But… is it craft?

“But…is it craft?” he asked…

Let me explain why we aren’t a craft.

The profusion and growth of the small distiller and subsequent products thereof has spawned a vocabulary related to the small distilling trade in terms of marketing so vast that it almost necessitates a glossary by which the average consumer can consult and subsequently figure out if the terms used on the bottle match the story and methodology of the producer.  Such is the word “Craft” so commonly misused and misunderstood (even by yours truly) that in my opinion, I have determined it to be an utterly useless term relating to the art of deception more closely than it is to the art of a cottage industry.  A carpetbagger’s mantra if you will.

Since we are speaking of definitions here I should elaborate.  From my lexicon: Carpetbagger, Noun.  Person with all the money necessary to be exploitative of people or ideas but none of the requisite talent to deliver a product without the help of a talented and underpaid employee.

If you scan through Google entries, you will quickly realize that there are many arguments for or against the word “craft” as applied to distilleries.  I refuse to enter that debate myself.  I think it is pointless for me and (I believe) for most savvy consumers who would spend their hard-earned money on an independent product based on a word that is dead.  Quit kicking the horse.   It honestly makes no sense.  All spirits that in some way shape or form involve the interaction of human senses of perception have been “crafted” to meet a particular profile or target flavor.  For those with problems with the big guys, too bad, they are crafting too.  We work in a trade and every trade has its secrets and its methods.  Are all of them honest?  No.  Are all of them good? No.  But they are no less “crafted” or at the very least “crafty” as I’ve discussed before.

No, it makes far more sense to say “independent distiller” in my mind.  Free from the burdens of corporate overreach and judgement; free to pursue the trade as the artist sees fit; free of the burden of that “craft” label that has become ubiquitous enough to spirits in the liquor stores as has the golden arches to hamburgers; and free to succeed or to fail without the crutch of copycat marketing.  If only distilling or any trade was simple enough to use a blanket label such as craft, alas however there is more to describe.  Everybody wants to play distiller these days, everyone wants to claim and proclaim their greatness, but strangely enough nobody wants to use that good old dirty word “rectifier”.

Rectifiers are people who buy in spirit and either re-distill it, add some substance to it, or even blend it to meet a set of parameters.  It was very common pre-prohibition and it still exists to this day, it’s just that very few are honest about it.  Almost all distillers are rectifiers to some extent.  If you source whiskey, if you source grain neutral spirit to redistill into gin, if you source low wine and do no mashing or fermenting of your own you are to some greater or lesser extent a rectifier.  I can think of a couple of larger DINO’s (Distillers in Name Only) that should probably just go ahead and label their bottles “Craft Rectified”, of course that doesn’t sound nearly as sexy does it?  There is nothing wrong with rectifying spirits per se, afterall we all love gin, aquavit, and absinthe and there is a “craft” that goes into those products, but so long as we are being truthful and squabbling over words…

For customers truth is important as is quality and a fair price.  That’s what we strive for here at Spirits of French Lick and that’s what you will get from us.  No marketing gimmicks, no made up story, just honest and fair spirits.  Independent spirits from an Independent distiller and occasional rectifier of gin, absinthe, and aquavit.