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Mentioned in this Episode:
Check out Andre Meunier’s Beer Coverage from The Oregonian and Oregon Live: https://www.oregonlive.com/beer/ he is also doing a bang-up job covering what Portland breweries are doing to keep selling beer during the time of stay-at-home orders.
Here is his article we looked at for this episode: These are Portland’s 20 best breweries for 2020 www.oregonlive.com/beer/2020/01/these-are-portlands-20-best-breweries-for-2020.html
Privateer Rum: privaterrum.com
7th Annual ACSA Convention
March 29-31, 2020 (CANCELLED)… Currently Rescheduled for August 7-9, 2020: https://americancraftspirits.org/programs/convention/
Check out this Google Search for Ship Dazzle.
2020 American Craft Spirits Awards Winners: https://americancraftspirits.org/programs/judging/2020-american-craft-spirits-awards/
Portland Breweries Recommended for the Distinguished Distiller’s Pallete:
Ruse Brewing| 4784 SE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97202 | https://www.rusebrewing.com/
Breakside Brewing | 3 separate locations | http://breakside.com/
Upright Brewing | 240 N Broadway, #2, Portland OR 97227 | http://www.uprightbrewing.com/
Wayfinder Beer | 304 SE 2nd Ave., Portland OR | https://www.wayfinder.beer/
Von Ebert Brewing | 2 separate locations | http://vonebertbrewing.com/
Culmination Brewing | 2117 NE Oregon St., Portland, OR, 97232 | http://culminationbrewing.com/
Little Beast | 3412 SE Division St., Portland, OR 97202 | http://www.littlebeastbrewing.com/
Episode Identifier (00:00:00):
Welcome back to season two of the Distilling Craft podcast. You’re listening to episode (7): “Judge Me… If You Want To”.
Dalikta Promo (00:00:29):
Distilling Craft is brought to you by Dalkita, a group of architects and engineers who specialize in designing craft distilleries across the US. More information is available at our website www. dalkita.com
Colleen Moore (00:00:29):
This is Colleen Moore from Dalkita, your host for episode (7) of Distilling Craft’s Second Season. Before we jump into today’s show, spoiler alert, the American Craft Spirits Association has had to postpone their annual trade show and gathering in Portland, Oregon. It was originally scheduled for the end of March, 2020 and in light of the recent pandemic status of the Coronavirus, the State of Oregon made the decision to ban all gatherings larger than 250 people until mid-April, which from my perspective was 100% the correct call, but it is still a bummer. I am sure, you are aware events and public gatherings across the world are being canceled to help slow the progression of the Novel Coronavirus. ACSA is working towards rescheduling their event for later this year and I will keep you updated as that situation resolves in a future episode. With that being said, all the information on today’s show will be evergreen and last until that happens. And with that let’s get on with today’s action-packed show.
Colleen Moore (00:01:37):
We are going to talk about beer, specifically, the most amazing beers to drink, fresh from the tap in a local brewery in Portland, Oregon with Andre Meunier. Later in the show, we’re going to talk with Maggie Campbell from Privateer Rum in Ipswich, Massachusetts about the rum business and the ACSA Spirits Judging program, which brings us to this episode’s… “SAFETY SOAPBOX”.
Colleen Moore (00:02:16):
It is great that public and quasi public spaces like airports and the Oregon convention center in Portland or the Hyatt hotel in new Orleans are taking proactive measures to disinfect, commonly touched items and spaces. Here is a quick list of seven things you can do in your business to help minimize the spread of germs and viruses in general to keep yourself, your coworkers and your patrons in good health.
Colleen Moore (00:02:43):
Tip (1): Wash your hands properly with soap and water at least 20 seconds. You can sing the ABCs, or repeat Fleetwood Mac’s chorus to Landslide (two times), or perhaps the chorus of My Sharona, but swap it out with “My Corona”. Smash Mouth’s All-Star fits the bill here, too. No judgments! Not in this part of the episode anyways.
Colleen Moore (00:03:27):
Tip (2): If frequent hand washing is less feasible, provide alcohol based hand sanitizer as a backup. If no hand sanitizer is available in stores near you, most likely you’re a distillery and there are recipes online for how you can make your own.
Colleen Moore (00:03:45):
Tip (3): Make sure you have ample supplies of soap, sanitizer, tissues and no touch trash cans available and encourage their use.
Colleen Moore (00:03:56):
Tip (4): If you must cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose — ideally with a tissue which you dispose of — and then wash your hands. In a pinch, you can use your elbow to contain the surprise germ grenade.
Colleen Moore (00:04:11):
Tip (5): In public spaces, like a tasting room or even in an office environment, increase wipe downs of commonly touched items like counter tops, chair backs, condiment, dispensers, door handles using a sanitizing spray and clean towels.
Colleen Moore (00:04:27):
Tip (6): Keep your distance from obviously sick people. If a coworker becomes ill at work, separate them from others and send them home. People with the flu are most contagious the first three days after symptoms first occur. If you are sick, stay home at least until you’ve been fever free for 24 hours and that is without the use of fever reducing medications.
Colleen Moore (00:04:54):
My last tip, tip (7): In a serving atmosphere, double check that your glassware and utensil sanitation procedures are up to snuff. Clean hot water and soap really do go a long way to keeping everyone free of several types of germs, including influenza, strep, and this new novel Corona virus.
Colleen Moore (00:05:19):
Up next, we have a few minutes with Andre Meunier, who was tasked with the enviable position of visiting every single brewery in Portland and sampling their wares. It took him almost a year to complete and he has written an Epic archive (plus it’s internet searchable) of stories on all of the breweries and brewers in PDX for the Oregonian and Oregon Live. We reached out to a few Good Guy Distillers to find out what they are looking for in a beer, and then went to Andre, our PDX Beer Sherpa, to cross reference the absolute best bets for breweries and brewpub, that matched the types and styles of beers distillers want to drink for our Portland must sip list. Of course, we will link all of the breweries on our show notes page. So let’s take a listen.
Colleen Moore (00:06:11):
So Andre Meunier with us from the Oregonian.
Andre Meunier (00:06:15):
Yes, the Oregonian and our website is Oregon live, we link that together and say the Oregonian Oregon live.
Colleen Moore (00:06:21):
Andre has written an Epic amount on beer and the beer scene in Portland.
Andre Meunier (00:06:28):
Absolutely. In that vein, I wrote 50 brewery profiles in 2019, and there were about a thousand words each, so I wrote basically 50,000 word book about the breweries in Portland.
Colleen Moore (00:06:44):
And that’s where I actually started. I think you went to all of them and then you did, here’s the top half of the breweries. And I was like, this guy knows a lot about breweries and he’d be perfect, let’s see if he’ll come on the podcast. So, this is how we got here. That is the road so far, if you will.
Andre Meunier (00:07:06):
And here we are.
Colleen Moore (00:07:07):
I did throw a question out to our Facebook audience or our connections on Facebook rather about what types of beers they’re drinking, so I want to get your thoughts on those. Some of the answers that we got, I’m just gonna run through these really quickly.
