YEAST & YOU
WHO'S SERVING WHO
MOVE THINGS UP A
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TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
HISTORY AND HORIZONS
QUARTERLY GUILD & INDUSTRY REPORTS
SCIENTIFIC THINKING AND SENSORY BIASES
REVOLUTIONARY VS. EVOLUTIONARY REDESIGN?25
TIME TO PLAY
MAKING NON-ALCOHOLIC MIXERS FOR YOUR TASTING ROOM
REVERSE ENGINEERING HISTORY
HEALTH AND WELLNESS IN THE SPIRITS INDUSTRY
THE IRISH WHISKEY KERFUFFLE
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICAN LIQUOR
KEEPING UP WITH THE CRAFT ADVISORY COUNCIL
THE ROCHESTER COCKTAIL REVIVAL
WHAT MAKES WHISKEY WHISKEY-ISH?
Updates from guilds and associations within states, across the nation, and beyond!
Reviewing the past and looking to the future of TTB control
Let's move towards a better science of evaluation
Brand Buzz with David Schuemann
Or, why you might want to try using distillation to remove alcohol
What nearly 30 years in the industry taught Kim Gillespie about caring for her health
The Bruery excels in crafting experimental and spirit barrel-aged beers
The search for brand antiquity in the tasting room
The ongoing debate over the definition of Irish Pot Still Whiskey
THE SCIENCE OF LIQUOR GLASSWARE SHAPES
THE MORE THE MERRIER
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO LEARN
WHISKEY IN THE BOTTLE AND SUSTAINABILITY IN THE BARREL
CRAFT FLOOR MALTING: A PRACTICAL GUIDE
MOVING THINGS UP A NOSH117
CONSUMER TASTE PREFERENCE IN GIN
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP
A REVIVAL AT SCOTCH WHISKY’S SPIRITUAL HOME
IN, AND OUT OF, SUSPENSE
Getting to know Hesperidina, Singani, and Clairin
Craft distillers and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
A celebration of libations in the beverage mecca of the Northeast
The challenges of product definitions
Collaborative whiskeys unite distilling communities
A global quest for whisky provenance brings together distillers, farmers, and academics
Turns out there are juniper people, and floral people
Lindores Abbey Distillery of Newburgh, Fife, Scotland
YOUR MOST LIKELY LAWSUIT?
Make the most of your capacity while managing multiple SKUs
Educational opportunities for the distilling industry
Assessing sustainability at your distillery
An excerpt from the book by Gabe Toth
Serving better snacks can have a positive impact on distillery tasting rooms
The collaborative creativity behind barrel-aged and spirit-infused foods
Part 2: Back to the filter
It might not be what you think
Shape really does matter
CERTIFIED KOSHER126 A look at certified kosher distilleries in the US
CRAFTING A BETTER DRINKING CULTURE
SO, YOU WANT TO START A CRAFT DISTILLERY?
THE SPIRIT OF SURVIVAL79
ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
BOURBON FROM THE POT
When launching or growing your distillery
VISITOR EXPERIENCE DESIGN DEEP DIVE BEYOND CONSUMERS
Designing the industry distillery experience
Yeast and humans’ evolutionary dance
Not better or worse, just very different
from the COVER
The spirit Chicago loves to hate
Navigating limited releases, single barrels, and cask finishes
Lindores Abbey Distillery in Newburgh, Fife, Scotland. Image by Margarett Waterbury. See their story on page 62.
Issue 28 /// Fall 2019 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS George B. Catallo Devon Trevathan
G&D’s team of engineers and technicians know what they are doing, and their pricing is very competitive. They worked with us to develop creative solutions to our technical challenges and designed a very efficient system for us.
- Dain Grimmer, Director of Production and Master Distiller, Heritage Distilling Company, Inc.
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Luis Ayala Brian B. DeFoe Carrie Dow Andrew Faulkner Harry Haller Reade A. Huddleston Paul Hughes, Ph.D. Michael Kinstlick Tim Knittel Aaron Knoll Dr. Jordan Leasure
Rich Manning Jim McCoy John McKee Jason Nadeau Shannon O’Neil Kurt A. Rosentrater, Ph.D. David Schuemann Marc E. Sorini Gary Spedding, Ph.D. Matt Strickland Gabe Toth
ILLUSTRATORS Brock Caron Francesca Cosanti
PHOTOGRAPHERS George B. Catallo Amanda Joy Christensen
John McKee Margarett Waterbury
SALES & MARKETING Ashley Monroe ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine ArtisanSpiritM
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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.
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
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.
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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.
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A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: From many come one. If there is a theme to this edition of Artisan Spirit Magazine it’s that we are not alone in this industry, our community. It’s not the first time we have covered stories of collaboration between distillers, but it is one of the first where we discuss collaboration on a much larger scale. Work between state guilds, national associations, and even the government agencies that regulate us. I’ve been in the distilling world long enough now that I’ve begun to lightly roll my eyes when I hear the “rising tides, all boats” platitude. Yet, I still can’t shake the warmth and optimism I feel when obvious competitors go out of their way to share and build. Projects range from co-marketing spirits, extending FET, or even just finding ways to communicate better with the industry at large. It’s the reason we chose the name Artisan Spirit and not Spirits. We understand an artisan to be one who works a skilled trade with passion and care. It’s our goal to stand for the entire industry with the spirit of an artisan, and we are immensely proud to provide the least biased platform we can. We don’t focus just on the products or only small producers. We don't just represent a single distiller, retailer, publisher, association, or guild. Our publication is for all in our industry with a spirit for collaboration and independence. With a passion for hard work and an eye for finding new efficiencies. With a heart for tradition and a mind for innovation. We are here for everyone in our industry to share, educate, and inform.
Brian Christensen (509) 944-5919 /// email@example.com /// PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223
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Y R T S U D N I & D L I U G PORTS Y L R E T R QUA
he Quarterly Guild Report section of Artisan Spirit
was a passion project of mine from the start. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who likes this consolidation of updates from across the country. It has continued to be one of the most popular sections of each issue and as such deserves an update of its own. Moving forward we will include reports from more than just
AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS ASSOCIATION
state guilds here. Updates from national organizations (TTB, Society of Distilling Scientists and Technologists, American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, Craft Beverage Lawyers Guild, etc.), and industry trade associations (DISCUS, ADI, ACSA, etc.) will now find a home here. We are proud to be a part of a much larger distilling community and excited to provide a neutral platform for everyone in our industry to share, educate, and inform. — BRIAN CHRISTENSEN
STATE GUILD COMMITTEE I am freshly back from the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. and thought I would share a few observations.
>> It was the largest fly-in yet with about 160 distillers attending.
>> It was great to see the guild leadership that made the effort to get there and hope when we do this again even more will show up.
>> No one that showed up was any less busy or strapped for cash than those that didn’t, but they believe in their businesses and our industry and think it is worth investing in and fighting for. I hope that group continues to grow.
>> We made a difference, and with everyone’s commitment we can get WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
our legislative goals across the finish line.
>> Our industry and legislative needs are bipartisan and cross the aisle, something rare in D.C. these days.
>> Distillers are just a lot of fun to be around even when the business is serious. Moving forward you should be getting a regular letter from Gina Holman (ACSA Guild Committee co-chair) and I, letting you know what we and various guilds have going on. To that end if you have anything you want to share with the other guilds please let me know. Cheers, P.T. Wood High Mount Distillery, CO Co-chair, ACSA State Guild Committee
DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES Craft distillers play a unique and powerful role in the beverage alcohol industry by creating diversity and excitement, and increasing the spirits consumer base. Craft distillers attract visitors with their specialized spirits and create jobs, thereby increasing tourism and enhancing the economy in their local communities. The distilled spirits industry would not be as strong and vibrant as it is today without craft distillers. However, across the country at the local, state, and federal level, laws are enacted that can have an impact on your business. For example, nine states still do not allow off-premise tastings, making it harder for your customers to decide which spirit to buy. In states like North Carolina and South Carolina, sales of distilled spirits are completely banned on Sundays. At the
federal level, Congress has yet to make the reduction of federal excise taxes (FET) on distilled spirits permanent, and if they don’t do so by the end of the year, your taxes could be raised by 400 percent. Craft distillers all across the nation know too well how these laws and punitive taxes can have a negative impact on a business. Here’s the good news: you have the power to change these laws. You can educate our lawmakers on how these laws harm us and the best policies to ensure your success. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, American Distilling Institute, and TIPS® has launched Spirits United, with special thanks to Responsibility.org. Spirits United is a community of advocates united to harness the great pride and political equity within the industry to
ensure adult consumers can enjoy distilled spirits where they want, how they want, and when they want. At Spirits United, you will be able to send pre-drafted letters and tweets, as well as make phone calls, to your elected officials on the various issues that impact your business. Craft distillers are a critically important and powerful part of that community. Your strong, collective voice should be heard by elected officials to ensure your business is well represented at all levels of government. Learn more about Spirits United by visiting SpiritsUnited.org. Chris R. Swonger President & CEO Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
AMERICAN STATE GUILDS CONNECTICUT CONNECTICUT SPIRITS GUILD The Connecticut Spirits Trail and Guild is happy to share that the Connecticut Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 647, which among other things allows distilleries to be able to sell cocktails by the glass. This comes in the form of two new permits — one is a Connecticut Craft Café permit, which allows all Connecticut distilleries, breweries, and vineyards to sell each others’ products by the glass in their tasting rooms, and the other in the form of a full restaurant permit, which is currently not granted to distillery permittees. Both become effective July 1, 2020 and will contribute greatly to the initial viability and ongoing success of distilleries in Connecticut.
Among other things, Bill 647 also allows distilleries to double the amount of product sold to tasting room visitors. All of this is great news to our existing and future trail members. As expected, we did not attain all of our wish list items but we look to a future in which we will be able to sell bottles at certified farmer’s markets, operate satellite tasting rooms, and other aspects that will promote the health of our industry. Given the momentum we now have and the manner in which the legislature and all three aspects of the three-tiered system worked together on the new laws, we have strong confidence that we can achieve our additional objectives. I would like to share ideas on how to assist in your local efforts within your states:
>> Work proactively within the three-
tiered system to gain consensus wherever possible
>> Work across the political aisle and show the areas of industry consensus
>> Engage your customers/fans to show how consumers/voters are in favor of the growth of craft distilleries; we used both petition forms in our tasting rooms and an online petition form
>> Get media coverage to help gain public momentum and visibility
>> For your potential bill sponsors, lay out a vision or prioritized wish list and at the same time acknowledge that you don’t expect to achieve everything in one legislative session Good luck with your endeavors and drop me a line if you want to discuss anything. Cheers! WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
ATCHISON , KS
At MGP, we’re one of the nation’s leading suppliers of premium whiskeys because we share our partners’ passion for every aspect of the process. Our experts work closely with you to create custom mash bills unique to your brand, and precisely right for your customer. And yes, we do see a little magic in that.
LAWRENCEBURG , IN
Tom Dubay President, Connecticut Spirits Trail CEO, Hartford Flavor Company firstname.lastname@example.org
MARYLAND MARYLAND DISTILLERS GUILD After a legislative victory finally allowing distilleries to serve cocktails, the Maryland Distillers Guild is now actively working with
MASSACHUSETTS MASSACHUSETTS DISTILLERS ALLIANCE The Massachusetts Distillers Alliance (MDA) recently elected board members for 2019-2020. Andrew Cabot of Privateer Rum, Jonathan Fryer of Astraluna Brands,
NORTH CAROLINA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION OF NORTH CAROLINA The 80 licensed distilleries in North Carolina are celebrating the passage SB 290! The Distillers Association of North Carolina (DANC), working in conjunction with our members, has made huge strides in just a few short years to radically expand market access. North Carolina has moved from being one of the most restrictive states in terms of direct-to-consumer sales and overall market access to a climate that some might argue is downright progressive. SB 290 was the culminating piece of legislation that resolved three primary issues important to NC distillers. SB 290 was positioned as a “craft alcohol equity or parity” bill. The premise was simple: allow NC distillers the same access and privileges that had been granted to craft beer and
counties across the state to create and issue local permits that will allow members to take advantage of the new law. Although the state law went into effect on July 1, only five counties have issued or are ready to issue the local permit. The majority of our members plan on implementing cocktail programs, and the MDG is actively lobbying to make it possible. In anticipation of the second annual Maryland Spirits Month in November, we are excited to announce the upcoming launch of an official Maryland Spirits Trail, featuring a physical passport for
visitors that will include 22 distilleries, with additional pages for those in planning, as we anticipate a number of distilleries opening in the coming months. Maryland spirits were once again represented at the Governor’s Buy Local Cookout in July, and the guild is continually thrilled with the support our members receive, both from our elected officials and the state office of tourism.
Matt Nuernberger of GrandTen Distilling, and Zachary Robinson of Short Path Distillery were elected to the board of the MDA. Moving forward, the board will set priorities for the MDA focusing on top issues like continuing FET reductions and parity between all craft beverages in Massachusetts. MDA is also continuing
with marketing efforts to educate and engage our craft spirit loving consumer by establishing a tasting events and expanding the Distillers Trail. For more information, find us at www.massdistill.com.
wine producers for the last 20 years. This was a message that resonated with voters and legislators alike. Another key factor in securing successful passage of SB 290 was building support for (or at least agreement not to oppose) the bill among a broad cross section of stakeholders including the NC ABC Commission, the Association of NC ABC Boards, the NC Spirits Association, and the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association. The primary points won for craft distillers in NC, effective on September 1, 2019, include:
historically been prohibited from offering anything more than six quarter-ounce free samples per person. Mixers were not allowed to be offered with samples.
>>UNLIMITED BOTTLE SALES AT THE DISTILLERY. NC distillers have gone from no bottle sales at the distillery, then to one bottle per person per year, then to five bottles per person per year, and now with SB 290 to unlimited bottles sales at the distillery all in the span of a few years.
>>ABILITY TO SERVE COCKTAILS, BEER, AND WINE IN DISTILLERY TASTING ROOMS. NC distilleries have
CEO/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Co President | Maryland Distillers Guild
Alison DeWolfe Privateer Rum
>>REQUIREMENT THAT LOCAL ABC BOARDS BRING CRAFT PRODUCTS INTO LOCAL ABC STORES WHEN BARS AND RESTAURANTS MAKE THE REQUEST. Bars and restaurants are required to purchase alcohol for their operations at the local ABC stores. While some stores and boards have been supportive of NC made craft products, others were not. With a staggering 170 boards controlling 405 individual stores, SB290 will be pivotal in ensuring, by statute, that consumers will have access through NC ABC stores to the products we make. DANC is an all-volunteer run organization. We are extremely proud of the accomplishments achieved by what started as a grassroots organization and
has now become a force to be reckoned with, fighting for a fair and level playing field for the 80 craft distillers that call North Carolina home. Pete Barger President, Distillers Association of North Carolina, Principal Partner, Southern Distilling Company
OHIO OHIO DISTILLER’S GUILD The Ohio Distiller's Guild looks forward to continuing our efforts to reform outdated state liquor laws and make our state more
OREGON OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD The Oregon Distillers Guild was actively lobbying during the 2019 Oregon Legislative Session. The Guild successfully supported HB3239, which removes the limit on the number of full on-premises sales licenses that a distillery licensee may hold. We were also successful in preventing a tax increase that would have applied to our mark-up in the tasting room. Our most important goal of reducing the amount we pay off of our tasting room sales fell short. We did make some headway by getting our compensation pool split from the Liquor Store Agents. This allows us to have a different tax/compensation structure from the stores. Unfortunately, we were
TENNESSEE TENNESSEE DISTILLERS GUILD LEGISLATION Last year, a Sunday sales bill passed, giving retail package stores the ability to sell from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.
business friendly for craft distillers. In the last Ohio General Assembly we introduced House Bill 398. The current law states that a state agency bottle shop, within a distillery, is only allowed to sell two bottles a day per person. However, agency liquor shops inside grocery stores or other retail establishments do not have a sales restriction. Furthermore, current state laws also stop distilleries from opening satellite locations with a bar, restaurant or bottle shop. HB 398 would authorize distilleries to expand their brand with two satellite locations and remove distillery bottle sale limits. HB 398 was modeled after similar
laws in neighboring control states, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Due to opposition from the Ohio Grocers Association and Ohio Retail Merchants Association, HB 398 did not pass in the last general assembly. However, we remain committed to the passage of this bill and are continuing our overall efforts to work closely with the Ohio Department of Commerce and enact craft liquor reforms that will help Ohio distilleries grow and innovate.
not successful in getting that tax structure reduced. “I believe that many of our legislators are sympathetic to our plight but in the end our leaders did not feel our industry needed the help,” said Brad Irwin, President of the Oregon Distillers Guild and owner of Oregon Spirit Distillers. “We made some headway in that the voice of the small distiller in Oregon is being heard.” Our members engaged their senators and representatives with phone calls and emails, some dedicating hours walking the capital in meetings with leadership and many pledged financial support. In the coming months, the Oregon Distillers Guild Board is planning its goals for the 2020 legislative session. In support of DISCUS and the ACSA’s Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C., the Oregon Distillers Guild sent Irwin
to represent the guild. He was joined by two other distilleries from Oregon, Aaren Grover from Organic Alcohol Solutions and Alex Rounds from Westward Whiskey, and 150 distillers from around the United States. Rounds had the privilege of introducing Senator Ron Wyden for his talk about the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 1175/S. 362). The Oregon delegation met with Senator Merkley and all five Oregon representatives: Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader. All seven congress members from Oregon have signed on to the bill.
Distilleries have retail shops inside their facilities that have always been able to sell on Sundays between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Last year’s legislation should have made the hours consistent for all retailers. This bill gives distillery retail shops the same hours as retail package stores — 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays. In 2017, the Tennessee legislature passed a law that allows a distillery to have
a restaurant so long as it is accomplished through an irrevocable trust with an independent trustee. This law passed with a sunset provision for July 1, 2019 that the Guild simply wanted to remove in order to make this law permanent. The sunset was placed in hopes that TABC rules would be providing the same authority in the near future. The TABC has now expressed concern that its proposed rules would (i)
John Singleton Ohio Distiller’s Guild, Executive Director Government Advantage Group
Jamie Howard Co-founder/Marketing Deluxe Brewing Company & Sinister Distilling Company
not be adopted prior to the sunset date, and (ii) not be a permitted exercise of their regulatory authority given the existence of the sunset language. We asked the legislature to remove the sunset and keep the statute. They did exactly that. TOURISM One new distillery, Lost State Distilling, will be added as a stop on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail in August 2019. The Tennessee Distillers Guild has joined forces with Aero Service Group and Marshall Retail Group to open two new
TEXAS TEXAS DISTILLED SPIRITS ASSOCIATION Monday, May 27 marked the end of the 86th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. 7,324 bills were filed at the beginning of session and 1,373 were signed into law. The Texas Distilled Spirits Association (TDSA) filed three bills this session with one, HB 1997, ultimately passing. With the passage of HB 1997, beginning Sept. 1st, a distiller or its agent will be able to provide a sample or a product tasting of a distilled spirit to a holder of
VIRGINIA VIRGINIA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION 2019 has been a fruitful year for Virginia distillers, with the passage of several key legislative initiatives as well as the impending launch of the state’s first official Virginia Spirits Trail — spearheaded by the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA). The Virginia Distillers Association attributes much of our regulatory successes this year to our “positive partnership” approach when working with state government. Late last year, the VDA was able to negotiate a revenue-neutral
Tennessee whiskey-related experiences in the Nashville International Airport (BNA). In conjunction with Minneapolis-based airport restaurant operator Aero Service Group, the guild will launch Three Casks, a restaurant focusing on Tennessee distilled spirits, local craft beer, and a fresh menu inspired by Nashville’s culinary scene. Tennessee Whiskey Trail distillers will be partnering with Aero to develop the cocktail menu, spirits infusions, and tasting experiences for BNA travelers. The new restaurant will be located in the airport’s
Concourse C and is expected to open in December 2019. The guild has also partnered with Las Vegas-based Marshall Retail Group to open a new Tennessee Whiskey Trail retail store, The Trailhead, which will feature spirits distilled exclusively by Tennessee Whiskey Trail distilleries. The Trailhead will be located in Concourse T of BNA’s new airport expansion, which is slated to open in 2023.
a retail permit who has not previously purchased the brand. The distiller will not be able to provide a retail establishment with more than one 750ml bottle of the distilled spirit. This new law will help distillers grow their brands and market their products throughout the state. TDSA also closely monitored the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) sunset legislation which passed during the last days of the legislative session. The TABC sunset legislation makes significant changes to the makeup of the commission and its functions. Some changes to note are that the number of commissioners
will increase from three members to five members and that the number of licenses, including the distillers agents permit, will be consolidated. TDSA is working with TABC to ensure a smooth transition with the consolidation of licenses. While TDSA is disappointed that the state legislature did not allow for an increase of bottle sales at Texas distilleries or for distillers to participate in festivals this session, it will be regrouping this fall to determine a new plan for the next legislative session.
approach for increasing the distillery store commission from eight percent to twenty percent in exchange for helping to electively expand Sunday hours of operation for all ABC store from 12 p.m. to an earlier 10a.m. We see the commission increase as a tipping point for improving the economics for direct sales. Additionally, there were several other pieces of legislation passed to support our growing industry including: Low Alcohol Beverage Coolers, removal of the case handling fee for onsite sales, adjusted profit transfers (going into effect 2020), and legislation to flip all dry counties wet unless a local referendum is held. As a result of our regulatory successes, the VDA will be shifting our near-term focus
and resources towards brand building and promotional activities. This includes but is not limited to the launch of the Virginia Spirits Trail (consumers can order a copy on VirginiaSpirits.org), which was wholly funded by sponsorships and grants, as well as Virginia Spirits Month programming in September to increase earned media development. We believe that a rising tide raises all ships; if ever we can provide advice or support to our peers in other states, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Mariko Hickerson Huckleberry Branding
Mike Cameron President, Texas Distilled Spirits Association Founder, Devils River Whiskey
Amy Ciarametaro Executive Director Virginia Distillers Association Amy@VirginiaSpirits.org
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WYOMING WYOMING DISTILLERS GUILD Our state legislative efforts over the past few years have yielded positive results! As of July 1, we have seen 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 has granted 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, we are now able to “self-distribute” directly from our bonded facility into our satellite tasting room. This basically 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 continue to focus our federal efforts on making the FET Tax reduction permanent. Multiple members of our guild attended the Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. this past July. It was awesome to see the large group of craft distillers from across the country
representing in our nation’s capital. There is nothing more important that we can do for our business community than to get this legislation permanent!
Travis Goodman Secretary/Treasurer, Wyoming Distillers Guild Partner, Jackson Hole Still Works email@example.com
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2019 Judging of Craft Spirits Register for ACSAâ€™s 7th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition October, 29-30, 2019, at Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington, Indiana. ACSA takes great pride in conducting a rigorously professional judging program that recognizes the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits. Now accepting international spirits. (502) 807-4249 email@example.com SPONSORED BY
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REVOLUTIONARY vs. EVOLUTIONARY REDESIGN?
A great redesign can reinvigorate a brand, but it’s crucial to choose correctly between making an evolutionary vs. revolutionary change.
t’s commonly believed the motivation for a package design change is largely in the hands of the brand´s owners, but in actuality it’s most often the competition that compels the need for change. It is the brand owners, however, who must spend the time to diagnose their brand thoroughly in order to decide whether to make an evolutionary change vs. a more revolutionary change. This process should include identifying the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s also important to consider the brand’s current and desired positioning and design aesthetic, so that it is clear what could change and what may need to be retained for maximum success.
EVOLUTION VS. REVOLUTION HOW BIG OF A CHANGE SHOULD YOU MAKE? Evolution is generally recommended (or more prudent) for successful brands that are already well established and cannot afford the risk of being confused, or worse, not recognized by their consumers. In these cases, amplifying key brand attributes or simply refreshing certain core equities may be sufficient to reinvigorate the brand. It’s important to note that this is not meant to imply that all equity elements must be retained. In certain situations, it may actually be beneficial for a brand to cast aside some equity elements if they no longer communicate the desired attributes and positioning of the brand. An evolutionary change generally implies packaging optimization. This design path removes the elements of your current packaging design that aren’t working and optimizes, evolves, or amplifies the elements that are. This type of change focuses on improving your package’s ability to deliver your message, rather than starting from scratch. This does not mean WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
that the redesign is extremely subtle. There is a wide range of design solutions within an evolutionary change—from very subtle to more radical refinements. A revolutionary change is generally recommended or necessitated when a brand has either waited too long to react to market changes or lost sufficient market share. In these cases, making a more drastic change is necessary to regain position. A revolutionary change means the package design is very different from what existed before and many, if not all, equity elements are abandoned and replaced. A brand that is weak has more freedom to change, strengthen and differentiate through an innovative, new package design since they have more to gain than to lose from restaging completely. When done correctly, a revolutionary design can be a highly effective way to revitalize a brand with low market share that seeks to become relevant again.
10 KEY ELEMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN EMBARKING ON A REDESIGN:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
Identify why a change is needed Identify/refine the target consumer profile Engage various sales channels and retailers for feedback Document brand sales and history Determine the key equity elements Clarify the brand essence and brand promise Develop or refine the brand story Map your brand space in correlation to competitors, your current brand space and potential new brand space
9. Establish what the emotional connection to your brand is or will be for the consumer
10. Define a design strategy — evolutionary vs. revolutionary
When each of these key elements is considered correctly, they will define the most appropriate design strategy to utilize. Plan your strategy, prioritize your brand’s key equity elements, and refine messaging for your consumer audience. No matter what design strategy you choose, it’s better to explore a range from closer in to further out; allowing the further out solutions to be a bit beyond your comfort level. It’s always better to have to reign it in a little rather than wondering if you should have pushed further. Getting a redesign right is no small task, but when done correctly, it can have a radically beneficial effect on sales and ultimately the long-term health of your brand.
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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FOR YOUR TASTING ROOM WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOHN MCKEE
ere at Headframe we’re allowed to operate a tasting room under our distillery manufacturing license from the State of Montana. It comes with some rules:
We’re only allowed to be open from 10 am to 8 pm.
We’re only allowed to sample two ounces per person per day for onsite consumption, which can be provided in the form of a cocktail.
We’re only allowed to sample the booze we make.
We’re only allowed to sell 1.75L per person per day for offsite consumption (bottle sales).
These rules work pretty well for us and generally any issues, until it came to trying to make some cocktails. For instance, a simple dry martini utilizes dry vermouth and a Manhattan uses sweet vermouth. But, since neither vermouth was made at our distillery we can’t use it in our cocktail. Even arguing that it was a flavoring ingredient didn’t change our regulators’ view of the use of outside alcohol in our distillery. We thought about it for a hot minute…and figured out that if we just simply “de-alc” some vermouth, we could use the non-alcoholic vermouth as our flavoring ingredient. What follows is a descriptive process about how to de-alc vermouth, but it should be
we don’t have of the classic
The condenser is the vertical glass tube on the left. The vacuum pulls vapor up that tube, and the vapor is condensed via water flowing through the inner coiled tube.
understood that this process probably works well for other products that you’ve wished you could use for flavoring in your cocktails. How does it work? Think about your pot still. When you distill, you drive the alcohol out of the pot and over a condenser. What is left in the pot is typically your waste product. However, in this case, we want to treat the alcohol as a waste product and the stuff left over in the pot as our desired product. Call it upsidedown-distillation if you prefer. We use a rotary evaporator in our lab for a lot of different tasks. In this case, we use it to take the alcohol out of the vermouth and leave us with an nonalcoholic product. Our rotovap is an IKA RV10 with a MPC 105T vacuum pump.
The retentate flask is the vessel tilted on its side in the hot water bath. What is left over here is referred to as retentate.
The collector flask is the round vessel on the bottom of the condenser. As vapor is condensed on the inner coil it drips freely down to the collector vessel. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The procedure is generally akin to obscuration testing for proofing spirits like whiskey. In this case, we’re using the rotovap to do a lower-temperature distillation by using the vacuum pump to change the vapor pressure inside the distillation, thus we’re avoiding temperature degradation of the retentate. If you don’t have a rotovap, that’s OK; use your lab pot still to perform the same general process. Additionally, you should note that the space in which you perform this procedure must be a general premise area of your DSP, not the bonded area. Because the vermouth is tax-paid, you can’t do this work in the bonded space. We set up our lab as a general premise inside our bonded premise to allow for sampling and testing of other products in our industry. It just so happens to also work for this process. Using the presets from the rotovap, we chose the ethanol setting which will set the rotation of the retentate flask to 100 RPM, the vacuum pressure to 175 mBar and the hot water bath temp to 60C. This rotovap can monitor cooling water return
temperature and will continue to run until the distillation is complete, which is determined by the deltaT of the cooling water return vs the cooling water supply. We filled the retentate flask with 500 mL of 16 percent ABV vermouth. We attached an empty collector flask, started the cooling water, and started the distillation. From a 500 mL sample at 16 percent, the math suggests that we’ll recover about 80mL of PLA (pure liquid alcohol). However, since azeotropes are involved and we’ll be distilling a bunch of water over in the distillation, we’ll end up with a 60-70 percent ABV distillate in the collector flask. The product left in the retentate flask is what we’ve been shooting for: non-alcoholic vermouth, ready for the tasting room. Now…we can make a classic cocktail and do it within the rules. Cheers!
John McKee is co-owner of Headframe Spirits and he uses upside down distillation in just about everything he does…which probably explains a lot to those who know him.
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HEALTH & WELLNESS in the SPIRITS INDUSTRY WRITTEN BY DR. JORDAN LEASURE
or our third installment of Health & Wellness in the Spirits Industry, I thought we would take a different approach and hear from one of our own. I am a fan of storytelling and upon reaching out to a friend in the industry, her responses painted such a vivid picture for me that I felt inspired to share her insights directly with you. My friend Kim Gillespie is a strong, intelligent, and independent woman whose career in the liquor industry spans almost three decades. She’s worked in both the beer and spirits industries; at notable companies such as Sazerac, Beam Suntory, and MillerCoors, and has incredible hindsight that I know you will find beneficial. I hope that after reading this quarter’s installment you are able to relate, take a step back, and implement some of the changes and modifications we suggest. LET’S JUMP RIGHT IN AND DISCUSS ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION WHEN YOU’RE EMPLOYED IN THE ALCOHOL INDUSTRY.
“When I was at work dinners I would have a cocktail or two and at events I
Insights and hindsights from nearly three decades in the beer and spirits industries.
YOU’RE SURROUNDED BY ALCOHOL EVERY DAY. WHAT DO YOU FIND YOURSELF REACHING FOR WHEN IT’S NOT A COCKTAIL?
would have a few cocktails. The company I was working for at the time would
“I rarely drink sugary drinks. If I drink anything
determine the type I drank: beer vs hard liquor. The amount I consumed when
other than water, its sparkling water, seltzer,
with the beer company was more because 1) it was beer and 2) I was younger
coffee, or unsweetened tea. When working from
and my body seemed to process it easier back then. Very, very rarely do I
the office or home I drank mostly water[and]
have an alcoholic beverage at home; I may have some cocktails when I go out
kept a refillable bottle at my desk. At the office I
socially, but not a lot.”
drank a few cups of coffee throughout the day to
GILLESPIE’S HINDSIGHT : I should have alternated cocktails with a glass of water;
it would have helped my morning hydration, and probably resulted in less alcohol being consumed (fewer calories, no hangover, more responsible behavior overall). DR. JORDAN : I’m coming across more individuals in the spirits industry that are
taking a hiatus from drinking or limit themselves to one day each week to imbibe. It helps with balance and allows time, energy, and proper mindset to implement other healthy habits.
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keep the energy up (as false as that energy is, it helped me through the sluggishness of meetings) and a cup or two of tea with honey. When traveling I always had water and Starbucks coffee in the morning, occasionally in the afternoon. I also drank Red Bull more than occasionally when traveling —again for the quick pick me up (early morning meetings late dinners or events then
having to finish work in the wee hours when traveling was quite taxing). Now I start my morning with a glass of water with morning vitamins, one cup of coffee (with flavored nut creamer), then water the rest of the day when not eating out/going out.” SARA’S HINDSIGHT : I would have cut
DR. JORDAN : I think everyone should own a juicer
back on the coffee at the office and the Red Bull when traveling. I would have cut back on caffeine intake overall and instead taken a quick walk to stretch the muscles and get fresh air if possible, or even eaten an apple for the pick me up.
or high powered blender like Vitamix. I will often make “mocktails” consisting of blended fresh fruits and vegetables and serve them in Waterford crystal wine glasses or martini glasses to give the feel of a cocktail without the ramifications. A lot of drinking is simply social interaction so if we can maintain that feel with more balance I say go for it!
