your equipment, the controls devices could be obsolete and therefore no longer supported or commercially available for replacements and repairs. Whether it’s the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) or Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs), all control systems need to be evaluated for compatibility. If you do find some obsolete technology, it’s best to go ahead and have the controls replaced to prevent extended downtime or higher maintenance costs in the future.
3. HOW OLD IS TOO OLD? Naturally, any piece of used equipment is going to come with a little bit of wear and tear. But how much is too much? Due to age and past modifications, used machines may no longer be rate capable and have “wear and tear” that will require significant updating or servicing. Additionally, it’s possible that the equipment documentation may no longer be up to date. In this case, that would make it much more difficult to commission and maintain the equipment after it is relocated. That’s a high-risk scenario in which purchasing used equipment might not yield a positive impact on your budget.
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4. IS THE EQUIPMENT FLEXIBLE FOR GROWTH? As your distillery expands, so will your production demands and capability needs. Ideally, you want the equipment you invest in to have the flexibility to grow and adapt to your changing needs. Especially in the case of bottling or packaging equipment, it’s important to note whether or not the machinery is capable of producing new sizes without significant modifications. Even subtle changes to the product or packaging features from the used equipment’s original design intent should be given careful consideration. Additionally, the machine may or may not allow for quick and efficient changeovers like modern, servo-controlled machines.
5. HOW WILL THE EQUIPMENT FIT IN YOUR SPACE? On the surface, this might seem like an obvious observation, but it’s not just about the equipment dimensions. You also need to consider the ergonomics of the new (to you) machine and how to efficiently incorporate it into your production line. Proper positioning is required for access to critical maintenance areas. Additional platforms may also be needed for ease of operation. Failing to observe any one of the considerations above can result in both a costly and time-consuming efforts to address and resolve. Engineering time, additional costs to return equipment to an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for updating or refurbishment, redesign of machine centers, and the ensuing cost and time to construct the necessary changes should all be considered when measuring the true cost of employing used or relocated equipment.
TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP OVERCOME OBSTACLES WITH USED EQUIPMENT One way to ensure a smooth transition for your used or relocated equipment is to utilize the latest in modern technology to map your production space. Many service providers now offer 3D scanning and modeling capabilities that can digitally recreate a production line. Once all of your equipment has been generated in a simulated environment, you can swap out or add pieces and run the simulation in real-time to see how new equipment pieces will interact with your existing machines and what impact they will have on your overall production. Conducting these types of tests in a virtual environment is considerably more cost-effective than trying them out in a real-world scenario. It can also help you map out any additional utility connections, piping, or lines that are needed to implement the new equipment.
AVOID THE PITFALLS AND ENJOY THE ADVANTAGES Procuring used equipment can certainly have its advantages. Not only is it an opportunity for upfront cost savings on the purchase, but you will also save in the long run because you acquired the asset at a lower price, thereby reducing the impact of its initial depreciation in value. Used equipment also avoids sometimes lengthy wait times for new equipment manufacturing. With proper maintenance, your used asset will hold its value over time just like any brand new piece of equipment. By taking into account the considerations mentioned above, you will avoid the potential pitfalls and find the right pieces to build or expand your production while saving money along the way.
Shannon O’Neil collaborates with engineers, designers and facility experts to create customer solutions for Haskell, an architecture, engineering, and construction firm based out of Jacksonville, Florida. Shannon graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and a master’s degree in sports administration. 99
WITHIN STAGGERING DISTANCE
he next distillery you visit may be a hotel…or the next hotel you stay in may be a distillery. As distillery tourism is on the rise, the combination puts a new meaning to the term “within staggering distance,” as in “My hotel is…” But which came first, the chicken or the egg: the distillery or the hotel? The business models and contradictions are almost as mixed as they are numerous. The Springfield Manor, in Thurmont Md., founded their distillery before they began receiving overnight guests. The iconic Dogfish Head did likewise, but Marble Distilling, in Carbondale, Colo., was built from the ground up to house luxury suites over the distillery.
Visiting distillery hotels Written by Andrew Faulkner
McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon.
PHOTO BY ANDREW FAULKNER
First in the field is Edgefield — McMenamins Edgefield, that is, a rambling 74-acre complex of hotel/spa/brewery/winery/glassblowing studio/pottery shed/pitch-and-putt golf course/ wedding venue/organic garden/theater/summer concert venue, which was started under the slogan, “It’s just a pub.” The McMenamin brothers nearly sank their growing chain of pubs when they bought the former Multnomah County Poor Farm and began expanding their empire into what would grow to more than 50 properties, scattered throughout Oregon and now venturing into Washington. The transformation of this property into the flagship empire began with a purchase in 1990. The ensuing years saw the slow and painful restoration of a long-neglected institutional building in the grand lodge style, which involved dozens of resident artists who painted murals throughout the halls, on doors and inside rooms. But first, since it was, “just a pub,” it had to make beverage alcohol, opening a winery in 1990 and brewery in 1991. The production brewery, at 5,000 barrels, is still the largest among the McMenamins properties. And what does beer want to be when it grows up but become whiskey? So they started a distillery in 1998. Most people will not see McMenamins bottles at their local retail store anytime soon. The spirits are exclusive to McMenamins bars, restaurants and bottle shops and not in general distribution. The only places to find them are McMenamins properties. Calling on the brewery to make wash for whiskey, the distillery also began to distill brandies from local fruits, which are abundant in the agricultural regions of the nearby Hood River Gorge. They make a small amount of estate pear eau de vie from trees on the
PHOTO BY ANDREW FAULKNER
Out…Standing in its field
Cornelius Pass Roadhouse Distillery in Hillsboro, Oregon. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
PHOTO PROVIDED BY DOGFISH HEAD
property. Hotel guests, and those with appointments at Ruby’s Spa, can enjoy an estate pear brandy or cocktail while sitting outside in the 102-degree, salt-water soaking pool. One of the great pleasures in all of the distilling world can be found sitting in this pool among the almost-constant winter rains, enjoying a dram of the estate pear brandy. The halls of Edgefield at night are spotted with the ghost-like impressions of white robes (hotel-issued), wandering the halls, drinks in hand, between the nine bars and three restaurants on the property. Edgefield is in Troutdale, about 20 minutes east of downtown Portland (if traffic is good). Almost equidistant and diametrically opposed from downtown is the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, restaurant/brewpub/event space and, yes, distillery. The CPR Distillery sits inside the oldest barn in the Washington county and features an antique French alembic, which languished for about a decade in the basement of Edgefield. The bricks for the installation were repurposed from one of McMenamins many restorations. And
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Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione giving a fireside chat at the Dogfish Head Inn in Lewes, Delaware.
Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
though CPR does not feature a hotel yet, one is planned, with ground breaking slated for this coming October.
Not the Smallest Anymore On the other side of the country is another brewery/distillery/ restaurant/hotel where the distillery preceded the hotel. Delaware’s own Bermuda triangle — created by Dogfish Head’s Rehoboth Beach brewpub and restaurant, Milton production brewery, and Lewes Inn — is another place where the adventurous drinker can get lost. Sam Calagione started “The Smallest Brewery in America” in 1995 as a place to get pizza and fresh beer made with quality ingredients. No longer the smallest, Dogfish Head opened their massive production brewery in Milton, about 14 miles up the road, in 2001. It wasn’t long before Calagione also saw that whiskey is beer grown up. In 2002, he began distilling upstairs in the brewpub on an improvised still made from an inverted conical fermenter. The eclectic and adventurous spirits line follows the same inspirations as the off-centered beers, using culinary inspirations and the best ingredients to create new flavor combinations. The explosiveness of the craft spirits movement became apparent and a larger distillery, featuring three Vendome pot stills, was launched inside the Milton facility, taking advantage of the laboratory analysis and brewing capacity of the massive brewery. The Milton distillery began in 2014 and the new spirits line launched in 2015 with two gins and vodka. It now features more than a dozen spirits, some of which are in distribution and some of which are only available at Dogfish Head facilities. Keeping with the tradition of their beers, the spirits range from conventional, like Analog Vodka and Barrel Honey Rum, to unexpected, such as Espirit Malade — a barrel-aged blend of apple brandy, a brett cider and fresh cider — and Sonic Archeology — whiskey, rum and brandy with honey, lemon and pomegranate juices. The Delaware Bermuda Triangle was completed in 2014 by the Dogfish Inn, in Lewes, which is slightly off-center between the two others. The 16-room motor hotel does not generally serve any alcohol because Calagione is adamant about sending guests to the retailers and restaurants that have helped build the Dogfish Head brands from the beginning. On Saturday nights, when he is in town, Calagione gives fireside chats at the inn’s firepit, telling stories and answering questions. Once a year, guests can book spirited weekends where the Friday-through-Sunday stay includes a fireside chat, brewery and distillery tours, and bottle-your-own cocktail. These go on sale at Christmas time for January or February events. At all times, guests enjoy free shuttles to and from the production brewery/distillery in Milton, the original beer-centric gastro pub and Dogfish Head’s spirits/cocktail oriented seafood restaurant, Chesapeake and Maine, adjacent to the brewpub. Guests also enjoy free bike “rentals” and priority reservations at the restaurants and production facility tours. The town of Lewes, aside from enjoying beautiful seacoast parks north and south, is the terminus of a ferry across the Delaware Bay to Cape May, near the southern tip of New Jersey.
