The times, they are a-changin’, when it comes to every aspect of life, and drinks production is no exception. If there’s one thing we should be thanking hipsters for, it’s ushering in and popularizing craft beers. The trend caught on quickly and has, in the meantime, spread to other drinks as well, such as wine and hard liquor. In a way, we are going back to the roots, with every small producer pouring all his knowledge and personal tastes into creating a well defined signature drink. Let’s take a look at how exactly small, artisan distilleries have transformed the world of alcoholic drinks and turned drinks production into a subtle and sophisticated art form. Here’s the art in artisan distilling.
ARTISAN DISTILLING, A GROWING FIELD
The last few years have seen a multifold rise in the number of private distilleries, but the trend doesn’t seem to be dying down yet. In fact, the number of private producers opening each year seems to surpass the last, with a noticeable trend of growth. For instance, in the UK around 25 new distilleries are opened each year. The most popular drinks produced are gin, whiskey, vodka and fruit spirits. Distilleries are becoming so numerous that they are even starting to organize trade fairs where they show off the fruits of their labour, scope out new equipment and other innovations of the craft, and discuss trade secrets. Ireland, for example, was the world leader in whiskey production, until the mid last century when almost all the distilleries were shot down. Now you have a kind of a resurrection in reopening of Teeling, Tullamore and other distilleries.
ARTISAN DISTILLING, A FOCUS ON THE CONSUMER
What’s in it for the average consumer, you might ask. First of all, there is the obvious advantage of a greater variety. Each distillery has its own delicate differences in flavor. Most of them offer year round varieties and special, seasonal drinks. If you are just starting to delve into the world of artisanal spirits, and feel overwhelmed by the choice, it might be worth it to make a visit to the distilleries for a taste. Most of these new distilleries take a serious approach to pleasing their customers and ensuring complete satisfaction. That is why they have their own pubs where you can sample their products. Some even organize tasting tours of the distillery itself. As interest grows and consumers’ palates becomes more and more refined, the movement is gaining exposure, so much so that fine artisanal spirits are even being covered in Vogue magazine. This rising popularity will probably be beneficial and help bring even more quality drinks to the end customer, thus raising the bar further.
CRAFT SPIRITS DOWN UNDER, THE ART OF DISTILLING
Perhaps because of its particular position and the unavailability of certain brands, Australia’s spirits production is having a moment right now. Some distilleries are growing their own ingredients. Others, like the Archie Rose distillery, take a unique approach and tailor their drinks specifically for their customers, for a one-of-a kind-experience. With many renowned international awards under their belt, and a global reputation as some of the best in the world, Australian distillers are now fighting to lower government excise duties. Together with stronger branding, this will enable them to place their products better and reach more customers, offering them far more sophisticated and better quality drinks than the mass-produced fair that can currently be found on the shelves of most stores, especially large chains. Pubs serving premium drinks are also trying to get exemption from the notorious Lock-out Laws which prohibit serving shots after midnight. Now it’s up to them to differentiate themselves from cheap alcohol which is consumed to get drunk, and position themselves as a delicacy which is enjoyed for its exquisite quality.
It’s no wonder that there is a big interest for craft drinks in Australia – after all, the country ranks among the top 20 in the world when it comes to alcohol consumption. Now it’s just a matter of providing people with exceptional quality, and the mission is well under way.