EATING ON THE ROAD CAN BE CHALLENGING — DID YOU SOLVE THAT WITH SNACKS? “I have always been a snacker, preferring veggies and salty to sweet and fruits. At office or home I snack on things like carrots, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and chips; my healthy sweet go tos are grapes, apples with peanut butter, and clementines. During meetings I would snack on whatever catering had available; if I was traveling
WITH SUCH A VARIED SCHEDULE HOW DID YOU FIND TIME TO EAT AND PLAN MEALS? “I was not a breakfast person up until recently so I would usually start my day with only coffee. Mid-morning, I would drink a homemade fruit smoothie with supergreens that was made at home before leaving for work. For lunch, when I worked in an office I was in a lot of meetings so we had a lot of catered lunches. Those ranged from Jimmy Johns (I tried to get unwiches as much as possible) to pizza/pasta to Mexican food. Overall, the options were not really healthy. If I brought my lunch it was something I made from scratch and tended to be on the healthier side, but those were rare days because of how many meetings I was in. Work dinners were usually nicer places so I would usually have pasta or chicken dishes, sometimes a steak. Work evening events usually were at bars, so it was typical to have only bar food to eat, which as we all know is typically fried, fatty, and again not healthy. If I had to have bar food for an event, then lunch the next day was usually some kind of salad because I’d still be heavy from the food the night before. “Once I started working from home I could eat breakfast unless I was traveling because I had food easily available. Now I usually eat oatmeal with either a little raw sugar or honey and home-dried cranberries (less sugar) or a veggie egg casserole. Lunches at home are healthier, usually leftovers I made from scratch the night before. Dinners at home are something filling but lighter: a salad, soup, or a variety of cooked veggies.” GILLESPIE’S HINDSIGHT : I should have
been better at my food balance from breakfast to dinner. If I knew I was going to have a heavy dinner, I should have had a lighter lunch even if lunch was provided at a meeting. Better foresight into meals when I had work functions would have helped that. I regret the amount of bar food I was subjected too, but unfortunately, that is part of the culture. I should have searched more on menus for the healthiest options, especially if I was having sugary cocktails or bloating beer.
DR. JORDAN : Meal planning is key in any industry. I often spend Sunday cooking for the week and I do it in bulk. My family eats primarily paleo style so I’ll prepare a meatloaf, overnight oats with blueberries, raspberry chia pudding, banana bread, and a rotisserie chicken, all in one sitting so when it comes to meal time all we need to add is vegetables and the meal is done in under 10 minutes! I package all the above in individual containers so it’s easy to grab and eat on the go.
— I would bring or buy snacks to carry with while visiting accounts. I don’t eat a lot of candy; if I do it is something like a Jolly Rancher or Halls Vitamin C drops. My weakness is doughnuts — if someone brought those I would absolutely have some! Most often (then & now) for snacking, I will eat the second half of my meal that I didn’t finish. This is basically how I am still.” GILLESPIE’S HINDSIGHT : I was pretty decent in this area, using little bags or snack cups for fresh veggies/ fruits, nuts, healthier snacks or when traveling stopped at a store for healthy snacks. Even a convenience store has some healthier options than junk food. If there was an area to improve I could have cut back on the amount of salty snacks, though my sodium levels are good (I don’t add salt to foods). The doughnut binges were so infrequent that it was not a problem other than a sugar rush. DR. JORDAN : I’m a huge fan of
reusable silicone bags. I like Stasher bags. For those of us that travel or take our lunch on the road these bags can be cleaned and reused on the go. I pack everything from fruits and nuts to Rx Bars and even protein powder in an empty shaker cup that I fill with water at my next appointment.
WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
IS IT CHALLENGING TO FIND TIME TO WORKOUT WITH THE LONG, IRREGULAR DAYS? “Ugh! Ok let’s start with — I hate to exercise. I like activities that involve exercising (volleyball, hiking, walking [the] dog, kickboxing, basketball, etc.) but abhor straight up exercising (weights, boot camp,
As an employer you are not simply providing a paycheck but you are providing an opportunity for growth and camaraderie. Make sure it’s in a positive direction and your company will ultimately reap the rewards.
cardio, elliptical). That being said typed, when I worked for the beer company I did try to do some exercising when I could. There was a gym in our office building and I would take an hour at lunch ([I’d] eat at my desk after) or stay after hours and do the elliptical, bike and machines maybe two times a week. I also took walks with coworkers in the preserve across the street from us. I didn’t have time to go after work because I was working 12-14 hour days. When I was traveling it was just as bad- rarely had time to get to hotel gym because [of] early morning meetings and late dinners/events. I did try to do exercises in my room occasionally. Working from home I was able to do a little more. I walked the dog for 1-2 miles in the morning, then again in the afternoon during downtimes between calls and in the evening for 4 miles. I still struggled when traveling, but forced myself to just pause work for an hour to get to the hotel gym as often as I could. Now I still walk the dog, and add in apps I use at home: 30 minutes of weights and 15-30 minutes of yoga daily.” GILLESPIE’S HINDSIGHT : I should have just pushed pause on my tasks and put my physical and mental health first to get at least one hour of exercise. Of all the health to-dos that I should have done, this one I wished I had forced myself to do. Not only for the health and weight benefits, but mental clarity, relieve stress, and realizing I should be a priority of a work task. I wish I had found the exercise apps I have now sooner. That would have helped me to be more open to exercising in my hotel room when traveling, or finding an empty office in the building. Even for 30 minutes. DR. JORDAN : I love to exercise once I’m there. I however do not jump from bed when the alarm goes off to sprint to the gym. What I do find and teach to clients is to focus on the way you feel after the activity. The improved energy, clarity and positivity that comes from exercise can drive you to complete the possibly undesirable task of exercising.
Gillespie had some additional insight into sleep and relaxation — stay tuned for those as we wrap up the year with our fourth installment targeting servers and bartenders. As you reflect on this article you’ll see that the struggles are real, and balance is always a challenge —often all the more so in the liquor industry. If you find yourself reading this from the standpoint of a distiller or distributor, please keep your staff in mind. Once someone is brought onto your payroll, their balance and health become your responsibility as well. As an employer you are not simply providing a paycheck but you are providing an opportunity for growth and camaraderie. Make sure it’s in a positive direction and your company will ultimately reap the rewards.
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.
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CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICAN LIQUOR
Getting to know Hesperidina, Singani, and Clairin
WRITTEN BY READE A. HUDDLESTON
hose familiar with my previous articles will know that I normally focus on the production and history of a single, well-defined spirit. However, for this piece I have changed things up a bit. Rather than focusing on just one product, I have selected three lesser-known spirits from Central and South America and will provide a brief description of each. I believe each of these spirits to be unique and interesting, but there just isn’t enough information for each to merit its own detailed article. My hope is that by informing readers about each spirit’s existence and history they will be given a glimpse into the interesting and vibrant distilling world that exists in Central and South America.
HESPERIDINA The first spirit that we will look at is the little known Hesperidina, an Argentenian orange liqueur that shares many similarities with both triple-sec and fernet. Although few people outside the country know of Hesperidina, it is an essential part of everyday life for many Argentinians. This lightly colored liqueur is a cultural staple, especially among older generations, and often drunk with tonic water or used as an ingredient in cocktails.1 While Hesperidina’s history is intimately intertwined with that of Argentina, it was not invented by a native Argentinian. Instead, Hesperidina was invented by an American immigrant named Melville Sewell Bagely.2 Bagely was originally working in New Orleans in the dry goods business, but at age 23 he emigrated from the United States to Argentina to avoid the outbreak of the American Civil War. According to the story, when Bagely landed in Buenos Aires, the city was putting on a competition to see who could come up with a use for bitter-orange peels, which were a byproduct of other manufacturing.3 Bagely, who had some background as a pharmacist, quickly went to work developing the recipe for Hesperidina and marketed the drink heavily before releasing it on Christmas Eve 1864.2 Hesperidina was an overnight success becoming one of the largest companies in Argentina. However, this success soon attracted competition and many copy-cat companies began marketing their own versions of the drink. Frustrated with so many imitators, Bagely petitioned the president of Argentina to create a trademark and patent office, similar to the one already established in the United States. The President agreed and in 1876 Hesperidina became Argentina’s first trademarked brand.4 WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Since the 1950s Hesperidina consumption has been on the decline. However, the new owners are beginning to revitalize the brand.2 Hesperidina is not widely available in the United States, although some liquor stores may occasionally receive a case or two. When you’re walking down the aisles of your local liquor store, be sure to keep an eye out for it.
SINGANI The second liquor that we will look into is Singani. Singani is a kind of unaged grape distillate closely related to Pisco. Singani is perhaps one of the oldest distilled spirits native to South America with records of its production going back to the 16th century. Singani was first distilled by Spanish colonists in the mining town of Potosi.5 Looking for a replacement for the brandy and wine from their homeland, the Spanish found that the high valleys of Bolivia were the perfect environment to grow grapes. Vineyards were quickly established throughout the area and soon both locals and the Spanish were creating distinct regional products.6 Like its cousin Pisco, Singani may only be produced in certain regions of Bolivia under very specific rules. Singani producers are allowed to use only one type of grape, the white Muscat of Alexandria, which is known for its floral aroma.7 Furthermore, the grapes must be grown in vineyards that are planted above 5,200 feet. This requirement causes the grapes to develop a thicker skin with more vascular tissue, which is important for flavor development during the fermentation process. The harvesting and fermentation of the grapes occur once a year and is a well-known tourist attraction.5,8
After the grape must has fermented, it is distilled, traditionally in small copper pot stills, though there are no requirements about the type of still that must be used. Interestingly, all Singani distillation is required to occur at or above 5,200 feet. This means that the boiling point of alcohol during the distillation is lower than it normally would be for most distillers. Because of this requirement, Singani tends to be much more floral and aromatic when compared with other grape distillates.7 Rarely aged, Singani is often bottled immediately and sold to customers. Although Singani is not well known in America, there has recently been a push to bring it to the United States. The famous filmmaker Steven Soderbergh got his first taste of Singani when filming the movie Che in 2007. Since then, he has set up a company called Singani 63, which has begun importing Singani to the United States.7 Who knows? With such a powerful name backing the brand, perhaps Singani will become the next bar-cart staple.
CLAIRIN The third and final spirit that we will talk about is Clairin. Clairin is a spirit native to Haiti and probably the hardest of the spirits on this list to talk about. This is because, unlike the first two, most Clairin production is done illegally and there are few commercially available examples of the spirit. Indeed, in its home country of Haiti, it can have a somewhat unsavory reputation and one needs only to scroll through the first page of a Google search to find stories of people dying after consuming illicitly produced Clairin. However, there are some producers of Clairin trying to legitimize its status and define its production. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the commercial producers’ definitions of what Clairin is.9 Clairin production is similar to that of its sister liquor, rhumagricole, however, there are some things required in Clairin production that make it a uniquely Haitian spirit. Clairin producers take traditional methods to an extreme that is unheard of by other modern spirit producers. Like rhum-agricole, the base for Clairin is sugar cane, however, the sugar cane must be from a species that is native to Haiti and should be unhybridized with any other foreign
Taste Atlas, 2019. Hesperidina. Available from <https://www.tasteatlas.com/ hesperidina> [July 10, 2019]
McKirdy, Tim, 2018. The Cult Liqueur that Fought an Argentine War and Changed South American Law. Available from < https://vinepair.com/articles/hesperidinaargentina-liqueur/> [July 20, 2019]
Perlman, Dan, 2013. Aperitivo Digestivo. Available from < https://www.saltshaker. net/20130323/apertivo-digestivo> [July 18, 2019]
Ministry of Drinks, 2019. Hesperidina Liqueur. Available from < https://www. ministryofdrinks.co.uk/product/hesperidina-liqueur/> [July 18, 2019]
Bolivia Hop, 2019. Singani Bolivia: The Country’s National Drink. Available from < https://www.boliviahop.com/singani-bolivia/> [July 20, 2019]
Quinones, Luis, 2009. Pisco vs. Pisco and What About Singani. Available from < https://web.archive.org/web/20090430112613/http://www.diariodelvino.com/ notas4/noticia1885_27abr09.htm> [July 20, 2019]
strains. The cane must also be grown completely organically with no synthetic fertilizers. Furthermore, it must be harvested by hand and transported to the distillery without the use of motorized vehicles. This means that many Clairin distilleries tend to be located either in, or at least very close to, the fields that they receive their sugar cane from. Once harvested, the cane is pressed for its juices and the fermentation begins naturally — without the use of any industrial yeast or starters. Fermentation lasts for more than 120 hours before it is distilled using direct-fire heating. The number of times a Clairin is distilled is based on the distiller’s preference, however, it is generally not distilled more than five times. Clairin is not traditionally aged, but bottled or packaged immediately and sent to consumers.9,10 Although few people outside of Haiti know of Clairin, it plays an important role in the day-to-day life of many Haitians. Clairin is the de facto drink for much of Haiti’s population and many start their day with a quick nip of Clairin before heading to work.11 Clairin also plays a significant role in many religious and communal gatherings and is often consumed during Haitian wedding ceremonies.12 Although Clairin is not widely available in the United States, there have been some recent attempts to bring it to US markets.
CONCLUSION Though none of the spirits mentioned in this article are well known to drinkers in the United States, they are beginning to make the same gains that mezcal did just a few years ago. Hesperidina, Singani, and Clairin are all amazing spirits in their own way and any one of them could be the next big trend in the spirit market. Keep an eye out for them at your local liquor store.
Reade A. Huddleston is Head of Production at Headframe Spirits in Butte, Montana. 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 any strange and forgotten spirit, please email him at ReadeHuddleston@gmail.com.
Allan, M. Carri, 2016. The Absolutely Delicious Bolivian Spirit All Drinkers Need to Know. Available from < https://www.washingtonpost.com/ lifestyle/food/the-absolutely-delicious-bolivian-spirit-all-drinkers-needto-know/2016/01/03/376b5a44-af37-11e5-b820-eea4d64be2a1_story. html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6ebb783cb69e> [July 18, 2019]
Turner, Katherina, et. al. 2016. Wine, Cheese and Building a Gourmet Territory: Biocultural Resource-Based Development Strategies in Bolivia. Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 39(1). Pp.19-37
Velier S.p.A, 2019. Clairin the Spirit of Haiti. Available from < https://www. thespiritofhaiti.com/en/production/> [July 20, 2019]
10) Geballe, Zach, 2018. Introducing Clairin: Haiti’s Rhum-Agricole. Available from < https://daily.sevenfifty.com/introducing-clairin-haitis-rhum-agricole/> [July 20, 2019] 11) Sebrell, W. H., 1959. Appraisal of Nutrition in Haiti. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol. 7. Pp 538-584 12) Comhaire-Sylvain, Suzanne, 1958. Courtship, Marriage and Plasaj at Kenscoff, Haiti. Social and Economic Studies. Vol. 7(4). Pp 210-233 WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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CRAFT Y R O S I V AD L I C N U CO
N T R E VAT H A N WRRI ITTTTEENN BBYY DDEEVVOON T R E VAT H A N W
he Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), in partnership with the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), wrapped up their joint annual DC Fly-In on July 25. This is the second year that the joint fly-in has taken place, bringing distillers from large and small operations to Capitol Hill. It’s yet another effort from both organizations to extend and make permanent the federal excise tax (FET) reduction, which was passed two years ago and gave spirits sold in the US parity with beer, wine, and cider in terms of taxation. It also highlights the reaffirmed ambition DISCUS has to cater to the smaller producers in the industry. In the past, it has seemed that DISCUS was more focused on the large distilleries, but the Craft Council was actually first created in 2010. Added emphasis has been made lately, and that is thanks in large part to Chris Swonger, the recently named president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council and Responsibility.Org. Swonger has a real passion for the small but mighty members of our industry. “For me, one of the exciting and delightful a-ha! moments rejoining the industry is
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the growth of the craft distiller market over the past ten years,” he said. “Part of the thought process in kind of reconstituting the Craft Advisory Council is to make sure we have a forum to understand and hear the important views of our craft distiller members. DISCUS has a role to represent the interest of everybody in the supplier community and represent the interest of all of our members.” For the craft members of the industry, receiving the full support of DISCUS and all of its resources can only be a good thing, especially when it comes to battling against oppressive legislation or retaliatory tariffs. At the federal level, there is still the matter of FET reduction, which if allowed to sunset will increase taxes by 400 percent for the first 100,000 gallons. Ensuring the reduction of FET is one of the Craft Council’s primary concerns right now. “We don’t even want to extend it, our goal is to make that permanent,” said Ted Huber, chair of the Craft Council and co-owner of Starlight Distillery. This has included co-hosting the fly-in, but there has also been an added push to get more
information out to distillers on both the craft and macro side of the industry, who can then explain to legislators why this reduction matters at every level of the business. In the long term, the Craft Advisory Council is focused on communication. “A new distiller, a small distiller that’s been in business a while, a large small distiller, or a large distillery, all have different needs,” said Huber. “That is the long-term goal with this Advisory Council — keeping communication clear and consistent — so that everybody can understand the issues among all distilleries.” In conjunction with the American Distilling Institute and TIPS, DISCUS has launched Spirits United, a community of advocates bound together to “ensure adult consumers can enjoy distilled spirits where they want, how they want, and when they want,” according to the quarterly update. Spirits United will offer distillers predrafted letters and tweets, which they can send to their elected officials. Using strong, cohesive language will benefit the spirits community, especially when interacting with state and federal representatives.
“The amazing thing about the craft distillers is the important political equity that they have,” said Swonger. “DISCUS is a unique organization with a great deal of assets and resources, from an international trade department, federal government relations component, state government relations component. We’ve got a full-time economist on the team, we’ve got a great general counsel’s office, so there’s a lot of assets that DISCUS has, and we want to make sure that our craft distiller community fully understands that and can access the resources that DISCUS can bring to bear in support of our craft distiller community.” In keeping with this sense of change and evolution, the Craft Advisory Council is also undergoing a bit of an overhaul. This includes Huber’s appointment to chair. “As the chair, I field many questions from individual distilleries. I also go to our quarterly board meetings and present the various viewpoints from my peer distillers
and answer questions from our board on craft spirits.” Huber will be imperative in bridging the gap between the small distilleries and the rest of the industry, but this improved communication will go both ways. Small distillers will have the opportunity to make their needs heard and DISCUS will have a better understanding of what is important for the suppliers of the industry on all levels. This is especially true when it comes to state issues, which have been difficult to navigate for small producers in the past. “And it’s no different than on the federal level issues, the issue of how something affects the large distillery, mid distillery, or small distillery, our focus should be on the long term effects for everyone,” he said. For both Huber and Swonger, responsible consumption is an area of interest. On top of his duties at DISCUS, Swonger is also leading a second organization called Responsibility.Org, which aims
to eliminate underage drinking, drunk driving, and to promote responsible consumption. Huber is joining him in the fight. “If you look at our website and our company,” said Huber, “we’ve done a lot of responsible drinking classes for prom groups, which include drunk driving exercises, etc. at the Starlight Distillery, and we’ve had the Distilled Spirits Council and Responsibility.Org assist us in the past with communications and information that can be distributed.” It seems that the industry is now primed to come together in an unprecedented way to ensure that the needs of all distillers can be met. “Twenty years ago, craft distillers weren’t even sitting at a table like DISCUS,” said Huber. “We are at the table now with a voice.”
Those who would like to get involved or present an issue can get in touch with Ted Huber or visit the Craft Advisory Council website at www.distilledspirits.org/craft-members.
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ROCHESTER COCKTAIL REVIVAL
A C E L E B R AT I O N O F L I B AT I O N S I N T H E BEVERAGE MECCA OF T H E N O RT H E A S T WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY G E O R G E B . C ATA L L O
he Jewel of the Genesee, Rochester, New York, is a boozy Mecca for beverage enthusiasts from all reaches. The essence of craft courses through the city’s veins, be it for small and independent homegrown products or for expertly crafted cocktails by passionate mixologists. With more than 20 craft breweries and a handful of distilleries that have risen from the ashes of Prohibition, a sea of red pins on the map when you Google “cocktail bar,” and numerous wineries located within driving distance, there is no going thirsty here.
FLO(WE/U)R POWER Rochester has a long history with booze. It’s known not only as the Flower City for its lilacs and roses, but also as the Flour City. Before Prohibition, Rochester was a big mill town. With one of the few north-flowing rivers in the world and numerous waterfalls, Rochester was perfect for it. The best flour first went to the numerous breweries and distilleries in the area, second pick went to bakeries, and the leftovers went to nearby farms for feed. Prohibition absolutely decimated the beverage industry in Rochester, however, two of the most notable prohibitionists actually lived there, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. But they get a pass. Prohibition was temporary and their positive impact on the world continues to echo forth. While Rochester has not fully recovered from Prohibition, it’s well on its way. To celebrate this resurgence in the love of libations there is a week-long festival called the Rochester Cocktail Revival. This year marks its sixth anniversary. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
GO SPEED RCR, GO! The festival is a week-long celebration of “craft cocktail culture” according to organizers. Events include pairing dinners, parties, seminars, hands-on classes, galas, a grand tasting, and even a cocktail competition. Attendance has more than quadrupled from 2,000 in 2014 to 8,500 in 2018. Such large attendance draws some sizable sponsors including local companies like Genesee Brewing (owned by FIFCO), Black Button Distilling, Iron Smoke, and Rochester-headquartered beverage powerhouse Constellation Brands, to properties of Diageo, Beam Suntory, Kirin Brewing, and beyond. The greatest thing to come from all this money being thrown around by sponsors and attendees is that there is an associated charity. In 2018, more than $20,000 was raised for Gilda's Club of Rochester, which does great work helping people and their families living with cancer.
PEAT SMOKED BRISKET FROM THE PAIRING DINNER IN 2018
SAPPHIRE COURCHAINE, ASSISTANT GM, BAR MANAGER, COFFEE DIRECTOR, AND SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER OF LOCALS ONLY, AT THEIR ‘LIFE’S A BEACH’ BEACH PARTY THEMED NIGHT.
LIFE’S A BEACH, THEN YOU DRINK First time Revival participant Sapphire Courchaine, assistant GM, bar manager, coffee director, social media manager, and more at Locals Only, tip-toed into the fray with one event this year. Courchaine put on a beach party with themed drinks, pool noodles, beach balls, and leis. “It was an easy introduction into the RCR madness for us. It was eye opening.” said Courchaine. The ‘Life’s a Beach’ menu included libations such as the Beachin’ Good Vibes, made with Belle Isle Blood Orange Moonshine, grapefruit juice, and cardamom mint simple syrup, and the Sunburn, made with locally-produced Honeoye Falls Distilling Grist & Saw Rye, Belle Island Honey Habanero Moonshine, peach-mango juice, lemon juice, coconut simple syrup, Peychauds bitters, and seltzer. The balance between nationally recognizable brands and local grain-to-glass is key to a good high visibility menu. “[This] definitely helped with introducing new brands to customers and open their minds to the bigger picture of things beyond big brands,” said Courchaine. Camaraderie, collaboration, community, and
competition are all in full effect during the Revival. “[The] cocktail community here is outstanding. The willingness and openness to get everyone on board and help share ideas [is incredible],” said Courchaine excitedly of the collective organization of events. “You're getting grouped in with some of the biggest players in the bar scene, and you're in the same list as them during a huge weeklong thing. And you get the exposure of saying, ‘Hey, we're doing exciting things too!’ It's been super beneficial being the new kid on the block to be in the same league as them.” Courchaine’s event was one of more than sixty held in the weeklong celebration. These seminars included topics such as Bar Career Path, Deaf Hospitality, Build a Better Home Bar, and more. Pairing dinners are an excellent way to display the versatility of your spirits. One I had the privilege of attending during the 2018 RCR will always stand out in my mind as a shining example of how to run such an event. The event featured a range of Scotch owned by Brown Forman paired with a three-course meal. The big tie-in between the food and the whisky was that the second course was peatsmoked brisket. As a huge lover of smoked meats and BBQ, while I can certainly say I have had better brisket in my life, that peat-smoked meat is probably my most memorable brisket experience. Not only was it delicious, it was delightful to experience an ingredient from the whisky in a food setting. Other ways spirits or spirits ingredients can be integrated in food would be ginbotanical marinated chicken, whiskey/ brandy/rum reductions, sauces made with your spirits, barrel stave dry-aged steaks, etc. The possibilities are endless.
TO GINFINITY AND BEYOND! When asked if the format of the Rochester Cocktail Revival should be replicated in other cities, Courchain said, "Absolutely. Every major city should have an RCR-type festival. It's a great opportunity to get people together, especially industry people. We're trying to elevate things. It would be great for other cities to come together and showcase the talent and passion they have there. Because it isn't just drinking for drinking, it's the experience of it. We're drinking the care and hard work of the people producing the spirits. We're basically an intermediary for their story. I think RCR does a great job of highlighting all the work, all the care that goes into cocktails and spirits and all of that.” Now six years in, the Rochester Cocktail Revival has proven that largescale cocktail festivals are of massive benefit to participating bars, brands, industry professionals, and consumers. If your city has a festival like this and you aren’t already a part of it, I recommend getting on board. If your city does not have a festival like this, you have an amazing opportunity to be at the epicenter of something huge. No matter how large your brand becomes, you will always be a part of your local community. While Mahatma Gandhi was certainly not talking about booze when he said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” it applies. Cementing that relationship with your hometown, not only as their very own brand but also as their shining beacon of drink culture can be immeasurably potent.
Visit www.rochestercocktailrevival.com for more info on the Rochester Cocktail Revival. 46
WHAT MAKES WHISKEY WHISKEY-ISH?
THE CHALLENGES OF PRODUCT DEFINITIONS WRITTEN BY PAUL HUGHES, PH.D.
ithout wanting to give the wrong impression, I’ve spent a lot of time staring into full (or partly-full) glasses in bars. As a lapsed chemist I tend to think about the composition of the contained liquids, so for whiskey, the main ingredient is, by concentration and usually by weight, water1, followed by alcohol. Then we have fermentation volatiles, minerals, wood extractives, with maturation-specific chemistry bringing in new entities such as dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) via the oxidation of dimethyl sulfide (DMS). So in principle, with a sufficiently comprehensive kit of pure chemical entities, we could take an empty glass and reconstitute something we know as whiskey. There are a few problems with this approach, apart from the obvious breach of the legal definitions of whiskey if we were to do this right now. Firstly, the kit of individual chemical compounds cannot be put together, at least not yet, as a complete list of compounds that can be found in a whiskey does not exist. Surely we know enough
about the composition of whiskey and the concentrations of the various components to make a good attempt, right? Well, perhaps, especially if we cheat a little and make appropriate extracts of, say, wood and peat for inclusion. These extracts can be considered to be groups of chemical compounds that, with satisfactory sensory performance, could preclude the need to understand the individual chemical components of a liquid recognizable as whiskey. Nevertheless, this spawns another question: What makes whiskey uniquely whiskey-ish? Alternatively, what is the minimum requirement for a portfolio of constituents that we must add to our empty glass to create a mixture that is undeniably whiskey in look and taste? How can this selection be made? This is more problematic than it appears. For instance, if we take a product that is understood to be 100 percent whiskey and had some way of removing half of the contained iso-amyl acetate, would the product still be whiskey? Instinct says yes, but there must come a point where
1 An alcohol-water mixture at 40% ABV has a density of around 0.95 g/ml. In a liter of 40% ABV at this density, the water content is 570 g (ca 31.7 M) and the alcohol content is 380 g (ca 8.3 M). Only at around 70% ABV are the molar concentrations of water and ethanol roughly equivalent. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Membership of “whiskey” category (%)
0 Whiskey-defining criterion Fig. 1. Hypothetical membership function for whiskey. Criteria can include color, clarity, alcohol content, or a specific flavor attribute. When the membership function is < 100% the product is “part whiskey.”
successive removals eventually yield a product that is no longer whiskey. Adding non-traditional sensorially-active components also challenges the 100 percent whiskey classification. Such a cyclical argument can be short-circuited by reference to the legal definitions of whiskey. Alcohol content, constraints on production practices, and raw materials that can be used all help to define whiskey from a legislative perspective and therefore define hard lines between whiskey and non-whiskey products. Yet, from a consumer standpoint, these hard lines are difficult if not impossible to discern exactly. Technically speaking, we can say that this is a case of fuzzy boundaries, in which case we can not only define whiskey and non-whiskey, but also “part whiskey,” where the product satisfies some but not all of the criteria that 100 percent whiskey possesses. Generally, a “part whiskey” is implicitly called out on the label. For instance, Arkay is labeled as an “alcohol-free whisky flavored drink,” alluding to aspects of the product that both include it as a whiskey and exclude it as such. Jim Beam Red Stag black cherry is clearly a bourbon, but the product name is qualified with the term black cherry to indicate at least some of its non-whiskey credentials. The largest volume product category that can be considered whiskey is the Indian whisky sector. Whilst most Indian whiskies do not satisfy the European and American definitions of whiskey (ie those Indian whiskies made from molasses), it can be argued that the term Indian is also a qualifier for a part-whiskey/ part non-whiskey product, if only from a legislative perspective. The fact that a product may be part whiskey, part non-whiskey is not detrimental per se, and indeed it is a useful way of expanding the category product space. Each essential whiskey-defining criterion can be considered as a separate dimension (Fig. 1). If such criteria (eg color, flavor, alcohol content) are fully compliant with consumer expectations then the whiskey is a 100 percent
member of the category. Quite how the geometry of the part whiskey regions of the criteria plateaux are defined is subjective, at least from a consumer perspective, but products that do not meet the 100 percent membership criterion slip off the plateau. In fuzzy set parlance, a membership of 50 percent is considered to be the maximum level of uncertainty as to whether, in this case, a product is whiskey or non-whiskey. So what is the relevance of trying to classify spirits? Well there are several reasons. Firstly, the excise status of a product can be dependent on how it is classified. Secondly, there is a laudable need to communicate the identity of products unambiguously to consumers. Thirdly, pushing the boundaries of product definitions can be a fruitful source of product innovation. Finally, the increasing number of products that probe the traditional definitions of specific drink categories make managing competitions ever-more complex. By way of example, the recent development of the barrel-aged gin category begs the question as to whether all gins are classified together or whether a separate barrel-aged category should be introduced. Adding additional categories to those already defined, however, can spiral out of control, with ever more refinement ultimately leading to one category for a given product. This is generally unhelpful, so how can we rethink product classification, at least in consumer terms? We have already alluded above to a possible solution, where we can apply fuzzy clustering to drink definitions. That is, a product can be both whiskey and non-whiskey. Thus a product can belong to more than one category. So we might define a class as “whiskey” and another as “molasses-based spirits,” and then define membership function for whiskeys to each class. How these functions are defined depends on context and is largely elective. So how might this work for the global whiskey class? If we consider the consumer context, a product that satisfies the whiskey category 100 percent will have all of the characteristics expected WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
of a whiskey in terms of appearance, flavor, and even potentially extending to package type (canned whiskey anyone?). Blending 100 percent whiskeys together will also yield a 100 percent whiskey as a blend, but once components that are not 100 percent whiskey are added then the result moves closer to the edges of the 100 percent whiskey “plateau” (Fig. 1). This might seem counter-intuitive, as the weighted mean of m criteria of 100 percent and n criteria of (100-x) percent is necessarily less than 100 percent, but if we again consider the consumer context, then the addition of, say, a few drops of water does not necessarily mean that a whiskey is perceived as anything less than 100 percent! Again we run into the fuzziness of a sensory-based classification. So if we are to recast whiskey classification in this light, perhaps the closest example to date is that put forward by professional statistician and Scotch whisky aficionado David Wishart, in his underappreciated book Whisky Classified (Wishart, 2006).2 Here he defines three tiers of clusters with varying degrees of granularity for Scotch whiskies based on their sensory attributes or, more precisely, their flavor attributes. Although we have used whiskey as an example, if we take a “helicopter” view and zoom out to the whole alcoholic drink sector, we can of course identify some major categories such as beers,
wines, spirits, ciders, meads, etc. Many of these products will classify unambiguously (ie 100 percent membership), but many traditional products do not. Fortified wines are perhaps one of the most venerable spirit hybrids and classify partly as spirits and partly as wine. Alternatively, we can establish a fortified wine product category, but this is, we contend, less useful as we will need to define wine/spirits hybrids anyway. As alluded to above, some part products can be made up of non-alcoholic ingredients, such as water, ice and mixers, pushing the limits of traditional category definitions. So we are working right now on a clustering approach to the classification of alcoholic drinks, using fuzzy cluster analysis. This approach is tried-andtested in the realm of social sciences, exemplified by the work of Ragin (2008).3 Ultimately we aim is to use this clustering approach to define potentially novel product domains, aiding the acceleration of product innovation. Watch this space!
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.
2 Wishart, D., Whisky Classified, Pavilion Books, 2006. 3 Ragin, C.C., Redesigning Social Enquiry: Fuzzy Seta and Beyond, University of Chicago Press, 2008.
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STRONGER TOGETHER Collaborative whiskeys unite distilling communities
W R I T T E N B Y M A R G A R ET T WAT E R BU RY
I L LU ST R AT E D B Y A M A N D A J O Y C H R I ST E N S E N
n the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. Spend time, effort, and money making whiskey, only to mingle it with the product of your closest competitors. But some producers in distilling hot spots around the country couldn’t be happier to be working alongside their friends and colleagues towards a common goal: a collaborative whiskey. Collaborations give distillers a chance to celebrate regional styles as well as an opportunity to experiment. They’re fun. Collectors love them. Perhaps most importantly, they offer a valuable avenue for promoting their region and the craft industry as a whole. While there are challenges to overcome, especially when it comes to distribution, enough producers are taking part that we’re comfortable calling it a trend. Here’s how three different groups approached their collaborations, and what they’ve learned in the process.
