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.
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