Hotel/Distillery/Lavender Field Heading west from Delaware, across the Chesapeake Bay, Springfield Manor sits atop its own limestone aquifer for which it was named. Springfield Manor is the only brewery, winery, distillery in the state of Maryland and is in Thurmont, not far from historic Frederick. The stone manor was built in 1774 but only became a distillery 2011. The romantic setting makes it a good place in which to both get a drink and get married…not necessarily in that order. The Linden Room is nicknamed the bridal suite and is one of eight suites available at the country inn, which opened in 2015. Guests at the manor receive special pricing on bottles and complimentary beer, wine and spirits tastings. The distillery produces a broad, full portfolio of grain-to-glass spirits including eaux de vie from fruit sourced at local vineyards, including peach, pear, cherry, plum and apple. The distillery makes bourbon, rye whiskey and corn whiskey, using only estate-grown corn. Springfield Manor also makes rum, dark rum, and vodka. The St. Angelo family, which owns the property, pay homage to their Italian heritage by making grappa from the skins of their Cabernet Franc grapes. Springfield Manor’s Lavender Gin was awarded a double gold medal and best of class from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The 130-acre working farm’s lavender field has more than 2,600 plants, of English and French varietals, and hosts a Lavender Festival every June.
coffee liqueur every Christmas for gifts. Learning to do that led to Marble Distilling’s Moonlight Coffee Liqueur, which has an aged and an unaged expression. The company also makes Gingercello and a variety of whiskeys. Marble Distilling uses local corn for the whiskeys that include corn in the mash bill and also distill using exotic grains, like triticale. Located in downtown Carbondale about 25 miles from the ski resort of Aspen, where the distillery operates a satellite tasting room, the distillery inn’s five suites add a luxury option to the picturesque town’s lodging options. The distillery has a policy of treating all guests like royalty, but in addition to the royal treatment, guests at the inn do receive drink tokens and are invited to have a complimentary cocktail. The inn’s “Can Do Chick” Mandy Brennan is constantly trying to find details about guests to create surprises to make their visits more special. Shanks said, “It could be a picture of the guests, a bouquet of flowers for [an] anniversary couple, or a book of hand-tied flies for a worldly fly fisherman.”
Marble Distilling Co.'s Distillery Inn in Carbondale, Colorado.
PHOTO BY ANNA CLAIRE ROBINSON
It is easy to focus on the environmentally-sound practices of Marble Distilling Company and forget about their passion for making good spirits. Founders Connie Baker and Carey Shanks built the distillery and inn to demonstrate that environmentally sound practices can also be profitable. Shanks said their three core tenants are great liquid, community development and sustainability. The debate of the chicken or the egg does not apply here. The distillery and inn were built from the ground up on a vacant lot with the mission to prove that you can run a sustainable business producing great spirits while demonstrating the profitability of both of these practices. The concept earned them recognition from the Sierra Club who named Marble Distilling one of six spirits to drink to save the planet. The distillery incorporates a Water Energy Thermal (WET) system, which recycles 100% of the heating/cooling water in a closed system. The WET system harvests the heat generated to create energy for other purposes of the distillery and inn. The husbandand-wife team estimates that they saved 4-million gallons of water in 2016 while reclaiming 1.8 million BTUs. “When people talk about sustainability as a business model… what I think people need to realize is: My ultimate goal is resource management and supporting the planet’s health by [demonstrating] financial feasibility of sustainable practices,” said Shanks. The spirits making side began with Baker’s mother, who made
PHOTO BY IAN ROTH
Saving the Planet One Bottle at a Time
Marble Distilling Co.'s Marble Bar in Carbondale, Colorado. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Odds & Sods Several other distilleries operate bed and breakfasts for visiting dignitaries. In Ocean City, Md., Seacrets Distilling Company — attached to Seacrets, Jamaica USA, which is perhaps the only distillery/bar/restaurant/radio station combo — maintains a bed and breakfast that is mostly reserved for touring bands playing at Seacrets’ concert hall. The Willett Distillery, in Bardstown, Kentucky, has constructed a guest house on the property for visiting VIPs, but as of yet, no plans to go public are on the record. The Copper Fox Distillery built a second Virginia location in the former motor hotel in Williamsburg. The Lord Paget Motel was a popular tourist stop but currently rooms are not available to the public. Several wings of rooms have been converted for floor malting, distilling, barrel storage and other distillery operations. The Tarnished Truth Distilling Company opened up inside the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach Distillery. You can’t stay there yet but Flag Hill Winery and Distillery in Lee, New Hampshire, has just broken ground on a partnership with their neighbors to build 20 small villas where guests can stay and take part in wine and distilling adventures. The Winery opened in 1994, added distilling in 2004 and will add cottages in Spring 2020. In addition to an add-on for its thriving wedding business, Flag Hill will offer team building retreats and distilling workshops. According to owner/operator Brian Ferguson, they will “create a place where somebody can come in and work with us in a two- or three-day window, and pick what they would like to make.” Clients will be able to sample distillates from not only different grains but from different varietals of the same grain. The estate distillery will then plant the plots of grain, harvest, mash, ferment, distill and age whiskies under the client’s directions and produce a truly custom whiskey from the ground up.
Where Not to Stay Lastly, don’t plan on staying at the Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is no hotel at Hotel Tango. The moniker is an homage to the NATO phonetic alphabet and the names of the founders, Hilary and Travis Barnes. The latter served three tours of duty with the US Marines in Iraq.
Andrew Faulkner was Managing Editor of Distiller magazine for six years. In 14 years at the American Distilling Institute he coordinated curriculum for Hands-on Distilling Workshops, helped plan the Annual Spirits Conference and Vendor Expo, and was the architect of the ADI’s International Judging of Craft Spirits. He is the co-author, along with Bill Owens and Alan Dikty, of “The Art of Distilling Whiskey” (2019, Quarry Press) and has edited six books on distilled spirits. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
PHOTO PROVIDED BY O-I
LOOKING THROUGH GLASS
What distillers need to know about your most underappreciated ingredient W R I T T E N B Y D E V O N T R E VAT H A N
here would spirits be without glass? The literal answer is all over the distillery’s floor, but a more figurative approach surmises that a spirit’s packaging is nearly as important as the juice inside. Glass is undoubtedly the unsung hero of our industry, containing the literal fruits of our labor, but bottles are capable of so much more than the mere confinement of liquid. Truly great packaging has the power to make a brand. Many of the world’s most famous spirits are known as much for their bottles as the contents within. Take for instance Patron’s decidedly stout shape and predominant cork, or Kings County Distillery, whose glass bottles are made to resemble old hip flasks. Hours of work have gone into the design and creation of the glass that holds your favorite spirit. In many ways, the production of glass resembles that of alcohol — raw materials are combined and heated to achieve an entirely new product, and to the untrained eye the process can appear almost magical.
THE PROCESS Glass is composed of three main elements: silica (SiO2), a sand of excellent quality; caustic soda (NaOH), a base element; and lime (CaCO3), a stabilizing element. Other components may be added for their mechanical, chemical, and optical characteristics. These compounds are fed into conical mixers that deposit them in successive layers in order to get a homogenous mix. Furnace-ready recycled glass, called “cullet,” is added to the mix; its addition reduces energy consumption and lowers CO2 emissions. At this point, the mix is ready to face the flames. Hoppers deposit it onto the molten glass in the furnace, where melting temperature is 1500 degrees C. The glass is then distributed from the furnace to different machines via channels called feeders, which ensure a steady flow at the specific temperatures required on each line. The glass flows out of the feeders and is cut into exact pieces called “gobs.” Once the gob enters a blank mold, compressed air forces it tightly into its encasement and then is re-introduced from the opposite direction
to create the neck ring. The unfinished bottle is then removed from the mold and turned upright, where it is transferred to the finishing mold by way of the newly-formed neck ring. Gravity pulls the partially-formed bottle down into the finishing mold, and it is finalized with the use of compressed air once more. At this stage, an extractor grips the bottle by its neck and holds it up so that air may cool its base before it is placed on the conveyor. All of this happens in a flash, ensuring that the glass is pliable until it has been formed into its final shape. But the bottle isn’t complete quite yet. It must first go through the lehr, a temperature-controlled kiln that slowly cools objects made of hot glass after their formation in order to relieve residual internal stress, in a process referred to as “annealing.” Inside the lehr, the bottles are evenly heated to 560 degrees C and then gradually cooled to 150 degrees C. The amount of time a bottle spends in the lehr can vary from one and a half to four hours, depending on its size. Bottles are then often coated with a wax-based cold end treatment to ease friction and reduce scuffing during handling.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY SAVERGLASS
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After bottles have been fully formed, they are inspected individually to ensure quality control. Specific parameters are examined by automatic machines and skilled operators scattered throughout the workspace. From here, bottles are palletized to the specifications of the customer, shrink wrapped for their protection, and loaded onto trucks to be distributed across the globe.