Colleen Moore (00:07:27):
American lager. Clean ass lager. Beers that are balanced. Malt Forward that don’t fatigue the palette. German Czech and pilsners. Kölsch Blondes. Beer that is fruity. Beer that is not fruity. Pills and Kölsch. Steam beers. Dork-Munders. All beers. Hip Hazy Bro beers and Hard Seltzers even though I don’t like them, but they drive the market. Source and status. Any beer that is well executed.” And someone mentioned, vertical tastings and different vintages of beers. And I think he’s angling for a specific brewery there in Portland that does that, and they want to you to warn them of any diacetyl bombs. Literally, no one said IPA, but that is what my crew once they have when they go there. So give us your thoughts.
Andre Meunier (00:08:21):
We got all of those and in spades. The occasional diacetyl bomb. But, generally in Portland, you’re not going to get too many of those. Let me just kind of start at the top. I mean, my brewery of the year, this year was a brewery called Ruse Brewing . It’s in Southeast Portland, in the Brooklyn neighborhood. That isn’t necessarily to say it’s the best brewery in Portland, but it’s the one that made the biggest splash in the past year. That’s how we judge our brewery of the year. It’s a place that started out focusing mostly on Hazy’s, when they were really in the biggest thing to come around. But they also made a really beautiful West Coast clean, bright IPS as well. And then they did farmhouses, so they started out kind of hazy and says on focused. But over the past year, they really dialed in what they’re doing and they’re doing across styles, just many beers, and they’re all just beautiful beers.
Andre Meunier (00:09:26):
And it’s two guys, from the mid, one from the Midwest, one’s from the East coast. They came out and they worked at some of the top breweries in Portland and that dialed in their craft. Now, they’re just killing it. So, that’s Ruse Brewing.
Colleen Moore (00:09:42):
Andre Meunier (00:09:43):
You’ve probably maybe heard of Breakside Brewing. When I did my top 20 list, Breakside is my number one brewery in Portland. It’s for a number of reasons. Primarily being they make some of the best beer in Portland, if not the best. They have been a juggernaut at the great American beer festival perennially just year in and year out. They came home with three metals this year, and that’s not unusual. They’ve been doing this since they won their first gold in 2014.
Andre Meunier (00:10:20):
For Breakside IPA, they won the American IPA at the great American beer festival. It was a huge eyeopener for this town, because they’re only three years old. They’re a young upstart at that point still and nobody really knew what to expect out of them. And since then, they’ve just gone gangbusters. They’ve got an incredible barrel aging program, where they just do anything you can think of– Imperial stout, barrel aged sours, fruited, Barlage fruited, non barrel aged fruited. They cover the spectrum. They also do really lovely lagers, the Pilsner, Butte is just lovely. So that’s Breakside brewing. You will always hear about them. Ben Edmunds is their brewmaster and he just really knows his stuff.
Andre Meunier (00:11:07):
My number two is a brewery, that you have probably never heard of right along with most Portlanders. It’s a small little brewery in the basement of a commercial building, that most people are like, who is this? And it’s a brewery called Upright Brewing. It’s run by a guy named Alex Ganum. And down there in his layer, he makes mixed culture and a farmhouse style beers. He used to only make one IPA. He is now making more because it’s just the landscape we’re in. If you’re a small brewery and you’re too niche, you may struggle. So, he is now making really clean, great IPS as well. But his specialty is mixed culture and farmhouse. And, you go down into Upright Brewing and you feel like you’re walking into some little old village brewpub, or tasting room in Europe somewhere. In Belgium, it’s just this dank, dark gray space filled with barrels and the taproom is right there inside the brewery. If you’re in Portland and you want a really unique experience, head over that Upright Brewing.
Andre Meunier (00:12:16):
Now, we move on to your friends who really want their crisp and clean lagers. Wayfinder Beer opened three years ago. I don’t know how much you would know about the Oregon beer scene, but Hood River is a magnet for breweries as well, along with Bend in Portland. In Hood River, brewery called Double Mmountain. A guy named Charlie Devereux opened it years ago. He and a couple of restaurant tours opened up Wayfinder Beer here in Portland three years ago. They make probably the best German style and non-German style lagers in the city, which is really saying something, because we probably have six or seven German style lager-focused breweries just here in Portland. But they are incredible. They have a beer called Funeral Bock. That was one of my top five beers of the year last year. They’re already incredibly heralded as the place to go. And it’s an incredible group of experience too. They have really good food because he did it with restaurant tours. If you’re here and it’s sunny, they have one of the best outdoor decks in the city to go hang out. At we a Wayfinder Beer, that’s where you want to go.
Colleen Moore (00:13:28):
Those are four really solid choices that we can take a look at while we’re there because, we are only there for a few days, at the end of the month. That’s like a different brewery every night, that’s wonderful.
Andre Meunier (00:13:42):
I’ll just tick off a couple other ones you could hit. My number four was Von Ebert Brewing, IPA is is in front and mixed culture, Culmination Brewing incredible beers across different styles, and Little Beast and other farmhouse brewery. So keep those in mind.
Colleen Moore (00:14:01):
Those are awesome choices. Thank you so much for giving us the inside scoop on the best Portland breweries for distillers to visit.
Fermentis promo (00:14:11):
The Distilling Craft podcast is brought to in part by our great sponsors “Fermentis”. The obvious choice for beverage fermentation. Providing the craft spirits industry worldwide with the best fermentation needs for more than 100 years. Contact our sales team to help make your choice on yeast and products for distilling your next great spirit. For more information, or to find a distributor visit www.fermentis.com.
Colleen Moore (00:14:43):
Our guest today is a walking embodiment of the philosopher distiller and I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Maggie Campbell, the president and master distiller of Privateer Rum in Ipswich, Massachusetts to the Distilling Craft podcast. Welcome.
Maggie Campbell (00:14:59):
Thanks for having me.
Colleen Moore (00:15:00):
Well, let’s talk a little bit about your origin story. You were a university of Colorado graduate, where you majored in philosophy. You worked in a wine shop specializing in Port. You’ve gotten a diploma in “Craft Distillation And Technologies” from the “Siebel Institute in Chicago”. You’ve been an assistant distiller at an American Brandy Powerhouse, Germane Raw Beer in California. you’re a fierce advocate for sensory training through the WSET program. You are also the American Craft Spirits Association board of directors where you’re serving as their vice president. Additionally, on top of all of that stuff, you travel a good amount to industry events across the globe. But all of that traces back to a family trip from Scotland where many articles about you are profiles on you refer back to your family getting stuck in Oban and taking a tour of a distillery. Now, I want to know more about the getting stuck part because that sounds like a trip my family would be involved in. Also, a bit more about the distillery tour that changed the destiny of the American Craft Spirits movement.
Maggie Campbell (00:16:15):
Colleen Moore (00:16:16):
Tell me a little bit more about all of those things.
Maggie Campbell (00:16:19):
It was actually a trip with a friend to go visit some family sites and, we had caught a bus over to open, and then we’re waiting for our Ferry – Tobermory and we just missed one. So we were waiting for a little bit and I asked a woman on the street, that we ended up talking to, “What should I do?” And she said, “You’ve got to go see the distillery”. I just popped over and of course they’re set up to receive people. They were really generous and very kind and open and sharing their information. And, that was probably the first time I saw like, “This is a job. This is a job that people do”. A lot of those people I related to, which I think is so important to see yourself and see yourself being able to do something in order to even have that dream. I mean, a lot of people who say, “You get to have such a cool job.” And if I hadn’t even just practically known, this is a job that people do, it would not have necessarily been one I would have thought of or ended up pursuing. But I was like, this is really interesting and exciting. Went back to the States. And as I finished up school, I decided to start enrolling in different programs to learn more about wine and spirits.
