In any new and burgeoning industry, questions of definition arise. What exactly constitutes Craft Distilling and how does it differentiate itself from the spirits already established in the market?
For us, craft is the embodiment of farm to glass.
We believe that a handcrafted product should be lovingly executed in an artisanal recipe where each step of the process contributes directly to the taste. No shortcuts or compromise can be made in achieving the product. We must source the grain, mill and mix the mash bill, control fermentation, distill on site, and finish the product in bottles ready for market.
By controlling every detail, we establish a unique terroir product which reflects the original fresh ingredients that went into making it.
Craft is small batch, handcrafted spirits distilled in traditional copper stills. There is a reason that copper stills and reflux columns are an essential component of true distilling. The distillation process creates alcohol vapours which condense in copper stills and columns. The copper and the alcohol react to cleanse the alcohol of unwanted fusels and chemicals – a discovery that has led to distillation in copper pots for hundreds of years.
The growing year, micro climates, specific grain types all yield different taste profiles. So, like premium wines, it is natural to speak of Craft in terms of batches and specific years, rather than as a product of commodities and uniformity.
Like good wine, spirits do reflect the nature of the ingredients used in their production.
In craft distilling, it seems wrong to take shortcuts on creating a premium product by purchasing so-called pre-made ‘neutral grain spirits’, or by using colouring and extracts to simulate taste. Natural ingredients do translate into superior taste, and a craft distiller’s integrity depends on being able to show that it is handcrafted start to finish. Transparency and care stand as key tenets of the craft charter of integrity versus mass production and quick, economic based processes.
Distillers should be able to identify their ingredients, a reflection of handcrafting each step of the process.
While craft distilling is an artistic pursuit, it is also a celebration of innovation and ingenuity. Craft distillers are nimble, able to push the industry on taste and style. It is fun, edgy and expands the boundaries of traditional distilling. Inventions of new spirits, uses of botanicals, flavour ingredients and forms of maturation are all part of meeting consumer desires and the ability of small producers to be nimble and creative. Craft producers honour tradition, but aren’t bound by it – they represent the freedom unleashed by entrepreneurialism.
Finally, craft is local. It doesn’t mean that it is not sold nationally or internationally, but it should reflect the place and the ingredients from its home – a terroir reflection of its local ingredient base. Of course, some botanicals and ingredients cannot be sourced locally, but the core of the product should be the unique taste and ingredients of its surroundings. Like Champagne from the champagne region or burgundy from Burgundy – craft spirits should be a proud testament to the region from which they arise.
Viva la craft – an artisanal movement that is revolutionizing an industry locked in commoditization since prohibition.
Craft Distiller Charter
To be considered true craft, Distillers should use transparency and integrity throughout their process. Here is our guideline to craft:
- Small batch distillation
- Handcrafted through every step of the process
- Must distill on site – no blending or outsourcing foundational components such as alcohol
- No colouring or spirit flavour extracts
- True Copper stills – no makeshift or ‘bathtub’ equipment
- Onsite production
- Natural ingredients
- Core ingredients local wherever possible