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TABLE of CONTENTS A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
QUARTERLY GUILD & INDUSTRY REPORTS
Updates from guilds and associations within states, across the nation, and beyond!
THE COVID CHRONICLES
How distillers around the nation are coping
WHAT THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS IS TELLING US
It has had a knack for exposing the weak spots in every industry, including ours.
FEDERAL RELIEF & REGULATION CARES, PPP, and FET
HEALTHY EMPLOYEES, HEALTHY WORKPLACE
An illustrated guide for distilleries
THE REGULATORY RESPONSE TO COVID-19 Lessons for moving forward
THE SCIENCE IN YOUR STILL
THE IMPACT OF THE HIGH PROOF SERIES OAK ALTERNATIVES IN WHISKEY
OPINION: IT'S TIME FOR APPELLATION
IT’S HIP TO BE SQUARE
WHAT WORDS REVEAL
Preparation for social gatherings
A cheat sheet
Charting the science behind fermentation and distillation
WHO WAS CARRY NATION?
Distillers reflect on enduring tough times
PANDEMICS, PRODUCTS, AND PURGATORY
The life of a spirits brand representative in the age of COVID-19
INDUSTRIAL ALCOHOL OPERATIONS POST COVID-19 What to know if you never want to stop making sanitizer
Looking beyond organic certification
A look at the Temperance Movement’s most notorious figure
A spirit made from Jerusalem artichokes
Privateer Rum of Ipswich, Massachusetts
POITÍN – STRONG, OLD AND BOLD Steeped in colorful history and lore
CULTIVATING A GARDEN OF SPIRITS
Ironton Distillery of Denver, Colorado
TOPINAMBUR 97 RUM’S REVOLUTIONARIES
Dixie Vodka of Charleston, South Carolina
Exploring contact time and dosage rate to achieve targeted sensory results
Distillers should learn from winemakers Cultivating wild yeast for your distillery
THE CRAFT BEHIND COLLABORATION 125
Part 1: The Social Media Quick Start Guide
Raw materials, processing and terroir
The eight best questions to ask
LEADERSHIP THROUGH CRISIS
DISTILLERIES AS VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES 58
PRODUCT QUALITY INFLUENCERS
HIRING THAT STAR EMPLOYEE FOR YOUR TASTING ROOM
Suggestions for how we can all help ourselves — and each other
Part II (2020 Q2)
TTB'S MODERNIZATION OF LABELING AND ADVERTISING REGULATIONS
IN THE DAYS AHEAD 55
RUM AGING SCIENCE
SANITIZER & YOUR CRAFT BRAND
How two owners are holding it together
FEW Spirits and Mount Mansfield Maple Company
HOW SUSTAINABLE IS YOUR GRAIN? 88
Brand Buzz with David Schuemann
GERRY ROWLAND OF COIT SPIRITS
THE DISTILLERY AS A VENUE
The oft-untold story of the source of sherry’s famous flavor profile (prior to 1989)
Wiggly Bridge Distillery of York, Maine
On exigency, fixatives and gin tea
TIPS TO LEVERAGE AND PROTECT TRADEMARKS IN CHALLENGING TIMES 74
A comic by Haller and Cosanti
Distillers grapple with the dirty details of sanitizer
Relief options at the state and federal level
Opportunities for craft distillers in the midst of a pandemic
You might be surprised where value hides
NEW PRODUCT, NEW PROBLEMS 39
COVID-19 SHUTDOWN UPDATES FOR CRAFT DISTILLERS
Are you working in harmony?
MEET COLORADO’S WHISKEY SISTERS
Connecting craft distillers with highquality grains direct from farmers
Stick around on the shelf by skipping rectangular or overly tall bottles
The historic origins of words about drinking
from the COVER 114
Privateer Rum in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Image by Amanda Joy Christensen. See their story on page 99.
Issue 31 /// Summer 2020 PUBLISHER & EDITOR Brian Christensen CREATIVE DIRECTOR Amanda Joy Christensen SENIOR WRITERS George B. Catallo Devon Trevathan
@Apartment_Bartender Luis Ayala Hilary Baumann Candace Lynn Bell Renée Cebula Dan Christopherson Corey Day Brian B. DeFoe Carrie Dow Harry Haller Ashley Hanke Bethany K. Hatef William D. Hockett Reade A. Huddleston Paul Hughes, Ph.D.
Johnny Jeffrey Crawford McCarthy Courtney McKee Tim Knittel Aaron Knoll Rich Manning Kurt A. Rosentrater, Ph.D. David Schuemann Gary Spedding, Ph.D. Matt Strickland Gabe Toth Colton Weinstein Andrew Wiehebrink Jason Zeno
Model Sizes 2”- 3” 1 or 3 Phase Wireless Remote
Brock Caron Francesca Cosanti
PHOTOGRAPHERS Luis Ayala Amanda Joy Christensen
SALES & MARKETING Ashley Monroe ARTISAN SPIRIT is a quarterly publication by Artisan Spirit Media. www.artisanspiritmag.com facebook.com/ArtisanSpiritMagazine ArtisanSpiritM
General Inquiries (509) 944-5919 Advertising (509) 991-8112 PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223 All contents ©2019. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Neither Artisan Spirit Media nor ARTISAN SPIRIT magazine assume responsibility for errors in content, photos or advertisements.
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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.
GIVING DAD A BOURBON THAT I ACTUALLY MADE THE MASH FOR?
ATCHISON , KS
At MGP, each step in the process of creating premium bourbons and whiskeys is guided by the pride and passion that come with pouring someone a perfect drink. We work in true collaboration with partners of all sizes to develop and consistently produce the exact ﬂavor proﬁle their consumers prefer. Especially when sharing it with someone they love.
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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.
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.
BSG is focused on supplying craft distillers with the best ingredients from around the world. The craft distilling market trusts BSG to deliver the finest ingredients at competitive prices, without sacrificing customer service. With distilling malts and grains from Rahr Malting Co., Weyermann®, Simpsons, Crisp and Malting Company of Ireland, as well as a full range of yeasts, yeast nutrients, enzymes, botanicals, and finishing products, we have a wide range of distilling ingredients to help you create high quality, artisanal spirits.
Cage and Sons Distilling Systems build premium distillation systems and equipment for premier distilleries. Every element of Cage and Sons equipment is designed and crafted to provide you with the very best distilling experience at an affordable rate because we know that bottom line matters, but so does function. At Cage and Sons, adequate is never an option, and we continue to develop and design new high functioning, cutting-edge distillation systems that enhance the distillation industry. Cage and Sons works every day to bring you the very best distillation systems for the very best value.
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.
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The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is the leading voice and advocate for distilled spirits in the United States. Representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits, DISCUS advocates on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels; promotes the distilled spirits sector, raising awareness and opening markets in the United States and around the globe; and encourages responsible and moderate consumption of distilled spirits as part of a healthy adult lifestyle based on evidence-based research and policy. DISCUS also powers Spirits United, a grassroots platform for the distilled spirits industry. Spirits United is comprised of a community of advocates united with a common goal: to ensure adult consumers can enjoy distilled spirits where they want, how they want, and when they want. Learn more at distilledspirits.org and spiritsunited.org.
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 wide-range 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.
Trusted Oak Expertise Since 1912. We’ve been in this industry for over 100 years, during which time we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great barrel to age great spirits. Our R&D team and account managers have hundreds of barrels currently in experimentation. Partnering with distillers, we think outside the box to develop new products that push your vision forward. Our Mission: To craft world-class oak barrels and other cooperage products so our employees, customers and communities flourish.
Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits is the industry leader in supplying fermentation products and valueadded services to the distilled spirits industry. We specialize in the research, development, production and marketing of yeast and yeast nutrients as well as a solid belief in education of the distilled spirits industry. A vital part of the alcohol production process, fermentation products from Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits have been designed and selected to create value by tailoring objective solutions to distillery needs.
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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.
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.
For over 60 years Tapi USA has produced cork stoppers and a wide variety of bottle closures. Family-owned and operated since its inception, our company 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.
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: Where the hell do I begin? From the Spring issue to now, the world turned on a dime. One quarter, a few months, and so much changed. Even as I write this, parts of the world are adjusting back to a modified sort of normal, and others are not. This year has seen profound strife, and reminded us of the many challenges humanity has yet to fully face. From international pandemics, to racism, and to potentially (pardon my language here) fucking murder hornets. Yet, the distilling communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resolve runs deep. You have pivoted entire facilities into producing sanitizer, moved mountains to take care of your neighbors and fellow business, and donated to support causes like Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and initiatives for fellow distillers like Chris Montana at Du Nord Craft Spirits and the community of Minneapolis. The Artisan Spirit team serves the distilling industry because we're fans of the people first and the alcohol second. Witnessing the actions you've taken to tell your communities you want to keep them safe and that their lives matter has only solidified our belief that your value goes way beyond your ability to craft a good drink. We know this year has been challenging. We hope that with this issue we're providing some tools for making the tough choices ahead a little easier. We remain honored to serve the human beings of the distilling industry dedicated to bringing this world a future filled with kindness, respect, and good spirits.
Brian Christensen (509) 944-5919 /// email@example.com /// PO Box 31494, Spokane, WA 99223
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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
small batches. big selection. one clear choice.
LEADERS IN PACKAGING SOLUTIONS B THE CRAFT DISTILLING INDUSTRY www.oberk.com
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huge floor stock inventory 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.
Y R T S U D N I & D L GUI Y L R E T QUAR
S T R O P RE I
f there was any doubt that we
were living through a nationally shared historical event, this volume of the state distilling guild report will provide hard evidence to dismiss the skepticism. Tasting room sales are decimated, sanitizer is the current coin of the realm, and while the world is turned upside down state guilds have a shared sense of optimism. The following reports will honestly highlight the plight of distilleries in these states, but it also shows a shared sense of community. Despite it all, there is hope. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; BRIAN CHRISTENSEN
AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS ASSOCIATION STATE GUILD COMMITTEE It has been a pretty wild ride since our last report! Since the beginning of March, the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) along with the state guilds have been working tirelessly to help our distilleries remain viable. Those efforts have mainly fallen into four categories.
> FET REDUCTION: We continue to push for CBMTRA to be made permanent as well we continue to try and find a path for FET to be forgiven for the rest of 2020.
> CONSUMER ACCESS: We continue to work with Guilds and State Governors to improve paths to market during the COVID crisis including direct to consumer sales, delivery, shipping, and helping with other creative solutions like cocktails to go.
> SANITIZER: As a number of distilleries pivoted to hand sanitizer, the ACSA worked closely with the TTB, FDA, DOT, and FDA to ensure it was done safely and effectively while clarifying the rules and making it as easy as possible to help our communities. Thanks to all that did this; many in our industry became heroes through these efforts.
> REOPENING RESOURCES: Recently we have moved to helping distilleries reopen with tasting room best practices guidelines and help in connecting distillers to the resources they will need to survive. We hope you are weathering this storm and staying as positive as possible. Gina and I hope to share a few drams and stories with you soon as we chart a new path in the post-COVID world. P.T. Wood & Gina Holman
ACSA State Guild Committee Co-Chairs WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM â&#x20AC;
AMERICAN DISTILLING INSTITUTE Since ADI’s last quarterly update here, the world and our industry have of course seen some dramatic changes. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ADI staff have been working hard to adapt and react to what remains an evolving situation. We are focusing on staying healthy, keeping our families safe, and responding to the immediate consequences of the nationwide economic slowdown, all while looking ahead to understanding and mitigating the uncertainties ahead. To that end, we have created an online resource page — a clearinghouse of current industry news and regulatory guidance.1 VIRTUAL CONFERENCE As of this writing, mass gatherings remain widely restricted. With that in mind ADI is changing the format of our annual conference, originally scheduled for March 2020. We will now host our annual conference as a virtual event, July 14–16th, 2020. Take part in a number of educational breakout sessions, a virtual expo floor, classes, and panel
discussions.2 Just as many distilleries are contributing to their communities’ efforts with critical supplies of sanitizer, ADI has taken steps to pitch in where we can. Our supply of 3,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, as well as StillDragons’ gift of 2,000 hand towels, have been redistributed to the response community. ADI TOTE BAGS MADE INTO FACE MASKS In April, ADI donated the tote bags originally intended for this year’s conference attendees (sponsored by Mother Murphy's) to be repurposed into more than 3,400 face masks to help support those working with the most vulnerable in the Bay Area. INDUSTRY UPDATE The months ahead will no doubt see many distilleries struggle. The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) and ADI conducted a survey addressing the current economic state of the craft spirits industry.3
Among the key takeaways: Approximately 43 percent of distillery employees have been let go or furloughed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. And, on average, distilleries have reported a 64 percent decline in sales. ADI JUDGING WINNERS ANNOUNCED4 We would like to congratulate all winners and thank everyone who participated in the event. The level of quality and artistic expression in spirits continues to rise every year. ADI VIDEO LIBRARY5 Our newly revised page features all breakout sessions from 2017-2019, as well as past webinars, content from the Gin Summit, the Craft Distilling Expo and more. The new page is searchable and able to be viewed on all devices with a web browser.
Brad Plummer Director of Communications, ADI Editor in Chief, Distiller Magazine
DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is very proud to represent this amazing industry as distillers across the country step up to help their communities by producing hand sanitizer. DISCUS recognizes that this is an incredibly difficult time for distillers. Tasting rooms are closed, events are canceled, production is suspended, and distillers are practicing social distancing with their loyal consumers. These measures are necessary, but of course, they have the potential to cause financial strain on craft distillers in particular. At the same time, distillers across the
country are stepping up to produce hand sanitizer to help local communities flatten the COVID-19 curve. These efforts represent the dedication that America’s distillers have to giving back to their local communities. DISCUS is doing our part to lead this effort too. We launched our COVID-19 Hand Sanitizer Connection Portal, a resource for distillers looking to produce hand sanitizer that provides a list of the necessary ingredients and supplies for its production and information to help identify distribution methods.6 The portal is available for ALL American distillers to access. In addition, DISCUS is continuing to work
at the federal and state level to advocate for distillers and their businesses during this uncertain time. Our Federal Government Relations team and Spirits United is working to push Congress to include distillers in any legislative packages that provide economic relief for distillers. At the state level, DISCUS worked hard to ensure state governments enacted creative solutions for consumers to enjoy cocktails at home responsibly, including allowing restaurants to sell pre-mixed cocktails and spirits for takeout and delivery. Specifically after Pennsylvania completely shut down state spirit sales with no options for curbside
1 https://distilling.com/resources/covid-19-information-page/ 2 https://distilling.com/2020-virtual-craft-spirits-conference-vendor-expo 3 https://distilling.com/resources/covid-19-information-page/new-survey-shows-covid-19-creating-severe-financial-hardships-for-craft-distillers/ 4 https://distilling.com/events/judging/awards/ 5 https://distilling.com/resources/videos/ 6 https://www.distilledspirits.org/distillers-responding-to-covid-19/
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UNIQUE SPIRIT RECIPES DESERVE QUALITY INGREDIENTS
Enzymes Nutrients Yeast bsgdistilling.com firstname.lastname@example.org 1.855.819.3950
pickup or delivery for consumers, our State Government Relations team made a full court press to urge Governor Tom Wolf to enact solutions that would allow consumers to safely buy spirits in the state. DISCUS will continue to lead the fight in support of distillers as federal and state laws and regulations are changed to meet
our current reality. As the U.S. Congress is evaluating how to support economic recovery, we are now focusing on a variety of industry specific economic stimulus initiatives, like making the Craft Beverage Modernization Tax Reform Act permanent to help distillers during these uncertain times. Most importantly, we are grateful to America’s
distillers for showing us how to handle this crisis with strength and resilience. Chris R. Swonger President & CEO Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and Responsibility.org
NORTH AMERICAN CRAFT MALTSTERS GUILD With new leadership and a successful sold-out Craft Malt Conference, 2020 was off to a great start for the Craft Maltsters Guild. Then COVID-19 hit. As expected, the pandemic's negative impacts on craft beer and spirits have trickled down to craft maltsters, which I'll expound on later in this update. But first, I want to share two highlights from the third annual Craft Malt Conference. At the conference, Megan Phillips Goldenberg of New Growth Associates shared preliminary results of a craft malt industry benchmarking survey conducted for the Guild. The first-ever poll of its kind for the industry, the study helped paint a picture of the "average craft maltster" and highlight craft malt's economic impact at the farm level. A summary of the findings is forthcoming. The 2020 Malt Cup winners were also announced at the conference. Now in its second year, craft maltsters from the U.S. and Canada had the opportunity to compete in two contest categories (up from one the previous year) — light Munich and pale palt. Quality analysis was conducted on all samples by the Montana State University Barley, Malt, and Brewing Quality Lab to ensure entries met the specs for each category. Samples then underwent a blind hot-steep method wort tasting in numerous locations around the United States. Conducted by qualified sensory panels that included brewers, distillers, Cicerones, and malting experts. When it comes to how COVID-19 is affecting our industry, a survey of our member malthouses showed that nearly every craft maltster has been impacted in some
2020 MALT CUP WINNERS PALE MALT CATEGORY
LIGHT MUNICH CATEGORY
1886 Malt – FULTON, NY
Blacklands Malt – LEANDER, TX
LINC Malt – SPOKANE VALLEY, WA
Briess Malt & Ingredients – CHILTON, WI
Admiral Maltings – ALAMEDA, CA
Root Shoot Malting – LOVELAND, CO
BEST OF SHOW WINNER 1886 MALT — FULTON, NY
form or another. On March 19th, the federal government classified malthouses as 'critical infrastructure' amid the outbreak. Despite being deemed essential, our poll showed 88 percent of craft maltsters have experienced reduced sales and more than half have slowed production in response to the virus. The guild is conducting a follow-up impact survey in late April to continue to gauge the evolving impact of COVID-19 on the industry and will release results in May. In an effort to help members during these challenging times, the guild created the Coronavirus Resource Center for craft maltsters and other businesses in the malt industry.7 The information hub provides resources on legislative info, business guidance, quality and safety recommendations, and links to COVID-19 resources created by trade organizations like the Brewers Association and American Distilling Institute. Along with this resource center, our entire membership has been given full access to our extensive webinar and video archive.
This archive contains more than 100 craft malting educational videos from past webinars and conferences. Finally, current and new members have been given the option to defer dues payments until mid-June. Despite the tumultuous start to the year, it's important to note, brewers and distillers continue to use and support craft malt. Since the first of the year, we've welcomed an additional 20 participating brewers and distillers into the Craft Malt Certified Seal program; included among them are Copperworks Distilling Co. of Seattle, Washington, Amalga Distillery in Juneau, Alaska, and Longtucky Spirits of Longmont, Colorado. Additionally, several of our malthouse members have donated product to support distilleries with hand sanitizer production and are participating in other fundraising efforts. Jesse Bussard Executive Director North American Craft Maltsters Guild
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AMERICAN STATE GUILDS CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIA ARTISANAL DISTILLERS GUILD The distilling world is no longer an after-thought and has found a new avenue to be a part of our communities. News of shortages were met with quick and decisive action by local distillers to make hand sanitizer and some also jumped into a hard surface spray. This is not news to any of you, but how much more comfortable were you knowing the national and state organizations had your back? ACSA and CADG assisted by going to local, state and federal agencies to ask the questions, get the approvals and move the “red tape” at speeds never seen before. CADG
MASSACHUSETTS MASSACHUSETTS DISTILLERS ALLIANCE Like other distiller's across the country the Massachusetts Distillers Alliance has pivoted to making hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 emergency. Thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer have been produced by MDA members. Whether producing it themselves in their distilleries or delivering high
MICHIGAN MICHIGAN BREWERS GUILD Governor Whitmer has given the go for Michigan distilleries to start producing hand sanitizer while the coronavirus outbreak
began work on adjusting the CA - ABC regulations of our industry that has allowed temporary direct to consumer shipping, curbside pick up of orders, free delivery and the ability to deliver high proof spirits for sanitizing products.8 The communication between our industry and the California state government has been incredible. ACSA has worked tirelessly on formulations, taxes, labeling and many other areas that have opened up this opportunity for us nationally. Tasting rooms are closed and bottle sales are helping, but we all look forward to opening back up to the public. The efforts of CADG members are going to be meaningful and pay dividends in many ways. Donations by DSP’s to hospitals, fire fighters, law enforcement, elder and child care, along with the public all cement our place in local com-
munities. Many have worked to support the essentials businesses in shipping, food processing, construction and many services the public requires. As the work continues, the next questions we will be asking is how long will this last and will it translate into people coming to visit us and support our brands? We think so. No matter the outcome, the fact that our DSP community stepped up at a time of need without being asked is something to be extremely proud of. Thank you to all who support ACSA & CADG because your dues provide the organization's budget to do this work and gain the trusted relationships needed to respond so quickly.
proof alcohol to hospitals and accredited pharmacists, thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer has been produced by MDA members for local hospitals, emergency services, first responders, and our neighbors and customers. A top priority during the last months has been engaging Massachusetts Governor Baker and others at the state level to enact changes that would give needed economic relief to Massachusetts distillers. Lobbying efforts for Massachusetts are being utilized
via massdistill.com/take-action. The initial asks from the MDA are excise tax relief for alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer, the ability to ship spirits to in-state consumers, and adding the ability to serve to-go cocktails at on-premise locations. These ideas would allow for distillers to have similar revenue streams to that of other craft beverage producers in Massachusetts. For more info, please visit massdistill.com.
continues to spread throughout the state. Normally, a distillery would have to have an industrial manufacturing permit (which none in Michigan do) but on Wednesday, March 18, The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) relaxed their regulations. A full list of distilleries actively producing
sanitizer can be found online.9 Availability is subject to change on a daily basis. Please contact the respective distillery for current production.
Executive Director California Artisanal Distillers Guild
Alison DeWolfe Privateer Rum
Dianna Stampfler Publicist
8 https://www.abc.ca.gov/third-notice-of-regulatory-relief/ 9 https://www.facebook.com/notes/michigan-craft-distillers-association/michigan-distilleries-producing-hand-sanitizer-and-contributing-to-covid-19-pand/1544233719083990/
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Health Care For Distillers Health • Dental • Vision • Life Insurance Because the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is an affiliate member of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), DISCUS members now have access to NAM Health Care: a new benefits offering that simplifies the health care experience for both you and your employees through a convenient, easy-to-use web-based platform. NAM Health Care allows smaller member companies to band together to take advantage of the enrollment efficiencies, administrative cost savings and product flexibility previously only available to larger manufacturing companies.
Access to more competitive product bundles. Fully ACA-compliant. Quicker & easier-to-use online enrollment process. Simple & convenient ongoing benefits management & administration. Reduced administrative costs. Learn more at distilledspirits.org or email@example.com. It’s easy to get a quote and we’re here to help if you have any questions.
NAM Health Care is fully ACA-compliant, administered by Mercer and sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), of which DISCUS is an affiliate member. Plans are not available to member employers in all states.
Program Administered by Mercer Health & Benefits Administration LLC AR Insurance License #100102691 | CA Insurance License #0G39709 In CA d/b/a Mercer Health & Benefits Insurance Services LLC Copyright 2020 Mercer LLC. All rights reserved.
NORTH CAROLINA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION OF NORTH CAROLINA During these pandemic times, the Distillers Association of North Carolina (DANC) has good and bad news. FIRST THE GOOD NEWS: We are proud that over 40 small, medium, and large distilleries across North Carolina are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by transitioning to pro-
OREGON OREGON DISTILLERS GUILD It has been an incredibly stressful journey for every distillery in the nation, and Oregon was no exception. Oregon tasting rooms were deemed essential and remained open for sales of bottled spirit but closed for tours and tastings. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission allowed curbside and delivery options for consumers. Some distilleries ex-
TEXAS TEXAS DISTILLED SPIRITS ASSOCIATION The COVID-19 pandemic has left an unmistakable mark on Texas, the nation, and the world. Although we know it will have a significant economic impact on Texas distilleries, we will not know the full effects of this public health emergency on Texas’ distilling industry until the outbreak is over. It is estimated that Texas distillers will face at least 60% losses in revenue during this pandemic. Since Governor Abbott announced his disaster declaration on March 13th, Texas distillers have stepped up to make hand and surface sanitizers to donate to first responders, healthcare professionals, private businesses and the people of their communities. Thus far, Texas distillers have donated over 200,000 gallons to help their fellow Texans.
duce hand sanitizer. These distilleries are serving their communities during these difficult times. After aggressive advocacy from DANC, the NC ABC Commission dropped the requirement that distilleries must purchase liquor from ABC stores for special events other than a consumer tasting event held at an ABC store. DANC emphasized that it was unreasonable to require NC distilleries to purchase their own liquor from an ABC store to be used for free tastings at special events.
their products but cannot offer tastings or mixed-beverages. Bottle sales for most NC distilleries are lower, and these conditions are expected to continue until early summer. We are very concerned that some NC distilleries may close because they were unable to transition to making sanitizer. DANC continues to lobby our congressional delegation to permanently extend the lower federal excise tax and the North Carolina General Assembly to offer assistance to distilleries so we can stay in business.
NOW THE BAD NEWS: Tasting rooms have been closed since mid-March. NC distilleries are allowed to sell
President, Distillers Association of North Carolina, Principal Partner, Southern Distilling Company
perienced drastically decreased sales, while other tasting rooms were less impacted. Many distilleries pivoted to produce hand sanitizer. Some focused on local small business while other distilleries turned to a larger market securing big contracts to help keep their staff employed. Most Oregon distilleries that had access to the resources are thankful to be able to provide for the community. While off-premise sales shot up, many of the craft brands seem to be passed over for
more familiar national brands as nervous consumers stocked their liquor cabinets. Of course, the fact that restaurants were closed meant that on-premise sales were dismal. The Oregon Distillers Guild remains an advocate for its members and will continue to explore the new normal for distilleries in Oregon. Jamie Howard
The Texas Distilled Spirits Association’s (TDSA) first task was to ensure that alcohol manufacturing and sales were deemed essential businesses. While tasting rooms were reduced to curbside delivery, manufacturing, distributing and the sale of alcohol in Texas has remained open. TDSA President, Mike Cameron, was invited to give a report of the impact that COVID-19 is having on Texas distillers at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) meeting on April 14th. His presentation to the Commissioners highlighted the hardships that distillers are facing in Texas because of lack of distribution and sales at package stores. He informed the TABC that the distilling industry is new compared to other alcohol manufacturers in the state. He asked TABC for any relief possible. Thus far, TDSA has sent seven letters to the Governor asking for relief for Texas dis-
tillers. TDSA has asked the Governor to ease restrictions on shipping and delivery, as well as lift the two-bottle limit on sales at Texas distilleries. TDSA has also provided the Governor two “best practices to reopen” documents in hopes that he will allow tasting rooms to reopen in the coming weeks. TDSA also helped coordinate a letter from over 30 members of the Texas House to the Governor requesting help for distillers during this public health emergency. TDSA especially wants to thank the Texas Whiskey Association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the American Craft Spirits Association, the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild for their support and help finding solutions to lessen the impact this pandemic is having on the alcohol industry throughout Texas.
Co-founder/Marketing Deluxe Brewing Company & Sinister Distilling Company
Texas Distilled Spirits Association WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
VIRGINIA VIRGINIA DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION The past few months have been a rollercoaster here in Virginia as regulatory priorities have heightened in response to the COVID-19 public safety and economic crisis. As the crisis began many Virginia distilleries began producing sanitizers and antiseptics as a result of civic duties and to support breaks in the industrial supply chain. As the public safety crisis progressed, the state mandated the closures of all distillery store tasting rooms, where +80% of all Virginia Spirits skus were/are sold, creating enormous economic strains on our industry members. In partnership with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, Virginia
WYOMING WYOMING DISTILLERS GUILD What a whirlwind these past few months have been for all of us here in Wyoming… along with the rest of the world! Just like almost every other distillery in the nation, most of us have dramatically shifted our production lines away from our beloved spirits and dedicated ourselves to meeting the demands of our hospitals and front-line workers for hand sanitizer. In a joint effort with the Wyoming Business Council and several members of the Wyoming Distillers Guild, we have worked tirelessly to supply thousands of gallons of FDA/WHO approved sanitizer to help combat the Covid-19 epidemic. We
General Assembly Leadership and the Virginia Governor’s Office, the state enacted several key emergency privileges to expand market access for our constituency, creating critical lifelines for distillery stores allowing our industry members to maintain income and employment throughout the pandemic. Emergency privileges included: Direct to Consumer (DTC) delivery and shipping privileges, as well as curbside pickup and togo cocktails (in March / April 2020). The privileges are set to expire on June 10, 2020; however, the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) is working with the state government to build a path towards permanency for DTC delivery and shipping privileges prior to the expiration. For promotional updates, the VDA is unveiling a fulsome communications plan
to broadly promote the Direct to Consumer (DTC) delivery and shipping privileges to Virginia residents this summer. Additionally, the VDA is unveiling an interactive consumerfacing “Virginia Spirits Trail” in late May, which will highlight all member distilleries, as well as adaptations to promote recent regulatory privileges enacted (e.g. listing which distilleries are shipping / delivering / offering curbside pickup / to-go cocktails / sanitizer, etc.), partially sponsored by the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s matching grant program.
created a statewide distribution model that is ongoing, and at this point we are happy to say that we are consistently satisfying the demand and finally have the ability to also get “hand sani” out into the public’s hands as well. Never in our distilling dreams did any of us EVER see this business conversion coming, but it is certainly an honor to be a part of the solution in these trying times. Financially many of us are taking a hit as our tasting room sales have been dramatically impacted and on-premise sales have essentially halted. However, we are resilient and have found ways to keep our brands in front of our customers, through “drive thru” bottle sales, curbside pickup of bottled cocktail creations, virtu-
al happy hours, etc. I’m sure everyone can relate; we are getting a little tired of Zoom meetings and are ready to have cocktails face to face! The big question is…is there going to be a new “Craft Sanitizer” category at the ACSA Awards next year?? We hope all of you out there are staying sane and healthy, and best of luck to all as we move forward and beyond this epidemic that surrounds us currently.
Amy Ciarametaro Executive Director Virginia Distillers Association PO Box 136 Richmond, VA 23218 Email: Amy@VirginiaSpirits.org
Travis Goodman Secretary/Treasurer, Wyoming Distillers Guild Partner, Jackson Hole Still Works firstname.lastname@example.org
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COVID-19 COVERAGE In the pre-COVID-19 world, creating a quarterly printed trade publication meant we almost exclusively got to focus on lasting content. Topics like science, distilling production, sales strategies, alcohol history, business values, and ethics. That was then. To quote from the classic Stephen King novel The Gunslinger, “The world has moved on.”
The COVID Chronicles
What the Coronavirus Crisis is Telling Us
Federal Relief & Regulation
The last few months have thrust upon us a whole new set of challenges for our industry to tackle. We could not ignore this new landscape any more than you could. So, in response we opened the doors to a flood of content that is far more topical than our standard fair. Some of the articles and concepts in this section of the publication may be out of date even before they land in your hands, but that is the risk we had to take. Just like distillers had to adapt to a new climate during the pandemic, so have we updated our strategy in this Summer edition of the publication to tackle issues that are relevant to the time we currently exist in.
New Product, New Problems
COVID-19 Shutdown Updates for Craft Distillers
Healthy Employees, Healthy Workplace
Sanitizer & Your Craft Brand
Leadership Through Crisis
In the Days Ahead
Distilleries as Virtual Experiences
Pandemics, Products, and Purgatory
Industrial Alcohol Operations Post COVID-19
The Regulatory Response to COVID-19
Tips to Leverage and Protect Trademarks in Challenging Times
All that said, we did not pivot everything to the pandemic and sanitizer. This issue is our largest ever, and we hope it helps reflect the needs of our community, our family. You will find the classic examples of distiller spotlights, heavy hitting scientific content, distilling education, and business articles you have come to expect from us. But in addition, we have set aside a fair portion of content to this new normal we find ourselves in.
HEALTH & SAFETY
BRANDING & MARKETING
BRANDING & MARKETING
To help you navigate this enormous edition of Artisan Spirit Magazine, we have an entire section dedicated to COVID-19 coverage. Looking for something specifically related to regulations and legislation, or the all-consuming world of sanitizer? It is most likely right here in this section of the publication. Find yourself burnt out reading about the pandemic? Then you can skip ahead and focus on the core content we pride ourselves on providing.
We are so damn lucky to have the support of our readers, the distilling community, and our amazing advertisers and sponsors. The team at Artisan Spirit Magazine is proud to do what we can to support and educate the distilling industry. The world may have moved on, but we are all here to move along with it. — BRIAN CHRISTENSEN, editor
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THE COVID CHRONICLES HOW DISTILLER S AROUND THE NATION ARE COPING WITH THE CHALLENGES OF PANDEMIC LIFE Written by Margarett Waterbury
eporting on the monumental disruptions that COVID-19 has created in the daily lives of craft distillers is a challenge that feels almost insurmountable. Partially that’s because the situation seems to be changing by the day, yet Artisan Spirit is a quarterly magazine, which makes breaking news impractical. But it’s also because the crisis has impacted distilleries around the country so differently depending on their location, their size, and their business models. It turns out that distilleries’ experiences during the pandemic have been as diverse as the distillers themselves. So in late April and early May, I asked producers around the country what they’ve been seeing and experiencing in their own communities, how their businesses are being affected, and their hopes and fears for the future. Here’s what they said.
ON THE DIFFICULT DECISION TO SHUT DOWN “We shut down voluntarily in mid-March. When things started to flare up on the coasts, we knew it was eventually going to make it to Minnesota. Our staff had started to feel unsafe, and business had been slowing down anyway. We were weighing our obligation to get money into staff ’s pockets, particularly bar staff, and the countervailing issue of health and safety. Ultimately, it just made more sense to shut down. Now I’m almost embarrassed to say we had the discussion, because health and safety clearly needs to win out. Then a few days later, the Governor shut down all the bars and restaurants voluntarily.” — Chris Montana Du Nord Distillery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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ON OPENING DURING THE PANDEMIC “We had plans to do a soft opening in late March and early April, and do the official opening in April. With the COVID-19 crisis happening we had to change our plans because we could not have guests in the distillery. The grand opening, tours, and tastings, all had to be cancelled. At the moment we are just doing curbside pick-up and local deliveries. So, considering the fact that we opened our doors to this, we are doing okay. Some of the challenges that we have encountered include not being able to showcase and promote our product in liquor stores, restaurants, and bars. Pitorro is not a common product found in the mainland, so introducing it without tastings has been a leap of faith for consumers.” — Albita Rivera-Pagan Puerto Rico Distillery, Fredrick, Maryland 27
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ON GOING ALL-IN ON SANITIZER
“We laid off our entire bar staff. It was the hardest email I ever had to write, even though people knew it was coming. But after we started making sanitizer in quantity through All Hands Minnesota, we realized we could sell this stuff and bring back our staff who were tending bar to help us produce it — and pay them well while they’re doing it. I look at it as a form of hazard pay, since any work during a pandemic is inherently dangerous. Our bartenders who had been making $10.50 an hour before started making $20, and then $25 a week later — plus a pair of steel toed boots. So for us, as of right now, if the pandemic ends today, we would have survived it, which was more than I expected a month ago. The fact that we were able to bring people back and pay them well, I think it’s outstanding. It warms my heart. And it definitely took the edge off of the downer of having to lay people off, many of whom have worked with us for years.” — Chris Montana Du Nord Distillery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ON THE FRUSTRATIONS OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT “We got an Emergency Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA, but we didn’t get approved during the first round of funding for the Payroll Protection Program loan through the CARES Act, and I don’t know why. My husband’s optometry practice got a PPP, but we didn’t.” — Kimberly Karrick Scratch Distilling, Edmonds, WA
ON GETTING CREATIVE TO REACH CONSUMERS DURING COVID “We will be attending three farmers markets to expand the reach of our product. We are making cloth face masks that we give to the consumer with every purchase (while supplies last). We do Facebook Lives every Sunday at 3 p.m. to showcase the product and discuss pitorro traditions. We do this in Spanish and English, since we know that our community is multilingual. We have created a Bartender Cocktail Program, in which we feature bartenders from the area and they create some cocktail how-to videos using Clandestino. We pay these bartenders a stipend and they also get to share their Venmo and PayPal accounts for people who want to tip them. Finally, our hand sanitizer to the public is allowing us to do our Donation Program for First Responders and other organizations in need.” — Albita Rivera-Pagan Puerto Rico Distillery, Fredrick, Maryland 28
ON RELAXED RULES ON SHIPPING, CURBSIDE PICKUP, AND ONLINE SHOPPING “Oh my fucking god! And you can quote me on that. I’ve never experienced a crisis like this. They loosened the rules quickly. Things that were inconceivable last year, like curbside pickup and delivery, are now on the table. We’ve re-written our business plan four times in the last two months. We started with just phone-in, curbside pickup. And people started calling. And then we set up online ordering for curbside pickup, and now people are using that. We can’t do tastings in the tasting room right now. It’s not the glory days of when we had tons of tourists, but it’s been solid. As long as we show we’re responsible citizens and not abusing it, I hope they let us keep doing it. If it works, I don’t see why they wouldn’t keep it. Because the elephant in the room is that this virus is not going away anytime soon.” — Tom Burkleaux Owner, New Deal Distillery, Portland, Oregon
ON ADAPTING STAFFING AND FACILITIES “Tourism has been halted, so our front-line staff have been moved over to making hand sanitizer to keep them employed and a need fulfilled. Our on-premise sales and visitor center sales came to a halt, but our retail sales have maintained well. We are working on some creative distancing barriers that will be more visual in our process if we ever get to things like tours again. We also have new communication boards so different shifts can relay information without interacting face to face.” — Shane Baker Wilderness Trail Distillery, Danville, Kentucky
ON REPURPOSING RESOURCES TO BECOME AN E-COMMERCE COMPANY “Basically, all of our staff has been redirected to dealing with this current state of affairs. We’d just opened a restaurant in our space, and we’d also just completed a 3500 square foot expansion with a new tasting room and dining room. We converted that to our shipping center, basically. That ended up working out, because otherwise we would not have had enough room in our distillery to have as large a shipping center as we needed. Kitchen staff helped label, package or ship, and we’re also having them prepare lunches for all of our staff in the meantime. At this point, our head chef has been making lunch for everybody in the company for a little over a month and a half.” — Alex Grelli Co-owner, Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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ON ENGAGING COMMUNITY “The sanitizer business is decent, and it’s keeping us around, although not without some hardship, because we’ve furloughed bartenders and tour guides. We sell it on a pay-what-you-wish basis, and there are plenty of people who just pay us a buck and then we ship it to them. But then there are others who are paying $20, which covers all our costs, which is a nice gesture. If we’d put a “donate” button, we would have gotten far less money. There are so many ways to request help from people. I didn’t know there were people who cared until we gave them a venue to show that they cared.” — Colin Spoelman Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn, New York
ON UNCERTAINTY “I think people are still pretty freaked out. Some people still don’t take it that seriously. They come up, no masks, no gloves, lean on the counter, and touch bottles. But overall I would say people are anxious. It’s going to be interesting to see the long-term effects of what this does socially. How long is it going to be until we feel OK about sitting next to one another at restaurants? How long until people are comfortable coming to our gin blending class, Ginology, again? When we are told we can reopen, do we pivot and make it a reservation system so we can limit the number of people inside, with tables far apart? There are all these weird things that nobody knows the answers to yet.” — Kimberly Karrick Scratch Distilling, Edmonds, WA
ON MEETING CONSUMER NEEDS AS BUSINESSES RE-OPEN “What we’re most concerned about at this point is the uncertainty of the future and the tough times that will be ahead. What does this business look like going forward? How do we engage with our consumers in the months to come? We’re an experiential business that focuses on events and high-touch consumer interactions, and looking forward is very unsettling. Even the week before we were shut down, revenues from all our locations experienced an over 65 percent decline. People were hesitant to come out. And that’s going to be what everyone’s sentiment is opening up. There’s going to be less inclination to come out. I think trying to figure out how to meet each consumer at their comfort level will be hard, even if you follow the prescribed guidance. We saw that leading up to the closure. Some people wanted us open, and others wanted us to close. Having the guidance was helpful, but I still think meeting those consumers’ expectations will be very difficult because they will be so different.” — Alex Grelli Co-owner, Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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“What will be most impactful for the recovery of our industry on the other side of this pandemic is FET tax reform. Right now, we’re still enjoying the lower FET, although we’re not enjoying the sales that would make it relevant. When we get back to “business as usual,” if the reopening of these distilleries is coupled with a 400-500 percent hike in excise tax, you’re going to see it drive a significant number of distilleries out of business. If hundreds of distillers went under, that wouldn’t shock me at all. There is going to be a day after. And if that day after is significantly worse than the day before, many of us aren’t going to make it. ACSA is still working very hard on FET every day, but we need to continue the pressure and keep talking to our elected officials about the importance of FET reform. It’s going to be a tough fight, especially in an election year with a lot of other noise moving around. FET is not a kitchen table issue for most Americans. We’re lucky that support is overwhelmingly bipartisan, but we have to keep our foot on the gas to make sure it doesn’t get lost.” — Chris Montana Du Nord Distillery, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ON FINDING THE SILVER LINING “Fewer meetings, less interruptions.” — Shane Baker Wilderness Trail Distillery, Danville, Kentucky
ON FINDING A PLACE WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH “I came up during the 1990s economic crisis. Nobody expected to be employed out of college. But life goes on. Even in the worst of times, people still find their minor joys and pleasures, and spirits can be a part of that.” — Tom Burkleaux Owner, New Deal Distillery, Portland, Oregon
Margarett Waterbury is a drinks writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first book, Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies, will be released in fall 2020.
