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  1. #21
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Templeton may be a craft product, but Templeton didn't craft it, unless you think pouring something into a bottle is a craft. I agree that the anonymous source did a great job. Templeton did nothing.

    I'm not saying someone has to do x, y, or z to be craft, but as a starting point I'd say they aught to do more than write a check. I've got no problem with someone who comes up with something that tastes terrific, no matter how they make it, so long as they're honest about how they make it and don't pretend to be something they're not.

    The "maker" has to control the process and you just don't control the process if you're buying wash. You're bypassing two-thirds of the process and bypassing the stage where all of the flavor is created.

    A person who runs beer through a still isn't a distiller, that person is called a still operator. Every distillery has a still operator, but it's not the distiller.
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-11-2008 at 23:58.

  2. #22
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    I don't know if some of the Templeton existing bottling (the one that resulted from whiskey apparently distilled at Lawrenceburg, Indiana) was given futher aging in Iowa before bottling. If this did occur this represented additional craft applied in Iowa. Even if that wasn't done, a craftsman selected the whiskey, just as some well-known merchants do in the Kentucky industry whom we respect and all know. And but for that selection the whiskey might never, in the form we know it, have seen the light of day. I fully agree this function is not distilling as such, I view it more as craft production.

    Running purchased beer through a still may not be distilling in one sense, but to me it is, in another. At one time, no brewer who did not malt its own grains was worth its salt arguably; today that has changed because the business has changed, what was once a raw material made onsite is now an input, specialisation changed the emphasis. Beer (beverage beer) brewed under contract can be superb and to my mind is the craft production of the person who designed the recipe and had the beer made and then sold it...

    As for people saying what they do or don't, I'm all for people telling us. But if they don't, I am sure it is for commercial reasons they perceive. They may be concerned about letting too many secrets out of the bag. People look at this issue differently. For years in my studies of the brewing industry and beer styles, I have encountered brewers who will tell you exactly how their beer is made, where they get their materials, etc. And some make hardly a peep. Some in either category make great beers, some don't.

    I don't think we disagree that much since I promote maximum performance of the distilling functions by microdistillers themselves and I think they should be frank about what they do and how but in practice there will be variations on this model and I am good with that.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-12-2008 at 04:42.

  3. #23
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    I guess you're right. My standard is higher than the government's.
    Mine is too. But the distillers is the regulations. Micros can easily create some crappy products and put them in a pretty bottle and sell them as though they are craft. I'm not too worried about this as I feel the market forces will penalize them.

    I think that additional standards of identity need to be implemented for the whole industry. So that if the industry decides that "pot still" whiskey has to go through a real true non column pot still then that should be an identity for everyone to follow. Same for "small batch" etc etc.

    With all the micros coming on, I don't know how successful the ADI is going to be making up rules and identity when someone who isn't a member is only forced to follow the federal regs. They certainly are going to have members who say F* that to certain regulation(s) they decide upon. I don't know how far they will go with their regulations for members.

    Am I suppose to look for an ADI logo on each bottle so I know they follow some level of quality? Then the ADI becomes a brand unto itself and I think if I was a micro distiller I would be a bit wary of this and concerned about where the ADI was headed. How is the ADI going to enforce it's reg? Is it going to inspect members to make sure they are following their rules? Hmmm that sounds expensive.

    I think the ADI would be better off trying to add to or clarify the federal standards of identity if they are serious about high quality craft distilling.

    This brings up the quality of the whole playing field, big and small and gives consumers a standard of quality they can trust when they see a word on a label. Then "pot still" whiskey actually means something whether is comes from Heaven Hill or Jerry's Micro distillery.


    Greg
    "That rug really tied the room together" -- Jeffery Lebowski

  4. #24
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Gary, this is just you being the eternal optimist, and I love you for that, and me being ... me. I wouldn't smash your rose-colored glasses for anything.

    Greg, where I cut these new distillers some slack is the fact that they're new, they're trying to do something new, and I love them for that just like I love Gary. I'm just trying to give them a few things to think about as they find their way.

