13/01/2023 5 leading distillers on the most important skills for a distiller in 2023.
Tom Anderson: Distilling is more than the act of watching a still run. I have always said brewers make great distillers. They know the flavor and the flavor of the spirit is the flavor of what you are distilling. The other skill is realizing how each distillate will be consumed. Working with bartenders to create spirits that make great cocktails is the key to a great product.
Stephen Gould: A solid basic understanding of chemistry, specifically the chemistry and biology of mashing and fermentation. If you're planning on making gin or other herbal or botanical products, have an understanding of the various processes used to prepare materials and extract essences and essential oils. At least basic tool and mechanical skills. A thirst for knowledge and continuous improvement. Good project and time management skills.
Ben Leggett: Ask why! As I also consult for other distilleries and assist in still design and compliance, I meet many new and established distillers but remain surprised about how few know why they use a specific process or technique. Too often the answer is, "That's how we were told to do it". Gin is our primary production and in a nutshell, it is very easy to make. What makes gin complicated is the chemical flavoring influences from the immense number of choices a distiller can make whether macerated, single shot or multi, basket or boiler, on or off solids, base ethanol and charge strength, still shape and design, botanical mass and all the post-production influences available. For us the fun is in the learning, so keep asking why.
Sebastiaan Smits: As a distiller, you need to have a thirst for knowledge and really know all the steps of the process through and through. It's not enough to just follow a recipe, even if that recipe has worked for hundreds of years. You need to know why it works, what it does, and wherein the process flavors are created, harvested, and changed. Also, you need to have a great palate and a good nose. Luckily for us, that means a lot of studying, whereas other people might call it drinking.
Mario Rudolf: As with any food or beverage, it's the feel of the product. A constant drive for knowledge, improvement, and the pursuit of perfection with a good dose of passion, is of course also an advantage. But that probably applies to all professions. A good sense of taste should also be mentioned.