Microdistillation is growing in the United States. On a recent trip to North Carolina, we visited two 2017 San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition Gold Medal winning distillers that are 30 miles apart and that make two very different styles of gin: Sutler’s Spirit Co in Winston-Salem North Carolina and Fainting Goat Spirits in Greensboro. Our goal was to learn more about these gin companies and find into what factors influenced the development of their business. Both were completely transparent about their product and production methodology and create products free of additives. The only propylene glycol used to regulate the temperature of the fermentation vats at Fainting Goat Spirits.
Insight into finding a location: When Scot Sanborn searched the Piedmont Triad Region for a home for Sutler’s Spirit Co he settled in Winston-Salem because the progressive culture and affordable rent. Another selling point was the West End Millworks project that houses multiple like minded business including a craft brewer. This has allowed Sutler’s and the other business located at the Millworks project to share both ideas and resources.
Distiller - Scot Sanborn
American Distiller Institute (distilling.com)
Home Distillation of Alcohol (homedistiller.org)
Ingredients: Neutral Spirit, Juniper. Coriander, Angelic Root, Dill, Lemon peel, Orange peel, Lavender, Licorice
Insight into sourcing ingredients: Scot found his botanical sources through mentors in the industry.
Still: Custom built column still.
Sutler’s Gin Production Process
Neutral spirit is run through the Carterhead “style” still to Vapor infused botanicals. After the initial pass, the distillate is collected in totes. Water is added to proof, and then 80% of the totes contents are bottled. The remaining 20-30% of the spirit is left to help provide consistency in flavor for the next batch.
Sanborn has always wanted to make an aged spirit. However, due to Federal licensing, it is impractical to do so without making a non-aged product first as it would be years before making any money. Having a supplementary product also proved useful during the barrel shortage as his gin production kicked up allowing him to table that project. Recently, barrel production has increased allowing production on a Portugal made Hogga still 100% pot still rum. The still made by Hogga in Portugal will 10-14 day ferment (as opposed to continuous fermentation), aged in virgin barrels with the age statement reflecting the actual number of years that the product was aged in the barrel. We will be visiting him next year to learn more about his rum making process.