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What the Coronavirus Crisis Is Telling Us WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN
e are now a little over three months into widespread shelter-in-place orders within the United States. Every single person in this country has been affected by COVID-19 in some way, but small business owners have been hit with a particular intensity. The fact remains, however, that this crisis has highlighted the willingness to assist from so many members of our industry even as the health of their businesses remain in the balance. As soon as the need became apparent, a large number of craft distilleries quickly shifted gears from producing craft alcohol to hand sanitizer. This shift did not come without a unique set of challenges. “It’s been ugly and clunky to say the least,” said Mark Ganter, co-founder of Little Water Distillery in Atlantic City, NJ. Ganter was reluctant to pivot to sanitizer production even before he realized just how unfamiliar the new terrain would be; he had seen articles covering a distillery in Oregon that was also making hand sanitizer, albeit in a dangerous way. “It was this beautiful feel-good story about this business kind of thinking outside the box,” he said. “What they were doing was taking methanol — which is a known toxin to humans, both ingested and topically — to produce hand sanitizer and giving it away for free.” It spooked him, and rightfully so. The one thing you wouldn’t want to do during a global crisis was offer a product WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
COVID-19 has had a knack for exposing the weak spots in every industry, including ours. Hand sanitizer was just the beginning. that would actually be more harmful than helpful, and in so doing could undermine the effort of every other distillery attempting the same thing through the correct channels. There has been a lot of information released since the start of the pandemic on the right ways to make alcohol-based hand sanitizer during this health emergency. The most recent information from the FDA regarding guidance on production states that the hand sanitizer be compounded using only the following ingredients: • Either a) Alcohol (ethanol) not less than 94.9 percent ethanol by volume, or b) United States Pharmacopeia (USP grade) Isopropyl Alcohol • Food grade glycerin (glycerol) • Hydrogen peroxide • Sterile water The alcohol should be denatured, a critical step, using one of a number of formu-
las provided by TTB. Denaturing alcohol is meant to decrease the number of adverse events, including death, which can result from the unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer. This is especially true with young children. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends following a formula of 80 percent ethanol/75 percent isopropyl alcohol, 1.45 percent glycerol, 0.125 percent hydrogen peroxide, and sterile water. For most distillers, many of these new ingredients and formulations were foreign. Producers had to begin navigating these channels during a period of great urgency and subsequent shortages. Some things came more easily than others. Fortunately for the distilling industry, sales of one of the largest users of glycerin, e-cigarettes, were going down, which freed up some of its supply, but the same can’t be said for mass-produced ethanol, by far the majority of the sanitizer mixture. “If you were fortunate enough to have something on order you might have gotten it,” said Ganter. “I
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remember pulling the trigger the next day when we have literally pennies in the bank and taking a risk to buy like a thousand dollars or $1,500 dollars’ worth of crappy GNS. I managed to get it through, and then I realized less than 18 hours later this is big, we need more, call up and it’s done, there’s no more going out the door.” The rush to get all these different pieces in place resulted in a mad dash, Wild West style, but everything was on the line for domestic distilleries. Few could survive had they not restructured their business to begin selling sanitizer; as soon as their tasting rooms closed so did their cash flow. Eventually Ganter was able to secure a greater supply of GNS, which he credits to quick thinking and a willingness to go down just about any possible avenue in search of the necessary materials. Little Water Distilling offers hand sanitizer for free to the community one day a week for a period of time; they’re also selling a great deal to larger organizations. “You know, you’ve got major banks and institutions calling little distilleries and stuff in New Jersey seeing if they can get some hand sanitizer and that leads to even bigger agreements and it’s funny, if you can deliver it and you can deliver it fast then you’re in business, and if you can’t then you’re not,” Ganter said. “We were just nimble enough to jump on it and sometimes make commitments that we weren’t sure we could fill but we committed anyway and we backed into it and so far so good.” This hasn’t been the case for everyone, however. Through an unusual legislative decision, Maggie’s Farm Distillery in Pittsburgh, PA, managed to sell out of their white rum stock completely in the first couple of weeks following the shelter-inplace orders. The governor in that state mandated all state-run liquor stores close; meanwhile, alcohol manufacturers were allowed to remain open. This left Pennsylvania residents little choice if they wanted to access spirits without crossing state lines. After an initial slow period following the closure of the distillery’s cocktail bar, Tim Russell from Maggie’s Farm no-
ticed an increased demand in retail bottle sales. “We started beefing up our delivery service, which we've legally been permitted to do for about five years now,” Russell explained, though in the past that was mostly used for bars and restaurants. Then, things took an odd turn. Their white rum, which is usually one of their slowest movers as it’s a product without a unique niche, began flying off the shelves. “The broader market segment was in a way forced towards our brand,” noted Russell. “Keeping it stocked was impossible.” Russell’s situation is pretty unique; scores of other business owners have not had the same windfall of sales. Presently we can’t tell just how many craft distilleries might shutter their doors permanently by the end of this, but estimates have been as high as two-thirds of domestic DSPs. Without federal assistance and a nationwide change in shipping laws, there is little hope that a solid chunk of distillers will be able to soldier through this crisis. The most vulnerable among us are exactly who you’d expect: distilleries that are small, with little in the way of fiscal reserves, who depend on the cash flow from cocktail programs and hand-selling products. Their other common source of support, the hospitality side of the industry, has been virtually eviscerated by the coronavirus. This means that distillers are unable to make safe sales through their tasting rooms, unable to be showcased by partners and supporters in a bar or restaurant setting, and many are still trying to produce the hand sanitizer so desperately needed by first responders across the country. “The first batch that we made was literally donated to all first responders. It was never our intent to become a hand sanitizer company,” said Gina Holman, cofounder of J. Carver Distillery in Waconia, MN,. J. Carver is in the fortuitous position of having had the equipment necessary to make their own high-proof ethanol for sanitizer production in-house. They are making use of their equipment for sanitizer production mostly these days, though Holman was celebrating a small victory when I caught her on the phone in April: they were finally distilling craft alcohol again, even if it was
just for one day. Despite all the changes around her, Holman said that her plan moving forward isn’t any different than it’s ever been. “Our business strategy is to take care of our people, and our people are the amazing restaurants, partners, and retailers that literally have focused on that hand-sold product of J. Carver where everything was care and every bottle produced was intentional.” One solution that has already proven itself to be vastly beneficial is the widespread legalization of direct-to-consumer shipping. That allows these small businesses to still sell their product without risking the health of the community; as Dan Farber of Osocalis Distillery in Soquel, CA, put it, “We want to minimize person-to-person contact however possible. And we certainly don’t want to bring large amounts of people together in a small, especially interior, area.” Farber has been speaking to distillers across the country about their businesses in light of this pandemic. In states that currently allow direct-to-consumer shipping, either permanently or by making a special concession because of the virus, many distilleries are surviving because of it. “In California, most of the distilleries I’ve talked to have made up almost all their tasting room sales, some even a little bit better, through direct-to-consumer sales,” said Farber. It makes sense; there are already trusted third-party common carriers who are fulfilling shipment orders. Adding the products of a small business is not putting more people in contact with one another, but it is allowing these businesses to generate some of the revenue they would have made had customers been allowed to visit their distillery in person, as well as support the states they’re in. “The best way to help us contribute to the state coffers is to allow us some mechanism to make sales in a safe fashion,” Farber stated. He and others have been talking to governors and regulators all over the U.S. and feel that they’re making a clear case that this would be pivotal in preserving the craft industry right now. Those who do not support a system that allows direct-to-consumer shipping of spirits usually have two arguments against it. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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“The best way to help us contribute to the state coffers is to allow us some mechanism to make sales in a safe fashion.” — DAN FARBER, Osocalis Distillery One is the health and safety of the community, which assumes that the wholesale tier provides an integral role in ensuring the integrity and safety of the products that make it to market. Craft spirits producers are already, by and large, licensed by their state governments, federal government, TTB, and the FDA. Only allowing those that are appropriately licensed to partake in direct-to-consumer shipping would be one way to continue to uphold the integrity of the products. The second argument is about taxes, specifically that the wholesale tier protects the integrity of tax collection.
There is some merit to that, but the companies that Farber and others are fighting on behalf of already have the right to sell directly to consumers inside their tasting rooms. These businesses are paying their federal excise tax, state tax, and are registered with their state, and mechanisms exist that can ensure those taxes are paid even if the bottle gets to the consumer by mail versus being purchased in-person. It’s already been done in other beverage alcohol industries, and all that craft spirits producers are asking for is parity at this time. Domestic producers of craft alcohol
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stepped up and pivoted to sanitizer production as soon as the demand became clear. Despite the fact that the majority of small distilleries aren’t outfitted to manufacture sanitizer from scratch, they have still committed to doing what they can to make it available. We don’t know when or how this situation will end, but it’s already changed our industry in irreversible ways, and it’s made clear to us what we need to continue moving forward. The question now is whether or not those in charge will listen.
Devon Trevathan writes about spirits, wine, and cocktails for a variety of publications. Her focus tends to be on the science behind distillation and the history of drink culture. When she’s not working, she’s probably at home in Nashville painting watercolor tasting notes or dreaming about the pack of dogs she hopes to have one day. You can follow her @devontrevathan on Instagram and Twitter, or find her at a bar with a Negroni in hand.
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FEDERAL RELIEF & REGULATION
CARES, PPP, AND FET WRITTEN BY GABE TOTH
s distilleries and other small businesses around the country face slashed revenues and tasting room closures from an unprecedented pandemic and lockdown this spring, federal and state governments have sought to provide some relief through financial and regulatory means. The primary vehicle that Congress has put in place to help small businesses is the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in late March. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), passed as part of the CARES Act, originally provided $350 billion in forgivable loans for businesses with less than 500 employees to continue paying employees. In mid-April, after the original funding was allocated in about two weeks, Congress passed an additional $484 billion tranche of funding, including $310 billion in PPP funding and $60 billion in other emergency loans and grants for businesses. As of mid-May, more than $100 billion still remained unallocated. Small businesses were able to apply for funding in either round, but a PPP loan must be paid back if it’s used to cover non-payroll expenses such as
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operating costs or debt service. With both rounds of funding, small businesses were able to bypass the federal bureaucracy and get approved for PPP funds through their local bank, though businesses without an existing relationship with an SBA lender found themselves largely shut out of the first round. In the second round of funding, though, after seeing large banks queue up thousands of applications, Congress allocated $60 billion to be disbursed by smalland medium-sized banks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) also provided an eight-hour application window exclusive to smaller banks before opening the program more broadly. The CARES Act also includes a provision to get up to a $10,000 advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which may be available regardless of the status of the business owner’s EIDL application and can be forgiven. An EIDL, the SBA’s pre-existing mechanism for providing relief when a natural disaster occurs, provides up to $2 million loans at low interest rates and terms up to 30 years. CARES has a provision allowing for employers to defer
payroll tax payments for the remainder of the year. Half of the deferred payments will be due by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022. Alongside legislative efforts to put more money into the hands of small business owners, TTB has postponed a number of tax and other deadlines that fell between March 1 and July 1, including Federal Excise Tax (FET) filing and FET returns, filing due dates for operational reports and export documentation, and filing due dates for credit or refund requests. In a loosening of federal restrictions, TTB has eased up on transfers-in-bond, allowing distillers to file their form and immediately initiate a transfer, rather than wait for weeks to get approval. The Department of Transportation has relaxed their rules and made training available for distillers who are producing and shipping hand sanitizer. Alongside federal efforts to support small businesses, most states have also loosened sales restrictions on distilleries, as well as breweries, bars and restaurants. Rules have been eased in many places to allow on-premise license holders to offer delivery service, curbside
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“It’s a challenging industry as it is, especially for the smaller distilleries. To add something like this on top of that, for folks who may be pretty marginal already, it’s going to make it really, really hard.” — Mark Shilling, HEAD OF AMERICAN CRAFT SPIRITS ASSOCIATION’S LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
pickup, and/or to-go service for liquor, cocktails, beer, and wine. Many states have also allowed for off-premise licensees to offer curbside pickup or delivery. Despite these measures, survey data released on April 30 by the American Distilling Institute (ADI) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) paint a bleak picture for small distillers. The survey, which included responses from 118 distillers in 35 states plus the District of Columbia, noted that almost 43 percent of employees in the industry have lost their jobs. The average distillery staff has gone from almost 14 people to about eight. Distilleries report an average sales decline of about 64 percent, and 63 percent of distilleries said they would be cancelling purchases of ingredients, materials, or equipment. Overall, more than 40 percent of distillers do not expect to be able to sustain their businesses for more than three months under lockdown conditions, while another 20 percent said that they would not be able to make it six months. Mark Shilling, head of American Craft Spirits Association’s legislative affairs committee, said the association has been working with industry partners on a variety of issues, from sanitizer to tasting room operations to federal legislation, and trying to make resources and infor-
mation available to the public. They’ve worked with TTB on trying to get the postponement of excise tax extended through the end of the year, but he noted that the bureau doesn’t have the authority to waive the tax outright, so they’re discussing a suspension of FET collections with Congress. ACSA, lobbying in coordination with DISCUS, submitted a letter to congressional leaders on April 22 from both groups plus the Kentucky Distillers Association and the New York State Distillers Guild asking for the current FET rate to be made permanent, the removal of tariffs on distilled spirits, the creation of an industry stabilization fund to provide cash to members of the beverage alcohol industry, and the allocation of “significant new resources” for low- and no-income SBA loans. The current round of funding for the PPP was widely expected to run out faster than the first round, which took two weeks, but as previously noted a significant percentage was still available close to press time. However, Shilling doesn’t expect any new relief to come down the pipeline until after the House of Representatives reconvenes on May 11. There is talk of a broad relief package that could be worth up to $1 trillion, but “everything is up in the air and under negotiation right now,” he said. “I would not expect any answers for us
any time soon.” He has concerns about whether the size of the two PPP allocations is enough. “How many people who are eligible and in need of it are left out in the cold?” he asked, also noting that the fund was set up to cover a limited period. “What happens if we get past two and a half months, and everyone who took advantage of it starts running out of funding, and they still can’t open or get back to a reasonable amount of income?” “It looks like a big mess waiting to happen. The best we can do is cross our fingers and hope it really is over soon and we can get back to business.” State-to-state quirks in liquor laws continue to affect many distillers as well. Some states, such as Washington, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have taken the step of allowing delivery by retailers. Others, such as Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, have not made any changes. “Every state is so different,” Shilling said, noting that his home state of Texas restricts distillery sales to two bottles per person, per 30-day period. “We’ve asked for that to be lifted. It hasn’t yet, and I’m not super encouraged that it will.” Shilling noted the difficulty of crafting legislation at the federal level that will equally help all sectors of private business, or even small business. Different businesses have a wide va-
riety of different models, needs, and issues, and there won’t be a one-size-fits-all way to address everyone’s troubles. “No matter what they end up doing, somebody is going to be ok because of it, and somebody is not. There’s no way that you can take care of everybody,” he said. In the end, it will probably mean a smaller number of craft distillers that come out on the other side. “It’s a challenging industry as it is, especially for the smaller distilleries. To add something like this on top of that, for folks who may be pretty marginal already, it’s going to make it really, really hard. I think you’ve got a lot of breweries and distilleries and wineries that will not exist in a year.” For those who are able to weather the storm, though, Shilling is optimistic that the climate may be increasingly supportive of craft producers. “I do think there’s going to be a lot more focus on buying local, shopping local, and supporting local businesses when people can get back out of the house,” he said.
Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Distillery 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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sk a distiller why they got into the business, and you might hear a range of answers. Some fell in love with the art and craft of distilling. Others just fell in love with whiskey. And still others are most motivated by the intangible satisfaction of bringing communities together. One rationale you won’t hear? “I love making hand sanitizer.” And yet. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, 767 distilleries in the United States are now making hand sanitizer — many at the expense of their standard products. Relaxed guidelines from the FDA have made sanitizer production, normally a highly regulated pharmaceutical manufacturing process, possible at the small, simple scale at which many craft distilleries operate. Some distilleries are giving sanitizer away for free to organizations and individuals in their communities, while others are selling sanitizer in bulk to medical supply companies, police and fire departments, grocery stores, clinics and hospitals, and other first responders. That second avenue has become more popular as institutional demand for sanitizer grows and as small plastic pumptop or spray bottles have become increasingly difficult to source. For distillers around the country, sanitizer has been a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s allowed them to generate some revenue while retaining at least a portion of their staff. It’s given producers the psychological benefit of feeling helpful and productive during a time of widespread powerlessness. And it’s brought positive media attention, offering an unexpected feel-good narrative that underscores the central community-building function of craft distilleries. For all its benefits, however, serious challenges remain in the world of sanitizer. Many distilleries are struggling to secure the
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DISTILLERS GRAPPLE with the DIRTY DETAILS of SANITIZER WRITTEN BY MARGARETT WATERBURY
necessary ingredients from a disrupted supply chain. Producers are mourning the loss of creativity from their day-to-day lives. And some are pointing to instances of sky-high pricing and shaky sourcing practices as a potential PR disaster for an industry facing serious challenges in the near and long term. Porchjam Distillery in New Orleans, LA, is producing so much sanitizer that it not only was able to retain all of its employees, but actually hired additional temporary staff to help with packaging and labeling. “Even before shelter-in-place, we halted all of our spirit distillation production and pivoted completely to 100 percent hand sanitizer production,” said Director of Operations Jason Zeno. Zeno said Porchjam’s stills aren’t designed to produce neutral spirit in large quantities, cheaply. They’ve only been able to produce sanitizer at scale by purchasing ISO tanks of neutral grain spirit from industrial suppliers. Porchjam sells most of its sanitizer in bulk to hospital groups and first responders in the New Orleans area, charging about $37.85 per gallon. For comparison, a one-liter bottle of Purell hand sanitizer listed (but out of stock) on Walmart. com sells for $11.76, a price of about $45 per gallon. “It’s enough for us to pay our employees, hire people, and make a margin without gouging people,” said Zeno. Like many distillers, Zeno said there’s little creative satisfaction in producing hand sanitizer. “To be honest, I hate it, except that it might be helping people,” he admitted. “I like chemistry. I like control, verifiable data, analysis. But this is all happening so fast and changing all the time. It’s been stressful.” Sourcing reliable ingredients in quantity has been a challenge, and Zeno said he worries about unscrupulous suppliers trying to capitalize on craft distilleries’ desperation.
COCOV V E ID R A - 19 GE “People are coming out of the woodwork who are doing unsavory things to make a quick buck,” said Zeno. “I’ve had countless emails saying ‘We have hand-sanitizer-grade ethanol.’ That’s not a thing.” Zeno cautioned that not all bulk ethanol should be used for sanitizer production. Fuel ethanol, for instance, may contain toxic impurities like gasoline, heptane, and benzene unless it undergoes additional processing. Still, Zeno said he sees it being marketed to distillers who may not know that but are desperate to source inexpensive ethanol for sanitizer production. “Fuel ethanol producers are reaching out to distillers saying we have ethanol, but it’s not necessarily suitable,” said Zeno. “You have to ask.” Zeno anticipates long-term continued demand for sanitizer. “My personal thought is that even when shelter in place gets lifted, when restaurants open again, there’s going to be another big bump,” he said. “But it’s hard to plan for the future. Right now, we’re working within maybe a two-week timeline, if that.” Despite the challenges, Zeno said there have still been a few rewards. “I gave my elderly neighbor two bottles, and she was so happy,” he said. “Those are the moments that feel good. But I’m going to be glad when we can get back to doing what we all love.” Pricing has also emerged as a contentious component of sanitizer production. Some distilleries are donating sanitizer for free, while others are selling their sanitizer. Prices range widely, from $20 or $30 per gallon, well below the price of commercial brands, to more than $100. “I’ve seen two distilleries charging over $160 for their sanitizer. That’s more expensive than whiskey,” said Jake Holshue, head distiller at Old Trestle Distillery in Truckee, CA. “I don’t know if they hired an ex-NBA star to make it, but the math just doesn’t make sense to me.” Old Trestle Distillery has made well over 500 gallons of sanitizer, which it distributes in small bottles for free to individual community members and sells in bulk to local first responders and hospitals for $30 per gallon. “That covers our costs, but we’re net neutral on it,” said Holshue. Chris Montana, founder of Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis, MN, has partnered with two other local producers to make sanitizer on a vast scale through a collaborative project called All Hands Minnesota. By the end of April, he estimates All Hands Minnesota will have sent out more than 100,000 gallons. “The only way this could be done was to be sourcing all the alcohol we could, so we started getting a tanker a week to alternating distilleries,” said Montana. “Then that wasn’t enough. So we found other sources. Now we’re working with four different suppliers to send us enough ethanol to keep up with demand.” In addition to selling sanitizer to first responders, clinics, and essential businesses for a suggested donation of $25 per gallon, they’ve also donated thousands of gallons to homeless shelters, Meals on Wheels, hospice agencies, farms, and other community organizations. Montana’s perspective on pricing is nuanced. “I understand some of the prices. Not everyone can sell for $25 a gallon,” said Montana. Because of an ethanol shortage, most neutral spirit suppliers are no longer taking new clients, and existing clients may
only be able to order larger quantities than they can comfortably handle. That leaves many smaller producers in the position of making their own sanitizer ethanol at a much higher cost per gallon than large commercial plants. “Of course, there are people buying ethanol and still charging exorbitant prices, and those people deserve what comes to them. But I think there are also people who are charging a much higher price because, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to make it at all,” said Montana. “Some distilleries might only be able to produce 20 gallons of neutral in a week. You have to think about what that alcohol would otherwise be worth to them — and that was under a model that barely made money.” Distilleries in this position are being forced to evaluate whether or not their local communities might benefit from their sanitizer offering, even if it’s much more expensive than other options. Holshue said another challenge has been navigating inconsistencies in formulation stemming from conflicting guidance from different agencies. The CDC, for instance, recommends that healthcare workers use an alcohol-based hand rub containing 60 percent or higher ABV, while the WHO calls for a higher concentration of 80 percent ethanol in its formula. “I’ve seen distillers working at the low end of that proof range, and I worry about the efficacy,” said Holshue. “Or giving people a false sense of security in regards to their health.” FDA guidance also explicitly prohibits the addition of essential oils or other ingredients to improve the smell of sanitizer, ostensibly to deter consumers from drinking it, a rule that Zeno said not all producers are adhering to. In fact, he reports fielding a phone call from a law enforcement agency complaining that his hand sanitizer smelled too much like alcohol, its primary ingredient, suggesting that other sanitizers may have contained scents to camouflage the odor. “I’m not saying the government is perfect, but they put these regulations in for a reason,” said Zeno. “The worst-case scenario is that it hurts somebody.” As the nation reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, producers may be partially correct in their assumption that enforcement is likely to be lax, if it exists at all. Yet a worry persists that a few bad actors could transform the soft power diplomacy of sanitizer production into a black mark against the industry. Post-pandemic, economic conditions are likely to be the most challenging that many producers have ever faced, and craft distilleries are going to need all the goodwill they can get. “As an industry, we’re not trying to exploit anything. We’re trying to help. However, there are always bad apples in the mix,” said Holshue. “We’ll be lucky, in my opinion, to get out of this with 35 percent to 45 percent of our craft distilleries closing by the end. And I would hate for the remaining distilleries to have a black eye from the sanitizer times.”
Margarett Waterbury is a drinks writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first book, Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies, will be released in fall 2020. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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COVID-19 SHUTDOWN UPDATES FOR CRAFT DISTILLERS BY BETHANY K. HATEF
ver the last several months, the craft distilling industry — and the world — have faced unprecedented challenges. With the spread of COVID-19 resulting in the declaration of a global pandemic and many parts of the U.S. (and many other areas in the world) shutting down as states began to implement “stay-at-home” orders, the pandemic has had devastating economic impacts on craft distillers. The news continues to be pessimistic. A recent Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and American Distilling Institute survey of 118 distilleries in 35 states and D.C. found that distilleries are confronting significant declines in sales, canceled purchases of supplies, and forced layoffs or furloughs of many employees. Most of the survey respondents believed they would not be able to sustain their distilleries for more than six months. Clearly, the COVID-19 poses a great threat to the craft spirits industry, but in the face of this challenge also lies some hope. Changes to certain federal and state requirements affecting craft distillers have already been implemented that can allow for distilleries to pivot to meet demand and to hopefully alleviate some of the losses seen to date. Additionally, efforts continue to make further changes to federal and state laws to provide economic relief to craft distillers. This article will further explore some of the current relief available, at the federal and state level, for craft distillers. As the situation is rapidly evolving, we expect that more changes (hopefully changes that will help craft distillers maintain their businesses) will occur in the coming months.
FEDERAL UPDATES 1. RELAXING OF RESTRICTIONS ON HAND SANITIZER PRODUCTION The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have relaxed requirements relating to the production of hand sanitizer to allow cerWWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
tain alcohol producers to manufacture hand sanitizer without amending their existing federal basic permits or obtaining formula approval from TTB. In midMarch, TTB issued a public guidance document to industry members (which it updated in late March) stating that it was waiving provisions of the Internal Revenue Code to ease the path to hand sanitizer production to address demand during this national emergency. Under the guidance, TTB exempts certain producers — alcohol fuel plants (AFPs) and distilled spirits plants (DSPs) — from the need to obtain additional permits or bonds in order to shift production at their distilleries to begin producing hand sanitizer and/or to supply ethanol to other permittees. Distillers also need not obtain prior formula approval from TTB to produce hand sanitizer, as long as the formula used is consistent with World Health Organization guidance, and the alcohol used is denatured according to TTB regulations (27 C.F.R. Parts 20 and 21) and uses one of two specified TTB formulas for production (Formula Nos. 40-A or 40-B). TTB STATED In addition to relaxing permitTHAT HAND ting and bond requirements SANITIZERS MADE relating to the production of hand sanitizer, TTB has also WITH DENATURED stated that hand sanitizers ALCOHOL ARE EXEMPT made with denatured alcoFROM FEDERAL ALCOHOL hol are exempt from federal alcohol excise taxes if EXCISE TAXES IF THE the spirits were withdrawn SPIRITS WERE WITHDRAWN from bond after December FROM BOND AFTER 31, 2019, and before JanDECEMBER 31, 2019, uary 1, 2021. The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, AND BEFORE Relief, and Economic Security JANUARY 1, 2021. (CARES) Act indicated that the tax exemption would also apply to hand sanitizers made with undenatured alcohol, and at the time of this writing, TTB had not yet formally ruled on its interpretation of this provision. FDA also published public guidance in mid-March (updated in mid-April) concerning the production of hand sanitizer. FDA stated that it does not intend to take action against companies producing hand sanitizer for use by consumers or healthcare personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. To comply with FDA’s guidance, the alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer must be denatured. Additionally, the hand sanitizer, and the alcohol used to produce it, must be labeled and packaged in accordance with FDA’s guidance (but are not subject to TTB labeling requirements). The producing facility also must be registered in FDA’s Drug Registration and Listing System.
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Originally in effect through June 2020, TTB has extended its relaxation of requirements relating to the production of hand sanitizer through the end of 2020. Additionally, for companies not currently holding an AFP, DSP, or Industrial Permit for Specially Denatured Spirits Users, TTB is expediting its processing of permit applications, sometimes approving applications in just a few days.
2. EXTENSION OF DUE DATES FOR FEDERAL EXCISE TAXES In late March, TTB announced a 90-day postponement for required TTB excise tax-related filings. Specifically, where the due date for a filing falls on or after March 1, 2020, TTB TTB postponed the filing deadline through July ANNOUNCED 1, 2020. The postponed filing deadline applies to the actual payment of excise A 90-DAY taxes, as well as to the filing of excise POSTPONEMENT tax returns and operational reports. This FOR REQUIRED extended timeframe likely will not be TTB EXCISE sufficient to meet craft distillers’ needs, assuming the COVID-19 pandemic conTAX-RELATED tinues for some time, but it at least gives FILINGS. craft distillers, many of whom are facing leaner operations and reduced staff, some immediate administrative and economic relief.
3. RELAXATION OF RESTRICTIONS ON PRODUCT RETURNS TTB’s prohibition on consignment sales generally prohibits the sale or purchase of alcohol beverages on consignment, under conditional sale, or with the privilege of return. See 27 C.F.R. § 11.21. TTB allows “bona fide” returns of alcohol beverages only for “ordinary and usual commercial reasons.” Id. TTB typically does not consider returns due to overstocked or slow-moving products to be returns for “ordinary and usual commercial reasons.” Id. at § 11.45. Given the spread of COVID-19 and the associated cancellation of many events around the nation like parades, festivals, fairs, and concerts, TTB will not consider returns of alcohol purchased to sell during such events to violate federal consignment sales rules, notwithstanding the fact that these items are technically “overstocked.” TTB’s guidance announcing its relaxation of the consignment sale policy noted, though, that the products in question must not have been originally sold with the privilege of return.
4. THE PATH FORWARD It is certainly possible that as the pandemic continues, TTB will take additional actions to relax requirements on alcohol beverage producers or to otherwise ease the burdens producers currently face. Additionally, distilling industry trade groups are working hard to obtain additional relief for distillers. In late April, DISCUS, the Amer-
ican Craft Spirits Association, and the Kentucky and New York state distillers’ guilds authored a letter to Congressional leadership seeking further economic relief for distillers through federal legislation. Specifically, the trade associations sought federal excise tax relief, including a suspension of federal excise taxes through 2020 and the permanent enactment of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (currently set to expire at the end of 2020). The trade groups also requested the suspension of tariffs on distilled spirits, the creation of an “industry stabilization fund” to provide money to distilleries to sustain their businesses, and the continued provision of Small Business Administration loans (with no or low interest) to ensure distilleries can continue their operations.
STATE UPDATES As craft distillers likely know, states vary widely in terms of their regulation of the alcohol industry. The impact of COVID-19 has been no different — state alcohol regulators have differed in their responses to the pandemic. In the vast majority of states, though, regulators have taken actions to ease certain restrictions in order to help sustain the alcohol beverage industry and to meet consumer demand. Here are a few examples:
• Some states have eased restrictions on shipping and delivery of alcohol beverages from suppliers to consumers. Some restrictions (e.g., quantity limitations) typically apply. For example:
› California is now allowing licensed craft distillers to deliver
or ship distilled spirits produced on the licensed premises directly to in-state consumers.
recently enacted a new law allowing producers to directly ship beer, wine, or spirits to in-state consumers.
is currently allowing distilleries that have agreements with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to ship self-produced products directly to Virginia consumers.
• Many states are now allowing “to go” sales/curbside pickup of distilled spirits and/or cocktails from distillery and on-premises retail premises.
state alcohol regulators are currently relaxing their enforcement of trade practice and other restrictions. For example, California is temporarily allowing the extension of credit to retailers beyond the typically-allowed 30-day period. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has also stated that it will not enforce its laws prohibiting licensees from donating a portion of their profits to charitable organizations.
Bethany K. Hatef is a senior associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office. She is a member of the Firm’s Chambers-ranked Alcohol Regulatory & Distribution Group, where she concentrates her practice on a wide variety of regulatory and distribution issues involving alcohol beverage suppliers. Her practice includes counseling on distribution relationships, trade practice compliance, excise tax compliance, and alcohol regulatory and distribution risks associated with corporate transactions. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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COCOV V E ID R A - 19 GE
CREATE A W O R K P LA C E T H AT ' S SA F E AN D H E A LT H Y FOR YOU , Y O U R E M P LO Y E E S , A N D YO U R C U S T O M ER S!
R D IS TI LL ER IE S FO E ID U G ED AT R ST LU IL AN RR Y HA LLE R ILL US TR AT ED BY HA WR ITT EN &
HEALTHY WORKPLACE ✓
REMEMBER! Circulation ≠ Ventilation
2 W EEKS BEF ORE OP ENING Contact your staff...
...And require them to self-quarantine
▶ Clean/update HVAC units and air filters
WHE N WORK BEGINS... ...Take temperature...
M AXIM IZE VEN T IL AT IO N ! ▶ Make sure windows and doors can be left open during business hours—add screens if necessary
...And actively encourage anyone with a fever or flu-like symptoms to stay home
▶ Set air conditioners to use 100% outdoor air ▶ Place fans wherever you can
SICK LEAVE must align with public health guidelines and be flexible so workers know if they get ill, their job will not be at risk
▶ Anywhere people congregate—add air-cleaning machines Delivery rates as low as 26 m3/hr make a HUGE difference
N EXT D O T H E AER O SO L C H AL L EN G E Buy any strong-scented aerosol spray. Make sure it is AEROSOL and not pump
ONCE I NS IDE... Require hands be washed
1) Spray all over one room 2) Leave room for 10 minutes 3) Walk around room, smell 4) Mark any spot where the scent is noticeable 5) Repeat steps 1-4 in all rooms
REQUIRE A MEDICAL GRADE MASK ▶ Whenever in the company of others ▶ Whenever in a closed space for more than five minutes
Once finished, determine if you can fix the marked areas with additional ventilation.
▶ In the bathroom REQUIRE A MASK AND EYE PROTECTION Anywhere customers/visitors are present
If you can’t improve ventilation, you have two options:
REQUIRE A MASK, EYE PROTECTION, AND EITHER GLOVES OR SANITIZING HANDS REGULARLY WHEN ▶ Handling cash ▶ Handling deliveries ▶ Cleaning
I. KEEP PEOPLE OUT If possible, cordon off the area.
II. REQUIRE PROTECTION If anyone needs to be there for any length of time, make EYE, NOSE, and MOUTH protection a requirement.
MORE T IPS Place hand sanitizers throughout the distillery + Place signage reminding everyone to stay protected, stay clean, be outside or near fresh air as much and often as possible + Place markings on the floor to remind people to keep distance + Have deliveries leave packages outside + Keep tours to less than six + Limit numbers in gift shop / tasting room + Stagger shifts or implement alternating days to lower the number of employees in the distillery at one time + Move tasting room seating outside if possible + Make your own sanitizer, try to get it above 95% ABV + Bathrooms will need extra cleaning—wear full PPE when doing so— dispose of everything once done + Understand that the 6’ rule is not a solution inside + Require regular hand washing or using of alcohol-based hand rubs
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HOW DOES THE VIRUS SPREAD?
IF YOU FEEL SICK, THEN WHAT?
It starts with RESPIRATORY DROPLETS from an infected person.
IF SYM PT O M S AR E M IL D
THROUGH THE A IR This happens when an infected does not wear a mask and either breathes through their mouths, talks, sings, burps, coughs, or sneezes. COUGHING and SNEEZING are the worst. STAY HOME
BREATHING TALKING COUGHING
Droplets from a sneeze and cough can spread across a room and remain airborne for a few minutes. Fans and air-conditioners can spread them even further. So even if you are not near an infected person when they sneeze or cough, you are still at risk of getting infected.
WASH HANDS OFTEN
IF SYM PT O M S G ET W O R SE
IF SYM PT O M S AR E SER IO U S
SEEK M ED IC AL AT T EN T IO N IM M ED I AT E LY
F ROM OBJE CTS AND SURFACES
B U T R EM EM B ER !
This happens when an infected person touches their mouth, nose, or eyes and then touches an object or a surface.
Novel coronavirus ≠ COVID-19 Which means YOU CAN BE INFECTED WITHOUT EVER FEELING SICK!
Surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel can remain infected for up to 7 DAYS.
Which means YOU CAN INFECT OTHERS WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT!
PERSONT O - PERSON
HOW DO YOU STAY SAFE?
This happens when an infected person kisses, shakes hands, or hugs someone.
U N D ER STAN D IN G T H E T H R EAT S
U N D ER STA N D I N G T H E EN VIR O N M E N T
INFECTION = VIRAL LOAD x TIME
Almost all infections happen indoors
What this means is your chances of getting infected depend on two things:
T HE M O ST CO M M O N
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? VS FEVER
...IF YOU CAN'T, WEAR A MASK
NEW LOSS OF TASTE OR SMELL SHORTNESS OF BREATH OR DIFFICULTY BREATHING
I. How much of the virus you are exposed to II. How long you have been exposed
Almost half of the infections came from people who did not feel sick
T H E M OR E SE R I OU S
U N D ER STAN D IN G W H AT YO U C AN D O
INABILITY TO WAKE OR STAY AWAKE
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NEW CONFUSION PERSISTENT PAIN OR PRESSURE IN THE CHEST
BLUISH LIPS OR FACE
CLEAN YOUR HANDS OFTEN Wash with soap + water for 20 seconds or use a sanitizer of 75% APV or higher
Wear a medical-grade face mask
Avoid touching your nose and mouth 6 FEE T
Stay 6 FEET away from other people
19 E D- G VI R A COOVE C
SANITIZER & YOUR CRAFT BRAND WRITTEN BY
If there was ever an opportunity to both support your local community and build brand awareness for your distillery, it is now.
ith tasting rooms, restaurants, bars, and many retail outlets shut down over the past couple months due to COVID-19, many distilleries saw a freefall in sales. Once the legal hurdles were cleared, some distilleries quickly shifted to producing sanitizer instead of their high-quality craft products. This shift in production not only answered the call of their country to help fight the virus, it also served as a way to develop cash flow. As craft distilleries navigated this hectic and new landscape, many questions naturally arose:
SHOULD WE BRAND OUR SANITIZER WITH OUR DISTILLERY’S BRAND NAME, LOGO OR PACKAGING DESIGN? When the country comes together to fight a common enemy or threat, brands are presented with a very different landscape. In these instances, many of the traditional rules of branding no longer apply. Normally you would never dream of branding a low-end commodity product with your craft brand that is built on quality and exclusivity, but in this particular instance, the PR and social media goodwill far outweigh — and may even erase — any worries of brand promise confusion. If there was ever an opportunity to both support your local community and build brand awareness for your distillery, it is now. That being said, there are some good rules of thumb that many distilleries have employed to make sure they don’t harm their brands over the long term. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF BRANDING YOUR (CRAFT DISTILLERY’S) SANITIZER:
Do brand your sanitizer with only your distillery name or logo.
Don't leverage your DON'T package design from your other products. Keep your premium products separate from this commodity product. Don't make the product look like a potable alcoholic drink. It’s vitally important not to use containers or language that resembles standard spirits products, or could cause dangerous consumer confusion, now or years later when the product may still be in someone's cabinet.
Do the design of the sanitizer clean, simple, and easy (and cheap) to produce vs. getting overly extravagant with the packaging.
Do leverage every possible media outlet to gain both community awareness and brand credit for your generous activities, especially if you are donating some or all of your sanitizer. Use both traditional and social media channels to build awareness of your products, distillery, and consumer experience if you have a tasting room, bar, or restaurant. When it’s time to reopen, your community will be ready to support you back.
Do transition to inexpensive bottles and labels as soon as you can to cut costs and create additional margin if you are selling your sanitizer.
COCOV V E ID R A - 19 GE
SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO PRODUCE SANITIZER AFTER THE PANDEMIC? For many distilleries making sanitizer will pass with the pandemic, but for others, if their license allows, this new channel for cash flow may be here to stay. However, there are plenty of manufacturers whose core business is to produce these commodities and will do so efficiently again in the future. As their production increases and consumer demand subsides as the pandemic passes, the price for sanitizer will almost certainly be pushed downward. Sanitizer production will become a far less lucrative source of income for craft distillers. From a pure branding perspective, the answer is simple. As the US and the rest of the world gets back to normal — and the pan-
demic hopefully fades into the history books — so too should the production of sanitizer by craft distilleries. The brand benefit for craft distilleries, as previously mentioned, is really the philanthropic effort and PR opportunity. Once the pandemic subsides, a branded sanitizer will start conflicting with your more premium, artisanal products and brands’ positioning. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to brand a sanitizer with your luxury bourbon’s logo, and may become a safety concern if the product creates consumer confusion. In fact, this is not a longterm brand strategy for any craft distillery. As in “war efforts” of the past, this shift in manufacturing will fade away over time, and that’s a good thing. I, for one, would rather be sipping one of your great craft spirits vs. sanitizing my hands with it.
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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COCOV V E ID R A - 19 GE
Leadership Through Crisis
WRITTEN BY COURTNEY MCKEE
his is a difficult moment for human beings across the planet. COVID-19 came on in a hurry, sweeping across our landscape. For people in the distilled spirits industry, it has impacted our businesses and customers, our supply and distribution chains, and wreaked havoc on our communities and families. We know from survey responses that half to two-thirds of the distilleries in the US are deeply concerned that this pandemic may cost them their businesses. We know economic relief has been challenging for many distillery owners to access. We can find literally a million stories about the challenges we’re facing at this moment. This will not be one more of those. I think what’s needed are stories of great leadership, stories that offer constructive tools for getting through difficult moments. I believe in their ability to shake us into different awareness, to shift our perspective and to offer practical guidance to navigating when the wayfinding is hard. To that end, I reached out to a couple distillery owners for a better understanding of the challenges they’re facing in this moment and how they’re showing up for those challenges. PT Wood is the owner of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, Colorado, and Philip McDaniel of St. Augustine Distillery in St. Augustine, Florida. While both McDaniel and Wood stopped doing tastings and both began production of hand sanitizer at various scales, I found that the similarities between the two ran much deeper.
Decision Making There has been a surprising absence of a unified, global message and even an absence of a unified federal response to this pandemic. States have been left to fend for themselves, some to better success than others. I was curious to know where these guys were looking for reliable information and valuable sounding boards. As McDaniel shared: “I talk multiple times a day with my business partner and CFO, Mike Diaz. He is one of the brightest people I know and we collaborate really well together. Of course, I also talk with staff daily to get their insights and help on issues. They are amazing. I keep up to date with a variety of publications including [Wall Street Journal, New York Times], Forbes, The Brown Report as well as a number of podcasts that help keep me in balance. My current favorites are The Daily, WorkLife with Adam Grant and, of course, anything from Simon Sinek.” 52
For Wood, things are a bit different. In addition to running the distillery, he is also the mayor of his mountain town of Salida. For him, leadership takes on a really different meaning, including the resources he relies on. Wood shared that he’s been working very closely with the chair of the county commissioners board, an old river guiding friend of his. Together, they’ve formed a coalition of stakeholders who help advise one another. They’ve leveraged previous experience, such as the Decker Fire which started in the fall of 2019 just outside of Salida, to harness the US Forest Service’s incident management framework in dealing with the pandemic. They’re using primarily state and county information, with lots of community input, to both understand the current landscape and to make decisions about how to move forward. For both of these folks, there’s a lot of gratitude expressed for the individuals they’ve chosen to surround themselves with and who they rely on for solid decision making.
