Posts Tagged ‘craft distillation’


When Craft is Crap

May 28, 2013

Gillian DiPietro, expanding on her role as Nobler Legal Counsel, passed along this troublesome piece of investigative journalism related to the surge in craft distillation. We all know the numbers by now, but they are worth repeating. According to this Atlantic piece, 81 new “craft” distilleries opened up last year bringing the U.S. total to 315. This is pretty insane considering where we were just a decade ago. But as the piece also suggests, with increased competition has come some increased funny business.

The root of the issue being the fairly flexible designation of the word “craft”. The brewing industry has run in to this issue as well, and for the most part has let the small batch beers battle it out over taste and value. But one can never forget, the power of some intelligent marketers. It seems, in one specific example in the article, a vodka being touted as a “craft” and “local” high-end product was actually pretty stock in character. Commodity neutral grain spirit, purchased through an industrial supplier, fed through some charcoal filters, bottled and labeled doesn’t exactly represent the historical spirit (see what I did there?) of distillation. And since those folks were charging a pretty penny for their product, it makes matters even worse.

But the good news is, that’s a pretty difficult scenario to pull off and maintain without getting “caught”. And it’s really only viable as a quick product solution for spirits like vodka. But I tend to agree with the writer and those he interviewed. As consumers, much of the ownership is on us. If we want to drink the best of the best (or even the cheapest of the cheapest) and have opinions on it all, we should probably do the research to know where and who is making the stuff. And I’ve got faith, because the “craft” drinkers of the world, tend to be quite interested in doing the dirty work. So bring on the “craft” spirits competition. The more the merrier.

Photo above from The Atlantic


The Future of American Whiskey

February 23, 2012

As you probably have guessed, I’m not the only one out there who loves a good American Whiskey. Because whether you’ve been following the specifics or not, our nation’s re-birth in the whiskey world is in full-out growth mode and the obsession with small batch, craft distillation has followed suit. It really blows me away to see projections like those in this article from Serious Drinks that predict the number of American craft distilleries to balloon to over 400 by 2015. But with all the competition sure to brew (or should I say distill), I really love the model and suggestion brought out referencing true elegance in the liquor industry.

The Scotch business years ago, much like the current American Whiskey industry, grew like wildfire as the techniques and processes were perfected with local and regional practices taking shape in the form of Single Malts. But as competition grew, and “master blenders” began to tout the beauty of  blended scotch, the single malt distilleries needed to adapt to remain in business. As the article suggests, many of these single malt distilleries sell up to 90% of their output to those same “master blenders”. And the outcome is really ideal for all of us. The pressure to produce high quality single malts keeps the distilleries in business with the blenders and in parallel, allows them to remain focused on their uniqueness; the very thing that got them into business in the first place.

So looking forward, as a number of craft distilleries take form in the states, will a similar model be adapted? I think certainly some aspects will have to. Brands will have to capitalize on the quality of small batches to offer up highly marketable blends to keep a leading edge in the industry. But there is an interesting wrinkle taking shape that may provide for even more stateside excitement. As more of our craft distilleries begin production, more of them are looking to break the mold of what we know as a traditional bourbon or rye. By differentiating from the classic designations, we are in line for some pretty exciting stuff. The times of ordering just any “bourbon” are coming to an end (or probably already have) and we all stand to gain on this one. It’s time to get on board!

%d bloggers like this: