My Advice for an Aspiring Distiller

Hi guys, Happy May(!?!)

Every once in a while I get an email from someone asking what I did, how I did it, what worked, what didn’t, etc. etc. in relation to starting You & Yours. I don’t always have time to answer each one thoughtfully but thanks to our current quarantine situation, I sure do these days. While replying to one such note last week I figured this might be a nice post idea so that anyone – myself included – can direct other aspiring distillers here in the future! Without further ado, my advice for an aspiring distiller —

Advice-For-Aspiring-Distiller-1  { our newly installed hybrid still @ Y&Y, circa late 2016 }

***Quick post update! It occurred to me it might be worth mentioning this post is naturally best suited for someone looking to follow a similar path to the one I went down with Y&Y (not that it was by any means straightforward or obvious to me at the time lol), seeing as that’s where my knowledge and experience lie. There are several potential roads to becoming a distiller or finding a career in the craft spirits industry, mine is just one of them. 

First off, I would commend you for taking your dreams and putting them front and center. Not an easy task. It’s quite common for seasoned distillers to urge aspiring newbies to reconsider their distilling dreams. I can imagine how discouraging that must be as I felt similarly dissuaded when someone suggested early on that I simply white label my product (have another distillery make it for me) instead of launching my own operation. Lucky for me that route to market never interested me in the slightest.

I will, however, preface all the below my saying that starting a distillery from scratch is without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever done. I often say if I knew then what I know now there is a very real chance I would not have moved forward with Y&Y, truthfully. Actually getting a distillery up and running aside, this industry is incredibly difficult to navigate and “make it” in… You will need infallible conviction and perhaps a certifiably-insane amount of perseverance, but if you have those two things I would never deter anyone from trying. 

JUST GETTING STARTED…

To begin I recommend purchasing a small perfume still on eBay or the like. They are small glass versions of the “real” thing and do the trick when just starting out or tinkering. I still use one to this day to begin any new R&D project I dream up. They will be listed as a glass still, perfume still, or essential oil still and shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars at the most. Botanicals can be purchased in small quantities on Amazon via Starwest Botanicals or other similar suppliers. 

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If you haven’t already, begin to politely infiltrate your surrounding community of distillers. Reaching out to the Guild President in your region/state/city/county is your best bet if you don’t know where to start. It may not be easy nor particularly helpful in the beginning but a huge reason why Y&Y was able to open on the timeline it did is because a fellow distiller I eventually befriended allowed me to learn and work on his equipment in the very early days. Just keep showing up to meetings/events and introducing yourself. Someone will eventually take notice.

NEXT STEPS…

As soon as you can financially and otherwise, sign up for Moonshine University’s 6 Day Distiller Course in Louisville, Kentucky. Without a doubt the most helpful and practical distilling education I completed. Beyond just knowledge and practical skills, I gained contacts there that I wouldn’t have opened Y&Y if it weren’t for them. I simply wouldn’t even consider spending money on any other course/workshop offered by a distillery (in my experience they are taking advantage of this wave in popularity and simply taking your money). 

 { me at my very first distilling workshop (!!!), summer 2014 }

There are a LOT of steps to fulfilling your distilling-related goals between the previous and following paragraphs and your experience will, of course, depend entirely on you and what your goals are. I would encourage you to take your time discovering and exploring these steps. By all means, fail fast and often but what the craft distilling industry – in my opinion – desperately needs above all is more professionalism, thoughtfulness and intention. This is a precarious industry still in it’s infant stages and simply put, quickly churned out operations lacking the necessary skills, safety measures and attention to detail are not going to further the industry’s growth in a positive way.

View More: http://lindseymariephotography.pass.us/youandyours  { the Y&Y tasting room slowlyyyy coming together, fall 2016 }

ONCE YOU’RE UP & RUNNING…

This is perhaps the best advice I could ever give: Figure out what parts of the business you are best at and that bring you the most joy. Whatever those answers are, do those things and hire someone for all the others.*** I urge you to give this an enormous amount of thought. Get rid of any and all ego (an important step it would seem several distillers like to skip 😉 ). Ask those close to you the same question about yourself and see what they say. 

Advice-For-Aspiring-Distiller-10  {the (ultra sophisticated) process of narrowing in on a Sunday Gin formulation, early 2017?}

For example… In the beginning I did the distilling myself (and even then with ample help) but quickly realized running a distillery of the size and scale I was after does not leave much time for actual distilling (hah). So a few months in I hired someone to help out on a more regular basis and guess what? – I’ve been largely removed from the actual day-to-day production ever since. I have always known that one of my greatest strengths within this business is creating our signature flavor profile and developing the bright, fresh, ingredient-driven spirits we’ve come to be well known for. Therefore I maintain full control of all recipe development and scaling up of new products or formulations, but I leave the eventual day-to-day production of those products to our production distiller so I can focus elsewhere when I need to. I still deeply love the art and process of creating spirits but personally, I know that apart from crafting our brand’s unique flavor profile, my time is best spent keeping crosshairs on the bigger picture and growing the company by helping to sell the product and building/managing my team.

Advice-For-Aspiring-Distiller-6{ getting ready to open, March 2017! }

LONG TERM…

Seeing as You & Yours is just a little over three years old, I’m still figuring things out every day. Perhaps we’ll do a part two! Any specific questions you have or parts of my journey you’d like me to elaborate on? Let me know in the comments. :)

I skipped around a lot but I hope something in there was helpful for you. I wish you the best of luck and hope you achieve all your dreams and then some! Send me a bottle when you do :) – LKJ

***Every operation is different and I believe what defines a “successful” distillery is purely subjective. This is simply what I would advise someone looking to start a distillery with the desire and intention of growing it into a profitable, viable business.

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Styles of Gin 101

DIY-G&T-Bar-Distillerista-22-Gins

Ever wondered what the difference is between Gin & Genever? Or thought to yourself, “What the hell is Old Tom Gin?” Well, I’m here to help! Here are my ultimate Cliff Notes on the five most popular styles of gin you’ll find out in the wild. 

Genever – The original gin, or more accurately, the spirit modern-day gin was born from. Less dry and spicy, with a lighter botanical profile than London Dry. Also not as clean or sharp as London Dry. Usually distilled from grain, specifically malt, so it has a more robust, cereal-like foundation. Often combined with neutral grain spirit to balance and infused with herbs and spices, including juniper. Kind of like a gin, but not quite. You can find all kinds of Genevers, some unaged, some aged for months, up to several years. 

London Dry – This is your traditional, modern-day standard for gin. 98% of the time, when people think gin, they’re thinking of a London Dry style gin. London Drys are juniper forward, piney, usually slightly spicy, very dry, and often have anise or licorice notes. They’re clean and sharp on the pallet and can have quite overwhelming flavor profiles. This is what makes gin such a great cocktail ingredient, as their punctuated flavor profiles can hold up to other bold flavors.

Old Tom A hybrid between Genever and a London Dry and my favorite style! Will often be distilled from a grain base in lieu of neutral spirit, like Genever, to give it that maltiness, but given a robust botanical profile more like that of a London Dry. Very often either A. barrel aged and/or B. post-sweetened. 

American- / Western-style – Both of these terms are kind of a catch-all for any gin that’s not necessarily juniper-forward. The Beverage Alcohol Manual (a federally distributed document and every distiller’s bible) simply states that a gin is any spirit predominately flavored with juniper, so as you can tell, this give distillers enormous creative freedom when creating a gin. These terms can describe floral gins, citrus gins, spicy gins, infused gins, or any gin that uses a lighter hand when it comes to juniper berries.

Sloe Gin – A gin or gin liqueur that’s usually lower in ABV and characterized by the flavor of sloe berries. Most often the product of a post-distillation maceration of sloe berries and some sort of post-sweetening to tame the tartness of the sloe berry. Lovely warmed up a fire!

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A Very Distillerista Gift Guide!

The Holidays are here, can you believe it?! Below are some of the things I’m gifting – and wishing for! – this year… whether you’re searching for something for the traveler, spirits enthusiast, aspiring distiller or ultimate host(ess) in your life, I’ve got you covered!

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For the traveler…

Away Suitcase (pictured) I SWEAR by my bigger carry on from AWAY. I love this thing so much, I bought one for my fiancé too. They hold SO MUCH (seriously, I packed for two+ weeks in New Zealand with just this one bag! And we know I don’t like to outfit repeat…) and they’re incredibly durable and easy to maneuver. Plus all the fun colors to choose from! You’ll never by another suitcase again.

En Route Passport Holder (pictured) A cute passport cover makes a great stocking stuffer for your wanderlust-ing bestie.

Carry On Cocktail Kit (pictured) I – honestly – never fly without one, and neither should you! Or anyone you love. I’m all about elevating your imbibing experience, and that means when you’re flying too.

Silk Eye Mask (pictured) Nothing like a chic silk eye mask to make coach feel a little more luxurious!

Hydrating Sheet mask… I love embarrassing my fiancé on long flights and throwing on a sheet mask (bonus points if you do it WITH the eye mask!) What better time to multi-task than on a long flight, self-care included!

 

For the spirits enthusiast or aspiring distiller… 

Gin Making Kit (pictured) Have a budding distiller on your hands? Get them an at-home gin making kit!

Sunday Gin (pictured) It wouldn’t be a Distillerista gift guide if I didn’t include a bottle of Sunday Gin! I may be a little biased, but that aside, it’s a lovely entry point enter the world of gin for a friend who may need a little coaxing over to the good side! Check out our website for where to buy (shipping options included), or pop by the tasting room to pick up a bottle.

Cocktail Class (pictured) If your gift recipient is local to San Diego, consider purchasing them two tickets to one of our cocktail classes! Such a great way to learn – or brush up – on the basics of cocktail making and a fun date night idea to boot.

Large format ice molds (pictured) No better way to enjoy your favorite spirits than over a large format ice cube. They provide the bit of chill you’re looking for plus slow dilution.

Table Top Distilling Book For the more studious spirits enthusiast, a wealth of knowledge on small-scale at-home distilling lies in this wonderful book!

 

For the ultimate host or hostess in your life… or anyone really!

Seasonal Candle with Cloche (pictured) No one was ever mad about receiving a candle! And this glass cloche provides an extra bit of elegance.

Chic Corkcicle cooler tote (pictured) Such a game changer! No more lugging around a sad styrofoam box. Throw a few bottles of wine (or better yet, canned cocktails!) into this cooler bag and head to the park incognito!

Large marble + brass serving stand Bonus points if you gift it with treats already nestled on top!

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A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

It doesn’t take much to get me back to the south, but when the National Honey Board reached out to invite me (!!!) to this year’s #HoneySpiritsSummit in Nashville, TN I couldn’t respond YES quick enough! And in true LKJ fashion, I had to come out a few days early to soak up one of my favorite cities before the summit kicked off. Here’s what my jam-packed week in Nashville looked like…

Day 1 – THURSDAY

After landing at the airport Thursday afternoon, we caught a Lyft to our home for the weekend, the newly opened Thompson Nashville (I twisted Luke’s arm superrrr hard to spend the weekend with me before the Summit started on Monday 😉 ). We love Thompson properties, especially their Cabo location, so we thought we’d see what the Nashville location was all about. It was even more beautiful than we expected, and best of all, located in the ultra trendy Gulch neighborhood (word has it TSwift’s got a Penthouse nearby). Looking for a little post-flight pick-me-up after checking into our room, we grabbed cappuccinos at the Killebrew Coffee conveniently located just adjacent to the lobby and headed out for some Vitamin D, after which we practically walked right into Rod Stewart on the street! Perks of visiting Music City!

After exploring The Gulch a bit and working up an appetite, we grabbed a Lyft to the 12 South neighborhood for some tacos and margs at bartaco, followed by more strolling and shopping. Definitely one of the better Margaritas I’ve had, plus great people watching and super cute southern coastal decor. Full and ready for a nap/regroup, we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Once sufficiently well-rested for our first night out, we got dolled up and headed upstairs to the Thompson’s rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, for some pre-dinner drinks! After watching the sunset up top, we headed out for dinner at Husk. I love scheduling a fun dinner reservation on the first night of a trip because it’s something to look forward to right when you get there, and saves you the hassle of making a decision after a potentially hectic travel day.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-beers-spillDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-rooftop-drinksDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-husk Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-husk-dinner

Day 2 – FRIDAY

After banging out some emails (with more Killebrew coffee!) in the lobby, we put the laptops away and headed out for a big walk through the touristy Broadway strip. Having had our fair share of people watching pretty quickly (lost count of how many rowdy bachelorette parties we saw omg), we ducked into Martin’s BBQ for lunch and some reconnaissance on their award-winning beer garden.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-luke-lobbyDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-MartinsLooking to kill some time and get out of the heat, we headed to Corsair’s “Brewstillery” for a cold beer. Highly recommend their brewery/distillery tour too if you have some time! This location is where they do most of the brewing and distilling of their whiskey mashes.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-corsairOn a whim, we called The Kimpton Aertson hotel (another one of our favorite hotel groups!), to see if they had any availability for massages, and they just happened to have an opening for a couples’ deep tissue in 20 minutes! It was FATE! We chugged our beers and headed for the spa.