Problem Solving For McDaniel and Wood, the scale of the challenge is so great it’s difficult to even wrap their minds around. They’re doing what we all do with such big challenges: breaking them down into a series of smaller, more manageable obstacles they can tackle. For McDaniel, this breakdown has been less around time horizons and more around opportunity horizons. He shared “Honestly, right now we are in survival mode. As quickly as things are devolving with the economy — when has oil ever gone negative in value? — we are trying to take advantage of the current opportunities that can generate revenues for us. Specifically, making and selling hand sanitizer, donating as much as we can to local first responders and working with the other distillers in Florida to ask our governor and state leadership to relax laws governing online orders and direct-to-consumer shipping.” Wood and his county commissioners leapt out of the gate with care for their downtown small business peers by setting up a $25,000 challenge grant using economic development funds. Those funds went to the Chaffee County Emergency Relief Fund to be used as matching dollars for what he hoped would be about $100,000 in funds to support small businesses. As of this writing, that $25,000 has raised nearly $400,000 to support local independent businesses. Wood described his approach, stating, “I think there’s a couple of compartments that you deal with. What can I actually do today? Salida had a grind and pave project scheduled for later in May to improve downtown. Downtown shut down, so we moved the project to right now. We’re using a local contractor to do it so we’re pumping money WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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into our local economy. And then we have another compartment of things we can probably do. The governor issued the Safer at Home directive that starts to allow for limited business reopening. So we asked ‘what can we do that fits in this scope for us?’ We only get one shot at this and if we blow it, the town will be shut down for the summer. So how do we start reopening without messing it up? This brought out a lot of thoughtful planning from the business community. We’re pulling that information together and it’s been a great opportunity to collaborate with wide swaths of the community. Then there’s the third compartment. What would I really really like? That wish bucket. It’s a good one to have in your back pocket.” Listening to their stories, I find myself really appreciative, of the entrepreneurial, rollup-your-sleeves attitude Woods and McDaniel have taken. They’re leaning into this great leadership exercise I use in my work called ‘Yes… And…’ If you’re unfamiliar with it, the idea is to brainstorm, alone or with others, building on the ideas that are presented. In ‘Yes… And…’ we aren’t shutting ideas down. Rather, we’re pushing them until we find something that fits the bill. Pre-pandemic, McDaniel would have called direct-to-consumer shipping in Florida a pipe dream. Now, he’s going for it. At this moment, it’s worth the effort. Wood would have felt overwhelmed by bureaucracy, but is now pitching the idea of turning some streets into walking malls. ‘Yes… And…’ is the simplest thing to try in your own setting, and is particularly useful with your trusted team. One person starts by sharing an idea. The next person says “Yes… And…,” adding to or building from the original idea. Nothing is thrown out and, if after several minutes, one or two cool ideas pop out that the team can align around exploring, then those should be explored. No shame or judgement for the ideas which aren’t pursued and everyone at the table gets a hand in owning the wins created.
Values & Communication I’m a big believer in leaning on our values when things are hard. For some people, that calls to mind faith or spirituality. For others, it’s more practical. When I asked McDanWWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
iel what values he relies on for making wise decisions, he shared, very simply, “Do what is right. Be truthful. Always maintain transparency. Act and interact with humility.” He expressed gratitude for his role models, including his father, who taught him to think and reason his way through problems. And he’s okay with the idea that he won’t get everything right. “When you're not sure, go to the sources you count on and trust — your trusted advisors — go to them with counsel and listen to them and keep an open mind. Solutions will present themselves and you just have to be open to it. That’s a lot of what I do personally to try to get through it. I generally don’t quit. Sometimes it’s a challenge but it’s the thing that’s gotten me through many of the things I’ve faced throughout my career. Just that spirit of ‘Okay, that didn’t work, let’s try this.’” Wood shared that he learned his values through river trips. “There are really two types of river trips: Multi-day trips require listening, flexibility, hard work, and a tolerance for suffering and the ability to laugh about it. Whitewater trips require that you be present, that you roll with things and require tenacity.” On a river trip, Wood often has a hand in curating the group he spends his time with. As mayor, things are a bit different. He was elected by the community and therefore is responsible for working with a much more diverse group of people who may or may not share his values. He’s learned the value of listening to what people are truly saying. In order to do that, he’s had to learn to be quiet and to simply listen. He’s had to learn to ask questions — to ask enough questions that he gets to the right one that elicits the answer he needed. It requires patience and, for him at least, it doesn’t come naturally. Wood has had to learn to value communicating the why behind a decision. Even if people don’t agree, they can hear how his values translate to action and can, if nothing else, trust that he’s got the community’s best interest at heart. He’s also had to learn to engage around people’s fears. “The conversations become very real and very heartfelt. People have been cooped up for a month now. Those emotions are high and they’re boiling up,” explained Wood. One thing he’s learned is not to take it per-
sonally. “I’d much rather have them blame me than their spouse or kids or someone in their family. I’m happy to take that pressure... I can’t tell myself I’m going to come out the other side of this okay so I’m certainly not going to tell someone else that. But what I can tell them is that there are a lot of very thoughtful, hard working people trying to come up with solutions and this is what we’ve done so far, X, Y, and Z. We don’t know if those are going to help you today or tomorrow but we believe they ultimately will help.” People in Wood’s community have feared for their businesses, their jobs, and even their lives. Seven folks, as of this writing, have lost their lives in his community to COVID-19. “I can’t tell those folks they’re not going to die. There’s little I can do but give them comfort and tell them their lives are meaningful. So listening, honesty What’s Your and empathy. That’s Mantra about all you can reIn This ally do, right?” Moment? Stepping into leadPhilip McDaniel: ership roles — in our “I am in the universe. businesses, commuThe universe is in my nities, or the organibody. The universe zations we work with and I join together. — few of us have to Breathe, relax, be think about how we mindful and as lead through the loss much as you can, be of life. It’s scary and open to change. It’s it’s hard to put meancoming faster than ing to. For Wood, it’s we think.” important to recogPT Wood: “I woke nize that you’re dealup again. Let’s do it. ing with fears and Head back in. You that those fears are can look to the future real and need to be and plan for the respected. A guiding future but if you just light in dark times. make it through one McDaniel shared more day, you’ll be that, while the vibe closer to a solution. has changed, the Because of the folks team had such a I’m lucky enough strong connection to be surrounded prior to the panby, I’m able to have demic, they’ve reala more optimistic ly been able to rely outlook than many on the established folks. That is a gift trust to help them that allows some through things. “It’s optimism.” 53
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been challenging, but there has been growth at the same time. Everyone is concerned what the future will look like and how it will impact them, our business, and community. So many unknowns. We conference daily on Google Meet. Before we start our meetings, we take a few moments to hear how everyone is doing. This is important because it reminds us we care, we are all here, we are OK, we trust in each other to help us get through whatever the day will bring and help us make the best decisions.”
What Role Does Self Care Play? As this all started, I reminded myself that self care is critical during times of high stress. For me, that means more time in meditation, more time cooking, taking walks and doing other things that relax me. I was curious if McDaniel and Wood shared a similar need
for activities that balanced out the stress of the moment. McDaniel shared, “For me, I am doing a lot of morning meditation (Tai Chi and beach time). I try to start my day at sunrise on the beach, try to get at least 30 minutes of fresh air, some ocean time and if there are waves a brief surf or SUP [Stand Up Paddleboard] session. At night I do the same thing. It’s really helped me manage the current stress and stay focused on what is most important.” Wood said, “I think it’s important to just take a moment, step outside and take a deep breath, whether that’s in your backyard or in a wilder place. I always find an incredible amount of soul refreshment outside. I’ve been spending more time fishing. Fly-fishing, you’re standing in a stream, and you’re typically in an incredibly beautiful place. It’s very zen-like and requires concentration so you’re very much in the moment, watching your fly or your strike indicator float through the current, trying to make it all work to fool the fish
into thinking what you’re offering is something edible. I feel refreshed and a lot better after an hour on the river.”
Closing It is far too early in this crisis to have any idea what the future has in store. As communities begin reopening and each individual business has to make decisions balancing fears and unknowns, it’s encouraging to see leaders finding opportunity in the present and telling compelling stories about what our collective future can look like. I’m a sucker for optimism and for compelling stories, even more when there’s so much uncertainty and the stakes are so high. Times like these, when it’s hard to find our way, each of us needs to find the leaders who shine a light for us. And in turn, we need to be that leader for one another. We’ll get through this the best way we know how, and we’ll do it together.
Courtney McKee is the co-owner and co-founder of Headframe Spirits and Headframe Spirits Manufacturing. Courtney is deeply passionate about education, including leadership development, for the distilled spirits industry. You can reach Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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19 E D- G VI R A COOVE C
IN THE DAYS AHEAD
SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW WE CAN ALL HELP OURSELVES — AND EACH OTHER
fear. back tears of exhaustion, anxiety and lizabeth loaded the last box of she k?” wor “How am I going to make this hand sanitizer into the back of her asked herself. battered truck, closed the tailgate and a Like hundreds of times before, she swore. The last several weeks had been s y, went through a checklist of all the step mad scramble. Her six-year-old distiller and she could take — all the levers she seemingly poised to turn the corner 9, 201 of end could pull — to help her business stay take over the world at the thano yet afloat. She’d already gone to family and now seemed likely to become g friends for financial support, in some er casualty of the pandemic sweepin ted cases multiple times, when she’d star the globe. g the business and as it had limped alon In her home state, the Governor’s Ofe thos of y Man ity. real a from a dream to ry fice had imposed a regime of mandato in now es supporters were themselv ts closures of most public establishmen financial distress as a result of the pan in an effort to stem the spread of the h demic. She knew she couldn’t approac virus. That meant all bars were closed. them again. Restaurants were open and serving food She had tried to apply for the small to go, but her state’s laws didn’t allow d business loan assistance program rolle on-premises retailers to sell alcohol to out by the federal government, but by go. And so with a single stroke of his ified the time she’d been able to submit her pen, Elizabeth’s Governor had null d application the cash had already drie all the work she’d put into getting her all up. Her bank? They hadn’t seemed products into a majority of the high-end unty e-co thre that interested in lending to her once restaurants and bars in her in they figured out they couldn’t easily metro area. Her plan — to win first take a security interest in the barrels her business’ back yard — had actually of whiskey quietly aging away in her been starting to work. Now with all e finit inde the storeroom. those locations closed for er. matt to seem ’t didn that re, futu Making the hand sanitizer was helping to keep the lights on, but not much Walking back inside, Elizabeth passed lay the more than that. She’d been forced to her empty tasting room, through so and , crew — on ity ucti facil off most of her prod doorway into the production her g chin r laun today — six years after wide open since the governor ’s orde pub the to room ing tast brand — she felt she was very nearly had closed her ke her back to square one. Except today, unli lic — and entered her office. She put d r, six years ago, she was utterly exhauste feet on the desk, leaned back in her chai . hold and had higher overhead and clenched her jaw in an effort to
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WRITTEN BY BRI AN B. DEFOE
Sound familiar? At the time of writing, Elizabeth’s plight is unfortunately playing out throughout the country. While I am hopeful that by the time of publica tion the country will have emerged from COVID-19 darkness into a bright and shining land of unbridled oppor tunity, I’m not especially confident of that outcome. Rather, it seems likely that we are in for a long period of re covery and — if the epidemiologists are right — a bumpy one at that. So what’s to be done? What follows are a few suggestions for how we can all help ourselves — and help each oth er — through the process.
PRIMUM NON NOCERE Loosely translated from the Latin, the phrase (which is itself a trans lation from ancient Greek) means “first, do no harm.” While it is com monly thought to be part of the Hippocratic oath sworn by all who become physicians, it isn’t actu ally part of the oath. Rather, the phrase has its roots back in an other work by Hippocrates: Of the Epidemics. Fitting, isn’t it? But for our purpose let me translate it even more loosely to bring it into the present situation: Don’t Make Things Worse. Entrepreneurs are by nature
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optimistic people. After all, you probably wouldn’t start a business if you were pessimistic about the future. But the fatal flaw in many entrepreneurs — their Achilles heel if you’ll permit me to extend further the Greek theme — is that their optimism can often lead to taking risks which, in hindsight, appear to have been quite foolish. Those risks can have drastic consequences. To explore, let’s revisit Elizabeth. Let’s suppose that Elizabeth has been successful until now in getting her distillery off the ground without personally incurring a lot of debt. She’s put a ton of her own money into the business, but she didn’t mortgage her house or borrow on credit cards to cover startup costs. She didn’t even have to give a personal guaranty on the distillery’s lease. In all of this she’s either been extremely skillful or extremely lucky — most likely both. But now Elizabeth is faced with a dilemma. She feels certain that her business will fail without a cash infusion. Getting the cash now would let her bring back her production team, start once again putting whiskey in barrels, and make things feel normal. She’s convinced herself that the effects of the pandemic are starting to wane and she’s poring over every bit of news she can find in an effort to divine when things will restart so she can ramp back up her production. After all, why waste a good crisis? If she can get a jump on the recovery she might just be able to emerge from this stronger than she was at the start. But she needs the cash to make it happen — and offers for new credit cards keep arriving in the mail. So that’s the solution. Right? Probably not. As we’ve said, Elizabeth did everything right at the outset and — in so doing — was able to avoid the cash flow trap that comes from being saddled with high-rate debt. Pulling the trigger on that debt at this point is a big bet not only that her business is going to come back online in the short term, but that it will have sufficient extra income to service this new debt. And while she’s seeing signs that her state may be reopening soon, she can’t be sure. In fact, there is a very real chance that her interpretation of those signs may be influenced by confirmation bias — a tendency for humans to see in data what we want to see in order to confirm our preconceived beliefs (or desires). For every sign Elizabeth sees which suggests that her state will soon lift its mandatory quarantine regime, there are just as many signs that suggest that the regime will be eased over time — with bars and restaurants being among the last places to get back to “normal.” And even if all restrictions were lifted in a single day, Elizabeth has no way of knowing that those same restaurants and bars would reopen; they too are experiencing the pain and misfortune brought on by the pandemic. Some of them, possibly many of them, will fail to reopen. Elizabeth’s temptation to take in the cash now and worry about the consequences later is understandable. But it probably violates our ancient Greek physician’s maxim. The outcome of her wager is almost entirely outside of her control;
there is little that she can do which will have any meaningful direct impact on whether and when her state’s quarantine restrictions will be lifted. In the meantime, she will have put a yoke around the neck of her business. What’s worse, she will almost certainly have put that same yoke around her own neck as she’s likely to be personally liable on the debt. If that happens and the business ultimately fails to generate the cash to pay the debt, Hippocrates will be spinning in his grave.
DON’T PANIC. I once read of a helpful book that had this admonition in bold print on the cover. While I don’t often find myself arguing with aliens, saying farewell to dolphins, or dining at restaurants at the end of the universe, the book’s advice is nevertheless good counsel. Very few things are made better by panic, but a great number of things may be made a great deal worse. Part of the problem with panic is that we don’t always know when we’re experiencing it; we may feel we’re being completely rational at the time. However, panic can cause a range of negative effects from an inability to think clearly or make decisions all the way to a willingness to take unnecessary and ill-advised risks. In many cases, panic is a perfectly human and natural reaction to stress. Perhaps a left-over evolutionary trait that helped us escape from predators while our ancestors wandered about in the savanna. However, what may help you avoid being eaten by a lion will not necessarily help you when what is needed is the concentration required to project cash flow for months into the future while modeling the uncertainty of a pandemic. So Elizabeth would be well advised to take deep breaths (in for the count of four through her nose and out slowly through her mouth) — or whatever other action works for her — in order to center herself and help her to focus her attention on options to save her business.
PUT ON YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK BEFORE HELPING OTHERS. For years, I chuckled at this part of the pre-flight schtick from flight attendants. After all, if the cabin pressure suddenly dropped and oxygen masks fell from the ceiling, I expected to be throwing elbows like an NBA player trying to clear the area beneath the basket in my efforts to secure my own mask. Then I became a parent and everything changed. Suddenly, I knew that I would be focused on getting oxygen to a tiny human before I did anything else. Which is of course a bit nonsensical since that same tiny human wouldn’t have been able to fend for himself in the event that I had passed out for WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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lack of oxygen. The flight attendant’s advice was sound. The key here for Elizabeth is that her tiny human isn’t a human at all — it is her business. And Elizabeth is going to need to fight the urge to focus so heavily on her business that she forgets about her own well-being. That includes her financial well-being as discussed above, but it doesn’t end there. Elizabeth is exhausted. By continuing at her current pace she runs the very real risk of burning out or possibly even endangering her own health. Consider the potential irony of Elizabeth working herself to the point of illness while producing hand sanitizer to be used to fight… illness. Poetic, perhaps, but hardly a course Elizabeth would choose if she were thinking about it objectively. In any situation of high stress — like, say, trying to keep your business afloat during a pandemic — it is important to periodically take a moment to practice a bit of self-care. That can mean something as simple as taking a walk (assuming it is permitted in your location) or reading a book. Exercise, doctors tell us, is particularly good at helping to alleviate the effects of stress. Your particular method of self-care probably shouldn’t be something that violates Hippocrates advice. So, for example, Elizabeth should avoid the temptation to begin binge drinking directly from those barrels in the back of the storeroom. That might feel good on a temporary basis, but would not be a positive long-term solution (and wouldn’t thrill her friends at TTB).
BE KIND WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE. This phrase, attributed to the Dalai Lama, lived on a yellow sticky-note on my desk for several years. A helpful reminder to me that notwithstanding the stress of any particular moment, client demand, or unreasonable colleague, it was entirely within my power to try to make the situation better. While some corners of popular culture sometimes suggest that kindness is evidence of weakness, this is empirically false. Kind-
ness requires courage, which is most assuredly not a symptom of weakness. It can be difficult to find the courage to be kind — to one’s self or others — when confronted with challenges. Kindness also requires generosity. This too is not evidence of weakness. Far from it. The ability to be generous demonstrates that the individual has a surplus of whatever is being offered — whether time, energy, or other resources — to share with someone less fortunate. But neuroscientists have long known that what we practice becomes our experience going forward. In a sense, this is the active seeking of the confirmation bias we warned Elizabeth about earlier. If you practice kindness, you will find that you identify more and more opportunities to be kind. Similarly, if you make a habit of finding and expressing gratitude for experiences within your life, you will find that you are rewarded with feelings of gratitude for ever more experiences. This isn’t to say that your experiences will change — although they certainly might — but rather that your experiences of them will change for the better. Unfortunately, however, this works both ways meaning that if you make a point of noticing and dwelling on the negative experiences in your life you will become accustomed to exactly that and will find them around every corner. Of course this is one area where Elizabeth is quite fortunate. As a member of the distilling community, she is fortunate to be one of a great number of remarkably kind and generous individuals. It is, after all, a hallmark of the community. And so, even in her quarantine Elizabeth can be comforted to know that she has a great many friends to whom she can demonstrate kindness and from whom she will undoubtedly receive kindness in return. Brian B. DeFoe is a business lawyer, consultant to spirits brands, and distillery groupie — formerly in private practice and now in-house with a large retailer. Brian can be reached on Twitter @BrianBDeFoe or on Instagram @HoochLaw. Visit www.hoochlaw.com for more thoughts on spirits and the laws that govern them. This is intended to be general information, not an opinion or legal advice on any specific situation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with our readers.
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D ISTILLERIES AS VIRTUAL EXPERIENCES
P ART 1: THE SOCIAL MEDIA QUICK START GUIDE
EXPERIENCE LEVEL: beginner
WRITTEN BY HILARY BAUMANN
s the world phases tourism back in, you may not be seeing as much traffic through your distillery’s door, which is traditionally an important part of distillery marketing. The goal of this article is to get you up and running with online content for social media as fast as possible or to give you additional ideas if you feel like you are hitting a wall.
START with the platform you understand the best. If two are about the same, pick the platform where you have the most followers or the most engagement.
START with one platform and build from there until you gain experience. Taking on too many at once will likely keep you from progressing.
START and learn. You won’t be perfect. No one expects you to be perfect. Learn and adjust. Noticing a pattern here? START.
CHOOSING LIVE OR RECORDED (WATCH PARTIES): WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU? There are pros and cons to each option, but most of your social media platforms allow you to choose either option. You might choose live video if:
You want to interact with your audience. You want it to be online temporarily (more on this below). You want to create FOMO* from a one-time event. One and done. No reshooting if something goes wrong. It is what it is and you move on with life.
* FOMO: This is the “fear of missing out.” By having unique content that is only available live (or at least temporarily), potential viewers are more motivated to turn in. The key is having content that’s exciting like a first look at a new product or other insider-type scenarios. You might choose recorded video if:
You or the people speaking for your brand aren’t confident public speakers. You want the ability to reshoot or have a more clean and polished product. A few exceptions (skill level: intermediate):
Going from recorded to live: Want a middle ground of recorded video with the ability to chat with those watching? Post your recorded video and schedule a Facebook watch party. Not all of the platforms have this option, but you’ll be able to chat with those watching in real time with a watch party.
Going from live to recorded: There are ways to easily download Facebook videos, but the options come and go (even from within Facebook the download button may not work.) If you have an extra phone or camera, set that up to record locally while doing your livestream. A few extra perks to recording with a second camera is that you can record at a higher resolution than your live stream, it can be posted anywhere that you can upload a video afterwards, and if the livestream fails, you will still have something to use or post later. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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CONTENT: HOW DO I FIGURE OUT WHAT TO TALK ABOUT? My marketing mantra is to “create, curate, conversate, collaborate, and fascinate.” Your content doesn’t need to be all of these things at once but most good content will fit into one or more of these categories. Your content may influence which platform you want to present on. Here’s a quick idea list and then we’ll get into formulating options more specific to your business.
EQUIPMENT BEGINNER BASICS: Camera: A smartphone is going to give you the most flexibility for social media, whether it’s an iPhone or Android, to get started quickly. Work with what you have.
Interview with the master distiller.
Tripod: It’s better with some sort of stability, but there are ways for a person to brace their arms (elbows in close to their body or propped on a table) to get more stability when filming. You may want to invest in two pieces of equipment: One smartphone mount and one cheap tripod. You can accomplish this for under $50.
Behind the scenes tour — places you wouldn’t get
Universal smartphone mounts:
Quick-start topic ideas:
to go when visiting the distillery. (It could pique interest in going on a future tour.)
Live interactive product tasting. Cover your flavor notes, your USPs, what’s special about your brand, etc.
Best cocktails recipes and tips to make with you products.
Involve your reps in presentations: in-house, distributor, or maybe a bartender who presents well.
In the vein of “slow TV” point a camera on an active vat so people can watch the yeast patterns and hear distillery noises for 1-4 hours. This would make for good background noise while working or meditating. (Just make sure staff are aware you’re doing this so they don’t have conversation near the camera.) Define your goals for a virtual experience. Engaging your customers without in-person tours can accomplish a variety of goals.
Keep people engaged with your brand. Stay visible in the marketplace. Create a desire to visit the distillery at a future date. Simply entice people to buy product. Having a clear set of goals before you start filming will help shape what you’re doing so that it doesn’t turn out to be a rambling mess. Set aside time to brainstorm ideas. Don’t write a wordfor-word script. Most people end up sounding unnatural trying to stick with something too rigid. Instead draft talking points that can easily be referenced as you’re talking or if you feel like you’ve gone off-topic. Remember your existing brand guidelines. If you have an official document on this, you might want to do a quick refresher just so that you stay within your intended brand.
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Glif — $28
Manfrotto Pixi Clamp — $20
Note: If you have a tablet-sized smartphone, double check the size. There are also dozens of spring loaded mounts from no-name companies with good reviews. The ones I’ve mentioned by name are locking so you’re less likely to bump them and end up with a phone on the floor. Tripods:
AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripods 16.5–50 Inches — $16.49
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag — $25
I also love a good tabletop tripod because it fits in my laptop bag, so I have it with me at all times, but it’s not quite as versatile for getting a good shot when you know you’re going to be doing a lot of video. Audio: Start with your on-camera mic. There are better options if you go more advanced but for now let’s just get started. Don’t forget to turn off any loud production equipment or go somewhere with less noise. Maybe do a quick test video to make sure your speaker isn’t too far away from your smartphone Lighting: If filming outside, use natural light when possible and make sure the person you are filming faces the sun. If there are no windows or natural lighting sources, or if you have to do something where there is a window behind you, use a lamp with a bright white bulb in front of whoever is talking. If you have a floor lamp with positionable light, start there. You can also use a table lamp on a stool. You probably have something already on-hand that will work just to get started. If you want to invest a little more, Neweer has a number of great budget semipro lighting kits which will give you more flexibility and quality. Diffusers, softboxes and the like are awesome, but are overkill for those just getting started. If outfitting an existing lamp, your bulb color spectrum matters a lot. You want to look for a bulb that isn’t yellow and labeled “daylight” (5000 K and above on the color spectrum). If you already have some Phillips Hue smart bulbs, you have
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Window for natural light (with or without)
additional flexibility because you can change the color spectrum and dim them, but you do not need to invest in these.
Window for natural light
Sunlight outside window
1 positionable light 3rd lamp (Back light) table lamp on floor or a ceiling light
1st lamp (key light)
2nd lamp (fill light)
2nd lamp (fill light)
1st lamp (key light)
HELP! I NEED A VIDEO BASICS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA CHEATSHEET! Live-streaming
Yes (Max 1 min.)
Yes (Max 60 min.)
Yes (Max 60 min.) Comments are rolling bottom left and will cover some of the video
Yes (Max 15 sec.) 1 minute clip will autosplit into 4 (or you can use tools like Cutstory to do longer)
Live-streaming — Landscape
Yes (Max 4 hrs.) Will also post after live-stream
Yes (Max 4 hrs. recorded)
Yes (Max 15 sec.) (connected to your Instagram account will help you split 1 minute videos)
Facebook Facebook Stories
Recorded — Any
(YouTube will add a blurred background to make a portrait file landscape)
Any (but landscape best)
(& max length)
Yes (No time limit as long as your
(& max length)
equipment stays connected) Must verify account Will also post as a video after live-stream
Yes (Max 15 min. via smartphone)
See Twitter live-streaming
Yes (Max 2 min. 20 sec.)
Yes (Max 10 min.)
Yes (Max 6 hrs) Will also post to Twitter after live-stream Comments are rolling bottom left and will cover some of the video
Max 128 GB or 12 hours from a computer with a verified YouTube account
Lighting position: Ideally you would have a couple of lights towards the front/sides, but if you have one lamp, experiment with the position to see what distance best lights your speaker without causing harsh shadows. As long as you are not filming in a dark room, get started. You can learn what works and doesn’t work along the way. Editing software: We’re going to start with none. Editing takes time. It takes motivation. There are tons of options even for a smartphone and it would take a whole article to cover them. This is the quick start guide. If you want to “watermark” the video, consider printing out your logo and putting it on a stand or glued to the top of the glass of a picture frame to avoid glare. Max length isn’t always optimal length. How long is optimal will be based mostly on the quality and content of what you put together. File size can also be a factor (there are minimums and maximums), but most smartphones will get you in the correct range so I’m leaving that out to keep this a quick reference. Next time: More detail on Virtual Events (how to make your event more than a webinar) plus more platform info and cheat sheets! Hilary Baumann is the owner of Fascination Design, a comprehensive marketing firm located in central KY. Since 2000 her company has been assisting clients with brand identity, graphic design and market positioning strategies, and currently is the content producer for Distilled Living, a specialty Bourbon and spirits education and entertainment company. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
ix months ago, craft distillers ended 2019 by celebrating the one-year extension of a hard-fought FET reduction and looking forward to an increasingly profitable year ahead. Today, the industry is hanging on by a thread. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended virtually every aspect of life around the country — including the lives of the tens of thousands of business owners and employees in the craft distilling industry. Distillers are facing challenges today that would have seemed unthinkable just a few months ago: government-mandated closures, terrified consumers, girdled supply chains, the near-total closure of on-premise retailers, and plummeting household incomes. “There’s no way to sugarcoat this news — the economic climate for the craft distilling industry is dire,” said Erik Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, in a recent statement. In late March, the American Craft Spirits Association estimated that two in three craft distilleries would be forced to close within three months without government aid. Every week, the picture continues to darken. While many states are now in the process of lifting stay at home orders, huge questions remain about consumer confidence and the nation’s ability to cope with future outbreaks. While the picture is unequivocally dark, it’s not the first time that distillers have faced tough times. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession that began in late 2007 officially ended in June 2009. But the lingering effects of that recession were felt for many years beyond that in the form WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
of elevated unemployment, depressed household earnings, and muted consumer spending well into the early 2010s — a time when many of today’s craft distilleries were first launched. Still, beginning in June of 2009, the National Bureau of Economic Research reports that the U.S. economy grew every single month for 128 straight months. That hot streak, of course, came to an abrupt end in March of 2020. The next period will test an industry that has struggled to achieve consistent profitability even in good times. As of late April, reports from the U.S. Commerce Department reveal that U.S. domestic product contracted at a 4.8 percent annual rate in Q1 2020 — a particularly startling statistic, given that the major economic impacts of COVID-19 didn’t arise until the final two weeks of the quarter. Q2 of 2020, which encompasses the meat of the COVID-19 pandemic thus far, is widely expected to bring levels of GDP decline not seen since World War II. Growth in craft distilleries has largely mirrored economic expansion during the past decade. Between 2009 and 2019, about 1,800 new distilleries opened their doors in the United States. That means the vast majority of distilleries operating today have only existed in an environment of economic growth and improving macroeconomic conditions. But not all. Just
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Distillers Reflect on Written by Enduring Margarett Waterbu ry Tough Times
as we talk now about the carefree “before COVID” times of impromptu group gatherings at restaurants, thoughtless trips to the grocery store, and worry-free outings on public transit, there was a “before” the last recession, and distilleries were part of it. So how did these elders of the industry make it through those trying times — and what can newer distilleries learn from their success? Hood River Distillers in Hood River, Oregon, didn’t just successfully endure the last recession; it also endured the previous 12. The company was founded in 1934, not long after the end of the Great Depression, to transform surplus apples and pears from Columbia Valley orchards into spirits. Over the past 86 years, Hood River Distillers has reinvented itself numerous times, pivoting from fruit-based spirits to importing and blending and back again. During the Great Recession, Hood River Distillers was most famous for its value bottlings of vodka, gin, and blended whiskey widely distributed throughout the Northwest under the HRD and Monarch brands, as well as Pendleton Whisky, a popular brand of Canadian whisky. Erica Mitchell, chief financial officer at Hood River Distillers, says that was no coincidence: Consumers simply become more price sensitive during tough economic times. “When people have a little less money, we’ve found that many might not want to experiment,” said Mitchell. “A lot of our customers would look down a shelf. We saw an increase in — Erica Mitchell, value sales, with people sticking with at Hood River Distillers r office cial finan chief
When people have a little less money, we’ve found that many might not want to experiment.”
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the names they knew.” But as economic conditions improved, — Joe O’Sullivan, head distiller at Hood River Distillers and Clear Creek Distillery Hood River Distillers judged that the time was right to retruthful. You cannot lie. The easiest way of turn to its roots making premium fruit large companies sucking up public dollars establishing that behavior is to start at the spirits. In 2012, it purchased Portland’s through benefit programs that prioritize beginning, but moments like these can be Clear Creek Distillery, one of the nation’s the already successful and well-connected. good resets.” very first craft distilleries. Clear Creek was “I think this whole moment is one in which O’Sullivan thinks that distilleries that founded in 1985, and managed to weather deep inequities in the economy are going cultivate intimacy and trust with their comthe last recession through a combination to be shown,” said Spoelman. “That has munities however possible during the crisis of grit, luck, and shoe leather. to do with bars and restaurants, but it also — whether it’s hand sanitizer production, “In 2008, we went from having great bohas to do with who controls the distillery, donations and volunteering, or other avenuses and fun Christmas parties, to having what’s their stake in it, and why they make nues — will be best-positioned to make it everything stripped down,” said Joe O’Suldecisions.” through in one piece. “Be sure you’re prolivan, head distiller at Hood River DistillFor smaller distilleries that lack the acmoting your values and not taking an opers and Clear Creek Distillery. “Immedicess to capital that larger or VC-backed portunity to gouge people, but go nuts with ately, we saw a decrease in sales in the firms enjoy, the key to success will be anything you think will show your people tasting room and beyond.” To compensate, tapping into local communities. “People that you’re part of the community as well.” O’Sullivan said founder Steve McCarthy want to support their local community,” “I do see a significant difference between doubled down on hand selling — already O'Sullivan said. “Because of how money is today and the last recession with people a necessity for a company specializing in allocated in this country, this is going to not being able to leave their homes and European-inspired eaux de vie — with the be an extinction-level event for some small enjoy bars and restaurants,” said Mitchell. intention of keeping personal relationships businesses. But there is a growing and very with restaurants, bars, and liquor stores understandable resentment of larger com- “The uncertainty of this recession is huge.” In-state shipping, delivery, or contactless alive and well during the lean years. “We panies that you see within the demographpickup options will all be essential tools had people out every weekend, hand-sellic that craft spirits appeal to.” for distilleries to overcome the immense ing bottles,” said O’Sullivan. “Boots on the In addition to the ideological impulse market access challenges posed by the ground really matter.” to buy local, practical considerations may collapse of the on-premise ecosystem. “One of the great advantages of being a keep dollars closer to home as well. “The Lance Winters, craft distiller is that head distiller at St. you have more peoGeorge Distillery in ple for the amount Alameda, California, of product you make says they actually by a huge margin,” fared pretty well said Colin Spoelduring the last reman, co-founder of cession, which he Kings County Distill— Colin Spoelman, co-founder of Kings County Distillery attributes to diverery which launched sification and authenticity. At that time, in Brooklyn, New York in 2009, at the tail last recession was the first time that someSt. George’s biggest volume driver was end of the last recession. “For every botbody coined the term ‘staycation,’” said the Hangar One brand of flavored vodkas, tle you make, you can have a real person Mitchell. “Instead of taking international a situation that even now Winters seems deputized to say thank you. This is why we vacations, we saw people start to spend slightly surprised by. “The market had care that you drink this. It means a lot to money in their local economies.” been flooded with it, but ours still found us.” When marketing to local consumers, an audience,” he said. “It was quantifiA potential silver lining of recessionary there’s no substitute for authenticity. ably different from the competition, and events is that they tend to re-focus con- “When people are cash strapped and they our sales continued on a positive, upward sumers on the importance of supporting lowant to do something nice for themselves, trend despite the downturn.” cal businesses — a trend that feels doubly there’s not a lot of room for bullshit,” said Echoing O’Sullivan’s perspective, Winrelevant today as centralized supply chains O’Sullivan. “People want to have confiters attributes some of Hangar One’s sucbuckle under the strain of quarantines and dence in their purchases, because they cess to a fundamental shift that seemed outbreaks, while public outcry grows over have fewer of them. You need to be very
When people are cash strapped and they want to do something nice for themselves, there’s not a lot of room for bullshit.”
One of the great advantages of being a craft distiller is that you have more people for the amount of product you make by a huge margin. For every bottle you make, you can have a real person deputized to say thank you.”
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to take place among consumers during the recession. “The biggest change that we saw in consumers during that time was an allegiance to prod— Lance Winters, head distiller at St. George Distillery ucts that delivered on their marketing promises,” tilleries are taken aback by the stunning said Winters. “They wanted something real, uncertainty of the COVID-19 era. “I see a which actually made it a good time for dissignificant difference between this and the tillers like us.” In fact, St. George actually last recession,” said Mitchell. “It’s so difmanaged to sell their vodka brand in 2010 ferent with people not being able to leave — still a time of serious economic uncertheir homes, or enjoy bars and restaurants. tainty — and begin expanding into gin and This could permanently affect people’s growing their whiskey stocks. “The whole restaurant, bar, and travel spending habpoint of being an artisan distiller is to make its.” In the near-term, she said Hood River products of quality and character unlike Distillers and Clear Creek Distillery have anything else found in the market,” said been taking a close look at cash flow and Winters. “If you’re providing something trimming expenses aggressively. “We’re that really resonates with the consumer, really buttoning down the hatches — savthat they can’t find somewhere else, you’ll ing money, delaying capital expenditures,” likely make it through to the other side.” said Mitchell. “Ultimately, every business Still, even the longest-established discomes down to cash. If you don’t have the
If you’re providing something that really resonates with the consumer, that they can’t find somewhere else, you’ll likely make it through to the other side.”
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cash to pay your bills or employees, that’s where businesses fail. So conserve cash.” As weeks in lockdown have stretched into months, every day seems to bring new developments on multiple fronts — public health, political, and economic. That means adaptation and flexibility remain essential — now, more than ever. O’Sullivan said distillers shouldn’t be afraid to reassess their strategies as conditions evolve. “Every change is an opportunity,” said O’Sullivan. “Any change in the weather means everyone will have to tack, or they’ll crash. The idea is to tack as soon as you can.”
Margarett Waterbury is a drinks writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first book, Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies, will be released in fall 2020.
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The life of a spirits brand representative in the age of COVID-19
ne of the most daunting realizations of a pandemic is what social creatures humans are. This inherent fact precipitated the creation of bars and restaurants. A proper cocktail is an amalgam of not just liquids and flavors but the stories and people behind them. How those products find their way to the backbar, and ultimately your glass, however, is a story of its own. For many, COVID-19 has rewritten that story — taking the existing guide and throwing it away with total disregard. As the world heals and picks up the pieces of what was, spirits brand representatives must work with what is. For many, it all comes back to where it started — people. It should surprise no one that a great deal of hospitality professionals are out of work, with many states just beginning to lift stay-at-home measures at the time of this writing. Restaurants are set to open
PANDEMICS, PRODUCTS, AND PURGATORY WRITTEN BY CRAWFORD MCCARTHY
with limited capacity, and bars seem to have been left to fend for themselves for now. Those who work to push products into those spaces are still working at the moment, but if there are no customers, and therefore no sales, how can one hope to sell right now? “Living in Brooklyn, I can’t even go visit friends’ businesses. I don’t have a car, and public transportation is far too risky for me to hop over to some of these bars,” stated Robby Nelson, east coast sales director for AMASS, a Los Angeles-based producer of gin and vodka. “No one is buying anything right now, so we are shipping our hand sanitizer to clients
“No one is buying anything right now, so we are shipping our hand sanitizer to clients just to try and help them stay safe and to let them know we are thinking of them. I just want to see friends, regardless if they are clients.” — Robby Nelson, east coast sales director for AMASS
just to try and help them stay safe and to let them know we are thinking of them. I just want to see friends, regardless if they are clients.” Bartenders often act as surrogate sales representatives, utilizing their customer interactions to introduce people to new products, but that’s not possible as long as patrons are limited to just ordering out. “Only a fraction of bars and restaurants are offering cocktails to-go and beyond that, there is very little to speak of in terms of on-premise sales. Off-premise business is still alive but it’s not sufficient to keep a brand going long-term,” said Ben Carpenter, director of sales at Surf City Still Works, a small distillery in Huntington Beach, California. “The average workday consisted of visiting clients at restaurants, bars and hotels all over Southern California. Throw in some brand education, cocktail workshops, activation events and general sales meetings and you pretty much have an accurate depiction of our day to day.” Now, however, Surf City Still Works, along with AMASS and many other brands, has shifted production to hand sanitizer to help
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their surrounding community. “We pivoted our day-to-day operations to producing hand sanitizer in bulk and now produce between 3,000-6,000 gallons a week. We have been working with first responders, government agencies and local businesses to address the critical shortage. We will likely continue this practice indefinitely if the shortage remains a factor.” While these various exercises have helped companies stay afloat, many smaller brands are simply spread too thin. This has left some bars and restaurants who rely on smaller producers to carve out their own survival on the front lines. “To be honest, companies seem to be focused elsewhere during this shutdown. Retail is currently lucrative and small bar operations just became smaller, without the benefit of customer-facing bar professionals. I've had a few keep contact, the rest have vanished,” says Michael Rooney, Beverage Director of Vaca Group. With three popular restaurants spaced throughout southern Orange County in their portfolio, Vaca Group is renowned for their bar programs which carry a vast amount of craft spirit brands and products hard to find on other backbars. “Small distillers and brands have small budgets. Success really requires a team that buys into your ethos and will work through hell to see you succeed. That's a tough culture to build,” he finishes. The crisis is impacting more than just business owners as well. “Just last week the entire division I worked alongside was
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“People are realizing they don’t have to go into the stores, they don’t have to go into an office they hate — I believe this pandemic will have a major effect on people’s buying habits in our future.” — Erica Arispuro, market manager for Bently Heritage Estate Distillery furloughed. The company just can’t afford to pay its people if there are no sales coming in,” said Erica Arispuro, market manager for Bently Heritage Estate Distillery. It isn’t just the lack of sales though that is taking a toll, the emotional distance can be felt by people like Arispuro as well. “A normal day was always put out in the streets. Visiting accounts (bars and stores), pushing product, supporting said product, business lunches, and evening dinners. We would always have some larger event as well to help excite our week.” Now, though, for Arispuro and others in her position? “I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored,” she said. Being unable to visit accounts, and relegated to the obligatory “Zoom Happy Hour Hangouts” can put a damper on anyone’s spirits, but folks are still finding ways to adapt. “The sales teams are now perfecting their techniques and getting creative with how to promote via Instagram/YouTube/ Facebook. Everything is online now and when it does go back to normal, whatev-
er that new normal is, it’s not going to be the same as it was pre-COVID-19. People are realizing they don’t have to go into the stores, they don’t have to go into an office they hate — I believe this pandemic will have a major effect on people’s buying habits in our future,” said Arispuro. Online certainly seems to be the new norm, hopefully allowing bartenders to adapt and once again find ways to voice support for products and brands they like, and ideally generate income by doing so. Through all of the uncertainty though, one sentiment remains clear — people miss people. “This business is about spirits, that’s true, but more-so it’s about people — and I miss those people and can’t wait to raise a glass with them soon,” said Nelson. Have to say, I agree.
Crawford McCarthy lives in Orange County, CA and is a freelance writer and founder of the The Best Ceats, a company dedicated to food, wine and spirits writing.
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Industrial Alcohol Operations Post COVID-19 WRITTEN BY ASHLEY HANKE
ith hand sanitizer flying off shelves amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s not surprising that TTB relaxed various regulations in order to allow for the temporary manufacture of hand sanitizer by alcohol beverage distillers without the usually required permit, bond, and formula approvals. Distilleries around the nation have stepped up to do their part by responding to the unprecedented demand for hand sanitizer from state and local governments, first responders, hospitals, essential front-line workers, and the general population. While soap and water are still said to be the best choice to curb the spread of the virus, the portability of hand sanitizer makes it an attractive option when soap and water are not readily available. While many of the world’s alcohol beverage producers have tapped into their arsenal of resources and supplies to temporarily manufacture and donate hand sanitizer to the Red Cross, hospitals, and communities in need, other distillers have come to the conclusion that hand sanitizer may become a regular offering alongside their run-of-the-mill beverage operations. Although the TTB has made clear that the waiver of certain formula and permit requirements was only limited to the duration of the emergency, currently extended through December 31, it is unlikely that the demand for hand sanitizer will decrease once communities start opening back up and returning to daily life. To the contrary, demand for easily accessible antiseptic products will likely increase simultaneously with social interactions, leaving many beverage manufacturers contemplating the production of hand sanitizer and other antiseptic products on a
more permanent basis, as these types of diligent hygienic safeguards are expected to become the new norm, at least for the foreseeable future.
Industrial alcohol permit privileges allow for the manufacture of denatured or partially denatured spirits or the use of denaturants in the manufacture of alcohol unfit for beverage purposes in a variety of scientific, medical, cosmetic, and industrial uses. Typically, in order to conduct industrial manufacturing operations, one must apply for an industrial permit and obtain formula approval before engaging in the denaturing of spirits. Existing beverage alcohol producers who are considering the continuation of industrial operations after the TTB’s temporary authorizations have been lifted must amend their existing permit to include industrial operations. The amendment application covers the type of industrial operations the permittee will engage in, such as the warehousing, bottling, packaging, and denaturing of spirits; whether the applicant will manufacture articles and products made from denatured spirits; and whether the applicant will process, restore, or recover denatured spirits. Applicants will also WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
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be asked to provide detailed production procedures including the storage and packaging of alcohol, whether spirits will be redistilled, and an itemized list of equipment used to conduct industrial operations.
