Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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Hands-on Whiskey Distilling Class in Colorado

For the past several years, the American Distilling Institute has offered small hands-on classes for aspiring distillers and those who want to know more about distilling. ADI president Bill Owens once (in)famously fermented and distilled doughnuts at one of these five-day workshops. Owens, it must be noted, has an impish side and likes tweaking peoples' notions of proper whiskey.

June 3-8, ADI is holding another class. I've got nothing to do with this; just passing on information. This class will be led by distiller Jordan Via. Via has led similar events at Sweetwater Distilling (in Petaluma, CA), but is now plying his trade at Breckenridge Distillery, site of next month's get-together. 

The class includes;
  • Denver International Airport shuttle to and from Breckenridge 
  • Sunday night welcome BBQ 
  • Five nights lodging in Breckenridge
  • Breakfasts and lunches    
  • Hands-on instruction with Master Distiller Jordan Via (Monday through Thursday)  
  • Demonstrations and presentations by industry professionals and suppliers 
  • Optional morning walk with ADI President, Bill Owens 
Attendees will participate in the process from charging the still with distillers' beer to the final steps of wresting the usable alcohol from that beer. Since this is a slow process, there will be breaks during which speakers will talk about aging, blending, distribution, marketing, branding, sourcing materials and other topics about opening and running a distillery. Lots of smelling and tasting.

Distiller Jordan Via explaining how to run a still
The five-day class is $3,500. Owens tells me that, at that price, most of the attendees already have done their reading and are seriously considering either launching a distillery or — in the case of the occasional sommelier who signs up — are professionals in the beverage field who want to expand their knowledge of how spirits are made. For more details, head over to the American Distilling Institute's website.

For first-time drinkers in Colorado, Owens offers words of advice: "...[C]onsuming alcoholic beverages at high altitude can get you drunk fast, so limit your drinks to 1 per hour. Bottom's up!"

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