FOUR KINGS Seven years ago, Midwest distilleries Mississippi River Distilling Company, FEW Spirits, Corsair Distillery, and Journeyman Distillery banded together to create a collaborative release by blending whiskeys from each of their distilleries. The resulting product, called Four Kings, is sold exclusively at Binny’s Beverage Depot, Chicago’s top-tier liquor store. It’s perhaps the best-known WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
collaborative whiskey on the market. Today, the team is on its sixth batch, and the project shows no sign of slowing down. Four Kings originated at WhiskyFest Chicago in 2012. Mississippi River Distilling, Journeyman Distillery, and FEW Spirits had held a craft seminar, which included a tasting of all of their spirits. At some point, somebody idly wondered what it would be like to actually blend the whiskeys together. “I was in Chicago for a while that week, working the market, and I had a meeting with Brett Pontoni at Binny’s,” explained Ryan Burchett, Owner and Distiller at Mississippi River Distilling Company. “I just threw it out to him and asked what he would think of something like that. And he said, ‘I think we would take everything we could get our hands on’.” After reaching out to Corsair to complete the quartet, the team turned their attention to the major hurdle: How would they distribute the stuff? “Everyone scratched their heads and said, that sounds awesome except we all have different distributors,” said Burchett. “So it seemed dead in the water.” Eventually, however, they came up with a plan that seemed like it could work. The blended product would be housed under one DSP, but everybody would participate in its production and marketing. Burchett said the relatively limited scope of the project — exclusive to one market (Chicago), one retailer, and only released once a year,
“There’s generally a good attitude between distillers, but business is business, and muddying the waters of distribution gets difficult. We don’t sell Four Kings in our home distilleries or our home markets, and it’s only sold through retail.” Ryan Burchett
MISSISSIPPI RIVER DISTILLING COMPANY
during Whisky Fest — was key to getting the four different distributors onboard. Another selling point? Its ability to promote craft as a segment. “At that time, craft was just starting to boom,” said Burchett. “And Chicago is a big town, but it’s also a small, tight-knit community. Everyone sitting around the table realized this was good for craft. So everybody decided to play nice in the sandbox, and once we got that hurdle cleared, everything else came in line easily.” For the first Four Kings release, the distilleries blended a collaborative bourbon whiskey by mingling 30 gallons of spirit from each of their four distilleries. It
was re-barreled for several months to marry, then bottled at 80 proof and released to the Chicago market. “It was received very well,” said Burhcett. “So we thought we should do it again, now that we have all the issues worked out.” Rye was chosen for the next year’s batch, followed by a malt whiskey, this time released at a higher proof of 101.4, the last digit a subtle nod to the four participating distilleries. Other past releases have included a blend of four totally different whiskeys — Journeyman wheat whiskey, Few rye whiskey, Corsair malt whiskey, and Mississippi River Distilling corn whiskey — as well as a malt whiskey featuring locally grown grain
and pecan-smoked malt. The current release is a rye whiskey finished in Portuguese brandy barrels. Next year will be a malt whiskey finished in Ardbeg barrels. With every release different than the last, Four Kings is a natural fit for collectors and enthusiasts. “The really neat thing now is you can line them up, and they’re so different. This year we did a tasting at Delilah’s where we lined up all six years to see how it had changed and grown,” said Burchett. “Our distilleries are all eight to 10 years old now, and we have some really nice stuff in barrels, so it’s coming together really well.” Burchett says Four Kings has been a lot of fun, but he can’t see how the concept could successfully expand outside of its currently limited scope. “There’s generally a good attitude between distillers, but business is business, and muddying the waters of distribution gets difficult,” he said. “We don’t sell Four Kings in our home distilleries or our home markets, and it’s only sold through retail.” “Unless you’re all in the same house in a market,
“Vatting together as new make gives you the best complexity.” Alan Laws
LAWS WHISKEY HOUSE
it’s really hard to do,” said Burhcett. “And it’s hard to take outside of a single market. We have a unique situation in that we have a market in Chicago that’s able to support this with a group of people modest enough to play nice and a flagship retailer that’s supporting it.” Plus, of course, there are the intangible benefits. “I like what it says about us as a business and our willingness to work with other people. If nothing else, it shows that we’re not a bunch of jerks who are too proud to do this.”
COLORADO To the west, a group of Colorado distillers are doing some comingling of their own as part of the aptly named Colorado Craft Whiskey Collaboration Project. Just launched last year, the project blends new spirit from multiple Colorado craft distilleries. The finished whiskey hasn’t been released yet, but plans call for it to be bottled collaboratively under one distillery’s DSP, then
sold by each participating distillery from their own tasting rooms under a single shared label. Proceeds will go to support charities of each distillery’s choosing. The structure takes advantage of Colorado’s generous craft distilling laws, which permit self-distribution from distillery-owned tasting rooms. That means distillers can bypass the potential sticking point of exclusive distribution, plus it increases the profit margin, which in this case, goes to charitable causes. “It lets us contribute twice as much as a traditional distribution model,” said Alan Laws, owner and founder of Laws Whiskey House. He estimates the total proceeds from the four barrels of wheat whiskey maturing in Laws Whiskey House’s warehouses could generate about $60,000 in charitable contributions. 2018 was the inaugural year of the Colorado Craft Whiskey Collaboration project. Four distilleries — Bear Creek Distillery, State 38 Distilling, Woody Creek Distillers, and Wood’s High Mountain Distillery — participated by contributing 30 gallons each of rye whiskey. In 2019, the ranks grew to seven participants with the addition of Laws, 219 Distillery, and Old Elk Distillery, and the spirit selected as the focus was wheat whiskey. Colorado Malting agreed to donate all of the wheat for the project, including 50% malted wheat and 50% unmalted wheat. Even the casks were donated by Independent Stave Co. and Kelvin Cooperage. Both years, the spirit was blended as new make, then
filled into barrels to age for at least two years. “Vatting together as new make gives you the best complexity,” explained Laws. Approaching the project as a charitable one helps neutralize any potential competitive pressures. The release will draw attention to Colorado’s booming craft spirits industry, which now includes 100 DSPs. PT Wood, owner of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, says the promotional power of the project is important. “We have 64 distilleries on the Colorado Spirits Trail that are all members of the guild,” Wood said. “We’re the largest distillers guild in the country, so any marketing opportunities for us as a group to get the word out about Colorado spirits is a worthwhile thing.” Importantly, it’s also fun for the distillers. “We’re all really busy, so we don’t get to run into each other very much,” Laws said. “But we all got to hang around and talk shop while we filled the barrels. It was pretty fun.”
PORTLAND Yet another model for collaborative whiskey making is underway in Portland, Oregon, where a group of distilleries are gearing up to launch their collaborative Whiskey Revolution release. Instead of blending the product of multiple distilleries, the Whiskey Revolution project keeps producers separate with the goal of highlighting the diversity inherent in Portland’s distilling scene. “The project was inspired
“Since this is a celebration of technique, so to speak, the fun will be to have everybody release their whiskey under a shared label that shows the differences. That way geeks can come and see what different kinds of stills really do.” Tom Burkleaux
NEW DEAL DISTILLING
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by the International Pinot Noir celebration, this idea of seeing what happens when we give the same ingredients to different people,” said Tom Burkleaux, owner of New Deal Distilling. “So we decided to all start with the same mash and the same barrels, and see how different distillation techniques turn out.” Each participating distillery received a single malt wash made by Breakside Brewery, a local brewery. The resulting new makes were all filled into new, charred 53-gallon barrels from the same cooperage. The barrels turned five years old during the summer of
2019 and Burkleaux said a release is imminent. While he’s not sure exactly how the whiskeys will be released, he said the tentative plan is for each distillery to submit their own COLA but release the products under synchronized labels that underscore the whiskeys’ connections to one another. “Since this is a celebration of technique, so to speak, the fun will be to have everybody release their whiskey under a shared label that shows the differences,” Burkleaux said. “That way geeks can come and see what different kinds of stills really do.”
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Margarett Waterbury is a drinks writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her book about Scotch whisky is due out in 2020. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
GRAIN TERROIR WRITTEN BY GABE TOTH /// ILLUSTRATED BY LANETTE FAULKINBERRY
ome distillers are beginning to think like winemakers, looking at their grain as a flavorful ingredient that reflects its provenance, rather than an interchangeable vehicle for starch delivery. A cornerstone of the wine world, the concept of terroir is spreading to the craft spirits world. Vintners have long understood that the conditions their grapes are grown in — such as soil and climate factors — can have a considerable impact on the flavor of their wine.
SKAGIT VALLEY, WASHINGTON At Copperworks Distilling in Seattle, President and Co-Founder Jason Parker acknowledges that there are big differences between fruit and grain, but still believes that “wine got this right a long time ago.” Parker and the Copperworks crew are working on a single-farm, single-varietal single malt project, planting a select group of barleys on different farms, then having the barley malted and distilling the batches individually to compare flavor differences between the same malt on different farms, different malts on the same farm, and even the same malt on the same farm in different years. Each batch of grain yields about 20,000 lbs. of malt, or 16 barrels of malt whiskey, enough for them to use a couple barrels for a special release and keep the remainder for blending. “Does it taste different? We don’t know. We know that the new make tastes dramatically different,” Parker said. “What we don’t know is, will the barrel wipe out those flavors?” He said they’re mashing and distilling to optimize malt flavor, and
using barrels — two-year staves, long toast/light char, 53 gallons — that will push the malt profile forward rather than burying it in oak and vanillins. The label of the current batch goes into fine detail, including harvest year (2015), malt (Alba), grower (Knutzen Farms), maltster (Skagit Valley), age (34 months) and cask number (138). It features “a lot more fruit notes than traditional Great Western base malt,” including significant stone fruit character, Parker said. “We’ve never gotten those flavors before.” They’re minimizing variables in the brewing and distilling process by using the same mash profile and cuts temperatures, and fermenting with a brewers yeast in the 68-72 degree Fahrenheit range to get a slower fermentation for more floral and fruit esters and less sulfur. Parker recommends having interns to undertake a project like this: “We’ve got so much data to collect,” he said. “We’re trying to keep that level of granularity in all of that data.” He’s also saving samples of malt and spirit at different stages for a time when they’re able to partner with analytical services. In addition to terroir, Parker noted that year-to-year variations such as the rainfall, how the grain was harvested, and “how the bugs were” may have a significant impact on flavor. “If you’re dealing with single farm, single variety, then vintage also becomes a factor,” he said. One thing they don’t measure, though, is the large commercial distillery gold standard: Liters of pure alcohol per ton of grain. “We don’t measure it because we don’t want to steer by it,” Parker said. While the massive, internationally-owned distilleries that dominate the market look at consistency and yield as paramount,
and grain has long been bred with flavor as a low priority, he said regional variations are something craft distillers can embrace as a way to distinguish themselves. “Traditional producers can’t innovate with base malt. They need to be within the flavor confines of what they have become famous for,” Parker said. “It gives us an opportunity to be differentiating in a way that we haven’t been able to when we’re using the same grains that the big guys are using. We can beat them on that by making products that, just like wine, have differences based on real agricultural reasons.” The distillery’s connection to the farm has largely been lost in the modern supply chain, but working with local growers and maltsters can create “a real story working with real farmers,” he said. “Big guys can tell you how many tons of malt they use, but not what farms they come from. If you get a chance to walk the fields with your farmers, if you are moving down this pathway, it’s going to really connect you to the storyline, where your raw ingredients come from.” Working at smaller scale with less optimal yields comes with tradeoffs, of course. Malt can be up to three times more expensive though Parker more than makes up the additional $5/bottle cost; bottles of Copperworks’ premium, single-barrel releases run an extra $20 over their regular product. “A lot of the time your customers don’t know what they want to buy, so by having a great story and a good
“Big guys can tell you how many tons of malt they use, but not what farms they come from. If you get a chance to walk the fields with your farmers, if you are moving down this pathway, it’s going to really connect you to the storyline, where your raw ingredients come from.” — Jason Parker, COPPERWORKS DISTILLING WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
product, you can lead them,” he said. “Nobody was going to come and ask for a single-variety malt (whiskey), but now that we have that they’re very interested in it.” He noted that the TTB recognizes specific regions — such as Napa Valley or Sonoma Coast — as American Viticultural Areas when a winemaker wants to use an Appellation of Origin on their label and he wants to establish comparable designations for malt, such as coastal, dryland, and irrigated farming. “We have another base ingredient that can distinguish us, not just from the big guys but actually from each other in regions. Someday, hopefully maybe in the next decade, we’ll have identified some flavors that really can’t be grown anywhere else, flavor that tastes just like the Skagit Valley,” Parker said.
THE WHISKEY TERROIR PROJECT In Ireland, Waterford Distillery CEO Mark Reynier, Dustin Herb from Oregon State University, and other partners are working to quantify terroir for The Whiskey Terroir Project. They analyzed plantings of two different barley varietals in 2018, each sown in two different Irish towns, Athy and Bunclody. Weather, grain processing, malting, and farming processes were comparable in both locations, with the primary difference being soil conditions. Athy’s soil was higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and pH, according to a detailed writeup of the project on the Waterford Distillery website.1 Both barley varieties, Olympus and Laureate, were notably different based on location. Grain grown in Athy had higher levels of selenium, chromium, and tin, while Bunclody was higher in barium, cadmium, zinc, copper, and aluminum. In sensory analysis of new-make spirit, the Athy spirit was noted as containing “sweet, baked bread and almond aromas, with a sweet, bready, caramel, woody, phenolic taste.” The Bunclody spirit was described as “musty, fruity, apple, pear, yeasty aroma with an earthy, nutty, peanut, fruity, bubble gum taste.” Gas chromatography also showed environmental variations between the samples. Athy had higher levels of furfural, which can be responsible for many of the flavor descriptors used for the Athy new make spirit, while Bunclody showed elevated levels of n-propanol, which similarly corresponds to the tasting notes from the Bunclody spirit. Environment-driven variations were also found in acetaldehyde, methanol, and n-butanol, and geneticenvironmental interactions with the Laureate Athy sample and the Olympus Bunclody sample resulted in higher levels of ethyl lactate in those two samples.
While the project will continue for another planting season, with final results available later in 2019, Herb notes in his summary that the results indicate “environmental differences in whisky flavour are indeed present.”
TEXAS TERROIR The interaction between variety and region seen in the samples higher in ethyl lactate is exactly what Rob Arnold, head distiller at Firestone & Robertson, is trying to identify, not just a local flavor independent of the crop type, but an optimization of the relationship between the variety and environment. He’s working with Texas A&M on his PhD, researching flavor in different varieties of corn “from an exploratory standpoint to see how much the farm does matter,” aiming to tie their story back to the land. (He noted how wineries are often named for and inextricably linked to their vineyard.) His work indicates that location can have a significant impact, with three varieties of yellow dent corn planted in four different regions showing consistent flavor based on location. “In that context, we saw that the environment was a bigger impact than the variety,” said Arnold, who is also working on a book on the terroir of whiskey, due out in 2020. However, he notes that compared to commercial varieties, the differences between heirloom varieties could have a greater impact on flavor than environment. His work at Texas A&M involves screening new varieties of corn, with access to thousands of varieties of new breeds created by crossing standard commercial varieties with tropical varieties, which are more closely related to Native American and Latin American heirloom varieties. They’re trying to retain the performance of modern grain, but supplement it with additional flavor. “They’ve been bred over time so that they’re also good performers on the farm as far as agronomic yield,” Arnold said. “The genetics are very unique and the flavors are unique. I’m screening those varieties to look for one or hopefully more than one that works well with whiskey.”
Eventually he hopes to find one that they’ll select to use at Firestone & Robertson. They’ll plant it at Sawyer Farms, a fourth-generation Texas farm about an hour south. Arnold said they always sourced Texas grain, but he felt that “‘Texas grain’ is such an ambiguous statement. There’s a lot of land in Texas.” From the beginning though the goal was to use local ingredients as much as possible, including a proprietary yeast that Arnold isolated. He began working with John Sawyer in 2014, sourcing all of their corn, barley, wheat and rye from his farm. The immediate goal was to minimize inconsistencies by using a single source, Arnold said, with “the hope that it would highlight the nuances of a specific place.” “We’re dedicated to working with one farm, one farmer, and tapping into the flavors of that farm,” he said. In his search for the right variety of corn, he’s looking for one that performs ideally at that location. His yellow dent trial, which is currently under peer review, indicated
“When you highlight terroir, when you capture it, when you seek it out and communicate it to the consumer, it goes beyond flavor. It becomes an experience, a connection. It didn’t start at the distillery; it started at a piece of land.” — Rob Arnold, FIRESTONE & ROBERTSON that Sawyer Farms’ samples had greater levels of fruity, pineapple, and rose flavors from esters and long-chain alcohols, versus more floral notes and some grape flavors at a Calhoun County location, more meaty and earthy flavors in the Panhandle, and an unremarkable crop with no unique flavor markers from the Mexican border. They’ve got test plots of three hybrids in the ground right now at Sawyer Farms, varieties that offer a lot of roasted nutty notes and an amplified sweet corn character with a little bit of fruitiness He’s already starting on a similar barley project. Eventually they’ll dive into wheat and rye. “If you’re growing something that grows
well in a particular environment, then you’re tapping into terroir,” Arnold said. “When you highlight terroir, when you capture it, when you seek it out and communicate it to the consumer, it goes beyond flavor. It becomes an experience, a connection. It didn’t start at the distillery; it started at a piece of land.”
Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver and Loveland, CO. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be found up in the mountains or at email@example.com.
Consumer Taste Preference in Gin written by Aaron Knoll
ost people have a poor language of odour and have difficulty in describing a new odour,” Chemist and fragrance researcher Charles S. Sell wrote, “and this is a major issue in measurement and characterisation of odour.” 1 That the challenge of communicating scent can be so succinctly summarized underscores the challenge gin distillers and gin brands have. After all, it is flavor and aroma2 which is the key differentiator. Furthermore, the English language doesn’t have a particularly rich lexicon of words to describe scent. Much of our language relies on metaphor, that is literally referencing the item as the descriptor. “All of our other scent descriptors are really descriptions of sources: We say that things smell like cinnamon, or roses.... The other senses don't need these linguistic workarounds. We don't need to say that a banana “looks like lemon;” we can just say that it's yellow.”3 This works well when we refer to literal foods that people encounter every day; however, most gin drinkers are unfamiliar with much of what goes into their spirit of choice. Very few gin drinkers encounter something like sweet woodruff every day, let alone have an idea what it tastes like after maceration and distillation. As I began my research into how people talk about gin I discovered something even more stark— it was not just the unusual ingredients that users didn’t know how to describe. Things like coriander, orris root, and even juniper eluded many gin drinkers. A list of botanicals may well have been written in a different language. Gin drinkers had no idea what to expect. Through listening to people talk about gin and flavor, I discovered that, time and time again, people would tend to use some words over and over. First they would react to the “heat” of the base spirit. Then they would use words like “floral,” “citrusy,” “spiced,” “herbal” or “piney.” In 2012 I launched a flavor diagram based on this work on www. theginisin.com to describe flavors and aromas of gin that I had tried. In 2017 I launched the ability for users to search for gins by the intensity of each flavor category. Through this, I’ve been able to observe not just what users are looking for, but how those preferences vary over time and correlate with one another. Consumer Taste Preference in Gin: 2018 Report for Distillers and Spirit Creators was released earlier this year on Amazon and is the culmination of over a year and a half of user data. It’s intended to help distillers and spirit designers get into the details of what people have been looking for.
1 Sell, C. S. (2014). Chemistry and the sense of smell. Hoboken: Wiley. 2 As the flavor of gin is largely perceived through retronasal olfaction— literally the sense of smell. It makes sense to group them together. 3 Yong, E. (2015, November 07). Why Do Most Languages Have So Few Words for Smells?
EXCERPT FROM 2018 REPORT:
Discussion of relationships between flavor preferences
Users have the opportunity to search by any number of six categories; therefore, many users who exhibit a strong preference for a single flavor preference will also exhibit a complementary flavor preference. While the general patterns for users who look for juniper-forward gins (Table 1) mirror the population as a whole, there are some key differences. Fans of juniper in their gins are much less likely than the population at large to like floral flavors in their gin. Conversely, they are much more likely than the average gin drinker to like the organoleptic perception of heat in their gin. Unlike fans of juniper-forward gin, users who expressed a preference for a predominantly citrus-forward gin (Table 2) seem to mirror the population as a whole. Citrus loving gin-drinkers are slightly more likely to also like a floral flavor in their gin; however, the difference is small. Perhaps the biggest stand-out is that while juniper-forward gin fans also like citrus in their gin; citrus-forwardgin fans like floral flavors in their gin that juniper-forward gin fans would not be as receptive to. Citrus-forward gin fans also don’t exhibit the same tolerance for heat in their gins that fans of classic style juniper-forward gins do. Over one fifth of all searches between August 2017 and November 2018 was for a gin with a strong floral character (Table 3). The exact converse of the effect seen in the juniper table (Table 1) is present here. Just as users who like a lot of juniper in their gin are less likely to like a gin with a strong floral character, gin drinkers who like a lot of floral flavor in their gin prefer less juniper than the population at large. Interestingly, aside from the juniper/floral relationship, fans of floral gin mirror the population as a whole.
Discussion The relationship between floral and juniper type gins is the most intriguing finding from the 2017–2018 dataset. First, distillers and product designers should take note that there is a huge part of the market that is looking for primarily floral gins. While nearly a third look for either a predominantly juniper or citrus forward gin— the biggest next demographic is the ~22% who want something with strong floral notes. Although floral gin drinkers like juniper less than the population as a whole, they do still like juniper in their gin. It's far from the aversion juniper lovers feel for floral notes. This perhaps poses a challenging marketing space for gin designers. Whereas floral gins represent a large part of the potential audience for the product, the mere mention of floral may alienate your fans of classic-style gins.
Table 1: SEARCH PATTERNS OF USERS LOOKING FOR JUNIPER FORWARD GINS Preference of users who looked for a "3" in juniper n = 7128
Preference of total population n = 22631
Table 2: SEARCH PATTERNS OF USERS LOOKING FOR FLORAL FORWARD GINS Preference of users who looked for a "3" in floral n = 5021
Preference of total population n = 22631
Table 3: SEARCH PATTERNS OF USERS LOOKING FOR CITRUS FORWARD GINS Preference of users who looked for a "3" in citrus n = 7268
Preference of total population n = 22631
What comes next? The study of consumer preferences in terms of gin flavor continues. Though it would be premature to say what the results of the 2019 study may indicate, early trends suggest that things are becoming more polarized. Preference for floral-forward gins and preference for juniperforward gins seem to be intensifying. A new report and study will be compiled at the end of the calendar year
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. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
a REVIVAL at SCOTCH WHISKYâ€™S SPIRITUAL HOME
Lindores Abbey Distillery /// Newburgh, Fife, Scotland WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARGARETT WATERBURY
or Drew McKenzie Smith, the farm outside of Newbergh, Fife, was just a place his family raised cattle and grew grain. Those ruins in the corner? They were all that remained of Lindores Abbey, a 12th century Tironensian monastery destroyed centuries ago. In this part of Scotland right at the border between the Highlands and the Lowlands, historical sites are thick on the ground, and the McKenzie Smiths rarely gave the jumbled stones and old foundation walls a second thought. That is, until about 20 years ago, when an odd man with curly hair and thick plastic glasses turned up at the doorstep. He politely asked if he could visit the ruined abbey, received a yes, then trundled off across the wet fields towards the still-standing archway down by the curving meanders of the River Tay. “We didn’t really think about it again,” said Drew, “Until about a year later, when
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a copy of a book arrived in the mail.” The author? Michael Jackson, Britain’s preeminent beer and whisky writer. Flipping to the section about the history of whisky, Drew saw a passage about his very own family’s cattle farm that would change his life: “For the whisky-lover, it is a pilgrimage.”
A NEW PRODUCER, STEEPED IN HISTORY There are plenty of distilleries out there with romantic backstories, but it’s hard to think of any with a more compelling history than Lindores Abbey Distillery, a new producer with some ancient roots. Lindores Abbey is widely credited with being the very first location where whisky making was recorded in Scotland. An Exchequer roll (a kind of tax document) from 1494 includes the following entry: “To brother John Cor, 8 bolls of malt,
wherewith to make aqua vitae for the King.” This referred to a commission from King James IV for Brother Cor, then the leader of Lindores Abbey, to make him about 400 bottles worth of malted barley spirit. Whisky, in other words, had gotten its very first print mention. For Drew and his wife, Helen McKenzie Smith, learning the significance of his family’s farm in the world of whisky lit a spark that would smolder for 20 years. Careers in high-end hospitality, including a stint managing Glenmorangie House, the boutique country home where important visitors to Glenmorangie Distillery spend the night, had given them both a deep network in the spirits industry as well as a sophisticated understanding of marketing and regional tourism. They immediately saw the potential for bringing distillation back to Lindores, but it took nearly two decades for the right time, the right team, and the right concept to finally coalesce
THE DISTILLERY Lindores Abbey Distillery opened its doors for the first time in December 2017. It was the culmination of years of work by Drew and Helen, as well as a triumphant return to distillation in this corner of Fife after a hiatus of almost 500 years. The buildings that now house Lindores Abbey Distillery and its visitors’ center were once Drew’s family farm: garage, stable, grain silo, hay barn. “Three years ago, there was an old van right here,” said Drew, gesturing to the light-filled, highceilinged lobby that welcomes visitors to Lindores Abbey Distillery. “There were horses in there,” he laughed. During construction, the McKenzie Smiths discovered those old farm buildings had yet another previous life. While removing some internal walls, the team found several finely carved stones that had once been pillars from the monastery buried as structural supports inside the walls. Because of the site’s historic significance, the construction process was painstaking. The planning department required them to hire an archeologist to
oversee the digging of 15 trenches to make sure construction wouldn’t disturb a burial ground or even earlier historic site. “Within the first 20 minutes, they’d uncovered a wall that hadn’t been seen for 500 years,” said Drew. “There was so much excitement.” The trenches eventually uncovered several foundation walls, which appeared to be part of the original abbey. Importantly, it placed the new distillery site squarely within the boundaries of Lindores’ walls. The findings were recorded and photographed, and then the trenches filled with sand “to preserve it for another 500 years,” said Drew. With nearly a millennium’s worth of history, Lindores Abbey continues to reveal its secrets to the McKenzie Smiths. “There are all these little snippets,” said Drew. Some have little to do with distilling, such as records that indicate William Wallace stayed at Lindores in 1298 during the First War of Scottish Independence. Others, said Drew, “are of no consequence in the history of Scotland whatsoever, but for us, they’re quite important.” One
example is a permission for the monks to take 200 cartloads of peat from a nearby area. “That gives us license at some point if we want to do a peated whisky,” said Drew. To celebrate and showcase Lindores Abbey’s significance, the distillery visitor’s center includes extensive historical exhibits, featuring artifacts from the abbey, paintings and drawings of important historical figures, and recreations of what life may have been like at the abbey hundreds of years ago. In the center of the lobby, a sculptural candelabra suspended from the ceiling keeps a flame alive in a nod to the generations of Scottish knights who asked the brothers to keep their families and souls in perpetual prayer if they never came home from the Crusades. Outside, the ruins of the abbey itself welcome ramblers. “During the day, people can come in, go to the café, have a coffee, wander about, spend an hour exploring the abbey ruins, for absolutely nothing,” said Drew. “We want to share the story. It’s not just about Friar John Cor and distilling.”
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THE WHISKY It may not all be about distilling, but the whisky at Lindores Abbey Distillery is far from an afterthought. Drawing on their connections in the world of spirits, Drew partnered with industry legend Dr. Jim Swan early on to help conceptualize the project and eventually design the distillery. Gary Haggart, the current distillery manager, formerly worked for Diageo at Cragganmore Distillery, making him an expert in his own right. “Dr. Jim Swan was a friend, and because we had 20 years to discuss it, we got to know each other very well,” said Drew. “He was very aware that all of the history is great, but it could almost be a distraction. A distillery kind of lives or fails on its spirit, as it should be. At a blind tasting, Friar John Cor isn’t going to be in the room. The whisky has to stand on its own. So I made that promise to him early on. Whatever it takes on this end, we’d find a way to do it.” A turnkey Forsyth installation includes
one wash still and two smaller spirit stills, a configuration chosen to increase copper contact in the spirit run. At the moment, the distillery is using 100 percent Fife barley, and it’s currently working to move to a single-estate concept using grain grown at Drew’s cousin’s farm as well as another local farm. With a two-ton mash tun, four wooden washbacks, and a leisurely fermentation of about 110 hours, Lindores Abbey Distillery aims to produce about 250,000 liters each year, and there’s room to expand in the future.
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Drew said one valuable piece of advice he received from another distiller guided his decision to hire Forsyth to install as well as design the system. “When I met Anthony Wills at Kilchoman, who is a really nice guy, he said there are a few things he regretted,” said Drew. “One of the biggest was that he was going to use a turnkey fitout by Forsyth, which adds a chunk to the price. Then he thought well, I’ve got a local plumber and a local electrician, I’ll just get them to do it. But then as soon as things go wrong, Forsyth says well, it’s your guys who did it. So we went with Forsyth and we’re glad we did, because if there is any kind of problem, we can get them down to help.” Drew said Swan encouraged him to install two smaller spirit stills rather than one bigger one. That also increased the initial cost but has paid dividends down the road. “I was so naïve that I thought well, two small ones are roughly the same cost as one big one, but they’re not,” he chuckled. “Still, I’m delighted we did it. It’s made the new make so much more
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robust.” Swan’s imprint can also be found on Lindores Abbey’s cask program. A mix of nearly 20 different types of casks, including bourbon, wine, and various types of sherry casks are in use at Lindores Abbey Distillery, as well as the signature STR (shave, toast, rechar) casks that Swan pioneered. As any whisky maker knows, covering cash flow while those first casks age can be a challenge. To span the gap, Lindores Abbey has sold private casks, created a botanical spirit called Aqua Vitae based on malt barley distillate and featuring local botanicals, and rented out the visitors’ center for private dinners, events, and weddings. While it’s still a struggle to make ends meet, Drew said he’s committed to staying the course and waiting until the whisky is truly ready before a release. “Even though it can be painful to cling on and not release anything, it’s better to take the financial pain than haul yourself below the waterline by releasing something too soon,” said Drew. That said, he’s happy with how the first casks are starting to develop, especially the STR casks. “It’s really maturing quickly and well,” said Drew. “Now, obviously, I would say that, but it’s really shaping up through Jim’s work and Gary’s work.”
NEW HISTORY REVEALED While the whisky ages, the Lindores Abbey Distillery team have made yet another discovery. While excavating for a wastewater pond (archeologist onsite to supervise, of course) the team uncovered a ring of stones filled with water. “We all thought it was the top of a well. Then [the archeologist] took the water out and underneath there was a clay bowl. And then one of the archeologists said it’s like a kiln, which means a still could have sat in it.” Further testing revealed traces of carbon, wood, and barley on the kiln. “We can’t really prove it, since we’re talking about the 15th century, but we’re confident that it’s the base of a still,” said Drew, voice animated with excitement. As he talked about the remarkable find, he gestured out the window of the stillhouse towards the ordinary blue tarp covering the dig site. Above it, fledgling swallows dipped and wove. We gazed across the fields, imagining those 15th century monks carefully feeding wood into the fires that heated their still. Could they have imagined that the rough, fiery, unaged spirit they were making would become a global obsession? That their abbey would one day be nearly buried beneath Fife’s damp, fertile soil? That centuries in the future, far more people would know something about whisky than what the Tironensian order stood for? Lindores Abbey Distillery invites those kinds of big questions. Fortunately for us, it also serves coffee, pastries, and delicious samples of Aqua Vitae to aid in their contemplation. As we trundled off towards the bar, Drew smiled. “We never really take it for granted,” he said. “Lindores is kind of the gift that keeps on giving.”
Margarett Waterbury is a drinks writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her book about Scotch whisky is due out in 2020.