However, before diving in headfirst, distillers should appreciate the fact that the TTB’s temporary guidance has certainly simplified the usual complexities that come with industrial operations and the denaturing of spirits. In addition to amending a beverage permit to include industrial privileges, distillers should consider the additional recordkeep-
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ing and regulatory requirements such as requests for TTB approval to increase the quantities of denatured ethanol that permittees may procure, transfer-in-bond applications, obtaining appropriate bond coverage, and whether industrial operations will include the distribution of alcohol to another firm for use in industrial products or the direct manufacture of products that include denatured spirits. In addition to the TTB’s authorization to conduct industrial operations, industry members should seriously consider other stringent regulatory requirements imposed by various state and federal agencies, namely the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Antiseptic products such as sanitizing wipes and hand-sanitizing gels are regulated by FDA as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Manufacturers of OTC drugs are typically subject to a plethora of regulatory obligations imposed by the FDA, including good manufacturing practices, facility registration, drug listing, reporting obligations, and labeling of OTC drugs. Navigating the
complexities of the ever-changing FDA rules and guidance, including approved formulations that may be used in the production of hand sanitizer, can prove to be challenging for distillers who have not had previous experience with the FDA. So, while regulatory bodies generally have the authority to relax or temporarily suspend certain regulations and requirements in emergency situations, distillers should proceed with caution when undertaking industrial operations once the temporary authorizations have been lifted and are encouraged to revisit the everchanging guidance from both the TTB and FDA. Ashley Hanke is an attorney at Malkin Law, P.A., a law firm focused on serving the alcohol beverage industry. For more information, visit www.malkin.law, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (860)394-7012. Nothing in this article is intended to be — and should not be — construed as specific legal advice but is for educational purposes only.
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CONDUCTOR THINKING WRITTEN BY JOHNNY JEFFREY
n the midst of upheaval caused by a global pandemic, I find myself spending more time thinking about people than production, groups more than individuals, and business as a whole rather than the parts that I normally spend my time interacting with. I don’t know quite what to call this. Music is one of the places I go most often to explore ideas, emotions, and dig for analogies so “conductor thinking” maybe? It doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of a technical column in a distilling magazine necessarily, but I think it contributes to the song good leaders are trying to play right now. A good deal of my time recently has been spent trying to hear the chord my team is playing. Is it melodic and moving in the same direction? Have we found the way to keep everyone working in harmony or are we missing something that’s throwing off the tune? I think hyper-focus on the mutuality of our daily activity is an important place to contemplate, especially these days. I feel like this moment is here for us to find better routes to connection through checking in on our friends and cohorts all over the country, being available and con-
nected to those of us in our neighborhoods and companies, and checking in on people we’ve previously taken for granted. The harmony of our groups is a really big deal and a thing we need to be able to turn our gaze toward to check on their health. The harmony of a group is best determined by how well it functions from a distance. You’re not in the weeds on whether each person is perfectly suited to this moment’s task, you’re looking for signs that everyone is pulling in the same direction. Are peoples’ heads up? When you walk in the building (when you can walk in the building) what’s the body language telling you? I think this kind of evaluation is frequently overlooked because we charge into the fray so quickly, we forget to look with perspective. The bigger I make my personal perspective the more I feel like my actions need to be broad-stroke and empowering to other people, rather than fixing things in the moment. That might sound intuitive but the hardest part, for me personally, is keeping the wider perspective in mind as I go through my day. To continue the music analogy, I’m listening to the song, not the notes.
The next bit I pay attention to is the smaller chords and ask myself:
› What groups have formed, who are people gravitating toward?
› Do we need to add some variety to
groups that are too coherent but are missing something or leaving someone out?
› How are small groups contributing
positively or negatively to the overall harmony of things?
› Is there
a group running a bit too solo and needs the energy of a new player?
I ask myself these questions during individual check-ins and often just taking people’s temperature by bullshitting with them and hanging out. I think it looks like I’m just wandering around chatting people up (which I’m also doing) but I’m looking for signs of stress, enjoyment, thriving, struggling … and when I find them I’m trying to figure out if I’m the person to address it, enhance it, hand someone a project, or
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maybe someone else needs to do it. I might just need to witness it and say something to them, but if there’s a thing to be done I’m making the mental note to get something moving. Musicality, harmony, resonance, fluidity, timbre, and feedback are all qualities of sound or concepts in music and sound engineering that apply here. You might pull terms from a different analogy. I think it’s valuable to use aesthetic terminology here because making it technical makes it a problem to solve. I don’t think keeping my band in harmony is a problem. I think it’s a project. I also think it’s one that we need to be spending a lot of time on because technical solves alone are not going to get us through a time like this. Creative and intuitive ones are going to do the heavy lifting for us in a time where we can’t be face to face. Even once we can, the uncertainty and straight-up oddity of the era we’re in is going to require us to put in some work on one another, building up healthy communities of mutual support.
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My absolute favorite part is the next bit. Once I feel like I’ve taken the temperature and made some mental notes around what I’m going to do or who I’m going to ask to do something, it’s time to gather the group. The settling-in moment of the gathering is where you can really see the stresses asking for attention within the group. If you’re noodling around with jokes or ideas and not getting any traction, there’s something underlying in the room that needs to be worked on. If it’s easy and fast and things start flowing, there is trust and camaraderie stronger than any underlying stresses. Intentionally settling in with your people to see what you can create in concert, how many ideas you can develop, how much joy you can stir up in that group. Delight in discovering how many people can you get playing jazz with jokes, concepts, thought experiments. Intention matters here. It’s one thing to try and make the gathering fun, it is another thing entirely to see it as your mission and explore your power to intentionally conduct the group’s dynamics
for greater harmony. Conductor thinking isn't the obvious choice for a technical column in a distilling magazine, but I think it contributes to the song we’re all trying to play right now. Things are strange and hard and scary. Check in with your people, see how much they appreciate someone who they know is thinking about their emotional and psychic wellbeing. Show some love and vulnerability. There’s nothing like owning up to your own fears to give someone else permission to reveal theirs. Emotional availability is something we’re all going to need.
Johnny Jeffery is a graduate of the Artisan Distilled Spirits Program of Michigan State University and Head Distiller for Bently Heritage Estate Distillery, in Minden, NV. He has worked as an industry consultant for over a decade and is co-founder of Good Guy Distillers, a group of industry professionals who try to spread good information and do good deeds
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he world is facing an unprecedented health crisis that is hurting small businesses everywhere. State governments have shut down distillery tasting rooms across the country, completely eliminating what is often the most lucrative revenue stream for craft distillers. Thousands of employees have been laid off, and many craft distillers are on the brink of going out of business. However, there is cause for hope. One overarching positive for craft distillers is that most states have given them their due, declaring them (as well as liquor stores) to be essential businesses, thereby allowing them to continue limited operations while most of the rest of the business world is closed. This article covers a few of the ways that distillers can weather the pandemic and come out of the crisis stronger and ready to thrive in the post-coronavirus world. Here are just a few of the opportunities that are out there right now for many distillers:
Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Sales — Many (or maybe even most)
state and local governments are hearing the calls from distillers and their guilds to pass laws to provide new revenue streams or provide administrative relief for craft distillers. Distillers can take advantage of new opportunities for curbside sales, home deliveries, and direct shipping.
(2) Hand Sanitizer
— Retailers have been unable to keep hand sanitizer in stock. Most distillers already possess the skills and equipment to make hand sanitizer. And now TTB, FDA, and most states have temporarily changed the laws to allow distillers to produce hand sanitizer — currently the hottest item in the alcohol world.
(3) Government Loans
— The federal government has created two COVID-19-related economic measures (so far) that are intended to provide loans to small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan provide much-needed economic relief to businesses struggling to pay their expenses without their projected revenue.
SURVIVING COVID-19 Opportunities for Craft Distillers in the Midst of a Pandemic WRITTEN BY DAN CHRISTOPHER SON
DTC SALES While the public is stuck homeschooling their children, streaming Tiger King, and trying their best to stay sane, alcoholic beverages are helping people with the latter-most of those. Consumers are still buying and drinking booze, and craft distillers should make it as easy as possible for the public at large to enjoy their artisanal craft spirits. Fortunately, many states are feeling the pressure to help out craft distilleries and passing new laws that allow for distilleries (as well as breweries, wineries, and retailers) to deliver or ship alcoholic beverages DTC. While DTC sales for off-premises consumption will likely never provide the same profit margins as tasting room sales for on-premises consumption, DTC sales can still be quite lucrative. A few states already enjoy fairly liberal rules for DTC sales, but most other states have limited access to non-traditional DTC sales opportunities. Virginia recently joined the short list of states that allow direct shipping to consumers through common carriers (Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and the District of Co-
lumbia). Note that federal law prohibits the United States Postal Service from shipping alcoholic beverages through the mail — FedEx, UPS, and most private carriers are a more likely option. Other states have expanded the ability of distillers to sell DTC for off-premise consumption. For instance, Kansas and New Jersey have begun allowing the curbside pickup of sealed containers at distilleries. Other states such as Alabama, California, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon have gone a step further, allowing distilleries to deliver their goods directly to consumers’ homes. If your state is not yet providing these types of DTC opportunities, I highly recommend that you push your local distillers guild to ask your state government for expanded access to these kinds of opportunities. If your state has already moved to allow more DTC opportunities, use these opportunities responsibly so that temporary measures might become more permanent. While direct shipping of spirits by distillers is still limited to a few states, the wine industry has spent the last few decades pushing for the legalization of direct shipping by wineries,
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and the wine industry now enjoys direct shipping to all but seven states.1
FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS ARE PERMITTING DISTILLERS TO PRODUCE AND SELL HAND SANITIZER One of the most talked about, although probably the least sexy, opportunities relates to temporary allowances for distillers to make and sell hand sanitizer. In March, TTB issued new guidelines allowing Distilled Spirits Plant Permit holders to produce hand sanitizer to address the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Many states have followed suit. This permission is temporary, now set to extend through the end of 2020, although it will likely be extended for as long as the pandemic continues to affect the country. TTB also waived the formula approval requirement for such products, so long as the products are manufactured in accordance with FDA guidelines.3 The FDA recipe is available online.4 FDA also released recommended labels for producers to use, the no-frills front label is shown on the right. Many craft distillers are taking advantage of this additional revenue opportunity, helping to meet the immense demand for these products. Some especially savvy distillers are also recognizing and filling a growing demand for bulk denatured alcohol that can be used in the production of hand sanitizer by others. Many distilled spirits plants (DSPs) do not have stills of their own, and instead purchase bulk spirits for use in their products — this is the case for the large number of breweries seeking their own DSP permits in order to produce hand sanitizer. The same is the case for denatured spir-
its, which can be transferred in bulk upon approval of an Application for Transfer of Spirits and/or Denatured Spirits in Bond (TTB F 5100.16), and sold to distillers to be used in the production of their own hand sanitizer. The opportunity to make and sell hand sanitizer offers a chance to keep stills in action, revenue flowing, and distiller’s hands busy. It also offers distillers a chance to do some good in the world, as countless distillers have selflessly dedicated themselves to producing and donating hand sanitizer to hospitals and first responders around the country.
LOANS THROUGH THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) are two loan programs offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that offer direct financial assistance to craft distillers. PPP was a program initially included in the CARES Act, which quickly ran out of funds two weeks later, leaving many small business owners in the lurch. Fortunately, the federal government added another $310 billion of funding to the program. Funds are starting to be disbursed now, and will likely be exhausted again (although there are rumors that the program may receive even more funding). Designed to incentivize the continued employment (or reemployment) of employees, the program is all or mostly forgivable, so long as at least 75 percent of the funds go toward payroll and the remainder goes toward eligible expenses such as rent and utilities. PPP loans need to be filed through an approved bank, typically the bank you have an existing relationship with.
One interesting side effect of the CARES Act is that the act provides for an additional $600 to unemployed workers on top of their state unemployment benefits. Employees rehired under the PPP program would, however, only receive their previous paychecks. Some employers that received PPP funds have been surprised to hear that their employee is unhappy about being rehired since re-employment will likely mean a decrease in pay. EIDL is an extension of the traditional SBA loan made available to businesses during natural disasters. EIDL loan applications may be filed directly through the SBA using their website.5 Availability of these loans changes on a daily basis, and you should check the SBA’s website for current status information. EIDL loans have a forgivable loan advance component (between $1,000 and $10,000), and the remaining amount is subject to an annual percentage rate of 3.75 percent (2.75 percent for nonprofits). Funds provided through the EIDL program are also subject to restrictions on use.6
CONCLUSION This article sheds light on just a few of the opportunities that currently exist for distillers. I anticipate that the distilleries that are able to survive this economic downturn are going to be in a position to thrive in its aftermath. Dan Christopherson is a craft beverage lawyer located in Littleton, CO, who has worked with distilleries, breweries, and wineries to develop their companies and products since 2012. Dan is the principal attorney at Christopherson Law Firm PLLC and works as counsel for Lehrman Beverage Law PLLC. Dan can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 720-515-8773.
1 www.wineinstitute.compliancerules.org/state-map 2 www.ttb.gov/public-guidance/ttb-pg-2020-1a 3 www.fda.gov/media/136289/download 4 www.fda.gov/media/136118/download 5 www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications 6 Read more here: www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/articles/EIDL_and_P3_4.1.2020_FINAL_2pm.pdf WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
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REGULATORY RESPONSE to COVID-19 the
LESSONS FOR MOVING FORWARD W R I T T E N B Y C O R E Y D AY
he novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our lives, yet through all the change and confusion there have been bright spots. Many distilleries pivoted from crafting their own unique spirits to mass-producing hand sanitizer to fill that gap in the supply chain. It is heartening to see members of the craft spirits industry pull together to help their communities. At the same time, distilleries are struggling. Regulations and guidance on how to operate and what is permissible are changing rapidly. Distilleries are facing new questions on multiple legal fronts, from the propriety of employee temperature checks to how to comply with the level of sanitation required before opening to the public. The unfortunate reality is that some distilleries may not be able to weather the storm. Fortunately, many states — though far from all — have instituted some form of regulatory relief for the alcohol industry. The variation of relief state-by-state, and in some cases county-by-county, is creating a natural experiment of sorts. Our hypothesis is that the jurisdictions that act quickly and creatively to alleviate some of the operational hurdles distilleries are currently facing will have the lowest distillery closure rate. Looking forward, we hope that the temporary regulatory relief measures implemented during the pandemic lead to more permanent legal changes, thereby easing restrictions on distillers and their ability to do business. In this article, we summarize the regulatory relief granted to licensed distilleries across the U.S. due to COVID-19 for two primary reasons: as a short-term resource to assist distillers and customers during the pandemic, and as a long-term resource for those seeking
Looking forward, we hope that the temporary regulatory relief measures implemented during the pandemic lead to more permanent legal changes, thereby easing restrictions on distillers and their ability to do business. 72
to amend the law governing distilleries in their home state on a permanent basis. First, we look at the temporary regulatory relief made available to distilleries by state and county liquor authorities during the pandemic. If your distillery is located in a state that has not offered any form of regulatory relief, the information contained in this article provides a useful model for seeking action from your own state regulators. For instance, if curbside delivery (with the appropriate social distancing protocols) is providing a meaningful business solution to distilleries in Oregon and allowing consumers to avoid another trip to the liquor store, the concept could potentially work in your state too. If alcohol delivery in Arkansas didn’t lead to a reported spike in underage consumption, why would your state be different? Second, if a state is willing to make a temporary change to support businesses during a crisis, why not make that change permanent? The longer these temporary changes last, without some disproportionate negative consequence, the harder it will be for states to reverse those changes. In fact, some states have already enacted permanent changes during this pandemic. Kentucky, for example, expedited the passage of their direct to consumer delivery bill. Now may be the best time to raise these ideas with your local legislature. Now, a caveat. This information is, by necessity, a snapshot in time. By the time you read this article, some of these changes will be gone, some expanded, and some still in place. With that said, you should frequently review your state’s, or county’s, regulatory guidance for the most up-to-date information.
50 STATE SURVEY First, the disappointing news. We identified twenty states1 that have not implemented any regulatory relief2 for distilleries. Some states made no changes for the alcohol industry in general. Other states offered relief to some licensees, such as beer and wine licensees, but not to distilleries. Other states were less than crystal clear on whether relief provided to other licensees also applied to distilleries. 1 Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 2 This survey was looking at changes in response to COVID-19, specifically. It is possible that some of these states may already allow to-go sales or delivery.
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Furthermore, while most of the relief discussed below addresses direct sales between distilleries and consumers, we did not identify any states that have altered or waived their regulations on self-distribution. So, what important changes have we seen?
CURBSIDE PICKUP We found that 30 states3 and the District of Columbia (D.C.) are allowing curbside delivery while emergency health orders are in place or until specified dates. As is typical with state liquor law, there is significant variation in what different states are authorizing, even with something as seemingly simple as bringing spirits out to customers in the distillery’s parking lot. Some states limit curbside pickup of spirits to pre-mixed cocktails in sealed containers (when the license allows for on-premise cocktails). Other states only allow curbside pickup if the distillery also has a restaurant or additional retail license or limits curbside pickup to certain classes of distillery licenses and not others. Notably, North Carolina temporarily eliminated the requirement that a customer must tour a distillery before purchasing bottles of spirits to go.
DIRECT TO CONSUMER DELIVERY There are 15 states4 and D.C. that are now allowing the delivery of spirits to in-state residents. As with curbside pickup, though, there is much variation. Some states allow delivery through a third-party delivery platform (e.g., Drizly) while others require that delivery be made directly by a distillery employee. California allows free delivery, exempting delivery service from its prohibition against giving away a “thing of value” in conjunction with alcohol sales. Again, some states allow delivery for certain classes of distillery licenses, but not others. In Washington, distillers need to file a form notifying the liquor board of the distillery’s intent to offer delivery service.
Across the board, states temporarily allowing alcohol delivery reminded distilleries to avoid sales or deliveries to minors.
OTHER CHANGES There are 13 states5 that have instituted a form of relief other than curbside pickup or delivery of spirits. For example, California and New Hampshire are allowing licensed distilleries (with food sales) to expand their licensed premises to adjacent areas, allowing for greater capacity while also maintaining the type of social distancing required for reopening. Some states that previously limited spirits sales to sealed bottles are now allowing pre-mixed cocktails to-go (in sealed containers) and growlers. Many states are extending application deadlines and license expiration dates. A handful of states are expressly allowing donations from distilleries to charity, which means that distilleries can give away hand sanitizer if they so choose. Perhaps most interesting of all, Maryland removed the 2.25-liter limit on the quantity of spirits that could be sold to a customer. We’re excited to see how distilleries will continue to support their communities and adapt to the drastic changes that COVID-19 has caused. Hopefully, some of the above changes can be made permanent to allow distilleries to thrive, both in the current situation and when we get back to business as usual. Corey Day is an alcoholic beverage attorney and litigator in Stoel Rives’ Sacramento office. Corey likes chatting about potent potables, complicated cocktails, and a little alliteration, so email him: firstname.lastname@example.org, call him: 916-3194670, or follow him on twitter: @coreyday. DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to be a source of general information, not an opinion or legal advice on any specific situation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship with our readers.
3 Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. 4 Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. 5 California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
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Tips to Leverage and Protect Trademarks in Challenging Times WRITTEN BY CANDACE LYNN BELL
n the last several issues, this column has discussed how to protect different intellectual property assets of your business, including trademarks, trade dress, copyright, and trade secrets. In these extremely challenging times, both for craft alcohol producers individually and as business professionals, this article will highlight a few tips to keep in mind related to these assets and your business. As you know, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and trade dress are the legal terms for your business brand, the content of your website, blogs, and social media sites, your packaging, and your secret recipe. These critical business assets need to be protected to leverage their value and preserve their worth regardless of the future of your business, since these assets can only be financially leveraged to assist you in getting through these challenging times if they still exist. The discussion below focuses on your brand or trademark, but many of the considerations apply to trade dress, copyright, patent, and trade secret as well. As always, consult with an intellectual property attorney on which strategies to protect and leverage these intellectual property assets.
Trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and trade dress are critical business assets that can only be financially leveraged to assist you in getting through these challenging times if they still exist.
Leverage what you have Craft alcohol makers may currently be producing their spirits, wine, or beer, or they may have taken a temporary pause. No matter which situation you find yourself in, you still have rights in your brand, your mark, your packaging, and your other intellectual property assets — your copyrights, trade dress, and trade secrets. Being creative in finding business opportunities that leverage these assets can be a much-needed assist for your business.
▶ Trademarks as Collateral for Traditional Financing
Trademarks and other intellectual property assets can be used as collateral by financial institutions and investors for loans and interim financing or seed capital. These lenders can even register security interests against your registered trademark with the
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Remember, trademarks represent the goodwill of your consumers. Having a line item for that goodwill on your balance sheet, symbolized by your brand and mark, adds another asset to the picture.
▶ Trademarks as Revenue Streams under a License
Trademarks can be licensed to a third party for use under a license agreement so long as the licensor maintains control over the use of the mark. So, if you are currently not producing your spirit, you may be able to license your mark to another distillery that is in production. The license can be for a limited period and can provide a revenue stream for your business until your production is back on-line. Alternatively, you can explore new distribution channels, to the extent such channels are permitted under the two-tier federal and
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▶ Trademarks can be Bought and Sold
If the time has come to move on, remember that trademarks, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property can be sold and purchased. It is important to ensure the necessary steps to fully and legally transfer and assign such assets are taken. For example, when selling a trademark, you want to ensure the business assets are transferred along with the goodwill associated with the mark. It may also be important to transfer and assign any rights to pursue any alleged infringement, either past or present. Finally, recording the transfer with the appropriate agency, for example, the USPTO for a federally registered trademark, a Secretary of State for a state registered trademark, or the Copyright Office for registered copyrights, should also be on the checklist. The same considerations apply if you are buying a brand, a trademark, or other intellectual property assets. In these dis-
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tressing times, there may be opportunities to purchase marks and brands to extend a business footprint. Working with an attorney familiar with the quirks of transferring intellectual property rights can assist in making sure you get what you paid for in the transfer.
Protect what you have The above tips on leveraging your trademarks are based on the assumption your trademark rights exist — so now is a good time to ensure that despite whatever business interruptions are happening, you protect what you own.
▶ Maintaining Trademarks
If your trademark is registered with the USPTO, monitoring the registration status and filing any required post-registration filings will enable you to maintain the registration and the value associated with the registered mark. Federal registrations require Statements of Use or Excusable Non-Use be filed between the fifth and sixth anniversary and the ninth and tenth anniversary of the mark’s registration. If business circumstances enable you to file the Statement of Use, doing so will enable you to maintain the registration. If business circumstances are such that you are not using the mark currently, consideration should be given to when the mark may be used in commerce again in association with the sale of your product. If you can file the Statement of Use in a few months, given the relevant deadline, you may want to wait until you start selling the product again. In the alternative, you may want to consider filing a Statement of Excusable Non-Use. Again, consulting with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney on whether or not your particular circumstanc-
state licensing laws and regulations. When venturing into new distribution channels, consider as part of your distribution agreement trademark licensing provisions that enable the distributor to use your mark in advertising but ensures such use is to your benefit. The same consideration should be given if you are collaborating with a restaurant to offer your product. In a relaxation of the prior regulatory structure, some states such as Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, New York, and Oregon are allowing direct-to-consumer sales. If you can avail yourself of such arrangements but need help getting your website set up for such ordering, consider including trademark licensing provisions (and copyright protections) in your agreement with your third-party website designer.
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In most states, the presumption of abandonment of a trademark is met after three years of consecutive non-use. Three years is a long time. Whatever the current circumstances look like today, you may want to consider not formally abandoning any mark.
es would support excusable non-use could enable you to maintain your registration until business circumstances improve. In most states, the presumption of abandonment of a trademark is met after three years of consecutive non-use. Three years is a long time. Whatever the current circumstances look like today, you may want to consider not formally abandoning any mark. This strategy can be especially helpful for marks that are not formally registered. Keeping the door open could enable you to weather these times with your brand rights still intact and the ability to re-assess several months down the road whether starting up again is still an option or if one of the other leveraging strategies discussed above may be the best course of action. You cannot license or sell a mark or brand you have abandoned.
▶ Policing Trademarks on the Web and Social Media
Finally, keep an eye on your brand on the web and social media accounts. If someone is using your brand without permission, policing your rights will protect your mark for whatever the future holds. Whatever happens, my best wishes to each reader that it is a positive outcome, keeping in mind the suggestions above may help you keep all or a portion of what you have built in your brand.
Candace Lynn Bell is an intellectual property attorney with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC Buffalo, New York office. If you have any questions, please contact author Candace Lynn Bell at email@example.com. This information is intended to keep readers current on developments in intellectual property law and is not intended as legal advice.
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CONSTANT PURSUIT Wiggly Bridge co-founders David and Dave Woods won’t stop until they feel their craft is perfect, and even then, they’ll just keep at it.
WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN /// PHOTOGR APHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
he sun was out in full force one afternoon in September 2019 at the Wiggly Bridge Distillery Barn in York, Maine. Out back — behind the 19th century barn which serves multiple purposes such as a tasting room, gift shop, and production area — a container of dark brown material, more sludge than liquid, waited patiently to be pitched into the next rum batch. It’s an unusual sight in an American craft distillery, but that’s not the only thing at Wiggly Bridge that might surprise you. “We tried making it without the dunder, and you lose the depth,” David Woods, co-founder of Wiggly Bridge Distillery, explained, referring to their rum. “Like, I can pick out some tropical fruit notes I guess would be the best way of saying it.” David looks at his dunder (which should more accurately be called a muck pit, perhaps) as serving a similar function of sour mashing, something they also deploy in their bourbon production: it aids in maintaining consistency and pH balance so that the yeast can develop deeper flavors. Wiggly Bridge started with the same spark that has ignited many other craft outfits. At dinner one night, after both David Woods and his father and co-founder Dave Woods — there’s no junior or senior in this family — had begun getting into whiskeys, someone joked that they should make their own. It didn’t take long for the Woods to turn that joke into a blossoming business. Wiggly Bridge is far from the first venture that the elder Woods has engaged in. You could call him a serial entrepreneur; he’s helmed a handful of companies with his family, including a campground, oil and propane company, and now a distillery. Both the co-founders knew going into this business that they wanted to start small. Their first still, only 60 gallons and made entirely by hand, was hooked up to a cafeteria kettle purchased off eBay. “The $1,200 shipping cost more than it did for the kettle,” David joked. They have since upgraded to a 750-gallon kettle, 250-gallon stripping still, and a 100-gallon spirit still, but they don’t intend to scale up much more beyond that. This last expansion, David said, would probably be their last. “We want to still stay craft, we want to be able to see every moving piece and have our hands on it as much as we can.” Actually, all of the stills used at Wiggly Bridge Distillery have been made by hand. Neither of the founders came from a welding or still engineering background, but that didn’t deter them. “I learned to weld on Youtube, bought a welder, and pretty much went at it,” David explained. It's not clear whether their Mr. Fix It attitude is a common thing in this region, particular to the family, or a
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combination thereof, but Wiggly Bridge has been built on a solid foundation of Do It Yourself. It was and remains a learning process, but now that they’re on their fifth still, they’ve found they like certain tapers in the design and are playing around more with the pitch of the lyne arm, finding just what suits their individual needs. One of the beauties of building your own equipment is customizing it to your liking. When Wiggly Bridge began distilling their rum, the molasses scorched on the steam coils inside the still, resulting in a slight smokey flavor. In the end, they found they liked that little bit of extra dimension. "The new still is being built to make sure it still achieves that," explained David. Wiggly Bridge currently has a robust lineup of spirits: vodka, gin, platinum agave, reposado agave, añejo agave, white rum, barrel-aged rum, and three whiskeys, including a white whiskey, straight bourbon, and bottledin-bond bourbon. They have even more in the pipeline. If there was any aspect of the business that they wanted to grow, it would be the product line. The vodka is the only spirit they don't make in-house. They redistill it and will tell you that you'd be amazed what else can be pulled out of a "finished product," but the base is made from French wheat. Wiggly Bridge doesn't have the setup capable of producing that kind of spirit, but they felt like they couldn't forgo it completely either, being in a tourist town in Maine. It was happenstance that they started to produce agave spirits at all. The molasses they use for their rum was shipped to them in five-gallon buckets, and one shipment was two buckets short of a pallet. The supplier offered them some agave instead, and they decided to give it a try. “So we did that first-batch five gallon bucket and it was out of this world,” David recalled. They ferment the agave over a period of 30 days. “Our first batch of añejo and reposado were both aged using a combination of used bourbon and rum barrels, and our new añejo is bourbon-only barrels.” Experimenting with these different spirits has been a good experience for the Woods, but their focus remains on the one that got them into this business in the first place: bourbon. Theirs is a high-rye mashbill; the corn is from Ohio, and they get their barley through Blue Ox Malt House. As mentioned at the top of this article, Wiggly Bridge chooses to sour mash their bourbon. After fermenting in wood vessels, they distill on-grain in the interest of getting more flavor through the Maillard effect. Theirs is not a distillery that is too keen on sanitation. “We have that black iron skillet mentality, you know, where a quick wipe down, a quick rinse, and put it back on the stove,” explained David. Their cuts have traditionally been pretty narrow, though they are beginning to experiment by going deeper on either end. With their setup, they look to get
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about 35-40 proof gallons of spirit made per day. “This was the first year when we had more product to sell, we weren’t running out,” David said. Their current pace works for them, especially because they’ve gotten to a point where they no longer feel pressured to pull whiskey barrels before they’re ready. As they’ve grown, so have their barrel sizes, putting more and more juice into 30 and 52-gallon barrels where it will be allowed to rest for a couple of years. The Woods are very open with their process, both with me and anyone who comes by the distillery. They offer a regular tour as well as a Founder’s Tour, led by Dave, which goes into greater detail. “Nothing’s really secret. We feel like the more knowledgeable your customers are the more they’ll understand what goes into it and why something should or shouldn’t taste the way it does,” David explained. The Northeast has a storied past with alcohol, starting with rum way back during the colonial era; more recently, this section of America has come to be associated with certain types of craft beer, but designation as a distilling mecca has remained elusive. Though the number of distilleries in Maine mushroomed to as high as 20 at one point, producers in the state are still in a position to educate. Regular topics include why a bourbon doesn’t have to come from Kentucky, how their products differ from those released by macro brands, and, in the case of Wiggly Bridge, the history of the barn where they now produce. The structure is 150 years old and used to be a working farm; since that time it’s been an antique store twice, then a hardware store, and finally it’s made a transition to working distillery. During the reconstruction, the Woods family found a trove of old antique whiskey bottles while working on the foundation. “Coming out of an escalator, we’re dumping it on a pile, and these perfect bottles are rolling out. It felt right when we started finding that stuff,” said David. The unearthing of antique whiskey bottles might have felt fateful, but get to know the Woods family for even ten minutes and you’ll realize that, fate or not, they were never going to be deterred from following their dream. The path they’ve chosen — one that prides consistency and honesty in craft above all else — might not be the easy one, but there’s no doubt it’s the one they’ll continue down. There may be things they don’t specialize in, but Dave and David Woods will go ahead and put in the work. As David put it, “Let’s make it more perfect. The constant pursuit of better perfection.”
Wiggly Bridge Distillery is located in York, Maine. For more info visit www.wigglybridgedistillery.com or call (207) 363-9322. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
THE DISTILLERY AS A VENUE PREPARATION FOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS A
s events are becoming part of the norm once more, folks are looking to get out and about. Social gatherings have always been an important part of human socializing and can also be very valuable for venues and for event man agers. In Part I of this series, we defined a few key event management terms: > Host: The person or entity who wants the event to happen. > Event Planner/Manager: The person or entity retained by the host responsible for the execu tion of the event. > Vendor: Any individual or organization that is providing services or products for the event, including volunteers. > Guests/Attendees: The folks who come to the event. > Venue-Hosted/Special Event: An event you, as the venue, create and manage. > Client-Hosted Event: An event created and managed by some one else in your venue space. We also addressed the need to re view rules and regulations for venues and also safety, security, and comfort of guests in your space. Here we will explore in more detail the activities you will need to complete to be a quality venue.
PRE-, DURING- AND POST-EVENT MANAGEMENT Venue spaces are never automatically guest-ready. It’s wise to budget time and la bor resources to clean and prep the spaces before and after an event. It’s best to do both as close to the event as possible. At a mini mum, be sure to empty the trash, clean the bathrooms and mop the floors. These tasks can be outsourced if you’re willing to pay for the service. You’ll want plenty of accessible trash cans, especially if there are passed appetizers or if drinks are served in plastic. Note that, although they may choose to help, it is not the responsibility of the caterer to handle trash or clean the space after the event. As the venue, you will need a staff mem ber present during the entire event to handle any issues that may arise. It’s impossible to fully anticipate every issue. Militaries often say, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Our version is: “No event plan sur vives contact with the guests.” Have some one available who is authorized and empow ered to make spontaneous decisions during an event as the need arises. This is doubly important if you are the event host. You’ll also need an incident policy written with plenty of blank reports easily available to the staff managing and working an event. Injuries, accidents, and overindulgence do happen and you want to be protected with proper documentation captured at the time of the incident. Remember also that food ser vice establishments are usually required to
WRITTEN BY TIM KNITTEL
have vomit and fecal matter incident written plans and clean-up kits. This may or may not be a legal requirement for you as a venue without food and drink service (if those are being handled by a caterer), but you should still have them in place and have staff fully trained in advance. Again, the caterer will not take responsibility for those clean-ups if they occur.
BEING CLIENT & VENDOR READY Remember that when you are renting your space as a venue to a host with or without an event planner, you are a vendor only. Novice hosts and even some professional event plan ners will try to load much of the work of an event onto the venue. Draw clear boundary lines to avoid this. For example, it is not the venue’s respon sibility to find and coordinate with the cater er, entertainment or other vendors. It is not the venue’s responsibility to answer ques tions from attendees about arrival time, itin erary, dress code, or dietary restrictions. It is not the venue’s responsibility to prepare the speaker, corral the audience, or manage rented A/V. Be wary of requests for help in executing the event beyond the scope you’ve defined in advance. It might seem easy and tempting to just help someone out a bit, but it’s a sharp, slippery slope to unpaid event management plus taking the blame if the event goes south. Dedicate a single person or small team as the sole point of contact for the venue rental process, from inquiry through event comple WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
The venue is not the event planner, but take responsibility for communicating your rules and event expectations to the vendors in advance anyway. tion. Establish a written workflow and calendar system. This control limits the possibility of scope creep and also allows you as the owner to gently deflect requests to those employees instead of being the bad guy and declining. This workflow should include tracking any reporting requirements you have of the client and any financial reporting you need to do for your accountant. The limits and boundaries should initially be established in your venue rental contract. Have an attorney draw this up for you. It should clearly specify what is included with the venue rental, have diagrams of permissible and off-limit areas, show dedicated parking if applicable, and delineate access times for setup and teardown outside of the event hours with financial penalties for exceeding those. There should also be very clear language about your rights to remove vendors and attendees at your discretion for any reason. In the contract you can also specify requirements for event insurance including naming your company as an additional insured, vendor certifications and insurance that you might require, security fees, etc. Have your pricing, discount and donation policies written before marketing your space. It’s easy to find standard pricing in your area via Google. Consider that the factors influencing a venue rental fee are size/maximum guest count; whether or not tables, chairs, linens, and serviceware are included or extra; if setup/tear-down is included or extra; and how much free parking is available. Charities will ask for the venue fee to be waived so have your policy ready — you might consider a non-profit discount or a limited number of free uses of the space per year. Again, the venue is not the event planner, but take responsibility for communicating your rules and event expectations to the vendors in advance anyway. Capture and record all of the vendors' contact WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
information. Well before the event, send them an email laying out your rules and any paperwork you need from them, plus times and locations for deliveries and pickups. For example, an event supplies rental company might show up at your visitors center at 8 a.m. expecting to start filling it up with tables and chairs. Best to communicate in advance so there’s no confusion. Have a wedding policy! Weddings are always all-day affairs. Even if guest arrival isn’t until the evening, setup begins very early and wedding-specific vendors expect to be able to deliver at any time during the day, so the use of the space for the whole day needs to be set aside. Consider prohibiting weddings unless you are able to make the space exclusive for the entire day. Any add-ons you provide should be specified in the contract as well. Are facility tours free at any time attendees desire during an event, or must they be scheduled and paid in advance? Will there be a sample bar or guided tastings, and if so are they free or paid? How will guest limits on samples be both managed and communicated to the guests? It’s common in the venue rental industry to take a substantial deposit — usually 25 to 60 percent of the estimated final rental fee — as a down-payment to secure the date with the balance due somewhere around seven to 14 days prior to the event. You may also take a damage deposit which is typically refunded within seven to 14 days after the event; be sure to specify in the contract what counts as damage (thumbtack holes in the walls are a common point of dispute).
If you are providing bar and/or food service, consider having a separate contract for those services. There may be legal value in doing so depending on your local laws and regulations. Also, this makes it easier to take payment for the venue in full prior to the event but run a host-paid bar which is collected at the end of the event. Be sure to clearly specify any fees in addition to alcohol service; for events, it’s common to charge $100-200 per bartender plus a 1020 percent service fee (plus taxes, where applicable). Some venues and caterers even ask for a gratuity on top of the service fees. If you want to do this, double-check your local labor laws to see if there are specific regulations about different types of charges and how they must be paid to the employees. Be sure to note your tip jar policy in the contract; it’s customary to have a tip jar present for cash bars but is considered inappropriate to have one for host-paid bars. Also, communicate the fee structure and tip jar policy and how it relates to their pay to your bartenders and other staff in advance. If you’re charging a service fee but keeping it, don’t hide that fact. People talk and if the host pays a hefty amount that he or she expects the staff to receive, but they do not, that can make all parties sour on you. (See: DoorDash, Instacart, etc.) Once you start advertising being a venue, event planners and vendors will begin to show up looking to develop a relationship (re: referrals). It’s common in the industry to have a preferred vendor list and there may be an opportunity to discuss a referral fee or kickback for leads that you provide. While this is common, there are potential pitfalls when accepting money this way, including legal ones. I would recommend that you not consider entering into any such agreements until you are experienced in the industry. You may wish to consider having an exclusive catering relationship or chef-in-res-
Once you start advertising being a venue, event planners and vendors will begin to show up looking to develop a relationship. 83
idence position. The value in this type of arrangement is that you should be receiving financial compensation from the caterer in exchange for exclusive rights to events (subject to local laws.) However, the downsides are that you do not get to set pricing, plus it reduces choice and budget flexibility for your potential clients, which may reduce total sales.
YOUR BAR, BUT NOT YOUR BOOZE?
Whether you run the bar service for events at your distillery is a complex decision influenced by local laws, licensing requirements, hiring and staffing, and liability and insurance concerns. Obviously, if you run the bar you reap all the rewards. but the starting overhead may initially be prohibitive. Even if you do not provide any of the alcohol service, guests will expect to be able to taste your products at your distillery. But the caterer may not be incentivized to offer your spirits based on factors such as price point, client budget, risk of leftovers, or lack of relationship with the distributor. Be cautious about requiring an outside caterer to stock your spirits, as there is a fine line with the tied house laws. Consult an attorney to craft a written policy on serving your products and “guest” products at your venue, as well as how a separate tasting bar served by your staff during an event would operate. If the caterer is serving your products, coordinate with them to provide staff training immediately prior to event start. The caterer will have to budget for this time, so that’s part of the arrangements. The attendees may not be able to differentiate between the catering bartenders and your company, so ensuring the bartenders know what they’re pouring is quite important.
HOST HERE! With the vogue for spirits and the distilleries that produce them, there is substantial market demand for distilleries to function as event venues. The profit and exposure potential that this creates is vast. However, there are administrative, legal, liability, and myriad other concerns to be addressed before renting out your space. Treat becoming a venue as if you were launching a new business. Functioning as an event venue is not automatic on top of having a visitors program; take the time and do the due diligence to understand the requirements and implications of the differences. Be ready internally and have planning and procedures in place for client relations, vendor relations, management during an event, handling incidents and how bar sales will work. Once all that is done, the reward can be excellent.
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.
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TTB'S MODERNIZATION OF LABELING AND ADVERTISING REGULATIONS TO
WRITTEN BY COLTON WEINSTEIN
fter a long and unrelenting lobbying effort, dis tillers and spirits industry members succeeded in pushing the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to modernize the labeling and adver tising rules on November 26, 2018. Federal Regis ter Notice No. 176 (83 FR 60562) was published by TTB announcing their intention to do the fol lowing.
“Make the regulations governing the labeling of alcohol beverages easier to understand and easier to navigate.” “Incorporate into the regulations TTB guidance documents and current TTB policy, as well as changes in labeling standards that have come about through statutory changes and international agree ments.” “Provide notice and the opportunity to comment on potential new labeling policies and standards, and on certain internal policies that had developed through the day-to-day practical application of the regulations to the approximately 200,000 label ap plications that TTB receives each year.” That last point was of particular importance, as it was the chance for industry members to have a voice in the process and help shape the code so that it actually works for all parties. In the past, extensive regulations were in place to protect the consumer but were a strain on producers. This marked a step closer to achieving balance between consumer protections and the practical business of making and selling booze. The open comment period was initially set to close on March 26, 2019, but after seeing the sheer volume of comments flooding their inbox the deadline was reopened and extended to June 26. A
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DEFINITION OF ‘‘DISTILLED SPIRITS’’
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to amend the existing definition of ‘‘distilled spirits,’’ as it currently appears in § 5.11, to reflect TTB’s longstanding policy that products containing less than 0.5 percent
DECISION: Adopted. NOTES: No comment, from anyone.
DEFINITION OF ‘‘OAK BARREL’’
PROPOSAL: “TTB proposed to
incorporate into its regulations in part 5 a definition of an ‘‘oak barrel’’ as a ‘‘cylindrical oak drum of approximately 50 gallons capacity used to age bulk spirits.” DECISION: TTB has determined that it will not move forward.
