Spirit Guide: 10 things to know about craft distilleries

1. Types of alcohol considered a Spirit

There are a few different categories and subcategories of spirits which change depending on the original ingredient and the chosen distilling process.

The fab five of distilling include:

Spirit – Original Ingredient – Sub Category Example

Brandy – Fruit Wine – Cognac
Vodka – Rye, Wheat, Potato, or Alternative Grain – n/a
Whiskey – Barley, Corn, or Rye – Scotch & Bourbon
Gin – Juniper Berries, or Various Grains – Genever
Mezcal – Agave – Tequila  [Alex Reisner]

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American Distilling Institute

2. The distilling process entails

pouring028
Photo by Re:Find

Every spirit is created using the same distilling basics. The fermented ingredient
is heated up and the vapors are selectively extracted to create the desired drink.The original ingredient used (i.e fruit, grains, etc.) is what creates different kinds of alcohol. After that, subcategory flavors of each are created by the varying distilling devices and aging techniques. [Quora]


 3. Ways each distilled item can differ in taste

Lots of these distilleries have their own tasting rooms. Here you can check out all of their artistic creations by sipping on pre proportioned servings.. this way you can try all the flavors, get the background, and hopefully not feel too good when its over.

Vodka is overall pretty tasteless and colorless.. not all that exciting, even with additives

Gin is lightly sweetened and has a fuller body. Often gets a bad rap but check out the varying favors and you might be pleasantly surprised by one.

Mezcal has many different aging processes that give off different flavors. Surprisingly, the infamous Jose Cuervo is irrelevant in these tastings – the flavors can be smooth and even smokey or sweet.

Whiskey can be anywhere from rich, smooth, have a long finish, fruity, or even smokey.

Brandy  rich, full-bodied, smooth, sweet and spicy all at the same time. It can have dessert inspired notes of vanilla or caramel. [Epicure & Culture]


4. The craft distillery come up

There are 769 craft distilleries in the United States today, a shocking number when compared to the 50 that existed only 10 years ago. Limitations include the heavy government taxes, but distillers are optimistic that with some alterations their industry will prevail. [Fortune]


 5. Craft distillers are hopeful their industry will take off

The craft distilling industry is often compared to craft brewing, which gives distillers reallll good reason to be excited. In only four years the craft brewing industry more than DOUBLED their output. Insane. Distillers remain hopeful that if they too can experience a similar market explosion. [Craft Brewing Business]


 6. The industry itself is sustainable

You can actually make brandy out of Pomace, the leftovers from the wine making process! Because there is a potential for recycling of otherwise wasted goods, this process can actually be beneficial to the environment and encourage limited waste efforts. [Edible San Luis Obispo]


 7. The craft beverage market is stable

Because the products have the potential for infinite altering, the industry is stabilized. Consumers are able to be excited by updating flavors so there is never a lull in interest. Spirits made in small batches have completely unique flavors, and if you’re sick of drinking it straight… there are infinite cocktail concoctions. [The Town Dish]


8. Distilling laws have changed in CA

Small craft distillers normally faced enormous government imposed burdens, but are now being treated differently than big named brands. Craft beer and wine once faced the same oppression, but flourished once laws were altered and encouraged production and promotion. With possession of a “Craft Distillers Liscence,” distilleries are finally able to follow in their footsteps. As of January 1, 2016 all distilleries are able to sell up to 3 bottles per person per day, host events at their distilleries, serve samples, cocktails, and have ownership in up to three restaurants. [Distillery Trail]


9. Distilleries in the Central Coast

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Photo by Re:Find

The central coast has seen an influx of distilleries recently. Paso Robles, which is just north of San Luis Obispo, has quite a few including Krobar, Pendrays, Re:Find, Wine Shine, and Red Soles Stillhouse. Each of these distilleries offer tastings and have really apparent owner involvement. Tours and tastings are a great way to gain insider knowledge on the industry, the liquors, and even the passion behind the process. [LA Times]


10. Current amount of distilleries in the US

There are currently 237 distilleries located in the United States. 17 of these are in California, which is tied for fourth place with Oregon, following Washington (28), New York (24), and Colorado (18).  California has 66 certified craft spirits. [Infogram]

 

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