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BUFFALO TRACE "MICRO" DISTILLERY LAUNCHES
Micro distillery designed to increase pace of
the experimental program
FRANKLIN COUNTY, KY -The much anticipated
"Micro Distillery at the Trace" will launch
October 5. The first distillation will be a
special rye recipe bourbon which should yield
approximately five barrels of whiskey. The
plans for the Micro Distillery were announced
earlier this year and the installation and
preparation for the launch have been going on
"It has been really exciting to see this come
together after more than two years of
planning," said Harlen Wheatley, Master
Distiller. "The still is a real show piece.
We can't wait to start using it. It is such a
great addition to Buffalo Trace and will
allow us to be more innovative than ever
The still will be used to further Buffalo
Trace's experimental whiskey program and will
allow for the distillation of new, elite and
ultra premium vodkas. It will also further
the development of Buffalo Trace's organic
spirits selection and will be used for a
ground breaking custom distillation program
for consumers and connoisseurs of fine
The new micro distillery will be accessible
to visitors as part of the distillery's Hard
Hat Tour. "We think it will be really
interesting for our visitors to see the
contrast in volume from our normal
distillation compared to that of the Micro
Distillery," said Meredith Moody, Director of
Marketing Services. "It is just one more
exciting offering we have for our visitors
here at the Trace." Hard Hat Tours are
available during normal distillation season
of October to April.
All tours are
complimentary and reservations for the Hard
Hat Tour can be made by calling
||Respond to Cowdery in the ADI form.
Are Micro-Distilleries Abusing the Title of
by Charles K. Cowdery,
First published in The Bourbon Country
Volume 11, Number 1, February,
We don't know where it started, probably
Scotland, this use of the title master
What does it mean?
In the crafts guild tradition of Europe, the
modifier "master" before the name of a craft,
like "master builder," meant a person who had
passed through all of the developmental
stages, had become established and known in
the field, and was operating at the highest
possible level. It meant the person was fully
proficient at the craft.
Every guild had its own rules but, in
general, one became a master by being
acknowledged as one by those who already bore
the title. It primarily was an emblem of peer
The dictionary says a master is, "a worker
qualified to teach apprentices and carry on
the craft independently."
But master can also mean employer, any person
who has control over others. So the idea that
a master distiller is a distillery manager is
not out of left field, but a plain reading of
the whole term has to include the traditional
crafts guild meaning too. A master is a
person who is qualified to teach in a field
and to practice in that field, unsupervised,
independently, and at the highest level.
In the contemporary whiskey-making business,
master distiller has generally come to mean
"boss distiller," both a supervisor and
trainer of other distillers, and a supervisor
of all persons involved in distillery
operations. It also has come to mean, in very
recent usage, a whiskey producer's chief
quality control officer. That role makes
Most master distillers today also have a
marketing role. The master distiller is more
than a brand ambassador. The master distiller
is the brand's personification.
Today, most master distillers at the major
producers oversee distillery operations. A
few are primarily tasters and barrel-pickers.
We have co-master distillers. It means
something a little different at each company.
But isn't there some expectation that
regardless of what else the term connotes, it
will continue to have the traditional crafts
guild meaning of a person who, after long
training as an apprentice and long practice
as a journeyman, has earned the right to be
called master by mastering every detail of
the craft? Isn't there also, in that crafts
guild tradition, an expectation that master
designation requires recognition from your
ostensible peers, the people who already are
acknowledged as masters?
Which brings us to the people who call
themselves master distiller because they
bought a still and have started a business
they call a distillery, the proprietors of
the new micro-distilleries that are popping
up all over. Who made them master distillers?
What are their credentials? Who taught them?
Where have they worked? What have they made?
What have they done other than write a check
and read an instruction manual?
No names will be named here. There is a case
to be made that if you operate a distillery
you are, ergo, a master distiller. But if we
accept that, don't we lose something
important? Also, there is nothing wrong with
the title "distiller," without the modifier.
Many of these new master distillers are
experienced brewers or winemakers, so they
have some relevant skills.
This publication has expressed reservations
before about the often juvenile behavior of
this young movement, in which people who say
they want to be taken seriously as
professionals act more like hobbyists, or
like little kids pretending to be cowboys or
The really sad thing is, we would love to get
excited about micro-distillery projects and
products, but when we look, to quote Gertrude
Stein, there is just no there there. People
who read this publication would love to
support a good, honest, well-made
micro-distilled American whiskey. We just
haven't found one yet.