Colleen Moore (00:17:45):
At that point, had you graduated with the philosophy degree?
Maggie Campbell (00:17:49):
No, I was still in school at the time.
Colleen Moore (00:17:52):
When you went to Somalia school, I’m guessing, was that in addition to your classes or did you finish up one and then start the other?
Maggie Campbell (00:18:03):
I finished up my degree and, like a lot of people in my age group and generation. People just weren’t hiring. I had about three months where I was like, “Hey I’ve bettered by mind. I’ve done all this work. What am I going to do?” And I just realized, while in this meantime I’m going to start taking these classes to study wine, and I did. I definitely studied to my level, the executive Psalm at the IWG. The first job I thought of applying to, to bide my time until I found a quote unquote real career, which I didn’t even know what would that would even look like. I had no idea. It’s definitely one of those periods of time where I think a lot of people my age went through the same thing. Who had gone to school right out of high school. The first job I applied to, they hired me as a Spanish-Portuguese wine specialist buyer. So, I was immediately thrown right into a lot of technical tasting, a lot of discussion with distributors, a lot of discussion around price and what mix do you want for your customers, and how do you sell a small specialty uniquely produced product that’s far more expensive than maybe it’s more generic volume driven competitor. So, I was immediately thrown at a very tender age. I was 22 right into the wine and spirits business. And of course, the store sold specialty spirits as well. And I helped to set up. They opened a second really massive, very fine quality driven location and I helped them open that. So I got to learn about all the different categories. Very much like put right in the fire. That’s the best way to learn. It was for me, at the time. I was lucky. I was like young and foolish enough to be like, “Yeah, that sounds great. I’m learning so much”. So, I bounced from there to a much more smaller company that was very specialty driven, where we worked a lot one-on-one with clients, who wanted very specific things. And so when we would work with someone to put together an order for them, they would often ask about spirits. I already had a little bit of a background. I knew how they were made. I knew a little bit of the science behind them. I had a familiarity, so I started realizing that if I learned more about spirits, I was probably about 23, at the time, I would have a big advantage at this much smaller, more boutique place. I dove right in and started reaching out to the local craft distillers that I was meeting and getting to know. I was just very fortunate to be in Denver, Colorado at the time.
Colleen Moore (00:20:58):
I think, we’re definitely top five in every single list that I see as far as craft spirits, craft beverages just in general, whether it’s beer and spirits for sure. We are definitely fortunate to be located in Colorado. And then you at that time. Tell me a little bit about after your boutique experience, your boutique wine buying days, if you will. What was your next stop?
Maggie Campbell (00:21:33):
I was working there and getting really curious about spirits. I was lucky enough to be able to go knock on the door of Stranahan’s and get to know Jake Norris. And I met Todd Leopold before he had relocated Leopold Bros. Spirits. I’d actually met some of his staff. And we were one of the first accounts to pick up his spirits, and then he later moved and that’s when I got to know him. So, the earlier days where very few people were showing up and knocking on their door and asking them what they did and they were very excited to share what they did. Now, there’s a lot. I get emails every day about it and it’s really overwhelming, which is great. It’s wonderful. It’s always a compliment, but it is a lot. So I feel really lucky I was interested, at a time where you could still very easily access all these people, so that made me more curious in other spirits. Of course, I became very familiar with your main role bond, because we would handle all these specialty clients who wanted very fine spirits. So, I just sent them an email and I said, “I have this background in wine. I have some knowledge about wine making and I really am interested in learning how you guys distill wine into these cognac inspired American brandies”. And, they wrote back- it’s the answer I give people still today most of the time- “There’s just not really like a book you can read, but we’re hiring for an assistant distiller and no one has any experience, you sound like you have some experience and are interested in learning, would you come out here?” So that totally changed my life, again. I packed up my bags and moved out there and just totally started fresh at what I would’ve considered like, Oh, a dream job I could maybe have in 10 or 15 years. I was lucky enough to that the universe had me send the right email at the right time. So it worked out.
Colleen Moore (00:23:35):
What does days as an assistant distiller look like?
Maggie Campbell (00:23:39):
Well, it’s very particular because it’s seasonal. So, I had like the early, early, early morning shift- up at 3:00 AM at the distillery at 4:00 AM, dealing with the still, setting up, making a heads cut, and then doing seller work. Because, basically, there’s this mad rush in Brandy that’s very different than when you make most other spirits, where fruit is very fragile and it’s only ripe a few weeks. So you are just cranking that still 24 hours a day, moving wine around, juggling tanks, coordinating harvests. It’s really, really wild. And then once everything’s distilled, the stills turn off for the rest of the year. And you’re just doing barrel and seller work. And that’s why I think there is such an emphasis on the art of blending and the art of seller tasting and seller work in a lot of those spirit traditions.
Colleen Moore (00:24:37):
What does the barrel and seller work look like? Like, physically moving barrels around. How does that work?
Maggie Campbell (00:24:47):
Yeah, mostly pumping in and out of barrels a lot of when you’ll go into new Oak for the first year, and then it’ll get transferred to used Oak the second year, and then you’re just constantly tasting and sorting barrels. And this is what happens at every high engagement distillery as well as every high engagement winery. In champagne and Bordeaux, when I go visit wine makers there and I do taste trainings with them, it’s the same thing where you taste a cask that’s two years old and you projected it and you distilled it to be structured to age a certain amount and go to a certain label profile. Maybe it’s going to your XO cause it’s really fine, or maybe you’re using it as a blending component, which is like a little bit more simple, generic, approachable, and mixable. And at Privateer, we would have things that we taste and we feel are really fine and we’ve structured the age a really long time to become our bottled in bond, or we’ve distilled it very specifically to become a distiller’s drawer, or we’ve made something that will be approachable at two years age to be blended in a more value driven bartender friendly rum. But you, of course, go back and taste the barrels and some of them go different directions and you resort them and you say, “You know what? I thought this was a really simple barrel, but it is turning into something beautiful and you re-designate it.” Or “I thought that I had built this to age a good 10 years before you could really access the flavor, but it’s opening up really fast. I need to check this in two years”. So, you’re just going through and checking those things and then you’re starting to build blends. You say, this one has a really great top note, and this one has a really long finish. These two barrels should be married. And then, also, putting down barrel aged to water to age, which is basically, in essence, really low proof spirit, that you’ll use for proofing down in a number of years. And then, also, tasting barrels you expected to blend and you go, “You know what? This barrel has everything. It’s got top note. It’s got finish. It’s got mid palette. This should not be blended away. This should be its own expression itself”. So just constantly reevaluating and working with the spirits and guiding them towards where they need to be– is this got a lot of spice to it from aging and a used rye whiskey barrel? Should we transfer it to a Brandy barrel? Or, the Oak is becoming really pronounced on this, let me throw it in a third use cask for a year and see where it’s at then, and all those sorts of choices that you’re making.