YOUR MOST LIKELY LAWSUIT? T
he internet is an amazing thing — especially when you pair it with a paid subscription service. And I’m not talking about the kind of service that would have your human resources department up in arms. I’m talking about a legal news service. Let me explain. My firm subscribes to a few legal research services. I won’t name them, but these are basically information aggregators that pull together case filings and similar legal developments from all over the United States (and beyond) and make them searchable by way of a reasonably clunky user interface. By using that same interface you can enable a search that will deliver to your email inbox every single morning a list and summary of new cases that have been filed involving any topic of your choosing. And so I did. Every morning, one of the first emails I receive is a list of all the cases that have been filed in the past 24 hours involving spirits, distilleries, or something sufficiently confusing to the search engine that it “thinks” the case might involve hooch. Of course, sometimes it is wrong; it turns out there are a remarkable number of practicing attorneys in California and Texas who are named Brandy, and based on my inbox they seem to be quite busy in their work. But of course I’m not trying to learn what
WRITTEN BY BRIAN B. DEFOE.
cases Brandy (though I hear she may be a fine girl — sorry, couldn’t resist) might bring. I’m trying to keep my finger on the pulse of liability trends in the industry for the benefit of clients. And with all that as background, let me ask you a question. What type of claim do I see brought against spirits companies more frequently than any other type? I think the answer might surprise you. By far, the most common claim to land in my inbox has nothing whatsoever to do with trademark issues or TTB compliance, dram shop liabilities or defaults under contracts. The most common claim relates to… disability accommodation. Specifically, the claims are brought under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or some similar state act. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT The ADA was enacted in 1990. Broadly speaking, it seeks to protect individuals with disabilities from suffering discrimination in employment, access to public services or access to public accommodations in the private sector. And it is this third aim — found in Title III of the ADA — which gives rise to the suits that fill my inbox. To understand the risk here, an understanding of the relevant terms is helpful. Under the ADA, “public accommodations” are defined to mean any private entities that own, operate or lease places of public accommodation. Not super helpful, is it? Thankfully the law goes a bit further to include examples such as stores and shops, restaurants, bars, service establishments, hotels, theaters, recreation facilities, private museums and schools. LET’S Unpacked, that means that your distillery tasting room — where consumers can sample product, perhaps buy a bottle (or several) and pick up some awesome CONSIDER merch — is a public accommodation. It makes no difference that your facility AN EXAMPLE is privately owned (i.e., not part of a government building). And it makes Charlene Blankenship is 63 no difference (for this purpose) whether you own or lease the facility. years old and uses a wheelchair for Your tasting room is a public accommodation and must comply with the mobility. She drives a customized minivan, requirements of the ADA. If you fail to toe the line, then an aggrieved which allows her to access the vehicle party, either an individual with a disability who wishes to bring suit without leaving her chair but also requires a under the ADA or an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, four-foot buffer zone on the side of the vehicle can take you to court and make you comply. for its electric liftgate. Recently, as she poured So what does compliance mean? Like all good legal the last drops from a bottle of whiskey produced questions, the answer is “it depends.” In this case, the at a multi-acre industrial facility in Tennessee, she answer could depend on whether your facility is thought to herself that she really should try some of new or existing construction, as well a new locally produced craft whiskey that a friend had as the specific nature of the mentioned. So later that week she boarded her van and set disability you’re seeking to off across town to the small distillery. accommodate. Let’s take Charlene’s troubles began as soon as she arrived. The distillery’s those in reverse order. parking lot had no spaces that could accommodate her van. So she circled Under the ADA, the lot a few times and ultimately had to make do with a space that didn’t quite fit accommodation must be her vehicle. Luckily, the space was adjacent to another empty space, so she was able to exit made for an “individual her van in her chair. But the difficulties didn’t stop there. The parking space she’d managed with a disability” — to find was across the lot from the distillery entrance, forcing Charlene to make an arduous defined to be a person trek across the lot — across several lanes of traffic — in her wheelchair. In an effort to who: (i) has a physical avoid potentially becoming a hood ornament for a passing motorist, more than a few or mental impairment that of whom she thought might have been overserved in the tasting room, she took substantially limits one the most direct route across parking lot — only to find when she arrived or more major life activities; at the sidewalk that there was a very high curb blocking her way. She (ii) has a record of such an retraced her route, and found a curb cut that allowed her to gain impairment; or (iii) is regarded as access to the sidewalk and was pleased to see that it led to a having such an impairment. Note that ramp allowing her to avoid the steps leading to the distillery’s this last prong of the test means that the front door — conveniently equipped with an electric assist person concerned need not have — or have ever that allowed her to open it by pressing a button. had — a disability. Simply believing that the person When Charlene entered, the smell of the distillery was has a disability is enough to trigger application of the delicious. Not only did the aromas of whiskey welcome her, ADA. Title III of the ADA further provides some examples they were mingled with the scent of barbeque. Her friend of the types of physical and mental impairments that may hadn’t mentioned it, but this distillery was doing doubleconstitute a disability (including — interestingly enough for duty. As a combined distillery and restaurant, it was our purposes — alcoholism) and indicates that a “major life making quite a name for itself in the local food scene. activity” includes things like walking, seeing, and hearing. Charlene was thrilled; the only thing she enjoyed more Taken together, these factors can make it challenging — than whiskey was brisket. Today was going to be a though not impossible — to comply. good day. But the olfactory promise made to Charlene
remained unfulfilled. The tasting room — doubling in this instance as a dining room for the restaurant — had a great many beautiful marble-topped high tables with stools for patrons. From the vantage point of her chair, however, Charlene could only see the underside of the tables. There was no accessible seating for her, no table that would accommodate her chair. Having had enough, Charlene turned her wheelchair back around and headed for the door — back across the parking lot — and to her vehicle. Unfortunately, the space beside her van was no longer empty; a car parked in the adjacent space now prevented her from using her liftgate. She was trapped in the parking lot — angry, thirsty and without the benefit of barbecue. So what went wrong here? And perhaps more importantly for the purpose of our example, does anyone under the ADA have any liability stemming from Charlene’s frustration? The lack of accessible parking is a concern. Any parking lot constructed since the ADA became effective should have been built with a minimum number of accessible spaces. But Charlene’s failure to immediately locate a curb cut may not be a problem; by including at least one cut-out, it appears that some accommodation was made with respect to wheelchair access. The ramp and the electric door assist are also evidence of attempts to comply. But the tables are, unfortunately, another compliance failure. And the fact is it only takes one failure for someone to bring a complaint. Indeed the majority of the cases that land in my inbox only cite one failure or another as opposed to multiple mistakes. In our example, Charlene now has the opportunity not only tell all her friends about her disappointing trip to the distillery, but also to bring a civil lawsuit against the distillery — and its landlord if it doesn’t own the property itself. And rest assured there are plaintiff’s lawyers looking for these cases because the ADA allows a successful plaintiff to recover attorneys fees for bringing the suit. So, the distillery in our example may have the opportunity to pay for Charlene’s lawyer as well as its own when it defends the suit.
NOW LET'S DIVE INTO THE DIGITAL WORLD Of course it would be bad enough if the ADA only required accommodation in the context of physical facilities. But the emerging trend in this area of law actually relates to the online world; that same internet that brings me news of cases being brought is actually driving some of the cases. Courts have held that websites are themselves “public accommodations” under the ADA. And, as one might expect, this has led to cases being filed alleging that business’ websites aren’t ADA compliant when they aren’t equally accessible by individuals with visual, auditory or physical impairments. Unfortunately, while there are guidelines in place to help businesses know how wide they must make their doorways in order to provide reasonable accommodation to individuals in wheelchairs, there are relatively few guidelines that exist to help businesses ensure that their websites are in compliance with the ADA. Indeed, as of the date of this writing, the Department of Justice had not adopted any such guidelines (although it has confirmed its agreement with the proposition that websites are public accommodations under the law). In seeking to ensure website compliance, many companies are following guidelines put forward by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is a group of over 400 businesses and governmental agencies throughout the world, including key players in the tech industry who are almost certainly responsible for the cell phone in your pocket, the operating system on which it runs and/or the wireless network to which it links. The group works to develop and implement standards all across the web. To that end, it developed and promulgated its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). While the Department of Justice previously suggested that compliance with WCAG would be sufficient for businesses to avoid liability, the department’s most recent statements have backed away from an explicit endorsement of that standard, although it is perhaps unclear whether that indicates that a higher standard will be required or whether a lower standard might suffice. WCAG itself is periodically updated, most recently with WCAG 2.1, and contains multiple levels of guidelines, designated A, AA and AAA — each of which add in additional “success criteria” that must be achieved for compliance with the particular level. While research suggests that compliance with WCAG 2.0 level A or AA is sufficient to demonstrate compliance — and indeed settled cases seem to suggest that this is an appropriate level of compliance — there is no guarantee that a court or the Department of Justice would agree with that approach. Therefore, businesses that seek to comply are left with a difficult choice of balancing the cost of compliance against the uncertainty of what legal standard might actually be imposed. The most prudent approach in that situation is the most conservative: adopt the strictest standard and assume that the cost of noncompliance would eventually outstrip the cost of bringing your website up to code (if you’ll pardon the pun). WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOUR DISTILLERY'S WEBSITE? A business might be excused for asking what, exactly, does it mean to make a website accessible CAN I SEE SOME ID? to the visually impaired. In general, compliance in this area can mean having a website that allows for Please do remember when you’re checking for ID someone with a visual impairment to use screenbefore serving samples in your tasting room that some reading technology to convert the website into speech. people who are entitled to drink can’t actually get a That technology exists, but if the website includes a driver’s license because they’re not permitted to photo without an associated caption, the assistive drive (e.g., people with visual impairments). If you technology will not help the individual; it will not refuse to serve someone because they can’t recognize the photo and the content will be lost. produce a driver’s license, but they can Similarly, if the background and foreground colors on produce other valid proof of age, that’s your site are too similar, the palette may frustrate the a violation of the ADA, too. technology and cause it to fail. Addressing these types of missteps are relatively simple ways to improve compliance. A more challenging example can be found in the context of making the website accessible to individuals with hearing impairment, as in the recent experience of the University of California. As a government agency, its obligations under the ADA are found in a different section of the statute than those applicable to privately held businesses — but the basic obligations are the same. Recently, the university was ordered to bring its website into ADA compliance by providing written captions for some 20,000 video files located on its website. This task proved too arduous for the university to achieve in a timely fashion — and so the choice was made Brian B. DeFoe is a business lawyer at Lane to simply remove the videos from the website rather than risk an ADA violation. Powell, where he focuses his practice on Finally, keep in mind that navigating a website by means of a mouse or trackpad helping companies in the customer-facing food, alone may also pose an impediment to consumers with physical impairments. To be beverage and hospitality industries. Brian WCAG compliant, you should consider designing your site so that it may be navigated can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, entirely by the use of the keyboard. via phone at (206) 223-7948, on Twitter @BrianBDeFoe or Instagram @HoochLaw. If your distillery has a website (and it should), then you need to consider ADA Visit www.hoochlaw.com for more thoughts compliance as part of your broader suite of information technology compliance. Just on spirits and the laws that govern them. as you would be mindful of customer data and payment card industry standards, This is intended to be a source of general you should be careful to ensure that your website, like your physical facility, can be information, not an opinion or legal advice accessed by members of the public who are entitled to accommodations under the ADA. on any specific situation, and does not create By doing this, you decrease the risk of ending up the subject of a lawsuit and one of an attorney-client relationship with our my emails. readers.
L E S S O N S
L E A R N E D :
Crafting a Better Drinking Culture P A R T
O N E
WRITTEN BY CARRIE DOW
t was one of the last seminars at the American Distilling Institute Conference in Denver last March, but may have been one of the most important for any distillery with a tasting room or facility tour: how to properly handle guests who have over-consumed, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) is tackling this issue head on by developing a comprehensive Social Responsibility program. Using the lessons her association has learned, Ali Edelstein, KDA’s Director of Social Responsibility, presented a seminar at this year’s conference showing how KDA discovered that this initiative is not only good for customers, but good for the bottom line. In this two-part article, we’ll look at KDA’s program and how it fits into your business. “The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the non-profit trade association that helps promote, protect, and elevate Kentucky’s signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry,” Edelstein said. “In recent years we’ve helped distilleries in Kentucky pass a lot of legislation that has helped grow their businesses. Responsibility is a huge part of those discussions.” The KDA believes so strongly in this issue that it created Edelstein’s
full time position in 2016 to oversee the program. Since then, several important pieces of alcohol legislation have passed in Kentucky. “Making sure we’re responsible retailers is a huge part of what allows us to keep modernizing Kentucky’s alcohol laws,” she said. Kentucky’s industry learned the phrase ‘drink responsibly’ doesn’t only help with laws, it also means better business. To create this program, KDA and Edelstein consulted and surveyed association members, government officials, and community leaders. The results of those discussions became KDA’s Best Practices for Social Responsibility. Edelstein and KDA now share these best practices with distilleries across the country.
EVENTS/ TICKETING/ SERVING “In our last panel (Creating Brand Champions through Tastings and Tours) you learned that Intellicheck is a $50-per-month resource that authenticates the [visitor’s] ID and prevents service to minors,” said Edelstein. “It also provides valuable demographic data, but it’s really the best 50 bucks a month you’re going to spend to avoid those $10,000 fines.”
Other ways of preventing service to minors and overconsumption are drink tickets and bracelets, but even these items can be abused. “When you offer drink tickets, a lot of people pass them to friends,” noted Edelstein. “However, we’ve found that one reason people pass drink tickets is not necessarily because they want to drink. They may have already had enough, but there’s a perception of value. ‘I paid for these tickets, so I’m going to use them.’” The organization came up with having guests put unused drink tickets in a bowl for prize drawings for t-shirts and other swag. The guests just put their name and number on the back.“They get something that is not alcohol, but still feel they’re getting value for those tickets,” explained Edelstein.
TA S T I N G ROOM EXPERIENCE One of the simplest ways to encourage responsible drinking is easy access to water. “Having the visitor ask for water creates a barrier,” Edelstein said. “Some people are shy about it so making [water] widely available goes a long way.” Having food like high-protein nuts or other WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
snacks helps to slow the absorption of alcohol. Another important part of the tasting room experience is taking care of non-drinking customers, too. “How do we provide [the non-drinker] with the same level of world-class hospitality as the person they came in with got?” Edelstein asked. To that end, the KDA developed The Mocktail Project, a list of alcohol-free cocktail recipes. “The Mocktail Project has been instrumental in helping us communicate our respect for the choice not to drink,” said Edelstein. Panel member Sara Barnes, Managing Director of Bourbon Women, elaborated. “That inclusion for the pregnant wife of the diehard bourbon fan who is rolling her eyes because she had to come along,”
Barnes said. “Then you make her a mocktail that tastes wonderful, that she can have and not feel out of place at the table. Those things are huge.”
EMPLOYEE E D U C AT I O N Staff training is a large part of overserving prevention. “In terms of employee training, are they certified?” asked Edelstein. She recommended TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS), and the KDA also uses STAR (Server Training in Alcohol Regulations). Other measures distilleries can take include having an intoxicated guest policy and keeping an incident report log for employees to report problems if they do happen.
Barnes, a former manager at Boone County Distilling, added, “We had one instance where some customers bought a bottle of our 12-year single barrel, about 114 proof. Next thing I know they had opened the bottle and consumed half of it while sitting there. It was an awkward situation having that conversation with [the customers] and having my staff trained so that it doesn’t happen a second time. Education starts with your owners, your management, and your employees. Everyone needs to be on the same page.” Hopefully you can use these three topics as a starting point for social responsibility in your distillery. Before the next issue, think about concerns your distillery has dealt with and how you and your staff handled them.
Find KDA’s best practices documents and more information here: kybourbon.com/responsibility/kdas-responsibility-initiatives. For additional information from Better Drinking Culture visit betterdrinkingculture.org/
VISITOR EXPERIENCE DESIGN DEEP DIVE:
BEYOND CONSUMERS WRITTEN BY TIM KNITTEL
DESIGNING THE INDUSTRY DISTILLERY EXPERIENCE: KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND KNOW WHAT THEY WANT
he home turf advantage of your distillery’s visitor program can create strong value through consumer visitors, but really elevates the ROI for industry visitors. Consumers are wonderful. They’re the bread-and-butter for most spirits producers’ bottom lines, and they can be very lucrative through your tour program and gift shop. Conversely, industry guests will expect to be treated when they come visit you, definitely with a free tour and possibly with VIP treatment and even souvenir gifts. In exchange, industry visitors — retailers, distributors, media, enthusiasts, influencers and possibly other VIPs — are positioned to create more value for your brand through their various channels. This can include awareness reach, market positioning, recommendations, cocktail menu placements, barrel selections, political influence and more. But it’s not a one-way street of them making things good for you: industry visitors have needs, too, and by addressing those needs you can develop stronger relationships and secure better value from those guests.
FIRST: HAVE YOUR BASICS IN PLACE Before getting into the specifics of hosting industry guests, the foundations of your brand identity and visitor experience must be in place. This includes: > > Your brand’s unique selling proposition and related messaging, > > The flavor messages for each of your products, and > > The tour and tasting experience, hopefully with strong education plus sensory components all built on a storybook script structure. These are important because every single guest — industry and consumer — has an unspoken ask that your spirits
brand be clearly different than every other spirits brand. There’s no point in visiting you if you’re just like the last distillery they visited. This is achieved through messaging specificity. What is your company’s background? How did you get started? Who are your primary people? Why did you make the decisions that you made in the placement of your distillery, design of your distillery, design of your products? How are your products different than all other products in their category? The opposite of specific is generic. If your messages are “We’re just some folks who want to make the best spirits we can” and “Here’s our three-year-old Bourbon,” then you’re not providing your visitors
with something worthy of their time and definitely not something that will fulfill their needs. Also, without a designed experience structure in place, hosting a visitor becomes just winging it. If you don’t have a plan in place, you’ll likely fall into the trap of deferring control to your guests; e.g., “What do you want to see?” and “What would you like to taste?” Structuring an experience ensures that your messages are communicated correctly and that the visitor engages correctly with your brand. Finally, have a plan for the value you want to achieve from each specific industry visitor or group. Potential values are described below with each industry visitor type.
INDUSTRY PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS “I had to stop going to auditions thinking, ‘Oh, I hope they like me.’ I had to go in thinking I was the answer to their problem.” — George Clooney PARADE MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 25, 2011
People who spend the time and effort to come visit you want something in return. Consumers generally want a great experience complete with educational and sensory components plus the opportunity to buy exclusive items from your gift shop. Each type of industry visitor will have unique needs that you can be their answer to. Rarely will those needs be spoken aloud; it’s up to you to either implicitly understand and then provide or to directly ask.
VIP PIECES One common emotional element is ‘VIP treatment.’ That is, what do your industry guests receive that average consumers do not? Fortunately, this is the easiest problem to solve. VIP treatment is simply something that other people do not receive. It’s easiest to think of as exclusive access: > > Access to people
> > Access to products
> > Access to places
>> Access to experiences
> > Access to knowledge
>> Access to time
The greater number of exclusive access components you can include in a VIP experience, the better. And most of these cost little to nothing. Consider even just adding ten minutes to the standard tour for a brief meet-and-greet with a significant figure off the regular tour path for a guided tasting of a product not generally available. This ticks every distillery-related VIP access box at once. When you provide this extra access, it’s not only okay but actively valuable to say, “Most visitors don’t get this.” For example, “Most visitors don’t get to meet our Master Distiller” or “We don’t normally take people into our yeast lab” or “Our standard tasting doesn’t include these two products.” That way you ensure that your VIP guests clearly understand they are being treated like the VIPs they see themselves to be.
HOSPITALITY HIGH FIVING Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages establishes the idea that there are five distinct ways people receive and understand a communication of appreciation: >> Quality time
> > Acts of service
> > Physical touch
>> Receiving gifts
> > Words of affirmation Different people value each of these more or less; helping people understand this difference is the foundation of Chapman’s work in improving relationships. For example, if one person in WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
a couple thinks their companion values gifts but they actually value time spent together, there will be unnecessary confusion and difficulty in communicating appreciation in the relationship. It’s unlikely that you or your staff will know the preferences of your visitors. But it doesn’t matter: instead of guessing, just provide all five for every important guest. (Actually, these are all valuable techniques to employ with every visitor but unfortunately they are difficult to scale.) If you can, maintain physical presence with and attention to your special guests from arrival to departure. Start and end each visit with a “thank you for coming” and a handshake (for those guests who accept it). Even if you have 55 people getting off a bus at your front door, make the effort to focus on each one with the thank you and the handshake. It really doesn’t take that long and it very easily sets you apart from other distilleries. Keep the time you and your staff have with these guests as quality as possible. This means no public cell phone checking and don’t disappear without a thank you and a good-bye. Be explicit in affirming your appreciation of the visit, even (especially!) when the visit feels like an imposition to you. Speak appreciation aloud — say “Thank you for choosing to spend your valuable time with us” and “We appreciate your attention to our brand” and “It’s been an honor to provide this tour for you today.” All of the VIP access components listed above will be received as acts of service. It’s fine to remind guests of them with something like “I hope you enjoyed the preview samples.” Parting gifts are a final and also easy piece. Depending on the type of guest, this might be a bottle, branded barware, or possibly even a pre-stamped postcard they can send back home or to a friend. It doesn’t have to be costly, or even something you expect the guest to keep, it just needs to be quality and delivered with sincerity. Avoid generic “trinket trash” gifts as they are common and won’t differentiate your brand.
THESE INDUSTRY TYPES There are effectively five categories of special guests. Each category will be arriving to you with different problems/values, but fortunately all visitors within the same category will have the same problems/values.
ACCOUNTS IN-HOUSE Like in many industries, beverage alcohol retailers are referred to as ‘accounts.’ Whether they are off-premise (liquor stores) or on-premise (bars and restaurants) or somewhere in-between (hotels), they all have a common need: sell as much alcohol as possible as easily as possible. Obviously, bigger buyers are better buyers. Placements in chains massively beat out placements in mom-and-pop shops. But naturally, competition for mind-share for big buyers is fiercer than for the smaller establishments. This creates the interesting situation where the high-volume spirits producers can afford
to have dedicated field reps for the chains but struggle to not ignore individual establishments. As a crafts spirits producer, it’s possible to gain disproportionate value from smaller accounts if you understand how they can create value for you. Achieving an ‘activation’ or placement in a new account is the most basic value metric for accounts. However, one bottle — or even one case — in a smaller account isn’t going to move the sales needle very much over time. An activation doesn’t automatically convert to repeat sales. What can generate higher sales comes through two methods: premium placement and employee recommendations. Premium placement for on-premise is primarily on the cocktail menu, or possibly a flight menu. For off-premise, the equivalent is placement near the registers or on an end cap or other call-out display. It’s absolutely fine to start a negotiation for a premium placement while you are hosting an account in-house if you open with how your product provides the answer to their problem. The primary value that you need to provide in return for a cocktail menu placement is unique, quality flavor at a low price. Big brands will typically also offer bar POS like mats, shakers, cocktail napkins, etc. Those are great tools for negotiating with owner and manager levels, but bartenders will respond better to just being respected as craftspeople. For them, your product needs to solve their problem of showcasing their skill and industry knowledge with a lesser-known product that they can build a unique cocktail from. For the liquor stores, it’s all about inventory turnover rate per square foot. Despite the explosion of spirits and other beverage alcohol brands, the footprint of independent liquor stores hasn’t grown. This means that, right now, in order for a store to add your product, they have to either take away a facing (visible placement) from another brand or remove someone else’s product from the shelf entirely. While there is some natural shelf space availability as limited-edition products sell out, select brands disappear and companies go out of business, the current rate of new product launches vastly exceeds this space creation. The perfect product for a liquor store is one that requires no effort to sell — a customer walks in, picks up a bottle and walks out. This can be achieved either because the customer is already familiar with the brand/product or because the package design and price point sell from the shelf. The next best is a product that is easy for employees to sell with minimal training; again, your products solves that problem by having an easily memorable brand identity and flavor message tightly integrated with the package design. Be wary of neglecting the flavor message, because no matter how cool and memorable your brand story, the potential customer is going to ask “How does it taste?” before they buy, so the employee needs to have a ready answer. Liquor stores are also more attracted to field-level promotions; if you have advertising, earned media, events, etc. in their marketplace, be sure to mention those. When dealing with the big accounts, be prepared to negotiate at a hardball level: know the value you can provide to them and
be ready to stack on it with POS, in-store appearances, etc. But with smaller accounts, being a partner with them can be the foundation of creating great mutual value.
OH, THOSE MIDDLEMEN A distribution company has effectively the same problem and/or value set as an account, only heightened. There’s more overhead with adding your products to their portfolio, so they also need to be confident that you’ll have enough product available and will still be in business in the foreseeable future. A visit to your distillery is an excellent way to assuage those fears. Additionally, a distribution company wants your product to sell itself; again the value is proving brand identity, flavor message, and marketplace awareness. Distributor reps have a slightly different value set. Most operate on a strong commission basis, but they have limited time with each of their accounts. The easier your product is to introduce and achieve a premium placement, the more likely a rep is going to suggest it. Incentives (where legal) are also valuable. Hosting distributor reps is a great way to build a relationship which if properly maintained can help you stay top-of-mind with them. Buyers for control states have wildly varying values. It’s a bureaucratic position so all of the usual bureaucracy complexities apply. The great thing about hosting a control state buyer is the opportunity to ask what they value — and then be able to provide it with your products. There’s nothing wrong with being blunt and just simply saying, “What do you want to see in a new spirit that would make you want to bring it into your state?” It’s amazing how rarely people get asked what they value and they almost always appreciate the consideration.
EARNING YOUR MEDIA All media outlets — be they spirits-specific, local, general or even podcasters, influencers and celebrities — need you to solve their problem of constantly providing new and engaging humaninterest content. The details of the content, including format, topic, depth, length, etc., are based on the individual outlet. And the more you do the work for them, the better. First, a media outlet needs the content format to match their category. Physical print and most online outlets need a few eye-catching photos and relatively short text. Audio formats (pretty much podcasts and radio) likely need longer-form audio, anywhere from five minutes to over an hour with a combination of conversation, on-location sounds and a bit of background noise; ideally you will map the background volume levels of the various areas of your property prior to their arrival and have a quiet space with dedicated availability during their visit. Video publishers need active visuals in well-lit areas and easy editing. Next, the outlet needs the topic to match their reach and audience’s interests. For example, a new limited-distribution spirit product launch is interesting to spirits media and local media, but not to general (wide-reach) media. A concert at your WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
distillery is only interesting to local media. A supernerdy dissertation on your grain sourcing and milling size is only of interest to enthusiast media — but it is interesting to them! “New” is always the easiest topic hook. New product launches, new equipment installs, new hires, new visitors centers openings, etc. grab attention easily. But the content needs to tell a succinct humaninterest story. So you’ve hired your first full-time distiller. Great for you! That’s a headline, but not a story. Build your story of what makes this hire so special for maximum likelihood of converting on a pitch. Events are also easy for media because they’re temporal. But events need hooks and human-interest content, too! “We’re having an event” is not interesting. Start with FOMO and incorporate all of the specifics attendees will experience. Media covering events in advance need to actually have some of those experiences; for example, if you’re hosting a special cocktail tasting, have those exact cocktails available for your media guests. Events are also a great opportunity to have media attend. Brand coverage is a harder pitch for non-category media but easier for category and enthusiast. “We love your magazine/podcast/Instagram account, would you like to come visit us and learn about our story?” actually works really well if you have a strong, clear story to tell. When you are communicating a potential story electronically, always send press releases, photos and videos in near-polished format; these will often be published verbatim. But when you’re hosting, the media producer will likely want to construct their own final content — so be sure to make it easy. Plan ahead for the best photo shoot opportunities and spend time developing your message to ensure it is clear and tight. Have sound bites rehearsed and at the ready. Finally, when a media visit is scheduled, ask them in advance how you can make their visit create the most value to them — hosts rarely ask, and they’ll be delighted to help you help them. All media producers want you to give them the VIP treatment but each type of producer has a very different expectation of how that plays out. Professional media want to be treated professionally — this means respecting their craft by providing just enough content for them to build the story themselves and respecting their time; be ready before they arrive so they’re not held waiting and always ask if they are on a time limit with you. Enthusiast media and influencers want to feel important — ensure all staff know who the visitors are, the outlet name and format, WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
what they cover and any specific topics they might prefer; the more of your staff who provide a personal welcome the better. Celebrities are a mixed bag; the lesser-known typically want to be made to feel important while the more famous usually want to be treated like regular consumers and not fawned over. Whenever possible offer a guided tasting. Earned media is an opportunity to raise brand and product awareness plus drive demand and even encourage consumer visits. Engaging with media across all potential value channels helps encourage repeat coverage. Plus, omitting offering at least a sample — even to producers who you know are familiar with your spirits — sends the subconscious message that you are not confident in your product. Like all other visitors, media create the most value for you when you are a partner creating value for them, in the way that they need it.
WITH REWARD COMES RISK A good experience which creates value for your industry guest can create great value for you. But the higher potential reward also carries a corresponding higher risk — a bad experience requires extra effort to both restore the relationship and correct the negative perception of your company. Industry folks who are turned off of your brand are hard to turn back on again. All distillery staff should be training in handling industry guests. Extend the best of hospitality to them and always put your best foot forward. Never lie about yourself or disparage a competitor. It’s tempting to impose a “Don’t talk to industry or media” edict to minimize the risk. Yet that can backfire if an employee tells a media guest that they can’t talk to them — it’ll look like your company is afraid, and has some secret you don’t want the guest to learn. Instead, ensure every employee is versed in your brand story and product flavor messages so anything they say is “on brand.” At a minimum, all hospitality staff should be aware of scheduled industry visits. When a camera crew arrives to cover your new still install, professional respect is undermined if someone asks them why they’re there. VIP guests with delicate egos can be affronted by a tour guide who blurts, “I’ve never heard of you.” Scheduling a daily staff briefing at the start of every shift can ensure expected guests are actually expected.
small batches. big selection. one clear choice.
THE VISIT ISN’T OVER WHEN IT’S OVER After you’ve said goodbye, the visit is over but the relationship isn’t. So follow up! If you have a field team, great — that’s what they’re paid to do. If not, someone in distillery needs to be tasked with this responsibility. Always thank your industry guests for coming and ask if the experience met their expectations. Further, ask if the visit met their needs and if there is anything else you can provide. It’s good to be specific here — does a bartender need a branded shaker, a media outlet need more photos, or a reviewer need additional samples? By being specific in your follow-up, you’re communicating that you paid attention to their values and have respect for them. Then if they do have a post-visit need, fulfill it quickly; interest wanes fast. Multiple follow-ups can be useful for maintaining the relationship. If you receive value as the outcome of an industry visit — new account activation, cocktail menu placement, story, etc. — do another follow-up thanking the visitor for their continued attention to and support of your brand and extend an invitation to visit again.
INDUSTRY VISITORS ARE IMPORTANT VISITORS
Ask for Ray or Claire on the Spirits Packaging Team 800-457-5657 email@example.com
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in multiple warehouse locations throughout North America.
custom bottle design and molds for your unique package.
over 100 years of expertise in the packaging industry.
By knowing what you want and what they want, an industry guest visit can generate strong mutual value. It is worth the time and effort to investigate and plan each industry visit to increase the likelihood the experience will convert to a positive outcome. Having a foundation of a strong brand identity, flavor messages and basic experience design plus staff training makes each individual industry visit easier to execute. But don’t rely on your standard tour as the industry visitor experience — that’s a waste of their time and drastically reduces the chances of your receiving strong value from their visit. Fundamentally, the industry visit is an opportunity for you to solve your visitor’s problem. Ideally, build the problem-solve that you are providing directly into the distillery visit experience to ensure that the value-creation message is received loud and clear, then follow-up to maintain the relationship.
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. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The Spirit of Survival A look at the evolution of yeast and its relationship with humans WRITTEN BY LUIS AYALA
eople who appreciate aged distillates, regardless of the spirits category, rarely stop to think about the evolutionary paths taken by nature in order to make their beverages possible. We rely on yeast’s “chemical warfare” prowess to produce ethanol, which we later infuse with tannins that were originally evolved by plants as a defense against predation. And while yeast evolved the ability to produce alcohol as a way to fend off bacteria and fungi, it is humans’ appreciation for ethanol that ultimately has ensured the largescale propagation and perpetuity of yeast, begging the question of “who serves who?”
The Water of Life It is widely accepted that life originated in water, in the form of simple microorganisms similar to modern-day algae. As the geography of the early planet changed and land surfaces became exposed, these early life forms were able to experiment with mutations and survival strategies aimed at exploiting the living conditions on dry land. Plants became homoiohydric, that is, they evolved vascular systems designed to transfer water from the root zone to the opposite extremes above ground.1 One of the earliest evolutionary adaptations was photosynthesis, or the ability to use the sun’s light energy to produce food from carbon dioxide and water molecules. Photosynthesis requires plants to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This ability, however, comes at a price, since the tissues available for CO2 to enter the plants also allow stored water to evaporate. To mitigate the evaporative water loss, plants evolved specialized cells that increased the impermeability of their outer membranes. But this ability to synthesize food was not a survival guarantee: plants also had to evolve ways to store the newlycreated food in order to cope with changing environmental conditions.
1 Sperry, J. S. (2003). "Evolution of Water Transport and Xylem Structure". International Journal of Plant Sciences. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Saving For A (Not) Rainy Day For plants, being able to store food resulted in increased growth opportunities, but growing required specialized structures able to support the additional weight while functioning as a vascular system for nutrient transportation. As plants got bigger, so did the competition for sun, but the rewards were worth it: taller plants could gather more sunlight (for photosynthesis) and the wind could spread their seeds farther away. The needed structural integrity came from the development of specialized xylem cells, which were more conductive (providing vascular efficiency) and more resistant to collapse. Lignified walls then led to Arborescence (plants growing in tree-like shapes), which involved secondary growth (vascular cambium). The first plants to develop secondary growth and a woody habit are thought to have been ferns, and as early as the Middle Devonian period, the Wattieza species had already reached heights of 26 feet (eight meters) and a tree-like habit.2 Early trees were free-sporing specimens, which later evolved into today’s main tree groups, known as gymnosperms, or seed-producing trees, a group that includes all coniferous and nut/fruit-producing trees, including our beloved white oak, used in the manufacture of most of today’s barrels. The evolutionary origin of white oaks was shrouded in mystery until a few years ago. There are approximately 125 species in the Americas and around 25 more in Eurasia, but little was known about their origin. According to research conducted by Andrew Hipp of The Morton Arboretum and Paul Manos and John McVay of Duke University,3 Eurasian white oaks arose from a North American ancestor that migrated to Europe, perhaps by way of the North Atlantic land bridge. The researchers used genomic data, fossil records and leading edge analytical methods to answer the question regarding the white oak’s mysterious origin. Plant life has evolved from simple single-cell organisms to complex flowering/seeding structures, some towering 100+ feet (30+ meters) from the ground. As they adapted to their environment, plants evolved offensive as well as defensive survival strategies. But plant predators also evolved their share of strategies, all aimed at perpetuating their forms of life. Today we are able to see specimens showcasing winning combinations of such stratagems, living testaments to nature’s adaptability and efficiency.
2 Stein, W.E.; Mannolini, F.; Hernick, L.V.; Landing, E.; Berry, C.M. (2007). "Giant cladoxylopsid trees resolve the enigma of the Earth's earliest forest stumps at Gilboa". Nature. 446 (7138): 904–7. 3 John D. McVay, Andrew L. Hipp, Paul S. Manos. A genetic legacy of introgression confounds phylogeny and biogeography in oaks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2017.
Bacteria, Virus, and Fungi According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “genomic surveys show that plant genomes lack gene sequences that are crucial in animal development, animal genomes lack gene sequences that are crucial in plant development, and fungal genomes have none of the sequences that are important in controlling multicellular development in animals or plants.” Such fundamental genetic differences imply that animals, plants, and fungi are indeed very different organisms today, but molecular analyses indicate that they diverged from a single ancestor almost one billion years ago. As plants evolved into more and more complex forms, so did the organisms that relied on those same plants as their source of food or as their hosts for reproduction.
