The distilled spirits industry has evolved in the last five years, with smaller, craft players establishing operations and tasting rooms in cities large and small. It’s very similar to the craft beer boom, which witnessed unbelievable growth from the early 2000s to today, when the number of breweries jumped from around 2,000 to more than 7,000.
Today, there are more than 1,800 craft distillers in the United States and we welcomed 35 of them to Louisville, Kentucky for the third annual Honey Spirits Summit.
The goal of the Honey Spirits Summit is simple: inspire distillers to use honey to craft quality spirits. You’ve most likely seen honey’s use in spirits in the whiskey and bourbon category, where honey-flavored versions of Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey have been dominating the flavored whiskey market. In fact, check out these impressive stats from 2018:
Although honey has made its mark on the whiskey and bourbon category, it represents just the tip of the iceberg when looking into honey’s potential in the spirits category.
Of particular interest to attendees was crafting spirits distilled 100% from honey. These once rare spirits are gaining momentum as millennial consumers seek unique, high-quality spirits with a story. To teach our attendees about creating spirits distilled from honey, we enlisted the services of Randy Mann Jr. from Up North Distillery in Post Falls, Idaho. During a technical session, Randy detailed the process his distillery goes through to create distilled from honey spirits.
In concept, the process is simple. You mix honey and water, then pitch yeast and wait for fermentation. Fermentation creates a mead, which is then distilled to the desired proof. Although this may sound straight-forward, the nuances in making a spirit like this results in amazing flavors and aromatics that are truly unlike any other product on the marketplace. In addition to talking about his products, Randy also gave attendees samples of various spirits distilled from honey and aged in barrels.
Also detailing the process of distilling from honey was Adam Quirk of Cardinal Spirits. This Bloomington, Indiana, distillery adds a unique twist to its products by using yeast from beehives to trigger fermentation. Plus, Cardinal Spirits back sweetens its Honey Schnapps with honey from its own beehives.
It was another enlightening presentation among a busy two days of learning about honey, honey bees and how to use honey to flavor spirits and create unique 100% distilled from honey spirits.
As usual, we capped off the Honey Spirits Summit with an apiary tour and send-off lunch at Jeptha Creed, where we were able to tour their distillery and sample their excellent Honey Vodka.
Check out these great honey spirits and bee sure to keep an eye out in your local grocers for new and innovative honey spirits!