Colleen Moore (00:27:20):
So, are you using that kind of cognac Brandy making skills and applying it to rum and actually moving the rum in and out of barrels and doing those types of expressio? That sounds like it’s pretty unique for rum.
Maggie Campbell (00:27:38):
It’s not that unique for rum. I think, that we identify them as cognac techniques, but honestly they’re just top and seller techniques and you’ll see them at really good distilleries, highly engaged distilleries everywhere you go– In Scotland, in France, and in the Caribbean there’s definitely, it’s not one thing that belongs to one person or one group or one culture. But yeah, I would say in the Caribbean, the art of blending is really incredible because, when I was very familiar with American whiskey, it was- “Here’s your recipe. You ferment it this way. You ferment it that way every day, day after day. And here’s your still. And you distilled to this proof and you run your still in the same configuration every single day, day after day. And here’s your new American Oak barrel. And you go into your new American Oak barrel day after day after day”.
Maggie Campbell (00:28:38):
Whereas in rum, we call them marks. So you create different marks. So you might have fermentation (A) and it has a different yeast blend, or you’re hitting a different pH, or you’re using different elements in Jamaica, say you’re using muck or acid slop or Dunder is used all over the rum world, which is essentially the same as a backset. And that’s used everywhere. So maybe you’re using more dunder, maybe you’re using less. So you create these different fermentations. And then, you send them to the still. And in the Caribbean, a lot of these distilleries will have a wide variety of stills and some of them will be built out of like, “This one is half a four sites still. Their foresight plots, but then their Vendome thumpers or retort. And so it’s really interesting to see how that goes. At Appleton, they might be putting this fermentation (B) through their retort pot still. And then the next day, they’re putting fermentation (B) through their column still. And then the next day, they’re putting fermentation (C) through a different type of column still. So they’re making all these different expressions, aging them in all different barrels. At foursquare, they’ve got Sauternes, Sherry, poor American whiskey, they probably have Brandy- all sorts of different barrels because you want all of these different expressions back in your barrel room to use as blending tools.
Maggie Campbell (00:30:19):
In the Caribbean, all of this is very common and the proportion of pot distillate you’re blending with single column or multi column or which fermentation stream was this pulled from, and what kind of fermentation was this one? It’s amazing the complexity they have in their barrel rooms. And the way that these incredible master blenders they just keep it all in their head. One of the things that always amazes me in the Caribbean is, from the way people speak about it to how it actually functions is, you’ll meet really young staff members there and they have multiple degrees like, clinical engineering and organic chemistry. I mean, they really do this blend of art and science to this really high level. So, I would say definitely in the blending and selecting of casks, it’s definitely a big art down there.
Colleen Moore (00:31:13):
Tell me a little bit about the theory of Elevage that you have considered your past work and your current work to the point you’ve been able to give it a name and assign it to a classical or defined group within a larger expanse of modern history.
Maggie Campbell (00:31:32):
I really love this term Elevage. It’s an old classical term, as you mentioned. I, of course, coming up through my experience in wine was exposed to it that way. And it’s really just putting a name to something that producers everywhere, especially highly engaged producers do. And that sort of this idea, there’s not an exact English translation to the philosophy, but we all kinda know or see it. It, basically, speaks to like the rearing or the bringing up of something. And I often talk about like, the barrels are like, they’re like little kids and they all have different personalities. And then, when you finish creating a product, you send it out in the world and it’s its own thing now. It’s not mine anymore, but I hope that it reflects what we put into it. So that idea of the rearing and the upbringing. And so Elevage sort of being this constant work that you’re doing as you bring these spirits up to maturity. It captures that philosophy and everything that it encompasses that goes far beyond just, “We stick it in a barrel and we put it back in the warehouse- no engaged producer is doing that, they’re always being very thoughtful and aware even if it might seem very nonchalant on the outside. I’ll meet a Caribbean producer and they’ll be like, “Oh yeah, we’re just super chill about it.” And then you start talking to them and they’re so passionate and they’re so engaged. And they’re really thinking about everything they’re selecting and how they’re creating it. And then, we always joke about conscientious non Elevage, where you just let it be. You set it aside and you let it be and you don’t overly manipulate it and you don’t overly process it, cause that can lead to its own problems.
Colleen Moore (00:33:26):
For rum, you’re an advocate for not sweetening it, is that correct?
Maggie Campbell (00:33:32):
For me, there’s rum and then there’s rum liqour. Rum, traditionally, is not sweetened. When you look at a lot of the traditional producers; Foursquare St Nicholas Abbey, Mount Gay, or Edgerton Park , Hampden Estate, Appleton, these are not sweet rums and they’re not sweetened. I see a lot of like brand driven rums that are sweetened. But as far as what traditional rum is, it’s not sweet. I think you see a little bit more of it through central and South America. As an expression and style that for me, yeah, we always feel that the bartender and the drinker should decide how sweet their drink is going to be and how it sweetened. If a bartender’s gonna make a daiquiri, what kind of simple syrup? Do they want to use fresh pressed cane juice? Do they want to use honey? How do they want to sweeten their cocktail? How sweet do they want it to be? So, we just produce the spirit, spirit water, Oak and time to give to them. And I think it’s really sad that there’s a big misconception out there that, that rum is this sweetened thing. I hear all the time, “Oh, I don’t like it. It’s so sweet”. I’m like, “There’s no sugar in it”. So, there is a big misconception there. We don’t add any artificial Oak flavor or what might be called Rosé. We don’t add any artificial age flavor, which might be called Rancio. We don’t add any artificial aroma, which might be called Essence. And then, in fact, we are a zero filtration. Everything we release is unfiltered.
Colleen Moore (00:35:11):
What is the theory behind that choice?
Maggie Campbell (00:35:14):
For me, especially training in wine, but also at a number of places and experiencing it for myself. A filter is there to remove an impurity. Distillation is a purifying act. So if we haven’t introduced an impurity, it shouldn’t need to be filtered. So for us, it means that my team works very clean because there’s no fixing it later. There’s no filter there to standardize a flavor or fix anything that you’ve done. So you have to work really clean and carefully and it keeps everyone really engaged. And then for us with barrel char, we can’t so carefully out of barrels and we use a racking cane, so it leaves a small puddle in the bottom where most of the char is. That for us is just not an issue. We move barrels into place well ahead of time, so they can rest, all the char can settle in the bottom and then we rack off of that.
Maggie Campbell (00:36:09):
So for us, a filter is always going to remove some part of the character. And for us, that harmony and that balance that still creates. We don’t want to remove any flavor character. Vodkas, odorless and tasteless, what makes us rum is leaving in everything that we can. So for us, I really liked the texture it brings to cocktails and to drinks. We really care about it. So on our bottlings on the back, there’ll be a little sentence that’s like overextended seller aging, a slight deposit may form. But we’ve been really lucky that we’ve never ever been contacted about anyone having issues with any char settling in any of their bottles. You’ll see that on like some of the higher end for Rose’s bottles as well, something similar to that cause they also don’t filter. So, for us it’s really important to leave all that flavor and texture.
Colleen Moore (00:37:09):
Since you started out in, wine was there a brief foray into beer at some point in your career?