In the absence of a regulatory definition for ‘‘oak barrel’’ or ‘‘oak container,’’ it will be TTB’s policy that these terms include oak containers of varying shapes and sizes. NOTES: This was the big one that had
everybody talking when the proposed
alcohol by volume are not regulated as ‘‘distilled spirits’’ under the FAA Act.”
changes were first released. Over 700 comments in opposition were submitted. “Consensus was that the proposed definition would stifle innovation and did not adequately reflect industry practices or consumer expectations regarding the aging of whisky and other distilled spirits whose standards of identity require storage in oak barrels.” While there was some support for allowing “other types of wood and of metal containers with oak staves,” TTB wasn’t ready to go quite that far and pushed the issue down the road for future consideration.
CERTIFICATES OF AGE AND ORIGIN
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed an orga-
nizational change, to divide the existing paragraph on brandy, Cognac, and rum into one paragraph on brandy and Cognac and a separate paragraph for rum. DECISION: TTB is finalizing the proposed reorganization of the paragraph relating to brandy, Cognac, and rum to
make the related provisions easier to read. NOTES: This one highlights how big an
impact small organizations and individuals can have. The proposal passed and TTB specifically highlighted a comment from Privateer Rum, where they “applauded and supported the proposal.”
total of 1,143 comments were submitted. Reading through the Federal Register Notice released on April 2, 2020, you can see the swath of industry represented, ranging from trade organizations like American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), American Distilling Institute (ADI), and Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) to individuals and distilleries. Through the April 2 notice TTB explained that “determining the appropriate course of action on all those issues will require further consideration by the Bu reau…” However, they were ready to make final rulings on some of the proposed changes, set to take effect May 4, 2020. When asked what rule change she thought might have the most impact, Nicole Austin, general manager of Cascade Hollow Distilling Company and one of the leaders of ACSA’s lobbying efforts, replied, “I think the most impactful and exciting thing about this new TTB rulemaking is that it hap pened at all!” Her sentiment is one we can all share. She also pointed to the volume of comments TTB received as evidence that “this final rulemaking demonstrates the pos itive outcomes we get from a constructive public dialogue between TTB, ACSA, DISCUS, and consumers, which can only continue to benefit all of us. It’s going to be a long road, but that’s the case with all wonky regulatory things.” The notice on TTB’s final decisions covered four main areas: >
Rules that applied to all commodities (beer, wine, and distilled spirits)
Rules that applied to beer and malt beverages
Rules that applied to wine
Rules that applied to distilled spirits (the largest section with the most changes)
For those who prefer dry government documents, I will point you to TTB’s website where the April 2 notice, Feder al Register/Vol. 85, No. 64: Modernization of labeling and Advertising Regulations for Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages can be found. For everyone else, here is a cheat sheet created to pare down the notice to the bare bones of the distilled spirits section — What did TTB propose and what did they decide.
Colton Weinstein is the co-founder of Travaleer Spirits and one of the hosts of the Still Talking Podcast as well as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Craft Spirits Association. He previously served as head distiller at Corsair Distillery in Nashville, Tennessee.
STATEMENTS OF COMPOSITION
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed
to set forth standards for what should be included in statements of composition…: Required the listing of the separate components of an ‘‘intermediate’’ flavoring product. Required that distilled spirits and wines used in the production of the finished product be listed in order of predominance. Required a full statement of composition for cocktails rather than the abbreviated statement provided for by current regulations. DECISION: TTB is not finalizing its proposal to require statements of
TTB has decided it will not move forward with the order of predominance requirement and will retain current regulatory text. TTB is not moving forward with the proposal to require a full statement of composition for cocktails. NOTES: What was interesting
here was that all the comments were from the larger distillers and corporations and their lobbyists (and even a Senator). With the rise in RTD offerings from both large and small I would have expected to see at least one or two craft producers voicing an opinion.
USE OF TERM ‘‘BOTTLED IN BOND’’
TTB proposed to maintain the rules for the use of the terms ‘‘bottled in bond,’’ ‘‘bond,’’ ‘‘bonded,’’ or ‘‘aged in bond,’’ or other phrases containing these or synonymous terms. TTB is maintaining the regulatory standards for ‘‘bottled in bond’’ with an amendment to allow gin to
composition to include the elements of an intermediate.
be stored in either paraffin-lined or unlined barrels. TTB is not changing the provisions allowing vodka to be labeled ‘‘bottled in bond.’’ NOTES: For those who have four-
year-old barrels of gin lying around, what a good day!
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to
revise regulations relating to the placement of mandatory information on distilled spirits containers, in order to increase flexibility. § 5.63(a) would allow this mandatory information to appear anywhere on the labels, as long as it is within the same field of vision, which means a single side of a container (which for a cylindrical container is 40 percent of the circumference) where all pieces of information can be viewed simultaneously without the need to turn the container. DECISION: TTB is moving forward with liberalizing the placement rules as proposed, by allowing the brand name, class
and type designation, and alcohol content to appear anywhere on the label as long as those three pieces of information are in the same field of vision. TTB is also amending the definition of ‘‘brand label” to mean that the brand label may be on any side of distilled spirits bottles, but must show the brand name, class and type designation, and alcohol content within the same field of vision. NOTES: While we didn’t get
DISCUS’ request to “eliminate all placement standards for mandatory information” we did get the best next thing. This change really opens up a variety of possibilities for label design and marketing.
1) Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 64 / Thursday, April 2, 2020 / Rules and Regulations
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ALCOHOL CONTENT TOLERANCE FOR DISTILLED SPIRITS
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to expand the
DECISION: TTB is finalizing the expanded
tolerance for the labeled alcohol content to plus or minus 0.3 percentage points for distilled spirits.
alcohol content tolerance as proposed, to plus or minus 0.3 percentage points.
TTB agrees with the comment made by DISCUS regarding the need for a conforming amendment to § 19.353, and is amending that section to provide that the gauge must be made at labeling proof, subject to the tolerances set forth in section.
NOTES: Who wants to commission a study to
identify how many countless hours our industry has spent on the bottling line dialing in the final proof? While we shouldn’t get lazy or complacent, and should still strive for perfect proofs, at least there is a little breathing room.
current policy that only the time in a first oak barrel counts towards the ‘‘age’’ of a distilled spirit. § 5.74 to eliminate the prohibition on age statements on many classes of distilled spirits, including gin, liqueurs, cordials, cocktails, highballs, bitters, flavored brandy, flavored gin, flavored rum, flavored vodka, flavored whisky, and specialties. DECISION: TTB agrees that all the time spent in all oak containers should count towards the age statement.
Label may optionally include information about the
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to require that, where
a whisky meets the standard for one of the types of whiskies, it must be designated with that type name, with an exception provided for Tennessee Whisky. Also proposed to specifically provide that the designation ‘‘straight’’ was an optional labeling designation for whiskies. DECISION: TTB believes that the proposed amendment does not necessarily reflect current industry practice or consumer expectations.
TTB will maintain its policy that distillers have the option of using the general class ‘‘whisky’’ as the designation or one of the type designations that applies.
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to incorporate its
NOTES: Just imagine the chaos at the COLA appli-
types of oak containers used.
cation office had this gone through!
TTB is amending the regulations in current § 5.40(d) to allow age statements on all distilled spirits except for neutral spirits (other than grain spirits).
NOTES: When I asked Mark Shilling what was
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed a new standard of
most surprising in the notice, he responded, “I was a bit surprised they moved forward with allowing age statements to apply to secondary barrels. They’ve always seemed very locked down on that in the past. I think it shows what can happen when our industry speaks with one strong and loud voice.”
identity for Absinthe to remind the reader that the products must be thujone-free under FDA regulations. TTB proposed to supersede a current requirement that appears in Industry Circular 2007–5 that all wormwood- containing products undergo analysis by TTB’s laboratory before approval of the product’s formula. DECISION: TTB is not finalizing its proposed standard of identity for absinthe.
MULTIPLE DISTILLATION CLAIMS
PROPOSAL: TTB proposal defines a distilla-
tion as a single run through a pot still or one run through a single distillation column of a column (reflux) still. DECISION: TTB has determined that allowing distillers to count all distillations, including those required to meet a specific standard of identity when making labeling claims, provides the consumer with truthful and adequate information.
TTB is also incorporating the proposed definition of a distillation (for purposes of multiple distillation claims) as well as the clarification that distillations may be understated but not overstated.
TTB is removing the testing requirement for products made with wormwood. NOTES: My favorite quote: “to remind the reader
that the products must be thujone-free...” It makes me wonder what kind of samples they were seeing in the testing labs.
NOTES: Well that sure clears that up….
It must be hard to ensure the consumer is provided with ‘truthful and adequate information’ on what determines a complete distillation when most distillers cannot even agree on what that definition is.
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to create within the
standards of identity a class called ‘‘Agave Spirits’’ and two types within that class, ‘‘Tequila’’ and ‘‘Mezcal.’’ 10.
STANDARD OF IDENTITY FOR VODKA
PROPOSAL: TTB proposed to amend the stan-
dard of identity for vodka. TTB specifically sought comment on whether the current requirement that vodka be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color should be retained and, if this requirement is no longer appropriate, what the appropriate standards should be for distinguishing vodka from other neutral spirits. DECISION: TTB agrees that the requirement
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that vodka be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color no longer reflects consumer expectations and should be eliminated.
DECISION: TTB is amending the regulations in current § 5.22(g) to incorporate the proposed standard.
Vodka may not be labeled as aged, and unlike other neutral spirits, it may contain limited amounts of sugar and citric acid.
TTB does not plan to move forward with the restrictive amendments suggested by commenters. Such suggestions include a requirement that products meeting the standard of identity for Tequila or Mezcal be labeled with the applicable type designation.
NOTES: I’ll raise a glass to that. It can’t be easy
NOTES: TTB stated that, “New applicants will con-
to stand out when the definition of your product is “without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.”
tinue to have the option of designating their products as ‘spirits distilled from agave.’’
HOW SUSTAINA BLE IS YOUR GR AIN ? WRITTEN BY GABE TOTH PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMANDA JOY CHRISTENSEN
istillers who decide to reconnect with the source of their ingredients and work directly with farmers can quickly learn that agricultural systems are not all the same. Growing grain is not a plugand-play process, and while going organic, looking for sustainable options, or simply aiming to do less environmental harm are admirable goals, every choice made on the farm has ripple effects. Crops have varying needs — soil nutrients, pest and weed control, and water are
just a few — and different cropping systems approach these factors in different ways. Industrial farming generally focuses on chemical fertilizers and herbicides as well as tilling the soil to control weeds, while organic or lower-impact approaches may use a variety of strategies, including crop rotations and till or no-till (itself a potentially fraught decision). In the end, there are tradeoffs everywhere. As Wendell Berry writes in The Unsettling of America, “It is the nature of the
soil to be highly complex and variable, to conform very inexactly to human conclusions and rules. It is itself a pattern of inexhaustible intricacy...”1 There are things that distillers can learn, though, to be more fluent in discussing their goals with a farmer. At Mad Agriculture in Boulder, Colorado, a nonprofit that specializes in designing regenerative systems that support soil rehabilitation, biodiversity, and improving the watershed, co-founder Phil Taylor said they begin with
1 Berry, Wendell. The Unsettling of America. 1996, Sierra Club Books. pg 86
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a high-level view when working with a new brand. To determine the best plan, he works with a company to identify their level of commitment to sustainable or regenerative sourcing. He looks at a graduated approach covering four agricultural paradigms or mindsets: extractive, where the goal is to simply harvest value out of the land; “do less harm,” where the goal is to mitigate some of the damage done in an industrial farm setting; “sustainability/ do good”, with a goal of managing resources with a more long-term view; and finally regenerative, where the farm and the broader ecosystem are actively improved and managed in a holistic way. He breaks each approach down further into three categories. The social aspect asks, “What’s the value of purchasing a grain locally versus (from) the commodity market?” There are then a variety of ecological factors, such as the use of cover crops, perennial rotation crops, tillage, compost, the balance of wild and cultivated spaces on the farm, whether the farm has pollinator habitats, and whether it’s organic or not. The final factor, which is usually where Taylor starts with a company, is the economic question: “What are you willing to pay over commodity [prices]? If you’re only going to pay seventeen cents a pound, that’s not enough if you’re growing organic wheat or something like that.” His aim is to be cognizant of where the pricing thresholds exist for farmers and to keep their interests at heart. “We have to know the enterprise models for different crops being grown,” Taylor said. “If it doesn’t pencil out economically, it doesn’t justify growing it.” In terms of healing a landscape and doing what’s ecologically best, leaving perennial plants in the ground year after year is the most sound approach. “Having things in permanent grass or permanent alfalfa is king. You’re basiWWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Growing grain is not a plug-and-play process, and while going organic, looking for sustainable options, or simply aiming to do less environmental harm are admirable goals, every choice made on the farm has ripple effects. cally leaving the entire system undisturbed,” Taylor said. Beneath that is having diversity in the crop rotation that supports a nutrient “give and take” from one crop to the next, where some crops replenish certain soil nutrients and deplete others, while the following crop in the rotation replenishes what was taken up and has different nutrient requirements. “That’s how you naturally refurbish the soil and don’t have to use synthetic pesticides,” Taylor said. The concept exposes the issue of farms that grow wheat, followed by wheat, followed by more wheat, or corn, then corn, and more corn. He describes industrial farms as a “high-input, fragile” system propped up on synthetic fertilizers. In a small-grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats) system, he said a legume is crucial, and generally there needs to be at least three or four crops in rotation to rebuild soil health. “That’s critical, and ultimately it saves money,” he said, but added that many farmers don’t follow such a program because they don’t have an avenue to sell off these other crops. Jacob Jungers at the University of Minnesota is part of a multi-stakeholder initiative that includes UMN, researchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, food producers, brewers, distillers, marketers and supply-chain specialists to develop perennial crops, what he calls “the next generation of crops,” such as the experimental perennial wheat Kernza. Their goal is to develop a suite of new crops that optimize environmental factors while also providing a har-
vestable, value-added product for the farmer. “It’s not just one or the other. We’re not just working on cover crops that are going to sequester more carbon but leave the farmer plowing them up and not getting any revenue from them,” he said. Like Taylor, Jungers operates at a systems level, asking not just, “What is the right crop?” but “What is the right sequence of crops?” and “How do you relay them into each other? What are the right farming practices to preserve the environment?” Practically speaking, according to Jungers, grains can be divided by their needs and ecological impact into two categories, the small grains previously mentioned, and corn/soy. Of the two groups, small grains are more neutral in their soil impact, requiring much less nitrogen, one of the crucial soil nutrients for grains. In addition to nutrient cycling, he’s researching crops that are more resilient to excess water, especially late in the growing season. When exposed to late-season moisture, small-grain crops are more susceptible to diseases such as fusarium (which produces deoxynivalenol, or vomitoxin) and ergot (a group of fungi that, when consumed, can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals), as well as pre-harvest sprouting in malting barley. Small grains are also an important part of the rotation cycles in the midwest because they break up disease cycles that are found in corn and soybean rotations. They’re an important part of the ecosystem for growers with livestock, though their numbers are decreasing as animal husbandry has
moved toward confined meat production operations. Corn, on the other hand, requires an average of 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre, Jungers said, and only about half of that makes it into the crop. The remainder is lost to runoff or goes into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide gas, which is a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. “It also can leach down into the groundwater where most of our rural communities get drinking water,” he said. “Nitrate contamination of drinking water, that’s a big problem in many parts of the U.S.” Nitrogen runoff is an issue at the coasts, as well, causing algal blooms and an annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The other primary industrial fertilizer, phosphorus, has more impact on freshwater systems and intimately links crop production to the quality of lakes and rivers, he said. Corn and soy also have higher water demands. Overall, Jungers said, the increased seed size and vegetative material of corn and soy lead to higher environmental demands.
“If you think of the leaves as the machinery, the bigger the seeds are the more starch needs to be produced, the more machinery you need,” he said. “To produce big seeds with lots of starch, it costs water and nitrogen.” Alongside simple crop-demand metrics, the timing of when crops are able to go into the ground also sometimes tilts the scales towards small grains. Jungers said growers are often able to get small grains into the ground weeks before corn or soy, taking advantage of cooler and more moist weather. “That’s a huge benefit,” Jungers said. “A farmer will choose a small grain because they can get it in the field earlier and not worry about it.” And leading into the winter in the upper Midwest, a small-grain crop can be harvested in time to get a cover crop into the ground. For a crop that requires a longer growing season, like soy, the harvest comes just before the last killing frost. Nothing will survive through the winter in either case, but a farmer will prefer to get something growing and providing a little cover,
helping to anchor and protect the soil from the winter. Simply having something, even dead vegetative material, on the landscape helps to preserve the soil. “That’s the biggest challenge in the winter, our soils are left naked and black and bare from November until May, and that’s where the major environmental issues come from,” Jungers said. “That’s when we lose soil, that’s when nitrogen leaks into the groundwater, when it runs off into the streams, rivers and lakes. That’s when carbon is lost to [the] atmosphere.” When he considers crop rotations, forages such as alfalfa are the biggest factor. Alfalfa doesn’t need nitrogen fertilizer. In fact, it adds nitrogen into the soil, eliminating the need for artificial nitrogen the following year and reducing the need for it the second year, even for high-demand corn or soy crops. It’s a perennial crop, so it can stay in the ground for years without having to disturb the earth. In addition to selecting complementary crops, the broader way that the farm is managed also affects its environmental im-
July 14-16, 2020
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pact. Chemical treatments have their own benefits, Jungers said. Once the farmer has the right equipment, it’s easy enough to just buy the necessary chemicals. He said chemical herbicide production has its own carbon cost, but using herbicides allows the farmer to eliminate tilling for weeds. Leaving the field untilled and undisturbed is better for the soil microbiome. While pesticides don’t harm soil microbes, Jungers said, tilling the soil potentially disturbs the microbial balance. The benefits of the soil microbiome aren’t fully understood, but some grains form a partnership with mycorrhizal fungus to help them take up phosphorus from the soil. Legumes also host rhizobia bacteria that put nitrogen back into the soil. Other microbial partnerships may exist that affect soil micronutrients, while the effects of herbicide versus tillage — chemical disturbance versus mechanical disturbance — are not fully known. “There’s not a win-win,” Jungers said. For organic farmers, the option of “blast-
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“We need to re-regionalize food systems and put a farmer’s face behind the barley and rye." — Phil Taylor ing everything with this toxic chemical” simply isn’t an option. As a result, organic farmers and others who eliminate chemical treatments aren’t at the mercy of volatile chemical industries. “That can really put a lot of variability and uncertainty into the bottom line every year,” Jungers said. The trade-off, though, is usually tilling and diesel consumption running the tractor. “It’s generally more laborious to manage weeds mechanically.” Overall, for a distiller, taking a more involved role in the grain supply chain and working with a farmer on a cropping system can be a complex, long-term commitment. But there are farmers out there who get excited about working with someone who is actually going to consume their products. “Growing corn for cows is not the most exciting thing to do,” Taylor said. “Growing beets for white sugar to go in Coca-Cola — that’s not really nourishing the world.”
And at a time when small farms across the country are being driven out of business, Taylor believes it’s past time for all parties to reconsider the existing supply chain. “We need to re-regionalize food systems and put a farmer’s face behind the barley and rye,” he said. “We’re at a time now where the agricultural economy is so bottomed out. How valuable is something you eat if it was produced in a shitty way? “By and large, the opportunity in selling a good bottle of whiskey is to make sure that the virtue of good economy remains intact, from the soil all the way up to the consumer.”
Gabe Toth is lead distiller at The Family Jones Distillery 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Was Carry Nation?
A look at the Temperance Movement’s most notorious figure
WRITTEN BY RICH MANNING /// ILLUSTRATED BY BROCK CARON
rohibition happened 100 years ago, and while we know it as this nasty law that was an affront to the distilling industry we love, you might not know anything about the people that pushed this country toward the Noble Experiment. This is fine — you don’t need to know the players to understand the game — but there is one person who demands your attention. Her name is Carry Nation, and she was a radical member of the temperance movement. The nefarious shenanigans your state’s ABC board puts you through is mild compared to what she did to purveyors of pre-Volstead Act hooch.
The Basics The first thing you need to know about Carry Nation is she looked like the absolute archetype of an extremist teetotaler. There aren’t an abundance of photos of her online, but what primarily does exist are antique images of a dour-faced woman, one whose deeply etched frown lines, and bunched, protruding brow create a scowl of utter contempt so thoroughly carved it nearly looks like a woodwork. Each of these photos judges you beyond the grave for working in the industry, enjoying a tipple,
or even admiring bottle art. One could say she looks like she could use a drink, but such a suggestion would be too easy if not a bit gauche. It’s perfect that Nation looked like a near-cartoonishly meddlesome sorehead, because it nicely sets up the second thing you need to know. She had a terrible habit of walking into barrooms and smashing everything booze-related with a hatchet while singing church hymns and quoting Bible passages, although it’s safe to assume she never quoted the part of scripture where Christ turned water into wine at the Wedding of Cana. Even though Nation died in 1911, nine years before the 18th Amendment passed, it’s still easy to build a case for her being the temperance movement’s most notorious figure. This is usually where the Cliff’s notes version of Nation’s story ends for those that like to grouse about her actions. It’s easy to stop here, since it succinctly paints her as an intolerant frump with a vicious streak. There’s certainly truth to that, since her vandalizing behaviors were unjustifiable and criminal. Dig a little deeper, however, and her story becomes a little more complex than just some crazy individual wrecking saloons.
Hatchets and “Holiness” Carry Nation (or Carrie Nation, depending on the source) was born Carrie Moore in Kentucky in 1846. The first act of her life was brutal. She grew up sickly in a poverty-stricken home governed by a mentally unstable mother. She pulled herself up from this quagmire and in 1867 married a physician named Charles Gloyd. Unfortunately, Gloyd was an alcoholic, and Carrie left him after a few months of matrimony, shortly before their daughter was born. Gloyd would die from alcoholism a couple of years afterward, and a vehement opposition to liquor of all kinds was understandably born. Carry eventually married a lawyer/journalist/minister named David Nation, and in 1889 the two settled in Kansas, a state whose existing Prohibition laws weren’t really being enforced. Once there, she established a local chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and started verbally harassing bartenders. Then around 1900, she claimed to receive a vision from God that told her to up her game. Things escalated quickly. Empowered by the Almighty, Nation used rocks to smash up bars’ inventory. When her husband jokingly suggested she should use WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
a hatchet instead, she took him seriously. They divorced the next year. Her plan of attack during this time was always the same: show up at an establishment dressed in black and white accompanied by a gang of hymn-singing women, walk into bars, and destroy the inventory while she sang and prayed. She was arrested some 30 times between 1900 and her death in 1911, but she never spent too much time in the pen. When she wasn’t smashing up saloons, she’d make money by giving paid lectures about alcohol’s evils and by selling souvenir hatchets, giving her plenty of scratch to pay her jail fines and set herself free.
Can You Defend the Seemingly Indefensible? Nation’s “hatchetations,” as she called them, were abhorrent. This isn’t up for debate. Yet it’s important to remember the context surrounding her behaviors before branding her as a complete villain. Kansas was the first state to enact a ban on liquor when it passed Prohibition laws in 1881,
so the places Nation targeted were technically illegal. Kansas was also the perfect location for Nation to deploy her shenanigans, given their notorious stance against liquor. To wit: It was still illegal to make or sell spirits in Kansas until 1948, and it was also illegal for a Kansas establishment to sell liquor-by-the-drink until 1987. Given this history, it’s not too much of a stretch to theorize that a healthy chunk of Kansas state officials appreciated her handiwork, even if it was grounds for arrest. It’s also important to remember that Nation wasn’t exactly demolishing bottles of Pappy Van Winkle 23-year. Liquor was generally unregulated and dirt cheap in the late 18th century, a horrible combination that constantly threatened to create any combination of social ills like overconsumption, severe disease violence, and all the other miscreant factors that led to Prohibition. These factors seem to dovetail with Nation’s own unfortunate experiences with liquor. All of this doesn’t excuse what she did, but they do provide some insight as to why she had such a hatchet to grind.
A Complicated Individual Nation’s legacy is one that’s fascinatingly twisted even beyond her vandalism. She applauded President McKinley’s assassination in 1901 because of his alleged drinking proclivities. She also railed against the evils of foreign foods in her lectures, a stance that leans heavily into the nativist/ racist/xenophobic retoric of her time. At the same time, she was a vocal advocate for the women’s suffrage movement, and she also established a shelter for the wives and children of alcoholics, an act some consider to be the prototype for the modern-day women’s shelter. These last two actions prohibit Nation from being viewed as a completely evil person. Make no mistake, she’s certainly an intolerant frump with a vicious streak as mentioned earlier. But given the rest of her story, it does feel fair to also consider her to be misguided with a few redeeming qualities. That may be why she works so well as a symbol of Prohibition. Her legacy is a lot like the 18th Amendment itself.
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. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Cultivating Wild Yeast for Your Distiller y
n my last piece on yeast wrangling we talked a bit about how to track down, culture, and isolate your own wild yeast for use in the distillery. We’re only halfway there. The real battle has yet to be fought. In part two of this series, we’re going to jump back in and identify our isolates. Next, we can begin the process of setting up trial fermentations. Finally, we’ll discuss a few of the necessary steps to store and propagate your newfound fungal buddies.
Yeast Identification So, you’ve incubated and isolated. You’ve got petri dishes coming out of places you didn’t know they could fit. What do you do now? Well, the first thing to do is to look at them. Simple as that. Just take a gander. What we’re looking for is to ensure that
we have at least one plate (hopefully) that is a single culture with no contamination of molds, bacteria, or other yeasts. Mold is easy to spot, just look for anything moldlike. Bacteria and yeasts are another story, and for that we must understand the concept of colony morphology. Every genus of yeast and bacteria will generally exhibit their own unique physical morphology when properly plated onto a petri dish. We mentioned this in the previous article; we’re looking for light cream-colored, perfectly round colonies. Those are the most likely culprits when it comes to selecting a pure Saccharomyces strain. Honestly, if you want to leave things here, you can. Some folks may be perfectly content to only identify their yeast as “yeast on a plate” and nothing more. I’d advise against it though. There is valuable in-
WRITTEN BY MATT STRICKLAND ILLUSTRATED BY BROCK CARON
formation to be had by pursuing a proper identification. If nothing else, it will tell you if your yeast is unique or maybe you’ve simply caught your current commercial strain. The most common method is to send a sample to a lab for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. The science behind PCR is beyond the scope of this article, but for the uninitiated, it is a way to rapidly copy and amplify specific DNA regions of our yeast and compare them to known samples. It’s a way of fingerprinting our yeast. There are a few ways to go about obtaining a PCR analysis of your yeast. One, you can go to your local university’s biology department and ask if anyone is interested in doing some yeast identification. You may even get lucky and find a professor with a spare grad student who might like to partner with you on a project or two.
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Another option is to contact a reputable yeast supply lab such as White Labs, which will do genetic testing for you (current pricing is $149.95 for species identification) and can even offer you yeast banking services to help ensure genetic purity and back-up samples if you need it. Another bonus is that they have the capability to “grow up” your yeast to pitchable levels, if you need that kind of thing. I’ll say that for distillers this service is a bit pricey and I don’t know anyone that uses it, but the option is there regardless. Once you’ve identified your yeast and ensured it is indeed a novel strain, you can (and should) give it a name. Marketing purposes aside, it helps to have a convenient and zippy nomenclature when discussing your in-house fungal residents. For instance, the Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company in Texas calls their captured house yeast the “Brazos” strain. See what I mean? Zippy.
Time for Some Mad Props (and other cringe worthy puns) In our first article on yeast wrangling we talked quite a bit about how to use clean techniques to produce a wort and inoculate it. We also talked about plating our yeasts so that we hopefully have some pure cultures to work with. All these lessons are about to come back full force here. First, we need to propagate our yeast up from our plates. Propagation is not something that distillers often have to do, but yeast are our friends and if we treat them well, they’ll reward us with even more buds (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Propagation is fortunately a bit more science than art so there are plenty of suggested rules and procedures we can follow. And while I consider the stuff that brewers make to be just fine to drink after a hard day of making REAL beverages, I will say that brewers have done a great job creating a list of protocols used in the land of yeast propagation.
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The big rule of thumb for yeast propagation is this: We want about one million cells per degree Brix per milliliter of wort, which means for every liter of 15°Brix wort we need 15 billion yeast cells. So, how do we get there with our plated culture (or banked slant if you’ve chosen to store your culture with a professional lab)? Quite simply, we start small and build it up. You could in theory take a single cell of your yeast and pitch it into 5000 gallons of wort, but you won’t wind up with good results. What we need to do is inoculate a small portion of wort with our yeast, grow that up to a sufficient cell count for a few days, and use the newly built up cell mass to inoculate a larger volume of wort. Going from a plate/slant to a five-gallon carboy will probably require about three propagation stages. Here is my suggested route:
10 mL wort (8°Brix)
100 mL wort (8°Brix)
1000 mL wort (12°Brix) Each step should be done with a simple malt extract, sanitary technique, and kept at around 25°C. Ferment for about 48 hours with lots of aeration. If you have a stir plate with a stir bar to handle the different sizes of flasks, you’ll be in great shape. Otherwise you should try to at least shake up the flask a few times a day to introduce fresh oxygen into the growth medium. Notice that these propagation steps follow a predictable pattern. Each one is 10 times the size of the previous one. We’re growing our new yeast culture in a controlled system with as little stress as possible. Once we reach the 1000 mL size however, we’ll break that pattern a bit by using it to inoculate 20 liters of wort for our pilot
fermentations. Now that you’ve got your yeast, it’s time to really test it out in a few pilot scenarios. We want to understand how well it ferments. This includes obvious things like flavor profile and attenuation, but also how it handles stress such as high temperatures. “But my fermenters never get above ‘x’ degrees! I use the latest in BTU removal technology! Why should I worry about heat stress?” Because shit happens, that’s why. (Seriously, temperature control is awesome, but it is still mechanical so DISTILLERY LAW states that it WILL break at some point, or you’ll find yourself in hotter than average summers, or your assistant will forget to cool the wort all the way down or any number of other seemingly impossible scenarios will possibly rear their ugly heads and take a cask-sized piss down on your otherwise happy and normal operating procedures.) First you want to decide how many variables for fermentation you’d like to test. At a minimum you should do three fermentations, side by side, and average the results of all three to give you a solid idea of how your yeast will perform. You need to assess fermentation times, pH drop, attenuation, alcohol level, sensory properties, and high temp performance. Here’s what I suggest: Take three properly sanitized 5-6-gallon glass carboys (be careful when handling these suckers as they are quite fragile and potentially dangerous) and fill them with your standard wort. Ferment them with your new yeast as you normally would, taking readings on pH, gravity, and temperature twice daily. When it seems like fermentation has finally stopped, check your observations with how your normal distillery yeast performs. How fast was the fermentation? Was there a long lag time? What was the finishing gravity? And just as importantly, how does the beer taste/smell compared to your standard distillery wash? You can send samples off to a place like White Labs for a detailed analysis if you wish but an in-house “analysis” is fine for most small distillers. Now repeat the whole process with fermentations at a higher temperature, say
starting at 30 degrees Celsius or even higher. (Unless you run your fermentations this warm anyway, in which case you can probably skip this step since most yeasts will reach their upper growth limit at 40 degrees Celsius and may even start to die off beyond that.) Once you have the information you need, you can make an informed decision as to whether your new yeast is a good fit. If it ferments well and produces some nice flavors, then you’re off to the races. If it excels in some areas but is lacking in others, then co-inoculating it with another complimentary yeast may be an option.
The Big Test The next thing to logically do would be to grow up your yeast to a level that is pitchable on your actual production scale. But how much do we need to pitch into our fermenters? It depends on the size of your fermenter and within the American craft spirits community, that number varies A LOT. I’ve seen guys using 50-gallon fermenters for everything to folks with tanks big enough to give the word ‘massive’ an inferiority complex. Let’s keep things simple here and go with a ferment of 1000 liters (~250 gallons). If our normal mash has a starting gravity of 1.065 (15.9°Brix) then how much yeast slurry do we need? We’ll make some simple assumptions here. First, let’s say that our slurry concentration is about 0.8 billion cells per milliliter. Second, let’s assume that we need one million cells per milliliter per degree Brix of our wort. We’ve now got all the info we need to calculate our pitch volume. One thousand liters of wort equals one million milliliters of wort. So, for this example we need 15.8 million cells per milliliter of wort. Multiply 15.8 million by the total number of milliliters of wort (1,000,000) and we get how many cells we need to
pitch in TOTAL to our wort. That works out to 1.58x1013 cells. The next part is even easier. The total amount of slurry to add is simply our total cells needed divided by our assumed slurry concentration of 0.8 billion cells per milliliter. If we do that then we get 19,750 milliliters (20-liters or about 5-gallons) of slurry. That wasn’t so bad now was it? The good news is that a 1 liter yeast starter will actually scale up to 20 liters fairly well so there’s no need to go crazy with added propagation steps. Using sanitary cellaring practices, you should have no problem pitching your new yeast strain into an appropriately sized batch. Larger distilleries may want to look into purchasing a yeast propagation system that makes a lot of this work much less taxing. These systems can be expensive, but considering the amount of work they save, they tend to pay for themselves over time.
Take It to the Bank Now that your wild yeast strain has grown up and done its first fermentation, you need to store it in a way that keeps it pure and free of contaminants. You can do this on an agar slant that you produce in-house, but honestly, this is one of those situations where I suggest ponying up the cash for a commercial lab like Lallemand or White Labs to do the work for you. Unless you have the lab toys and technicians available to handle the task, there really is no substitute for getting a professional lab to handle your strain for you. Yes, it costs money, but the peace of mind is worth it. Besides, yeast suppliers these days do quite a bit more than simply handle microbes all day long and are often excellent sources of information for process troubleshooting and product development. I’ve become friends with quite a few folks at Lallemand, for instance, and those relationships have
Yeast wrangling is a fascinating and often overlooked opportunity for the grain distiller to add an interesting bit of character and story to the spirit. helped me out in my own distillery more times than I can count. Yeast wrangling is a fascinating and often overlooked opportunity for the grain distiller to add an interesting bit of character and story to the spirit. It takes a lot of work and will pull you down a rabbit’s hole worth of science and sensory, but oftentimes it’s totally worth it. Hopefully this piece and the one preceding it have given you some inspiration and basic know-how to go out there and find some novel strains and flavors. As a distiller I’m excited to hear about your endeavors. As a fan, I’m excited to taste it. Have fun and cheers!
Matt Strickland is the Master Distiller (he hates that title) for Distillerie Cote des Saints in Quebec where he focuses on single malt production. He has a Master's in Oeonology and Viticulture from Oregon State, is a faculty member at Moonshine University, and is the only American to sit on the Board of Examiners for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in the UK. His spirit spirit is Peruvian pisco and he does not believe that listening to Journey has to be done ironically.
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A spirit made from Jerusalem artichokes
Written by Reade A. Huddleston /// Illustrated by Lanette Faulkinberry
hen the first explorers returned to Europe from North America, they brought with them a vast number of new and strange plant specimens. Farmers and botanists quickly began experimenting with these new plants. Some of them, such as corn and tomatoes, soon became major food staples throughout Europe. Others, however, did not enjoy such success and, instead, became niche products, enjoyed by only a small subset of the continent. One such crop is the Jerusalem artichoke, which despite being a North American native, is now more popularly grown throughout central Europe.1 One of the capitals of Jerusalem artichoke farming is the German state of Baden-Württemberg, where it is used to make the popular spirit known as Topinambur. So, what exactly is Topinambur, and where did it come from? For answers to these questions we have to do a little digging. In 1989 the European Economic Council put forward regulations that defined Topinambur as “a spirit drink proWWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
German peasants learned that Jerusalem artichokes could be easily fermented and distilled into an enjoyable drink that they named simply
duced exclusively by fermentation and distillation at less than 86% vol. of Jerusalem Artichoke tubers.” They also added that to be called Topinambur, the spirit could not be flavored with any outside ingredients, nor could it have any other alcohol from a different source added to it. Finally, they included that it could not be sold at less than 38 percent ABV.2 This gives us a solid working definition of what Topinambur
is. However, it does not really explain how Topinambur came to be. For the answer to this question we have to look at the history of the Jerusalem artichoke itself. Jerusalem artichokes, scientific name Helianthus tuberosus L., are a perennial plant that grow tall stalks that are topped with yellow flowers similar in appearance to sunflowers.1,3 The stalks of these flowers can grow as high as 12 feet, though the real food value from the plant comes from the starchy potato-like tubers that grow under the soil surface. As previously mentioned, Jerusalem artichokes are originally native to North America, and many Native American tribes used them as a staple food crop. When colonists first arrived in North America, they quickly realized the food value of Jerusalem artichokes and began cultivating them themselves. Indeed, one theory for how the Jerusalem artichoke came to be named is that colonists saw North America as a new Jerusalem and named their newfound food stock in the city's honor.1 In the early 1600s, French explorer
Samuel De Champlain brought Jerusalem artichokes, or topinambours as they became known in French, back to Europe. Many farmers found that they grew well in the temperate climates of central Europe, and it quickly became a valuable cash crop.1 Unfortunately, the Jerusalem artichoke’s popularity was short-lived, as another native North American crop, potatoes, which have a much higher yield per acre, soon began to replace it. Faced with declining profits, Jerusalem artichoke farmers quickly began finding novel ways to utilize the tuber.3 This was especially true in the south-western German state of Baden-Württemberg, where the peasants of the area learned that Jerusalem artichokes could be easily fermented and distilled into an enjoyable drink that they named simply Topinambur.5 Since this time, Topinambur, which is also sometimes called Rossler or Topi for short, has become a regional specialty of Baden-Württemberg.3,4 Many locals consider it to be the best digestive schnapps available, and there are many individual brands produced by local distilleries.5 Production of Topinambur is very straightforward. However, there are some unique differences between it and other tuber-based alcohols. Jerusalem artichokes are incredibly rich in carbohydrates, making up roughly 76 percent of their mass. However, unlike many other tubers, Jerusalem artichokes store their carbohydrates as inulin, which is a water-soluble polymer of fructose, rather than starch.4,6 This means that in order to access the sugars needed for fermentation, then enzyme inulase is needed. Luckily, Jerusalem artichokes produce their own inulase when exposed to stress. For this reason, it is traditional to harvest Jerusalem artichokes after a period of cold weather, so that the tubers will have enough endogenous inulase to break down the carbohydrates on their own. However, some producers who do not wish to wait use commercial enzymes to speed up the breakdown. This can be advantageous as they can also include a pectinase enzyme to help break down the cellular material.4 Once the Jerusalem artichokes are ready, the stalks are cut down and the tubers are removed from the soil. The tubers must be cleaned of dirt and other foreign material before being ground up with water and having yeast added to begin fermentation. Fermentation times for Topinambur vary depending on the producer and the process used. However, once the fermentation is complete, it is immediately transferred to the still.4 Standard double-pot stills are most commonly used when producing Topinambur, though it can be produced using almost any type of still. Jerusalem artichokes have a very delicate aroma and flavor, so it’s important that the distiller be very careful not to apply too much heat during
the distillation process, otherwise they risk scorching the wash and losing the desired flavor. Topinambur is almost never aged and is usually proofed and bottled almost immediately after distillation is complete. As mentioned previously, the minimum strength that Topinambur can be bottled at is 38 percent ABV and, although producers are permitted to add caramel coloring, it is very rarely done.2,4 Currently, almost 90 percent of the Jerusalem artichokes grown in Baden-Württemberg are used to make Topinambur.5 However, there are no major brands of Topinambur, and its production is almost exclusively carried out by small scale craft producers. This means that there is high variability between producers, and each distiller’s Topinambur can vary wildly in terms of taste. That said, most consumers describe all Topinambur as being slightly fruity with distinct earthy notes, making it a fantastic after-dinner drink.5 Recently, public interest in Jerusalem artichokes has reignited. The modern back-to-the-land and slow-food movements have begun to tout Jerusalem artichokes as a tastier and healthier alternative to potatoes. This has become especially true in diabetic communities, as Jerusalem artichokes contain a high inulin content that makes them more tolerable than other starch-heavy foods.7 Bio-energy companies have also become interested in Jerusalem artichokes because their fast growth may make them a cheaper and cleaner source for fuel ethanol. This has led to more Jerusalem artichokes being grown in their native North America.6 Indeed, Koval Distillery, which is based in Chicago and is known for their experimental spirits, has already begun production of a Jerusalem Artichoke spirit.8 Perhaps it is only a matter of time until more craft-distillers recognize the potential that Jerusalem Artichokes have and begin making their own American style Topinambur.
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.
