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Four Distillers Using Science to Build Better Spirits

For centuries, distillers have used their art and intuition to make spirits like whiskey (artisan whiskeys like The Lakes Whisky), vodka, gin (including craft gin like Archangel Gin or Old Bakery Gin), rum and tequila. However, now more than ever before they are turning to science for help.Four distillers in four different regions of the world are using cutting-edge scientific methods to build better spirits:Ayrshire Distillery (Scotland) - Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) technology that allows them to identify chemical compounds with precision.North Shore Distillery (Massachusetts) - Utilizing a vacuum still that can extract flavour from botanicals without burning or caramelizing them.House Spirits Distillery (Oregon).Westland Whiskey Co. (Washington). A brief history of distillingThe history of distilling dates back to the first millennium BC. It is believed that it happened by accident during storage of wine or beer where temperatures would rise causing fermenting at twice the speed which resulted in stronger drinks. Towards end of 15th century AD, During this time period, Arab chemists developed an early still (a device used for vaporizing and condensing substances). By 1620s, European scientists perfected distillation techniques using vacuum chambers known as "pumps" which enabled them to create far stronger alcohol. In the 18th century, a French chemist discovered that when he distilled wine it became stronger and more concentrated due to evaporation during boiling process. In 1753, an English scientist named Joseph Black discovered that by adding water or ice before distillation could lower strength of a drink thus creating liqueurs. Today, distilling is used in commercial production for alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, brandy and rum etc. The process of distillingThe distilling process is a way of separating and purifying compounds from a liquid mixture by heating to vaporize volatile components followed by cooling so that the vapours can liquefy again. How science has changed the way we make spiritsScience has certainly changed the way we make spirits. The advantages of using science in distilling is you get more control over products with consistency, better yield, potency and taste at different temperatures since it does not affect product quality or purity like if heated very hot or too cold etc., while disadvantages would be increased costs due to equipment needed along with expertise training required leading many smaller producers not using science for now until further advanced technology becomes available reducing the risks involved. Distillers are able to measure the chemical composition of their mash before, during and after fermentation which helps them determine factors that may cause problems downstream such as off flavours/odours from yeasts used etc., allowing them to identify issues early on so they can fix it without wasting time producing bad spirits which will not sell. Distillers are also able to monitor the fermentation process, which will result in better yeast performance and more consistent batches. This would also help them produce spirits with higher alcohol content without too much stress on their yeasts leading to increased survival rates while producing optimal flavours and aromas. The biggest advantage of using science is being able to increase production capacity while decreasing costs at all levels from equipment used, production speed along with labour needed resulting in lower prices for customers allowing distilleries deal with competition easier by putting products directly into market instead of relying on distributors, keeping quality control intact at all times. One disadvantage that may arise when using science is new producers not having enough time or resources available in investing money upfront before they start earning an income. This could result in distilleries having to close down or lower their standards. What does this mean for the future of spirit making and consumptionThe future of distilling is leaning more towards science and technology. Even though there are disadvantages, the advantages of using science in distilling outweigh these costs due to increased quality control, lower prices for consumers, easier competition with other producers. The future of the distilling industry is in science. As consumers continue to demand more transparency and better quality, the industry will need to rely on brain-based research for new products that are high performing yet sustainable. This will certainly be the way forward for many distillers, including small batch distillers who create artisan products, as it is one of the best ways in which to stay ahead of their competition in an ever-competitive industry. There is no doubt that with more innovative distilling methods, as well as the use of unique ingredients, small batch distillers will find a much greater demand for their products, as is the current trend even now, with craft spirits offering consumers a far better experience in terms of flavour, aroma and so much more.

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