Maggie Campbell (00:37:17):
I learned a lot about beer and I knew a lot about beer. Now, my husband and I started as brewing partners and we would brew beer together and we founded the Dunder brewers league. I’ve always had a little interest in dabbling in and around the beer world and attended Siebel Institute, which obviously has a heavy beer emphasis. And that’s where I definitely picked up working with (POF positive East) and things like that from some of that beer experience. But, never a professional brewery, now.
Dalikta Promo (00:37:57):
Distilling Craft is brought to you by Dalkita, a group of architects and engineers who specialize in designing craft distilleries across the US. More information is available at our website www.dalkita.com Now, let’s get back to the show.
Colleen Moore (00:38:20):
You’ve said previously, the point is to have people drink the things that you make, so keeping them accessible. What does accessible mean to you?
Maggie Campbell (00:38:30):
For me it’s- I would say when we discuss like it’s really to me that people can be able to taste and access what it is we do. I would say, we get encouraged a lot to raise our prices much more than where they’re at. I would say, that’s the number one business advice that professional spirits business people tell us is. You guys are lucky to have this cult following. You really should charge more. You should put it at aspirational pricing. And I just really like, I remember being that 23 year old, wanting to buy a bottle of Germain-Robin because, I was going to go interview there and being like, you know what? Like, this is the only bottle I could afford that they make. And everything else ike, I just couldn’t even taste it. I was going to go work for them and I couldn’t even buy it.
Maggie Campbell (00:39:19):
So for me, I want to make sure that people can access what it is we make and taste it and drink it and enjoy it and have fun. I really like that we are a value driven room company. Meaning, it is inherently going to cost a little more than maybe a volume driven brand company. Because, it means that people are like drinking it and enjoying it. I really believe in a less and better drinking experience where you have two cocktails that you’re thoughtful about and you really enjoy and really savor them and take them in and you find them really satisfying. And that’s great. As opposed to, I’m going to slam like six rum and Cokes really thoughtlessly, and it’s not actually gonna bring me a lot of conscientious pleasure as far as like sustainability and health are both concerned. I really liked the lesson better model, but it doesn’t mean I want to just charge more because we can. I want to charge what it costs us to make it and what it costs us to take care of our people. But, I always price us less than what I’m sure we could charge if we wanted to. And for me, I would care about that for the long distance in the longevity of our company.
Colleen Moore (00:40:39):
I think that is a wonderful way to look at your business. You’re making expressions accessible to people, so that it can be kind of like on their bar at all times, and that people can use it and have fun with it. So I really think that is a smart decision and it’s not always the one that people make.
Maggie Campbell (00:41:01):
I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would be much happier if I didn’t fight so hard to do it. But I think that everyone at our company is really in alignment about anyone can be a Privateer fan. It’s not just for one group of people. So for me, it’s really important that we actually do that. I’m so glad everyone at my company shares that.
Colleen Moore (00:41:23):
Tell me a little bit about the team at Privateer. So, you mentioned that you want to take care of your people. How many people are we talking and what are some of the programs that you have in place to take care of them?
Maggie Campbell (00:41:37):
We have three distillers plus me, and they are the heartbeat. They really incredible. So, we have Peter who has been with us for seven years. Dylan has been with us for four. And then, Anhalka who’s been with us for just over a year. And it’s so important for me that people hear their names and see their faces cause people are like, Oh Maggie is the magical master distiller. But you know what? I’m on the road a lot. And the people doing the hard work and making incredible spirits are those guys. And, they’re some of the best distillers I know. I’m so lucky to work with them. And, Anhalka joined our company when she was 22 .and she has just really taken off and embraced everything and in ways I could not have when I was 22 and wanting to get in this business. So that team is really amazing. We have Kevin who’s our VP of sales and his vision in working hand-in-hand with the production team, and handing off to our sales team is really incredible. He handles a lot of our single barrel sales. So we have a lot of people who buy Privateer by the barrel. So bartenders will come in, they’ll taste for exactly the expression they want for their flavor profile. And so he does a lot of that where he works with them and says, “Okay, what flavors are you looking for? How do you like your drinks? What excites you? What price points are really important to you?” And we hand select a number of barrels for them to taste. He leads them through that tasting, and then they select it, and then get to be part of the label design. So that’s a big part of our business that he makes happen on a very personal basis, like very one-on-one, very hospitality oriented. And then we have Henry and Jay and Bob out in the sales field. Cause we do self-distribution in the state of Massachusetts as someone with a farmer distiller’s license, we’re allowed to, which is incredible for us. It’s a lot of logistics to handle. But being able to control our own brand message and tell people exactly what it is we do and how, it means so much as a story driven company. So those guys are really incredible masters of making that happen. We have Mary Ellen and Alison. So, Mary Ellen does all of our tours and hospitality space. Our Friday night flights, our death metal yoga, that’s going on tomorrow. All of our tours. And also all of our special seller door sales become distillers Georgia day, where people come in and they see the distillery and they get to taste our limited releases for the year. And then Alison does a lot of- all the important stuff, all the logistics, all the planning, keeping us organized. She’s very important for us right now in the FET relief fight that’s going on, which is so important. So I would say almost half of her time is dedicated to doing outreach with senators and Congress people and community members to get them letter writing to representatives about how important it is that the cost of spirits excise tax does not go up 400% January 1st. And what that would mean for our industry and for a lot of our peers. And then, John Toto is our operations guy, which is like probably the least fancy title at our company, but he keeps all the equipment at the distillery running. He is the life saver. We could not do what we do without him. It’s amazing what he handles. And then our CEO, Andrew Cabot, who creates the overarching vision founded the company and make sure we’re all really thinking five years ahead. He’s just been amazing to learn from as an entrepreneur. It’s such a special skill and it’s so rare in people. And he really just has that magic.
Colleen Moore (00:45:42):
That’s interesting. I think that Andrew Cabot comes from another Andrew Cabot from colonial times, so maybe that is part of their family, you know what I mean?
Maggie Campbell (00:45:54):
So, the Andrew Cabot of colonial times, he is named after. It’s his sixth generation- great-great-great-great-grandfather. He was a really incredible entrepreneur. He had the onlyTobin Bridge North of Boston. He had a rum distillery and Essex County. It’s pretty amazing. Like, you see all these old documents like a bill of sale for one of the first pieces of the industrial revolution. Like, he’s ordering this technical machinery that like, yeah, he’s the birth of the industrial revolution in the U.S. Like, he’s such an entrepreneur. I think it just runs in their family.
Colleen Moore (00:46:41):
It’s like when the folks that do foreign service, so the foreign service members that go over and our ambassadors or ambassadors staffs in different countries, those kids come out having gone to school in different countries and cultures, and they just have better negotiation skills, better communication skills, and I think it is part of their environment.
Maggie Campbell (00:47:06):
I think there is part of that, what discussions were had around the dinner table when you were a kid and how does it shape your life.
Colleen Moore (00:47:13):
Are you from Colorado originally?
Maggie Campbell (00:47:17):
I was born in Inglewood. I was born in Inglewood. I grew up most of my childhood in Los Angeles. But then as a preteen, my mom moved us back to Colorado. And then, I went to school at CU Boulder and then transferred to CU Denver. I was there until I went to Germain-Robin . And then even after Germain-Robin , I came back for a year before coming back out to Privateer.
