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Issue 99 - The Art of Craft

Whisky Magazine Issue 99
October 2011


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The Art of Craft

Scott Spolverino looks at the rise of micro distillers.

Distillation today is a far cry from its introduction. When distillation first started, it was done as a necessity rather than a luxury.

Completed in small batches on farms to save crops that would otherwise spoil, distillation was by no means an industrial process. Times have changed and distillation has become a multi-billion dollar business. Long gone are the days of private distillers handcrafting product in nigh miniscule volumes. Or are they? In the past 10 years, while companies like Diageo have been growing larger, a trend in the United States has been pushing to smaller.

Smaller volumes, smaller companies, and smaller stills, this trend has steadily grown to the point that it is gaining international attention. Known by many names such as craft, boutique, or farm distilling, small scale and independent distillers free from the multinational conglomerate yoke have been cropping up across the country.

It is difficult to put a definition on exactly what a micro-distiller is and what they distil as well. The easiest way to describe them is ‘hands-on.' Many of the distillers do not have the budget to hire engineers, publicity teams, and lawyers.

Since it is so expensive to start a microdistillery, in terms of both licensing fees and equipment prices, they have to do everything independently and at minimal costs. But this independence gives them the freedom to produce whatever they desire.

An extremely popular white distillate is fruit brandy, known as eau-de-vie. T...

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