Whiskey Educator Dave Pickerell on Craft vs. Sourced Spirits

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  • silatjunkie posted 1 year ago

    I'm a distiller and though it's common practice to use sourced liquor, it is not the same. Yes, they can craft that sourced spirit. But it's the equivalent to doctoring a pizza by adding more cheese, more meat, more seasoning and maybe even buttering the crust. That's NOT the same craft that goes into sourcing the grain, sourcing the barrels, making wash, choosing your yeast and fermentation method, and then making your cuts. Let alone determining what toast and char your barrels have, what proof you put the spirit into the barrels at and when you decide to take it out. And so on.... MGPI is a manufacturer of bulk spirits. Often just referred to as MGP.

  • joshua.g.miller.e704fb7 posted 1 year ago

    I drink plenty of sourced stuff--Plantation rum for instance--but whereas they are upfront about their ingredients' provenance, many sourced "craft" whiskeys obfuscate the origin. I would say the average consumer would see "Vermont" plastered all over a 10-year Whistlepig label and assume it's distilled in Vermont. That's where the backlash comes from IMO. People don't want to feel duped when buying a $70 bottle of booze.
    If you're upfront about the source, your status as a non-distiller producer is irrelevant provided it tastes good and the consumer perceives it to be a good value. That much I agree with. However, I find the position that distillers and negociants are the same to be an oversimplification of a multifaceted argument about what constitutes "craft".
    For me, distiller producers and non-distiller producers are fundamentally different because the latter doesn't have to ferment anything, and that's where the heart of the spirit is really created.
    I'll be interested to see how this article affects bartender and whiskey geek behavior. Will people share it blindly or actually dig into what is being said here and why?
    Parting thought: If you agree with Dave's position here, what is your feeling about Tito's vodka? They also source corn liquor and finish it in their own way. Heck, they even re-distill it, if you believe their marketing. Is addition by subtraction less "craft"?

  • DStreck posted 1 year ago

    Some fair points, but given that Pickerell has a vested interest (Whistle Pig doesn't make anything themselves), and he hid the actual source of their stock for a long time, this should be taken with many grains of salt. They call it "Vermont whiskey" but it's actually made in Alberta. Buying barrels of whiskey and bottling them is not "every bit as much craft " as making it yourself from grain. That's what they do with regular Whistle Pig, and throwing it in a wine barrel for a few months like they do with the Old World series doesn't change that.
    MGPI is a large distillery in Lawrenceburg, IN that makes the rye whiskey (95% rye) that is found in most third-party label rye whiskey. He's right that Templeton, Bulleit, Redemption, Dickel, Crater Lake, Angel's Envy and others don't all taste exactly the same, but most people probably couldn't tell the difference if they weren't side by side.

  • chadhardengmailcom1044801940 posted 1 year ago

    Well written and informative article! What does this acronym MGPI mean, it may be good to define this early on for those who don't know? Thanks!


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