Colleen Moore (00:47:48):
What are some of the programs that you guys have at your distillery as far as health plans or, I don’t know, wellness plans, that kind of thing?
Maggie Campbell (00:48:01):
You had asked how is it important for us to take care of our people and, and for us, all of our employees staff, they get full healthcare, even some of our part time employees that includes vision. And for us, it’s really important that the mental healthcare benefits are really strong as well. So just two years ago, we upgraded everyone’s benefits. We already had very generous healthcare. We were able to upgrade everyone’s benefits with the FET relief that went through. It was one of the first things we did. We do a lot of educational support. So every year, I would say, every member of the distilling staff takes an educational trip, so they get to go study something. So, we’ve had people go study the Zingerman’s model out in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They do really incredible classes there for leadership and personal development in the business world. And because they are a fine foods purveyor, they’re really interested in a lot of the same things we are, as a business. We’ve had people go and study at different distilleries. We give them full support while they go do that. Spirits judging competition, sending them to go be a judge. They get the experience of tasting a lot of things back to back, and seeing where everything is going on in the business. And then tales of the cocktail. We sent Anhalka to last year and it was really amazing traveling with her, cause she’s 22, it’s tales of the cocktail, there’s parties and events and alcohol everywhere, is this going to go badly? And I want to say I love these young millennials. It’s like 11:00 PM and she’s like I just really feel like we want to have a great day tomorrow. We should go back to the room and do some bedtime yoga and journal, maybe some tea. And then we’ll feel fresh tomorrow. And I’m like, I love you guys. This is great. Like, you’re awesome. You don’t want to be party and get trashed and then cause a problem that we have to like deal with. Awesome. So yeah, it’s it’s really cool. And like I said, we have a really strong safety minded mentality at Privateer. Of course that just carries on through everything. when people are out at night, they’re really thinking about their safety. It’s important to us to send the message to all of our staff. Like, you’re not disposable, you’re valuable and you deserve to take care of yourself. I think, a lot in our industry, especially in the service industry, there’s this idea that people are disposable, and that’s when they treat themselves more poorly. So, we always ingrain this, you’re very valuable. Take care of yourself first. If you are not okay, you can’t bring your best self to work mentality. We hear this message, people are lazy. People are this. It’s so hard sometimes with newer employees to get them to stop and go home and take care of themselves when they’re sick. They’re scared to- “Am I allowed to go do this?” It’s like, “Yes, please, please, please”. And it takes a while for people to be able to settle in with the idea of really putting themselves first, so they can do great work. I think, it’s a real shame that in our culture, that’s such an issue. So, I think, that binds all into our benefits and support that we give our employees. We give basically unlimited time off. You just arrange that your work is covered. And when someone is off, they are off. You don’t email them, you don’t call them, you don’t text them. It’s so important to us. I think one of the best rules we put in as a distillery was, No texting after 6:00 PM”, because when people are home, they need to be home. We can’t rest and they can’t clear their head. And, you have to have a good home life, so that when things are stressful at work, you’re like, okay great, I have support at home. And when things are stressful at home, you’re like, you know what? I get to look forward to a great day at work. Like, you have to have those other things in your life to get you through tough times, other parts of your life. So for us, it’s really important that when people are home, they get to rest. And we have a family first policy, that if someone needs time off for a family emergency, it is a no questions asked, everyone pitches in and that person gets their time. I’ve really, really come to love and respect that policy cause I’ve needed it. something happens with my sister and she’s got three boys and I have to head out and help her. And it feels great to know you just don’t have to justify it or argue it or feel really bad. Everyone gets it. And everyone is so supportive of each other. I think that breeds that willingness to never abuse those policies, so it kind of takes care of itself.
Colleen Moore (00:52:54):
That’s a wonderful policy and I’m very glad that you have that for your staff.
Maggie Campbell (00:52:58):
The other thing we have that I think is rare is, we have paternity leave.
Colleen Moore (00:53:03):
We also have paternity leave. We didn’t have like, what happens if somebody has a baby policy at al, but then one of our architects went to adopted a child and he has a partner named Jeff. And so we were like, “Okay, you get to write the policy about what everybody else is gonna do”. So, he got a few months off and was able to work part time, and then came back in within like two months or something. So, paternity should not be something rare.
Maggie Campbell (00:53:42):
Right. Anyone can be a full time caregiver to a child. We need to respect that for people of all genders. So for us, that was a really important thing. It’s funny, it came up and we were like, “Oh, okay, yeah, that just exists now”. You guys were like, “Obviously, we don’t even need to have a meeting about it. It’s there. Poof. Like, we all out, we know who we are as a company, so we know what that means. And, it’s so important to have that expectation that everyone pitches in a family. And you don’t overburden certain groups of people over other groups of people when anyone can be that person who’s there. Sometimes, it takes a number of people to be there for a family.
Colleen Moore (00:54:33):
They’re just like barrels. Some of them are more needy than others.
Maggie Campbell (00:54:37):
Right. You gotta let them fulfill their needs because the potential is endless in the future.
Colleen Moore (00:54:48):
Let’s talk a little bit about your actual physical distillery now. Give us a sense of what Ipswich, Massachusetts is like as a town.
Maggie Campbell (00:54:59):
Ipswich, Massachusetts is 20 miles North of Boston. When I first came here, I almost couldn’t believe it, because I grew up in LA and then Denver. There’s suburban sprawl everywhere. But, here, it’s very much Boston ends. There’s a little bit of suburbia, but then you’re almost instantly in farmland. So, where we live is very much small family owned farms everywhere. You can buy eggs, at the end of anyone’s driveway. In my 10 minute drive, I pass five houses that sell eggs, at the end of the driveway. So people have chickens and goats and cows. They’re all very small scale family owned farms and there’s lots of little farm stands. And then, of course, it’s on the coast, we call it, the Nasha, the North shore. Ipswich is like a little seaside fisherman’s village. It’s got like adorable cobblestone streets, with all the old buildings. It’s a very small town. Everyone knows each other. It’s really, really special. I really care for it. It’s really interesting- we have a town landing, which is where ships would still to this day if you sail here from Glosser or the Cape or somewhere, like there’s businesses that have directions on their website like, Oh well from the town landing turn left, cause people would sail into town. So that still happens.
Maggie Campbell (00:56:34):
Basically, if you’re not right on the shore, it’s the small family owned farms. And then if you’re right on the shore, it’s these little fishermen villages. It’s really, really cool. A lot of people have lived here their whole lives. It’s really interesting. When I first moved here it was like, “Well, why did you move here? Like, you’re from a way. I’m from Denver where everyone moves in and out. And I’m from LA where everyone moves in and out”. And I’m like, “Oh wow, this is like really a place where people live their whole lives”. You can tell who is from what village by their accent. I mean, these villages are 10 minutes apart. So it’s interesting to me.
Colleen Moore (00:57:09):
That’s a lot like Scotland and Ireland too.