THE OPTIONS Plenty of options exist for a distiller looking for a packaging supplier, and each one offers its own set of strengths. Companies like Owens-Illinois (O-I) here in the United States and Saverglass, headquartered in France’s Glass Valley, provide both glass manufacturing and decoration in-house, which usually means the greatest possible communication between the two departments. “We make sure the thing we put on the glass fits with the decoration because we take care of all of it,” says Sophie Treboz of Saverglass in regard to any coating applied to the glass after cooling. The kind of bottle you choose depends on a variety of factors, starting with the amount of time you have before you need the bottles. “I think that’s really key
because if they say a month, if they say 12 months, it really completely changes their breadth of options,” Stephane StantonBrand, market manager at Saverglass for the East Coast and Canada,elaborates. With a spirits market that’s becoming more saturated each year, new distillers might feel inclined toward a custom bottle design, but that option requires a specific timeframe. “If they say a month, we know that it’s going to be a stock bottle, not even just a stock mold, something we keep in inventory,” explains Stanton-Brand. “And if it’s a year, well you can have either a stock mold, you can have a decorated stock mold, or you could do a customization or personalizing a stock mold, you have all the options.” From there, further considerations are weighed to narrow down options. What are you planning to sell your bottle for? The design elements available to the producer of a $30 gin will vary wildly from someone selling a $100 bourbon, but both individuals should be attentive to the aesthetic of their bottle. “A well-thought-out package design has the ability to instantly connect with consumers and is the first touch point a brand has to convey their story,” says
Sarah Brennan, spirits & wine category lead for O-I in the Americas. “Through our consumer research, we’ve learned that consumers look to packaging as the first signal of quality. This is especially important for higher-end products.” You should also ask yourself where you plan to sell your bottles. Distilleries that sell primarily out of their own establishment can be more creative with the shape of their bottles, as we’ve seen in the craft side of the industry. “More and more with craft, we see a willingness to break from the norms to help tell their ‘story,’” says Joel Miller, president of Phoenix Packaging International. “The bottle becomes an integral part of the message. So it may tell more than just what’s inside, it may also convey a link to the past, an emotional tie to the origins of the product.” As an example, those hoping to break into on-premise accounts should consider taller bottles that are easier to grasp and able to fit into a well. The last thing you want is a bartender purposefully ignoring your product because they can’t get a good grip on it during an unexpected pop. All this and more should be addressed when you speak with your supplier in the earliest stages of development. Brennan
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says that at O-I they start with “an initial meeting to gain a better understanding of your brand and the scope of your project — including but not limited to brand positioning and iconography, market launch timing, volumes, and budget. From there we establish a cross-functional team to assist developing and commercializing your product. This starts with concept design before moving to container and mold engineering — all in-house. Once a final drawing is approved, we move to production sampling and qualification before final production.” Distillers don’t have to just work with one of the few companies that offer both manufacturing and decoration; many iconic bottles have come out of firms that specialize in design only. “We do not package products, we supply the empty bottles, etc.,” explains Miller. “We try to give clients options and choices, whether it be a stock bottle versus a custom one or the choice of alternate materials such as ceramics rather than glass.” Freeland Spirits based out of Portland, Oregon debuted their gin in a custommade bottle that they also use for their
bourbon. Their founder Jill Kuehler had a developed vision for what she wanted, something that was both feminine and strong. “She was inspired by the rain of the Northwest and a local bar that helped push her in her journey to start a distillery (Teardrop Lounge),” says Molly Troupe, master distiller for Freeland. Kuehler ended up pairing with Dando Projects, a design and branding studio from Brooklyn, to turn that vision into a reality. The result was a beautiful, embossed teardrop bottle that stands out easily on the shelf. Glass experts warn potential buyers to be aware that some people may not realize the limitations of glass when drawing up a prototype. “You have designers out there who don’t know squat about glass, so they create something that’s crazy beautiful, but you cannot put a label on it, you can barely make it the way that it’s designed,” says Stanton-Brand. David Schuemann, owner and creative principal at CF Napa Brand Design, feels that brand-owners often ignore some of the bottle’s more minute details. “I think [buyers] spend a lot of time thinking about what it looks like, it’s just that they haven’t
thought about the nuances like the seams, the clarity, the finish, how much the molds are polished, all of these things that are important.” Manufacturers are now working to offer custom bottles in smaller quantities, requiring less of an investment up-front and a smaller amount of production. This should afford distillers a lot more options when it comes time to choose the glass that’s right for them. With the constant improvement of automated machines, glass has never been better or more affordable, but it still requires a great deal of thought from the buyer. Distillers should consider not only how their bottle fits into the back bar but also what it conveys about them as a brand. You can’t be everywhere all the time, but your bottle can.
Devon Trevathan is a spirits, wine, and cocktail writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her interests primarily concern the indelible history and culture of the beverage industry. You can follow her @devontrevathan on Instagram and Twitter, or find her at a bar with a Negroni in hand.
A brief rundown of this year’s distilling conventions and how you can maximize your experience as both an attendee and a vendor
n February and March this year, distillers and vendors gathered for two of the industry’s top events: the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) and American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) annual conventions. These gatherings take place each year and are always punctuated by networking opportunities, new relationships within the industry, and fascinating keynote speakers. ACSA kicked off convention season in Minneapolis, Minn. “The experience with the attendees, whether they’re members, DSPs, vendors, or sponsors, has improved year over year,” says James Montero, general manager of Dogfish Head Distillery and chair of the convention committee. “The location in Minneapolis, particularly the hotel, was a great floor plan for supporting what we wanted to achieve with the convention.” Most of the attendees were able to stay above the exhibit hall and the rooms where the presentations took place, making access easy throughout the day. Highlights of the technical track included: Single Farm, Single Variety, Single Vintage Malts for Spirit Production based on a two-plus year analysis in “advancing the concept of malt expressing ‘terroir;’” Spent Distillers Grains: Nuisance or Value Proposition? with Kurt Rosentrater of Distillers Grain Technology Council; and Maintaining Healthy Fermentations and How to Deal with High Alcohol Fermentations in Distilling led by Maria Peterson of Scott Labs. The advanced technical included two sensory analyses, one of rye varieties and the other of malt whiskey mash distillations, as well as a presentation by Philip Gennette of BDAS LLC that looked at obscuration and the effects of distillation on gas chromatography. Business covered essential topics, such as the impact of key controls on distillery insurance, strategies on how to compete in a global craft beverage market, leveraging your perspective in order to grow, and Advanced Acquisitions with Ryan Malkin (Malkin Law), Nick Papanicolaou (Pernod Ricard USA), Paul Hletko (FEW Spirits), Thomas Mooney (House Spirits), and Townsend Ziebold (Cascadia Capital). Strategic lessons told from the craft beer industry gave a lot of insight into the future of craft spirits, and the development of a sustainable craft spirits business offered a lecture with practical advice
WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN
on how to navigate an increasingly fragmented marketplace and effectively create value for your distillery. Possibly one of the events that attendees will look at most fondly was the pre-convention networking event. “We did it using hockey as the experience,” says Montero. “Seeing a segment of the attendees all coming together and getting to know each other in a different environment, that was a highlight for me.” Distillers from across the country geared up to play while others cheered them on from the sidelines. Another highlight? The guest of honor. “I thought our keynote speaker Nick Gilson [founder and CEO of Gilson Snow] brought an experience and a story that, while in a very different category, was very relatable to every entrepreneurial mind.” ADI was equally full of useful and interesting seminars crafted distinctly for members of the industry. It kicked off with the Gin Summit at Archetype Distillery in Denver, Colorado, which featured speakers like Julia Nourney, an independent spirits consultant; drinks writer and chairperson for the World’s 50 Best Virginia Miller; Lauren Patz of Spirit Works Distillery; and Aaron Knoll, author of Gin: the Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival. Presentations began with the keynote address, given by John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado and Democratic hopeful in the 2020 presidential election. Of the technical programs offered during ADI’s convention, one standout was A Real Conversation about Rum, which dove into the unseen world of rum production techniques and classification by Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker Bailey Pryor. Another noteworthy session was an exploration of the effects of still choice on spirit character led by Chip Tate. Shawn Patterson led a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of proofing water in distilled spirits, which shared the results of research conducted to understand the effects the proof water has on the composition of the aldehyde and ketone levels in distilled spirits. Both ADI and ACSA have been working for years to fortify their conventions with interesting presentations, unique keynote speakers, and alluring distillery tours. At times it can feel a bit overwhelming, especially to new attendees who’ve never been before.
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How can you make the most of your convention experience? Martin Duffy has attended each ACSA convention since its inception and has been going to ADI for at least as many years. He has been an attendee in the past and now goes as a vendor to represent Glencairn. Duffy understands that ADI and ACSA, while similar, require different approaches to maximize their potential from the perspective of a vendor. “I go knowing that ADI is going to have a lot of folks going through R&D who won’t have their own established distilleries,” he says. “It’s interesting because, obviously even the guys doing R&D, you see them walking around with their branded swag already, even though they don’t have a distillery. Many are already interested in purchasing no matter what level they are as far as where their distillery stands.” Vendors attending ADI should know that there is more of a market there since the convention tends to attract more newcomers. ACSA’s event floor, while far from thin, doesn’t have as many vendors present since the distillers they run into usually have stills already, or relationships with grain suppliers. But, as Duffy reminds me, that can be a double-edged sword; “Even though it was pretty slow [at ACSA] as far as the people walking around, with the people who did come up there was more likelihood of them making a purchase.” For new attendees, Duffy says that he would do two things: “I would review all the seminars that are taking place, but then also ask around because seminar titles and descriptions can be misleading. However, I would also give plenty of time to walking the showroom floor. And again, come with a checklist.” Come prepared so that you have an idea of how to navigate
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the floor and the many educational opportunities. Make sure that you know where the grain suppliers are if you’re in the market for grain, or where the closure companies have set up camp if that’s what you need. But Duffy agrees that, though you should come prepared, attendees benefit from not being too rigid during their convention experience. These gatherings are great opportunities to connect with people. Montero agreed, saying, “Stepping out of your shell and meeting as many people as you can is so important. It’s easy to sort of ride the crowds from education event to education event, and/ or huddle with your teams, but I think these conventions are most meaningful to everyone when everyone steps out of their comfort zone to try to meet and engage with new suppliers, even if they’re not looking, [and] new DSPs.” John McKee, owner and founder of Headframe Spirits in Butte, Montana, says the same. “Don’t den up! Get to every booth, introduce yourself to anyone, ask to sit at tables during meals with someone new each time.” Conventions have been the setting where McKee and many others have made some of their dearest and closest friends within the industry and going each year offers them an opportunity to both revitalize those friendships and forge new ones. As far as the future of conventions is concerned, McKee says that “conventions are getting bigger, but not necessarily better. ACSA is upping its game big time, but ADI seems to be stuck in a model that they’ve been replicating since the first days of the conferences and it’s getting pretty stale.” And what about the other “grizzled veterans,” as Duffy puts it? How do
operational distillers continue to get something from these conventions each year? “I would think there are two things you want to do if you’ve already got your distillery and you’re up and running. One, check the seminars for any marketing seminars — how to market your brand — and anything having to deal with distributors because that seems like something distillers just don’t get,” Duffy says. It might be tempting to keep attending the technical tracks year after year, but distillers should make some time for marketing and business, too, as those are traditionally weak spots for craft producers. Established distillers can also benefit from walking the showroom floor if they’re in a place where they are ready to improve their distillery; this could mean bigger stills with more production output or better glass suppliers, all of whom will be present at these conventions. Traditionally, conventions have been a way for distillers and industry members to gather and discuss their work. It continues to operate in the same fashion, but as the needs of the industry grow and change, attendees would be wise to prepare themselves with a game plan before they arrive. Consult the event schedule, get in touch with people you know who are going to be there, but don’t forget to embrace the opportunities to make new professional connections whenever they arise.
Devon Trevathan is a spirits, wine, and cocktail writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her interests primarily concern the indelible history and culture of the beverage industry. You can follow her @ devontrevathan on Instagram and Twitter, or find her at a bar with a Negroni in hand.