Having stayed at the Aertson on a past trip, we knew they had an incredible bar and restaurant inside the hotel as well so we popped over for a post-massage cocktail and app. If you’re in the area, you MUST check Henley out. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-henley-cocktail{ post-massage cocktail! }

Continuing along my dream Friday itinerary, we headed back to the Thompson for some downtime, followed by another rooftop/sunset/drink session up top at L.A. Jackson.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-LaJackson

We had so many restaurants on our list for the second night but made a game-time decision to take our chances at brand spankin’ new restaurant Folk from the Rolf & Daughters team. I’m so happy we did because it ended up being one of the better meals I’ve ever had! We started with a cocktail while we waited to be seated, soaking in the minimalist decor and plethora of ultra cool Nashville locals chatting and flirting about. Once seated, we dove into their beautiful wine list, a juicy, salty Gamay for me and a Pinot Noir for Spook. We started with their sweet corn toast on house made sour dough (recreating this at home ASAP) and the shaved summer vegetable salad, which was the sleeper hit. Paper thin coins of zucchini and summer squash, expertly dressed with a buttermilk caesar dressing, topped with tons of fresh herbs and crunchy bread crumbs. TO.DIE. Honestly the apps were so good (slash maybe too many wines? lol) that I forget which pizza we ended up ordering ahahaha… I faintly remember some sort of Soppressata situation? Just go. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-FOLK { dining room @ Folk }

Feeling the vibes (read: sufficiently tipsy) from our time at Folk, we headed out for drinks at one of our favorite Nashville bars, Attaboy. This place is like, 95% of my dream cocktail bar, not kidding… We always say we’re just going to go for one and then three drinks later we’re still there, eyes glued to the bartenders doing their thing. You must, must, must go. Incredible service and lovely staff. 

Obviously on a good one, we ended the night with some shots of Bulleit and Budweisers at Robert’s Western World. Someone spread my ashes here when I go.

Day 3 – SATURDAY 

After a decent sleep in (thank you, second Shiner Bock at 2 am I didn’t need), we slowly made our way to the Johnny Cash museum for some A/C and non-alcoholic stimulation, followed by a delicious brunch at Butcher & Bee. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-butcher{ crispy rice bowl for me, burger for Spook and whipped feta for the table! plus rosé of course }

The combination of being slightlyyyyy hungover and the heat had us desperate for a pool so we called Holston House, the hotel I was set to check into the next day (for the summit) to see if we could use their pool a day early and they obliged (turns out their rooftop bar & pool is open to the public!). We nursed ourselves back to life with Gin & Tonics and stunning rooftop views while submerged in the cool water at Bar Tenn.

After a nap and a shower back at the Thompson, we headed out for our last dinner together at Oak Steakhouse… Would not recommend unfortunately.

Day 4 – SUNDAY

Never ones to miss out on a meal opportunity, we opted for brunch at Chef Maneet Chauhan-owned (the sweet Indian judge on Chopped!) Mockingbird before it was time for Luke to head to the airport. It was just an average experience unfortunately… wouldn’t necessarily recommend but dying to try her Curry & Masala house next door on our next trip!

Flying solo for the rest of the trip, I decided to check something off my Nashville list I’d been dying to do all weekend long (we kept missing the tour times thanks to other plans/hangovers, etc. lol). I dropped my bags off at Holston House and caught a Lyft out to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, a stunning historical mansion and botanical gardens in nearby Bell Meade, about a 25 minute drive or so from the city. See below for some snaps of the house and property! I could have stayed out there all day wandering along the gardens and cheeky animal installations but the rooftop pool back at the hotel was calling my name. 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Gator{ a temporary installation by Italian artist collective, Cracking Art }

After putting a solid dent in my book up by the pool, I debated staying in and watching TV with room service but rallied myself for yet another indulgent meal at Moto! After half a cheese plate and some of the best Cacio e Pepe I’ve had, it was time for bed. 

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Day 5 – MONDAY

Attempting to counteract all the debauchery of the weekend, I woke up early and took a Pure Barre class in The Gulch, followed by a green juice next door. Having checked exercise/health off my to-do list for the day (hah), I headed to Pinewood Social to grab a coffee and get some work done. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-pinewood

Once sufficiently caffeinated and caught up on emails, lunch at Hattie B’s was in order, considering I’d been in Nashville for five days and somehow still hadn’t had my hot chicken fix! I get “hot” with “extra hot” on the side! And a sweet tea for putting out the fire 😉

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After catching up on more work, it was time for the Honey Summit opening reception at Nelson’s Green Briar Distillery! I got to meet my fellow attendees, try all different cask finishes of Bell Meade Bourbon and go on a tour of the distillery, led one of the founders himself! What an incredible story. I won’t ruin it for you but basically these two sons (both currently in their thirties I think?) happened upon a plaque in Bell Meade some years ago while on a road trip with their Dad and subsequently unearthed their family’s multigenerational distilling heritage! Fast forward a few years and a lot of hard work and they were able to get the original DSP number – TN-05 – reinstated and reopened the whole operation! If you’re in Nashville, PLEASE go sign up for a tour of their distillery and tasting room ASAP. So fascinating and inspiring.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bell-meade-bourbon Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-tour Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-rickhouse

Day 2 – TUESDAY

The first full day of the summit took place at Corsair’s second Nashville location and headquarters. It was a jam-packed day full of fun information and super knowledgeable speakers. We tasted tons of different styles of honey and honey spirits and learned so much about how honey is made, how hives work, the bee lifecycle and hierarchies/social systems and organizational patterns, how bees find nectar, etc. etc. Seriously so, so fascinating and informative. After our crash course on bees and honey, we moved onto fermenting, distilling, sweetening and flavoring spirits with honey. This was also incredibly informative and interesting. I can’t wait to start experimenting with honey in the distillery soon! It makes sense, considering honey is a sweetener like molasses and agave, but it was crazy how similar the honey spirits we tried tasted like either a rum and/or a tequila/mezcal. They have lovely smokey, grassy qualities to them, as well as a slight but pleasant funk. Right up my alley.

After our epic day, we were treated to an incredibly indulgent and delicious group dinner at Urban Grub back in the 12 South neighborhood. Would highly recommend!

Day 3 – WEDNESDAY

My last and final day in Nashville was my favorite and for one reason: Our visit to an actual apiary! An apiary is basically a controlled hive or group of hives. A “feral” apiary or hive would be a hive that has formed naturally in the wild. We kicked the day off bright and early as to avoid the heat and had so much fun listening to the president of the Nashville Beekeeper’s Association tell us about the apiary and state of pollinating conditions in the state currently. I couldn’t get enough. 

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After leaving the apiary, we headed to yet another distillery, Pennington Distilling Co. (formerly SPEAKeasy Spirits) for another tour and some lunch. Pennington makes a few different styles of whiskey, as well as flavored vodkas, which they use in their newly released canned cocktails. Considering our own upcoming release, I couldn’t wait to try one! 

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After Pennington it was time for most everyone from the summit to head to the airport. Lucky me, I had a later flight so I did a little more neighborhood hopping and shopping before grabbing one last margarita back at bartaco! Such a pleasant little spot to hang and finish my book before heading out of town. I also love the shops nearby – Draper James, White’s Mercantile and imogine + willie all had me wishing I’d brought a second suitcase! 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bartaco

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LKJ FAQ

IMG_6937{ by Lindsey }

Happy 2018, friends! One of my goals for 2018 is to devote more time to Distillerista, so I’m attempting to kick the year off right with a new post each week. The start of a new year seemed like the perfect time to re-introduce myself so here are a few FAQs, fun facts and other random things you may not know about me!

  1. What’s your morning routine? I try to roll out of bed by 7 am and take 20 minutes or so to plan my day, sans phone & computer. I’ll write out a rough schedule, including blocks of time for emails and to-dos, while having coffee (Nespresso pod plus almond milk creamer & collagen!). Once I feel like I have a good game plan for the day, I usually open my laptop and take a few minutes to read the blogs I still follow religiously! Then I’ll tackle emails first thing. It’s probably not the healthiest (or most efficient) habit, but I can’t jump into projects unless my inbox is clean (or at least well-tended to).
  2. What’s your favorite non-alcoholic beverage? Tangerine Lacroix.
  3. Why do you love spirits so much? It’s twofold really… I think part of it is the rich history behind distilling and how far back culture surrounding distilled spirits goes. The other half is the creative opportunities the distilling process provides.
  4. Who is your professional role model? Giada, Christina Tosi, Ina… they’ve all created massive empires around what they love to do, which I hope to do as well.
  5. Why did you choose San Diego over Texas to launch You & Yours? Short answer, I wasn’t really interested in moving back. Long answer: San Diego has a very loyal, locally-minded culture that I felt would be very welcoming of You & Yours.
  6.  Besides Gin & Vodka, what’s your other favorite spirit? Rye! Or Rye-heavy Bourbons. OR Wheated Bourbons.
  7. What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? Nothing beats a Gin gimlet.
  8. What’s your favorite cocktail to make? Some sort of Manhattan or Boulevardier variation with whatever I have lying around my liquor cabinet.
  9. What’s the biggest cocktail trend that you anticipate for 2018? Not super into trends but I’m loving low ABV cocktails and cocktails with salt.
  10. What was your design inspo for the tasting room? Comfortable, approachable, pleasing to the eye.
  11. Advice for women trying to get into the beverage industry? Document everything you do related to the industry! Put it out there in the universe, for all to see, that you are interested in this industry and that you have a place in it.
  12. What would you do if you weren’t a distiller? Maybe a writer of some sort? Or perhaps a bar/cocktail program consultant. Whatever it would be, definitely still lurking somewhere in the wine & spirits/hospitality industries!
  13. Where do you want to travel in 2018? Stateside: Montana; Abroad: Tel Aviv!
  14. What are three things you’d never travel without? A book, my Away carry-on and plenty of snacks!
  15. If deserted on an island, what would you make sure to have with you? Assuming help is on the way, Champagne, a football and a good pair of sunnies. 😉
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7 Women in the Beverage Industry Who are Killing It