References 1) Cosgrove, D.R., et. al. 1991. Jerusalem Artichoke. Alternative Field Crops Manual. Available from < https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/jerusart.html> [ May 4th, 2020] 2) Council Regulation, 1989. Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1576/80. Available from < http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=126926#JD_EU030_15> [May 1, 2018] 3) Energy4Farms, 2017. Jersusalem Artichoke. Available from < https://energy4farms.eu/jerusalem-artichoke/> [May 1, 2020] 4) Bordiga, M., 2018. Post Fermentation and Distillation Technology: Stabilization, Aging, and Spoilage, CRC Press. Pp. 71 5) Huber Brennerei, 2020. Topinambur. Available from <http://www.brennerei-huber.de/html/topinambur.html> [May 2, 2020] 6) Sachs, R.M., 1981. Fuel Alcohol from Jerusalem Artichoke. California Agriculture. Available from < https://www.hudsonvalleybiofuel.org/index.php/Jerusalem-artichokes/ fuel-alcohol-from-jerusalem-artichoke.html> [May 2, 2020] 7) NC State Extension, 2020. Growing Jerusalem Artichokes. Available from < https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/growing-jerusalem-artichokes> [May 3, 2020] 8) Koval Distillery, 2020. Sunchoke Spirit. Available from < https://www.koval-distillery.com/ newsite/119-english/spirits/sunchoke-brandy/104-sunchoke-spirit> [May 26, 2020]
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RUMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S REVOLUTIONARIES PRIVATEER RUM OF IPSWICH, MASSACHUSETTS W R I T T E N B Y D E V O N T R E V AT H A N / / / P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y A M A N D A J O Y C H R I S T E N S E N
rivateer Rum has managed to pull off the near impossible. From their modest hamlet in Ipswich, Massachusetts, 45 minutes north of Boston, this distillery — founded by Andrew Cabot and helmed by the indomitable Maggie Campbell — has breathed new life into the belief that American rum can be something worthy of respect and admiration. The story of how Privateer Rum came to be cannot be told without the context of our country’s past and its history with rum-making. Cabot, the founder and CEO, is a distant relative of another Andrew Cabot, who lived in the American Northeast during the latter half of the 18th century and was a successful rum distiller, merchant, and privateer. A quick recap: During the Revolutionary War, governments commissioned individuals known as privateers to engage in quasi-military activities, which included stealing, pillaging, and burning merchant vessels belonging to a rival country that they found on the high seas. Basically, a privateer was a pirate with papers. Privateer is certainly not the only domestic distillery making rum — there are hundreds — nor are they the only producer focused on rum exclusively. Maggie’s Farm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (no relation to Maggie Campbell), Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte, Colorado, and Wicked Dolphin in Cape Coral, Florida are just a few of America’s most exciting rum-centric distilleries. Perhaps what Privateer’s done best, however, is establish their own standard of rum. They proudly state that none of their products are ever sweetened, colored, filtered, or flavored. Their molasses, which is the base of all their rums, comes from Crosby’s in Canada, which sources single-origin fine cane from a valley in Guatemala with volcanic soil. Despite a robust number of releases and one-off projects,
this is the thread that connects the Privateer portfolio, and it’s this dedication to quality that has come to be their legacy, even at such a young age. Their marketing material will tell you that this honest pursuit is inspired by the privateers of our nation’s past, but their approach to rum distillation is actually quite modern. As president and master distiller, Maggie Campbell is not involved in the day-to-day at Privateer as much anymore; their distillations fall under the responsibility of Managing Distiller Dylan Turner and Assistant Distiller Angelica Mozzillo. They begin by pumping the molasses into their wash kettle. “We used to use cane sugar. We have since switched off of that supplier as of last spring, and we have switched to 100 percent molasses,” said Turner. After heating their wash, they transfer it into fermenters that have been pre-chilled overnight. Their fermentations are long, slow, and cold, typically starting at about 74 degrees and lasting six or seven days, sometimes longer. “What happens during that time is you get these really complex flavor molecules that start to develop ... and that is what we’re hoping for down the line,” Turner continued. They prefer not to stress out the yeast and instead give it the time it needs to reproduce sufficiently. As a distillery in the Northeast, they’re able to control their temperature a bit more effectively than someone in a hotter climate might. From there, they pump their fermented wash into their strip still, which is named Pilgrim. They ferment and strip about 8,000 gallons of wash a week. “Here we’re crafting a little bit but we’re not crafting too much at this point, it’s [a] pretty basic pot still,” explained Turner. They take a modestly sized heads cut and allow it to run out to about 32 proof, getting as much alcohol as they can WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
but stopping before they reach what’s mostly water. At this point, Turner or one of the other distillers, Peter Newsom, will fill one of their two spirits stills, called Baldwin and Keats. Both were fabricated by Christian Carl and are meant to be exact replicas of one another, though Keats is a newer model, having just been installed at the end of 2018. Each still has a column attachment with eight plates, and Turner said that they usually stick to using all eight, though they have tried cutting those plates back some in the past. Their heads, hearts, and tails cuts are all made by taste, and they collect a portion of their tails cuts, called seconds, to make a Queen’s Share rum. “We’ve experimented with pot-stilling Queen’s Share. We’ve experimented a lot with different plate numbers,” said Turner. “We just always keep coming back to eight.” The team seems to appreciate the exact amount of rectification they get using all eight plates, though Privateer is laying down increasing amounts of pot-still rum. The final spirit comes out of the still at a range between 140-187 proof, and they elect to have their aged products go into the barrel at 110. When proofing down for bottling, Privateer chooses to go the route of step-proofing. “If you add too much water you can get saponification, which is that soapy taste that you’ll have in some spirits, which is simply the output from the molecules when they’re stressed out,” explained Turner. It’s also undoubtedly a holdover from Campbell’s time working at Hubert Germain-Robin’s Cognac-inspired brandy distillery in California. In Cognac production, this concept is referred to as élevage, or the gradual reduction of a new spirit’s strength prior to putting it into a cask, as well as in cask prior to bottling. Privateer seems to take a lot of inspiration from traditional Cognac techniques, though not without their own twists. For instance, their decision to eschew additives; Cognac producers are known for their predilection towards caramel coloring, sugar, and, in some cases, boisé, which is essentially a dark, concentrated muck gained from boiling wood and reducing the leftover liquid. You will not find any of these ingredients inside a Privateer bottle. Their barrel warehouse is three high at its tallest point, but Turner said that even at that height you can tell the difference in temperature and humidity. Concerning the liquid once it’s in the barrel, Privateer takes another page from the Cognac playbook: “For the most part, once we have barreled something, we set it and not forget it but definitely just let it be, just let it develop on its own pace,” Turner said. They don’t move barrels from one layer to another beyond what’s necessary for maintenance purposes. At Privateer, they’re happy to take a back seat and let the quality of the ingredients shine on their own. The Privateer approach to aging is tied up with one of the most popular aspects of their business: the Distiller’s Drawer releases. It can be difficult to make and sell a variety of different products as a craft distiller. Marketing money is
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scarce, and what if your seasonal offerings just don’t move off the shelf? The Distiller’s Drawer has been organized in a way that still allows for freedom and creative expression while taking steps to ensure their single-cask expressions are highlighted and gain proper visibility. Twice a year, in April/May and then again in October, Privateer invites the public to come to their facility and taste some carefully selected single-cask rums. Distillers are on hand to explain their selections and walk guests through the tasting notes, whether that might be a smokey salinity from aging in exScotch casks or the familiar notes of American oak from a used Bourbon barrel. According to their website, Privateer has released 74 different products as part of their Distiller’s Drawer since the program first started. Turner, talking about the Distiller’s Drawer, said that, “When we do those releases, it’s interesting because the numbers keep going up every time, but it’s a lot of the same folks.” There have been some exciting developments recently at Privateer, including last year when they started their first-ever solera program. After expanding both the physical space and the distilling team as well as putting in a new still, Privateer is now working on laying barrels down for even longer periods of time. All of their aged rum releases are in cask for at least two years, some longer, and in 2017 they were able
to begin releasing Bottled-in-Bond rums. Now, though, they can push that even longer, extending their age to six, seven years or more. At the end of last year, they also teased a forthcoming release with Luca Gargano’s company Velier. Within the rum world, being tapped for a release in the Habitation Velier line, which specializes in “pure single rums,” is akin to graduating to an All-Star team. Past releases have come from distilleries such as Hampden, Foursquare, Worthy Park, and others, all from the Caribbean. Their upcoming release of Privateer will be the first American rum featured as part of the Habitation Velier brand. Privateer Rum seems to be something of an anomaly. Their founder Andrew Cabot recognized that, though the statement is oversimplified, “there’s no domain to rum.” Any rum drinker will see the truth in that, especially compared to whiskey or Cognac, each of which are defined by their classifications and geographical indications. How does a young distillery navigate such wild terrain? Perhaps the best way is to develop your own standards. Authentic, unadulterated, honest.
Privateer Rum is located in Ipswich, Massachusetts. For more info visit www.privateerrum.com or call (978) 356-0477. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
STRONG, OLD, AND BOLD Steeped in Colorful History and Lore WRITTEN BY G ARY SPEDDING, PH.D.
oitín (Irish, anglicized as potcheen, poteen or potheen = PUUTcheen/putch-een), is a traditional Irish distilled beverage (40–90 percent ABV). Poitín was traditionally distilled in a small pot still, and the term derived from the Irish word pota, meaning "pot" (or little pots). Incidentally, the Irish word for a hangover is póit. The term poitín will mainly be used throughout this article. The spirit is, and has largely been, made over the centuries from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes—though other ingredients are noted below (1, 2). While originally a malt or cereal grain-based beverage (thereby an initial type of unmatured white whiskey from the get-go), it most likely started out on its journey to illicit fame with rough concoctions of potatoes and molasses, and other on-hand ingredients, by poor cottagers and farmers, and is shrouded in myth, legend, taxes, murder, and mystery. “Poteen is defined as ‘home-made (illicit) spirits, once distilled from potatoes in a little pot (hence the name), as distinct from ‘parliament whiskey’ on which duty has been paid’.” (3) “Much of the folklore about illicit distilling and the ‘excise man’ paints an exciting, if not a romantic picture, of the activity. There is something exciting about the quest to produce the perfect taste and flavour and yet avoid the duty that others had to pay on the legitimate product. The reality, however, is far different.” (3)
Irish whiskey (arguably the oldest form of whisk[e]y) is seeing incredible growth of late, following historical lows and perhaps a near death of the commodity. Behind all brands of this whiskey style lies an interesting and complex tale of rebellion, politics, and social mores—the same being true for the “grandfather of Irish whiskies poitín” (2). This unique distilled spirit carries high alcohol by volume between 40-90 percent ABV, making it one of, if not, the strongest of all world spirit beverages. The Irish government frowned on poteen for many centuries, branding it as “moonshine.” Two key dates for whiskey in general in Ireland were 1661, when taxation of whiskey came into effect and started three centuries of illicit distilling; and a reporting of a census in 1831 that in104
dicated 20,000 illegal stills in operation (4, 5). An entry by Doxat in his 1971 book Drinks and Drinking states the following about the number of illicit stills: “Some exist today, producing ‘potheen’ (derived from the pot-still) which ranges from the rawest unmatured spirit to a tolerable semi-mellowed whiskey.” (4) While such may have been the case for illegally produced poitín, the product of today—now legally accepted as a spirit in its own right—is gaining a lot of respect as a tasty and high-quality product, as produced under the directions of carefully developed technical specifications. Ireland began allowing poteen exports in 1989, domestic sale in 1997, and sought EU appellation status for poteen in 2008. While the history of Irish spirits is not the main focus of this article, two excellent accounts can be found covering its greatest depths (3, 6), as well as on a neat website dedicated to the topic (7), with some videos of its production also posted online (8). And for those really interested in the deep and detailed social, economic and political history of the trials and tribulations of Irish whiskey and Irish poitín, the works of the three Irish “M’s”—Magee, McGuffin and McGuire (9-11)—should, at the very least be consulted, along with some of the key references cited within them and most importantly the quite definitive scholarly essay by Connell (5). “Throughout the book I have spelt the word ‘poitín.’ This is the correct Irish spelling, the reason for the emasculated ‘poteen’ on the cover is my publisher’s idea. I have also been asked by the same timorous gentleman to state categorically that the author and the publisher, in putting out this book in no way urge any reader to attempt to manufacture or purchase any poitín. To do so would be to break the law and you wouldn’t want to do that would you?” John McGuffin, Belfast 1977. (10) Finally, a book, recommended to me in review, provides a quite decent piece of history unto itself but also points out the forces sent to crack down on illicit alcohol production in Ireland with some key statistics on the nature of the production of poteen. That book is called The Irish Revenue Police by Jim Herlihy (18). WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
It’s Illegal Days and Legal Production and Marketing In addition to the entertaining account by the author Sturgeon (6), the history presented in Murphy’s short article (2) includes concise details of its golden age and its associated “moonshine-like” illegality during the 19th Century. Revenue Commissioners granted permission in 1989 to businessman Oliver Dillion of County Limerick for the distillation of poitín, but his product was restricted to the export market and duty-free outlets in Ireland only. Poitín made legally was granted legal sales status in Ireland in 1997 with United Distillers selling a brand called Hackler Poitín produced by the Cooley Distillery in County Louth (2, Hackler was misspelled as Hacker in this reference). A note on the meaning of Hackler and its basis in the flax trade and a relation to the topic at hand was made by McGuffin (10). May 20th 2008, saw EU Regulation Number 110/2008 effectively grant Irish poteen and Irish poitín Geographical Indicative Status. Then in 2015, the Irish government and whiskey producers set forth guidelines under which the production of Irish poteen must comply (2). The rules and definitions pertaining to poteen appear in Table 1 (1, 2, 12). From the early 1900’s, and then again noted from the 1970’s until the specifications were set in the guidelines, it appears that an ‘anything goes’ attitude persisted with respect to what could be used to produce and to be sold as poitín—grain, whey products, clear and matured spirit, even flavored vodka! (5, 13). Why Mulryan (13) states the hiatus period for legal—albeit limited outlet sales, started from 1971—when the date of 1989 noted above seems to be more in line for legal sales is unclear. This may show some more of the clouds in such a checkered history and that there is much more to all this than meets the eye.
Small batch copper pot stills were and still are used by poitín distillers (7, 8, 10). According to O’Connor, in 1661 uisce beatha (“water of life”—which begat the name of whiskey) and uisce poitín were essentially the same thing—a white spirit made from malted grains, dried over crudely-simple peat fires (14). Malted barley and other malted/ maltable cereals such as wheat, oats and rye would have been used and likely double distilled and, even in the early 19th century, malted barley was stated to be the main ingredient in poitín production (1, 5). An advantage to barley being its early ripening as a cereal crop meaning an early start to spirits production “before the still hunting season really sets in.” (H. Dorian, cited in Reference 5). As this was akin to, and forebearer of, American moonshine—highly illegal to produce, records are sparse as to actual and specific mash bills (14). Though, in a simple recipe, this quote (dated as 1939 and related to US moonshine) is interesting: “We used fifty pounds of sugar to a bushel of meal and ran it off a dozen times or so.” (cited in Reference 15). However, very early on in Irish whisky history, taxation reared its oft-touted ugly head and a malt tax led to an increasing use of unmalted grain and other starch or sugar-source ingredients for both legal and illegal distillers within Ireland (1, 5). Between 1780 and 1822 potatoes, sugar, and yeast were key ingredients and then a later switch was made to the use of treacle, corn, and potatoes led to a loss of character and WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
to relatively poor quality poitín (2); “By 1880 molasses was commonly used and by the 1900s sugar, potatoes, treacle, porter beer, rhubarb, blackberries, currants and even apples were used.” (1, 5). How it was produced illegally and in rural communities and by home distillers is described elsewhere (2, 5—quite well detailed, 10, 14). A cogent discussion of the easy procurement of barrels (as used to store and ship flour, herrings, seeds and sugar) for ‘hiding and resting the spirit,’ and the less readily easy to come by stills and how they were constructed and repaired is also detailed by Connell (5). Here we now largely consider its modern-day production with some notes as to how ingredients were regarded, used, and introduced into the production of the spirit.
Raw Materials of Poitín Production Of Cereals, Potatoes and Molasses
Irish poteen/Irish poitín is distilled from Irish ingredients, which traditionally have included cereals, grain, molasses, sugar beet, whey and potatoes—a minimum of which 50 percent must be sourced in Ireland today. A brief note on the historical use of raw materials was, however, noted above and included a range of cereals. Barley and malted barley are more common today in producing quality poitíns (though, due to differences in production and legal specifications—even if truly grain-based—it is again noted that it is not an Irish whiskey, but rather it is a unique and distinct product in its own right). Any grains used will be mashed and treated as noted below under Stages in the Brewing of Poitín (1). While specialty malts might not be noted in current specifications for poitín production, they might be considered for poitínlike spirits whereby they could be used to convey and impart those rich caramelization- and Maillard-reaction-associated flavor notes elicited from those compounds produced with the heating and roasting of such grains, including during the heat stages of mashing and starch gelatinization. When potatoes are used as a rich source of starch they will be unpeeled and sometimes mixed with a small quantity of malted barley and treated as noted below. Poteen would have been made by those “humbler folk” who grew their own potatoes according to Connell— though see below (5). Of note for both industrial and potable alcohol manufacture (even if illegally produced) and a link to vodka might be of interest here. Industrial alcohol, known as methylated spirits (denatured rectified spirit rendered toxic for consumption), was made in Ireland principally from potatoes. “A raw material that no distiller would use, and it would be illegal to label the spirit as ‘whiskey.’” (11). Despite the note above, it was suggested that even the illicit distiller would not typically make the poteen from potatoes. “The process would be more troublesome than using treacle (defined below) or sugar and would require malt to convert the starch.” “Coming from his primitive pot still, potato spirit would have a flavour that would have no appeal except to those long accustomed to it.” “When this type of spirit is made,” McGuire goes on to say, “in continuous stills, and especially if further processed to become absolute alcohol, it is tasteless and useless as a popular beverage, but is as good as spirit from any other source for industrial purposes” (11). So much for vodka then? The modern-day 105
distiller can still experiment with the humble, though starch-rich, potato as further outlined below. And maybe make a tastier poteen-like beverage through the use of a pot still, rather than taking it up to 96 percent ABV, thus resulting in a bland vodka. Potatoes can, however, lend a very notable cooked potato note via the compound methional—a Maillard reaction compound—therefore the cooked flavor note that can be overpowering to some based on low threshold of detection. See the note above on its claimed limited appeal to some if potatoes alone were used for spirits production. Sugar beet molasses, a by-product of the sugar industry, and which contain varying amounts of mineral-content (ash) and fermentable sugars, is used for rum and historically also for poitín production. A quick note on treacle: Treacle (any syrup made in the refining of cane sugar) is essentially the British equivalent of molasses and is available in several grades ranging from light treacle “golden syrup” to dark or “black” treacle. Syrup made from cane sugar includes molasses and there is debate as to whether treacle and molasses can be considered the same or not. Light treacle (AKA golden syrup), the equivalent of a light molasses, is made during the first extraction of the cane-sugar refining process. With a light golden color, it is noted as exhibiting a sweet, almost buttery flavor. Black treacle, equivalent to dark molasses, is noted as being lighter in flavor and less bitter than most blackstrap molasses. If these sugar sources are cooked in the presence of amino acids derived from other raw materials then a rich plethora of Maillard reaction flavor notes can arise (above and beyond those already present in the molasses). Some of which can make it through distillation to the end product. A final note in this section deals with oats. While oats are noted above as being used for poitín spirits production as for other cereal grains beyond barley, there is little mention of their actual processing for poitín. There is one anecdote related to the history of agriculture and spirits production and mention of their use under duress: Ireland was always associated with sparsity, scarcity, near-starvation conditions, or heavily taxed raw materials and the cost and burden of carrying goods to market. Of course, most moonshiners would have had to either use whatever was available as grown by them or their neighbors out of necessity or purchasable via their meager earnings or tradable offerings. Private distillation was a necessity especially for many peasants (5) and, as noted for the US bourbon industry, it was often more efficient and economical to turn grain into precious alcohol-laden liquid rather than use for food or risk of it rotting during storage. Alternative grains would also have been used due to shortages of other grains including barley and malted barley (3). “A barrel of good oats, well managed, will produce eight gallons of common whiskey, which will sell for seven or eight shillings per gallon.” (cited in Reference 3). Ulster and regions north of Connaught were areas where oats would have been fodder for poteen as the oatmeal was more an article of food there than in other places where potatoes dominated (11). Today the exploration of oats and other grains for flavor profiling or natural flavor extension, while also being more efficiently processed, is allowing for more unique expressions of spirits,or to investigate possible regional variations in flavor profiles that would have existed in earlier times.
Stages in the Brewing of Poitín
Current regulations state that the production of Irish poteen must incorporate a four-stage process: brewing, fermentation, distillation and bottling, with all stages except bottling to occur at the same site (1, 12). The brewing stage essentially includes selection and processing— mashing—of the raw materials. The brewing raw materials selection and use should fall under the guidelines of the Department of Agriculture for poteen production (details noted below and in Table 1).
Mashing & Wort Preparation (1) Cereals — As for beer brewing, cereals are milled and then the grist mixed with water to form the mash. Mashing allows the conversion of the starches into fermentable sugars and may involve the enzymatic action from within the malted barley or be aided by exogenously added enzymes today. Resultant nutrient-rich mashes may be sent for fermentation as a clear liquid (wort) following the removal of spent grain, as typical of brewery operations (with lauter tun or mash tun filtration), or as a “solids-in” fermentation, as more common for distillers.
Potatoes — Whole or chopped potatoes will initially be cooked in water to gelatinize the starch, followed by the addition of more water in order to form a mash of suitable solid:liquid ratio. Mashes are then cooled to approximately 151 degrees Fahrenheit, ready for enzymatic activity to take place. At this stage some milled malted barley may be added and the mash is then allowed to efficiently liquefy and saccharify, whereby the potato starch is converted into fermentable sugars. Malted barley can be used as a source of diastase but other natural enzymes may also be used. Sugar beets/sugar beet molasses — Sugar beet molasses, (or treacle) as noted above, sees use for poitín production. An example of a poitín using sugar beet is Bán Poitín, which utilizes a combination of potatoes, malted barley, and the sugar beets to create what has been described as an intense Irish spirit. Adjustment of the sugar concentration in molasses with the addition of water is made to allow for efficient fermentation with yeast and today may need a supplemental boost via the addition of yeast nutrients. It should be noted that the sugar industry is getting to be ever more efficient at recovering sugar and byproducts from raw materials, sugar cane or beets—including minerals required by yeast—and as such the quality of molasses for spirits production has declined. Suitable molasses sources must therefore be found today. In all cases saccharification of the mashes must occur through the action of enzymes contained in malted barley or from exogenously added natural-source enzymes (1, 12). Following preparation of any of these fermentable materials, as balanced fermentation worts or in-solid mashes (sugar, mineral, and nutrient rich), they will be subject to fermentation and then the ethanol will be distilled out as noted below. The final result should be a clear spirit that allows the flavor and aroma of the raw materials to show through (1).
Clear wort (free of solids), fully mashed ingredients or liquid-sugar sources obtained from the raw materials discussed above will be WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
subjected to fermentation. Yeast is added and fermentation, under suitable conditions as for other beer or spirit production, will lead to the conversion of fermentable sugars into alcohol and the desirable congeners that will provide the flavor profile for the resultant spirit. It is also of note here that the stipulation for activation of fermentation includes the involvement of yeast and also via the action of natural enzymes. The alcohol-containing fermented liquid is known to the distiller as ‘wash’ or maybe today as fermented wort. Yeast strain selection, avoidance of unwanted microorganisms, and control of nutrient input, temperatures, and the avoidance of stress conditions are all important parameters for allowing clean and efficient fermentation. Producing a desirable flavor profile, while avoiding unwanted off-flavor volatiles is also key to the ultimate distillation and bottling of quality poitín spirit—something likely not available during the hundreds of years of illicit and suspect production of this “Irish moonshine,” thus giving it a bad reputation through the centuries, though it probably got the job done for the poor citizen during wild and turbulent times. Stated as late as 1978, “The first run would come out and be caught in half of a large plastic fruit container. We normally always drank the singlings rather than give it a second run. This meant that although we got drunk we got a shocking hangover because the fusel oil hadn’t been eliminated.” (15). Fusel oil component production can of course be controlled much better today through careful attention to the fermentation conditions as well as to the distillers’ cuts later on.
A variety of stills have been used since 1997, including pot, hybrid, and column stills (12), with the construction materials, the sizes and shapes of the stills and lyne arms etc., impacting the distinctive flavor and aroma profiles of poitín as so for other whiskies and spirits. Activated charcoal filtration is not permitted in poitín production and as such the typical character of the distillate should always show through in the final product. A batch of wash or wort is added to the still and low wines result. The distiller will then apply their own cutting strengths, based on their expertise and the characteristics and design of the stills in their command, in order to influence the final character of the high-alcohol containing distillate. Poitín must be distilled at a strength not exceeding 94.7 percent by volume in such a way that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the materials used (1). While the name of poitín became legal on the Irish market in 1997, geographical protection did not commence until May 2008 [Regulation No (EC) 110/2008]. Products which were continually in production from 1997, which are traditionally distilled at a strength above 94.7 percent may, however, continue to be placed on the market as Irish poteen/ Irish poitín.
TABLE 1 TERMS and LABELING REGULATIONS for POITÍN/POTEEN NAME
Irish poteen/Irish poitín and category. Distilled on the island of Ireland including Northern Ireland. SPIRIT DESCRIPTION
A traditional Irish distilled beverage. No definitive official date of production. Principal organoleptic characteristics: alcohol content 4090% abv, clean, clear spirit that is light, smooth and robust in character, retaining the flavours and aromas from the original raw materials used and the production process which can include raw cereal, cooked grain, fruity esters and spice. The maximum amount of the toxic alcohol - methanol in Irish poteen/ poitín is set at 30 grams/hectoliter of 100 vol-% ethanol (0.3g/L or 300 mg/L or 300 ppm). This would be 120 ppm in 40 vol-% poitín. Maceration such as from apples, pears, berries (including blueberries), mint, wildflower bogbean, ginger and other indigenous plants is allowed up to 10% of the product. GEOGRAPHICAL AREA
Production of Irish poteen/Irish poitín must take place in the geographical area of Ireland. PRODUCTION METHODS
Processes specific to the most widely-used ingredients include brewing, fermentation, distillation and bottling, traditional ingredients cereals, potatoes and sweet beet molasses are permitted. Macerations and infusions permitted with indigenous Irish ingredients; fruits, spices, berries, herbs, naturally occurring plant materials. Flavourings as allowed must be consistent with indigenous Irish ingredients. SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION
Spirit drinks must not be labelled, packaged, sold, advertised or promoted in such a way to suggest they are Irish poteen/Irish poitín unless they meet the relevant requirements set out in the technical file regulations and recommendations. LABELLING REQUIREMENTS
For flavored poteens and poitíns, from macerations or infusions, an additional line stating the ingredient used must be made; “Made from an infusion of…”. Flavoured Irish poitín/Irish poteen must be labelled as ‘Flavoured Irish Poitín” or ‘Flavoured Irish Poteen” and may reference the flavouring used, “Flavoured with… /Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín that has been stored for a period not exceeding 10 weeks after production shall indicate this on the rear label and shall be labelled “Stored/held in wood for .... weeks”. There shall be no reference to casks, maturation or ageing on labels, presentation, marketing/promotional or packaging material. The mix of raw materials used must be included on the label. The phonetic spelling ‘Irish Potcheen’ may be used to aid consumers with the pronunciation of the product, as long as it is in addition to the sales denomination.
Storage in Casks
Irish poteen/Irish poitín with an abv of over 70% requires additional information on labels to advise consumers of the strength of the product.
Prior to bottling—if Irish poitín is produced using at least two of the specific “base” raw materials from those noted above, where one of which must be non-cereal in nature—it may be stored or rested in
The full declarations are presented in the “Technical File Setting Out The Specifications With Which Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín Must Comply (1) Additional rules and regulations apply. The above information provides a good guide to the nature of poteen/ poitín (see 1, 2, 12) and was largely extracted from the abbreviated form in the article by Murphy (2).
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wooden casks for a period not to exceed 10 weeks following its production. Thus, cereal-based distillate with potato- or molasses-based spirit added is involved here. Specific labelling requirements are in effect for product so treated (see 1). So unlike Irish whiskey, poitín cannot be aged or matured in a more traditional manner. While it can sometimes be rested as noted here, no mention or reference to casks, maturation, or aging can be made (13). Not being 100 percent grain spirit, rested poitín—no matter how long it might ever be stored for—will never qualify as an Irish whiskey (13). It is in a realm of its own. Two stored-in-cask examples pointed out to me are Glendalough’s Poitín—Sherry cask finished—and again Ban Poitín. This is the regular Ban Poitín made as noted above from potatoes, malted barley and sugar beet. It is then barreled in ex-peated whisky casks according to The Whiskey Exchange (19), and buried underground, which adds “extra spicy flavours to the malty spirit.” With the proviso as noted above that no mention of the “aging” is to be on labels.
materials. Commercially prepared flavoring may be sourced outside of Ireland, however, only flavorings consistent with indigenous and natural Irish botanical ingredients/species are permitted. Again, specific labeling requirements for this production style are also in effect (1, 2, 12) and see Table 1.
A Wild World of Formulas & Flavor A Historical Recipe or Two
The three production stages for Irish poitín—mashing, fermentation and distillation—take place on the island of Ireland (1). Bottling in Ireland must occur in an authorized tax warehouse or at a verified bottling premise (1, 12). Bottling may, however, take place outside of Ireland. If poitín is bottled offshore, it is shipped in inert bulk containers. While Irish poteen may be briefly stored in wooden cases as noted above, regulations stipulate that poteen must never be exported in wooden casks or wooden containers (12). Water used in final product proofing can be distilled, demineralized, softened, or otherwise treated in accordance with certain European regulations (20) in order to preserve the organoleptic characteristics of the “Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín” (1). Any bottling taking place outside of Ireland is subject to controls and verification in order to ensure product quality, safety, and integrity (1). Bottled poteen will have a minimum alcoholic strength of 40 percent and a maximum of 90 percent. Labeling rules are in place with full details provided in the legal technical files (1, 12) and with a few details noted in Table 1.
McGuffin begins to close out his book by looking at several regions of Ireland and variations in spirits production (10). He makes note of a “Modern Belfast recipe,” stating, “Whether this can technically be called poitin is a moot point, but that’s what the manufacturer, operating in an old garage somewhere in Belfast calls it and, when properly made it doesn’t taste too bad.” (See Additional Processes and Flavorings above.) The recipe: At least four stone of oranges (assuming the English and Irish weight of a stone = 14 lbs), 8 lbs brown sugar, 1 ½ oz yeast and 10 gallons of water. “Carrots can be added if you want to take away the Orange flavor, in which case there will be a gin-like taste.” The oranges were said to be peeled and trampled barefoot by a lady to form a mush. The mush was left to ferment (and, it might appear, to rot) for 3-4 weeks “until you can’t stand the smell anymore…” and then the revolting mess was distilled. “This produces a drink with a message, and the message is Beware!” (10). In passing here, an early 7th century supposed recipe for Usquebagh also quoted by McGuffin (though which could not have been a genuine Irish recipe based on the availability of the ingredients in Ireland at that time) included mace, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cubebs, raisins, liquorice, sugar and saffron and the ingredients placed, as for gin, to collect their essence via passage of spirit at the worm’s end (10). Had they included juniper (again if available in Ireland back then) could they have laid claim to being amongst the first producers of gin and gin-like beverages? Regardless as to that history and detail, the above formulations might again provide some food for thought for modern spirit recipes—or not based on the “rotting” oranges!
Additional Processes & Flavorings
So, What Does Poitín Taste Like?
Macerations and infusions — Flavorings for poitín may be derived from the maceration and infusion of various ingredients and such processes are a traditional feature of Irish poteen/Irish poitín production (1, 5). Macerations and infusions must be made with domestic Irish ingredients; fruits, spices, berries, herbs and/or other naturally occurring plant materials are acceptable. Color changes to the spirit may occur as a result. These products will not be the typical clear/colorless “white spirit” that many know as traditional poitín. Since poitín production became a legally recognized entity, specific labeling requirements are now in place for poitín that have used maceration or infusion processes.
Flavored Irish Poitín/poteen — Examples of the style of poitín spirit to which has been given a predominant flavor arising from sources other than that of the traditional and otherwise specified raw
To date the author has only tried one example of poitín, the double-distilled Killowen Poitín, and found it fuselly and sweet in aroma with tails and leathery accents. The palate was floral and dry, spicy and a bit earthy, warming and nice rounded flavor and mouthfeel with some leathery notes. Ban Poitín is said to have “big and bold flavors, leather and tobacco and malt with green agricultural flavors lead(ing) to sweetened lasting finish.” (Great Irish Beverages, 2016—cited in Reference 2). The Glendalough Distillery, 2016 (cited in Reference 2) describes its Mountain Strength Poitín aroma as “slight in nature with faint Riesling fragrance, oak, berried fruit, gooseberries and blackcurrants… a slight zest of orange and blueberry sweetness…in the Sherry Cask Finish.” Taste: “Creamy and mellow, trace of lychees, hints of black, cracked pepper, especially so in the Mountain Strength.” Other descriptors for poitín include dried apricots in sherry-cask finished products, vanilla and toasted oak, salty, spicy and dried fruit and other WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
fruity and berry notes. Historically, and by nature as to how it had to be produced, poitín would have been noted or characterized as retaining “smoke/malt flavor” (1) and might have been regarded by some as presenting a harsh taste only tolerated by a degraded palate (5). As most malts are produced today without wood, peat or direct fire involved in drying or roasting, and with modern heating processes in use for still operations, smoke, phenolic, and toasted/roasted malt flavors should likely not be foremost characteristics in poitín flavor profiles. However, the use of peated and other roasted malts might provide for variety in flavor today—especially for craft distillers producing poitín-like spirits. And, as such might once again present poteen as “superior in sweetness, [salubrity] (healthy) and gusto.” (cited in Reference 5). One flavored poitín is Pooka Hazelnut Irish Poitín, which is said to convey strong nutty flavor through the infusion and distillation of roasted hazelnuts. Other flavors for such spirits made with infusions or added ingredients just may include “rotten oranges” if the Belfast recipe noted above is anything to go by, though McGuffin did say “when properly made it doesn’t taste too bad.” (10). So as not to end on a rotten note, another recipe by McGuffin is mentioned here. This note occurs near the end of his book and deals with the goings on in County Fermanagh. Seven pounds of baker’s yeast, three stone brown sugar, four pounds treacle (dark or light not specified) and one pound of hops
were slated for this formulation. This seems to be the way things were more likely done towards more modern times, with the addition of the hops based on beer brewing techniques, though perhaps a little inefficient as noted: “Steep ingredients in 3 gallons of lukewarm water at the bottom of a 40-gallon wooden barrel. After steeping (10) fill barrel to ¾ full with cold spring water. Leave in a cool place to settle, preferably buried since it can be noisy. After several weeks transfer to your still, which you seal with Luden—a doughy paste made from oatmeal. A 35-gallon still would produce 16-20 pints this way.” (10). [Author Note: Imperial pints and gallons are of different volume and capacity than their US equivalents. The hops might have supplied some antiseptic preservative qualities and, by reducing unwanted bacterial activity, aiding in fermentation by the yeast. The legally produced products of today are high quality and extremely interesting and tasty.]
Poitín Cocktails Anyone?
For those interested in poitín and its versatile use in cocktails, a brief overview with some references to recipes, with names like 1661 Auld Fashioned (lavender and bitters), Red Irish Summer (with fresh cherries and cherry liqueur), Banshee, Sloeflower Sour, Weathered Storm and Shepherds Delight (incorporating FIGURE 1 SPECTRAL SCAN gooseberry jam), and more is provided by Murphy (2). It is FINGERPRINTS of killowen poitín suggested that poitín has more flavor than whiskey and it does and three matured irish whiskies have an unanticipated robust chemical fingerprint profile as seen in Figure 1. As noted by the author, Killowen poitín exhibits some smooth rather than harsh fusel/tails/feints congener notes. The cocktail recipes are worthy of a gander in their own right and may work well with American white new-make spirits, though as noted above and below, the bases might be loaded quite differently. Two other interesting and flavorful cocktails using a poitín spirit base are known as Miss Moonshine and the Tara Cocktail as described in the Difford’s Guide (21).
Chemically or Spectrally What Does the Poitín Fingerprint Look Like?
Samples of a standard inexpensive vodka (as a baseline control), Killowen Poitín, Yellow spot (12 Year), Green Spot and Redbreast (12 Year) matured Irish whiskies were scanned across the ultraviolet — visible spectrum from 200 to 1000 nanometers [1 nanometer (nm) — a unit of length in the metric system is equal to one billionth of a meter]. Light is either reflected or absorbed by molecules in solution. The result allows for a fingerprint profile of a sample placed in the plate-reader spectrophotometer. The main peak, centered around 275-280 nm is a characteristic feature of alcoholic beverages as observed in the laboratory of BDAS, LLC. The scan and the amplitude of these profiles often allows the discrimination between brands and styles and can sometimes indicate if adulterants or preservatives, etc., have been added or used in a beer, wine, or spirit. Vodkas, gins, and white new make spirits often show little detail in such scans as for the vodka sample shown here. Matured spirits, with more complex chemical compositions resulting from extractions of components from the wood or chemical reactions occurring during maturation show more involved or interesting profiles — such representing the 100’s to 1000s of chemical components present in the beverage. The surprise here was the poitín — as an unmatured white spirit — showing such a robust signal in the 280 nm peak region. Further investigation as to the nature of the components present and causing the strong absorption peak will be of considerable interest (16, 17). WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Poitín, like many other distilled spirits, is chemically complex—as reflected in its flavor profile—best determined and assessed by the human sensory apparatus. However, a method used for looking at the authentication, and batch-to-batch consistency of beverage production can give us a quick fingerprint glimpse of a spirit. Moreover, this spectral method can be used to distinguish brands and sometimes show adulteration of beverages (16). Figure 1 shows a spectral scan fingerprint of Killowen poitín and those for three matured Irish whiskies. The tests performed in our laboratory thus form a routine way to look at beverages. 109
Without going into too much detail (presented elsewhere, 16) a surprising find here was to see a decent peak profile, which represents the absorption of light by the various molecules present in the poitín or other spirits tested. Most spirits with notable flavor and other alcoholic beverages (beer and wine) present a peak at around 270-280 nanometers—the region of the UV-visible spectrum at which maximum absorption of light occurs for such alcoholic beverages. Vodkas—with no or very little congener content—and even many gins show relatively simple (“uninteresting”) low amplitude or unstructured fingerprint profiles (see Figure 1). Brown (matured) spirits, with more flavor molecule complexity and perhaps molecular concentration (or lower flavor threshold volatiles), show high peak profiles as seen with the three matured Irish whiskies (Figure 1). New make spirit, like vodka and gin, also shows very little information in this 270-280 nanometer region, yet here we see this Killowen poitín with a decent peak. While we know some of the molecules that contribute to this region of maximal light absorption—such as those derived from reactions which occur during heating processes or from maturation wood and the maturation process, etc.—further investigation using other more advanced scientific tools and instruments, along with other poitín examples, should be the focus of an interesting research project. Despite
the usefulness of distinguishing different spirits and brands, the end result defining a quality poitín or other spirit lies within the sensory evaluation and acceptance of a product by the consumer.
As an ancient spirit rising high again in the 21st century, poitín deserves some attention from a production and distillation perspective and has some interesting, complex, and layered flavor profiles. Craft distillers looking to produce something unique or simply interested in learning more about the distilling of quality spirits would do well to sample a few and take down some notes about them. Defining procedures and regulations for any type of quality spirit production by the new distiller could at the very least be modeled on the detailed technical file specifications for Irish poteen/poitín (1, 12). Sláinte mhaith! 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.
REFERENCES 1) Technical File Setting out the Specifications with which Irish Poteen/Irish Poitín Must Comply. Food Industry Development Division. (March 2019). 2) Murphy, J.P. Poitín – a Spirit of Rebellion and Inspiration. 3rd Dublin Gastronomic Symposium, May 31st – June 1st 2016. Dublin. (2016). 3) Conlon, L. A Poteen Affray at Ardee in 1808. Journal of the Country Louth Archaeological and Historical Society. Vol. 25 (3); 336-350. (2003). 4) Doxat, J. Drinks and Drinking. Ward Lock Limited – London, (1971). 5) Connell K.H. Illicit Distillation. In: Irish Peasant Society: Four Historical Essays. Oxford University Press. (1968). 6) Sturgeon S. The Politics of Poitín. Maria Edgeworth, William Carelton, and the Battle for the Spirit of Ireland. Irish Studies Review, Vol 14 (4): 431-445. (2006). 7) https://anpoitin.weebly.com/ 8) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4TM8Mxyui0 - https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=f T4kyO0FH9Q - http://nephinwhiskey.com/poitin/ - https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=f T4kyO0FH9Q - https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=GkE24XL3l7I - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb8nzM8Yf2g 9) Magee, M. Irish Whiskey: A 1000-year tradition. O’Brien Press, Ltd. and the Irish American Book Company. (1991). 10) McGuffin, J. In Praise of Poteen. Appletree Press. (1978). 11) McGuire, E.B. Irish Whiskey: A History of distilling in Ireland. Gill and MacMillan, Dublin. (1973) 12) Geographical Indication for Irish Whiskey & Irish Poteen Verification Procedures Manual. Document last updated December 2019. 13) Mulryan, P. The Whiskeys of Ireland. The O’Brien Press. (2016). 14) O’Connor, F. A Glass Apart: Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey. Images Publishing. (2017). 15) Montgomery, M. From Ulster To America: The Scotch-Irish Heritage of American English. The Ulster Historical Foundation and Colour Bools Ltd. (2006). 16) Spedding, G. Scanning UV-Visible Spectroscopy and Beverage Quality, Consistency and Authen-
tication: Preliminary Fingerprinting Application in the Analysis of a Wide Variety of Alcoholic Beverages – A Brief Application Note. BDAS, LLC White Paper – (WPSP#1 – 2015). 17) Spedding, G. and BMGLabTech. Quality Control of Distilled Spirits and Beer Using SPECTROstar Nano. (2015)/ Spedding, G. and Peters, C. Authentication and quality testing of distilled spirits using the SPECTROstar Nano. AN 277 Product Note. (2015). https://www.bmglabtech. com/kr/authentication-and-quality-testing-of-distilled-spirits-using-the-spectrostar-nano/. 18) Herlihy, J. The Irish Revenue Police: A short history and genealogical guide to the ‘poteen hussars’. Open Air and Four Corners Press. (2018). 19) https://www.thewhiskyexchange. com/p/36137/ban-poitin-barrelled-and-buriedpeated-cask 20) Annex 1 of Regulation 110/2008 – https://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:039:0016:0054:EN:PDF (21) https://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/ search?sort=rating&base=688&liqueur=&wine=&mixer=&style=&bartender=
Author's Note: Some of the spellings in this article were kept in British English form, based on the original language and the documentary nature of some of the references concerning regulations and specifications. In part, sections of regulations were generally taken as a whole but referenced as appropriate. The terms “Irish Poteen/ Irish Poitín”, as noted in regulations, has been generally abbreviated to just Poitín for the sake of clarity – though the emphasis here must be on the Geographic rights to the names Poitín/Poteen as being an Irish beverage by denomination. The author assumes all responsibility for the commentary and construction of the text and for any errors or omissions of detail. Additional commentary has been included and weaved into the text and some original observations and research noted to hopefully provide a coherent story of this fascinating beverage in as short a piece as possible. Consultation of the references to learn more about the extensive story and, particularly, the regulations is strongly encouraged. I thank Niall Tubridy for reviewing early drafts and personal communications, pointing out a couple inaccuracies, correcting some Irish language terms and suggesting other works to review including the excellent and highly detailed historical account on poitín (also quoted as a key work by McGuffin): Irish Peasant Society: Four Historical Essays, by Connell (5) and, added after the main text was written: The Irish Revenue Police by Herlihy (18).]