TO SLOT OR NOT TO SLOT WHY AREN’T THE LARGEST SETTLEMENTS IN HISTORY STOPPING TRADE PRACTICE VIOLATIONS? WRITTEN BY STACY C. KULA, ESQ.
he Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has made no bones about it. They have significantly intensified their trade practice enforcement in a number of ways. TTB is partnering with state ABC agencies and other authorities to identify trade practice violations, and the consequences to offenders are harsh. Some of the largest settlements in history have been paid in the last year. In the meantime, the TTB is also trying to educate permittees so that they can understand what practices are illegal. If you have not yet attended one of the free trade practice seminars, you should. They are advertised on the TTB‘s website, and again, they are free to attend, although you may have to travel to the city offering the seminar (it is worth the trip). But despite the harsh consequences of investigations and the free education opportunities, manufacturers and other permittees continue to engage in unlawful trade practice violations. In just the past year, the TTB has collected more than $5 million in offers in compromise because of alleged trade practice violations.
RECENT OFFERS IN COMPROMISE — LARGEST IN HISTORY Recently, Heineken USA Incorporation entered into an offer in compromise to pay $2.5 million to the TTB for alleged trade practice violations. The TTB claimed that Heineken supplied retailers with free “BrewLock” draft systems, sometimes reimbursing retailers through disguised credit card transactions, which obligated and induced the retailer to purchase beer from Heineken. The TTB also alleged that Heineken used third parties to provide money or things of value to retailers for placement of beer. Finally, the TTB alleged that Heineken made payments to retailers that purported to reflect permissible activities such as consumer sampling, but no permitted goods or services were purchased or received by Heineken and such payments we actually “slotting allowance” payments (payments made by an industry member to a retailer to receive preferential shelf and display space). In December of 2018, QAC LLC, doing business as the wholesaler Eagle Brands, entered into an offer in compromise to pay $1.5 million to the TTB for alleged trade practice violations by arranging for inducements to be given to retailers in exchange for draft beer placement at retail locations, to the exclusion
of other brands. The TTB alleged that the employees of Eagle Brands provided draft systems to retailers with the understanding that only Eagle Brands’ products could be served in those systems. In November of 2018, Elgin Beverage Co., a wholesaler located in Illinois, entered into an offer in compromise to pay $325,000 to the TTB for violations of alleged trade practice violations for making payment of $10,000 to retailers through a third-party marketing company in exchange for those retailers agreeing to carry certain products. In April of 2018, Warsteiner Importers Agency, Inc., an importer located in Ohio, entered into an offer in compromise to pay $900,000 for alleged trade practice violations. Although the TTB’s Abstract and Statement only cites alleged violations of exclusive outlet, tied house, commercial bribery and consignment sales, other sources have stated that Warsteiner allegedly paid for retailer equipment for dedicated tap lines in a “pay-to-play” and paid for or sponsored events in exchange for product exclusivity.
WHAT ARE FEDERALLY PROHIBITED TRADE PRACTICES? Prohibited trade practices are those activities statutorily identified as illegal because they are considered WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
anti-competitive and interfere with a retailer’s independence of choice. In other words, an industry member (a manufacturer and, in some cases, a wholesaler) engaged in prohibited trade practices either puts such pressure on, or offers such an inducement to, the retailer that the retailer chooses that manufacturer’s product over or to the exclusion of other manufacturers’ products. It gives an unfair advantage to the manufacturer engaged in these illegal activities. And ultimately, the detriment trickles down to the end consumer because their choices become limited. Specific trade practice violations are generally referred to as (1) tied house (27 CFR Part 6); (2) exclusive outlet (27 CFR Part 8); (3) commercial bribery (27 CFR Part 10); and (4) consignment sales (27 CFR Part 11), and each one has separate elements that the TTB has to prove. There are exceptions to the rules, but even some of the exceptions don’t offer complete safe harbors and there are strict record-keeping requirements. The long and short of it is, the analysis can be confusing and outdated, especially given the modern marketplace. These laws were initially put into place to protect the retailers, and ultimately consumers, from unscrupulous powerful industry member. These days retailers have the power to demand that industry members provide these inducements, but there is no corresponding TTB power to regulate retailers in this area.
WHY ARE PERMITTEES ENGAGING IN THIS BEHAVIOR? Several reasons. Admittedly, alcohol laws are complex and difficult to understand. Many new businesses, and frankly many existing businesses, just don’t understand the law. Hence, the TTB’s offer of free education. I cannot tell you how many times a client has naively, but with great conviction, told
me that because so-and-so was doing it, it MUST be legal. ALERT - just because another player in the market is doing it, even if that player is a sophisticated successful business, does NOT mean it is lawful. Apparently, Heineken was worried about something it did or it would not have paid $2.5 million to the federal government. And you will find that while some businesses may not realize their activities are illegal, others purposely violate the law, weighing the limited resources the government has to identify and prosecute their violations against the cost of getting caught. But given all the hype in the past few years about these illegal activities, doesn’t it beg the question — even after paying the settlement, is it still profitable to engage in these illegal activities? In other words, does the market share garnered by such illegal activity, and thus the ultimate profit, outweigh the settlement paid, even when the settlement is to the tune of millions of dollars? Are these settlements already built into industry members’ marketing budgets such that this is by far the biggest pay-to-play scheme? And how can a craft distiller ever compete with that?
TTB Tom Hogue, the Director of the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at the TTB, said in a telephone interview that the TTB’s goal is voluntary compliance, not putting permittees out of business. He emphasized that when the TTB enters into these voluntary settlements, the TTB considers whether the amount of the settlement is appropriate in light of what the permittee has done and whether the amount of the settlement will be a deterrent to stop the permittee from doing it again. Thus, it appears, at least from the TTB’s perspective, these settlements ought not to be considered just a cost of doing business, but hurt enough so the industry member doesn’t engage in that behavior again.
WHAT DO YOU DO? Understandably, craft distillers find it difficult to compete with the big boys at almost every level. Large manufacturers have the resources, they have the expertise and they have the connections — they’ve been doing this for a long time. And because of that, they can literally afford to gamble with millions of dollars in settlements. But most craft distillers cannot survive paying small settlements, much less millions of dollars. There’s not a perfect answer, and at times you must suffer the slings and arrows of others’ outrageous fortune. Most importantly, mind your own Ps and Qs. Before you engage in marketing promotions, read the statutes and regulations. They are not necessarily easy to understand though, so if the answer is still not clear, reach out to the TTB in writing and ask them. You may not always want to identify who you are, but identifying the permittee and providing specific facts about your promotion should give you a reasonable basis to rely on the TTB’s guidance. Of course, the TTB’s guidance is likely not a defense to a violation, but it could be a mitigating factor if the promotion is ultimately determined illegal. You can also seek the help of an attorney or industry consultant, but be sure that they have expertise in alcohol law. Finally, if you believe an industry member is engaged in illegal trade practices, you can report them at the tip line on the TTB’s website. The defense “he’s doing it, so it must be ok” is not acceptable. You are responsible for understanding what is legal — the consequences fall on you and your company, so take the necessary steps to protect yourself. This above all: to thine own self be true.
Stacy Kula is an alcohol attorney practicing law in Kentucky with a focus on federal and state alcohol licensing, hospitality law, mergers and acquisitions, entity formation, real estate purchases and leases, and general contract law. She has been appointed as lead ABC counsel on a number of multi-state transactions, is a second term elected member of the Board of Directors of Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys, and is also a member of the National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Attorneys and the National Association of Licensing Compliance Professional.
AWAMORI WRITTEN BY READE A. HUDDLESTON
o many Americans, a night out at a sushi restaurant wouldn’t be complete without a little sake. However, few are aware that sake isn’t the only native drink in Japan. Indeed, Japan has a myriad beverage selection with rich and interesting histories. However, the most interesting might very well be the Okinawan beverage awamori. So, what exactly is awamori and how did it come to be? The answer to that question is both seductively simple and infuriatingly complex. To truly understand awamori, you must first learn a little about Japanese culture, its history, and how it is made. At its core, awamori is a distilled rice spirit. However, to label it as such is to grossly misrepresent its position in Japanese society. In fact, to many Japanese awamori, and its cousin shochu, are not considered spirits at all, at least not in the same way that most westerners think of spirits. True, awamori is distilled; but the number of times can vary, and it can have a wide range of ABVs when bottled.1 Furthermore, even when awamori is bottled at high strength, it is often served diluted with water. This makes it much less alcoholic in the minds of many drinkers, and it is often given its own category on store shelves in Japan. This hazy existence as neither hard alcohol nor wine or beer has made it incredibly hard to pin down the exact type of legal classification awamori should be given in the West. As such,there have been some very confusing trade disputes between Japan and the rest of the world over how to tax awamori and shochu. During the 1987 formation of the General Agreement and Trade Tariffs (GATT), many countries lodged complaints that Japan was under-taxing their traditional alcohol products because they were not put into the same classification as other hard liquors.2 This difficulty in classifying awamori,
Japan has a myriad number of beverages that have rich and interesting histories. However, the most interesting might very well be the Okinawan beverage:
AWAMORI and other products like it, has persisted to this day, often to the detriment of curious Western consumers.3 Just like many other spirits, the story of how awamori came to be a staple of Japanese drinking culture is long and a little convoluted. The earliest known records of distilled spirit being produced in Japan are from Okinawa and they begin around the 15th century when the island was under the control of the Ryukyu Kingdom.1,4 Although it is not exactly clear how Okinawans first learned to distill, it is widely believed that Siamese sea-merchants taught them. This theory is especially supported by the fact that awamori uses very specific rice that originates from Thailand (modern-day Siam).1 Awamori production may have been the first known distilling in the Japanese islands, however, the art of distillation soon spread from Okinawa throughout the mainland. The prefecture of Kyushu, for example, quickly began producing shochu, which became the more popular beverage. Despite this, awamori
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There are some important rules about the type of rice that can be used to make Awamori: only imported Thailong grain rice, known scientifically as Oryza sativa sp. Indica, can be used in its production.
