end of the production process and significant consideration is given to downstream modification, whether that is by wood/accelerated maturation, redistillation with botanicals, compounding, or simply dilution/filtration/packaging. From our perspective, we recognize that the preparation of distilled spirits is a practical subject and something that cannot be legally performed at home (in contrast to beer- and wine-making). To that end, all students are required to complete 30 hours of lab study, where they perform various tasks, including learning the pitfalls of proofing, fermenting and distilling various substrates, including molasses, malt extracts and grape extracts to make nascent rum, whiskey and eau-de-vie respectively. All final products are presented to the student group and evaluated by formal sensory evaluation to highlight attributes that are typical of the specific category being considered. We contend that without this hands-on experience, an education program of this nature is devalued. Through-
out our 80 hour program, we introduce key business concepts such as logistics, marketing, sustainability, manufacturing/utilities costs and business planning to help embed the notion that this is a business and that, ultimately, money has to be made to help ensure a viable going concern. Whilst our primary focus is on university education, there is a need for educating those either new to or intending to join the industry. Currently we address this by providing so-called PACE (Professional and Continuing Education) courses on start-up distilling. The focus here is less on the scientific and technical aspects and more on defining product space and, therefore, equipment needs and ultimate business model. Going forward we have just launched the first part of our distilling course online. This course focuses on the science of distilled spirits production, a prelude to the next course on production and analysis, where we consider specific spirit drink categories. As a final thought, the research-led com-
ponent in our lab is focused on tailoring botanical flavors in distillates and accelerated maturation of spirits under controlled conditions. Building such attributes into lab classes allows participants to experiment with color and flavor development, and again using taste evaluation to compare and contrast the different approaches used by the various groups. Invariably these are entertaining learning experiences and can in some cases engender significant competitive feelings. As the global distilling industry continues to expand and diversify, there is more need than ever to provide education and training options to facilitate quality, consistency and innovation in the distilled spirits industry. Education and training needs to be contemporary, relevant, and enabling to best contribute to the long-term success of the sector. 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.
CHARRED TO PERFECTION. The Barrel Mill crafts tight grained white oak staves into premium barrels. Then the magic happens. We toast and char the barrels to your specifications to inspire the unique flavor profile you desire. Here’s to excellence – from barrel to glass.
Let’s Talk. 800.201.7125
Choose from five sizes
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.