So, our question is this:
If you're a master distiller, how come we've
never heard of you?
Sign-up and give your opinion about being
To join the form register at ADIforums.com
in the pink
band at the top of the
||Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey / Lyke2Drink / Kind of a tease
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey to be Featured
on The History Channel
Modern Marvels "Whiskey" Program
DENVER Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, based
in LODO (Lower Downtown), will be featured on
The History Channel's Modern Marvels program
entitled "Whiskey" on March 17 at 8 p.m.
Mountain Standard Time.
On St. Patrick's Day, The History Channel's
new Modern Marvels program entitled "Whiskey"
will take viewers on a tour around the world
revealing techniques and idiosyncrasies of
distilleries in Ireland, Scotland, Kentucky,
Japan and Colorado - via Stranahan's
Colorado Whiskey, cultivated in Colorado's
first ever micro-distillery. The program
promises to provide insight into production
methods, storage conditions, and the
personalities of the distillers themselves.
"We're excited to spread the word about our
distinctive, small-batch straight Rocky
Mountain whiskey that sets a new
classification for whiskey," said Jess
Graber, founder and majority owner.
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey embraces the
true pioneering spirit of the West using
unique distilling techniques (patent pending)
that blend the processes used to make both
Scotch and Bourbon whiskeys. The result is a
spirit with a traditionally Bourbon amber-red
color, but with a lighter, smoother taste
than other whiskeys on the market.
Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey is the
collaboration of whiskey enthusiast Jess
Graber and liquor connoisseur George
Stranahan. Because the whiskey is entirely
handcrafted, production is limited, with
Stranahan's producing in a year what some
distillers make in a day.
Bottles are currently on sale in select
markets and are also available at the
distillery. A 750 mL bottle retails for
$54.99. For more information, visit
Just a quick
note to invite you to check out
a newsletter on beer, wine and spirits:
Mike Sherwood admits to creating "kind of a
tease" with his artisan vodkas.
His two expressions of Sub Rosa vodka -- one
saffron, the other tarragon -- are head and
shoulders above most assembly line infused
vodkas, many of which use extracts and
chemicals for their flavorings. But the fact
that he makes them only one 50-case lot at a
time in rented quarters is both their
blessing and their curse.
The blessing: "These infusions are made from
fresh herbs and spices, hence the true
flavors and natural colors. I don't use
extracts or a flavor house to obtain the
delicate flavors in my tarragon. Each of
eight spices are infused separately for the
saffron, then blended."
The curse: Because manufacturing is severely
limited, the two vodkas are available only on
the West Coast or through vendors located
there. Last month, California joined Oregon,
Sherwood's home state, and Washington as his
market. Luckily for consumers, he's in talks
with a Washington, D.C., distributor to break
into the East Coast.
In his Tasting Notes he said this in addition
to the blog post above:
Limited production and limited distribution
may be the only thing keeping these vodkas
from being the Next Big Thing. Each is 90
proof and infused with fresh herbs and
spices, creating true flavors and natural
Jamie Boudreau of the Vessel bar in Seattle
liked 'em : Since the bottles say that they
are vodka, I guess I've got to believe it,
but I'd want to give these spirits a
different classification altogether, as they
are that unique.
||Distill life in Wisconsin / And 50ml bottles wanted
Distill life in Wisconsin
A Minneapolis man is distilling his own vodka
in a small town in Wisconsin, part of a
national trend of high-end liquor.
NEW RICHMOND, WIS. In his knee-high rubber
boots, Paul Werni doesn't look like a
trend-setter. But every morning he says
goodbye to his wife and three kids in
Minneapolis and drives an hour east.
In a steel-skinned shoebox of a building he
built behind the New Richmond Wal-Mart, Werni
goes to work distilling his own vodka.
"Sometimes I wonder what the heck I got
myself into," he says. "But if it works, it
will be fun."
