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Issue 105 - Craft Education

Whisky Magazine Issue 105
July 2012


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Craft Education

Liza Weisstuch takes a seat at the conference

Acraft distilling conference is a little bit like sex ed class: it addresses, in great detail, the very unsexy, technical aspects of a very seductive subject. The American Distilling Institute's annual conference took place recently in Louisville. Huber's Winery, which sits on a bucolic plot of land, served as the headquarters for the hundreds of American and international distillers who attended. There were seminars that dealt with the virtues of different types of yeast, others that tackled the thorny matter of governmental red tape, and others that dissected the dos and don'ts of marketing. Not sexy. There were salesmen pedalling synthetic corks, natural corks and density meters. Like I said: not sexy.

But there were also excursions to distilleries, legendary and fledgling. They were opportunities to marvel at giant, glistening, hard-working stills.

There were late-night rendezvous to gab about avant garde distilling techniques and fun experiments. There were people sneaking off midday to taste obscure German and Austrian whiskies. Sexy.

For every rewarding marriage, there are battles over finances and household chores. For every winning political campaign, there are gruelling late nights of rewrites and dreadful Chinese take-out. No victory comes easy, and the most important conference takeaway I detected was that one should not focus on the romantic, sexy side of producing a craft spirit with locally sourced ingredients, or put faith in the Horatio Alger story. Long s...

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