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Heirloom Grains

Like a piece of weathered old hardwood furniture that’s been restored to its former glory, distillers are rediscovering heirloom grains and finding that they have character and story that commodity grain just can’t match. Some distillers and farmers are focusing...

It’s Time to Take Ethyl Carbamate Seriously Again

Ethyl carbamate (EC), also known as urethane, is a compound found in fermented foods and beverages. It’s an ester of carbamic acid. It’s also a known carcinogen (cue ominous-sounding music), making it an important compound to know and understand...

Be Safe. Save Money. Build Your Own Lab.

For craft distillers, the key to success in product development and production is to document what you do and continuously improve your methods to help you achieve your goals more easily, cheaply and with the best possible results. Building...

Craft Malting Comes of Age

Why are craft brewers and distillers willing to pay two, three or four times as much per pound for malted grains from small, independent, craft malthouses than from the multinational malthouses? Among the nearly 6,000 craft brewers and 2,000 craft...

Are We Ready for Accelerated Aging?

“There is hope that 1-year-old whisky may soon rival 16-year bonded liquor in taste and smell and at a vastly lower cost. … Chemists are glad Prohibition is over so they no longer have to listen to bootleggers for...

Leafy Lemon

Lemon, like vanilla and salt, is an ingredient so ubiquitous in food and drinks that it is sometimes more apparent in its absence, manifested as something lacking, because it is such a good harmonizer of disparate ingredients and adds...

What the Heck Is Fast Fourier Molecular Rotation Spectroscopy? 

The Distilling Research Grant (distillingresearch.org) Advisory Committee recently funded research into “A Novel Real Time Quantitative Analytical Spectroscopy Technique for Analyzing All the Congeners Emerging from a Distillation Process” by Robin Felder, Ph.D. If you don’t have a doctorate in chemistry, you may be...

Native Nuts: Liqueurs and Bitters

As autumn arrives in America, one of the great seasonal pleasures is seeing a scattering of nuts across a path and looking up to see the tree that made them. Nut liqueurs and nut bitters might seem opposite expressions,...

Math or Money and The Electric Sombrero of Death

Of all the things in a distillery that could spark (pun intended) a fire or explosion, electrical systems and equipment are at the top of the list, followed closely by static electricity and open flames. The solution to the...

“The One Thing I Didn’t Build Myself Was the Still”

It was nearly six months to the day since he had pushed his burning body across the floor to the fire  extinguisher, and Peter Martorelli was about to begin distilling again. With his hand on the switch to his...