BACTERIA Fossil evidence indicates that the first life forms were bacteria, more than likely in the form of extremophiles that can tolerate extremes of temperature, salt concentration, radiation, pH and other environmental factors. Such organisms are part of the division of life known as the Archae, specifically the archaebacteria. One type of bacteria that is definitely known to have been among the first to appear on earth is the cyanobacteria. Fossils of cyanobacteria have been uncovered that date back almost 4 billion years. These bacteria are suited to the low oxygen levels that were present in the planet's atmosphere at that time. The cyanobacteria produced oxygen as a waste gas of their metabolic processes and so helped to create an atmosphere containing a greater amount of oxygen. Other oxygen-requiring bacteria could then develop, along with additional life forms. There are other interesting bacteria that evolved abilities to ferment glucose into lactic or acetic acid; perhaps we will explore these in a future article.
VIRUSES In contrast to bacteria, scientists debate if viruses are even alive, since they are not capable of their own reproduction. Instead, they require the presence of a host in which they can introduce their genetic material. Through the formation of products encoded by the viral genetic material and by the use of aspects of the host's replication machinery, viruses are able to direct the manufacture and assembly of components to produce new viruses. Scientists are in general agreement that the first virus was a fragment of DNA or ribonucleic acid (RNA) from
an eventual prokaryotic or eukaryotic host. The genetic fragment somehow was incorporated into a eukaryote and became replicated along with the host's genetic material. Different viruses developed over time, each designed to take advantage of the new bacteria and eukaryotic cells that were evolving. In other words, as bacteria increased in diversity and complexity, new viruses evolved to be able to utilize the bacteria as a replication factory. Similarly, as more complex eukaryotic life forms appeared, such as plants, insects, birds, and mammals, viruses evolved that were capable of utilizing them as well.
FUNGI AND YEAST Fungi are organisms that are neither plants nor animals, but which exhibit some traits of both. Fungi cannot produce their own food (they do not have chlorophyll) so they rely on absorbing nutrients from usually dead plants and animals. Yeast are a species of single-celled fungi that achieved notoriety for their ability to ferment sugars, but more about this later on
The Best Defense Is A Good Offense As you have seen, competition among plant species led to adaptation and resulted in different strategies for survival: some growing taller, others growing waxy coatings, etc. Many plants and trees, including white oaks, developed bitter-tasting tannins, which they use to defend against insect herbivores by deterrence and/or toxicity. The production of tannins as a strategy for survival has been so successful that they are the most abundant secondary metabolites made by plants.4 Yeast also evolved chemical warfare mechanisms to keep microbes and bacteria from consuming all the nutrients around them. Scientists believe that fermentation was the yeast’s survival strategy, aimed at inoculating their surroundings by killing competing bacteria and fungi through contact with ethanol (yeast’s tolerance to ethanol evolved alongside its ability to produce it). Unsurprisingly, nature continues to evolve. Some changes go unnoticed while others have almost immediate consequences. Perhaps the most graphic of these evolutions happens in the world of bacteria and viruses, where some bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics (by producing enzymes that neutralize the antibiotics) and where strains of the flu virus mutate into new forms, sometimes from one year to the next.
4 Barbehenn RV, Peter Constabel C. "Tannins in plant-herbivore interactions". Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The Human Factor So much has already been published in previous issues of Artisan Spirit about the history of fermentation and distillation that I won’t bother repeating it. Suffice it to say that humans love fermented and distilled beverages. But something interesting happened as early craftsmen looked for ways to store and transport those beverages in oak barrels: the tannins from the wood were extracted into the alcohol and, after sufficient resting time, they became softer and mellower. The same tannins that plants evolved as deterrents against predators turned out to be appealing to our palates, but only after being oxidized (reduced, if you are a chemist) during aging inside the barrels. Humans are the only animals known to willingly consume foods or substances that cause them irritation, discomfort, even pain. Proposed theories explaining “why?” range from thrill-seeking behaviors to an evolutionary adaptation for seeking foods that reduce pathogens. One of the explanations is known as the Drunken Monkey Theory, and it suggests that our attraction to alcohol evolved from a powerful sensory bias associating it with nutritional reward: our ancestral primates evolved as fruit eaters in tropical rainforests, environments where yeasts abound and where fermentation is fast because of the warm and moist climate. While the ripe fruit may be hard to find visually, the smell of fermenting fruit can lead us more efficiently to it. Alcohol also stimulates feeding, just as it does in modern humans via the aperitif effect.
Conclusion Humanity today relies on yeast to produce industrial and food-grade ethanol at an unprecedented scale. This dependence has ensured our protection and perpetuation of the yeast species needed for the fermentation. Our reliance on white oak trees for barrels has also led to reforesting activities aimed at preserving these special trees long into the future. As evolutionary survival strategies go, fending off microbes and insects, while stimulating humans into becoming their benefactors and protectors is definitely a winning combination!
Luis Ayala is an international rum consultant and broker of specialty aged rums. He is founder of The Rum University, Rum Central and Got Rum? magazine. Visit www.gotrum. com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
BOURBON from the POT
WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
Not better or worse, just very different.
ike all of life’s great questions, the answer to whether or not better bourbon comes off of a pot or a column still is not black and white. “I think a pot still certainly gives a distiller a lot more latitude and control over what comes out — and you can make a very bad whiskey on a pot still if you want, so I would never say that pot stills make better whiskey,” explained Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Kings County Distillery in New York City. “But I think that a pot still in the hands of a great distiller can yield better results than a column still for the same distiller.” This is a statement that a lot of industry professionals can agree with, to some degree. The creative control afforded a distiller producing on a pot still is greater than that given to someone distilling on a column. This has to do with the design and functionality inherent to both stills.
There are three primary objectives for a distiller working with a pot still:
A) Remove and collect all of the alcohol present in the distiller’s beer
B) Collect the congeners necessary for flavor and avoid the accumulation of too many undesirable congeners that could have unpleasant effects on the distillate
C) Raise the strength of the distillate to at least 60% ABV, or that which is required for maturation These three objectives are not achievable in one distillation on a simple pot-still system, since the still’s power of rectification is too low. To
account for this, whiskey distilled on a pot is usually done in two or three stages, often with two separate stills, which is why this type of distillation is referred to as ‘batch.’ Distillers using a pot still system will run their distiller’s beer through the beer still first before transferring it into a spirits still. The liquid that comes off the second still does so in three parts, often called the heads, hearts, and tails. The most volatile congeners to come out of a distillation, the heads, do so in the first 10 to 30 minutes. Distillers using a pot are able to decide when to start collecting the spirit that has their desired flavor at the cut point. Over the next few hours, this section of the run, usually referred to as the hearts or the center cut, is collected in a separate receptacle. Eventually the liquid coming off the still becomes too full of heavy congeners and a second cut is made. This is when the tails or the feints are collected and they can run off for a period of time that’s as long as or longer than the heart’s run. The tails (and sometimes heads) are recycled through the still once more. The hearts cut usually has a final alcohol content between 63% and 73% ABV. A distiller’s choice of when to make their cuts is important both to the final flavor of the distillate and to the distiller themselves. Individual congeners behave differently based on their volatilities, which change as the temperature and alcohol content of the liquid from which they’re being distilled changes. Even a minor shift in the timing of the cuts can have a significant impact on the number of congeners present in the spirit. For instance, the high volatility congener acetaldehyde would be collected in greater amounts in the final spirit if the heads cut was WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
made just a bit too soon. Studies have linked the continued consumption of acetaldehyde to the development of certain cancers, and from a flavor perspective you’d be left with a distillate that tastes sharp and chemical-like, with a thinner body and less sumptuous mouthfeel. The same is true if the cut is too late when transitioning from hearts to tails, but this would apply to low volatility congeners, like propanol. Additionally, extending the first run past its normal end point can also introduce more low volatility congeners, as more will be present in the recycled liquid for the second run. This process is both fascinating and arduous, which is why distillers 200 years ago realized that there could be a more efficient way of doing things. The advent of the column still not only increased rectification markedly, but it also encouraged the growth of a new type of lighter spirit, including blended whiskies, blended brandies, and blended rums, and those that depend on a neutral base, like vodka and gin. This changed the distilling industry entirely. Column stills can run continuously for days at a time, significantly increasing rectification and the removal of congeners, but that removal isn’t very discerning, meaning congeners that both aid and WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The vast majority of juice coming out of Kentucky is made on a column still, which has made the pot stills used by craft producers seem almost quaint and unusual in comparison, though that style of distillation is certainly much older and more traditional. hinder the development of good flavors will be removed. Column distillation is also much more cost effective, making the most of both raw materials and labor costs. Since the column’s invention, its presence has grown to become the norm in bourbon distillation. The vast majority of juice coming out of Kentucky is made on a column still, which has made the pot stills used by craft producers seem almost quaint and unusual in comparison, though that style of distillation is certainly much older and more traditional.
“I go all the way back to even before starting a business when I was distilling as a hobbyist,” said Spoelman of his choice of still. “That experience of
doing something in a very small scale has been guiding the distillery since we have scaled up, and now we’re using a 1,350-gallon pot still, but it’s still a pot still and it’s still the same recipe that I was using when I was using an 8-gallon pot still and a 26-gallon pot still and a 300-gallon.” When Spoelman decided to start his own distillery, one focusing on the production of bourbon, he knew he wouldn’t feel pressured to play by the rules. “Because I’m not trying to execute a Kentucky bourbon or even a Northeastern style rye whiskey, we kind of can pick and choose from all these different distilling cultures that are available.” He was influenced by his bourbon roots, but he also took direction from Scotch producers. Though they have recently welcomed a new submarine-style pot still from Vendome into the family, the first stills they used
were gleaming Forsyths without any kind of additional rectification fittings. They even took a crack at doing an American single malt — before it had become a staple in the craft scene — that involved a peated Scottish malt. A happy accident saw some of that peated malt added to their bourbon mash, and the awardwinning peated bourbon was born. Another decision reminiscent of the Scottish was the inclusion of a dedicated blender on their staff. The position started with Nicole Austin, who is currently the general manager at George Dickel, and is now held by Ryan Ciuchta. It’s not a role that many American distilleries have embraced, but Spoelman understands the importance of it, especially in relationship to their pot distilled bourbon, which can often be more inconsistent. “When you look at the hierarchy of the distillery, he really is the head of production,” said Spoelman, who is still the executive distiller. “Roxy [Igolen] is the person who is the head
distiller who’s running the stills, but she kind of feeds into Ryan, and Ryan says we need this much bourbon, this much peated bourbon, and this much mashbill.” Kings County has a varied lineup, including a moonshine and a chocolate whiskey, but the spirit that seems closest to Spoelman’s heart is their bourbon, which is made from corn and barley but doesn’t feature a flavor grain like rye or wheat. While speaking with Spoelman, you immediately get the sense that he has given this question of pot versus column a fair bit of thought. His passion for spirits is evident, and so is his belief in the use of pot stills for distillation. “I do think that part of what makes Scotch whisky so enduring and part of the romance and mythology of Scotch whisky does derive from the pot still,” he said. Scotland has taken steps to preserve that mythology, including a classification system that underscores the differences between pot- and column distilled product. Single malt Scotch whisky must
be made from malted barley using pot stills at a single distillery, then aged at least three years. A blended Scotch is comprised of a mixture of malt and grain whiskies, the latter which are usually distilled on a column. When asked if he could ever see a similar system being instituted in the United States, Spoelman laughed. “I feel like it is an area where there is a lot of permissible misrepresentation and I’m so accustomed to it at this point that the idea of something that says pot still being made on a pot still kind of seems unachievable,” he said. “And I think, at the end of the day, when you make a good product and you tell the truth and you understand why your product is good, to some extent, that it’s still my contention that that lands with people.” It’s true that consumers have never been more interested in the background of the spirits they drink and yet understanding the role of the still type in production continues to elude many outside of
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the industry. Explaining the difference between pot and column stills to the uninitiated tends to result in glazed-over eyes and slack expressions. If you haven’t done the work yourself, it’s hard to know the complexities of working a still. This doesn’t always help distillers at smaller outfits. There are many factors related to batch distillation that ultimately affect the flavor and body of a spirit, and its price on the shelf. Perhaps one of the ways that a distiller using a pot can make the differences between their products and those made on columns clearer is to frame the conversation in terms of age. It’s already one of the most, if not the most, typically asked questions by potential consumers, though in the past it has often worked against the craft industry. To a lot of people, more age automatically equals better quality, but what if that mindset could be shifted to create a more inclusive idea of spirits? “I don’t think that the age thing will ever go away, but the idea of a four-year
Judging by the way that craft products have been embraced over the past few decades, it’s clear that people appreciate what comes off the pot, even if they don’t always understand what’s different about it. compared to [another] four-year and an eight-year compared to [another] eightyear, that’s a thing that I think people will become a lot more invested in,” said Spoelman. “For a long time, it’s been, ‘Oh, I’m comparing two-year-old craft bourbon to my favorite non-age 11-yearold bourbon out of Kentucky,’ and that’s not exactly a fair comparison.” As craftmade products begin to age out of the two-year phase and into four-plus years, consumers will have the opportunity to look at a pot- and column-distilled whiskey of equal maturation and make decisions about the quality that are better informed.
Pot and column stills each have a distinct place in the American market. Judging by the way that craft products have been embraced over the past few decades, it’s clear that people appreciate what comes off the pot, even if they don’t always understand what’s different about it. In the case of bourbon, more education and understanding into the distinction between the two can only help in the long term.
Colin Spoelman is co-founder and head distiller at Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, New York. For more information visit www.kingscountydistillery.com.
HISTORY and HORIZONS
WRITTEN BY JIM MCCOY
REVIEWING the PAST and LOOKING to the FUTURE of TTB CONTROL
n the not so distant past, the distillery was operated under a system of controls that included assigned government officers, “gaugers” or “storekeeper-gaugers,” and in the late 1970s, “inspectors” who had as a principal duty the “supervision” of the distilled spirits plant (DSP) to which they were assigned I had the privilege to be an inspector assigned to “on premise” duty at distilleries from 1978 until 1981, when all supervision was removed from distilleries. Just imagine that your daily operations awaited the presence of the government officer, who had to unlock warehouses, tanks, and transfer pipelines to enable the DSP proprietor to conduct daily operations. Gauging of spirits was subject to matching the government officer’s tax determination gauge, which established the amount of tax to be accounted for when a lot of spirits were transferred into processing and bottling operations. Transfers in bond required a system of forms submitted to the officer, who would sign to certify the transfer and send copies of the forms to the officer at the receiving plant, as well as to the regional office for matching and filing. The tax return and a check were handed to the assigned officer twice monthly. Essentially, nothing at the DSP was done without the observation and approval of the assigned government officer. Can you, the modern distiller, imagine dealing with such a level of control? Going back over 90 years ago — prior to Prohibition, at industrial alcohol plants during prohibition, and at all plants afterward — government officers were assigned to each DSP, this practice ending with full implementation of the Distilled Spirits Tax Revision Act of 1979, or “All-In-Bond” as we knew it then. At that time, with about 200 DSPs operating in the US, the government carried about 200 staff years of personnel to supervise DSP operations. Today, with more than 3,000 authorized beverage DSP premises, it would require at least as many government officers to maintain that level of control. Today’s distiller enjoys the freedom of operating without this direct over-the-shoulder presence of government officers, yet the modern DSP is responsible for compliance with nearly the same level of complex rules. The craft beverage distillery today is benefited by a reduced rate
Just imagine that your daily operations awaited the presence of the government officer, who had to unlock warehouses, tanks, and transfer pipelines to enable the DSP proprietor to conduct daily operations. of tax (hopefully the temporary reduction will be extended or made permanent), operates without providing a government bond, and files tax returns less frequently, although reporting has remained nearly the same as before 1979. Where will the winds of regulatory change carry the industry as we move forward? We could look at what is required for a DSP operator to submit to the government in respect to establishment and operations and suggest things that one may consider to be of little use or need for the government to maintain effective controls and accountability for distilled spirits. Anyone see a real need for filing requests to authorize receipt of spirits in bond, when many plants no longer have a bond? Anyone find a real need for the government to require lists of tanks and equipment used in spirits operations? You may think of another government rule that’s your “pet peeve,” something that you wonder why it still exists. What about three monthly reports for operations, when a winery and brewery have a single consolidated report form and they can file it quarterly? The last government initiative to reduce reporting ended with no change in 2012. We can all agree, I am certain, that the government does need information, controls, and consistent requirements for accountability for the taxable commodities they regulate and for which they are accountable with respect to ensuring accurate taxation. The government needs to have available documentation of and adherence to established product standards to protect the public’s interest. Looking forward, the regulated industry might help the government improve and streamline its controls and ensure the agency’s efficiency by identifying regulations that may be
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Looking forward, the regulated industry might help the government improve and streamline its controls and ensure the agency’s efficiency by identifying regulations that may be archaic, unnecessary, or simply no longer serve a purpose. archaic, unnecessary, or simply no longer serve a purpose. The horizon for today’s distillery, in partnership with the agencies that regulate its business activity, could include growth and positive changes in regulatory detail, enabling the agency to keep its focus on primary mission goals while enabling the DSP proprietor to efficiently operate and be a successful business enterprise. To quote one of the last of those gaugers whom I worked with, our job was to “provide maximum protection to the government revenue, with a minimum of interference with the DSP proprietor.” I think that holds true today, under the principle that the government agency and the business being regulated should stand in partnership, respecting each other’s position and need to be effective and efficient. Industry regulation is a shared trust. The horizon in sight for the DSP operator may include greater flexibility as the government continues to re-evaluate its rules and adapt to a growing and innovative industry. Regulators face an eternal challenge in that the laws and regulations dictate to them what they are required to do and to enforce, yet the rulemaking process is cumbersome and takes time to make needed changes. Any new law carries with it the need to figure out how it fits in the existing scheme, and sometimes a change in the law can have a significant impact that takes time to incorporate into operations affected by it. As always, laws, regulations, and related published guidance are the official “word” on what the rules are and how the government expects operations, procedures, and records to be conducted and maintained. In closing, I offer respect to the memory of Mr. John Manfreda, TTB Administrator, who recently passed. His legacy was of a dedicated public servant, one of the many fine people I had always looked up to when serving in ATF and TTB. While not having a personal relationship with him, I felt the widespread respect and friendship many of my former government colleagues and friends had for Mr. Manfreda. He will be missed.
Jim McCoy operates J. McCoy Alcohol & Tobacco Compliance Consultants LLC, and since 2010 has assisted alcohol and tobacco businesses in their efforts to meet Federal regulatory and tax requirements. For more information email Jim at jmccoy@ jmccoyconsultants.com. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
SCIENTIFIC THINKING & SENSORY BIASES WRITTEN BY GARY SPEDDING, PH.D.
This article represents one of two standalone pieces derived from an understanding of the scientific process as gleaned from a book, Scientifically
Thinking â€” How to Liberate Your Mind, Solve the Worldâ€™s Problems, and Embrace the Beauty of Science, written by Dr. Stanley A. Rice. This part describes the process of scientific thinking in relation to many biases we need to overcome in order to run appropriate sensory evaluations on spirits and other foods and beverages. The other part covers the actual process of scientific thinking and application to resolving problems and dealing effectively with scientific analyses and projects.
LET'S MOVE TOWARDS A BETTER SCIENCE OF EVALUATION
unning sensory evaluation programs or even spirits competitions is never easy. There are many biases involved. This article is a portion of a larger critique of scientific thinking based on a new book which is fascinating to read in its own right. Scientifically Thinking discussed biases in general and how we make things up as we go, as well as addressing projects and evaluations scientifically. 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. This is especially relevant to a topic dear to me — the sensory evaluation of, and competition results relating to, alcoholic beverages. From the accolades on the back page of Rice’s book, “Our minds have evolved to take shortcuts.” That simple statement speaks volumes, and to truly understand the full impact of it requires a complete reading of this book and more scientific and general works in science, psychology, and many other health and science-related disciplines. So back to it. And indeed, again to the back of the book and the comments made by Marc Zimmer. “Our brains simplify big data, look for linear trends (and patterns) and make up things to fill in gaps in that information.”1 Another useful book to read here, with fascinating and bizarre stories on our interpretation of the world that gels with such a comment as that of Zimmer is by E. Sternberg.2 From reading the works of Rice and Sternberg, we learn that we end up making mental shortcuts and that the brain needs to fill in the details to make up coherent pictures from mere snippets of information. This leads to biases, incorrect memory recall of events, strange stories of things that we felt happened but did not, and other misconceptions. In sensory evaluation, due to sensory overload (very simplified definition here) we are often confused and biased in our interpretations of flavor and aroma. Rice tells us that to
overcome the biases we are faced with we need to think scientifically. Sensory evaluation books and papers, of which there are many, also discuss different biases and best practice approaches.3-8 In the case of sensory evaluation, after sniffing into the glass we use vocabulary and mental dissection to dig deeper and reveal more. As discussed in an earlier article in Artisan Spirit, we can realistically and cleanly identify only three or four components in a complex mixture.³ Yet we derive or evaluate more terms based on memory-joggers such as flavor wheels, or having committed to memory many vocabulary terms, to enable us to “sniff-out” more in the competition samples or sensory panel evaluation session. This can set apart novices from expert spirits tasters for example. We might think here of the causation of color in our whiskey of choice — we have a good idea as to where the color comes from, and it’s been proven, but looking at the color does not necessarily correlate well (if at all) with the flavor of the whiskey. We need to understand the issue and avoid our inherent biases. Hopefully, you might be getting the picture as to why this all matters. We will discuss the biases that affect our comparative evaluation of a flight of spirits later. For now, though, another interesting point here for us as spirits producers or evaluators to note is that we are being overloaded with information when evaluating the complexity of over 1,000 components in our favorite tipple. The easiest thing for our overloaded brains to do is pay attention only to the information that agrees with what we already believe.¹ We are more biased than we think we are, and we also need to consider motivations when judging products we think we should know well. For sensory evaluation and training, a control spirit sample is of course needed. If the spirit is spiked with a known amount of a desired training compound, any dilution involved must be accounted for in the control (bottle or glass) with respect to the
volume or mass of the added solid or, more usually, liquid (solubilized compound) used. Sometimes a knowledge of the concentration of the spike compound that is already naturally present in the control sample needs to be known when working out threshold values from the test subject sample (another complex subtopic for sensory evaluation — see more on this later). If a flavor attribute is mixed into a carbonated beverage this will likely cause a loss of carbon dioxide (or allow in oxygen and initiate oxidation reactions). A control bottle sample should be treated the same way — opened, closed and stirred after adding a compensating amount of spike-free liquid of the same composition as used for the solubilized spike note. Samples for competitive evaluation also need to be treated in the same way as much as possible. Again, the message — think controls!
IF YOU ARE BIASED AND YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR HANDS A final topic for consideration today is human bias and how this allows us to make false claims or to readily accept the claims of others when we should not. Or to think we are competent at assessing a series of highly alcoholic and flavored spirits and awarding medals or accolades that might not be totally justified. And why careful set up of sensory panel tests and competition flights, and maximizing the number of panelists and judges, might just make a difference. (Though this is a set of projects/hypotheses we really need to put to the test — perhaps some hints for projects and the understanding that much more research is needed here!) We all cut corners (knowingly, but more often unknowingly) and reach conclusions when data we receive do not justify them. Many of these errors result because of bias — we see what we hope or expect to see rather than what is there and for other reasons of invalidity.1,2 The mind, via all our senses, is often misled and can be tricked
into the interpretation of us having seen, heard and smelled/tasted or touched/felt things that are not there. The human mind looks for patterns or objects in the world and if it does not find them it imagines them or fills in missing gaps to make a coherent story, trying to make sense out of bits and bytes of information.1,2 The remainder of this article will try to cover briefly some of the biases we see at work and which influence science, our hypotheses and conclusions, and sensory evaluations. The biases we cover are general, and a reading of sensory textbooks and papers should be consulted by those running sensory evaluations, training others, or setting up food and beverage competitions for them to better understand specific biases which impinge upon this arena.4-8 The discrepancy between the way the world is and the way the human mind perceives it is what we term bias. Rice quotes research in the medical field that states over 230 kinds of bias¹ and discusses a few of them in a bit of detail. The crux of all this, however, is that we all create a world of illusion. Our brains interpret the world — there is no color out there and the taste and aroma you detect does not live in the thing you are looking at, inhaling or chewing on. Color and sounds and flavor are created in the brain and we all perceive things in a slightly or even grossly different way depending upon the state of our sensory apparatus — our acuities. Try explaining to your colleagues exactly what it is you smell or taste! In the same way as there is color blindness there is aroma/flavor blindness, under the grand title of anosmia. (Anosmia — the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial.) Some people cannot detect any quantity of certain compounds, others having varying degrees of sensitivities. We are all different in our overall abilities to assess hundreds if not thousands of volatile chemical compounds. At a judging table we are not all on the same page! To condense what we know: “Human senses cannot be trusted as scientifically valid measuring devices.”¹ We are limited by sensory fatigue and our own sensory acuities. Our senses evolved to a point of
usefulness, but the brain/nervous system are also built to avoid sensory overload. We are not as sensitive to global environmental information as we are to changes in environmental information.1,4 Sensory adaptation thus is a decrease in sensitivity to a given stimulus which occurs as a result of exposure to that stimulus. Note that this is not a change in the stimulus intensity but a decrease in the sensory response to it. This means that in evaluating a flight of beverages we can become fatigued or adapt to a persistent sensory cue and then forget about it. The global spirit qualities fade into the background and we have to actively address this, recalibrate our sense of smell, allow for refreshing the sensory organs and actively seeking out the same and different flavors (new information), between different samples in a flight. We can seek changes in the release of the volatiles in various ways, such as holding and warming the glass, swirling the sample, short sniffs, long sniffs, diluting the spirit, etc. To sum up here, adaptation to aroma and touch can be complete which means that, for sensory evaluation of spirits etc., the phenomenon of adaptation can be problematic; if not controlled for, it will impact the validity of data collected from assessors or written on competition score cards.4 Some of this was discussed in a previous article³ which was a quick review of the sensory scientific literature (see also references 4-6 for much more on the impact of adaptation in sensory evaluation). Remember that the brain is assessing that glass of whiskey using all the sensory information it receives and can process and must bring to bear different processed bits of information via all the senses to build up a “true” or an “interpreted whole” picture of it. And one example of a spirit — the first in a flight or your first ever experience of sipping a fine brandy — is not representative of them all. Your bias begins with the picture of that first few sips of the day. You also bring expectations and motivations to the table and many biases “color your view” of that first sample, so to speak, and its competitor
samples thereafter. Not to mention the subtle and sometimes not so subtle ums, ah’s and grunts of those sitting with you or even at the next judging table. It is not easy to measure the variability between the samples — the myriad flavor notes — and, while Rice would argue that we need scientific instruments to measure correctly most things in the world, we as measuring devices are different from mechanical instruments. We must remember that, for food and beverages, instrumental evaluation (including electronic noses and tongues) and measurements of all the variables and variances in a beverage will not tell us if the products taste good to great, are barely acceptable or are bloody awful. That means you and your judging colleagues have a tremendous responsibility to try to get it right. You alone as a critic likely cannot and even if you could, the fellow or gal sitting next to you, or sipping the reviewed sample you have evaluated, might just have a totally different experience and opinion of it. We are way outside the realm of statistics now. More work and research needed here for sure. We have seen reports by several distillers of alternative methods of spirits production that show similar gas chromatographic and liquid chromatographic data for standard production and novel production methods, which illustrate almost identical flavor component profiles. With the subsequent claims made that this proves their point of success in the new ways forward. But remember it is what is interpreted in the brains of consumers and judges that really matters here. The more judges there are in a competition flight the better to smooth out the data, so to speak. Some mathematical relevance or integrity comes to bear on judge scores and their averages, but it can never be as scientifically rigorous as we would like it to be. We are human after all and the brain must build the best picture it can, however flawed that might be. The brain evolved to enable us to survive and get us safely to the table on time for acceptable non-toxic food,1, 2 not to lead us to sensory mastery! The emphasis is more on how we describe the samples to our fellows and how we sway WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
each other if we are not close in agreement to the numerical value needed or expected to pass the entry forward as a winner or to reject it (see below). Consensus with minimized bias? For sensory training, though, we can use statistics when determining thresholds of compounds. A threshold value is a value below which something does not matter and conversely a value that must be exceeded in order to make something happen. In sensory evaluation there are several different thresholds but the one that concerns us most here is the detection threshold. This, for example, is a value for ethyl acetate at which a certain population (usually trained subjects) should detect it and be able to identify its presence in the spirit. With training this may allow the taster (assuming we do not find them incapable of detecting a specific compound) to not only identify it in the glass but roughly estimate its concentration and be able to say if there are differences between two or more samples and if that matters or not. Then it is onto the next searched for attribute with a knowledge of the basic composition of the spirit style/type in mind and memory. [Note: an individual’s numerical sensory threshold value for compounds upon which they have trained are not as reliable as statistically tested group thresholds, but that is a topic for another day.] Judges and panelists, after mulling over the samples alone, can then compare notes and come to some decisions as to quality, go/no-go release of product qualifications or medal worthiness, etc. To do so really requires the evaluation of a product you typically consider as uniform, but instead you must seek its diversity — its subtlest of quality differences. We do so in order to decide if a two-month-old matured spirit is as good as a traditional aged spirit, matured over years or even decades, or if the whiskey at the beginning, middle, or end of the flight or anywhere else in the line-up is the gold, silver or bronze medal winner — most exemplary of the style and award level. The order of tasting is also a big bias situation as discussed further below and elsewhere.³ So, WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
let’s finish with some bias here. My choice of the biases to cover below is itself a bias based on what I think I should cover, what I think I know and what I think you might like or need to know. You read this far, so why not? The first thing to say here is that when we know about biases we can take active measures to side-step them or to avoid falling into certain traps. Note that there is considerable cross-play between the categories noted below and therefore also some redundancy.
PARTICIPANT BIAS This affects the reliability of the information provided by the participants in the experiment, study, or activity. Maybe you do not prefer a sub-style of whiskey you are assigned to judge or evaluate — are you a little miffed and thereby do not give your full attention to the judging? Are you under the weather — suffering from a cold and cannot adequately assess the spirits? Are you biased against rapid maturation of spirits? If you suspect such an entry in a flight can you be objective? A taster or judge may have had a particularly bad experience with an associated odor/flavor. Such a flavor note, if present in a sample (or suddenly present in the room) may elicit the bad memory and cause them to reject a spirit based upon its detection, even if it is perfectly in accord with specifications for the beverage as understood from style guidelines or by other members of the panel. If the aroma is emanating from another sample, then even a whiskey without the component present could be the one rejected. Intimate connections exist between language, olfactory, and emotional centers in the brain; memory, expectation, motivation, mood and preference all play variable roles for any taster. Panel members and judges should be made aware of such influences, so they can attempt to guard against them.5
EXPERIMENTER BIAS,1 SET-UP BIAS I will also term this panel leader or competition organizer bias and evaluator bias for the purposes of this article. This also
impinges on other biases. The order of presentation of samples induces bias. Those who present the samples to the evaluators and how those samples are presented can make a big difference in assessments. The first sample in a flight is likely to be judged a little higher or lower than it would be if evaluated later in the flight. A judge could be reluctant to award a high score to the first sample for fear that a better sample might exist and would thereby need a very high and, therefore, unrealistic score. A low number of entries for certain styles or categories (with different stylistic flavor profiles) entered in a competition might be lumped together, which would induce bias. This was discussed in relation to flavored whiskies, including super hot chilispiced examples in a flight.³ This induces bias and fatigue issues. There are proximity and distal effects. Samples should be presented appropriately and with judges at a table judging the set ideally in a different sequence order (see Sequence Error Bias). Each subsequent set of spirits samples should be different in some way, if possible — different subcategory or even style of spirit. This can help sustain panel interest while also minimizing sensory fatigue and boredom.5 Many more than six judges at a table should be considered. Sessions should be limited in number of samples presented at one time and many small judgings done here. To spit or not to spit: that is also, as it is for wine tasters, an important question. This deals with spirit expectoration. This impacts the duration and characteristics of the after-smell (retronasal taste/flavor perception) with modification to the routine and thereby affecting evaluation.3,5 Small sips and swallowings should be encouraged, and judges might come to a consensus on the evaluation process at their table; more research is needed here.5 Many works on sensory issues should be considered to build up a good knowledge base of the problems involved in sensory evaluation (see references 4-8 and further research available upon request). The more knowledge of such matters by both panel moderator/judge coordinator and evaluators the better.
TIMING/HYGIENE BIAS I add this here though it’s a feature of the other topics and the terms are not listed as biases as such in the literature. Late morning tastings are considered better as people are supposedly at peak alertness. Saliva production varies at different times of the day and people have different pH saliva — conditions which impact evaluation of beverages and food.³ How recently has someone cleaned teeth or used mouthwash, eaten a meal, washed hands with odorant-laden soap etc? Toothpastes and mouthwashes contain many flavorful and other compounds that may disrupt olfactory and gustatory sensations.5 Some mouthwash products and medications are even known to completely deaden the sense of taste (bitterness or other taste sensations) for many hours or maybe permanently. In the case of toothpaste use, an hour is usually considered acceptable to avoid their related sensory distortions.5 The issue of timing for an evaluation session following meals is also covered elsewhere.5 All these factors need to be covered/considered by judge organizers, sensory panel leaders, and sensory panelists and judges. If they are, then the sensory evaluation relevance for spirits tastings will improve and become more in line with wine tasting and beer evaluations. Although many of these are by no means perfect.