production has continued steadfastly on Okinawa and although the technology has advanced, the basic process still remains the same.1 Awamori production is a relatively simple and straightforward process when compared to other rice-based alcoholic beverages.5 Like sake, awamori production starts with the selection of its main ingredient: rice. However, there are some important rules about the type of rice that can be used to make awamori: only imported Thai long grain rice, known scientifically as Oryza sativa sp.Indica, can be used in its production. This specificity of grain also lends credence to the theory that awamori production came to Okinawa via Thailand.4,5 Although the official reason that Thai rice must be used is that it is traditional, there are more practical, unique advantages to using it as well. First, long-grain rice tends to be cheaper than many other rice strains, so it offers an economic incentive. Longgrain rice also has a much lower concentration of amylopectin, a long branching sugar, than that of other strains. This results in a much less sticky grain after itâ€™s cooked, which makes preparation and processing much easier. Finally, Thai rice tends to have a higher starch content than other strains, giving it a higher alcohol yield.4 Once the rice has been selected, the next step in production is to soak it for a set period of time. This helps wash the rice and to prepare it for the next step: steaming. The rice is steamed until all of the starches are completely gelatinized. After cooling, the rice mash is inoculated with a special type of mold known as black koji, or Aspergillus awamori. Black koji is a mold that produces enzymes that can break down the starches in the rice into fermentable sugar.6 As the name implies, black koji is black rather than the typical white or yellow hued kojis that are used in shochu and sake production. The use of black koji is unique to awamori, and other than its ability to convert starch to sugar, it has some important characteristics that help to make awamori special. One of the most important traits is that it produces a large amount of citric acid as it grows on the rice. This helps to protect the rice from negative, off-flavor-creating bacteria. This acid production is so effective that, unlike some other rice-based alcohols, it is actually prohibited to add any sort of acid or other chemicals to protect the rice from infection as it may adversely affect the fermentation.5 After the koji has been allowed to grow,
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water and yeast are added to the rice and a multiple parallel fermentation begins.1 Unlike shochu and sake, awamori must be made with a single stage-fermentation and with no more additions of rice or other fermentables. Awamori fermentations are highly alcoholic and tend to proceed very quickly. The typical fermentation will last about two weeks and will contain anywhere between 14% and 20% ABV.4,7 Once fermentation is completed the mash is moved to the stills quickly in order to avoid souring.4 Awamori has two distinct distillation methods. The first, and more traditional, is normal atmospheric distillation. Atmospheric distillation tends to be conducted in normal pot stills that are heated by direct fire. The distillation is only performed once, rather than the typical double-distillation used by many Scotch distillers. This single distillation produces a spirit of about 70% ABV with a rich flavor that can sometimes have aromatic elements from scorching in the still.4,8 The second option for the distillation of awamori is to use non-atmospheric, low-pressure stills. These stills have become very popular, and they tend to produce a spirit that is both higher in alcohol and softer on the palate.4 Finally, the last step in awamori production is aging. Most awamori is aged, however, the duration depends on the product being produced. Kusu awamori must contain 50% awamori that is aged for a minimum of three years and is considered to be of the highest quality. Unlike whiskey or other aged products, awamori is normally aged in large earthen pots called Kame.8,9 The calcium in these pots helps to speed up the aging by neutralizing the fatty acids that are present in the fresh distillate. The aging process is called Shitsugi and has elements that are reminiscent of the solera system used by sherry producers.4 Once the aging is complete, the awamori is normally proofed down to the required alcohol content before being bottled and shipped to consumers. There are also two special types of awamori that are also sometimes consumed. The first is Habushu , or snake, awamori, which has a pit viper along with herbs and honey soaked in it. This is considered to be a medicinal drink and is normally consumed straight. The second is Hanazake , or flower, awamori, which is infused with herbs and spices and is considered a religious beverage.10 Modern-day awamori has recently seen a resurgence in Japan. Like American consumers, the Japanese are beginning
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to reconnect with the once-forgotten spirits their ancestors drank, and as such, there are currently 47 active distilleries in Okinawa.1 However, it has still not made the trek — in any great quantity — to American liquor stores. This is mostly because few store owners and regulators understand how to classify it and where to put it on the shelves. Nevertheless, as American begin to branch out, and liquor stores begin to teem with more and more new and unusual products, we may begin to see awamori on back-bars and in home liquor cabinets.
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 Bierbrand, or any other strange and forgotten spirit, please email him at ReadeHuddleston@gmail.com.
PRODUCT & BRAND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY & FINANCIAL PLANNING
Pellegrini, Christopher, 2014. The Shochu Handbook: An Introduction to Japan’s Indigenous Distilled Drink. Telemachus Press, LLC. Ohio.
GATT, 1987. Japan-Customs Duties, Taxes and labelling Practices on Imported Wines and Alcoholic Beverages. Available from < http://www.worldtradelaw.net/reports/gattpanels/japanliquor.pdf. download> [April 24, 2019]
World Trade Organization, 1998. Japan-Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages, Available from < https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/ dispu_e/cases_e/ds8_e.htm> [April 23, 2019]
Kanauchi, M., 2012. Characteristics and Role of Feruloyl Esterase from Aspergillus Awamori in Japanese Spirits, ‘Awamori’ Production, Scientific, Health and Social Aspects of the Food Industry, Dr. Benjamin Valdez (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953307-916-5, InTech, Available from: http://www.intechopen. com/books/scientific-healthand-social-aspects-of-the-foodindustry/characteristics-and-role-of-feruloyl-esterase-fromaspergillusawamori-in-japanese-spirits-awamori-p
Japan Shochu Official, 2016. “All About Shochu: Lecture1: The Honkaku Shochu Production Process.” YouTube. Available from < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfvtbbfPXdM> [April 22, 2019]
Nunberg, J.H., et. al. 1984. Molecular Cloning and Characterization of the Glucoamylase Gene of Aspergillus awamori. Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Vol.(4)1. Pp. 2306-2315.
MidorinoShima, 2019. Awamori, The Origin of Japanese Distilled Beverages. Available from < https://www.midorinoshima.com/en/ content/14-awamori> [April 24, 2019]
Koutsakis, George, 2017. The Spirit of Awamori. Available from < https://www.alcoholprofessor.com/blog-posts/blog/2017/11/27/ the-spirit-of-awamori > [April 25, 2019]
LiveJapan, 2018. Guide to Awamori: Classic Okinawan Alcohol. Available from < https://livejapan.com/en/article-a0001992/> [April 23, 2019]
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10) Sake-World, 2019. Shochu and Awamori. Available from < http://
sake-world.com//?s=awamori> [April 24, 2019]
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IN, AND OUT OF, SUSPENSE PART 1: BASICS and CHILL FILTRATION W R I T T E N B Y G E O R G E B . C ATA L L O
ne of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of spirits production is filtration. There are all sorts of solids potentially floating around in your spirits prior to filtration. Some of them you very much want to be there, others you need to take out. It’s a delicate dance making sure you achieve a balance. Remove the bad without harming the flavor. But what are the good particles? What are the bad ones? How do we get them out? Wait, you have to filter at certain temperatures to get certain things to fall out of suspension? This filtration thing is far more complex than it first appears. With such an overwhelming amount to learn about the types of filtration systems, methods, and things floating around in different types of spirits, I decided to talk to Katherine Marchetti, Regional Sales Manager with AFTEK Applied Filtration Technology to help wrap my head around the subject. We are going to discuss filtration in a multi-part series with the first diving into discuss some basic information and the muchdebated, chill filtration of whiskey.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER In my time working in wine and spirits retail, I have seen firsthand the importance of having a final spirit appear clean. I’ve seen everything from barrel particulates to clumped proteins to saponification turning away customers or causing them to come back with a faulted bottle. To be fair, the only fault that has ever really been one of massive significance has been the saponification. That led to the return of the entire order of the spirit to the distributor. There’s no filtering that out, but everything else can be taken out of a spirit without causing harm. Remember: just because some things may not actually be problematic from a flavor or safety standpoint, that doesn’t mean they won’t be offputting to consumers. Furthermore, in every spirits competition I have judged, appearance is the first thing considered. There are potential demerits for sediment, particulate, discoloration, or haze. Whether you’re looking to get a bottle to move off a retail shelf or to earn an award, first impressions matter.
SOME DEFINITIONS TURBIDITY — From Latin turbidus, clouded, opaque, unclear, or disrupted.
FATTY ACID — A carboxylic acid consisting of a hydrocarbon chain and a terminal carboxyl group, especially any of those occurring as esters in fats and oils.
ESTER — An organic compound made by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by an alkyl or other organic group. Often derived from a carboxylic acid and an alcohol.
PROTEIN — Compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which are arranged as strands of amino acids.
COLLOID — A homogeneous noncrystalline substance consisting of large molecules or ultramicroscopic particles of one substance dispersed through a second substance. Colloids include gels, sols, and emulsions; the particles do not settle, and cannot be separated out by ordinary filtering or centrifuging like those in a suspension.
CHILL/COLD FILTRATION — A form of cosmetic filtration, generally used for whiskey that is bottled at under 46% abv, in which the spirit’s temperature is brought down to between 14 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit as to cause some proteins, fatty acids, and esters to “clump” together for easier removal. 116
TURBIDITY, or NOT TURBIDITY: THAT is the QUESTION There are many causes of turbidity in spirits. It is very important to know what they are, how to identify them, where they come from, and how to handle them.” Usually you find either a mineral haze, which is quite heavy, or a protein haze, which is very fine and often appears in the bottle later on,” said Marchetti. “For minerals, you can use a standard polypropylene filter, but for proteins, we use a micro glass cartridge. It has a charge, so it will break up the long chain esters without stripping them.”
COMMON CAUSES of TURBIDITY and THEIR ORIGIN CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, SILICATES – water source IRON – water source POLYSACCHARIDES (PECTINS), DEXTRINS – mash, fermentation MICROORGANISMS – unclean equipment HIGHER FATTY ACIDS and FATTY ACID ESTERS – fermentation COPPER – the still POLYPHENOLS – mash, fermentation, barrels
PROTEINS – mash, fermentation MECHANICAL IMPURITIES – equipment CHARCOAL DUST – barrels HIGHLY VOLATILE SULFUR COMPOUNDS – fermentation/ poor distillation WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
TO USE CHILL FILTRATION, OR GIVE IT THE COLD SHOULDER? As mentioned above, chill filtration is a form of cosmetic filtration, generally used for whiskey to cause some proteins, fatty acids, and esters to “clump” together for easier removal. While it is a cosmetic filtration, it is intensely debated among whiskey geeks whether or not it negatively impacts the flavor of the whiskey. The short answer to that is: No it doesn’t. (Well, it shouldn’t, not if you do it right.) Whiskey that is 46% or greater abv is able to stay crystalline at lower temperatures and does not require chilling prior to filtration to ensure a clean looking spirit in the glass for a consumer. However, anything lower than 46% is highly susceptible to having “junk” congeal in it at lowered temperatures. This junk can appear as a slight haze, swirling disrupted sediment, or even globs of mucus. None of it is bad for you, per se, but consumers don’t necessarily want mucus or dust in their bottles. Especially since the average consumer is uneducated in the spirits making process and will not know that the solids they are seeing are safe to consume. The key to chill filtering is to hit the right temperature to clump up the right amount of the long-chain esters to clean things up visually without also grabbing the short-chain esters that impart flavor. The sweet spot will vary depending on your source grains, still type, how long the whiskey has been aged, and what it has been aged in. It’s a moving target, but a good rule to live by is, “less is more.” Don’t over chill it. The decision to forgo chill filtration at sub 46% is not to be taken lightly. There will likely be backlash from consumers. You do not want to forgo filtration overall. “If people aren’t chill filtering and they’re bottling at under 92 proof, we strongly recommend using a filter,” said Marchetti. He continued, “I’ve had a number of people come to us to filter because their distributor was threatening to drop them.” Regardless of chill or not, you have to decide what is best for your spirit and your consumers. Having the phrase “Non-Chill Filtered” on your label is always a plus, but you need to make sure that what you’re putting in the bottle is of the highest quality.
George B. Catallo is the “Whiskey Guy” and Floor/Social Media Manager at Parkway Wine and Liquor in Rochester, NY. He has been in the beverage industry since he turned twenty-one and has worked as the Bar Operations Manager of a wine bar, an Assistant Distiller and Supplier Rep for a craft distillery, and has even hosted a spirits review web series on YouTube under the moniker 'Just One Dram.' 117
the Checks & Balances of Equipment Financing WHEN LAUNCHING OR GROWING YOUR DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY JASON NADEAU
inancing equipment as an investment in your business isn’t a new concept. In 2018, out of the $1.676 trillion businesses invested in equipment, 63% of that was financed. While that statistic includes all industries, food and beverage manufacturing and production weigh heavily on the list. One old saying goes, “Pay for today’s equipment with tomorrow’s dollars” and for distillery folks this rings true. When thinking about the cost associated with setting up a distilling system, you’ll include the still, a boiler and refrigeration unit, but also add-ons such as a mash tun, fermenters, pumps, tanks, and of course the installation of it all.
When does financing make sense? The natural assumption is that a start-up or young business would be more likely to pursue equipment financing since cash on hand isn’t usually available. Then again, if you don’t plan on expansion when you start a business, you are not planning for success. Therefore, when you consider trying to expand your operations, a single outlay of cash can oftentimes set you behind. A lot depends on what equipment you need and how quickly you need it. That rolls into how you are going to pay for the equipment when you need to expand. All of these elements factor into whether or not you pay cash now or finance over a period of time. Also, think about how long before you will need to upgrade. A lot of times it’s easier to roll one lease into another or even do a leaseback of your old equipment in order to purchase the new equipment when it’s time.
Should I secure financing prior to talking with vendors? My response is always yes, even if you end up paying cash. It never hurts to get approved for financing as it gives you insight into what your complete landscape of financial options are. Too often customers do not buy or they under-buy, limiting themselves to only the amount they have for a cash purchase. This can end up slowing potential growth. What to look for when you are considering financing equipment comes down to what is most important to you and your business. To keep your options open, be sure to remain vendor agnostic, meaning you choose the manufacturer and distributor you want to buy from. Some financing providers only work with certain vendors and manufacturers which creates limitations for you!
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FAQ’s on equipment financing WHAT DETERMINES MY RATE? Usually your personal credit score and financial condition combined with your time in business. WHAT IS AN ANNUAL OPTION? For very seasonal businesses that make the bulk of their money once a year, a 2-5-year annual payment is made. HOW LONG DO I FINANCE FOR? This depends on your budget since the longer you finance, the lower the monthly payment. On average, most finance companies offer 12-60 month terms. AS A START-UP WHAT ARE MY CHANCES FOR FINANCING? Not all financing providers will invest in businesses operating two years or less. HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO PUT AS A DOWN PAYMENT? This can range from anywhere from zero to three months of payments. DO I OWN THE EQUIPMENT OR IS IT JUST LIKE RENTING IT? While it is technically a lease, you own the equipment at the end of the term, typically with a $1.00 buyout. You usually also have the option to buy out early with no early termination penalty, but again, do your homework to see if the provider you choose applies penalties for early buyout. As you look to grow your distillery or are ready to embark on a new one, just keep in mind that there are many options out there for you to consider when investing in the equipment.
Jason Nadeau is Senior Equipment Finance Manager of North Star Leasing. For more information visit www.northstarleasing.com or call (802) 860-3586.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STILL FOR THE JOB PART DEUX W R I T T E N B Y M AT T S T R I C K L A N D
HOW MUCH COPPER DO YOU NEED?
n the last issue of Artisan Spirit Magazine, I discussed a few major criteria to consider when choosing a still, such as size and type (batch vs continuous vs hybrid). These are not terribly complicated issues. For this segment, we’re going to step things up a notch. We are going to discuss the need/ role of copper, condenser types, and still geometry.
I HEART CU When I talk to folks about the type of still they need, sometimes the issue of copper comes up. Specifically, do they really need copper in their still? I get it. Copper is expensive. It’s a pain in the royal keister to clean. It dents easily. However, it also aids in the reduction of malodorous sulfur compounds, heats up easily, and catalyzes several important ester reactions. I’d drop the mic right there except that it’s a lot more
complicated than that. The question isn’t, “Do you need copper?” It’s, “How much copper do you need?” At the heart of all this is surface area. The Scotch Whisky Research Institute (SWRI) performed a study on copper placement in stills back in 2011. They looked at the effects of various copper placements in stills on the reduction of selected sulfur compounds, most particularly dimethyl trisulfide (DMTS). What they found through both chemical and sensory analysis was that, unsurprisingly, stainless steel stills performed poorly when it came to reducing sulfur compounds. In sensory trials, spirit made from the stainless-steel stills were described as “significantly less clean” than the copper stills. They tried different individual copper placements in the still pot, lyne arm, and condenser for both a wash still and a spirit still. After running washes and low wines through the stills they found
that the preferred spirit by the sensory panel was from the still completely made from copper. Stainless steel stills with copper placed in different sections did reduce the sulfur compounds but not to the same extent as an all copper still, and the sensory data seemed to back this up as well. The panel in this study simply preferred the character of spirit from an all copper still. An interesting finding in the study was that copper placed in the condenser of the wash still had the greatest effect of reducing sulfur for wash distillations, while copper placed in the pot of the spirit still had the greatest sulfur reducing effect during spirit distillations. It’s not entirely clear why this was the case but regardless of how many times the experiment was repeated, this is what happened.1 What the study doesn’t really address is the question of copper surface area. Could it be that a stainless steel still could
1 Barry Harrison, Olivier Fagnen, Frances Jack and James Brosnan. The Impact of Copper in Different Parts of Malt Whisky Pot Stills on New Make Spirit Composition and Aroma. J. Inst. Brew. 117(1), 106–112, 2011
remove sulfur just as well with the right amount of copper surface area? Maybe some copper packing in the column to increase surface area? Of course, but more on that another time.
WHAT’S YOUR ANGLE?
vapors need to travel causes many higher boiling point compounds such as fusel oils to condense and drop back down, lessening their effect on the new-make spirit — an effect that can be mitigated by changing cut points or heat application which just goes to show that nothing in this topic is simple. The “ogee” (sometimes referred to as a “reflux bowl”) is the bulb that sometimes exists at the bottom or middle of the swan neck. Its job is to increase reflux by providing more surface area. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. See Figure 2. Generally, an ogee with more surface area should increase the potential
Still geometry is a mucky subject. Every time you think you’ve got it figured out, someone comes along to pee in the cereal and tells you that their still doesn’t follow the same rules. However, I think we can still wade into the mud pit of geometrical madness here and come out with some handy generalizations. The swan neck and lyne arm are where we see a lot of variation in designs for pot stills. The swan neck is the vertical pipe extending directly out, up, and above the pot. The lyne arm is the roughly horizontal section leading from the swan neck to the condenser. The vertical pipe A couple of differences keep extending directly out, up, popping up when it comes and above a still’s pot. to swan neck design. First is height. The second is the style of “ogee.” Let’s tackle height first. Swan neck height is The bulb that sometimes exists at the one of the first of bottom or middle of the swan neck. many factors that Sometimes referred to as a “reflux bowl.” influences vapor reflux. The taller the neck, the more distance the vapors must travel. There’s also going to be a wider temperature gradient from the top of the neck to the base. This all adds up to additional reflux inside the neck. If you’re producing a product that could benefit from additional and gentle reflux, then tall swan necks are worth considering. Glenmorangie in Scotland waxes poetic about the height of their swan necks in much of their marketing material. They claim that the higher height produces a cleaner spirit. In the case of Glenmorangie, this certainly seems to be the case. The increased distance that the
amount of reflux. Some ogees come with a pre-condenser function in the form of a cooling jacket or cooling worm, through either of which you can push coolant to increase the reflux capability of the ogee. Corsair Distillery, among their many stills, has an old prohibition-era pot still with a ball-shaped ogee that has this capability. Figure 2 also illustrates the different lyne arm designs that may be seen in batch stills. Some of these are more
LYNE ARM The roughly horizontal section leading from the swan neck to the condenser.
