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Issue 122 - Craft Fair?

Whisky Magazine Issue 122
September 2014


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Craft Fair?

Has the distillation world effectively spawned an uncontrollable, unregulated monster

Let's be honest. We all love an underdog don't we? When the minnows of the World Cup pull off that unpredictable defeat against the mighty favourites, or an unranked tennis player totally destroys one of the top seeds in straight sets, we tend to start celebrating with the little guy. In fact, given the rise in fortunes of the world of the craft distiller, we seem to be more than a little obsessed with celebrating independent spirits, maverick thinkers and those who dare to challenge convention.

However, a particular elephant in the room has begun to emerge in recent months concerning the term ‘craft distiller' and just exactly where the boundaries of the term actually lie. As an industry, craft distilling across all spirits has exploded in the US over the past decade. It has even breached the mainstream to an extent by appearing on The Simpsons – Google ‘Maker's Moe' and you are in for a treat.

To use another television reference, this time from Happy Days, has the term ‘craft distiller' ‘Jumped the Shark', been so over used, that it has effectively run its course as a meaningful descriptor of a small distillery? More's the point, when presented by the plethora of ‘craft' whiskies out there, how do we make an informed decision that the juice is actually going to live up to our expectations?

“I really don't like the word ‘craft' as a descriptor of the small distiller, even though it appears we are stuck with it,” thinks Dave Pickerell, distillin...

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