MARKETING BIAS As this is not a marketing article, I leave this one open and for the reader to pursue other articles on the topic (Ref 1 and references contained therein). Though it may clearly be very important in the distillery operations, approaches to consumers, and in product development. The book Neurologic by Sternberg² covers some interesting facets of marketing and bias, delusion, and hypnotic influence.
SEQUENCE ERROR BIAS (SUBCATEGORIZED WITH POSITIONAL BIAS) A distortion of perception based on the order in which samples are presented. Example if all tasters sample the spirits in the same order (see also under the Experimenter bias heading). As also noted in the text, the first in a series of whiskeys is often ranked more highly than would be expected by chance. Such errors are physiologically-based and result from taste adaptation. A spirit tasted after a faulty sample might be perceived as better than it would had it followed a faultless spirit (this is known as contrast error). Consider also the issue if there are different levels of alcohol between samples — alcohol/ water solvent concentrations have a huge impact on flavor release and therefore perception.4,5 The effect of sequence errors may be partially avoided/alleviated by
allowing enough time (e.g., two minutes) between samplings and adequate palate cleansing, but much more research is still needed here. Presenting samples to each taster/judge in a different sequence is the simplest means of avoiding group-generated sequence errors. But this, too, requires careful thought as to the number of samples presented and the number of evaluators, along with randomization and potential sequences of samples. This topic is covered in depth by the wine scientist Ronald Jackson.5 Sensory panel leaders and especially competition judges should study this topic carefully to improve the significance of awards made to distillers. Or at the very least be aware of it.
SUMMARY The science of the sensory evaluation of spirits is still in its infancy, especially in the US. It lags far behind beer and wine evaluation science. Hopefully this short article, with its scientific method approach and discussion of bias in our lives, will be useful to all involved in evaluating food and beverages and making choice quality decisions. Sensory evaluation is a complex topic but fun and exciting if done correctly. Maybe this article and a reading of Rice’s book will then whet the appetite to explore the depths of the sensory world of spirits — 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.
Spedding, G. (2018). New Understanding of Human Sensory Perception: Potential for More Robust Sensory Evaluation of Distilled Spirits. Artisan Spirit, 22 (Spring); 78-85.
Hort, J., Kemp, S. E. and Hollowood, T. (2017). Time-Dependent Measures of
Perception in Sensory Evaluation. Wiley Blackwell. 5)
Jackson, R.S. (2017). Wine Tasting: A Professional Handbook (3rd Ed.). Academic Press
Kemp, S. E., Hort, J. and Hollowood, T. (2018). Descriptive Analysis in Sensory Evaluation. Wiley Blackwell.
Meilgaard, M.C., Civille, G.V. and Carr B.T. (2016) Sensory Evaluation Techniques (Fifth Ed.) CRC Press.
Lawless, H.T. (2013). Quantitative Sensory Analysis. Wiley Blackwell.
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Time to Play
THE BRUERY EXCELS IN CRAFTING EXPERIMENTAL AND SPIRIT BARREL-AGED BEERS WRITTEN BY RICH MANNING PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE BRUERY
he lights don’t immediately come on when Jeremy Grinkey opens the door to The Bruery’s massive rickhouse. Normally, that’s a bad thing. Not this time. The lack of light focuses the senses on the building’s aroma, a sublime mélange of beer and the ghost of spirits past co-mingling in barrels. The Placentia, California, brewery could bottle it as a fragrance and make a mint if they wanted. Several stacks of single-use bourbon barrels stand behind me outside the building, a tiny preview of what lurks in the dark. The lights eventually flicker on and all is revealed: Row upon glorious row of spirit barrels. Bourbon, rum, gin; each has its own story to tell. “The barrels with the orange heads are Copper & Kings brandy barrels,” explains Grinkey, The Bruery’s Director of Production and former California Central Coast winemaker. “The ones down at the far end with the gray heads are Speyside barrels. They’re holding our holiday release beer, Eleven Pipers Piping.” He grins. “With a name like that, we had to put them in Speyside barrels.” The barrels, both active and discarded, testify to The Bruery’s unwavering commitment to making experimental and barrel-aged beers. They’re also the perfect symbol of a brewery whose very existence is an expression of bold experimentation. Its founder, Patrick Rue, was a homebrewer studying to be a lawyer when he realized that WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
making tarts was considerably more fun than studying torts. He started playing with barrels not too long after he launched The Bruery in 2008. A huge following in the beer geek circuit ensued, and quickly put them at a crossroads. “They wanted to make production and grow the brewery, but they wanted to do so without having to grow the facility,” explains Grinkey. “Lots of small brewers locked into a budget end up making sacrifices to grow and they weren’t willing to do that.” The solution? Project Quercus Maximus (“Large Oak”), a strategy that saw Rue and company lease a temperaturecontrolled warehouse and load it up with a bunch of beer-filled barrels. The move increased their ability to make spirit barrel-aged and inventive beers, both through The Bruery and their wilder, funkier sister label Bruery Terreux. The barrels’ home has moved several times over the years, but they’ve never stopped taking full advantage of the space their inevitable landing spot provides. According to Grinkey’s estimation, about 15,000 barrels and 5,000 casks are used every year to produce about “Bourbon 150 different beers. Most and wine of the brews barrels m a d e are our h a v e never workhorses. been
They account for
about 80 percent of our casks. The other 20 percent of barrels are a mix of rum, Scotch, gin, and tequila. They give us plenty of options to play around and we will if we have a concept in mind.” — JEREMY GRINKEY, The Bruery
created before, yet they routinely come out as excellent expressions of quaffable intrigue. Their consistent track record practically demonstrates scientific precision, even if they reject the notion of being scientists. “We’re brewers,” Grinkey says firmly. “Experimenters yes, but we’re brewers first and foremost.” There is a certain hierarchy in barrel usage when the time comes to create these new sudsy expressions. “Bourbon and wine barrels are our workhorses,” Grinkey explains. “They account for about 80 percent of our casks. The other 20 percent of barrels are a mix of rum, Scotch, gin, and tequila. They give us plenty of options to play around and we will if we have a concept in mind. However, nailing that concept is critical. A beer that’s perfect for rum-barrel aging will most likely fail miserably in a bourbon barrel. With that being said, we’re constantly experimenting with different barrels, fruits, hops, and grains. We’re not uppity about things, either — we’ll try anything once to see if it works.”
The Bruery’s offices suggest a campus of unbridled creativity blended with the slightest whiff of irreverence. Two skee ball lanes stand a few feet away from cubicles. An antler chandelier hangs over the conference room table by the facility’s main entrance. A mounted jackalope head stoically observes a conversation I have with Grinkey in a different room. They’re a welcome sight — a bland, milquetoast setting wouldn’t compute — because The Bruery doesn’t make bland, milquetoast beers. This may be an understatement. Grinkey runs down a list of beers that are in the works or close to being released, either to the public or to the die-hard members of their Reserve or Preservation Societies. They’re ready to launch a beer made in a Petillant-Natural,
or Pet-Nat, style, a bottled-beforefermentation method usually reserved for natural sparkling wines. They’re trying their hand at making a beer using the methode champenoise technique (“I never had the chance to try the method as a winemaker, so I figured why not try it with beer?” Grinkey says). They’re also making a Ramos Gin Fizz-inspired beer with Austin’s Jester King Brewery and a beer that riffs on a French 75 cocktail with New Orleans’ NOLA Brewing Company. “We’ve drawn a lot from the culinary and cocktail world recently,” Grinkey states. “When we get excited by a dish that features a certain flavor or spice, it naturally sparks inspiration, and that generates creativity.” With all the funk The Bruery produces, it’s easy to overlook that they also excel at making traditional styles. This begs the question: Is it tough to focus energy on the mainstream brews amid so much creative mayhem? “If we did the same thing over and over again — you know, like the same lager, the same IPA, the same stout — then we’d be bored,” Grinkey says. “However, because we’re making so many experimental beers, when we do decide to make a ‘regular’ beer like a lager, being able to focus on making something pure and clean that upholds a certain style ends up being an exciting challenge.”
My interview with Grinkey wraps and I walk back to my car, which is parked next to the tasting room. It’s 11:45 AM on a Thursday, and there’s already a crowd huddled by the door, waiting for those pesky minutes standing between them and noon to disappear so they can enter. It’s a mix of old and young, men and women, a community all waiting to step inside and enjoy some fun, trippy local craftsmanship. It’s a cool sight to see. I don’t know what brews are on tap, but I’m guessing they hung out in barrels at one point.
The Bruery is located in Placentia, California. For more info visit www.thebruery. com or call (714) 996-6258. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
E S R E V RE G N I R E E N I G N E Y R O T S I H I
FOR THE SEARCH IQ U IT Y IN T N A D N A R B ROOM G IN T S A T E H T
AT H A N D EV O N TR EV W R IT TE N B Y
WITH MORE COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET, OWNERS NEED TO THINK HARD ABOUT HOW THEIR BRAND STORY INTERACTS WITH THE PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE AT THEIR DISTILLERY, FEATURING CYNTHIA TORP OF SOLID LIGHT WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
f you’ve been paying attention to the news or keeping an eye on the stats, you’ll likely have noticed that craft spirits tasting rooms have become a legitimate hangout for a large portion of the population. The more people visit, the more they become accustomed to what’s being offered. It’s not enough anymore to build a welcoming bar and a solid cocktail program. The new generation of distilleries are aware that loyalty lies in the experience. Cynthia Torp, owner and president of Solid Light, an experience creation company, has led the construction of a handful of big-budget distillery experiences, including that of Sagamore Spirits in Baltimore, Maryland. She has a comprehensive understanding of what works when it comes to designing the guest space at a distillery. Solid Light was brought in early to work with Sagamore and was integral not only in designing the physical aspects of the distillery but also clarifying its story and background. “I will say it’s true that (Sagamore Spirits Founder) Kevin Plank had a vision of bringing rye back to Maryland, so there was that whole tradition piece of it,” said Torp.
“But as far as developing the actual story, that took some digging and research and work because there wasn’t really a whole lot of information compiled in any place to support the idea that Maryland was the king of rye.” The Solid Light team began a deep dive into the history of the region, working closely alongside the Sagamore brand team and visiting a plethora of historical institutions to parse out just what the history of rye in Maryland actually was. “What we learned in Maryland is that Prohibition didn’t totally knock it out,” said Torp, “but what Prohibition didn’t knock out World War II did, and also the big players swooping in and scooping up all the smaller brands and diluting the one really great product.” It was important for them to bring the history and tradition of Maryland rye back into focus, while also maintaining Plank’s forward vision. For Torp, that meant infusing those elements into every possible touch point at Sagamore, which is advice that distillery owners of all backgrounds would do well to heed. “You tell the story through every part of the consumer experience,” she said. “I think telling a consistent story is also really, really important, but that’s not only in the packaging, it’s in the actual physical place that somebody can visit. It’s in the materials you use. It’s in the signage, how you present yourself, whether people feel welcome or not welcome.” The same elements that Solid Light used to create the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience can be applied to a tasting room of a much smaller scale, because ultimately the experience itself isn’t really about the size or grandeur of the space, it’s about the person behind the brand. “That’s how you emotionally connect with people,” Torp explained. “They’re going to connect with the people behind the brand, not the brand itself so much. Of course, it better taste good, too.” Telling someone that a brand should be an extension and reflection of the person behind it is one thing, but translating that into a physical manifestation is a whole other ballgame. That may be why, for a long time, distillery tasting rooms were not afforded the same amount of thought as the production space. “When you think about what it takes to get a project up and running, it’s just so
intense because, I mean, it’s a manufacturing process, and it’s an intensive manufacturing process and it’s not an inexpensive one either,” explained Torp. Through her work with the industry, she’s become all too aware of the difficulties facing those who are trying to open their own distillery. They end up getting so worn out by the process of securing investment and then ensuring a timely turnaround that they don’t always have the time or mental headspace to stop and think about the brand. “I think that this whole brand story consistency piece is often put last on the totem pole because they have to.” To guarantee a viable business in today’s market, however, you need to pay attention to that story. “You have to consider all aspects of what a brand is and communicate that brand story consistently through all touch points, and that’s going to be with visitors, customers, staff — internal culture too — and that the entire operation and presentation is thought of consistently,” Torp said. “Ultimately, in order to sell the product, you really have to connect to the consumer and you have to get loyal fans, and that really takes thinking hard about what is your brand and what is your brand story because a brand isn’t a brand without a story. It isn’t what the bottle looks like alone. It isn’t what the label looks like alone. It is what is the story you’re conveying with that.” So what is the best way to tap into that? Torp says start with what is real and authentic, because that’s what people care about most. What drove someone to aspire to get into this business? What brought them to where they are? It may be that they had an idea to differentiate a product, which is important, but the whole brand experience should never be forgotten. Each aspect is part of a whole and should work together. At a time when distilleries that feature twostory slides and amusement parks for adults are being built, it may be tempting to throw everything into giving a space a complete makeover, but the core of the brand should never be forgotten. In the long run, it’s a brand’s story that brings people back.
Cynthia Torp is owner and president of Solid Light. Visit www.solidlight-inc.com for more info. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
carfuffle or kurfuffle
The IRISH WHISKEY KERFUFFLE
Written by Andrew Faulkner
[ ker-fuhf-uh l ]
noun informal, mainly British commotion; disorder; agitation verb (tr) Scot to put into disorder or disarray; ruffle or disarrange ORIGIN OF KERFUFFLE:
1945–50; < Scots curfuffle < cur- (< Scots Gaelic car ‘to twist, turn’ < Old Irish cor ‘a turn’) + fuffle ‘to disorder, confuse’ (of imitative origin)1 EXAMPLE:
There is a bit of a kerfuffle going on in Ireland over “Pot Still Whiskey.” “Pot Still Whiskey,” many may ask. “Isn’t that whiskey made in a pot still?” And they would be partially correct. However, if they were Irish, Pot Still Whiskey would mean a lot more. It is also be conceivable that pot still whiskey would be made using a continuous column still, but that’s another story. Pure Pot Still Whiskey is a source of pride among the Irish, somewhat akin to what Single Malt Scotch means to the Scots. It denotes a tradition going back generations through famous names, such as John Jameson and John Powers. It also was a proud market distinction for the traditional Irish practice of using substantial amounts of unmalted barley along with malted barley in the mash bill. This tradition dates back to a 1785 British law, which taxed distillers on the amount of malted barley they consumed. It was another in a long succession of sin taxes designed to raise money for war debts, but it had the unintended consequence of defining a style of whiskey. To skirt the law, Irish distillers started incorporating large percentages of unmalted barley, essentially equal to the malted grains. In addition to unmalted barley, distillers filled in the remainder with other grains — oats, rye, wheat, and corn — usually varying from 10 percent to 20 percent but sometimes as high as 30 percent. The malt yielded adequate amounts of enzymes to
convert starches in the other cereals and the process created the unique flavor profile that became associated with Irish Whiskey. Author David Wondrich describes the unmalted barley as adding “a subtle funk, often described as ‘musky’ or ‘mossy.’” Subsequent to this time, the practice of triple distilling began. The more aggressive mash was tamed by a third run through the still. Triple distillation is not required, but in the 19th century, this common trait became a marked distinction from the blended style of Scotch, which was partially produced on continuous column stills (ironically invented by the Irishman Aeneas Coffey). Pure pot still whiskey was not only an accurate descriptor but became a matter of Irish pride. This was all fine and dandy until 21st century Irish distillers went to market it in the U.S.A. and the word “pure” became a sticking point. According to Stacy C. Kula, Esq., of Stoll Keenon Ogden, LLP, use of the word “pure” on distilled spirits labels is regulated by 27 CFR 5.42(b)(5), which reads:
(5) The word “pure” shall not be stated upon labels unless: (i) It refers to a particular ingredient used in the production of the distilled spirits, and is a truthful representation about that ingredient; or (ii) It is part of the bona fide name of a permittee or retailer for whom the distilled spirits are bottled; or (iii) It is part of the bona fide name of the permittee who bottled the distilled spirits. Kula said, “I don’t see any allowance for the use of the word ‘pure’ because of the geographical designation.” If the word pure was ruled out, then Irish distillers needed to establish a new term. And so it was.
1 From dictionary.com WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
“Around 2011, signs went up in pubs all over Dublin with ‘Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey,’” said Fionnán O’Connor, whose 2015 book A Glass Apart: Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey (Images Publishing) is one of the definitive works on the subject. “In 2014, the Geographical Indication (GI) went into effect and the new phrase became the law, replacing ‘Irish Pure Pot Still Whiskey.’” The GI, which was filed with the EU, stated that Irish Pot Still Whiskey, or Pot Still Irish Whiskey, would be composed of no less than 30% malted barley, no less than 30% unmalted barley and no more than 5% other cereals. In a written statement, the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) said, “There have been a number of very important moments that have shaped the future of Irish whiskey and securing the Geographical Indication (GI) status from the EU in 2014 was one of those key moments. The Irish whiskey technical file secured its ongoing legal protection and preserved the provenance behind Irish whiskey and its status as a premium beverage to be enjoyed by generations to come across the world.” Great! So they found a marketing term that could describe and protect this uniquely Irish style of whiskey making, right? Well, not exactly. The GI codified a process of making whiskey that, coincidentally, mostly described the technique used at the New Midleton Distillery, also known as the Jameson Midleton Distillery and did not fit the majority of historical Irish whiskey recipes. In a February 3, 2019 blog post titled “Pot Still Irish: Our Stolen Heritage,” the Blackwater Distillery writes, “It quite simply allowed for the hijacking of the term ‘Pot Still’.2 Not one of the historic mash bills I have [seen] is compliant with the new definition. What we have then isn’t a GI protecting a uniquely Irish category, but instead an insurance policy that Pot Still Irish Whiskey could never be made again as it used to be.” An American equivalent would be if bourbon had been defined as having a certain amount of rye in the mash in addition to the 51% corn. High-rye brands, like Buffalo Trace, would celebrate, while wheated bourbons, such as Wellers and Maker’s Mark, would be denigrated in the marketplace. The IWA wrote, “It is noted that well over half of the 24 currently-operational Irish whiskey distilleries are producing Pot Still Irish whiskey in line with the GI Technical File. The GI has not just protected the
pot still category, it has led to its resurgence with many new brands and expressions of Pot Still Irish whiskey set to be launched on the market for the first time later this year and next year.” O’Conner said, “The concept of a distinct style of Irish Pot Still has been very dear for many decades to whiskey critics and enthusiasts and has certainly been a leading hallmark, through its modern Midleton expressions, of Irish distilling achievement on a global stage. For all the debate, Midleton’s malt and raw barley mash is the only direct descendant of a once resilient and more productionally diverse ‘old’ Irish pot still industry and it still reflects the core oiliness and spice exhibited by those tragically lost distilleries. Their expressions are tremendously impressive and I think that the essential role of Midleton quality in the maintenance and revival of the style has occasionally been lost in the noise of the debate. That said, neither the landscape of its closed producers nor indeed the working definitions of Midleton’s own founding members is recognised by the recent 2014 definition, itself loosely modeled off of current Midleton practice.” In his research of Irish Whiskeys, O’Conner could only find one historic recipe that fit the current definition. That was produced by the Waterside Distillery in Derry, itself an industry outlier. “Waterside pot stills ran a mash of 38% malt, 58% raw barley, and 4% oats,” noted O’Connor. The Blackwater blog sums it up, “So at the start of the 20th Century we have firm evidence that in Pot Still Irish whiskey ‘other grains’ were typically between 10% and 30% of the total. Go back further in time, to the 19th Century and during the first golden age of Irish whiskey, oats and rye were much more prominent, in 1838 we have a thumping 70% oats, rye and wheat used.” The Jameson Midleton Distillery is the product of the 1966 merger of John Power and Son, The Cork Distillery, and John Jameson & Son, which created the facility. Irish Distillers opened the New Midleton Distillery in Cork County next to the Old Midleton Distillery. From 1975 through the end of the millennium, it was the only legal distillery in Ireland — the keeper of the flame for Irish Whiskey. Midleton produced juice for brands like Jameson, Redbreast, Green Spot, Yellow Spot, Tullamore Dew, and Writers Tears. In 2014, when the technical file for the creation of the GI was created, Midleton was one of seven operating distilleries in Ireland, all of whom were members of the IWA. The group currently has 37 distillery members, who account for 98% of global sales of Irish whiskey. Midleton, which is now owned by Pernod Ricard,
“Irish pot still’s legitimacy as a 2 http://blackwaterdistillery.ie/our-stolen-heritage category rests entirely on the sincere recognition, in the best tradition of European GIs as a concept, of a rich and peculiarly Irish gastronomic legacy. Without sincere engagement with that heritage or even with the classics of its still-tasted incarnations, the entire point of having a category at all goes out the window.” — FIONNÁN O’CONNOR 100
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supplies whiskey to too many brands to list and is reputed to make more than 90% of Irish whiskey released. Blackwater’s blog points out the irony that, even though Jameson’s Whiskey is produced at Midleton, the brand’s historic mash bill would not fit the new definition of Pot Still Irish Whiskey. In 1908, a Royal Commission was convened to determine the definition of whiskey. In sometimes heated testimony, notable Irish distillers such as Andrew Jameson and James Talbot Powers tried to reserve their proprietary trade secrets while revealing details about the production of their spirits. Jameson said, “Something like 4/5ths of the mash would be barley, malted and unmalted. I am just statin [sic] to you what the facts are as far as we are concerne[d].” Jameson continued, “The rye is extremely small; the wheat is something like four times the rye, and the oats is rather more than double the wheat, and they are all included in about a ﬁfth of the whole.” If Irish Pot Still Whiskey is the successor to the tradition of Irish Pure Pot Still Whiskey, then both the tradition and future creativity within this designation are at stake. A growing number of Irish distillers are charging that the GI stifles their creativity. Distillers know how subtle changes in the ingredients can have a big effect on flavor. “The challenge is to say, how do you do something that allows you to stand apart, but be compliant at the same time?” asks Robert Cassell of the Millstone Spirit Group and co-founder of the Connacht Whiskey Company. “You know, it’s like adjusting an old television with the fine-tuning knob instead of the channel changer.” For their part, Blackwater said that they will continue distilling as many historic recipes as they can to demonstrate the broad creativity that historically roamed the category of Irish Pure Pot Still Whiskey. In order to get the designation changed, The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine would have to submit an alteration to the technical file with the EU. O’Connor sums it up best: “Irish pot still’s legitimacy as a category rests entirely on the sincere recognition, in the best tradition of European GIs as a concept, of a rich and peculiarly Irish gastronomic legacy. Without sincere engagement with that heritage or even with the classics of its still-tasted incarnations, the entire point of having a category at all goes out the window.”
Model Sizes 2”- 3” 1 or 3 Phase Wireless Remote
www.americanwinepump.com www.americanbeerpumps.com Made in Kenosha, WI
John McGinn (262)-909-7267
YOUR TOTAL PACKAGING SOLUTION ask us about cans!
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
the SCIENCE of
LIQUOR GLASSWARE SHAPES WRITTEN BY HARRY HALLER /// ILLUSTRATED BY FRANCESCA COSANTI
or centuries, different glasses have been used for different liquors. Initially, it was culturally driven. One region made what they made. Another region made what THEY made. Neither of them knowing much of the other. By sheer luck or meticulous study or mere experience, over time these shapes evolved to maximize the experience of consuming the particular drink of that particular civilization. Winecountry developed the best glasses for wine. Whiskey regions did the same for their go-to liquor. Areas with vodka... well, you get the point. As trade routes started to connect the four corners of the world, liquor began to travel, and the variety of unique glass shapes designed specifically for each distinct type of liquor accompanied it on its journey. With the emergence of the cocktail, bartenders began to chip in, using their expertise to push glass design further with shapes of their own. Starting in the 60's, things moved another step forward as marketing gurus began to recognise the impact a glass's profile had on the psychology of the drinker. One thing they realised was that larger glasses made people drink more than small ones, even if the amount per serving was equal. In one well-known study, people given beer in straight glasses drank over 60 percent faster than people served in curved glasses. Recently, the boundaries of glass design widened even more as things took a turn towards formal scientific analysis. Gastrophysics, the study of all things food and drink that aren't the actual food or the actual drink, began to present peer-reviewed results showcasing how one glass shape is better than another depending on the liquor. Based on their results, the following chart of the most popular glass shapes used today has been made. So look it over then go make yourself a drink and please, please use the correct glassware.
A true icon of the drinking world. The v-shape of the bowl shows off the colors of the mix while the wide rim speeds up the release of alcohol vapors and other flavor components giving the concoction less of an alcohol burn and more of a softer, sweeter taste. Best for light, simple mixed drinks and cocktails. As the name suggests, this is the glass for Cosmos. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
Very much the same as the COCKTAIL GLASS but with a long stem. This add-on keeps the radiant heat from the consumer's hand at bay, ensuring the drink remains cool for as long as possible. Ideal for clean, chilled cocktails. TRIVIA: A traditional Martini is never shaken. It is stirred.
DELMONICO, COLLINS GLASS
The Laurel to the highball glass's Hardy, the inspiration for this design was to make the perfect glass for drinks served on the rocks consisting of one-part alcohol and three-parts mixer. The long straight walls of the bowl and narrow radius trick the drinker's brain into thinking the beverage is sour even when nothing acidic has been added to the mix and its length helps retain carbonation, making it best for fizzy, tart cocktails.
TUMBLER, ROCKS GLASS, OLD-FASHIONED
The thick base enables the cocktail to be built and muddled directly in the glass without risk of shattering. The short, wide profile of the bowl makes it the perfect home for any drink best served on ice. The bowl's design also insures heavy aromas collect above the rim giving rise to a hearty alcohol nose while also forcing the drinker to cup the glass thereby drawing warmth from their hand into the liquor. Best for bourbon-based mixed drinks. Terrible for anything made with vodka. TRIVIA: This is also relevant for the HIGHBALL — in 1898, when LOWBALL and HIGHBALL were added to common lexicon, the term “ball” was used as a synonym for “glass.”
As the name implies, this is the ideal design for whiskeys and whiskys aka Scotch (which means it is also good for bourbons). The oval bowl excites the release of compounds and the tapered top traps them within the glass. These vapors build up presenting the drinker with an epic aroma-rich experience with less of an alcohol burn.
More popular than the Glencairn, it nonetheless relies on many of the same characteristics. The rounded shape of the bowl, which narrows at the rim, unlocks and then traps aromas giving an earthiness and pleasant complexity, first in the nose then on the tongue. The short stem serves to draw heat from the drinker's hand, warming the liquor. Best for aged brown spirits such as whiskies, brandies, and scotches.
A favorite of science, its design is considered a pure stroke of genius. The rounded shape of the bowl maximizes evaporation and the tapered neck concentrates these flavors while the flared rim insures the lighter compounds hit the drinker's nose while the heavier ones stay in the glass. The final outcome is a significant increase in the drink's aroma with a far less alcohol taste. Few people ever try this. Those who do fall in love with it.
aka PRINCESS GLASS and originally called a MARTINI GLASS The U-shaped bowl with the open rim significantly intensifies the taste of the alcohol while seriously reducing the flavor of the cocktail. Best for any mixed drinks made without ice. TRIVIA: The name NICK AND NORA is an homage to the 1934 film noir adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel "The Thin Man."
These glasses were originally created for champagne, which is absolutely confounding since their design is the worst possible shape for champagne. Fortunately one man's error is another man's masterpiece as the coupe became the paragon ideal for any blended cocktails containing a multitude of ingredients. The massive surface area of the rim combined with the shallow bowl accelerate the release of champagne's carbonation, making it go flat fast, but with cocktails it gifts the drinker with three precious gems: 1. It lowers the taste of the alcohol, 2. It radically increases the beverage's sweetness, and 3. It enhances the taste of the blend making the flavor of the final concoction bigger than the sum of its parts. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
A very similar glass is the POCO GRANDE. Absolutely no scientific rationale behind this design, but deserving of an honorable mention due to it's sacred status as the only glass worthy of the hurricane, Singapore sling, june bug, piña colada, and blue Hawaii. TRIVIA: The HURRICANE GLASS was invented at Pat O'Brien's Bar in New Orleans's French Quarter.
This glass is all about practicality. It was made to hold one jigger of liquor — no measuring needed — for a one-sip drinking experience. It comes in a variety of shapes — basic, fluted, tall, short. TRIVIA: When you order a shot in Brazil, you ask for your drink “estilo cowboy.”
Much like a SHOT GLASS, but narrower and taller., 0.5 to 1 ounce larger. Made to hold concentrated cocktails intended for down-the-hatch consumption.
Harry Haller is an independent consultant focused on working with sugarcane-based distilleries. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Francesca Cosanti is a talented illustrator available for commissions. Email email@example.com for more info.
REFERENCES “Raising a Glass to Chemistry,” — Gregory Cowles from The New York Times. “Can the shape of the glass affect your drinking habits?” — Bristol University. “The Shape of Your Glass Affects How Much Alcohol You Drink,” — Elizabeth Knowles from The Science Explorer. “The shape of the glass holding your favourite brew can affect how quickly you get drunk,” — Jef Akst from The Scientist.
“The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Alcoholic Drink Glass,” — Erin Kelly from Greatlist.
“The Science of Glassware,” — Clair McLafferty from Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.
Glassware Guide for Cocktail & Spirit Enthusiasts — Brie Shelley from Bevspot.
“The Right Whisk(e)y Glass Can Upgrade Your Dram,” — Laurence Shanet from Inverse.
“Which Glass For Which Drink? Using Correct Types of Glassware” — Bottleneck Management.
“Raise Your Glass. It's Shape May Influence Your Drinking” — Live Science Staff.
“Looking into the Glass: Glassware as an Alcohol Marketing Tool, and the Implications for Policy” — Martine Stead, Kathryn Angus, Laura Macdonald, Linda Bauld from Oxford University.
“The Well Stocked Bar – A Guide to Glasses & Drinkware For Wine, Beer & Cocktails,” — J.A. Shapira from Gentleman's Gazette.
“How the size and shape of your glass affects how much you drink” — Simon Oxenham from New Scientist.
“Why Do Different Drinks Require Different Kinds of Glassware?” — Kara Kovalchik from Mental Floss.
“What's in a Glass – Or, Why Different Glasses Are Used for Different Drinks” — From Lifted Spirits.
E R O M the R E I R R E M e h t I
t would be difficult for a distillery to survive on just one product alone. Diversity in Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) not only expands your potential market reach, it can also provide a means to generate revenue when faced with regulatory environments that limit the volume of alcohol sales directly from the producers to the consumers. From a production standpoint, however, generating multiple product types when your production lines, capacity, and man-hours are limited can be a nightmare. Shutting down production to switch lines from one product to another can eat up precious time and resources that you would rather spend processing products or filling bottles. So how can you make the most of your available capacity by carefully scheduling your production runs?
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CAPACITY WHILE MANAGING MULTIPLE SKUS. WRITTEN BY SHANNON O’NEIL
REDUCING CHANGEOVER TIME
Minimizing the number of changeovers and the time required to perform a changeover can easily increase your overall efficiency and reduce the total time required for each run. To start, find the baseline for what it takes to perform a changeover between each of your products, in all possible combinations (for example, vodka to gin, gin to whiskey, whiskey to gin, gin to vodka, etc.). From this data, you should be able to determine which changeovers take the shortest amount of time and then group those shorter changeovers together. If you have two products with similar bottle sizes, for example, it probably requires fewer equipment changes between runs to bottle those products. So, by placing those runs back-to-back in your production schedule instead of making a significant change to a different product in between those two, you would create a more efficient run overall.
LENGTHEN PRODUCTION RUNS Are there any low volume products you run just a couple times a week? It could be more efficient to extend your production run so that you produce your weekly volumes with just one long run per week versus two shorter runs. This is especially beneficial for products with long changeover times, short runs, or unique packaging. Just going from two runs a week to one eliminates two full changeovers between products. Of course, you’ll have to make sure your warehouse has the capacity to meet this change in production.
SCHEDULE FLAVORS in ASCENDING ORDER of STRENGTH Typically, products with added flavors require additional cleaning steps between each changeover to reduce any potential crossover contamination. This is especially critical when switching from a flavored product, like a spiced rum or flavored vodka, to a non-flavored product. Simply by ordering your schedule to start with the non-flavored items and then progressing from flavored products that are lighter in strengths to the heavier, stronger flavors, will reduce the amount of time spent on cleaning and rinsing your systems between production runs. This also applies when producing anything that might have a common allergen. Though that’s not a typical issue in the distilling industry, there are some flavor additives that can create an allergy
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concern if a product not labeled for that allergen gets crosscontaminated. With those types of products, it’s best to start with your non-allergen products, then switch to products that contain potential allergens and conclude with a deep cleaning at the end of the day.
WHEN UTILIZING MULTIPLE LINES, DETAILED ANALYTICS CAN OPTIMIZE PRODUCTION
A SPIRIT THIS WELL-CRAFTED DESERVES AN ARTISANAL GLASS.
In some cases, you may have production lines that are being underutilized. This provides an opportunity to increase your overall volumes by better balancing the volumes between all available lines. Analyzing and calculating production volumes, changeover times, and other criteria that contribute to the overall efficiency of your production systems can be complicated. To get the best use of your time and money, it may be beneficial to hire a third party service provider who can compile your production data, assess opportunities for increased efficiency, and make recommendations for improvement. This type of analysis can be based on weekly, monthly or annual demand, which helps you determine which products should run on which lines to maximize your utilization. Sometimes the data (800) BEERCUP • BEERCUP.COM may even reveal an opportunity to consolidate lines, which can eliminate a shift on a line a couple of days a week and optimize existing assets. Not only will this provide immediate cost savings from reduced overhead, it will also help you avoid unnecessary capital investments. 1901_ArtisanSpirits_Glencarin.indd 1 Optimizing your production lines on a daily or weekly basis will also ensure that you get as much done during your shifts as possible. Synchronizing your lines to finish at the same time makes scheduling your operators much easier. You should also be sure to include the time needed for worker breaks and preventative maintenance in your overall assessment of production efficiency.
