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Distilling myths: The Master Distiller

Distilling myths: The Master Distiller

There's plenty of economy with the truth when it comes to marketing spirits, like any industry I suppose, but working on the production side of the industry I do my fair share of eye-rolling when I see the latest far-fetched claims in spirits press releases.

My favourites are when compromises in a process because of lack of equipment / knowledge / cash are dressed up as intentional in a grand quest for artisanship.

I'm generally amused by all this. It's a competitive business and we've all got to catch the eye of the consumer with a mix of science-magic-wordsmithery. But personally, I present what i'm doing in an honest way - honest about the successes and compromises - and I don't use language smartly to lead my customers to think I do something I don't.

So i'm going to drop the odd blog post poking fun at a few of the classics. See if you can spot them when you're out and about.

The first one is pretty harmless really. I'm sure we've all positioned ourselves as something we're not at one point or other. The night I met my wife I might have led her to believe I was a photographer despite having just begun a desk job in IT/marketing having dodged a proper job for ages as I half-heartedly took pictures and earned nothing.

But there are quite a few new-to-the-job distillers nowadays self-proclaiming to be a Master Distiller despite having distilled for a few years in total, at best, and with no technical knowledge beyond a pretty basic setup.

I'm not sure about you but I don't think you get to be a master anything in that time.  It's not really the 10,000 hour rule at work.

I've undertaken a Masters Degree in Distilling but I'm not going to claim to be a Master Distiller on that basis. For me, the title Master Distiller comes after many years of demonstrating distillation of a variety of high-quality spirits and being recognised for that. 

Pleasingly, in the last year the Institute of Brewing and Distilling have launched an industry qualification of Master Distiller which set the bar very high in terms of technical knowledge and industry experience. But for me, it is still something others bestow on you, not the other way around.

So next time you are presented a Master Distiller, have some fun and ask what that means ;)