Do you have that person on your holiday shopping list that’s just impossible to shop for? They need another sweater like they need another stuffed animal cover for their favorite driver. You gave them the weekend trip to their favorite distillery for a Private Barrel Select as a gift last year and you’re thinking now what? And while we are at it, let’s be honest, that person you got the private barrel select for was you and probably some of your best spirit aficionados buds.
How Do You Top a Private Barrel Select?
A private barrel select is great but, you’re ready for more. You’re ready to back up the process where you are your own distiller and you make all the distillation decisions from grain to glass. Not kind of, sort of but every decision from grinding the grains (I highly suggest earplugs, the sound is deafening) to the final labeling and bottling. If you choose the white dog moonshine route you could have finished product by the end of the week long class but, that’s not likely. Chances are if you are taking this course you’re going to age your spirit for years and that’s ok, your custom barrel will be sitting there maturing until you decide it’s ready for bottling. How will you decide when it’s ready? You’ll come visit your barrel and taste your custom spirit along the way whether that’s four months or four years.
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My Craft Distillery – Your Own Craft Spirit from Grain to Glass
Moonshine University is introducing a new program called, “My Craft Distillery.” The program allows spirits lovers from around the globe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create their very own spirit. Students will spend approximately one week developing and customizing their spirit to their exact specifications. They will work one-on-one with a team member from Moonshine University to formulate a mash bill that will produce approximately 50 gallons of their spirit, enough to fill a standard 53 gallon Oak barrel. Other than being a lover of distilled spirits, there are no pre-requisites.
You Make Every Decision Right Down to the Yeast Strain
We had an opportunity to speak with Colin Blake, Moonshine University’s Director of Spirits Education to learn about the program. Colin explained, “It’s a week long experience. You actually get to design everything yourself. You get to come in and do sensory training on grains and then figure out your own mashbill. You pick out your own grains then mill them, mash them, set your fermenters. You get to visit some distilleries while your grains are fermenting. You get to go to Kelvin Cooperage and do a private tour and actually pick the barrel and char the barrel yourself. Then you do more sensory training, you get to do the stripping run, the spirits run, you get to make your own cuts, you get to pick your own entry proof. It’s all about the super personal, intimate experience where you get to make every single choice including your own yeast strain. The end product is amazing and that’s what people ultimately want but it’s really the experience of doing it all yourself and making every little decision along the way and being trained properly to make an informed decision every step along the way.”
For aged spirits, once the development week is complete, the aging barrel will be on display at Moonshine University. There, students can monitor the maturation process at regular intervals until they deem the product ready to be bottled. At that point, students can choose between standard or custom packaging options and have a hand in dumping the barrel and filling their bottles. The empty barrel and the full bottles are then theirs.
Pricing for My Craft Distillery varies based on the type of spirit the student chooses, but prices range from $15,000 to $20,000 for up to four students in a group. The type of spirits also determines the number of days you’ll be in class. The whiskey class is the longest at six days, five days from rum, and three days for brandy, gin or absinthe. The cost of the experience includes hotel accommodations for four at the Brown Hotel, an opening night dinner to talk shop with some of the folks from Moonshine University and daily lunches.
These are ultra personalized classes so there’s no set schedule. Anyone interested in any of the classes needs to contact Moonshine University to make arrangements for each unique experience.