  5. #25
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    And fair enough, Chuck. Soon we can hoist a few in their honour.

    Gary

  6. #26
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    I think I can see both sides of the argument. I'm more familiar with beer, so I'll use that as an example.

    Over the past twenty years or so there's been a huge explosion in craft beers. Part of that was the brewpub, the restaurant that brews its own beer.

    When brewpubs started becoming popular a lot of really crappy ones sprang up. I get the impression that somewhere someone was selling "instant brewpub" kits, and people were opening them not because they had a love for beer but because they thought they could make money doing it. If the trend had been Tiki restaurants, then that's what they would have been doing.

    Beer from these places was 100% extract and had no character at all. It's was all straight from a recipe book. Bland, boring stuff.

    This doesn't mean, though, that someone couldn't use one of these brewpub kits to produce decent beer, even starting with the same extracts. They'd have to prove it to me, though, and it would be an uphill battle.

  7. #27
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Well, that's it. Once I had a conversation with the late beer expert Michael Jackson about malt extract (a kind of syrup or condensate of malted barley - another short-cut). He said if the extract was well made and fresh, the beers could be very good, but in his experience, it was the rare beer that met this test. We both agreed the beers of the Orange Brewery, a brewpub on Pimlico Road in London, met this test. I believe this operation still exists. Its beers were made (the last I knew) from a custom made extract made in large quantities.

    I think in the end it's a judgment thing about any production process for a food or drink - how far does it stray from the original concept before it loses authenticity (cutting a little slack too though on what is authentic in the Arcadian mists). You have to look at each individual case. As Chuck has kindly noted, I tend to be an optimist in these matters. His perspective is valuable too, though, and I liken it to that of the late Mr. Jackson who used to raise an eyebrow every time a brewer would, say, use hop pellets instead of the whole flowers, or use an adjunct of some kind (at least where this was not part of the style of the beer). I think he once wrote that every time a step like that is taken, one moves incrementally away from authenticity and after a while you end up with something lesser.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-13-2008 at 06:45.

  8. #28
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    I know that I am probably way behind the curve on this, but I just found out yesterday that Guinness is made around the world from extract made in and shipped from Ireland. They call it "essence". That is not what I expect to get when I am buying something that costs that much.

    I remember being fond of Guinness back in the early to mid 70's. Any I have tried in the past 15 years or so has not been very satisfying, even though it seems to generally still be held in pretty high esteem. I had chalked it up to a change in my personal tastes, but now I wonder.

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  9. #29
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    Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Well, Tim, the Guinness story is complicated. The beer you are referring to is Extra Stout, which is brewed for local consumption outside Ireland and even then only is found in certain markets. In Canada, that version is brewed by Inbev/Labatt and sold in glass bottles. It is also - the Canadian-brewed one -sold in parts of the U.S., often in grocery and supermarkets, in pint bottles. On the side of the label it states it is brewed in Canada (New Brunswick I think).

    But the Guinness in the tall black cans and shaped plastic bottles is brewed in Ireland and does not use the essence, ditto the Guinness draft widely available.

    Guinness arguably, anywhere, is not as good as it was. The best versions though, Guiness Foreign Extra Stout and Special Export, are excellent, full-flavored beers and probably represent the kind of taste that was the Guinness signature in the 1800's. Unfortunately you can't get these in North America. FES is widely available in the Caribbean though.

    That said, I still like a fresh Guinness draft, it is still a good beer.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-13-2008 at 09:41.

  10. #30
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    Thumbs up Re: A question for craft distillers? Where's the craft?

    Thanks, Gary. You always have the pertinent facts. I had no idea the question was so complex.

    That said, I rarely drink Guinness anymore, so there is little reason for me to have kept up with it. The last thing like that I had was Samuel Smith's "Tadcaster" taddy porter. Michael Jackson said it was the best commercial beer in the world. I didn't care for it, either.

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

 

 

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