The New Year asks us all to reflect on the passage of time. That won’t be a new exercise for distillers. Making spirits, after all, is a time-based art. When will those barrels laid down years ago be ready for release? Have those botanicals macerated for too long? What can we do now to prepare for what consumers will want to drink five years in the future?

It’s no surprise that some distilleries are applying a forward-thinking attitude to other aspects of their business. In this issue, Adam Polonski tells the stories of producers who are thinking generations into the future when managing their water use. As drought spreads and deepens even in places we think of as permanently damp, like Scotland or Seattle, tomorrow’s distillers will need to be as thoughtful about how they use water as they are about still configurations and label design. The producers in Polonski’s story are showing the path, from repurposing waste whey to create premium neutral spirits like Cayuga Ingredients, to the sophisticated condenser water recycling system used at Copperworks Distilling.

For every futuristic innovation in the world of drinks, there’s a blast from the past, like a cameo from a beloved character popping back in seasons after they’ve been written off the show. David T. Smith dives into the backstory of the latest trendy category, the RTD, revealing its surprisingly long history over centuries of imbibing. Not everything he unearths seems destined to reappear on tomorrow’s shelves — alcoholic milk, anybody? — but we should all know better than to say never.

A new year is also a good time to celebrate successes. For the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, 2022 brought a major finish line into view. The TTB has officially proposed a new standard of identity for American single malt in line with the Commission’s proposal. While the new standard of identity hasn’t been finalized at the time of publication, support has been full-throated and widespread. New contributor Sarah Jeltema digs into the new standards of identity, what they mean for producers, and how the Commission was able to achieve this critical milestone after seven years of work.

With OND behind us and 2023 ahead of us, I hope you’ll find a quiet moment to celebrate your own successes and envision some new goals for the year to come. From everyone at ADI, we wish you a happy, prosperous, and healthy year ahead.

Margarett Waterbury, Editor, Distiller Magazine


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Margarett Waterbury is the editor of Distiller Magazine. Based in Portland, Oregon, she covers drinks, food, and culture for national and international press. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as the cofounder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash, an award-winning whiskey website twice recognized as Website of the Year by the International Whisky Competition. In 2017, Margarett won the Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year award from the Spirits Journal. She received fellowships for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in 2017 and 2019. Her first book, Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland’s Whiskies (Sterling), came out in 2020.