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Cultivating a Garden of Spirits WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARRIE DOW
Photo provided by Ironton Distillery
usinesses are like plants. You have to nurture and nourish them to get them to grow. You have to prevent pests and add fertilizer. While it takes work, it also takes patience and a bit of luck because you don’t know what the weather will bring. Ironton Distillery Co-founder and Owner Kallyn Peterson and her partner Robbie Adams planted the seeds of a business several years ago. Peterson tells me they had always wanted to own something in the food and beverage industry, so Adams, a former brewer, and Peterson, a former marketing manager, settled on distilling. They WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
cultivated a business plan and purchased a building in Denver’s up-and-coming River North (RiNo) area, a place known for its creative culinary and artistic scene. Then they hired Laura Walters from Stranahan’s as their head distiller. Things were blossoming. Then the winds changed. As they readied for construction, Peterson became friends with the owners of Ironton Studios & Gallery, a historic warehouse next door that had been converted into an art gallery with separate artist studios. “I would bring people here all the time,” said Peterson of the gallery space, which
features an outdoor seating area and multiple gardens. “[I’d] tell people that this is what I want our space to look like.” The building was co-owned by Jill Hadley Hooper, a nationally recognized artist who co-founded Denver’s RiNo Arts District in 2005. “[Hooper] knew I loved the space and approached us to see if we wanted to move here,” said Peterson. “Otherwise they would have had to sell to a developer who would have just scrapped it. The artists would have had to disperse and this beautiful space would have disappeared.”
Dropping their original plans, they bought the lot and converted the gallery into a distillery and tasting room. They kept the outdoor space, gardens, and artist studios intact. They also have one of Colorado’s few distillery pub licenses, which allow them to serve food as well as beer and wine from other producers. The distillery became everything Peterson envisioned and more. Along with weekly gallery showings they rent out the tasting room and gardens for receptions, parties, and corporate events. “I’m able to incorporate my love of art and events and marketing even more,” she said. While renovating the building, they left the outdoor space mostly as-is. The area has several raised wooden garden beds that grow a variety of items including sage, lavender, rosemary, basil, dill, and other herbs. One bed grows only mint. In the center are two giant ponderosa pine trees, from which they gather needles for the distillery’s ponderosa gin, and several small juniper trees line the building housing the art studios. They also have a small experimental herb garden outside the tasting room, used for cocktail ingredients and garnishes. “We also have all of these fruiting trees,” said Peterson. “We have pears, plums, and cherries. Last year the plums did really well so we made a bunch of plum syrup for the bar.” Added Walters, “The pears and cherries haven’t come in yet, but we’re hoping to have some this year because I want to make a cherry liqueur for summer.” When I ask who takes care of all of this, they laugh. “The two of us together and my mom actually,” said Peterson. “And Chris (an employee) wants to help.” “That’s great! I’m tired of weeding!” laughed Walters. From here Walters takes me inside to show me the distillery. Although she has a degree in winemaking with a chemistry minor from Oregon State University, when she moved to Denver three years prior she ended up at Stranahan’s distillery making whiskey. “We were supposed to start construction a week after they hired me,” she explained about Ironton, “but then had to submit all new plans. It was nice because I had a little test still so I dialed in all my recipes during that time.” Using barley, Walters makes vodka, gin, and several flavored liqueurs, along with a line of bitters using recipes originally crafted by her father, Mitchell Moore. Their whiskey and aquavit are made from rye. Walters said she uses barley for Ironton’s clear spirits because it works best with their system. Borrowing from Adam’s brewing background, Ironton uses a lauter tun to separate liquid from the grains and Walters prefers brewer’s yeast in the fermenters.
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Photo provided by Ironton Distillery
“You’re not really supposed to lauter rye or corn because it’s so sticky, but we’re making it work. I think it creates a nice, clean product especially since we do all closed-top fermentations.” She describes the lautering process akin to making a barley tea. “I use a brewer’s yeast instead of distiller’s yeast because I really liked the flavor,” she continued. “I experimented with some distiller’s yeast, but they ferment everything so dry. It doesn’t leave a lot of sweetness in the end product.” Walters works with three stills to create Ironton’s products: Karl, Margot, and Tamela. Karl the stripping still gets things started. “Karl’s going to strip out any beer-like
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product and make it look like whiskey.” Margot then performs whiskey, rum, and vodka runs. Tamela is the botanical still that produces gin and aquavit. “We take our vodka base for gin and our rye base for aquavit and put botanicals in it,” described Walters. “We also have a vapor basket that we put our more delicate botanicals in and vapor-infuse them so it keeps the integrity.” Besides pine needles, Ironton’s Ponderosa Gin uses ingredients directly from the distillery’s garden including sage, rosemary, and lavender. As Ironton approaches its second anniversary this August, Peterson is proud to see how the seeds she, Adams, and Walters planted have grown.
“We’re drawing on the inspiration from outside the US and putting our own Colorado twist on things,” Peterson reflected. “Genievré from the Dutch; aquavit from Scandinavia.” Walters has also concocted a Japanese shochu with leftover kasu (fermented rice) from Colorado Sake Company, while Ironton’s Colorado Bourbon Whiskey is made from Colorado-grown heirloom blue corn to round out the distillery’s bouquet of spirits. “We learned a lot and grew a lot this year,” ruminated Peterson.
Ironton Distillery is located in Denver, Colorado. For more info visit www.irontondistillery.com or call (720) 532-0937.
WHISKEY SISTERS Connecting craft distillers with high-quality grains direct from farmers
The Whiskey Sisters, Stephanie (L) and Felica (R) Ohnmacht
hen discussing whiskey production, we consider many details — closed versus open fermentation, the types of barrels it rests in, how long it spends there, pot versus column versus hybrid distillation, and the skills of the person or persons who crafted it. More and more now, we also turn to the farmer who grew the wheat, barley, or rye that provides the whiskey’s foundation. The Ohnmacht Sisters of Colorado’s Whiskey Sisters Supply (WSS) want to remind everyone that what’s in the glass was first in the field. The sisters, Stephanie and Felicia, grew up on a farm near Burlington, Colorado, near the Colorado-Kansas border. The property has been in their family for over 100 years, since their grandfather Charlie homesteaded there in 1907. After going to college at CU Boulder and getting big-city jobs, they thought they were done with farming. Then a chance conversation Stephanie had with Al Laws of Laws Whiskey House at a 2015 Denver event sparked something new. After sampling his whiskey, Stephanie,
WRITTEN BY CARRIE DOW PHOTOS PROVIDED BY WHISKEY SISTERS SUPPLY
a fashion designer, asked where he got his grains. He mentioned he was searching for a Colorado corn supplier so he could produce a completely Colorado-made whiskey. “I said, ‘You’re talking to the right person!’” laughed Stephanie, knowing that her family’s farm was experiencing tight finances at the time. “That was the beginning of the relationship with Laws and the beginning of a business.” Today the company works as a brokerage connecting craft distillers with high-quality grains direct from farmers. They not only work with their family, but five other area farms, and can supply almost anything a distiller could want: millet, oats, rye, wheat, barley, flax, blue and white corn, triticale, and soon sorghum. “If it can grow in the United States, we can grow it,” noted Stephanie. “Colorado has a great ability to grow almost everything.” Besides Laws, WSS provides grains to 17 of Colorado’s best-known distilleries, including 291 Colorado Whiskey, Breckenridge Distillery,
Bear Creek, The Family Jones, Ironton, Spring 44, and Mile High Spirits. Felicia also announced they have partnered with Troubadour Maltings of Fort Collins to malt barley to supply Colorado’s multitude of breweries. The farms WSS works with can also take requests, so to speak. If a distiller has the time, the 3,000-acre Gergen Family Farm run by The Ohnmacht’s parents can grow whatever a distiller wants (i.e. heirloom grains). For example, the blue corn Ironton Distillery wanted to use in their Colorado bourbon whiskey was grown by the sisters’ family. If you need a quicker turnaround, Felicia, who handles logistics, can find it for you. The farmers handle everything on-site, from hammer milling to bagging and transporting grains by truck. “Obviously that’s going to take some time,” clarified Stephanie, “but it can be done. We can grow almost anything, within certain quantities.” Working directly with distillers has changed and even improved how the farms do business. They are no longer at the mercy of global markets.
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“Growing up I would ask my grandmother ‘Am I eating the corn chips that were made from our corn’? She would say, ‘I don’t know.’ Having that connection, an A to B connection, with the consumer really boosts morale. When I go to the farm I’ll say, ‘Hey guys, here’s a bottle of whiskey and it’s got what you guys grew in it.’ It gets them really excited.” — FELICIA OHNMACHT
“It requires a change in how a farmer typically approaches the business,” explained Stephanie. “In a farming situation, you have the harvest and you take as much as possible into town to sell it as quickly as possible or to a feedlot to get some cash flow because you’ve gone a year without cash flow depending on your crop. In this situation, we’re actually storing our grains for 12 months until the next harvest so we have supply for our clients when they need it. Cash flow trickles in throughout the year versus a lump sum. Another benefit is it’s a niche market, so we’re not competing with all the other farmers selling cow feed or co-ops for ethanol. It gives us a different place to distribute.” Felicia adds that the current price for corn is about the same as it was in the 1970s, but the cost of equipment and labor has increased exponentially. “It’s not sustainable from a farming perspective,” she said. She adds that their direct approach also benefits the distiller.
“I think about it in the circle of the economy. Not only are you helping that small family farm in Burlington, Colorado, you’re providing (distilling) jobs in the city,” she said. It’s a business that continues to grow. “We have plenty of grain to meet a lot more clients’ needs,” said Stephanie, “and because we have such a network out there, we would be able to support a lot. Our goal is not only to help our farm but other farmers as well.” Besides their Colorado clients, they currently have one in Arizona and have shipped grains to Florida. “We would love to support anyone who wants any grain that maybe they can’t source in their state,” said Felicia. Both sisters say they consider their clients to be more of a big extended family because the distillers support the farmers, the farmers support the distillers, and the sisters support and promote both. To highlight this family synergy, the sisters invite distillers to visit their family’s farm during harvest to
meet the farmers and see their grains being processed. Distillers have the opportunity to drive a combine, tour the homestead their grandfather built by hand, and enjoy a farm-supplied home-cooked meal made by the sisters’ mom, Paulette. To complete the circle, the sisters bring bottles of their clients’ products back to the farmers to sample. “Growing up I would ask my grandmother ‘Am I eating the corn chips that were made from our corn’?” illustrated Felicia. “She would say, ‘I don’t know.’ Having that connection, an A to B connection, with the consumer really boosts morale. When I go to the farm I’ll say, ‘Hey guys, here’s a bottle of whiskey and it’s got what you guys grew in it.’ It gets them really excited.” Stephanie agreed, “There’s an ecosystem, essentially, that I think sometimes people forget. My vodka or my whiskey or whatever I’m drinking, a farmer made it possible.”
For more information on Whiskey Sisters Supply of Denver, Colorado, visit www.whiskeysisterssupply.com.
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hen buying a whiskey that's been finished in sherry, a consumer has certain expectations. The whiskey should be darker in color, maybe even tinged a ruddy hue. There should be new flavors imparted, including but not limited to dark fruit flavors such as dark berries and dried fruit, raisins, and leather. Sherry casks were traditionally made of European oak, which is more tannic than American oak. These tannins help to highlight flavors such as dark chocolate, dark cocoa, and espresso. But as the demand for sherry dwindled, the barrel stocks began to dry up causing a decrease in access to desirable casks the Scotch whisky producers loved so dearly. Their solution involved paxarette, a concentrated wine used for sweetening and coloring that resulted in legislative changes still around today.
Paxarette The oft-untold story of the source of sherry’s famous flavor profile (prior to 1989) WRITTEN BY DEVON TREVATHAN
More than Just Sherry It's a shame that sherry-finished whiskey labels often don’t contain any more information beyond just that. Sherry is a broad term, meant to convey more than one single style. As a category, it encompasses a number of different wines, with each imparting a particular flavor on the whiskey that goes in their barrel. By definition, sherry is a Spanish fortified wine made from white grapes grown in Andalusia by the city of Jerez. Fino sherry, the driest style, is made from Palomino grapes generally, which are high acid. The white wines used to make finos are tank-fermented and then aged in barrels under a blanket of yeast called flor. Exposure to oxygen gives this style its signature nutty flavors. Manzanilla sherry incorporates the same flor technique while aging but is made in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a coastal town in the Sherry Triangle. There are still more types of sherry, but the point is that just labeling something as sherry-finished and not giving more information about what kind of sherry was used has not done much to educate consumers on the individual effects of different styles of sherry on whiskey. Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez are the two most commonly used sherries for finishing whiskey, especially Oloroso. It starts with heavier musts that are fuller in structure than those used for a Fino or Manzanilla. During its production, the cellar master intentionally destroys the flor in aid of promoting oxidation. Oloroso sherries
of good quality stand up well to age, benefiting from decades in the barrel. Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry, has a high sugar concentration resulting in notable sweetness on the nose and palate that’s balanced with acidity. This intense sweetness is the result of a process known as “sunning,” which turns the grapes to raisins. The wine itself imparts a certain influence over the final product, but the type of sherry isn’t the only element at play here. How often a barrel is used and how long the whisky rests inside are also going to be influential in the final flavor profile. In the 1970s, the interest in and consumption of sherry, particularly the sweet, heavy sherries preferred for whiskey finishing, started a notable decline. At the same time, sherry-finished whiskeys were on the rise. It didn’t take a genius to see that the way the two markets were trending, a shortage wasn’t far away. To make matters more difficult, sherry began being transported predominantly in bottles rather than barrels in the 1960s, and in 1986, all Spanish wines were ordered to be bottled in Spain by law. Both of these factors contributed to a reduction of “wet” casks outside Spain. In an effort to counteract this trend, whisky distilleries engaged in agreements with the bodegas; they would produce sherry with the
As the demand for sherry dwindled, the barrel stocks began to dry up causing a decrease in access to desirable casks the Scotch whisky producers loved so dearly. Their solution involved paxarette, a concentrated wine used for sweetening and coloring that resulted in legislative changes still around today. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
explicit purpose of creating finishing casks that the distillers could then use. But there was also another way to get the most out of these barrels, a method that had been around for over a century: paxarette.
The Rise and Fall As sherry barrels became harder to come by, and laws made accessing wet ones even more difficult, it fundamentally changed the kind of barrels that distillers were able to get. Traditionally, sherry was shipped in barrels made from European oak, which grows in the North of Spain. European oak is more tannic, grows more slowly, and has an altogether different profile to American oak. After sherry producers began partnering with distilleries to provide them barrels, they weren’t treating these barrels the same way as they had in the past. Before, Scottish distilleries were able to buy transport barrels, which had often been used at the bodegas to ferment young wine before serving as a vessel to ship sherry around the world. That was not the case with these
newly constructed sherry barrels, which would only hold wine for a short time before being sent off, destined for whisky. Still, the Scottish distillers didn’t have many options, so they did what they could to make these barrels last. After using a finishing barrel a number of times, they would rejuvenate the cask with paxarette. The practice of rejuvenating casks with paxarette is an old one that starts in the 19th century. It was common to get it into a barrel either by injecting it into the wood with pressurized air or adding it by the cupful. This could add new flavor to an old cask or give younger, lighter whiskies more body. Paxarette comes from the same region as sherry, in an area near Jerez that specializes in sweet wines whose vineyards were planted with Millar and Pedro Ximénez as well as some Moscatel and Palomino. In these regions, blending to make different styles of sherry is common. Paxarette is made by combining vino de color, a coloring wine containing cooked down grape must, to Pedro Ximénez as well as other
wine must. This mixture would be fortified and further aged in a Solera system and then used to create blends that would be shipped around the world. Those fortunate enough to have tried sherry-finished Scotch pre-1990 generally say that the profile is quite different. Undoubtedly, this is due to paxarette, because in 1989 the Scottish Whiskey Association banned its use in Scotch whisky aging. Before paxarette’s prohibition, the profile is said to have been more intense, creamier, and spicy. Many believe that the whiskies aided by paxarette were better overall for it, and some are arguing that it be legalized as an aid in flavor production once more. Devon Trevathan writes about spirits, wine, and cocktails for a variety of publications. Her focus tends to be on the science behind distillation and the history of drink culture. When she’s not working, she’s probably at home in Nashville painting watercolor tasting notes or dreaming about the pack of dogs she hopes to have one day. You can follow her @devontrevathan on Instagram and Twitter, or find her at a bar with a Negroni in hand.
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Gerry Rowland of Coit Spirits written by Aaron Knoll /// photography by Niccole Trzaska
erry Rowland knew early on how he wanted to fulfill the unique part of his gin. “If you don’t know how to directly formulate the recipe for a gin to come up with something unique,” explained Coit Spirits co-founder, “you don’t even get to be a distiller.” Rowland’s unique signature botanical is black tea. But that was only half of it. Perfecting the recipe would take him almost five years of trial and error before he got it right.
FINDING THE UNIQUE
Rowland and his wife Linda founded Coit Spirits in 2018, however, gin wasn’t their first foray into the world of drinks. They had been running the successful Napa-based Rowland Cellars since 1991. Under labels inspired by their families’ heritage, they produce over 12,000 cases of wine each year. Rowland grew up in Australia the son of a grape grower. He got his first taste of production as a high schooler when he enrolled in a work experience program at a winery. “[I] got to see from start to finish what was happening,” Rowland said, “cause and effect… vineyard to bottle.” It was about five years ago that the idea to get into spirits began to germinate for the wine industry veteran. “I started thinking it would be fun to do,” he said. “In 2017, I signed up for a class run by four ginsmiths from Europe … that took it to the next level for me.” “The key thing is, ‘What’s your gin statement going to be about?’” he said. “Finding something that stands out differently among the ingredients.” The need to be unique sticking out in his mind, he began exploring a gin made with the deep complex flavors of Earl Grey tea, an ingredient that he found intriguing for a host of reasons. Earl Grey tea is black Ceylon tea aromatized with bergamot oil. This meant the tea had another facet for the gin distiller to capture, or as Rowland put it, “another unique character from the process.” Through several experimental runs during 118
the week-long hands-on class, Rowland got his Earl Grey gin prototype to a place that he and his ginsmith mentors were intrigued by. They encouraged him to continue working on it and take it to market. That he explained, “gave me the confidence that I had something unique and different.” However, a week later he found himself stunned. “By the seventh day it had lost most of its tea character… it had reverted to the regular botanicals in the gin recipe.” Rowland entertained the idea of embracing change in the bottle, like wine, only to realize that spirits consumers had different expectations. With his experiences observing “cause and effect” at the vineyards, Rowland began searching for a cause behind the instability. This search would lead him into the parallel and foreign profession where animal and botanical ingredients have been used for centuries to prolong the scent of complex mixtures. He discovered the world of fixatives and perfumery.
In The Gin Dictionary, David T. Smith describes fixatives as compounds that “bind flavours together to prevent a gin’s volatiles from evaporating.” An aroma is created from compounds which evaporate into the air. When you breathe in or sniff something, it’s those molecules that your nose detects to register a scent. The lighter the molecular weight, the more likely it is to evaporate and be part of an aroma. Perfumers call the act of slowing this process “fixing.” Smith describes a host of traditional botanicals with fixative properties a distiller could choose to use, including “coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, and nutmeg.” “Fixatives are kind of like a key in a lock,” Rowland said.“No one fixative works on every botanical, and some botanicals are stable as they are — like cucumber!” He tried some of the traditional gin fixatives like angelica and orris root, but those didn't work for his needs.
Though common in gin and botanical spirits for their reputed properties, not all distillers choose to use fixatives. Master Distiller Stephen Gould of Golden Moon Distillery said, “They’re just another tool in the botanical distiller’s tool box.” While Gould distills a host of botanical spirits, he only uses fixatives in his creme de violette. Smith added, “Mason’s [Yorkshire] Gin is interesting as it has no fixative at all.” Rowland hunted down several perfumery texts that were available publicly online. “Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have been on the internet,” he added, highlighting one major way the internet has contributed to breaking walls between two professions with a long history of private notebooks and family recipes. “You would have had to work with a master perfumer,” he said. Perfumers have a bit more leeway in their choice of fixatives. Musk, ambergris, storax and civet are not the kinds of things that people eat or drink. Firstly, Rowland ruled out all of the ingredients of animal origin. He then looked for purported fixatives that were generally recognized as safe and FDA approved. Perfumer Josh Meyer who designs under the name Imaginary Authors cautions that fixatives aren’t magic, even to perfumers. “It’s just simply finding things and blending them together to get the desired effect… trying those things out is literally the job.” Rowland tried many of them out. “No one botanical stabilized the gin in itself.” He describes a lengthy longitudinal test where he would distill his Earl Grey gin with a fixative botanical. And wait. And wait. The WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
first one stretched the flavor out to a month. The second one got him to three months. When a third fixative was added to the other two and his gin retained tea character for nine months, he felt he was on the right track. It also cemented his belief that the fixative effect was real. To those who say otherwise, Rowland offers a simple reply, “Make an Earl Grey tea and watch the character dissipate.”
MAKING GIN TEA
Making a good cup of tea and distilling a good spirit have a couple things in common. Proper temperature control is one. However, the temperatures that each process demands seem mutually exclusive. “Vapor [infusion] is challenging to make with tea… cause the tea character brews at about 200 to 212 degrees F,” Rowland said. “So if you’re doing the tea in a basket for vapor, you’re at 176. Maybe white teas or green teas, but black teas you need the heat.” So instead Rowland put all of the botanicals,
tea included, in the still when distillation takes place. This heating of the botanicals had another benefit. “Once you start to get to 200 degrees F you get the Maillard reaction.” This is the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that chefs apply when searing a steak. “There’s a true Maillard reaction of the botanicals in the wash providing a complex natural sweetness so these tea gins are made without adding sugar and yet are still friendly to the palate, putting them in the sip-able arena.” Even after solving these problems himself, Rowland had one other challenge for bringing his Earl Grey Gin to market. “We third-party distill,” he said matter-of-factly before diving into the process he had to go through to ensure his recipe would be in good hands. “I spent probably about six months also checking out all our local distillers and asking them how their stills work and how they operate them to find someone that truly knew what they were doing and would help me be
able to transcribe my small recipe to the commercial run.”
COIT SPIRITS GINS
Rowland built his gin brand entirely based on his expertise working with a temperature-sensitive ingredient like tea. While Earl Grey Gin was their first and flagship gin, they’ve since added two others. Coit Cape Gin uses fermented South African Rooibos tea and Coit Caravan Gin features Lapsang Souchong tea, which is dried over pine wood and has an intense smokey character. All three of the teas aren’t just a unique botanical unto themselves, but have an additional processing quality that adds character. While he began by looking towards Europe for education and inspiration, there was a moment not too long ago when Rowland thought, “The [American] consumer hasn’t been ready for gin.” But now? Rowland thinks America is ready to have its gin moment.
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.
DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES,
WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED
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RUM AGING SCIENCE
PART II (2020 Q2)
WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY LUIS AYALA
n the previous installment, we discussed the experimental design aspect of this study, as well as the environmental parameters and the equipment involved in gathering the data. We also presented and discussed the data recorded in January and February. In this second installment of the series we continue to look at the rumâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s transformation inside the barrel, while exploring in more detail the chemical changes behind the transformation and the environmental conditions behind them.
HUMIDITY IN THE CELLAR As shown in the graphs above, the humidity inside the cellar changes quite drastically from one day to the next, and also during each 24-hour period. Some days the change in humidity is as little as 15% and others it is as much as 60% from the previous day.
TEMPERATURE IN THE CELLAR Just like with humidity, the temperature changes drastically from one day to the next and also within the same day. The average temperatures are inching their way up, resulting in higher evaporation losses in the barrels, along with higher maturation.
THE RUM After four months, the transformation of the rum in the barrel is starting to become more apparent. COLOR: The color is definitely golden and shimmering. The spectrophotometer indicates it is darker than the
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sample from the previous month. AROMA: The aroma has a better-defined “cask” person-
ality. It is easy to commercial rums bean and Central caramel we could of them.
see how similar it is to some “aged” from large distilleries in the CaribAmerica. If we chose to add spirits match the taste and profile of a few
FLAVOR: For the first time since we started the aging
study, the rum is showing early signs of oak-derived complexity and balance. PH: The rum that went into the barrel had a pH of 7.04.
This number is now 5.23. ABV: The ABV went down slightly from 63.42% to
WHY ISN’T THE CHANGE IN pH LINEAR? The abbreviation pH stands for “potential of hydrogen ion.” The term was coined by the Danish biochemist Søren Sørenson, who defined the “p” as the negative of the logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration, written [H+]. pH is the negative logarithm of the molarity
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of H, which is a measure of total ions per unit volume rather than mass per unit-volume. For each one-unit change in pH, the hydrogen ion concentration changes ten-fold. In other words, the amount of acid required to change the pH of water from pH 7 to pH 6 is one-tenth of the amount required to take it from pH 6 to pH 5. Why is this important? Because each day the rum is inside the barrel, the amount of ethanoic (acetic) acid increases, which then leads to formation of esters, particularly of ethyl acetate.
WHY IS THE ABV DECREASING EVERY MONTH? As acids form inside the barrel, the acid molecules combine with the alcohol molecules to create esters. What this means is that, as the quantity of esters increases, the amount of alcohol molecules decreases. If you want to learn more about this fascinating topic, do a search online for Fischer esterification (or Fischer– Speier esterification).
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WHAT’S NEXT? Average temperatures will continue to increase over the next three months. The constant expansion and contraction of the rum inside the barrel will allow it to extract more elements from the wood, and the increased evaporation loss will result in higher acidification and esterification of the rum (decreased pH and ABV). While some of these changes may seem like losses, they are all part of the price we pay in exchange for the maturation of the rum.
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. For more info visit www.gotrum.com or email email@example.com.
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Product quality influencers Raw materials, processing and terroir
WRITTEN BY PAUL HUGHES, PH.D.
he unique compilation of chemical entities that deliver outstanding sensory performance is, let’s say, tricky! Sensory experts in a given category and lay-people alike can distinguish most products that they see and taste based on preference with apparent ease. Exactly how that is achieved is only now being unraveled through a combination of mind-boggling scientific and technical disciplines working together. For a toe-in-the-water (well, less a toe, more plunging up to the midriff in cold water…) try Gordon Shepherd’s book “Neuroenology” to see how physiology, fluid dynamics, neuropsychology and mathematical modeling can be combined to help understand how we actually taste. As we shall see, the sources of these flavors are compounds from raw materials, either unmodified (for instance mineral ions) or, more commonly, after transformation during the production process. The direct connection of raw materials to flavor, mediated by production, has led to a view in some quarters that suggest relatively minor local growing conditions can significantly affect final flavor and product quality. This notion, encapsulated in the term terroir, is ever-more-commonly invoked by food and beverage producers alike, so we will explore its possible relevance to distilled spirits below. Taste is technically a misnomer. Given that what we perceive in the mouth is the classic four tastes — sweet, salt, sour, bitter — together with the more recently described tastes of umami (savory), “starchy” (a discovery from one of my esteemed colleagues at Oregon State, Professor Juyun Lim), and the optional inclusion of pungency and astringency. All of our other flavor perceptions rely on the transportation of flavor compounds to what is known as the olfactory epithelium located above the naWWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
sal cavity. As we hopefully do not bathe our nasal cavity in drinks, this clearly implies that such flavors, if perceived, rely on being sufficiently volatile to reach the epithelium. Now it seems that the geometry of the human head has evolved to enhance retronasal flavor perception (this is primarily “blow-back” during exhalation of flavors that are in what we eat or drink). Animals with longer snouts, such as dogs, are thought to be better evolved to perceive aromas orthonasally (i.e. by sniffing) rather than retronasally. It’s rare to see dogs consuming their food at anything other than breakneck speed so not much chance for retronasal action there. The mechanism of transport of flavors sounds complicated and that is without considering mucus, saliva, time-based evolution, and attemperation in the mouth from sipping to swallowing and beyond. So what about the behavior of flavors themselves? The dynamic range of flavor compounds that elicit a flavor response can range from low picomolar concentrations for some of the most aromatic sulfur compounds (equivalent to less than a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool) to high millimolar concentrations (say 3.5 tons of ethanol in an Olympic pool). For the low flavor activity compounds such as ethanol, small deviations are unlikely to elicit a different response from a taster, lay or otherwise. However, consider a sulfur compound, or a taint such as trichloroanisole, where variation of less than a microgram per liter will have a disproportionately huge effect on flavor profile. Having considered the complexity of flavor perception, I want to explore how three factors — raw materials, processing, and terroir — can interplay to influence flavor in a predictable way, that is in the absence of flavor defects. I’m conscious that immedi-
The direct connection of raw materials to flavor, mediated by production, has led to a view in some quarters that suggest relatively minor local growing conditions can significantly affect final flavor and product quality. This notion, encapsulated in the term terroir. ately “eliminating” flavor defects is a risky and ill-posed situation. Having worked for some years on off-flavor control, I have come to the conclusion that controlled levels of at least some “off-flavors” (such as diacetyl) can be flavor-positive in a receptive matrix. The problem is that control implies managing within a range, which is often more problematic than elimination. Mathematically we might consider control as management of concentration (or, better, activity) to be x < C < y, where x is the lower limit and y is the upper limit for concentration C. Elimination sets x at very low/zero concentration and y at below sensory detection. The latter situation seems inherently simpler to manage, with how it is managed dependent on the flavor attribute. For instance, diacetyl might be controlled by a combination of sufficiently matured fermentations with low levels of
lactic acid bacteria present, given that diacetyl is not readily separated from ethanol in distillation or during maturation. But to nail a narrow range of concentrations can be more difficult. This range of concentrations is an aspect that needs to be carefully considered. Often there is debate about what is or is not a “control” level. Setting unnecessarily strict levels for product and process management adds a burden, and probably resource costs, to the operations management team. So the application of approaches such as six-sigma (i.e. 99.99966 percent of a specific feature to be free of defects) to flavor analyte conformance is, I contend, unnecessarily strict. Of course 100 percent defect-free is admirable, but less necessary for a given flavor than, say, airplane wing failure. Alternatively we can consider the concept of satisficing; that is, understanding what the most relaxed criteria possible is to meet some form of acceptability threshold. How can we manage these flavors? Clearly the industry is well-versed in raw material, process, and final product management. At least for conventional ingredients there is a good understanding of aspects such as raw material specifications, manufacturing practices and shelf-life characteristics. Of course this does require the setting of relevant, reliable criteria for assessment. So what of terroir, a term originally applied to French wine, but now extended to a whole range of foods and beverages? Often discussions of the definition of terroir include the notion that this is a uniquely French term and difficult to define in English. This is a reasonable supposition, given that it is rare that two languages map
It seems that terroir can only reliably apply to products that have a short path from raw materials to final product. 124
one word in the dictionary of one language with exactly one of a second language, so that one word may not encapsulate terroir in English. That is not especially helpful though! Here, we start with the notion that the environment affects aspects of production that carry through and affect the perception of quality in the final product. The original context of terroir was a restricted “environment,” focused on the agricultural effects on grape crops. Of course it is straight-forward to extend this further to any raw material — whether these are the sources of fermentability or of flavor. Soil composition, which for instance famously accounts for ugly duckling acidic wines from the Cognac region that turn into beautiful swans on maturation, prevailing weather conditions, irrigation, drainage, compass orientation of the growing crop, soil microflora, etc., can all be thought of as contributors to the original idea of terroir. We can extend this environmental idea to include the maturation environment of aged spirits, in particular whiskies, tequilas, and brandies. We can even include starka, wood-matured vodka, in this list. The relevance here is that the maturation environment is in principle much less prone to process dilution than raw material qualities as it is an activity much closer to the final product. We will come back to this later, but the potential role of maturation as an additional aspect of terroir needs further consideration. The maturation environment is under arbitrarily fine control by the producer. Management of the ambient conditions, such as humidity, temperature, and air changes will all affect evaporative losses from any semi-permeable container such as a barrel. There is also an overlay of the temporal parameters that can potentially affect the maturation trajectory, such as atmospheric pressure changes and temperature cycling. Initial work at the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, utilizing their model warehouse, showed that daily shifts in warehouse temperatures were substantially dampened by the insulating properties of wood. So for instance a 10°C daily ambient temperature swing resulted in a modest 1°C temperature
swing in the contained liquid. Oak is a very good insulator. However, seasonal drifts of temperature/pressure profiles, especially outside of the tropics, might be important over a period of years. This is research that I’m sure is ongoing for at least some of the matured spirits sectors. Overall the concept of terroir for distilled spirits is one that I find troubling. The original source of the term terroir, coming from the French wine industry makes a certain amount of sense: Minimal raw material processing (crushing, perhaps washing) then fermentation and aging. In contrast if we try to apply terroir to, let’s say, gin, we can generally state that the alcohol, being neutral spirit, has had the terroir beaten out of it. In fact, gin might be the pathologically worst case given that the provenance of the alcohol source is by definition diverse and the botanicals have a wide range of generally short supply chains. Spanish or Albanian juniper for gin might suggest terroir, but as yet this has not been communicated to the consumer. Therefore, I think the major difficulty with the concept of distilled spirit terroir is the relative complexity of production and control. Of these controlling processes, distillation allows for at least the partial manipulation of composition, with maturation further masking the sensory attributes — color and flavor — of the final product. It seems that terroir can only reliably apply to products that have a short path from raw materials to final product, such as traditional wine production, and pulque, a naturally fermented agave sap. As we add additional processing steps we corrupt any terroir information. Both distillation and maturation contribute to this sensory corruption and make the terroir case for spirits difficult. Terroir is an attractive concept to distinguish a brand or category. Whether this is a feasible sensory construct over and above marketing and promotional campaigns remains to be seen. 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. WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
THE CRAFT BEHIND COLLABORATION WRITTEN BY RICH MANNING /// PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MOUNT MANSFIELD MAPLE PRODUCTS
FEW SPIRITS AND MOUNT MANSFIELD MAPLE COMPANY SET THE STANDARD FOR A BURGEONING CATEGORY Not all food and drink pairings happen at a table. In this ongoing series, we explore how the collaborative efforts of an artisan food producer and a craft distillery can not only yield unique, remarkable products, but also bring passionate, creative minds together for the purpose of producing something special. In this issue, we explore how a craft distillery in Illinois and a craft maple syrup producer in Vermont are setting the standard in an increasingly expanding category.
TOP Chris White of Mount Mansfield Maple Products BOTTOM
Paul Hletko of FEW Spirits
PHOTO BY @APARTMENT_BARTENDER
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rom a visual standpoint, the headquarters of FEW Spirits and Mount Mansfield Maple Products look precisely as you might hope. FEW Spirits’ black smudged brick building is tucked in the back corner of a dead-end alleyway, a slice of urban industrialism in the city of Evanston, a popular Chicago suburb. It’s rugged and burly, like the set piece of a David Simon drama, and it naturally readies the palate for a session of distilled excellence. Mount Mansfield’s Winooski, Vermont facilities are also tucked into an industrial block, but they’re surrounded by neatly trimmed greenbelts and colorful trees. It’s bucolic and calming yet workmanlike, like a Kincade filtered through Rockwellian Americana, and it adds a sense of warm comfort to the line of maple syrups they create. Step inside either facility and you’ll sense intangible qualities undetected from the disparate exteriors: Passion. Care. Creativity. These qualities form the soul of a barrel-sharing program between these award-winning brands. They’re easy enough to detect by following the
collaborative process: FEW sends Mount Mansfield bourbon, rye, single malt, and gin barrels so they can make barrel-aged syrups, and Mount Mansfield sends the bourbon barrels back to FEW so syrup-kissed bourbon can be created. The attributes are easily noticed when tasting the fantastic results. Most crucially, the passion that fuels the collaboration also allows their products to stand out in a burgeoning category that, like other innovative culinary and beverage concepts, seems increasingly threatened to be co-opted by brands that prioritize profitability over craftsmanship. “We’re not in this business for the money,” explained FEW Founder Paul Hletko. “We’re in it because it’s art. It’s passion. It’s about bringing people together. That’s what makes collaborations like this so cool. We get to explore, have fun, and create.” “We didn’t invent barrel-aged syrups, but we wanted to make the best syrups we could,” said Mount Mansfield owner Chris White. “We wanted to create something special that makes a connection. It’s why we like working with FEW.
They share the same philosophy we do.” Their shared mission was quickly validated. In 2018, one year after the collaboration launched, Mount Mansfield’s FEW bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup took home gold at the Specialty Food Association’s SoFi awards, a plaudit that’s essentially the Oscars of the specialty foods scene. The accolade shouldn’t be a shock to anyone familiar with either brand. Mount Mansfield’s syrups have landed on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list more than once. FEW’s hardware includes the World Whiskies Award for Best American Flavoured Whiskey and Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for their American Blended and Rye Whiskies, which they took home in 2020. These individual awards further reinforce the notion that each company demands excellence from their own product lines. They also provide insight into why the collaboration works so well. “It’s so damn hard to do these collaborations the right way, so the people on the other side have to be good. Chris and his team are good people that make a good product,” Hletko said. “We could work with someone else to do this project, but we don’t want to. We feel lucky to have that relationship with them.”
Mount Mansfield’s marketing materials for their barrel-aged syrups say they use barrels from “a craft distillery just outside of Chicago.” It’s a marketing tactic that Hletko fully endorses. “We’re really skittish about putting FEW’s name on Mount Mansfield’s bottle,” he explained. “From a brand perspective, it’s not in their best interest for our name to be on there. If it is, then it may get confusing for customers as to whose product it may be.” “We don’t want to muddy the waters as far as who makes what product,” White added. “We want to be respectful of what FEW’s producing at their distillery, and not putting their name on the bottle helps us do that.” The mutual decision to be publicly coy about branding may look initially strange
but makes sense. If you’re an artisan company joining forces with another business to make a barrel-aged food or a food-infused spirit, keeping your brand name the focus of the unique product you’re producing will draw loyal and targeted customers to you because of what you’re doing instead of who’s helping you out. This will allow your brand to grow independently, both in sales and in reputation. FEW and Mount Mansfield’s decision to stay off each other’s label certainly hasn’t slowed down their growth.
FEW and Mount Mansfield were bound together by a barrel-maker. According to White, he was exploring barrel-aging options when his contact at the Minnesota-based cooperage Barrel Mill suggested he check out FEW’s barrels. He did, and they were an instant hit, something White attributes to their design. “The barrels are fresh, which makes them better for aging because they’re not dry or dusty,” White explained. “They’re also smaller, so they tend to age a little faster, about three to six months. It’s not an exact science, though. Sometimes, it’s not ready and that’s okay. We’ll wait until it is. We don’t feel the need to rush things.” Over time, conversations and what White refers to as the “mad scientist” element of craft led to Hletko sending over rye, single malt, and gin barrels while receiving the syrup-coated bourbon barrels back. While Hletko appreciates the value in getting more life from a barrel in such an exchange, the soft nuance of FEW’s syrup-finished product reinforces his belief in the distilling-as-art philosophy. “We’re not interested in covering up the taste of the whiskey,” he said. “We want to paint with that syrup flavor, so it comes across as a flavor within the whiskey. This is a big difference from ‘syrup-flavored whiskey.’” As FEW and Mount Mansfield’s partnership evolves with the exchange of ideas and barrels — there may be more syrup-painted spirit expression in the future, for example — production of their collaborative works remains limited due to the number of bar-
rels available. This means that their products aren’t always around, but according to White, the barrels are worth the wait. “I really don’t see myself resorting to generic barrels in a warehouse just for the sake for increasing production,” White said. “Besides, I kind of like the idea of not having the syrup around all of the time. It makes it more special.”
There is one sliver of irony embedded in this collaboration. While you can find FEW barrels in Mount Mansfield’s facilities adding adult sophistication to their syrups, you can’t find FEW bottles in a Vermont liquor store — FEW’s spirit line isn’t distributed in-state. Fortunately, they have a workaround. “Vermont doesn’t sell FEW, but New Hampshire does,” White said. “So, whenever one of our employees says they’re going to New Hampshire, there’s always someone that says, ‘if you’re going there, pick me up a bottle of FEW!’ It’s always fun to hear.” No word on whether they have to visit a building in the back of an alleyway to get their bottles. Visit www.vermontpuremaple.com or www.fewwhiskey.com for more information.
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Hiring That Star Employee for Your Tasting Room THE EIGHT BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK (1)
Written by William D. Hockett
he reason that customers
great ones, and you’ve hired those
visit you repeatedly, and the
fiery comets that come in with a
“What skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?”
reason that customers stay away
bang and flame out soon after. Is
after that first visit, almost always
it just luck or the law of averages
has less to do with your product
that you’ll eventually stumble upon
and more to do with your em
I like this question because it states clearly to your interviewee that you are
Here are eight strong “outside
achieve that. Applicants need to know that they must bring with them skills
of the box” questions to ask an
that will help their employer to increase profitability.
ployees. Employees nearly always represent the first impression a customer has of your business, and we all know that first impres
in business to make a profit and you are counting on your team to help
applicant during their interview.
sions are lasting impressions.
Their responses will clearly and
Many of you have hired and fired
member of your team.
accurately predict their value as a
employees for most of your life. You’ve had great ones, and not-so-
Key Considerations › How quickly are visitors greeted upon entry? › How warm, friendly, and genuine is that initial greeting?
“What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in business in the past five years?” The reason this question is important is not that you are seeking a perfect candidate — one who has never made a mistake — but rather to see how your applicant ‘owns’ their mistake, and can tell you specifically how they picked themselves up, recovered, and ultimately became a better employee
› Does the service team take an active interest in the customer?
because of it.
› Are the employees knowledgeable about your products, pro cesses, and what truly makes your products unique? Are they able to share their knowledge clearly and enthusiastically?
An applicant that is able to admit to a past large mistake and communicate
› Is the overall level of service your customer experienced stellar and beyond their initial expectations?
the practical lessons they learned from that mistake and how they grew be cause of it makes for your most valuable candidate. Do they hold themselves to a higher standard than they did previously? Are they a better or more effi cient or effective worker due to that mistake? What it comes down to is this: You as a prospective employer need to see that a candidate has the humility to learn and the capability to grow.
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“Tell me your story.”
“What is the hardest thing that you’ve ever done?”
“Can you tell me when you have experienced incredible customer service, and how that experience affected — if at all — how you deal with customers?”
This is such a great question to ask because it is wide open to lots of possible response directions. This question gives you an opportunity to really learn about your applicant beyond the typical surface level of most job interviews.
Their answer can be personal or
The way that your job candidate responds tells you so much
professional. What your appli
about them and how they will interface with your other team
cant has accomplished or done
members and your customers. With this question, you are asking
is not as important as how and
for their story, not their status. This is the opportunity a candidate
why. What were the roadblocks?
has to truly differentiate himself or herself from every other appli
Their answer can also provide
This question allows you to see how your
insight into how the applicant
candidate defines “incredible, stellar customer
defines “hard” and how their
service.” More importantly, it gives you a preview
I like this question because it states clearly to your interviewee
overall outlook and approach
of whether or not the applicant can take an ex
that you are in business to make a profit and you are counting
match the day-to-day challeng
perience from their life, learn from it, and make
on your team to help achieve that. Applicants need to know that
es they will face as a member of
himself or herself a better person because of it,
they must bring with them skills that will help their employer to
raising their own bar of service.
cant. Does their story leave a lasting impression with you? “What skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?”