FIGURE 1 121
PLAIN LYNE ARM ASCENDING
BALL LYNE ARM HORIZONTAL/ASCENDING
STRAIGHT LYNE ARM HORIZONTAL
LANTERN LYNE ARM DESCENDING/HORIZONTAL
ONION LYNE ARM DESCENDING
BALL LYNE ARM DESCENDING
common than others. Here, what we want to discuss is lyne arm angle. Very simply, if the lyne arm angles up from the swan neck then this forces more reflux down the neck into the pot. If the neck slopes downward then the vapors have an easier time escaping the proverbial event horizon of the neck and can more easily slide down towards the condenser. If things were really that simple, then we could just call an end to the story. But here’s the thing: just like everything else we’ve talked about, lyne arms don’t operate in a vacuum. (Well, a figurative vacuum — some of the shochu guys do some neat stuff with vacuums…) For instance, the lyne arms of Cragganmore’s wash stills slope down, but the pot is quite large, which they argue promotes a lighter spirit. Laphroaig is not generally considered to be a light spirit, but they use gently ascending lyne arms. Obviously, spirit character is affected by more than just a simple angle. So, what does this mean when considering the design and purchase of a still? If you’re looking to produce a lighter congener spirit such as a Speyside-style malt whisky, then taller swan necks and steeply ascending lyne arms are going to help get you there. (I’ve left out the additional bits on the use of purifiers in distilleries such as Ardbeg because things are complicated enough, don’t you think?) However, if you want something heavier, then short swan neck, no or minimal ogee, and a steeply descending lyne arm are things you should consider. What if you’re looking at a wash still and not a spirit still for purchase? A lot of folks consider the use of simple descending lynes for wash stills, because they don’t necessarily need or want the reflux
during a wash distillation. They’ll then consider adding an ascending lyne to help clean up the spirit while they distill the low wines. Or maybe they won’t…See. I told you it was complicated
WORMS AND TUBES The final thing we’ll discuss in this piece is the style of condenser you want, and once again it all boils down to what kind of spirit you’re trying to make. When it comes to condensers in the world of batch distillation, you generally only see two options: shell and tube or worm tubs. For many manufacturers you may not be given a choice. They may only do one or the other. For instance, if you’re looking at purchasing a traditional style cognac still, then you’re going to be using a worm tub (or as they call it, “the serpentine coil” which is way cooler sounding). Shell and tube condensers are the most common condensers used in the industry these days. They’re incredibly efficient at heat transfer when compared to the worm tubs. So why use a worm tub? Both types of condensers work on the same simple principle: counterflow heat exchange. The spirit vapors travel from the lyne arm into the copper piping above the condenser. As they travel through the condenser, a cooling medium (usually water) flows in the opposite direction outside of the pipe containing the spirit, thus cooling it down and condensing it to liquid. It’s just that shell and tube condensers are a lot more efficient at doing this than worm tubs. Worm tubs, as you can see from the above photos are simply coil copper tubes submerged in cool water. The water enters the tub from a port at the bottom and flows upward surrounding the coil. Water WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
picks up heat from the spirit in the coil and exits via a port placed near the top. The copper tube itself usually starts out with a wider diameter at the top, say 40 cm, and gradually moves to a smaller diameter (~8 cm) as it reaches the bottom of the tub. The length of the entire coil can be as long as 100 meters! Examples of distilleries that use worm tubs are Speyburn, Talisker, and Craigellachie. At present there are only around 20 distilleries in Scotland using worm tubs for Scotch whisky. There are a smattering of craft distillers in North America that have picked them up, but they are still considered a rarity. Shell and tube condensers work similarly, but coolant is pushed through a series of vertical copper or stainlesssteel tubes. (Remember our earlier points about copper in the condenser…) Spirit enters the top of the tube chamber and condenses as it moves through the copper tube forest. Depending on the size of the condenser, these tubes may be upwards of 3 cm in diameter with anywhere from 100200 tubes in the shell. This effectively provides a much greater surface area for BTU transfer from the spirit vapors to the cooling medium in the tubes while at the same time providing more copper contact to the vapors. In theory it’s the best of both worlds, and less water can often be used for cooling. Why is this important? It all goes back to our earlier discussion on copper contact. The more contact that the alcohol vapors have
with copper, the more sulfur compounds get removed. Shell and tube condensers have more copper surface area (unless the tubes are steel — an important discussion to have with your still manufacturer) so they provide a greater reduction in sulfur compounds. Worm tubs, on the other hand, provide less copper contact and therefore produce what is often called a “meatier” spirit. Famously, when Dalwhinnie tried to change their worm tubs out for shell and tube condensers, they noticed that the spirit became lighter and less “meaty.” It completely changed the Dalwhinnie house character, so they promptly changed back to the worm tubs. Of course, just like everything else we’ve discussed, the effects of worm tubs (and to an extent, shell and tube condensers) can be altered through different distilling techniques. Increasing the flow of cooling water through the tubs causes vapor condensation to happen faster, decreasing vapor contact with the copper, and subsequently increasing the sulfur character in the new make spirit. Mortlach famously sprays cool water onto the section of lyne arm just before the worm tub to begin condensing vapors even earlier. Conversely, you could in theory run the distillation with higher heating and pushing it a bit faster. This would prevent vapors from condensing in the worm too quickly, prolonging copper contact, and decreasing sulfur character. (Of course, this also creates a smearing effect with tails compounds, which might be undesirable.)
IT’S COMPLICATED We’ve just scratched the surface of all this stuff in this article. As you can see, everything affects everything else, meaning there’s rarely a simple answer for any of these questions. However, as you begin to discuss the type of still you want with your manufacturer, it can be helpful to keep some of these things in mind. And perhaps most importantly, think long and hard about the type of spirit that you would like to make and what piece of equipment will most easily get you there. The answers and the questions they come from may not be simple, but that’s all part of the fun of distilling.
Matt Strickland is the Master Distiller (he hates that title) for Distillerie Cote des Saints in Quebec where he focuses on single malt production. He has a Master's in Oeonology and Viticulture from Oregon State, is a faculty member at Moonshine University, and is the only American to sit on the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in the UK. His spirit spirit is Peruvian pisco and he does not believe that listening to Journey has to be done ironically.
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WHAT’S IN YOUR BOTTLE? Why Denver’s Rising Sun Distillery is certified organic WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARRIE DOW
ising Sun Distillery in Denver, Colorado, is one of only a handful of USDA-certified organic distilleries in the country. Receiving certification is a lengthy process requiring mounds of paperwork, inspections, and meticulous attention to detail. It ain’t easy. So why go through all this to receive a seal that most people think is only for marketing purposes? Named after its husband and wife owners Dawn (Rising) and Sol (Sun) Richardson, Rising Sun believes organic is worth the effort. “I buy organic produce for my household,” said Dawn Richardson. “I don’t want GMO (genetically modified organism) corn and most corn out there is GMO. I don’t want it sprayed with a bunch of Roundup.” When they started the distillery in 2014, the Richardsons simply wanted to make delicious spirits using the best ingredients. “My name is on every bottle,” stated Richardson, “and I want to be proud of what goes in that bottle.” She also wanted to use the most local ingredients possible. However, they never intended to become a certified organic company. “We started with organic corn. I never even looked for anything else,” she said matter-of-factly. “After we had been open, not for very long, my husband said, ‘Why don’t we go for certification?’ which is a much bigger undertaking then I realized. From there we found organic yeast and all these other things.” The company makes bourbon, Silk Road Gin, rye whiskey, vodka, Colorado Chile Liqueur, Lavender Hibiscus Liqueur, and Coffee Liqueur. All products are certified organic except one, their Colorado Peach Brandy. That is because Colorado pride trumped organics. Wanting to do everything as local as possible, Rising Sun uses Palisade peaches from Colorado’s Cox Family Farm. She said the farm uses organic practices but hasn’t been certified yet. “We thought it was more important to highlight these local peaches than it was to have another organic product,” Richardson adds. “We had the relationship with them before we went certified so we just kept them.” WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The process to get certified is quite involved. Richardson proves this by pulling out a thick three-ring binder and flipping through the pages. Rising Sun receives its certification through Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) based in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is one of over 48 US-based organizations the USDA uses to track companies using the US Certified Organic seal. The organization sends inspectors out to make sure the distillery is compliant and keeps a current suppliers list. OCIA also does reverse product tracking. The organization will take a batch of product, for example, vodka, and then go through Rising Sun’s records backwards to the bags of grain used to make sure everything in the supply chain complies. Richardson said a lot of the paperwork is her husband’s domain. “He’s an engineer so he’s good at dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Otherwise, I might not have done it,” laughed Richardson. Being certified organic also comes with other challenges. While the Colorado Peach Brandy sacrifices organic for local, the company’s best-selling product, Lavender Hibiscus Liqueur, sacrifices local for organic. The liqueur is sweetened with honey and since there are no certified organic honey farms in the US, Rising Sun gets organic honey from Brazil. The distillery also gets organic yeast from Austria and performs closed fermentation to avoid outside contaminants. The corn Rising Sun uses comes from Heartland Mill, an organic grain co-op in western Kansas, which is actually a lower carbon footprint than sourcing from Colorado’s Western Slope. Other challenges include suppliers running out of product, like the time Richardson had to drive to New Mexico for organic dried chilies because her Colorado supplier ran out. The company used wild organic rye for their recently released rye whiskey, however, for their next batch, Richardson has already changed suppliers. “[Our first rye shipment] was from a distributor who we used to get our corn from until we went directly to the mill. Hopefully, we can keep the supply chain,” said Richardson. With all these issues, why do it is still the main question. “I wanted to make good quality spirits out of the gate,” Richardson said. “[Organic has] also been fun because it allows us to meet our farmers. Our farmers are small, independent family farms and I think getting connected to that agricultural side is something that being organic forces you to do. My uncle was like, ‘I thought this organic thing was a gimmick for you, like a marketing thing, but you really embrace it.’ Yeah, I do!” Richardson finds it amusing they have to painstakingly keep track of every ingredient in every batch before they can put a label on their bottles while other producers sometimes don’t even know how their ingredients are grown. Rising Sun products are currently found only in Colorado, but Richardson is looking to expand.
