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Sunday, February 10, 2013

American Handcrafted SPIRITS Celebrate Local Authenticity by Philip S. Kampe





The world has had a love affair with spirits since the 1st century. There is clear evidence that Greek alchemists, working in Alexandria, created the first distilled spirits.
It is 2000 years later and in America distillation has prevailed for hundreds of years. The American spirits industry has been headed by the larger houses that mass produce the vodka, gin, rum and bourbon that we have come to accustomed to.
According to the author of the ‘Spirits Journal’, F. Paul Pacult, north Americans have been making spirits for the past three hundred and seventy years.
During that period of time, distillers have embraced homemade spirits.
Large distillation houses have come and gone. The same is true with the smaller, craft houses as well.
Today, a craft spirits revolution is taking place. The craft spirits revolution celebrates local authenticity. The focus is on handcrafted products.
The definition of a ‘craft distillery’ is a distiller who produces less than 40,000 cases a year.
The number of ‘craft distillers’ has grown in the past 13 years, as illustrated below.
In 2000, 26 craft distilleries existed.
In 2005, 50 distilleries existed.
In 2011, the number of distilleries in America crossed the 200 mark.
In 2013, the predictions suggest 350-400 distilleries.
The ‘craft movement’ is here to stay. The growth rate in numbers of new distilleries justifies the hype the industry is receiving.
Thanks to my friend, legendary wine and spirits consultant Chris Corrao, I came into contact with a group of American craft distillers who work together showing their handcrafted spirits to bartenders, retailers, press and consumers.
The group is called “The American Still Life Collection” and consists of fifteen companies, all ‘craft distillers’.
A few days ago, I was invited to a tasting of ‘The American Still Life Collection’ led by F. Paul Pacult.
All of the producers (9) were present to explain about their companies, distillation techniques and to answer questions.
The line-up was simple. Vodka first and coffee liquor last.
The nine selections were hand-picked by F. Paul Pacult. His choices were all impeccable.
Each distiller explained in depth about the products that we tasted. All stories had a common theme: handcrafted and small batches using local products that help create authenticity.

Each style and spirit I sampled tasted authentic and well crafted.
If you are a true spirits person, consider my recommendations when you purchase spirits.

BOYD & BLAIR   Potato Vodka (Pennsylvania)
151 proof, using Pennsylvania potatoes and a copper pot still.
www.boydandblair.com

ENLIGHTENED GRAIN  Windsor Earl Grey//Sage Vodka (Oregon)
This spirit bridges the gap between gin and vodka.
www.egspirits.com

HALF MOON  Orchard Gin (New York)
Distilled from local, Hudson Valley,  apples and grains.
SMOOTH AMBLER  Yearling Bourbon (West Virginia)
An award winning state –of-the-art craft producer who has won numerous awards.

BREUKELEN  77 Rye (90%) //Corn Whiskey (10%) (New York)
Organic whiskey using only New York state grains.   
www.brkdistilling.com

CORSAIR  Triple Smoke Whisky (Tennessee)
Classic craft spirits with unique flavors using copper pot stills.

OSOCALIS  Rare Alambic Brandy (California)
Finesse, elegance and length are created in antique alambic Charentais stills from Cognac.

DANCING PINES  Chai Liqueur  (Colorado)
Family operation using pot stills.
www.dancingpinesdistillery.com

BITTERMENS  New Orleans Coffee Liqueur  (Louisiana)
Award winning liqueurs from my hometown.

PHILIP S. KAMPE









1 comment:

Cosmo G. said...

Cool article...