“What did you do to prepare for our meeting today?”
“What is one thing that really bothers you but that most people don’t seem to mind? What is one thing that you love and take pleasure in that most people don’t like?”
“Up to this point in your life, what is the one achievement you are the most proud of?”
How and to what extent the candidate prepared for the interview will tell you lots about not only his or her interest in the job, but gives you a snapshot of their work ethic, and how this individual plans, organizes, and operates as a professional.
This is one of those questions from out of left field that initially stuns your
If your candidate can only
applicant because it breaks out of the
speak in generalities about their
formality of the interview and causes
preparation for something as
them to possess some insight about
significant and as important to
themselves. Give them a few minutes
them as a job interview that tells
to think and compose a response. In
you everything you need to know
asking this question I have found that it
about how this person will pre
tests a candidate’s authenticity and that
pare for meetings, job tasks, and
it provides some valuable insight as to
obligations once they actually
whether this individual is a value fit for
have the job.
The leader who provided this question suggests that it be the final ques tion in your interview so that the applicant leaves on a positive note. The response will tell you what your candidate values in terms of goals and what they truly value about themselves.
So for your next employee interview session, break away from your triedand-true interview questions and incorporate some of these. I’m willing to bet that you will reap a level of insight that traditional questions can’t provide and you’ll hopefully discover that long-term, all-star team mem ber each of us desperately needs in order to grow our business.
William D. Hockett is founder and president of Critical Data, Inc. — a thirty three year old company specialized marketing, business development, change management, and strategic market research firm headquartered in Spokane, Washington.
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THE SCIENCE IN YOUR STILL W R I T T E N B Y K U R T A . R O S E N T R AT E R , P H . D .
n this article, we will touch on the science that underlies the operations that go into the production of alcohol. Lets dive right into some of the hard science that makes distillation possible.
MALTING, MASHING & LIQUEFACTION During the malting process, the barley is induced to germinate in order to allow for the production of amylase enzymes. These enzymes are key to breaking down the starch, which is stored in the grain’s endosperm, into glucose, which the new plant requires for growth. The skill in malting is to maximize amylase production without allowing the plant to grow too much — thus the kilning step to stop growth without damaging the enzymes, proteins, or the starch. During grain-out style fermentations, the malt (which provides en-
FIGURE 1 Conversion of starch over time can each be described by growth functions.
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dogenous amylase enzymes) is used to convert the starch in the grain completely down into glucose, which can then be extracted and used for fermentation. After all, Saccharomyces cerevisiae can only utilize glucose for the metabolism and production of alcohol. Typical malting and mashing behavior can be illustrated as in Figure 1 below. As shown, this type of behavior is non-linear in nature, due to the biological and chemical rate-limited processes which happen
during these processes. This type of behavior is very common in many biological systems, in fact, as reaction rates are often limited by substrate concentrations, enzyme functionality, probability of substrate contacting the enzyme and actually reacting, and other factors. Non-linear growth or decay can be described using a mathematical power function, as shown in the figure, with time on the x-axis, and substrate or product on the y-axis. The regression coefficients (A and B) positive for the case of growth, and negative constants (primarily D) for the case of decline. Every system in the real world will verted n o C have different emB Starch e m pirical coefficients, i t Y=A* even if your distillery is set up similarly to another, as these depend on a multitude of specific factors at your facility, includUncon ing hybrids or cultiverted vars of grain used, Starch Y=C*t growing conditions ime -D for that year, properties and quantity of water used, pro-
Glucose Present Y=A*time-B
FIGURE 2 Conversion of glucose into yeast cells (propagation) or into alcohol (fermentation) over time can be described by a logistic growth function, while glucose depletion can be described using a growth function with a negative regression constant.
Quantity of Alcohol -orQuantity of Yeast Cells Y=Yo*eμt Growth Phase
Time upon your needs. For companies that use grain-in style fermentations, whether they use endogenous enzymes (via the malt) or exogenous enzymes (purchased from a supplier), the starch in the cereal grain must be converted via mashing/liquefaction in order to produce glucose which can then be fermented into alcohol. This happens a bit differently for grain-in fermentations, though, as the glucose is not extracted prior to fermentation, so the fermenter will contain all of the fermentable and non-fermentable materials in the cereal grain used. These non-fer-
cessing temperatures used, equipment and process settings used, other inhibiting compounds, etc. If this information is important to your company, then you will have to determine the regression constants for your specific system by collecting data over time, and then conducting non-linear regression. Excel has a lot of capabilities for estimating these types of trendlines. But bear in mind that these will change over time due to changes in the variables listed above. You may need to benchmark each of your key processes every year, or perhaps every month or week, depending
Rectifying System Stripping System
Mole % Alcohol in Vapor
Azeotrope – 194.4 Proof Anhydrous Alcohol
urve rium C Equilib sis Analy Tray Line ting a r e Op
Mole % Alcohol in Liquid
mentable materials include proteins, lipids, fiber, minerals, non-starch polysaccharides, as well as beta-glucans and other potentially inhibitory compounds. The non-linear trends shown in Figure 1 are still applicable for describing mashing and liquefaction processes. But the regression constants will differ from those mentioned above. Again, if it is important that you know these so that you can make predictions about your processes and how to optimize them, you will have to invest time into collecting data and doing statistical analyses.
PROPAGATION & FERMENTATION When considering the biochemistry of fermentation (whose primary goal is to produce alcohol), or propagation (where you are trying to grow yeast cells, so that you can use them for downstream fermentation), the yeast metabolism can mathematically be described the same way — with a logistic growth curve, as shown in Figure 2. This figure also shows that the depletion of glucose can be modeled using a growth function, as we described above for malting, mashing, and liquefaction. Note with this type of equation, the number of yeast cells or the alcohol present will each depend on the Yo, which is the original quantity placed in the bioreactor, as well as the specific growth rate (μ, which has units of 1/time). The regression constants for propagation vs. fermentation will be different, however, and again, will have to be determined at your facility for your specific situations. FIGURE 3 Typical analysis for a continuous distillation column. The more trays in the column, the greater the potential for concentrating alcohol in the column.
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DISTILLATION Distillation, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated than the biochemical reactions discussed above. This is true whether your still is a batch system or a continuous column. To model the behavior of distillation, you must utilize thermodynamics. The operating line for a column still is a function of many variables, including the height and width of the column structure, the flow rate of steam and flow rate of beer being injected, the locations of those injection points, the pressure and temperature inside the distillation column, and the reflux ratio. In order to understand the operation of the still, you will have to do a mole mass balance on the vapor and liquid phases of the water and alcohol, and this will change as you move up the column, tray-by-tray, as shown in Figure 3. As you move up the column, the alcohol concentration in the vapor phase will become greater, but so will the alcohol in the liquid phase. Ultimately, you will not be able to concentrate the alcohol any further
in your column as you achieve the spirit point. Most often, you will not be able to reach 194.4 proof, which is known as the azeotrope for ethanol — that can only be achieved using some other type of dehydration system. In the stripping portion of distillation, you will be separating water and the non-fermentable solids from alcohol and water.
SEPARATION Separating water from your non-fermentable solids (i.e., both suspended and dissolved solids) is often done in order to concentrate the wet cake into a form which can be sold to livestock producers. As we have discussed in previous articles, this can be done using a variety of equipment, including screens, filter presses, centrifuges, and other equipment. Ironically, each of these approaches to dewatering can be modeled using the mathematics shown in Figure 1, where the x-axis is time, but the y-axis could be a number of key variables that you might be interested in, such as fi-
nal water level, efficiency of water removal, or even solids in the stillage stream. The math is the same, even though the application is different.
Indeed, making alcohol is an art, but in fact there is a lot of science that lies beneath this art. Why should you care about this science, and the math that can be used to describe the chemical, biological, and physical reactions that take place? Because measuring your processes and modeling their behavior (even using simple trendlines in Excel) can help you benchmark, improve, and optimize your various unit operations, and you can have the ability to predict processing behavior. This does take an investment of time and effort, but can reap many dividends in the long run. Good luck with your calculating!
Kurt A. Rosentrater, Ph.D. is with the Distillers Grains Technology Council in Ames, IA. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (515) 294-4019.
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REGIONAL RE-BRANDING DIXIE VODKA PROVIDES A NEW TAKE ON SOUTHERN SIPPING WRITTEN BY RICH MANNING /// PHOTOS PROVIDED BY DIXIE VODKA
ometimes, you need to fight branding to create solid brand awareness. This may sound like a contradiction. After all, a catchy name or a funky bottle shape can draw attention or create a conversation around your craft spirit. But that’s not what we’re talking about. The battle that occasionally must be waged concerns the geographic branding that builds a city or region’s reputation or colors their public perception. It’s the type of labeling that can often set viscous boundaries around creativity that are tricky to penetrate. Those that attempt to break through may find themselves covered in the film of novelty, which can be extremely difficult to scrub off. It takes careful planning to emerge on the other side. Matti Antilla chose to engage in such a battle when he launched Dixie Vodka in 2014 through his craft-driven distilling company Grain & Barrel Spirits. Produced in Charleston, South Carolina, Dixie is a low-country tentpole of southern heritage.
On its own, the city of Charleston is all about rum and whiskey. Expanded to the Deep South, its brand becomes part of bourbon and moonshine country. Either way, vodka isn’t supposed to come from here. Sure, Tito’s demonstrated vodka could come from unique places. But Tito’s comes from Austin, the Berkeley of Texas, and the city’s celebrated unorthodoxy makes vodka production there feel somewhat on-brand. Charleston doesn’t have this cachet with the casual observer, who may view it as a city built around southern charm and massive antebellum structures. This left Antilla with a mission: To convince people that Dixie was a contemporary southern vodka. This took a commitment to use Dixie to help highlight the region’s strong, modern embrace of craft and epicurean innovation, a concept he refers to as a New Southern Renaissance. “Charleston’s the epicenter of southern craft,” he said. “There’s still a sense of pride and heritage, but this is balanced
by a strong sense of innovation and experimentation that moves things forward. With Dixie, we wanted to be a craft brand that helped draw a bridge between the two worlds.”
Careful market strategy and development defines Antilla’s career, although the skill has not always been used to grow booze awareness. Prior to jumping into the spirits industry, he was an analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. A chance company assignment sent him to Brazil, and he was there long enough to become immersed in the country’s relaxed culture and get introduced to cachaca, the country’s national spirit. A career change was inevitable. He launched Cabana Cachaca in the U.S. in 2006, fueled by a passion to share a bottled version of the Brazillian ethos that compelled him to leave the investment banking world behind. It wasn’t an easy task — the brand hit the market at a time when not too many
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“When we started people in the states knew what cachaca was and even fewer people knew what it was used for. Despite this, Cabana landed national distribution within a year. Sharing the ethos of the New Southern Renaissance, where old-school heritage intersects with modern craft, is paramount to Dixie’s strategy. The brand is unapologetic about its roots. You can’t get much more southern than slapping the word “Dixie” on a label. Go to Dixie’s website and you’ll be greeted with “Yes, Sir” and “No, Ma’am” buttons on their age verification prompt. If you’ve spent even a lick of time in the South, you know the significance of such verbiage. While nods to tradition are outwardly present, regional craftsmanship forms the soul of the juice. This is best represented by Dixie’s quintet of flavored vodkas: Black pepper, wildflower honey, citrus, mint, and peach. Each iteration focuses on ingredients associated with the South, and they’re chiefly sourced from appropriate locales. For instance, Antilla sources his peaches from Macon, GA and his mint from Louisville, KY. More importantly, Antilla only works with those that align with his own passion for southern craft. “We didn’t want to add flavors just for the sake of adding flavors,” Antilla said. “We had to find the right partner that could help us tell a genuine story about what’s happening in the region.” This approach resulted in an interesting sequence of release dates. Dixie’s peach vodka was the most recent flavor launched, even though peaches are the South’s most iconic fruit. The strategy has also produced
stories with extra layers of goodness. Part of the proceeds from each bottle of Dixie’s Wildflower Honey Vodka sold goes to The Bee Cause Project, a honeybee protection non-profit launched by Dixie’s honey-harvesting purveyor Savannah Bee Company. “It’s the perfect marriage of local ingredients and non-profit aid to promote awareness of a cause,” Antilla said.
Before Antilla could sell the country on regional craft vodka from South Carolina, he had to sell the region first. Without this, there’d be no point in going nationwide. One of the tactics he used was to encouraged people to think outside the box. Or, more specifically, outside the category. “When we started building relationships with regional consumers, we wanted them to think about Dixie like they may think about craft beer, in a regional or local sense,” he said. “That way, when they were in a city and saw our bottle on a bar or [in] a store, they’d identify it as a label they could call their own.” It worked. The region embraced Dixie and national recognition gradually spread. In 2019, Dixie’s Black Pepper Vodka picked up a “best flavored vodka” award at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The brand was also asked to be a sponsor for NASCAR that same year, a fitting national endorsement since stock car racing’s left-turning roots circle back to the Carolinas’ bootlegging heyday. As Dixie’s star continues to rise, Antilla still attributes the brand’s regional approach as key to its growing success. “You may have a great idea, but the market may not be
building relationships with regional consumers, we wanted them to think about Dixie like they may think about craft beer, in a regional or local sense. That way, when they were in a city and saw our bottle on a bar or [in] a store, they’d identify it as a label they could call their own.” ready just yet,” he said. “That’s why working with the locals and building relationships with them are so important. They’ll give you the time you need to get your idea right, so you’ll be ready to tell the story you want to tell at the right time.” That’s especially the case if the tale you plan on telling goes beyond the contents of the bottle.
Dixie Vodka is located Charleston, South Carolina. For more information visit www.dixievodka.com.
Prairie Malt proudly supports and supplies distillers of all sizes and specialties. With an uncompromising commitment to quality and consistency, we use our global reach to help you craft world-class spirits. Learn more at www.prairiemalt.com or call 1-800-669-MALT
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the IMPACT of the
Exploring Contact Time and Dosage Rate to Achieve Targeted Sensory Results
HIGH PROOF SERIES OAK ALTERNATIVES in WHISKEY
WRITTEN BY ANDREW WIEHEBRINK
uring an era of innovation, oak alternatives are becoming an important tool for spirit maturation. Oak-alternative products may be toasted using different types of technology to impart traditional oak flavors or offer new flavors. They are also versatile in application, with numerous product formats and configurations available that may be applied to spirits during maturation or finishing to achieve a desired organoleptic profile. This experiment explores the High Proof Series of oak alternatives developed by Oak Solutions Group for the spirits industries.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN This experiment measures the impact of four oak-alternative products applied as a finishing process. Finishing is a technique utilized post-maturation to add specific nuances or enhance the impact of the initial maturation period. In most circumstances, finishing is accomplished by introducing aged spirit to specific barrels or barrel alternatives for a time period determined by the producer — usually less than a year with American whiskeys. The oak alternative products evaluated in this experiment offer four different flavor targets. Products include: Sweet Shoppe
Each of these products is available in different configurations to fit different types of aging vessels. For the purposes of the experiment, Barrel Inserts and Oak Flavoring Stix were used. Barrel Inserts are threaded on a food grade LDPE (low-ensity polyethylene) rod. Each insert measures 28x2.5x0.375 inches. The number of inserts, typically seven to ten, depends on desired dosage. Oak Flavoring Stix have 17 sections, each containing two eight inch by 1.25 feet by 0.375 inch pieces. The sections are separated and wrapped in mesh and easily adhere to a bung with an attached wire and screw. To evaluate the influence of the oak-alternative products in terms of 1) contact time and 2) dosage rate, the experiment was set up as follows using a total of 78 used whiskey barrels, all 53-gallon capacity: 6 control barrels with no oak alternative products added Barrels with Sweet Shoppe products
> 6 barrels dosed at 6 g/L (5 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed at 12 g/L (10 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed with 1 quantity of oak flavoring stix at 7.65 g/L Barrels with Spice Rack products > 6 barrels dosed at 6 g/L (5 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed at 12 g/L (10 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed with 1 quantity of oak flavoring stix at 7.65 g/L Barrels with Rickhouse products > 6 barrels dosed at 6 g/L (5 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed at 12 g/L (10 stave inserts) > 6 barrels dosed with 1 quantity of oak flavoring stix at 7.65 g/L Barrels with Charred Barrel products > 6 barrels dosed at 6 g/L (5 barrel inserts) > 6 barrels dosed at 12 g/L (10 barrel inserts) > 6 barrels dosed with 1 quantity of oak flavoring stix at 7.65 g/L
One hundred and eight barrels were filled at the participating distillery on December 5, 2018 with an entry proof of 72.85 percent ABV. The 100 percent corn mash bill was an eight-year-old Canadian whiskey distilled to 94 percent. Samples were taken from each barrel every two weeks. These whiskey samples were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS) to measure the presence of key compounds extracted from the oak products that are influential to oak perception: Vanillin
In this report, the data is presented in graphs as a percent of the average. First, an average concentration was calculated for each compound. This was obtained by summing the concentrations from all samples in the experiment and dividing by the number of samples. Next, the compound concentration of each individual sample in a data set was divided by the previously calculated average.
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250% 200% 150%
100% 50% 0%
4-ethyl-guaiacol AND DISCUSSION eugenol RESULTS
PRODUCTcis EVALUATION / CONTACT lactone guaiacol TIME trans lactone The first section of data presented focuses on the GCMS analysis for each of the four products and compares the results at two, four, and six weeks CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 6WK of contact time to the control. Spice 12GL 4WK
Spice 12GL 2WK
Sweet Shoppe Figure 1. Sweet Shoppe progression analysis
This product was developed to focus on confectionary characters, including caramel, vanilla and candied fruit, as well as rich flavor and a smooth mouthfeel. GCMS analysis presented in Figure 1 confirms: A significant increase in extractive concentration compared to
Figure 1 — Sweet Shoppe progression analysis
Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples
100% 50% 0%
Notable spikes in vanillin responsible for vanilla and furanic
compounds responsible for caramel and toasty character.
begin to have a stronger influence on the flavor profile. These compounds will add depth and complexity but will also reduce the perception of sweetness.
Figure 2 — Rickhouse progression analysis
Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples
CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 4WK
Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure 1. Sweet Shoppe progression analysis
These staves were developed to center on fresh, toasted oak flavors with a touch of smoke along with honey and spice. GCMS analysis shown in Figure 2 indicates: the control whiskey. Prominent spikes in syringaldehyde, furfural and 4-ethyl-
CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 4WK
guaiacol trans lactone
A significant increase in extractive concentration compared to
By six weeks of contact time, guaiacol and eugenol compounds
the control whiskey.
trans lactone Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure 2. Rickhouse progression analysis
This product was developed to offer a plethora of aromas and flavors, including baking spices, maple syrup and dried citrus. GCMS analysis of this product in Figure 3 confirms: A significant increase in extractive concentration compared to
the control whiskey. Prominent spikes in both eugenol and isoeugenol, indicating a
strong spice component in the flavor profile. Eugenols continue to increase in concentration over the extraction period of six weeks. Notable increases in guaiacol over the control whiskey. The
presence of this compound suggests a slightly smokey character will be extracted using this product.
guaiacol, which indicate a broad range of added flavor. Specifically, this signifies the addition of woody, smokey, and
toast characters. This product is high impact in the first four weeks of contact
time. Sensory analysis is important to find the right balance. Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples
Figure 3 — Spice Rack progression analysis furfural
Mg/L as a Percent AverageSamples of Collected Samples Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected
150% 300% 100% 250% 50% 200%
vanillin trans isoeugenol
4-ethyl-guaiacol cis lactone
eugenol trans lactone
cis lactone CTRL 6WK Spice guaiacol 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK Spice 12GLtrans 4WK lactone 6WK Spice 12GL 6WK Figure 2. Rickhouse CTRL progression analysis Spice 12GL 4WK
Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure 3. Spice Rack progression analysis WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples
This product was developed to mimic some of the key flavor characteristics of a charred American oak barrel, including fresh oak, lactones, and estery characters. GCMS analysis presented in Figure 4 shows: A moderate overall impact compared to the control whiskey. An increase in cis lactone during the first weeks of contact time
followed by a slight reduction at six weeks. A prominent increase in eugenol, which signifies the addition of
spice character to the whiskey. A low impact in the other lignin and hemicellulose-derived
compounds such as furfural and vanillin, matching the mellow overall oak impact desired for this product.
This experiment also explored how dosage rate of the oak products impacted the finished product. Figure 5 presents the data for the Spice Mg/L asproduct a PercentatAverage of Collected Samples Rack six weeks of contact time. Three different dosage rates were used: 6 g/L, 12 g/L and furfural one set of barrels dosed with a single oak 300% flavoring stix 7.65g/L. syringealdehyde vanillin 250% Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples
furfural 5-methyl-furfural trans isoeugenolof exThe syringealdehyde dosage rate had a noticeable effectvanillin on the progression 250% 50% 200% 0% tractive concentration.
furfural Figure 4 — Charred250% Barrel progression analysis
Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples syringealdehyde 200% Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Samples vanillin 150%
100% 250% 50% 200% 0% 150% 100%
CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 4WK
Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure Spice Rackvalidated progression analysis as a useful tool to differThis3.experiment oak alternatives entiate and distinguish base whiskeys or other matured distilled spirits. By utilizing finishing techniques such as those described in this document, producers can create multiple products, with very different flavor profiles, utilizing a single liquid stream. This experiment also confirmed this can be done in a short period of time. All products performed as intended. The first three products (Sweet Shoppe, Rickhouse and Spice Rack) delivered significant amounts of targeted flavor compounds, while the Charred Barrel product remained versatile, not targeting a specific flavor but rather bringing balanced additional oak impact to the base whiskey. The data also exhibits the significance of contact time and dosage rate as critical considerations to developing the organoleptic profile of a spirit during finishing. The amount of contact time between the product and the spirit
will lead to different nuances in the spirit. > A longer contact time is not necessarily proportional to a
larger increase in extractive concentration. 136
trans isoeugenol eugenol trans lactone eugenol
Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure 4. Charred Barrel progression analysis CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 4WK
Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL 2WK
Figure 4. Charred Barrel progression analysis Dosage Rate Figure 5 — Dosage rate comparison for Spice Rack at six weeks Mg/L as a Percent Average of Collected Mg/L as a Percent AverageSamples of Collected Samples
Mg/L as asyringealdehyde Percent Average of Collected Samples vanillin 250% 200%
Figure 3. Spice Rack progression analysis
CTRL 6WK Spice 12GL 4WK
lactonestix application provides guaiacol The oakcis flavoring the second largest 4-ethyl-guaiacol eugenol increase, thereby indicating the increased surface area of this trans lactone product in contact with the whiskey a significant effect on CTRL 6WK Spicehas 12GL 6WK cis lactone guaiacol Spice 12GL 2WK Spice 12GL 4WK flavor development. trans lactone
cis lactone 4-ethyl-guaiacol
100% The barrel insert application at 12 g/L provides largest 5-methyl-furfural 4-ethyl-guaiacol eugenol trans the isoeugenol 50% increase in extractive concentration. 0%
trans isoeugenol vanillin
250% 50% 200% 0%
trans isoeugenol vanillin
100% 50% 0%
cis lactone 4-ethyl-guaiacol CTRL 6WK
12GL 4WK cisSpice lactone
trans isoeugenol eugenol trans lactone eugenol Spice 12GL 6WK Spice 2WK trans12GL lactone
Figure 5. Dosage rate comparison forSpice Spice Rack at six weeks CTRL 6WK 12GL 6WK Spice 12GL Spice 12GL > During application the 4WK sensory impact will2WK change from
to week, and certain products will induce changes more Figure 5.week Dosage rate comparison for Spice Rack at six weeks quickly than others. It is recommended to monitor the flavor development process regularly during the anticipated contact time and to remove the application once the desired profile is achieved.
Dosage rate may also be adjusted to achieve the desired result
from the product being used. Oak extractives can be increased through a higher dose rate or selecting a configuration with increased surface area. The experiment was conducted in 2018/2019 by Independent Stave Company and Oak Solutions Group in partnership with JP Wiser’s of Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd, with special contributing efforts from: Independent Stave Company – Andrew Wiehebrink, Director of Spirit Research and Innovation. Oak Solutions Group – Kyle Sullivan, Global Managing Director; Amy LaHue, Oak Solutions Specialist. JP Wiser’s – Don Livermore, Master Blender - JP Wiser’s; Laura Bezaire, Bulk Spirit Sales – Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd; Darren Taylor, Bulk Spirits – Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd.
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Compound — Aroma
furfural heavier toast, sweet, woody, baked bread, slight phenolic acetyl furan sweet, almond, balsamic, cocoa, caramel, coffee, nutty 5-methyl-furfural caramel, spicy, maple furfuryl alcohol bready, musty, burnt, sweet guaiacol smoke, phenolic, medicinal, meaty trans oak lactone coconut, celery 4-methyl-guaiacol sweet, candy, spicy, clove, leathery, smoky cis oak lactone sweet, spicy, coconut, vanilla maltol sweet, caramel, cotton candy, marshmallow, jammy, fruity o-cresol phenolic, musty, medicinal phenol phenolic, plastic, rubbery furaneol sweet, caramel, strawberry, brown sugar 4-ethyl-guaiacol spicy, smoky, bacon, phenolic, clove p-cresol phenolic m-cresol medicinal, woody, leathery, phenolic 4-ethyly-phenol smoky, phenolic 4-vinyl-guaiacol dry, woody, cedar, roasted peanut eugenol sweet, clove, spicy, woody, allspice, ham syringol smoky, bacon, powdery, woody, meaty trans-isoeugenol spicy, carnation, floral, sweet cis-isoeugenol spicy, clove 5-hydroxymethyl fatty, buttery, waxy, caramel, furfural hay, tobacco methoxy eugenol roasted, meaty, burnt, bacon, ham vanillin vanilla, creamy, chocolate vanillin-d3 vanilla, minty methyl vanillate warm, spicy, vanilla, carnation ethyl vanillate phenolic, burnt, smoky, powdery, metallic syringaldehyde sweet, woody, creamy, cocoa, green, fresh coniferyl aldehyde cinnamon, woody
THEY AREN’T JUST MAKING SPIRITS ANYMORE...
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IT'S TIME FOR APPELLATION WRITTEN BY HARRY HALLER
rogress does not always mean moving forward. Significant benefits arise from moments of critical self-analysis, and, when it comes to the U.S. spirits industry, such introspection is long overdue. It is time for distillers large and small to turn significant energies towards refining descriptions and standardizing definitions. Why? Because there has been a robust growth of consumer interest in liquor and not as some passing fancy. This turn of attention towards spirits is genuine. In the process, consumers are rapidly becoming more educated and their choices more refined. It should not be left up to them to figure out the pedigree of a product. When it comes to self-identity, the U.S. spirits industry often paints by the numbers. They define a distillery solely by ownership and production size. They define product by what the law tells them they have to. That's it. It took U.S. wine-makers and merchants more than forty years after the French to realize the extent to which an appellation d'origine contrôlée would enrich global perception of American wines, and kudos to them. In 1980 they started the AVA, the U.S. version of the appellation categorization. The closest thing to anything of qualitative descriptive value with U.S.distilleries is happening at the state level. The farm distiller, artisan distiller, and craft distiller licenses brand a business as “different” and “folksy,” but there is a problem. Each state has its own definition. New York requires the spirit be made “primarily from farm and food products.” In Connecticut, the distillers themselves must grow no less than twenty-five percent of the fruit or crop used. In Massachusetts, it's about zoning and land-size. All of which adds up to a massive pile of nothing; at least when it comes to practical real-world applications like helping the consumer refine their choices.
Adding to this mess is the popular habit of calling said regulations “farm-to-flask laws.” Something they absolutely are and yet catchy enough to encourage top publications — from Vogue to Conde Nast Traveler to Esquire to the New York Times — to extol them as such. A shameful misdirection, especially coming from an industry primed for some serious public flogging over the loosey-goosy labeling practices too many distilleries have used for too long. So what should be done? Firstly, manufacturers need to be reclassified. A distillery should be a facility that takes a feedstock, ferments it, then distills it. Anyone buying neutral grain spirit or anything which allows them to skip the fermenting process should be called a refinery. One exception: The title of Distillery-Type would be allowed for places that start with some sort of unfiltered ferment having an ABV of 15% or less. All three have the option to be rated based on how sustainable they are as a production facility. Similar to LEED certification, the EPA's Energy Star Program, and Green Globes, this is an assessment of the distillery as a place of operations and has nothing to do with the product. All products will be grouped by feedstock and production methodology. Please note — the following is an overview. There are a number of subcategories that definitely ought to be included, especially for spirits that are aged. The highest grade goes to spirit made by a facility which grows all its own feedstock, ferments, distills, and bottles on-site. Second goes to those made using local feedstock, followed by those made
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Alcohol Proof Measurement System
Adding Precision to the Art of Craft Distilling
with regional feedstock. If a combination of supply sources is used, the lower rating applies, and so on. An “o” is added if organic product is used. An “s” if more than 51 percent of the feedstock comes from sustainable farming. No one is required to put the ranking on their labels, however, the information will be available to the public. Lastly, creative wording must be curtailed. Saying a product is distilled five times has to mean it was run through the still five times. And claiming something is “small batch” will require the product comes from a prescribed specific batch volume or number of barrels. Detractors may denounce this as too complicated, emphasizing that the specificity and over-reaching simplicity of the initial ranking will require an endless addition of exceptions. They are not entirely wrong. Comprehensive ranking will not be simple. Subcategorization for specialized products like aged spirits must be included. It will, nonetheless, be easy to understand. It will also be far less challenging to navigate than what is presently available. Most importantly, it will provide the growing number of discerning customers with an objective, clear, comprehensive method to understand what they are drinking, choose selectively and purposefully, and develop a deeper, broader appreciation of spirits.
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Harry Haller is a consultant for the food and beverage industry. His main focus is on innovative ways to produce and use alcohol. And the development of high-end milk chocolate recipes.
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It’s Hip to be Square S T I C K B Y
A R O U N D
S K I P P I N G
O V E R L Y
T H E
S H E L F
R E C T A N G U L A R T A L L
B O T T L E S
WRITTEN BY GEORGE B. CATALLO
robably the most fun part of marketing your brand is picking your bottles. The bottle often signifies the identity of that product and sometimes an entire brand. The bottle lures thirsty consumers in; in an instant, it tells just enough of your story to sell someone on your product. It is ultimately your most powerful marketing tool. So that means the biggest bottle taking up the most real estate is better, right? That is not actually the case. Sometimes standing out too much leaves you left out.
YO U R B O TTLE N EE D S TO PH YSICALLY F I T O N TH E SH ELF Think about the core support your brand has from a retail perspective. Retailers who have the largest craft selections tend to have larger spirits sections of their store. Unfortunately, this means space is a precious commodity where the most variety of products needs to be in the smallest area to make effective use of space. This means having more shelves vertically in their aisles. With the average height of Americans ranging from 5’4” to 5’9” depending on sex, these
shelves can only go so high to be effective. In my very limited personal collection of data, most bottles tend to be around or under 12” tall. Bottles that are above that seem to settle around 13-14”. Even that 1-2” of extra height can cause issues and relegate products to the dreaded and inaccessible Everest-like heights of the top shelf. While the term “top shelf” tends to ring as a sign of quality, it is a death sentence to be stuck that high. Your ideal spot for visibility is actually between chest and eye level. People don’t look up, even when they’re not pressing their nose to their phone screen. It is of vital importance to make sure you fit on the self so you have greater odds to land on the shelf at an ideal height.
W E ’ R E NO T L I V I NG I N A ‘90S CAR COMMERCIAL, W I D E R I S NOT B E T T E R An often utilized bottle shape that eliminates the worry of being too tall for a shelf is a squat rectangular bottle. Many of these bottles have a front face with dimensions that are far wider than the width of the side facings of the bottle. Unfortunately, horizontal space is also
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a commodity. As the walls close in, so to speak, with new products coming in regularly, space gets tighter and tighter. It is incredibly common for these rectangular bottles to be turned sideways to create space in a pinch. The wider the front face of the bottle compared to the side faces, the more likely it is to be turned. What do you have on the side of your bottle? Maybe a barcode or the surgeon general warning? Perhaps nothing? Your bottle being sideways certainly hurts the retailer and their ability to sell your product. While that may be of their own doing, it is a very common occurrence that impacts the probability of your product being reordered when it sells through.
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T H ESE PRO B LEMS AR E H IGHLY P R EVEN TAB LE While you have no control over how your product is presented in the market, you can do your best to influence it with great packaging design. Bottle shape issues are probably one of the most needlessly irritating problems that exist in the retail end of our industry. Thankfully it is something that you can be out ahead of. Square and round bottles may be the safest bets, but they’re not the only ones. You have plenty of options to choose from that will keep you standing out in the crowd instead of standing out of the crowd.
George B. Catallo is the “Whiskey Guy” and Floor/ Social Media Manager at Parkway Wine and Liquor in Rochester, NY. He has been in the beverage industry since he turned twenty-one and has worked as the Bar Operations Manager of a wine bar, an Assistant Distiller and Supplier Rep for a craft distillery, and has even hosted a spirits review web series on YouTube under the moniker 'Just One Dram.'
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SENSORY MAGIC WRITTEN BY JASON ZENO I L L U S T R AT E D B Y BROCK CARON
Let us set the record straight.
Sensory is not god-damn magic and it is not only for those with the golden gifted noses of the gods. Sensory is science. Sensory is analysis. Sensory is statistics. Personally I find adequate articulation, a robust lexicon, practice, experience, and validation to be attributes that give sensory analysis true power to drive decisions. Now that we are seeing clearly, let us dive deeper into those three general categories. Sensory is science. This statement could not possibly be more general, but also could not be any more true. Hopefully we are all well-versed in the close relationship between our olfactory system/ nerve endings and our memories. If we are not, well, too bad. Go read up and come back. Or not. Genetics play a role in the olfactory system and the thresholds we have as individuals. So “experts” are not simply gifted by the great lord of sensory, they have a genetic predisposition that is expressed as sensitivity to a particular group of aromatics and have the ability to articulate these aromas in a manner that is relatable and simplified. Another option is they are full of shit, but use that articulated ability to sell you on their “skill.” Much of this genetic and olfactory talk can be boiled down to thresholds. This can and does vary from person to person. One might be able to detect dimethyl sulfide in very low concentrations and from long distances, when another persons of the same sex, race, and age might find this particular aroma difficult to discern. Lucky for person number two, I suppose. Although I don’t believe in luck, so F that. Science helps generalize these thresholds into
the parts per million and parts per billion ranges, depending on the compound. More on that in the following sections. Now, you may have heard someone say that they are a supertaster. That person is most likely an asshole. Look up the history of the supertaster and formulate your own opinion. Spoiler alert: it is genetic and generally linked with the tongue’s amount of fungiform papillae colloquially referred to as part of the taste buds. Personally I find it a bit of a loose science to say the least. Plus it is predominantly associated with bitterness, which does not even begin to cover the wonderful gamut of flavors we can experience. I do, however, find the term useful as a smarmy douchebag detector. Just know where your information is coming from and understand how it is derived. There are trained and skilled folks out there. Sensory is analysis and sensory is statistics. Analytical chemistry is fun. Maybe that is only a theoretical thought to most of us, but it is useful. When it comes to thresholds and/or sensitivity, how is that validated? Technology and the use of control samples has greatly assisted in establishing threshold ranges and determining the efficacy of a tasting panel. Gas chromatography and olfactory detectors have become prevalent tools in many support labs of the big beverage companies. What these machines can do is isolate compounds as they elute in defined concentrations, and the subject can experience the aroma by placing their nose in a detector that looks like a CPAP mask. Now most of us won’t have much access to tools like these and I am not going to tell you to run out and buy the newest Agilent-series machine. That would be silly and exorbitant. I just want to use this particular device as an example of a validation tool. Plus, I think they are pretty neat. They can help WWW.ART ISANSPI RI TMAG.CO M
define intensity and retention time, and some allow the test subject to use descriptors that are recorded in real-time as the compounds elute. That leads me to the subject of descriptors and how that can be your best friend or your greatest enemy. A detailed lexicon is only as effective as how it is executed. If someone says something is smooth you can probably stop listening. What the hell does that mean, anyway? What a lazy descriptor. I’ll save that for another rant. What I will say is the power of suggestion is stronger than one might think. If before you indulge in a particular beverage I tell you it smells like sweet strawberries, the likelihood of you smelling sweet strawberries is pretty high. That is why I like to S.T.F.U. and let myself or others absorb what they earnestly detect. Without the use of tech, how can we have any sort of confidence in simple nosing or tasting? Magic, of course. No, not really, but statistics help. Depending on the panel size and if you are nosing for defects or a particular attribute, there are a variety of tests that prove to be statistically significant and useful. If nothing else, it may rule a test subject out because they lack the sensitivity to recognize a particular compound. If you happen to be this subject, do not take it personally. It is science and repetition. Tetrad and triangle tests are particularly useful with smaller panels. I have personally used or been part of these at small and massive distilleries alike. There are other tests of this variety, like the duo-trio and paired comparison, that have their strengths and weaknesses depending on your needs. It may behoove you to do a little research and choose one that suits your scenario. None are flawless or should be taken as the sensory gospel, but at least it might help to dilute some of the mystery, mystique, and magic out of the whole thing. Always remember the old saying, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” I should give credit where credit is due. There are plenty of skilled and experienced sensory folks out there. These people have trained over significant amounts of time and crafted their ever-evolving recognition and lexicon through repetition and validation. You don’t have to be a master sommelier to effectively analyze your own thoughts and experiences. Sure, formal training helps, but it is just that, training. Someone might appear to have the sensitivity that you find remarkable. I assure you that this is due to a combination of genetics, exposure, and practice. The great ones practice a level of humility and can communicate efficiently to both their peers and those approaching the subject for the first time. So go craft your abilities and leave the arrogant golden-nosed magic to those who stand tall on their soapbox with their fancy suits, stupid hats, and ornate scarves. I’m off to organize my scarves and tell someone they are smelling wrong.
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Jason Zeno is director of operations at Porchjam Distillery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Visit www.porch-jam.com for more info. WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM
What Words Reveal WRITTEN BY RENÉE CEBULA
ords are ubiquitous, surrounding us in speech, texts, emails — this publication — but when did you last stop to think about the origins of a word? The prohibition of alcohol produced a cocktail of new words. Historical events often serve as an impetus for the rise of new words and phrases. New laws, new circumstances, new places all require new words to describe them. As we commemorate the 100-year anniversary of national prohibition, let’s look at some of the words and phrases that prohibition served up as well as new meanings for some old words. Let’s start with ‘rumrunner.’ The word refers to “a person or ship engaged in bringing prohibited liquor ashore or across a border.” It entered the lexicon in 1917 when nearly 20 states were dry. Smuggling was easy at the time, with the porous boundaries that separated dry from wet states. When prohibition came to all the states, some rumrunners had become proficient in their trade, but sourcing products became more difficult. Rum running between 1920 and 1933 became an international enterprise. The stakes also increased, both the potential financial benefits and the consequences if caught. By 1929 a rumrunner could be fined as much as $10,000 or jailed for five years. Another word often synonymous with prohibition is ‘bootlegger,’ an old word that acquired a new meaning. Originally it was a nickname given to individuals who hid items in their boots. In the late 1700s, during the reign of King George III, traders smuggled goods in their boots to avoid paying taxes and levies. The word changed again during the American Civil War when soldiers tucked bottles of booze in their boot to smuggle into camp. Fast forward sixty-plus years to Prohibition and the word referred to the making, selling, and distribution of illegal alcohol. It had always implied the lack of authority to sell, distribute, or consume, which basically meant evading taxes on the goods. Not all the new words of prohibition survived to today. “Giggle water” was a colloquialism for mixed drinks and the liquor that went into them. An unintended consequence of Prohibition was increased drinking by women, and the phrase was something of a marketing term aimed at the lady tippler. It gained more traction when Charles Warnock used it for the title of his bar book. On the cover beneath the title is added, “How to Make HomeMade mixed drinks, cordials, wines, etc.” Published in New York in 1928 the book also included “eleven famous cocktails of the most exclusive club of New York as served before the war when mixing drinks was an art.” Illegal drinking establishments were numerous, and so were the words used for them. During Prohibition a saloon might be known as a juice joint, a blind pig, a speakeasy, or a blind tiger. Speakeasy was the most common term. Originating in Australia, it was the word for the unlicensed selling of alcohol. The slang for this type of shop was ‘speakeasy.’ The word came to America in the 1880s where an unlicensed saloon was called a speakeasy. The most interesting Prohibition-era word has to be “scofflaw.” Prohibition advocate Delcavare King was outraged at the widespread resistance to anti-liquor laws. He thought that if there were a universally-accepted and derogatory word to designate “the lawless drinker” it might help his cause. In 1923, King sponsored a contest to invent such a word, with a prize of $200 in gold. King received over 25,000 entries and “scofflaw” was chosen as the winner. That begs the questions, what words didn’t make the cut? According to his obituary in the New York Times in March 1964, “among the losers were such neologisms as ‘boozocrat’ and ‘boozshevik,’ a nod to
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the anti-immigrant fervor of American prohibition. Sadly for King, the word never acquired the bite that he meant for it to have. In 1924, an American bartender at Harry’s Bar in Paris made fun of King by creating a drink named the scofflaw. By the time King died in 1964, his obituary noted that “the word ‘scoff law [sic]’ has lost much of its original meaning, and is now principally applied to those who ignore parking tickets.” The inscription on King’s tombstone reads, “He tried to be helpful.” If you’ve ever tried a Scofflaw — a combination of whiskey, dry vermouth, lemon juice, and grenadine — I think you’d agree that he was. The production of a new word is a story revealing the history of a time period. One hundred years ago Americans were adjusting to a new way of life, life during Prohibition. Today’s historical events are once again producing new words and phrases. In another 100 years, what words from today’s event will still be here? What new meanings might some words acquire over time? What words will go away? In the meantime, here’s my go-to Scofflaw recipe.
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Scofflaw 2 oz. rye or bourbon 1 oz. dry vermouth (I prefer BroVo Spirit Witty Vermouth) ¾ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice ¾ oz. grenadine Dash orange bitters Add ingredients to a shaker. Add ice and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. From a large orange peel, express oil over the surface of the drink. Garnish with orange peel.
Note: There are many versions of this drink. The ingredients are tweaked by an eighth or fourth of one ingredient or another. I think these ratios work but play around with this one. Have fun experimenting.
Renée Cebula is a cocktail historian. Her business, Raising the Bar, connects people to history through unique shopping experiences and interactive cocktail-themed classes and tours. raisingthebarNW.com // Insta: @badassbarware
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