Maggie Campbell (00:57:13):
Right. It’s a really beautiful town. Our facility is on the outskirts of town. There’s like warehouse where they make bagels there. There’s a lot of people who do winter boat storage there, typical to most craft distilleries. And then, we’re in a warehouse that the outside of it is painted with ship dazzle. Never seen a ship dazzle, it’s an interesting Google. But basically they would paint these ships in these really incredible patterns to disguise them from radar. TSo the CEO of our company got really excited about painting our warehouse, like a ship with dazzle on it and it looks pretty awesome. It started like a Bauhaus vibe going on. It’s very artistic. And then, inside the warehouse when visitors walk in, they walk right into our tasting room, which is really, really beautiful. The bar is an actual boat, an actual sailboat, that’s been converted into a bar. It’s like a really beautiful classic sort of racing sailboat. And and, above it are these lights that were designed by a local artist MIT, and they look like little sails out in the ocean, and then they’re hanging from these hangers in the ceiling that almost look like constellations across the ceiling. So it’s really beautiful. And the windows as these big beautiful windows that look out on the distillery and those are all from an old abandoned warehouse in Chicago. We had them reglazed with obviously glass that would be appropriate to a distillery. And then, there’s just lots of little details all throughout. There’s these incredible slabs of live Oakwood. These trees they would soak in Boston Harbor. And as you soak them, the rings compress more and more and more. So the wood becomes very sturdy and very heavy. And that’s what old ships were made out of, so they could withstand a Canon fire. And then, the wall, behind those Oak slabs, is made of hand hammered copper. So it was just lots of little details like that all around. And people can come and they do Friday night flights, which are cocktail nights on Thursdays and Fridays. And then we do tours on Saturdays. And then, we have things like a pupper party, where people can bring their dogs in and we give them handkerchiefs, private handkerchiefs to their dogs, and all sorts of events like that. And it’s really nice for us to be able to bring the publican, cause we work in the distillery all day, like just a few of us in our work shoes, mostly with that soft focus silence all day. And to be able to see people come in and really interact with the spirit, you’re like, Oh this is like a thing out in the world and people are enjoying it. It’s really good energy for us to bring into the distillery. It means a lot to be able to do that. For us, we opened our tasting room just a couple of years ago. So, our company was already five years old. A lot of people open their tasting room right away cause, it brings really meaningful revenue and it’s a good marketing opportunity. But for us, we knew that distribution is really the hardest part of this business, especially, we knew for us as a small brand, who doesn’t have a huge marketing budget. So we really just focused on rocking distribution well the first five years. We didn’t want to be trying to run that and another business and the tasting room. So then when we felt ready, we were ready to open the tasting room. And I think, that’s actually been a wiser choice we made that wouldn’t have seemed obvious at first blush, but has actually ended up meaning a lot to us and saving us a lot in the end as far as being able to focus on the hardest part of the business first and really get off the ground strong.
Colleen Moore (01:01:17):
I do think that there is something to be said for either way that you go. A lot of people choose to do the tasting room first, but doing the production facility first, and then bringing your tasting room on later does give you time to consider and let your brand grow into what it’s going to be. And then, your tasting room can more match that instead of being generic. You know what I mean?
Maggie Campbell (01:01:46):
Absolutely. We knew more about who we were and we were really confident to show who we were. Whereas, I think, if we brought a lot of general public in, in those very early days, it might have swayed us or pushed us. we get asked all the time if we want to make spiced rum, and that’s not really who we are or what I’m super excited about or what I can do best. There are people out there who make great spice rums, especially craft distilleries that already do it really well. And that might’ve convinced us to make that choice when we heard that in our earlier days, when we were less secure, like in who we were, and that wouldn’t have been the right choice for us. I think, we knew who we were.
Colleen Moore (01:02:26):
That’s awesome. So your stills are from Christian CARL, it looks like
Maggie Campbell (01:02:32):
We have two CARL stills that are a hybrid pot column and then we have one Vendome Kentucky potstill.
Colleen Moore (01:02:39):
Is one of them a stripping still?
Maggie Campbell (01:02:44):
Yeah, the Vendome is our stripping still and then the Christian CARLs are spirit stills. And like in the Caribbean tradition or just rum tradition, it means that we can make these different marks and these different styles and age them differently.
Colleen Moore (01:02:59):
Let’s talk a little bit about spirits judging, which is really why we’re talking today. Tell me about the craft spirits ACSA spirits judging program.
Maggie Campbell (01:03:13):
I joined as the judging director, I want to say about four years ago. I think we just had our fourth one. Basically, someone on the board asked me like, “Why don’t you ever enter your spirits?” And I said, “I just don’t like a lot of spirits competitions. I think a lot of them are money-making schemes. And I think that a lot of them are just about generating these imaginary fake marketing materials of like, Oh you got 102 points in a triple gold. Spire! Woo! And it just wasn’t for me”. And they said, “Well, we’re a not for profit. We’re inherently not making money on this. We really are trying to be in the service of our members and create something special. You know a lot about wine judging competitions and you seem to know a lot about spirit judging competitions”, cause I ran my mouth and they said, “Why don’t you head it up and make it something you’d be really proud to enter, but don’t enter it cause you’re the judging director”. So for me, it was really great because there is none of this money making scheme pressure to do stupid things like award stuff that shouldn’t get awarded or really push metals. It’s really about what do our members want, what have they told us they want? How do we provide something that’s really meaningful for them? How do we make sure that they’re excited to enter and excited to get their information back? How do we make it as honest and transparent and fair as possible? Because, we’re not for profit, we don’t have any alternative motives, our ulterior motives. So, we do absolute top notch quality control. I would never enter my products. In fact, I’m not even allowed to touch or flight the rums because I’m a rum maker and I would think certain things or have intimacy with some producers and not others. So, I actually don’t get to make any decisions on what happens to the rum panels either if the steward comes back and says, Hey, I think this needs to be flighted this way, that decision goes to my second and third in command. And they actually make all those choices because I’m not allowed to. So we bring like extra, extra levels of transparency and honesty. We never ever adjust a judge’s score where if I have judged at competitions where I know scores have been adjusted, it was really upsetting and was kind of the thing that turned me off of all of judging. I will never adjust judges scores will never omit any judges scores unless they themselves say like, I have a cold or I something like that. So, all the scores are very fair. All the feedback is very honest. And for us, generating meaningful feedback is very important. So, we use a very detailed spirit’s form. It allows for commentary on each aspect of the spirit. It also has like lists of descriptors where they can circle different words that apply. So I hated in other competitions when you get a sheet back and it would be blank and you’d be like, “Well, what’d you even think? What do I need to know about the spirit?” So this generates a lot of feedback that the producer gets back, so they understand how their spirit was perceived by this other person, who’s hopefully I really am very proud of the caliber of judges we get there at the top of their field and they’ve tasted a lot of things. So, getting this meaningful detailed feedback is really helpful. And then rather than score three points for appearance and 10 points for this and 7 points for that, you get one overall numerical score that captures the essence of your spirits. So as far as when producers do want to create some marketing material, they can say exactly 97 points or 99 points and a gold metal or however it turns out. So for them, it does create meaning that when they’re communicating to their customer what did it when and why, there’s a real reason to it. It’s not just a random collection of numbers describing bizarre facets of a product, so it’s actually one holistic meaningful score. So I think that that is something that’s really valuable we bring as well.
