Friday, February 4, 2011

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America's New Distilleries at Tales of the Cocktail

This summer, Max Watman and I will be joining boozy forces in New Orleans for the annual Tales of the Cocktail celebration. Max is the author of Chasing the White Dog and me — well, I wrote a book called Moonshine that advocates an America where craft distilleries are as commonplace as craft breweries.

Our topic? What else might it be? An overview, analysis, and samplings from America's new distilleries. All across the United States, new distilleries are cropping up. Some enjoy international success while others merely dream of such distribution. We'll take a look at who's who, where they are, what they're making — and where it's all going.

And we're trying to do something new: throw open an unusual sponsorship opportunity for those same distillers who usually wouldn't be able to sponsor a seminar. Each year, sponsorships for sessions at Tales are snapped up by large liquor companies to showcase their portfolios. That's great. I love those sessions. Learn about the history of Cointreau? Sure, I totally want to. Sample unusual whiskeys from Heaven Hill before they're rolled out to the public? I'd be a fool to pass up the chance.

But smaller distilleries typically couldn't afford to be single sponsor. Unless, that is, a small band of them joined to form a consortium or a, hell, let's call it a syndicate where each contributed a smaller portion. If ten distillers got together and split the cost, each could come to Tales and help get their stories and their products in front of an audience thirsty for information on spirits.

I posted a more detailed discussion about this on the forums of the American Distilling Institute. If you're interested, check it out here.

America's New Distilleries (abstract):
In the last ten years the number of American distilleries has grown from a few dozen to over 200. All around America, people are re-inventing gin, delivering exciting new brandies, expanding the spectrum of American whiskey. At the same time, the industry is full of paper tigers, false starts, and vanity projects. We’ll separate the wheat from the chaff in the current scene, and look out in to the future. Big spirits companies have started buying the little guys: what will that do?


Tony Harion said...

Great idea! This sounds like a sold out seminar to me!

I always wished to be able to organize have something along these lines including small cachaças distilled from Brazil at Tales.

I could never manage to get them all organized and on top of that there is the problem of importing all the cachaças for the seminar.

Maybe someday…

More power to you!

Matthew Rowley said...

Tony ~

We've got our ten distillers. It's a cool group with some familiar names. Stay tuned for an announcement.

I love your idea of doing a cachaça seminar. Talk to Philip Duff who did an unsponsored session about two years ago on Dutch/Belgian spirits — different genevers/jenevers, moutwijn, a lovely orange genever, and some funky bitter wormword spirit. It was well attended, well received, and well done. He lugged most bottles over himself from Amsterdam.

Maybe the Brazilian embassy or could help fund it as a PR — and help with imports. Find out who does the various states' tourism advertising and see if they can help. It's not too early to start planning for 2012...