Up the coast in Portland, Oregon, the 2009 Great American Distillers Festival is gearing up. For a measly $16, attendees get two days of festivities and a fistful of tickets for samples. I always enjoy rubbing elbows with my friends who forge whiskey, brandy, and other less recognizable spirits, but throw in a cocktail mixing contest hosted by the Oregon Bartenders’ Guild and I shake my head in wonder for not packing a bag. A total of $1750 will be dispersed as prizes, so you know the bartenders will be flexing their shaker guns.
October 24-25th. Full details at The Great American Distillers’ Festival website.
The second shindig is the American Distilling Institute’s hands-on whiskey distilling workshop at Stillwater Spirits in Petaluma, CA December 7-11th. The price tag is little heftier ($3500), but Bill Owens promises tours of Anchor Distilling, St. George Spirits, and various “whiskey bars.”
The five-day class includes:
- Five night stay at the Metro Hotel (one block from Stillwater) and all meals (we have a good cook for the week)
- Tuition, room & board
- Tours of St. George Spirits Distillery, Anchor Distilling Co. and the finest San Francisco Whiskey bars
- Distiller Jordan Via (Stillwater Spirits) on brewing, distilling and maturation
- Brewer Bill Owens (ADI) on mashing and fermentation to create wash
- Moylan's Brewery & Restaurant creation of wash in action
- Legal session on how to obtain a DSP
- Learn how to operate a Moonshine-style pot still and a five-plate Christian Carl Still
- Whiskey, bourbon & moonshine tasting daily
- Proofing session and hands-on bottling experience
I shadowed the inaugural ADI workshop, and let me tell you: If you are serious, it's money well spent. It's not for tourists, but anyone thinking about starting a distillery should go. Everyone I asked agreed that it saved them thousands. Throw in a pile of dungeness crabs (no guarantees, I'm sure the menu changes), and a day spent going to Cask, Bourbon & Branch, Alembic, and so forth -- how could you loose?
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