Werni's 45th Parallel Vodka is part of a
national boom of small, start-up,
batch-by-batch distillers making top-shelf
spirits. In stores and bars for only a few
months, Werni's hand-crafted vodka will make
its first big splash this weekend at the 14th
annual Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience --
a 250-exhibit, $65-a-ticket gourmet fair at
the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"The micro-distilling industry is precisely
where the micro-brew business was 20 years
ago," said Bill Owens, president of the
American Distilling Institute in Hayward,
As a brewmaster and photojournalist, Owens
was credited with sparking the micro-brew
craze. Now, his www.distilling.com site is
trumpeting what Time magazine last month
called "a renaissance of high-class hooch and
hand-crafted artisanal American spirits."
Only a handful of these mom-and-pop
distilleries were in business in 1990. Now
there are more than 100.
"It's happening in the coastal towns of
Oregon and New York and is just starting to
hit the Midwest," Werni said.
Owens stopped by Werni's operation recently
and liked what he tasted -- amid the Willy
Wonkaesque-factory of copper stills,
stainless steel fermenting tanks and buckets
of finely ground corn from his neighbor's
"I'd rank him one or two in the nation in
having his act together," Owens said. "He
planned and built a free-standing building
from scratch and Werni's got the vision of a
craft distillery entrepreneur of the highest
Unique but not alone
Not that Werni, 42, is the only Minnesotan
making vodka. Among others are farmers
outside Benson, who helped retrofit an
ethanol plant in 2003 and poured their wheat
into the wildly successful Shakers vodka.
Owens, however, scoffs at any comparison.
"In Benson, there's a half-dozen workers and
the cooling towers roar like jet engines and
everything's automated," he said. "When you
walk in Werni's door, his dog is sitting by
him at his desk."
Werni has two employees, including his
father. After 27 years as a telephone
repairman and a short stint owning Paul's Pub
in his hometown of Merrill, Wis., Paul Werni
Sr. has come out of retirement to stir his
son's mash, liquefy his yeast and add enzymes
to the concoction.
"I work cheap," the elder Werni said. "I
thought it was a great idea until I realized
how much work was involved. But it's pretty
interesting and I hope he makes it. He's got
a lot of IOUs but he's paying his bills."
His son sold his share of a landscape
business three years ago, pumped nearly
$700,000 into his heavily mortgaged dream and
did his homework.
Father and son attended distilling seminars
in Kentucky, visited startups in New
Hampshire and went to Germany to buy the top
stills and rectifying towers. There were
tedious federal and state permits to obtain
in the richly regulated world of vodka-making
75 years after Prohibition was repealed.
Becoming a vodka geek
Werni picked the 45th Parallel name because
New Richmond, a western Wisconsin town of
7,000, sits just off the line that runs
halfway between the North Pole and equator.
Over time, Werni has blossomed into a
full-fledged vodka geek. He jots down notes
in a spiral notebook for each batch and
orchestrates the whole process, from fetching
his corn at neighbor Arlen Strate's farm to
bottling the stuff one bottle at a time with
a pair of unsophisticated vacuum-pump bottle
He climbs a ladder to dump the corn into a
swirling, steel mash tank. As it runs through
tubes and up into a 22-foot fermenting
column, the alcohol is carefully heated and
cooled so the yeast isn't stunted.
The result is a 95 percent alcohol liquid
that is blended with water until the alcohol
content is 40 percent. A carbon filtering
process absorbs impurities and minerals.
"If you do too much filtering, you're left
with a vacant spirit with ... more of
medicinal smell," Werni said. "The
craftsmanship comes when you try to make sure
each batch is similar in taste. Knowing when
it feels right and what's acceptable for the
U.S.-made vodka has grown into a $10 billion
market thanks to the ultra-premium brands.
All told, the spirits industry is worth about
$58 billion, but big brands such as Smirnoff
outsell the small distilleries such as
Werni's in a week.
Each bottle sells for about $30, and Werni is
elbowing his way onto the crowded shelves. He
has been selling about 600 bottles a month
and hopes to boost production to 1,000
bottles a month.
"There's a plethora of vodkas," Werni said.
"The only thing that makes us different is we
are truly, 100 percent hand-crafted. That's
our niche and that's what we're banking on."
50ml bottles, glass preferable
but plastic would work too. Any amount up to
Call Mary @ Cascade Peak Spirits
Scotland whiskey tour will be May 6-10th. 2008.
--To request a schedule of the event e-mail
||The DSP Distilleries link and how to get a DSP Permit
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