Colleen Moore (01:07:49):
I agree. Tell me about the awards, because I think a lot of consumers approach it as the Olympic style. There’s a gold, there’s a silver, there’s a bronze and that was awarded to the best performance that day. So, how is spirit judging awards? How are those awards different for spirits competitions?
Maggie Campbell (01:08:16):
For us, at the very start of the competition, we do a judge’s calibration seminar. The first evening of the event, we all get together and we all review the judge’s sheet. So everyone’s on the same page. This isn’t about, does this bourbon tastes like maker’s Mark? Cause that’s not what any of our producers are trying to do. Is this technically correct? It’s not even necessarily that you personally like it or don’t like it. It’s, ‘was this well done?’ Can you get the intent of the producer? What is the quality here? Does the level of alcohol match the level of flavor? Does the finish linger with good quality flavors? And if so, for how long? And we really discussed what quality means and what we’re looking for and how important some of the originality of our producers are. You know, coffee flavor gin one best gin two years. And it tasted amazing. I saw it and I was like, Oh no, that does not look appealing. And I saw one and so, of course, I tasted it and it was amazing. It was so good. So that, openness to things can be different and things can be exciting. And just recreating what a big brand already has and making people pay more for it, cause you don’t have the advantage of scale isn’t super successful for a lot of our producers. Some of them make a beautiful, classic whiskey and that’s great and they should be rewarded. And some people make something really new and really original and they should be rewarded too. So, we discuss a lot of those ideas and philosophies. And then as far as actual awards go, we do an innovation award. So, sometimes like I had POTV one year as a judge, and it was so beautiful. But none of the other judges had ever had POTV. It was kind of weird to them. So it didn’t metal, but I thought it was great. So at our competition, we would have an innovation award where they’re allowed to vote and give points for innovation. And then the highest scoring innovation product wins its own award for being very original. So, it helps to include those things that might be a little more divisive or unique. And then we do our point system, and 90_100 is a gold, 80_90 is a silver, and 70_80 is a bronze. And so to get any of those, they have to be very good spirits. Because, if they’re just average there, they’re like, okay, great. But if it has that little extra and it’s exciting, that’s when we start to get into the philosophy of these different point ranges. And on the judges score sheet is a description of what 90_100 spirits is. This is exciting. This is technically flawless. You want to share this with the world. It’s delicious. And then 80_90 and 70_80. So, each spirit is tasted as its own within that scheme. So it’s not like a sporting event where you outranked everyone. It is, did it match this description? And if so, it gets that metal. And one of the most important things on our score sheet is, we have a section where it says, would you pour this for a beer? And it says like, absolutely, sure or ma or absolutely not. So for me, I think that’s one of the coolest things we offer, because when I give my bottle to a journalist who’s traveling through town, and then I get a text two months later, “Hey, I was at so and so’s house and they made me taste this bottle, this is really exciting. What are you guys doing?” That for me is invaluable as a small producer. So, getting that feedback on the sheet is very important too. After all the bronze, silvers, and golds are awarded, the top ranking spirit across each category goes out to every judge for best of show. And then, they get to do a ranked choice voting for best of show. And then best of show is celebrated as the most beloved spirit of the spirits tasting.
Colleen Moore (01:12:36):
I like to understand what it is, because sometimes you see double gold, triple gold and it’s like, “What is that meaning, sincerely?” This seems like a pretty straightforward set up.
Maggie Campbell (01:12:49):
Well, one of the coolest things about the competition is, we have a big awards Gala Dinner at our convention every year. So attendees of the convention get this multi-course meal and we do a big onstage award show and everyone is cheering over a thousand distillers they’re cheering you on if you win. That for me is like the most exciting part of the judging is getting to hand out those metals and put them on people, and they’re just over the moon and cheering and it’s really, really exciting.
Colleen Moore (01:13:20):
It’s a Gallo without having to wear a tuxedo or a fancy itchy dress.
Maggie Campbell (01:13:25):
Overalls is welcome.
Colleen Moore (01:13:27):
Yes, denim is preferred. Well thank you so much for talking with us today about not only your distillery, but also the spirits judging. I really appreciate your time and effort that you put into the industry, and then also talking with me.
Maggie Campbell (01:13:45):
Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Colleen Moore (01:13:50):
Well, we are likely over our 50 minute episode target, at this point, but does it matter? Are you enjoying the longer format shows or would you prefer that I keep the episodes to a strict timeframe of like 50 minutes? This is one of those items I’m going to need your feedback on, so send me an email ([email protected]) Tell me if the episodes are too long or if you prefer them as long as they need to be to cover the topic.
Colleen Moore (01:14:26):
A special thanks today to Andre Meunier from the Oregonian and Oregon Live, for his amazing work of trying every single brewery in Portland. Tough work, but he’s trained for it. I’ll have a link to his extensive body of work covering all of Portland’s breweries with the Oregonian and Oregon Live on our show notes page, so you can read more about all the amazing breweries of PDX while you are queuing up for security plus onboarding flights, and even hanging out at baggage claim. I will also have links to the breweries that Andre singled out specifically for the distillers distinguished palette.
Colleen Moore (01:15:03):
Maggie Campbell was so gracious with her time and information about the ethos of ACSA judging program. She did a tremendous job leading a group of more than 30 expert judges to evaluate more than 500 entries at Cardinal spirits in Bloomington, Indiana in October of 2019. The judging categories include vodka and grain spirits, gin, Brandy, rum, whiskey, specialty spirits and new this year ready to drink cocktails. I am excited to see who won all of the different categories this year, but especially that RTD category, and I hope they have some samples. ACSA judging awards were scheduled to be announced March 30th at the annual awards gala, and I’m going to have to report back if those will be released ahead of a rescheduled convention, or if they will be released as scheduled. Either way that turns out fingers crossed for everybody that entered the spirits for the competitions this year. And thanks for Maggie for being on the show ahead of the convention. Well that is all we have for today. Stay safe and healthy out there and remember, wash your hands early and often
Fermentis promo (01:16:17):
The Distilling Craft podcast is brought to in part by our great sponsors “Fermentis”. The obvious choice for beverage fermentation. Providing the craft spirits industry worldwide with the best fermentation needs for more than 100 years. Contact our sales team to help make your choice on yeast and products for distilling your next great spirit. For more information, or to find a distributor visit www.fermentis.com.
Colleen Moore (01:16:46):
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a giant thank you goes out to YOU for downloading and listening to this episode of our podcast. Don’t forget to like, share, subscribe, even if you like just a tiny bit of today’s show, it really helps out with our shows vital statistics. If you want more information about this show, go to the show notes on our website, www.dalkita.com/shownotes where we will have links to the people, places and things mentioned today. There is even a real live transcript of the show to share with all your friends and you can post a short comment for our team to obsess over dissect, and even infer your tone and judge your grammar. Our theme music was composed by Jason Shaw and is used under creative comments, attribution 3.0 license. The final shout out goes to the man that puts all of this together, our sound editor, Daniel Phillips of zero crossing productions. Until next time, seriously guys stay safe out there. I’m Colleen Moore from Dalkita, and this has been the Distilling Craft podcast.
Dalikta Sponsor (01:17:54):
Dalkita is committed to getting intelligent and quality design solutions out of the Craft Distilling Industry. Check them out at their website: www.dalkita.com. Until next time, this has been Distilling Craft. Cheers!!
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