From the Distiller...Three Years In

I’ve now been at this job of distilling for just over three years and I thought I’d reflect a bit on what I’ve learned and what was the most eye-opening.  I had pretty well-estimated the workload.  Working for many years in a lab doing experiments, you don’t go home until the experiment is finished.  If the experiment progresses slowly, well, you stay late.  Distilling is the same way.  There is flexibility as to when I start my day, but then I don’t get to go home until the still is done, so if I get in late, I go home late...

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From the Distiller...What's Coming Down the Pipeline?

Port wine – empty port wine barrels that is. (Actually, they should be called empty dessert-wine barrels, since technically only fortified wines made in Portugal can be labeled as “Port”). My wife and I went to a wine dinner in Philly last month at Panorama restaurant that featured one of our favorite California wineries – Biale (we belong to their wine club).  It was lovely, and one of the founders of the winery (Dave Pramuk) was there leading us through the wines of the evening.  At the end of the meal, I got to chat for a bit with Dave, and apparently, his grandfather was from Shamokin, PA and had dabbled in whiskey at one point in his life, so we bounced back and forth between talking about whiskey and wine. Biale makes a fabulous dessert wine, so I asked what they do with those barrels once they are emptied (a question I always get asked about our whiskey barrels). Well, as it turns out they often refill them, but eventually they get “used up”, as in, there is no more wood character left for the barrel to give...

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From the Distiller...For the Love of Herbs

Slowly but surely we are working on developing a new gin, one with a bit less juniper and more herbal notes.  This, of course, means we have been doing some testing of various herbs.  There are two herbs in particular which I have been interested in for some time, and for which if have been teased about since I talk about them a fair bit.  One of these is lovage...

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From the Distiller...Cheers to Science!

You can take the scientist out of the lab (and put him to work at a distillery), but he will always be a scientist.  This is true now more than ever.  I have started some research collaborations with the folks in the Dept. of Food Science and Penn State.  This will open up more opportunities for research as well as create some student learning opportunities here at the distillery...

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