Arts & Entertainment

Dowd On Drinks: Distilling Is Just A Matter Of Scale




There is a fraternity of enthusiasm that encompasses spirits makers on various scales. But when it comes down to the actual production of drinks, building the businesses certainly remains a matter of scale.

On the high end, Glenmorangie has installed the last piece of a new four-still set in its Tain, Rossshire, Scotland, distillery.

The 5.14-meter high swan-necked copper is part of what the company says is that nation’s tallest whisky still.

The installation is part of an overall $68 million expansion and upgrade that included additional fermentation capacity and additions to existing buildings in phase one which was completed in October. The distillation equipment expansion and upgrade is phase two.

It is the largest expansion in the history of the distillery, which was founded in 1843.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, some Kentucky entrepreneurs have found that if you’re planning on going into the bourbon-making business, you ought to figure into your plan something to do while you’re waiting for the whiskey to take shape.

At the tiny Barrel House Distilling Co. in Lexington, Ky., they’ve found such an activity. They’re making vodka and rum.

Frank Marino, Jeff Wiseman and Peter Wright teamed up to create the micro-distillery at the former Pepper Distillery on Manchester Street. But first, they’re making the other spirits, with their Pure Blue Vodka now available on a limited, and local, basis. In the new year, they’ll expand sales to area liquor stores and some restaurants and bars. It’s currently selling for $20 for the 750ml bottle.

By late in 2009, they’re planning to produce a honey rum aged in bourbon barrels. The bourbon will come in 2114 or so.

“We need people to buy the vodka to support the other products,” Marino, an architect and the company’s master distiller, told Kentucky.com.

(For a more visual look at matters of scale, go online to http://spiritsnotebook.blogspot.com/2008/12/matter-of-scale.html for a perfect example.)

(William M. Dowd covers the adult beverage world online at BillDowd.com)