SCHEDULING and OPTIMIZATION is the KEY to EFFICIENCY Whether you have a single production line or multiple production lines, scheduling and optimization are both key tools to make your operations run efficiently. The more data you can collect and analyze on your current production system, the more you’ll be able to see opportunities to save resources and increase efficiency without investing in additional assets.
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.
CALL 877.927.6089 OR VISIT TAP.BEERCUP.COM/ARTISAN TO LEARN MORE.
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FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO LEARN Educational opportunities for the distilling industry. Written by M att Strickland
earning that you should never community is growing at a rapid clip, Learning is not stop learning is perhaps one of the which means more brands vying for attained by chance; it hardest lessons in life. It’s one of those must be sought for with the same shelf space. It’s a competitive inescapable truths like taxes and how environment. Certainly, there are ardor and diligence. the swiftly moving lane you merge into dozens of ways a company and its -ABIGAIL ADAMS during rush hour will always slow to the employees can better respond to all speed of frozen molasses. this industry growth while continuing In school they told me Distillers can benefit immensely from to expand as a brand and company. Practice makes perfect. continuing education, though many However, one of the best techniques And then they told me folks are seemingly content to stick to maintain that fighting edge is to Nobody's perfect, their heads in the sand and imagine that constantly look for ways to strengthen so then I stopped this form of professional development their employees’ knowledge base. practicing. isn’t necessary. That’s ok. The students Within the past decade a slew of -STEVEN WRIGHT who actively search out knowledge in organizations have cropped up that this field will most often traipse on by, leaving these offer continuing education for the distilling industry. proverbial ostriches in their insulating dust. Some have existed for decades or more while others Continuing education is paramount to becoming are relatively new. Below in alphabetical order is a list a better distiller, business owner, brand developer, of education providers, their services, notable courses, product designer, and salesperson. The craft distilling contact info, and when available, general pricing.* *Author’s note: This is by no means an exhaustive list in that there are several regional colleges and distilleries that now offer short courses on distilling operations and business. The organizations listed in this article are perhaps the most well-known, but this is not a judgement on the newer courses offered by these other groups.
The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) has been in operation in some form or another since 1886, making it one of the oldest institutions on this list. For more than a century, it was essentially a brewer’s only-
For more information on IBD membership and courses contact: Institute of Brewing and Distilling 44A Curlew Street, Butler's Wharf, London, SE1 2ND +44 (0) 207499 8144 www.ibd.org.uk
type guild, but that all changed in 2005 when the organization invited distillers to join and began offering training to the practitioners of the alchemical arts. Based in London, the IBD
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has more than 6,000 members in 94 countries. Many of these members are focused on brewing, but there has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of distillers (and, interestingly, cider makers) joining IBD. Distilling members range anywhere from small craft distillers making a few cases per month to plant managers working for multinational behemoths like Diageo, Bacardi, and Pernod Ricard. Members pay a yearly membership fee of £145 ($184.50 as of this writing). For forking over that hard earned scratch they get access to an immense amount of online learning materials, a bimonthly industry magazine (Brewer and Distiller International), the quarterly-issued Journal of the Institute of Brewing (which is not as brewing-centric as it sounds), invitations to various educational events and symposia, networking events, and discounts from their bookstore. IBD is currently in the process of expanding the membership benefits even further, so be on the lookout for that. As mentioned above, the learning materials are largely based online. The IBD has been in the process of completely updating and rewriting these learning materials to better reflect current industry standards, practices, and interests. There are currently four learning tiers that offer diploma-like accreditation upon completion. All tiers require an examination for completion.
First is the Foundations in Distilling level. It is fairly basic and is geared more towards salespeople and front-of-house folks that are not physically involved in day-to-day production. Second is the General Certificate in Distilling. This level is for the up and coming assistant distillers and for people looking to get into the industry, either at a low level or as a business owner. This course includes information on the production of whiskey, neutral spirits, brandy, agave, gin, rum and more. The Diploma in Distilling is for people aiming for that topdawg head distiller position. The course includes a deeper dive into all the same subjects from the Certificate level as well as information on plant engineering. This is a challenging course and is considered one of the industry standards for plant managers in the Scotch whisky industry. The Master’s in Distilling is not exactly a course per se but is more an extension of the Diploma level. This level requires the candidate to design and execute a special research project as well as take courses in industry compliance and processing/ packaging. The IBD also contains coursework on malting, cider production, and of course, brewing. Access to all these courses and their materials are available with membership.
Heriot Watt University Heriot Watt is an actual to you depending on your For more information on the distilling and brewing brick and mortar university personal learning goals. course offerings from Heriot Watt contact: based in beautiful Edinburgh, The MSc program may be Heriot Watt University Scotland. The university done either onsite or through Edinburgh, Scotland, UK EH14 4AS Tel: +44 (0)131 449 5111 has been around since 1821, distance learning. Like the www.hw.ac.uk/study/uk/postgraduate/brewing-distilling.htm making their bi-centennial IBD there is a mandatory only two years away. (Holds research project as well. up fingers and counts…yep, that’s right.) Courses include: “Cereals, Malting, and Mashing”, “Distilling Heriot Watt offers some flexibility with their courses along and Whisky Maturation”, “Filtration and Packaging” and “Wort with different course tiers. Diploma and Certificate levels are Boiling and Fermentation.” There are also quite a few elective available, but most people seem interested in the MSc program. courses to choose from, a few credits of which are required to I’ve occasionally had people ask me which is better, IBD or complete the course. These include: “Foundations of Energy”, Heriot Watt. By all accounts the education level they offer is “Renewable Energy Technologies”, “Environmental Impact similar and particularly within the UK, both are highly sought. Assessment”, and “Beverage Microbiology and Biochemistry.” In fact, IBD will exempt members from certain requirements The tuition for distance learning starts at £1,100 per course if they are graduates of Heriot Watt. Heriot Watt’s courses are and goes up to £2,400 ($1397-$3048) depending on the student geared more towards Scotch whisky production than many of category you fall into. Financial assistance and scholarships are the other courses on this list which may or may not be beneficial both available.
Lallemand Alcohol School Lallemand is one of the largest beverage alcohol yeast suppliers in the world. They have been increasing their focus and investment in the distilled spirits industry in the past few years releasing several new yeast strains onto the market. The Lallemand Alcohol School is one
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For more information on The Lallemand Alcohol School contact: 6120 West Douglas Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53218 USA Phone: +1 800-583-6484 (US and Canada only) or +1 (414) 393-0410 www.lallemandbds.com/contact-us
of the oldest distilling workshops in this list. It has been functioning for over 40 years. Offered throughout the year in several locations including Montreal, the Caribbean (where the workshop understandably focuses heavily on rum),
and Thailand, this workshop runs about five days. During the workshop both beverage and fuel ethanol production are discussed with options for people to split off and focus more on one or the other. The speakers discuss a wide range of subjects from raw materials, industry conditions, and distillation and maturation programs. Many of the speakers come from all over the world and have a variety of backgrounds, including distillers from Diageo and Hiram Walker to professors and researchers in some of the top yeast science facilities across the globe. Presentations include: “Batch and Continuous
Processes for Beverage Alcohol”, “Process Control to Improve Alcohol Yield”, “Distillation: Practice and Troubleshooting”, “Raw Materials,” and “Mash Preparation,” among dozens more. Since this is a workshop it requires some travel, but there’s always a special hotel rate available. The price for the workshop is currently set at $2,350 and includes the famous Alcohol Textbook, which is a thorough read on current distillation practices. The course also includes several visits to various labs and facilities such as Canada Malting Company and Diageo Global Supply.
Moonshine University Moonshine University is the Moonshine U prides itself For more information about young whipper snapper on this on its ability to give students a Moonshine University and list, beginning instruction as hands-on education. Most of its offerings contact: an organization only back in their workshops allow for ample 01 South 8th Street Louisville, KY 40203 2012. Don’t let the age fool you: time in the distillery which is 502-301-8139 these guys have assembled a incredibly beneficial to people firstname.lastname@example.org very comprehensive and handswho are just starting out with moonshineuniversity.com on set of workshops led by a their own distilleries. veritable who’s who of industry veterans. Workshops are held throughout the year and Located near downtown Louisville, Kentucky, MU typically range from two to six days in length. The “6 is the education arm of the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, Day Distiller’s Workshop” is the most popular and which is itself an offshoot of Flavorman, a beverage serves as an excellent introduction to basic distillery development company. With the advent of the craft operations. Other workshops include “Distillery distilling renaissance many years ago, the people Operations 201”, “Fermentation”, “Nosing for Faults” behind Flavorman decided it was time to leverage as well as a bevy of spirit specific classes on whiskey, their talents with beverage development and their rum, gin, absinthe, and even agave spirits. proximity to so many world class distilleries to create Prices vary depending on the workshop. The “6 the Distilled Spirits Epicenter (DSE). Day Distiller’s Workshop” is currently priced at The DSE has a fully functioning pilot distillery $6,250 per student and that includes breakfast/ onsite which allows for the organization to develop, lunch, accommodations at the historic Brown Hotel test, and prototype products for new companies and (posh is an understatement), and transportation to small firms. They also have a top-notch packaging class every day from the hotel. And since the class is facility which aids in these efforts. Fortunately for smack in the middle bourbon country, there’s a lot of the potential Moonshine University student, these opportunities to hit the bourbon trail and see/smell/ facilities are all part of the education package as well. taste some of the whiskey-centric sights of Kentucky.
Oregon State University Oregon State University is shenanigans to get up to for the For more information on Oregon located in the quaint, bordering collegiately minded). State University’s Fermentation on bucolic town of Corvallis, Of interest to potential distillers Science program contact: Oregon, about a 90-minute drive is their Food Science and Holly Templeton, Academic Coordinator south of Portland’s hipster ground Technology Program considered email@example.com zero. Situated comfortably in the one of the top programs of its 541-737-6486 Willamette Valley, surrounded by kind in the country. Due to the Wiegand Hall 200A breweries, vineyards, and wineries, university’s proximity to all things 3051 SW Campus Way Corvallis, OR 9733 Oregon State sometimes feels like fermented, the FST program a state of mind more than a college features courses on brewing, town (though there’s plenty of university-related distilling, and winemaking.
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The distilling component is the newest addition, only being added within the past few years. The official distilling program is still being designed with fermentation science coursework primarily emphasizing brewing and winemaking sciences. The distilling program is helmed by the inimitable Paul Hughes, formerly of Heriot Watt. Paul has literally written the book on whisky distilling, with his co-author Ian Buxton (The Science and Commerce of Whisky, 2013, Royal Society of Chemistry). This is a more traditional education route and may not be suited for people who are already tacked onto a specific company and career. We’re talking a four-year degree (or possibly a two-year Master’s program). That’s a lot of time for some folks, not to mention that it requires a move to Oregon. However, the facilities and faculty are top notch with tons of hands-on instruction and opportunities to learn from and speak with industry professionals from all over. The FST program has a fully functioning brewery, winery, and distillery (along with a nearby research vineyard) which serve as invaluable tools for the student to get his or her feet wet (literally). Some previous college courses/credits may transfer over thus shortening the degree time and possibly eliminating the need to retake freshman level classes such as Composition 101 and College Algebra. The core course work of interest to the prospective student in distillation includes: Brewing Science, Brewing Analysis, Wine Production Principles, and Food Systems Chemistry. Financial assistance is available to students that qualify.
Siebel Institute Siebel Institute of Technology is another oldFor more information about timer on this list. The organization goes back Siebel Institute and their a whopping 140 years to its founder, Dr. John course offerings contact: Siebel. Located not too far from downtown 900 N North Branch Street Suite 1N Chicago, Siebel is housed in the same complex Chicago, Illinois, 60642 as Kendall College, a famous culinary school. 312-255-0705 Siebel has for most of its history been focused on the activities of brewers, offering education, research, pilot, and consulting services to the suds industry. A few years ago, a couple of members of IBD and Lallemand’s Alcohol School pitched the idea of doing a distilling workshop through Siebel. So, the Craft Distilling Operations and Technology course was born. Interestingly (and not too coincidentally) Siebel is a part of the Lallemand company. This is a five-day intermediate level workshop that covers a wide range of topics. Speakers from all over the industry give talks on distillation theory, fermentation fundamentals and optimization, as well as branding and business planning. It’s a very comprehensive course. The fourth day of the course typically involves field trips to local distilleries such as CH and Koval where the owners give detailed information on their production processes and philosophies. The end of each day is followed by a round of beers in Siebel’s own brewpub (they have a pilot brewery onsite). Students range from booze business beginners to career development hopefuls from larger firms such as Sazerac. Tuition is $2,675, but this does not include meals or hotel. (However, inexpensive options for both abound near the campus.) Chicago is an exciting city with an incredible culinary scene and amazing breweries. Several top-notch distilleries have popped up in recent years as well so there are ample opportunities for students to see a wide array of distilling perspectives during their stay.
Which is right for you? Distilling career development opportunities should not be taken for granted. There’s always more to learn. Even the instructors at the previously discussed institutions will tell you that they feel like students themselves most of the time. Learning more and becoming better at the art of distillation is part of the fun and challenge of this industry. So, which of the above options is right for you? Well, it all depends. Some people benefit from self-directed learning so IBD or Heriot Watt may be good options. Others may like the hands-on atmosphere of a workshop environment, in which case Moonshine University, Siebel, or the Lallemand Alcohol School may be more your scholastic jam. Or maybe you want to get a full-on Bachelor’s or Master’s degree; well, off to Oregon you go! Most students seem to benefit most from a combination of two or more of these offerings, say a workshop at Moonshine University coupled with a membership to IBD. Many people don’t have fond memories of school (nightmares of showing up to class in your underwear notwithstanding), so the prospect of more learning can seem daunting. But think of it this way: you’re in an incredible industry that you (hopefully) love, surrounded by equally enthusiastic people who are all trying to raise the bar in the bar. You’ll be learning alongside many of these folks and as a result the industry will continue to float that much higher. 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.
Disclaimer: The author is a member/faculty member of IBD, Siebel, MU, and AS and is an alumnus of OSU. This article in no way is intended as an “ad” for any of these organizations and the author receives no compensation for telling people about them. They are discussed based on their own merits. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
WHISKEY in the BOTTLE and S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y in the BARREL ASSESSING SUSTAINABILITY AT YOUR DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY KURT A. ROSENTRATER, PH.D.
ost of my previous articles have focused on coproducts and byproducts from fermentation and distillation operations, and various options that distilleries may have to simultaneously decrease waste sent to city water treatment systems and add value to their bottom lines. It is true that dealing with byproducts is a critical aspect of any distilling operation — after all, only one third of the incoming grain is converted into alcohol. The rest has to be dealt with in some manner. Many of my previous pieces have discussed using these byproducts as livestock feed. In this article, however, I would like to expand the discussion to include sustainability issues in general, and why your business should consider them. Consumers are increasingly interested in learning about how their products are grown, raised, made or produced. They are reading labels, learning about nutritional content, making informed decisions, and more often decreasing their impact on the planet. Companies in many sectors are responding to consumer behaviors and are changing their business practices as a consequence of heightened consumer awareness. To meet
these demands many are beginning to provide information to consumers about the impacts of their factory production as well as their entire supply chains. When we consider “sustainability” it has become common to look at this concept through the lens of the “Triple Bottom Line” (see figure). The three pillars of sustainability often include environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and to truly understand the overall sustainability of a product, process, or system, we need to consider all three of these components. Environmental sustainability generally is the first to come to mind whenever anyone talks about the concept of sustainability. Frequently, this means assessing your carbon footprint, which entails the CO2 and other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide emitted not only from your production processes (which are known as direct emissions), but also from the power plants or other power sources that supply your energy (called embedded emissions). Additionally, consumers want to know about your water footprint — in other words, how much water do you use at your facility for
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operations, cleaning, etc. Environmental sustainability also engagement, and providing local employment. This component accounts for potential emissions of other polluting and toxic of sustainability also includes accounting for quality of life for chemicals, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, etc. workers, the community, and others up and down the supply Life cycle assessment is a key tool to conducting this type chain. Sourcing ingredients through certified Fair Trade is an of analysis and can be used to account for all emissions to example of taking steps to assure social sustainability. the surrounding land, air, and water bodies. Furthermore, it Many companies have found that by making operations more is not just your factory that will need to be assessed, efficient and by addressing social issues, a business but rather your entire supply chain, from farm can often become more environmentally friendly to consumer. as well as economically sustainable. Thus Economic sustainability, the second the components of the triple bottom line pillar of the Triple Bottom Line, means work in concert. an understanding of the costs in your There are many approaches to ENVIRONMENTAL supply chain. These are typically understanding and improving assessed using techno-economic your sustainability as a company. analysis. This is a systematic Some companies take it upon approach to understanding themselves to collect data and costs associated with a crunch numbers in order product, process, or to provide baseline data TRIPLE system. You will need for all three segments BOTTOM LINE a comprehensive of the Triple Bottom accounting of all steps Line to their customers. ECONOMIC SOCIAL and operations, not Other companies work just at your factory, but through a certification also throughout your program. B Corporation1 supply chain. Thus, this is one of the most popular. means capital (purchase) A certification program costs as well as operational elaborates upon what data costs, including all ingredient, need to be collected and how they material and energy inputs; and are to be communicated to the public. TRUE SUSTAINABILITY all products, coproducts, byproducts, Although there are currently only a handful OCCURS AT THE and wastes produced. You also need of distilleries that have become certified B INTERSECTION OF to understand potential sales/revenues. Corporations, many businesses in the food ENVIRONMENTAL, Ultimately, breakeven points and profits are and beverage industries are making this ECONOMIC, AND SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY ACTIONS. key parameters to determine. Products have leap. Transparency and communication with THIS IS COMMONLY to make a profit for the company to stay in consumers are key to whichever approach KNOWN AS THE business for the long term. you take to addressing sustainability. TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE. Social sustainability encompasses various Because many consumers are increasingly aspects related to people, including both making purchasing choices based upon workers as well as citizens of the community in which you information for various competing supply chains, especially in are located. Some issues related to workers may include terms of sustainability criteria, it may be time to consider how number of jobs created, providing equitable wages, safe to assess your operations and to take steps to make them more working conditions, health and safety, equal opportunity and sustainable — environmentally, socially, and economically. non-discrimination, as well as vacation time allotted, etc. In terms of the community, issues can include relationships between your business and nearby residents (i.e., bad smells Kurt A. Rosentrater, Ph.D. is with the Distillers Grains Technology from your waste or sewage), maintaining safe and healthy Council in Ames, IA. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (515) 294-4019. living conditions, respecting indigenous rights, community 1 www.bcorporation.net/certification
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CRAFT FLOOR MALTING
A PRACTICAL GUIDE
An excerpt from the book by Gabe Toth
As distillers look to shrink their footprint, shorten their supply chains, and develop local flavors, more and more end-users are looking to source grain from their neighborhood. For those who wish to use local barley but don’t have a maltster nearby, building a small floor malting may provide the best option for local malt. Following is the chapter on steeping from the recently released book Craft Floor Malting: A Practical Guide. Steeping is the linchpin of quality malt production. The steeping barley will set the stage for the speed and quality of modification, directly impacting the quality of the final product. The goal of steeping is to increase the moisture content of barley from a post-harvest storage moisture content of about 12 percent up to 42–46 percent to encourage germination. More than a century ago, a batch of barley would be steeped at 55-60ºF for two to three days, but sometimes up to six days, though the danger of drowning the barley was already known and the steep water would be changed periodically to try to introduce air. In a modern malthouse, hydration is usually undertaken over the same amount of time, but using alternating soaking periods and air rests. Crisp Malting uses a fairly standard steep schedule, with an initial six-hour steep, a 12- to 16-hour air rest, another six hours wet, 12-16 hours dry, a couple of hours for a third steep and then a four-hour air rest before casting, according to Rob Moody, director of Group Logistics and Craft Brewing. “You really want to get it on the floor and have it ready to go,” he said. “As soon as you get enough moisture into the grain and then you give it an air rest, you want it to start chitting, you want it to start to germinate.”
Joel Alex of Blue Ox Malthouse cautioned against relying too heavily on schedules and times, but rather encouraged monitoring moisture content. “It’s not just a time and temperature thing, it’s more of a moisture and temperature,” he said. “If you can control your moisture well enough, then you can set timetables.” Devin Huffman at Barn Owl Malt in Ontario emphasized the importance of not over-steeping or under-steeping. Moisture can’t be taken out of the malt if it’s over-steeped, and once germination starts, the barley won’t use additional moisture to properly modify, but will instead start going to shoot too quickly. “It seems like it should be a fairly straightforward part of the process — just get it wet and get it germinating — but if you overor under-steep it by a couple of percentage points, the behavior during germination is dramatically different,” he said. “To a certain extent, you can push it one way or the other by adjusting the steep-out moisture, which is why the steep schedule and the consistent steep-out moistures for your grain lot are so critical. The end product can be quite dramatically changed if you’re not watching it, if you’re not hydrating it very precisely every time.” Even processing from the same grain lot will change over the WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
course of the year. The grain itself will evolve and ambient conditions will require changes to the way it’s handled. Because Huffman doesn’t need to run the air-conditioning in the malthouse during the winter, he’s not stripping as much moisture out during flooring and the green malt is less prone to excessive drying. “In winter, the ambient air in the malthouse is usually saturated and we end up having to run dehumidifiers,” he said. “[The grain] needs a little bit of evaporation throughout the process. We budget a certain percent moisture loss per day and then we try to manage the humidity in the malthouse to accommodate that. There’s such a wide difference in relative humidity between the peak of summer and the coldest days of winter, we often have to modify the steep schedule a little bit just to accommodate.” To determine his steep schedule, Huffman does small-scale testing, micro-malting about five pounds and checking it on the moisture balance, before working with a new lot of barley and on regular intervals to adjust for seasonal variations in a lot he is working with. Germination can be adjusted on the fly, as long as a little extra time is built into the schedule. “But,” Huffman said, “if you don’t know what the grain’s water uptake profile is like, you will have few options to correct and recover a piece once it’s been wetted. So for every grain lot that we’re working with, we develop a unique steeping profile. When we’re developing a steep schedule, we usually design it for around 45, 46 percent, but then once we start germinating those grains, if they’re not performing well, if it’s germinating too aggressively and putting on too much rootlet growth which then translates to losses, we might scale it back a little bit. Or if the barley is tough and slow to modify, we can help it by pushing the moisture up.” The difference in water uptake can be enormous. He said barley from 2016, a drought year, would take 27 hours of total immersion time to reach the target moisture level, whereas the same variety from the same farm in 2017, a wet growing season, would reach steep-out moisture in 12 or 13 hours. At Warminster Maltings, Managing Director and Head Maltster Chris Garratt also relies on testing for germination energy, germination capacity, and water uptake. “It seems like the micro-malting WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
approach gives you better footing from batch to batch, from year to year,” he said. “We know exactly what we’re dealing with and we’ll develop a steeping cycle to suit that particular cereal, whether it be rye, barley, or wheat, conventional or organic, and with the aim of achieving the optimum final saturation with the grain just chitting ex-steep.” “Each year it is slightly different than the year before, and of my 43 years I’ve been married for 38 of them. My wife has heard me say 38 times: ‘I’ve never known a harvest like it.’ This year is no exception, and so that’s your annual curveball.” Garratt said they learn a lot from the first steep and it’s fairly consistent after that. “We can start off confidently that we’re going to steep that grain for x hours at x temperature over a given period of days and we can fairly accurately predict the outcome of having done that,” he said. “Rye and wheat are non-husk, and for that reason will demand less steeping, rye particularly. You have to actually aim for lower overall ex-steep moistures with rye than you would with wheat or barley. The carbohydrate softens very readily, and if you were to over-steep that, you would be in difficulty.” Steep tanks — often cylindrical conical-bottom tanks, but sometimes of a more traditional horizontal design — sometimes have aeration built in to provide oxygen to the grain as it respires and venting to pull out CO2. Stephen Osborn of Stoutridge Vineyard and Distillery measures the production of CO2 in the grain bed to help gauge progress in his steep. “We dig a little hole in the top of a grain and put a CO2 sensor in it so that we can monitor the CO2 and we also monitor the CO2 in the room,” he said. “And by doing both of those, we can get a really good idea of biological activity and we can get an idea of [whether] we’re in danger of suffocating the grain through CO2 production.” He designed his double-tank steep system (described in Chapter 8) with overhead sprinklers and a recirculation system with six outlets underneath the grain bed. The recirculation system has a UV sterilizer to prevent biological growth and six air/water injectors. Steep water will recirculate from the middle of the tank to the bottom and top with air bubbling through from the bottom. “The aerobic condition discourages anaerobic
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bacteria and I’m more concerned with anaerobic than with aerobic. Everyone talks about suffocating the grain and I really built it under that theory,” but he thinks that controlling bacterial growth is also a major factor in the quality of his malt. After the initial steep, he’ll pull the grain out for an air rest, giving it three rinses over the next 12 to 14 hours, both to help evacuate CO2 buildup and to carry away bacteria. Once the second steep is complete, rather than cast the malt immediately, Osborn, a longtime winemaker and former biochemist, likes to let it sit. “It may all be bacteriological, but we’ve found that post the second steep, if you let it drain for six hours, that can be helpful to getting an even start to the malt,” he said. They’ll pull it out of steep at 6 or 7 a.m., then dump it on the floor at noon or after lunch to allow CO2 to collect and give the lactobacillus a good start at crowding out other growth. “That’s really helpful for bacterial contamination. I know that by smell. I know very well the smell of malolactic bacteria, and lactic bacteria in general, and when we were first doing it I was going by smell.” While maltsters like Osborn and the Klanns at Mecca Grade Estate Malt have crops that can be watered with spent steeping water, most will see their steep water go down the drain, although some can be recycled. The water from the first two steeps tends to be more heavily soiled when it drains, but water from the third steep can potentially be reused for a first steep. Outside of 100-year-old English malthouses with a concrete or stone tank, food-grade, 304 stainless steel is the material of choice for steep-tank design. Whether vertical or horizontal, a mesh or wedge wire false bottom helps to separate steep water from grain. Chlorine filtration is important and some method of attemperating the steep water — whether using a conditioned buffer tank, a heat-exchange system, or blending warmer and cooler water — is necessary to maintain consistent steep temperatures. Crisp uses borehole water that generally stays at about 52ºF year-round and steeps at about 60ºF, Moody said, but the steeping patterns there still have seasonal variance because of changes to the ambient air temperature in the steeping room. While there is a correlation between warmer water and faster uptake, he said there is limited value in increasing the temperature. Hot water steeping “was a technique used to inhibit root growth, but it’s not generally done. It was good for the yield, (for) efficiencies in the malting, but it wasn’t good for the malt. You’d end up with a high yield of poor-quality malt.”
Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House in Denver and Loveland, CO. A former craft brewer, his passion for fermenting and transforming ingredients also extends to sausage and meat curing, cheesemaking, and pickling. He can be found up in the mountains or at email@example.com. 116
S G N I H T G N I MOV H S O N UP A SERVING BETTER SNACKS CAN E HAVE A POSITIV IMPACT ON DISTILLERY TASTING ROOMS W RI TT EN BY G RI CH MA NN IN IL LU ST RA TE D BY BR OC K CA RO N
heese cubes aren’t usually green. The ones in front of me are. Normally, this may be unsettling. But not at New York’s Summer Fancy Food Show. Cheese can be whatever color it wants at this annual three-day specialty food fete, if it’s tasty. The cheese, an avocado-infused creation from New Jersey-based importer Epicure Foods, passes this important qualification. As I reach for a second cube of nuanced umami goodness, the guy next to me asked, “What do you think this pairs with? Beer? White wine?” “Tequila,” I hastily blurted. “That, or either mezcal or an agave-based spirit would totally work.” The server behind the green cheese pile, a diminutive young lady named Kim, grinned while nodding in agreement. “I like tequila when I’m eating chips & guac,” she said. “Why would this cheese be any different?” Fun, geeky discussions like this can easily happen in any distillery tasting room that dares to elevate their snack game beyond peanuts and pretzels. Heaven knows there’s plenty of ways to up the edible ante. Spending three days purposefully roaming through 7,000 aisles worth of artisanal food product at the gargantuan Jacob K. Javits Convention Center puts me faceto-face with a wealth of ready-to-serve, surprisingly cost-effective snack ideas ready to kick the boring stuff to the curb, from approachable cheese and charcuterie options to borderline funky fare (smoked oysters, anyone?). “Ready-to-serve” is the key that unlocks these snack choices. Unless the law suddenly require permits for opening bags or pulling back can tabs, there’s not a thing to worry about. The numerous craft food vendors I talked snacks and spirits with would also like to see better snacks in tasting rooms. That’s the expected answer, but it’s not given in the name of higher profit margins. It turns out that a lot of artisan food folks dig on small-batch spirits, and they primarily see elevated snacks as an expansion of the tasting room experience they want to enjoy. “Oftentimes, when I go to a distillery or a brewery, there’s not always an interesting option to snack on,” said Jordan Ashcraft, regional manager of the Washington State-based seafood purveyor SeaBear Smokehouse. “There’s plenty of pretzels and that kind of stuff, but that’s disappointing. There can be so much more to offer.” Lifting your snack game can do more than make your patrons happy. Kicked-up snacks could theoretically encourage them to linger longer in the tasting room — a bonus for distilleries permitted to serve cocktails. According to Ashcraft, bringing in elevated snacks can at least give distillers the chance to have extra fun with their product. “Heritage Distilling did a launch party with us in one of their tasting rooms,” he said. “They paired four of our smoked salmons with different drinks selected by their master distillers and tasters. The guys at Heritage had amazing ideas and created some unbelievable pairings. To me, the fact that we put them together in a tasting room without a full kitchen provides further evidence that quality bites can absolutely work.”
Rich Manning is a freelance food and drink writer based in Fountain Valley, CA. He lives about 15 minutes south of Disneyland, but he hasn’t gone there in ages — he’d rather visit the nearby breweries and distilleries instead. You can check out some of his other written hackery by visiting www.richmanning.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUGGESTED PAIRINGS Deciding to elevate the quality of your tasting room snacks is a big decision, but it can leave you with an even bigger conundrum: What should you serve? The answer to this depends on the spirit. While some snacks like cheese and charcuterie can be generally harmonious — remember, we’re not talking a fourcourse wine pairing dinner here — some bites do work better with specific liquors.
If your distillery’s hallmark is a killer gin, you’d be wise to break out some Spanish tapas. The reason, oddly enough, is tradition: Spain consumes more gin per capita than any other country in the world. “It may surprise a lot of people, but Spain’s national drink probably should be gin and tonic,” explained Jeffrey Shaw, Marketing Director of the Madrid-based culinary organization Foods from Spain. The good news here is there are plenty of ready-made snacks to select, from Iberico ham and hard cheeses like Manchego to Marcona almonds and canned seafoods (again, popular in Europe). Even something basics like stuffed Spanish olives can tie with the theme. “They’re really easy to keep at a bar,” Shaw said. “All you need to do is open the cans and drain them, and they’re ready to go.”
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If you’re a small-batch distillery rocking freshly dried ink on your LLC application, you may be pumping out vodka bottles in-house while you wait for the more complex stuff to mature. You may also want to serve a snack that not only works well with vodka but also ups your distillery’s intrigue. If so, consider conservas: tins of seafood packed with anchovies, mussels, smoked oysters, and other underwater delights. These tins, which are popular in Europe, may initially look like a strange choice. This unorthodoxy goes away after the first briny bite, as the salt and fat add hearty depth to the neutral spirit. You can also serve pickled veggies if you find canned fish too freaky.
There’s an obvious justification to aquavit’s cachet as a hip spirit — it’s damn delicious when it’s done right. Its herbaceous, citrus-kissed base of caraway, dill, and other like-minded spices are the perfect match for smoked salmon. It’s a pairing that also plays to the spirit’s Scandinavian roots, since salmon plays a sizeable role in Northern Europe’s culinary milieu.
Whiskey’s a complex spirit with a simple reputation. This inherently provides distillers with an easy out to serve cheap peanuts and be done with things. Yet it also provides the perfect excuse to serve an alternative legume: Chickpeas. On their own, chickpeas possess a nutty yet nuanced earthy flavor, making them slightly more deviant than peanuts without being radically different. Not enough variance? You’re in luck — snack companies are doing the flavored chickpea thing, producing everything from hot beans coated in chili powder to honey-roasted deliciousness.
“Aquavit’s an herb liquor,” explained Ashcraft. “Sure enough, a lot of those botanicals and herbs in aquavit are what you’d want to use on top of a European salmon — think gravlax and dill. Serving the two together becomes a pairing of similar flavors that works really well.”
Finding a good snack food to stand up to bourbon’s richness can be a challenge, particularly since kitchens and craft distilleries don’t often mix. It requires some out-of-the-box thinking, and pâtéoffers tremendous rewards for those willing to escape the box entirely.
“Pâté would be the perfect item to put in a tasting room where bourbon’s served,” said Alexandra Tierney, VP of Operations at Alexian Pâtéin Neptune, New Jersey. “It’s nice, hearty food that keeps your stomach full.” While pâté’s unctuousness can stand up to bourbon, Tierney said some styles particularly stand out. “I immediately think of pairing bourbon with a pork-based pâté, since pork and bourbon pair so well in other settings," she said.
Rum practically demands a chocolate pairing. However, there are a few concessions to make before giving in to the spirit’s will. You don’t want something to overpower the liquor’s sweet, spicy essence, so milk chocolate is right out. You also don’t want any chocolate infused with pepper or sprinkled with sea salt, as the extra stuff just runs interference between the desired experience. Straight-up dark chocolate is what you need here. However, make sure the cocoa content hits around 60 to 75 percent. This range compliments rum’s flavors properly, and anything higher may make the pairing bitterly imbalanced.
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the POWER of
The COLLABORATIVE CREATIVITY BEHIND BARREL-AGED and SPIRIT-INFUSED FOODS Written by Rich Manning
he phrase “barrel-aged” evokes questions. So does the word “infused” when it’s preceded by “whiskey,” “bourbon,” “gin,” or any spirit worthy of ingredient status (which is to say, all of them). Most queries revolve around geeky stuff like the aging process or quantity of booze used in a recipe, and they’re important to ask. They’re also steps that lead to the biggest inquiry of all: How does it taste? This last question is the potential deal-breaker, the thing that downgrades a barrel-aged or spirit-infused food or substance from “cool” to “poseur” in an instant. As such, any product slapping either description on a label simultaneously emits intrigue and beckons a potentially harsh reaction. When I arrived at New York’s Summer Fancy Food Show, held last June at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, I was prepared for both. Armed with a targeted list — a necessary FEW Spirits + accoutrement Mount Mansfield Maple Products given the event’s nearly 7,000 rows’ worth of product — I tracked down several artisan purveyors willing to roll the dice on leaving a good impression. Each encounter initially elicited a specific reaction — one that, when strung together, essentially came out to, “What are they doing? That’s so cool! Please don’t suck!” Nothing sucked. Each product I tried fell into various categories of goodness, whether it was a shot of hot sauce aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels or a bite of Scotch-imbued shortbread cookie. It only took talking to a handful of folks to surmise why. Love is in the mix, and unlike the tired cliché says, it’s no secret ingredient. Passionate talk of complex flavor profiles and carefully curated ingredients ensued with each vendor. When conversations turned to booze and barrels, the excitement never wavered. For distilleries mulling over the pros and cons of providing barrels to a food-related business, this level of enthusiasm is the first, second, and third clue that will indicate whether it’s a good idea to get involved. Food quality takes care of itself when touched by endearing hands. So yes, the main question concerning these barrel-aged and spirit-infused Ironclad Distillery + AR’s Hot Southern Honey goodies was answered in the way I hoped. Answering the other queries — the
“We’ve got the food people on lockdown, and the distillery has the booze people on lockdown, so we can naturally introduce our product to each other’s existing clients.” — SARAH SHERMAN, Blis geeky stuff — added icing, but also a ton of insight. The biggest point that jumped out is the artisan-toartisan synergy that brings these products to life. While some brands have grown large enough to court big boys like Heaven Hill for their boozy needs, most acquire their goods from smaller, craft distilleries. Some, like the Winooski, Vermont-based company Mount Mansfield Maple Products, don’t see the need to forge new partnerships beyond what they currently enjoy. “We work with FEW Spirits just outside of Chicago to create our barrel-aged maple syrups, and they have been really great with us,” said Chris White, Mount Mansfield’s owner and self-proclaimed janitor. “To be honest with you, even if we grew to the point where we needed more barrels, we would be happier sticking with FEW and letting their growth be in line with ours.
Gray Skies Distillery + Blis
Boston Harbor Distillery + Goodnow Farms Chocolate WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
These syrups are beyond just labeling something as ‘barrel-aged.’ It’s a collaboration that I think is wonderful. That’s why we do it — we’re not just trying to create a product that ticks a box.” White’s endorsement of FEW represents a pattern. Most vendors happily tout their partnerships and with good reason — the partnerships tend to be supremely cool. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Blis works with fellow Grand Rapids business Gray Skies Distillery to produce some of their barrelaged gourmet sauces. Over in Newport News, Virginia, Ironclad Distillery sends barrels up to AR’s Hot Southern Honey in Richmond so that bourbon barrel-aged hot honey can be crafted. Goodnow Farms Chocolate in Sudbury, Massachusetts, soaks Ecuadorian cacao nibs in 55 bottles’ worth of Boston Harbor Distillery’s Putnam Rye Whiskey for each batch of whiskey-infused bars they make. “They’re small batches,” Goodnow Farms’ co-owner and chocolate-maker Tom Rogen said. There is no talk of bureaucratic red tape or requisite hoop-jumping lurking behind these craft partnerships, nor are there any concerns about the costs of barrels or supplied spirits skyrocketing due to product success. All discussion comes from a place of trust and respect. This trustworthiness is mutual. So is the enthusiasm for collaboration, which doesn’t always originate from the food side and isn’t always formally presented. “I got a call one day from one of the guys at the distillery,” said Ames Russell, founder of AR’s Hot Southern Honey. “He asks me, ‘Hey Ames, I have these bourbon barrels. Do you want to put your hot honey in them?’ And I was, like, ‘Oh my God! That would be the most incredible
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thing ever! Let’s do this!’” Russell’s anecdote naturally speaks to the quality of his product —it’s highly doubtful he gets approached if his honey isn’t great — and it highlights a foundational element between any distillery and food company collaboration: The product poised to become spirit-possessed better be good in its base form. This isn’t an issue with the booths I visited, as each foundational item tasted ranged from “very good” to “let me grab a second or third sample.” While the thrill of creating something new, exciting, and delicious brings these companies together, the ability to look at the big picture often helps turn collaborative spark into the flame of a sustained or expanded brand awareness. “Working together is a really cool way to introduce new customers to both companies,” explained Sarah Sherman, Blis’ Vice President and Director of Operations. “We’ve got the food people on lockdown, and the distillery has the booze people on lockdown, so we can naturally introduce our product to each other’s existing clients.” “Boston Harbor Distillery saw the benefit of helping us create our chocolate, because they saw the benefit behind expanding people’s ideas of flavor,” added Rogen. “It’s one of the reasons why they’ve been really great partners with us.” Even with an established market presence, the mutual yearning for creativity stemming from these partnerships hasn’t waned. If anything, they’ve cranked up. Russell sends the barrels he uses back to Ironclad, who uses them to create hot honey-finished whiskey. White’s in the process of giving barrels back to FEW so they can make a maple-finished spirit. Blis’ barrel transactions with Gray Skies goes even further down the rabbit hole. “A couple years ago, they came out with a product called Breakfast Rye,” Sherman said. “It was a rye they aged in our maple syrup barrels. When they were done aging the rye, we decided to take those barrels back and age apple cider vinegar in them. It ended up producing this beautiful, boozy product that’s wonderful to cook with.” There are a few challenges these artisans face when crafting barrel-aged or spirit-infused products, but these issues don’t really come from the aging or infusion process. Rather, they tend to stem from concerns over package labeling or unique stuff like creating products in dry counties. These headaches are minor at best and the joy that comes from creating a sauce, syrup, or a decadent delight kissed with a perfectly boozy smooch provides the ultimate aspirin. It is this sense of joy that serves as the soul of these barrel-aged and spirit-infused products. Frankly, it’s the reason why everything I tasted from these vendors didn’t suck.
Rich Manning is a freelance food and drink writer based in Fountain Valley, CA. He lives about 15 minutes south of Disneyland, but he hasn’t gone there in ages — he’d rather visit the nearby breweries and distilleries instead. You can check out some of his other written hackery by visiting www.richmanning.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. 122
IN, AND OUT OF, SUSPENSE PART 2: BACK TO THE FILTER selecting the right tools for the job W R I T T E N B Y G E O R G E B . C ATA L L O
GREAT SCOTT! MARTY, WE MUST GO BACK! TO THE FILTER!
But which one? Filtration systems aren’t going to have gull-wing doors and flux capacitors. So how do you pick the right one for the job? And what is there to choose from? Well, I’m here to tell you that Google won't be tons of help. There doesn’t seem to be too much in the way of independent information when you submit a search query for “spirits filters.” Much of the independent information you’ll find about filtration tends to be about irrigation and water treatment. But the principal remains, use a system to remove solids and contaminants from a liquid. When selecting a filtration system and its components you have to take into account many factors, such as batch size, product type/s, initial haze, the amount of reduction required, the composition of your products, and your operating conditions. If you have an array of products and don’t have the budget for multiple systems, it would be wise to invest in a system that has the ability to interchange filtration mediums, such as:
MEMBRANE FILTER PLATE (plate and frame) Membrane filter plate, also known as the plate and frame filter press, is by far the most commonly used type of filtration system in the beverage industry. You’ll see it at wineries and distilleries alike. The construction of the system is made up of a series of alternating plates and frames that hold the filtering medium in place on a rail system. The spirit is pumped into one end of the system and passes through each filter medium between each set of plates. The greater the number of plates and frames, the more heavily filtered the product will be. You will need to decide upon a size that is right for your products. You don’t want to over-filter your whiskey, but you also don’t want to under-filter your vodka. A system where you can adjust the number of plates and frames would be ideal for any multi-product distillery. You are able to change out the filtration membrane to suit your product’s needs, such as the medium’s composition and fineness (in microns). For example, you can use a finer pad made with activated carbon to make your neutral spirits very clean. Or you can select something with a little less ability to pull out impurities, yet still able to remove unwanted haze or particulate in your whiskey.
STACKED DISC CARTRIDGE FILTERS Fun fact: The disc filter was developed in 1936 for the purpose of filtering hydraulic fluid in the B-17 bomber. From the ‘Flying Fortress,’ to water, to alcoholic beverages, this filter has done it all. It’s not dissimilar from a sheet filter in concept. In fact, it's essentially a bunch of sheet filters stacked on top of one another in a long cannister. The liquid enters the top, passes through each sheet, and exits through the bottom of the cannister. The level of how much contaminants will be removed is dependent on the filter medium’s tightness (measured in microns) and material. The Stacked Disc Cartridge is often used as a “police filter” in the spirits industry. A police filter is an optional added layer of protection at the end of the process before bottling to filter out anything the primary filtration system missed.
CARTRIDGE FILTERS A cartridge filter is best described as being like a pool filter. It’s much like the aforementioned stacked disc cartridge filter, but instead of stacked discs it will generally have a cylindrical filter medium in the canister. The product is pumped into the center of the canister and is forced outward through the medium to exit through the side of the system. This is a very cost-effective type of system that also can generally be used as a reliable police filter.
CROSSFLOW FILTERS Crossflow filtration, also known as tangential flow filtration, is a bit different than the other techniques we have covered. In the other techniques the solution passes through the filter medium. In crossflow filtration the solution travels tangentially across the medium. What causes this to work is a pressure difference between both sides of the medium. The pressure causes particles smaller than the pores of the medium to pass through. This type of filtration system is able to handle heavier loads both in quantity and viscosity. The tangential flow helps keep the medium free of caking and clogging. One of the most likely scenarios in which you will use this type of filter is in reverse osmosis water treatment.
BAG FILTERS It’s essentially what the name implies: the filter medium is, in oversimplified terms, a mesh bag. Think high velocity coffee filter. This allows for extremely high volume flow through the medium. This type of system is best suited for being used as a police filter before or after storing or shipping large quantities of product in tank (or barrel).
INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE It can get a little mind-boggling researching filtration systems, but as mentioned in the previous piece of this series, filtration is incredibly important and often overlooked. It is vital to invest your money properly and effectively in your filtration system. You don’t need to buy the best system on the market, but you do at least need to buy the right one for your needs. If you have to only buy one system, it’s probably going to be the plate and frame. There are further methods of filtration to discuss, but these are at the core of what we in the spirits industry will expect to run into most frequently based on our needs. Your unique products will undoubtedly require unique solutions, but worry not — there is a solution to every problem you could have with your solutions! Aw yeah, chemistry puns. Always good to get a reaction. Tune in next issue to learn about filter mediums.
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
CERTIFIED KOSHER LOOK AT AT CERTIFIED CERTIFIED KOSHER KOSHER DISTILLERIES DISTILLERIES IN IN THE THE US US AA LOOK WWRRI TI TT TEENN BBYY CCAARRRRI EI E DDOOWW
think that there are many misconceptions about what being kosher entails,” said Ryan Burchett, owner/distiller for Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire, Iowa. “People think it’s some kind of a blessing or religious ceremony. That’s not the case at all… It goes back to the ancient Old Testament purity rules that Orthodox Jews follow, especially during holy times, because we know these ingredients are clean according to Jewish tradition. Most everything used in distilling is inherently kosher because it comes from the earth.” The word ‘kosher’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘fit’ or ‘appropriate’ and describes the rules for food consumption found in the Torah. Kosher divides food into three categories: Dairy, meat, and pareve. Pareve is Yiddish for neutral and refers to items neither meat nor dairy, mostly plants. Since grains, fruits, and spices are distilling’s main ingredients, it’s relatively easy to achieve kosher status. To understand kosher’s connection to distilling, I spoke with one of the country’s foremost craft distilleries, Koval in Chicago. The independently owned Koval is both certified kosher and organic. The certification is important to owners Robert and Sonat Birnecker because their products are highly personal. “For us kosher means something else,” explains Sonat, who spent over a decade as a professor of Jewish studies in the US and Europe. “It’s not just about what you can or cannot eat. There’s a spiritual component too. It means you’re thinking about what you’re eating. The spiritual element was we want to be thinking
about our identity in our work life in addition to our private life. We are a Jewish company and we care about our heritage and culture.” To become kosher, producers can choose from over 75 US certification organizations, the largest being Orthodox Union, OK Kosher, and the Chicago Rabbinical Council. Companies pay a fee and receive an inspection of their ingredients and equipment. Follow ups are in the form of quarterly unannounced visits by local rabbi. “The rabbis inspect us more than the government,” joked Crystal Barrios, tasting room and events manager of Laws Whiskey House in Denver. Laws opened to the public in 2014, but didn’t become kosher until 2017. Barrios says since Laws buys ingredients direct from farmers, certifying the supply chain was simple. A bigger adjustment was changing staff habits like eating lunch in the break room and not allowing outside food or drinks on the production floor. Sonat warns that distillers who use items like flavorings and colorings need to review them carefully. “There are certain things to consider, because some additives, colorings, and flavorings — we don’t use any of these — but some contain ingredients that would render them not kosher. For example, a lot of gelatins, like those used in candy, are made from fish, which is kosher. However, some come from pork, obviously not kosher. Sometimes colorings come from bugs, rendering it not kosher,” she said. There are separate kosher laws for wine production, so grapebased spirits like brandy are difficult to certify. Also, since dairy and meat cannot be combined, products like bourbon cream need to be labeled appropriately. However, for a majority of distilleries, becoming kosher is a simple process that can introduce more people to their products. Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Mich., is also both kosher and organic. “It’s good for us,” said distiller Joe Biggs, who oversees the company’s organic and kosher certifications. “Our numberone commitment is quality. That starts with quality ingredients and quality processes. Being organic and
“For us kosher means something else. It’s not just about what you can or cannot eat. There’s a spiritual component too. It means you’re thinking about what you’re eating. The spiritual element was we want to be thinking about our identity in our work life in addition to our private life. We are a Jewish company and we care about our heritage and culture.” — SONAT BIRNECKER, Koval 126
“It’s good for us,” said distiller Joe Biggs, who oversees the company’s organic and kosher certifications. “Our numberone commitment is quality. That starts with quality ingredients and quality processes. Being organic and kosher, our ingredients and processes are scrutinized all the time so we have to be on our game” — JOE BIGGS, Journeyman Distillery kosher, our ingredients and processes are scrutinized all the time so we have to be on our game.” For Journeyman, kosher certification was an extension of certifying organic, but for others the idea was suggested. Barrios says a Jewish employee requested Laws become kosher. A similar situation happened at Mississippi River. “I’m not Jewish,” Burchett noted. However, “we were approached by one of our distributors in New York City. We sell our product in New York City and Chicago, and even here in our own backyard, we have a Jewish community. It’s no different than if you are gluten intolerant and a product is labeled as gluten free, that’s important to you.” While it’s not easy to track sales in terms of kosher, all the distilleries use it in their marketing.“It’s at the forefront,” Biggs said. “It’s always mentioned in anything we release that we are kosher and organic. There aren’t a bunch of kosher distillers or organic distillers and there are fewer still doing both. I think that separates us.” “It’s a natural, easy thing for us to do and to continue to draw attention to,” Burchett said. “We’re accountable for what’s in every bottle. It’s following the chain of ingredients from the beginning to the final product.” For the orthodox community, Sonat says drinking kosher spirits is important.“In Judaism alcohol is used as a form of celebration,” she said. “There are many Jewish holidays in which you are supposed to drink. Obviously, not in excess, but enjoyment is something to be respected and drinking is a part of that. Alcohol is a part of life in many respects.” “It’s respect for other cultures and as a company we are always looking to be better,” Barrios said. “Following the strict standards for kosher we feel helps us make a better quality product.” Biggs said “it goes hand in hand with [Journeyman's] commitment to producing excellent spirits. Certifications make our spirits more inclusive. I’d hate for someone not to be able to have our spirits. As the guy who makes it, I want everyone to try it.”
Carrie Dow is a freelance writer and Local Editor of DrinkDenver.com based in Colorado. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
So, you want to start a craft distillery? SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU TAKE YOUR STILL FROM THE TESTING STAGE TO THE MARKETPLACE WRITTEN BY JASON NADEAU
t’s 2019 and craft spirits are growing exponentially in popularity. With the rising demand from millennials and Gen X consumers for those unique small batch craft distillery options, the U.S. craft spirits market is expected to post a combined annual growth rate of nearly 26 percent through 2022.
OK, so you have a great recipe, a catchy name, and a cool logo. Now what? Branding and marketing are definitely an important element, but without a steady supply of product behind that, it’s nothing more than fluff. You will need money, a delivery plan, and, depending on what spirits you are distilling, a lot of time. Let’s consider some of the following:
MOVE-IN, REFURBISH, OR BUILD? Location is important, not only to accommodate production, but also to support branding and marketing with the image created by a solid front of house and/or tasting room. You don’t want to sink every cent into your facilities, however — we’ll discuss the dollars and cents a little later. REGIONALLY EXCLUSIVE OR NATIONWIDE? There are pros and cons to both, of course. If you are setting up shop in your hometown and the sign says “Population: 50,” you might want to consider a distributor. Conversely, there is value in being an exclusive best-kept secret if you can afford to wait for the return on investment. TASTING ROOM ONLY OR MASS PRODUCTION? Keying off the item above, reverse engineer your plans from your ultimate goal to determine what equipment you need to invest in. Do you need a labeling machine or will you do it by hand to start?
WHAT ARE YOUR FEDERAL, STATE, AND CITY REGULATIONS? Get licensed federally first then quickly find out what’s required in your state and city. All agencies act independently, so it’s up to you to do your homework. Joining your local guild can help guide you tremendously. CLEAR SPIRITS OR WHISKEY OR BOTH? This is a timing question. Whiskeys (bourbon, rye, single malt) need to age while clear spirits (gin, vodka, white rum) don’t. If you want to build a robust operation, diversifying is definitely something to consider. In this way, you can generate revenue now with a vodka product while your grandpa’s family rye recipe is aging nicely. MAKE A SHOPPING LIST OF MUST-HAVE EQUIPMENT. Obviously having a still is important, but you’ll also need a hydrometer, a scale, storage tanks, access to good water, etc.
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Now how do we pay for it? Decades ago, bank loans and the occasional business investor were the only options to start a distillery, but with the explosion and popularity of the craft beverage market, combined with the advent of the internet and social media, the options for getting funding have expanded. The name of the game is to hold onto as much capital as possible for as long as possible. It’s difficult to estimate an exact starting point for investment. There are variances based on region and whether or not you start with used equipment, for example, but overall cost will be significant. Banks can be reluctant to finance craft distillery start-ups because profit margins are usually small and there is a notable risk. Let’s look at some of the different financial resource options and what each are best suited for.
HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT. This is like taking out a second mortgage where the equity in your home or other property are used as the collateral. This gives you about 80% of the value of the property to invest into your new distillery as you see fit. The draw period on these funds is typically five to 10 years in which you are only required to repay the interest on your loan. After the draw period ends, you begin making payments on the principal of the loan, which can continue for 10-20 years. Not an option for the faint of heart. REWARDS-BASED CROWDFUNDING. This option has grown tremendously as it does several things: gets your new brand terrific social media exposure and hypes your product while simultaneously encouraging people to invest in its inception with the enticement of “exclusivity” and other incentives upon launch. Because funders don’t acquire any actual ownership in the business, there are no conflicts with federal securities laws. EQUIPMENT FINANCING. You can get nearly all the equipment you need to get started, by using a commercial equipment-financing company. Because it works like a lease, this is a great way to cover these big-ticket items without giving up any capital. Evaluate carefully though. Not all financing companies will fund start-ups.
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Cheat sheet of start-up checkpoints PREPARATION: Draw up a business plan — brand,
name, and vision for your product(s)
Evaluate funding sources Secure licenses and register for taxes Join local guilds and national associations Do market research to determine distribution
GETTING STARTED: Secure funding source(s) Secure facility location (some steps
include; certificate of occupancy, state/federal, licensing, etc.)
Secure equipment Secure vendor suppliers (for
ingredients and ancillary items)
Plan “white” spirits (if applicable) to
start while aged spirits are in the queue
Acquire employees Set-up a simple website Utilize affordable or free advertising initially
like social media posts and word-of-mouth reviews to get your distillery’s name out
STATE & LOCAL FINANCING. Some municipalities offer financing options to aid startups while others offer Tax Incentive Financing to encourage development in certain areas. It’s worth looking into what local incentives are available in your area. Don’t get discouraged or intimidated, just work hard, be patient, and have fun! Everything worthwhile takes time and just know it could take a while to establish the reputation that will put you on the map.
Jason Nadeau is Senior Equipment Finance Manager of North Star Leasing. For more information visit www.northstarleasing.com or call (802) 860-3586.
JEPPSON’S MALÖRT THE SPIRIT CHICAGO LOVES TO HATE
WRITTEN BY CARRIE DOW
here is a story — I don’t know if it’s true — that says Swedish immigrant Carl Jeppson was selling his homemade spirit brännvin in Chicago door to door from a suitcase. Brännvin’s main ingredient is wormwood, a bitter herbal plant, which Jeppson called Malört after the Swedish word for wormwood. However, there was a slight problem. The year is 1932, the height of Prohibition. Two cops approached Jeppson to ask what he was doing. Instead of explaining, Jeppson offered the men a sample of his elixir. Coughing and gagging, the cops decided his liquid was so foul that no one in their right mind would drink it recreationally and therefore it must be medicine. With the support of local law enforcement, Jeppson would continue selling his “medicinal” digestif, branding it as Jeppson’s Malört after Prohibition ended in 1934. “Whether that exact scenario went down I don’t know,” laughed Dan Janes, Marketing Director of CH Distillery in Chicago. “Basically the gist of how he skirted federal regulation was by selling it as a cure-all.”
SKIRTING THE LAW:
WEREN’T WORMWOOD-BASED SPIRITS BANNED IN THE US FROM 1912 TO 2007? That’s not technically true. Thujone, a chemical compound in wormwood, was what was actually banned. Wormwood products, specifically absinthe, were assumed to contain large amounts of thujone, which was mistakenly thought to have hallucinogenic properties that made people violent. Modern research debunked these myths a while ago, but the government didn’t get around to updating the statute banning thujone from food and beverages until 2007. The TTB changed the wording to make thujone products from wormwood acceptable as long as the bottle contains less than 10 parts per million. According to the Wormwood Society, a non-profit absinthe enthusiast association, the wording changed from “zero thujone” to “thujone-free.” None of this explains Jeppson’s Malört pre-2007 production, however. Atkinson says the wormwood he uses is thujonefree and, as far as he knows, always has been.
For 85 years, Jeppson’s Malört has had a special grip on the people of Chicago. Through the latter half of the 20th century, Windy City parents, grandparents, and the occasional uncle would pass the traditional after-dinner nip down to their children when they came of age. Bartenders kept bottles hidden on shelves waiting to serve it to diehard patrons, those celebrating 21st birthdays, or the unsuspecting tourist. Chicago loves it, but more accurately loves to hate it. Today Chicago’s love-to-hate spirit has returned to its roots since Tremaine Atkinson of CH Distillery purchased the brand from the product’s third owner, Patricia Gabelick, last fall. Even though production had moved to Auburndale, Florida, over 90% of Malört’s consumption comes from Cook County, Illinois. When Atkinson, originally from California but a proud
HOW DOES MALÖRT TASTE? According to more Malört folklore, Carl Jeppson, who also owned a cigar shop, smoked so much that it ruined his taste buds. As a result, Malört was the only thing he could taste, which may explain the spirit’s…intensity. Comedian John Hodgman describes the taste as “pencil shavings and heartbreak.” Sam Mechling, Malört’s Brand Ambassador says it’s “like baby aspirin wrapped in a grapefruit peel, bound with rubber bands, and then soaked in well gin.” Tremaine Atkinson of CH Distillery says to him it “tastes like chewing on a grapefruit peel soaked in strong drink, consumed while filling up at a gas station in a sketchy neighborhood late at night.” WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
Chicago resident for over 20 years, was given the opportunity to bring Malört home, he pounced. In late February, CH Distillery loaded the first bottles of Malört made in Chicago in 30 years. Now Malört is taking over the world. “I think many Chicagoans, I like to call them Malört enthusiasts, take pride in it,” said Janes, “I feel the true Chicago experience is taking that shot of Malört.” Janes said a big reason for the brand’s resurgence the last decade is the social media phenomenon known as #malortface, people posting videos and photos of their friends’ reactions to trying Malört for the first time. “That ‘Oh my God, what the hell is that’ face,” laughed Janes. Malört’s recipe is a well-kept secret, but Janes can confirm they use European wormwood. Janes also said when Atkinson began test batches, he decided to remove the artificial coloring. “Some of that is about our portfolio of products,” he explained, which includes award-winning certified organic CH Vodka and all natural London Dry Gin. He also said the distillery mills and mashes grains in-house, most sourced from within 60 miles of Chicago. Why would a refined distillery with a love of the all-natural be interested in such a reviled spirit? Atkinson said it’s about a love for the Second City itself. “I love Malört for the same reasons I love Chicago,” he explained. “It’s bold, strong, and unapologetically itself.” He also added that CH, which not only stands for Chicago but the fundamental compounds in alcohol, carbon and hydrogen, is already known for their bitter herbal liqueurs so Malört fit right in. When Atkinson’s purchase became official last fall, the Florida facility had enough bottles in stock that he didn’t have to go into production right away. That was both good and bad because it gave him time to refine the process in his new 20,000-square foot facility in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. It also meant he and his staff had the privilege of taste testing many, many batches. We work well together. “I know it was 20-plus iterations before Tremaine felt that we were replicating the same product being produced in Florida,” Janes noted. He also said that with news of the purchase, Malört enthusiasts are coming out of the woodwork. “Not a day goes by we don’t get an email or a social media post from someone requesting Malört in their state,” he said. In response, CH Distillery has increased distribution to surrounding states with plans to add more. Atkinson said they expect to produce 300,000 or more bottles this year. Why all this for spirit most people don’t even like? “I think,” said Janes, “a lot of people are drawn to [Malört] because it is unique. And with all the eras that it has survived with the supply and demand only being in the Chicago area that says a lot. There were a number of times it could have gone away forever. It’s a survival story.”
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ISN’T THAT SPECIAL? Navigating Limited Releases, Single Barrels, and Cask Finishes WRITTEN BY MICH AEL KINSTLICK
hiskey connoisseurs have been expanding their palates and seeking out new and unusual offerings, while distilleries have been eager to supply them with limited edition products and special bottlings. These products usually carry special designations such as “Single Barrel,” “Cask Finished,” “Barrel Select,” or “Small Batch.”
“Barrel Select” products are typically made from a limited number of barrels the distillery has deemed worthy of distinction. Some distilleries also use the term to describe private barrel programs. There are no hard and fast rules regarding this designation. One distillery might label their entire release as “Barrel Select Bourbon,” others might reserve a hundred, or ten, or more or fewer barrels for a release depending on their size and total volumes. Similarly, “Small Batch” has no established meaning or parameters. It can mean strictly batched production, refer to how the whisky was batched at blending & bottling, or just serve as a general signifier of intended quality. One might assume that “Small Batch” whiskeys are actually made in individual batches in a pot still, but they can be made in continuous columns like the majority of whiskeys today. There is no standard of practice here.
“Single Barrel” releases are meant to be strictly the contents of a sole barrel. They are typically bottled at cask strength to preserve the character of the whiskey as barreled, although there are counter-examples such as Old Forester Single Barrel bottled at 90 proof and Four Roses Single Barrel at 100 proof. Each distillery treats their Single Barrel program differently. For some it can represent the purest expression of their core release; for others, an opportunity to present barrels that fall “outside the lines” of their normal mashbills or flavor profiles. Often, leading retailers will select individual barrels available only in their store. In short, the range of Single Barrel releases is almost limitless. Generally speaking, “Cask Finished” whiskeys are those that have been harvested from their initial aging
Special releases, along with Single Barrel and Barrel Select products, offer an incredible range of opportunities to explore and discover new whiskeys. barrel to be rebarreled in a used cask, with the aim of imparting the character of that used cask to the underlying whiskey.
SHERRY casks have long been part of the Scotch whisky industry, and U.S. whiskey makers, including several craft producers, are introducing sherryfinished expressions. Sherry itself features several distinctive designations, each with their own nuances. All Sherries are white wines that have been modestly fortified to stop fermentation. They are classified on flavor profile and aged in a Solera system with those of their type before bottling. •
Fino is the lightest Sherry, usually pale yellow in color and with nutty and herbaceous flavor. Manzanilla is a Fino-style from near the sea and offers additional maritime notes.
Amontillado and Oloroso are darker, richer, and more complex. The nuttiness is more pronounced and is joined with caramel, spice, dried fruit, and wood.
Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherry is a true dessert wine, made sweet from grapes that are dried before processing. Offers flavors of figs, chocolate, and dates/honey.
Popular Scotch whiskies with Sherry finishes include the Macallan, whose Sherry Oak series offers multiple release points aged in Sherry-seasoned casks, and Glenmorangie’s Lasanta. Other examples of Sherry-finished malt whiskeys/whiskies include Westland’s Sherry Wood from the US, Taiwan-based distillery Kavalan’s Sherry Cask, and Kurayoshi Sherry Cask Pure Malt from Japan. As mentioned, U.S. bourbon and rye makers have also started offering Sherry finished releases. Major manufacturers have released limited volumes of products like Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece (PX Sherry / Bourbon) and Masters Keep Revival (Oloroso / Bourbon) from Wild
Turkey. Meanwhile, craft producers are catching up with products like Wyoming Whiskey’s Double Cask (PX Sherryfinished Bourbon), Nelson Greenbrier’s Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish, and we at Coppersea Distilling will be releasing our first PX Sherry finish Single Barrel Rye for Rye Week in New York this October.
PORT wine also uses fortification to halt fermentation, usually early in the process to retain significant sugars. Port has also seen its casks used in secondary whiskey aging for some time. Port is traditionally a dessert wine and most varieties tend towards sweetness. “Tawny” Ports tend to be a bit lighter, while “Ruby” versions are darker and thicker. Again, Scotch whisky makers have been making Port-finished whiskies for a number of years, including releases from Balvenie (Portwood 21 Year), and Dalmore (Port Wood Reserve Highland Single Malt). And, again, U.S. whiskey makers are following their lead and adding new character to their whiskeys. Sazerac’s Barton 1792 offers a Port Finish expression, and Angel’s Envy uses a Port finish for their standard release. More recent entrants like Woodinville Port Finish Bourbon and Breckenridge Port Cask Bourbon have joined them. Beyond these two classics, whisky makers have used other wine casks to finish their spirits, including traditional dessert wines like Royal Tokaji and Sauternes, as well as fine vintages like Champagne and Bordeaux. Examples include Benromach (Tokajifinish), Bruichladdich’s Octomore 4.2 (Sauternes), Arran’s Grand Cru Champagne Cask, Bunnahabhain’s Moine Bordeaux Red Wine Cask, and Glen Moray’s Classic Chardonnay Cask Finish. American makers have been similarly experimenting, usually looking for barrels
from high-quality California wineries such as Amador’s Double Barrel, Woodford Reserve’s Master Collection Sonoma-Cutrer Bourbon, or Hillrock’s Napa Cabernet-finished Bourbon.
Other barrels for finishing whiskey include spirits like Cognac / Brandy, Rum, and Orange Curacao and more experimental efforts such as barrels that held coffee beans, maple syrup, or a previously barrel-finished beer. Examples might include Captain’s Reserve (Cognac-finished) from Glenlivet, or Brenne’s Cognac Finish Whisky, and other manufacturer’s previously mentioned also feature Cognac, Brandy, or Rum finished offerings. More recently Parker’s Heritage released an Orange Curacao-aged whiskey. Several whiskeys feature maple syrup barrel aging, including Crown Royal Maple Finish, Tuthilltown’s Hudson Maple Cask Rye, and Cask Proof Roundstone Rye Maple Finished from Catoctin Creek. These examples are only scratching the surface of the amazing range of barrel-finished whiskeys. These special releases, along with Single Barrel and Barrel Select products, offer an incredible range of opportunities to explore and discover new whiskeys. Finishes or unique offerings from a distillery you enjoy can be distinctive and help understand the relative impact of mash, distillation, and aging on the final product.
Michael Kinstlick is CEO of Coppersea Distilling. For more info visit www.coppersea.com. 133
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