Rising Sun Distillery is located in Denver, Colorado. For more information visit www.risingsundistillery.com or call (303) 534-1788. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
G N I K L TA S E N E TERP
“THAT” SMELL? F O E C R U SO E TH W O KN U DO YO VAT HA N WR ITT EN BY DE VO N TRE
s the gin landscape continues to widen, new expressions bear little resemblance to others sampled in the past. How can one even begin to compare Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin to the tomato-infused spirits that we’ve seen profiled in a previous issue of this publication? The global variation of gin is about as diverse a spirits category as it gets. Still, there is one commonality that is not only preferred by consumers but required by the classification: juniper. Often described as “piney” and not wholly responsible for that effect, juniper is nevertheless connected to the pungent odor that is synonymous with many styles of gin. But would you connect it to flavoring agents found in beer and the unexpected sensation from the wine world,
Retsina? What about the most hotly contested cocktail additive of 2018, CBD oil? The string that runs through these different beverages are the aromatic oils that give them their pungent scents, namely terpenes. Terpenes are a large class of naturally-occurring compounds produced by various plants and some insects. These compounds developed as a way to attract certain pollinators and defend against unwanted herbivores and disease. They might be best known as part of the cannabis plant, especially since its legalization in some states. In the female cannabis plant, glandular trichomes house cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes. When handled properly, these trichomes remain intact and
account for the strong flavors and aromas of cannabis. However, terpenes occur naturally in other plants, too, including juniper. A composition and analysis study of gin, published in the Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition) in 2003 by E. Guerra Hernández, found that “all types of gin contain, as main components, ethyl alcohol (38–50% alcohol by volume) and water, and in smaller quantities terpenic compounds, which are precisely those which define it and distinguish it from any other alcoholic beverage.” That same study found that the various ingredients found in gin contributed different terpenes through their essential oils, among them myrcene, alpha-pinene, limonene,
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γ-terpinene, linalool, and others. Beyond gin, terpenes can be found attributing flavor to other alcoholic beverages, like Retsina, a Greek wine flavored with the resin of Aleppo pine trees. Retsina has been growing in popularity as of late, but its exact origins are a bit murky. Recent evidence from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that jars found in Iran dating back to the Neolithic period held resinated wine. Suffice it to say, Retsina has been around for a long time. The flavor originated out of function, as primitive winemakers didn’t have access to the preservative techniques of the modern age and so began to use pine sap to seal their earthenware jugs, thus preventing the wine from spoiling as quickly. This simultaneously imparted a distinct flavor that is appealing to some and repulsive to others. Retsina wines are often described as having a turpentine aroma, and that smell is almost certainly due to the terpenes present in pine, called pinene. Pinene is one of the most common terpenes and carries the distinct bouquet of the coniferous tree from which it gets its name. Beer, especially those made by craft brewers in the United States, has relied more and more heavily on hops as a flavoring agent of late. It seems like every time you turn around, there’s a new craft beer boasting even greater levels of flavor. Some of the truly potent examples even seem to share organoleptic properties with cannabis. This is not a trick of the nose. Hops, aka Humulus lupus, share more with cannabis than just isoprenes (the base molecule for terpenes). They are two genera of the family Cannabinaceae, a taxonomic family consisting of plants whose leaves are usually palmately lobed and
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always have stipules. Some of the primary aroma terpenes in hops — myrcene, beta-pinene, and alphahumulene — also give the cannabis plant its distinct and characteristic smell. Some gin producers have found other ways of imparting terpenic flavors into their spirits. Old Young’s Distillery, located in Swan Valley, Australia, produces a gin called Six Seasons Gin which has a very distinct smell that will be familiar to many upon first sniff. “The cannabis note comes from one botanical in particular, which is bush mint,” says James Young, founder and distiller at Old Young’s. “In Australian gins, a fair few distillers use river mint but that is a more subtle flavour.” The inclusion of bush mint, along with the other five native Australian botanicals, has proved successful for Young — Six Seasons won back-to-back gold medals at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards in 2017 and 2018. Given the history of terpenes in alcohol beverages, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that bartenders would begin experimenting with the flavors and aromas of cannabis in cocktails. There is, after all, a biological reason why these aromas are appealing. Many writers, industry pros, and legislators, however, still see the addition of cannabis as a way to introduce its psychotropic effects into alcohol, which is generally not the case. Chris Amirault, bar manager at Otium in Los Angeles, says that when they were still able to use CBD in their cocktails it was only “enough to taste the flavor but there [were not] any psychotropic effects associated with the oil that we [used].” Last year, California’s governor signed Assembly Bill 2914, which
prohibits “an alcoholic beverage licensee from, at its licensed premises, selling, offering, or providing cannabis or cannabis products, including an alcoholic beverage that contains cannabis or cannabis products,” effectively killing this budding bar trend in the state. An important note here: cannabis is different from CBD, which is the substance used in cocktails around the country, but CBD is a cannabis product, so it is still prohibited in California by AB 2914. CBD does impart a lot of flavor, however, which is exactly why bars like Otium were using it in their cocktails. “CBD provides an irreplaceable herbaceous note, specifically of cannabis, that hasn’t been accessible in this space before,” says Amirault. “Particularly in cocktails, outside of chartreuse, there haven’t been many ways for bartenders to tap into this type of herbal flavor profile.” CBD continues to spread to cocktail bars around the country, though it is no longer allowed to be added to beverages in New York or Maine, according to their respective health departments. Many folks in the industry look at it as a fad (and a dying one at that), but there is still some potential concerning cannabidiol in our favorite alcoholic beverages. If terpenes can shine in spirits, wine, and beer, surely cocktails won’t be left out in the cold.
Devon Trevathan is a spirits, wine, and cocktail writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her interests primarily concern the indelible history and culture of the beverage industry. You can follow her @devontrevathan on Instagram and Twitter, or find her at a bar with a Negroni in hand.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Vodka comes to America WRITTEN BY RENÉE CEBUL A
n 1875, restaurateur Andrew Heublein prepared premixed Manhattans and martinis for the Connecticut Governor Foot Guard’s annual picnic. Rain cancelled the picnic. Days later the forgotten pre-mixed drinks were discovered to be “still good.” Heublein’s two sons introduced the first bottled premixed cocktails in the early 1900s. The business flourished and expanded. Their story of innovation and flexibility in times of fundamental changes in the marketplace is part of the story of the rise of America’s most popular spirit, vodka. The typical conversation about the story of vodka usually begins with a tussle between its Russian verses Polish origins; however, a conversation about vodka in America is really a telling of three different stories whose paths meet in an age of unprecedented growth in the United States. The story of a family business caught in the crosshairs of a dynamic and changing political landscape traces the history of the world’s top-selling brand of vodka. The second tells the rise of modern advertising and marketing during the information revolution. And it is a story about design, style, and of course, the drinks. How did the national spirit of Russia become the number one selling spirit in America in the middle of the Cold War? This story begins with the son of Russia’s most famous vodka
family, Vladimir Smirnov. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Communists took ownership of the company Smirnov’s father had built. The son fled and landed in 1920s Paris. He started a new company using the Francophone version of his family name. Smirnoff sales were slow. How was he to sell vodka, a drink so closely associated with the Slavic nations of Russian and eastern Europe, to the world? Enter the Americans. Advertising might be the oldest profession in the world (there is another contender) but it was perfected in the United States. The history of American advertising is long. The first print ads were text-only and focused solely on the use of the product. “Soap, it cleanses fine linens, muslins, laces, … with ease and expedition.” Benjamin Franklin came up with the innovative idea of adding little engravings of the items for sale in addition to touting the advantages of a particular brand to advertisements in his newspapers. Franklin’s Philadelphia Gazette was the most successful newspaper in Colonial America. By the early 20th-century, advertising was a celebrated profession in the United States. “Advertising ministers to the spiritual side of trade,” said President Calvin Coolidge, “It is all part of the greater work of regeneration and redemption of mankind.” Back in Paris, Smirnov continued to struggle with lackluster sales. Always the innovator, he sold the rights for North American distribution. It was the end of Prohibition in America and people were drinking again, yet sales of the unfamiliar liquor were disappointing. Smirnoff was sold to the Heublein Corporation in 1939. Andrew Heublein and sons had developed a knack for innovative marketing, and postwar America was about to become all about marketing. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Beginning in 1946, a generation of Americans who had experienced the Great Depression and the Second World War embraced a new age of consumerism, affluence, and mass communications. Advertising agencies pointed the way. The new influencers were creating copy (think Mad Men’s Don Draper) and designing artwork to launch stylistic ads to a national audience. Ad agencies specialized in mediating messages with branding being the key focus. Commercials became more sophisticated and subtler. Through the power of advertising, brands acquired personalities. Cultural anthropologist, William O’Barr identified the key components to brands becoming personalities, “… over time a brand acquires a history, a reputation, and a meaning to customers.” Madison Avenue advertising agencies went all out to promote the new spirit to an American audience. Smirnoff was able to elevate the brand, establishing its personality using slogans chocked full of finesse and style. First sold as “white whiskey,” American drinkers were told that vodka would “leave you breathless,” a clever nod to vodka’s lack of leaving the smell of liquor on the breath. Additional advertising campaigns followed, each with a slogan, slick mid-century graphics, and often a celebrity endorsement, all putting forward a new and sophisticated drinking experience. Smirnoff was “dryer than dry.” Alongside a bottle of Smirnoff, celebrities like Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, and Buster Keaton appeared in ads. By the time the first James Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No, featured the tuxedoed super spy order a vodka martini — “shaken, not stirred” — vodka had arrived in America. Vodka was also the first spirit to be advertised directly to American women. With the rebirth of feminism in the 1960s, women began to assert their voice.
Spirit brands seized on the opportunity. With rising hemlines and go-go boots, actresses such as Zsa Zsa Gabor not only endorsed but reinforced the personality of vodka. Today, vodka is the best-selling spirit in the U.S. among women. Madison Avenue’s creative revolution changed the way women drank and shopped but also was part of a larger aesthetic that could be found on the pages of design and homemaking magazines alike. A new spirit called for new cocktails and again, Heublein had the solution. They had been the first to make premixed bottled cocktails back in the 1870s. In the 1950s, vodka-based drinks like the Moscow Mule, Screwdriver, and the Ice Pick were introduced in splashy ads to a national audience. The Bloody Mary, a drink created in the 1920s, was re-introduced. Soft drink companies collaborated with Heublein with fullpage ads like “7-up is the Man’s Mixer,” featured in a 1960s Playboy issue. In the course of three decades, vodka took its place on the top shelf of the pantheon of American spirits. By 1975, vodka had replaced whiskey as America’s #1 selling spirit, a title that it holds to this day. In an interview with Inc. Magazine in 2005, Grey Goose founder Sydney Frank remarked, “the nice thing about vodka is you make it today, you sell it tomorrow,” which may imply an overly simple business model. The devil’s in the detail, and for the story of vodka in America, that detail has hinged heavily on sophisticated cutting-edge marketing processes.
Renée Cebula is a cocktail historian. Her business, Raising the Bar, connects people to history through unique shopping experiences and interactive cocktail-themed classes and tours. raisingthebarstories.com // Insta: @badassbarware 129
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