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You know when you meet someone (or, more realistically, stumble upon someone’s Instagram or YouTube channel, let’s be honest) and you just instantly want to be their best friend?! That is exactly how I feel about these seven women. They’ve each created empires of their own in the beverage industry and also seem like they’d be really, really fun to have a drink with. I hope they serve as a little inspiration for you too! Talk about #squadgoals.

Marissa Ross – Los Angeles native Marissa Ross is a comedy writer-turned wine enthusiast who has risen to the top of wine reviewers. The winner of Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice for “Best Wine Coverage” at the 2015 Savuer Blog Awards, Marissa has used her wit and experience drinking wine to go on and become the Wine Editor at Bon Appetit. She has also been named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40, and has authored her own book titled Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident Drinking (which I nearly finished in one sitting!)Do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram, her stories are gold!

Whitney Adams – Whitney is a writer, blogger, YouTube host and sommelier based in Los Angeles. Her passion for wine began on a trip to Italy, which she furthered by becoming a certified sommelier and working with chefs and restaurants back home in LA. Her YouTube channel, which has more than 36,000 followers, shares her (super approachable and very easily digestible) wine knowledge and humor in segments like “Alco-Haul” and “Drunk Dating Advice.” She is a winner of a Savuer Magazine Blog award and was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40. Be prepared to go down a YT rabbit hole the first time you check out her channel, it’s so good!

Marianne Barnes – Marianne Barnes is Kentucky Bourbon’s first Master Distiller. With an interest in math and science during high school, Marianne went on to pursue a job chemical engineering where she developed a passion for whiskey. After moving on to a position with Woodford Reserve, she was offered a job at a brand new distillery that would require her to build everything from the ground up, Castle & Key. Her lineup of gin, vodka, bourbon and rye are currently in production and will be released over the next few years. I can’t wait to go visit once the doors officially open.

Annie Lawless – Along with three other partners, Annie Lawless launched Suja Juice in San Diego, CA, which has quickly become “the fastest growing organic, cold pressed and non-GMO beverage company in the US.” Annie was disappointed with the lack of adequate organic juices on the market, and teamed up with other local San Diegans to bring a juice line to life. Using high pressure processing, they have created juice from non-GMO produce and are on a mission to improve lives through nutrition. The company was named second on Forbe’s list of Most Promising Companies in 2015. Not beverage industry-related but equally as badass, Annie recently launched an all natural and non-toxic beauty line called Lawless. 

Deborah Longo – Deborah and her (then) husband Justin Baldwin founded JUSTIN Winery in 1981, which has grown to become one of the largest wineries on the Central Coast. As President of Baldwin Real Estate Corp, Deborah also handled all marketing and sales efforts of their winery. She has been a member of several Paso Robles wine boards, and was named Paso Roble’s Wine Industry “Person of the Year.” I can’t wait to see what Deborah does next, specifically multi-concept development projects in downtown Paso!

Christina Tosi – Christina is a chef, author, and owner of Momofuku Milk Bar, a bakery based in New York City that is a part of the Momofuku Group. The bakery now has 7 locations throughout New York, Toronto, and Washington DC, and has an international presence due to it’s successful e-commerce platform. Her innovative ideas have shaped dessert trends, such as her naked cakes and cereal milk ice cream. A two-time James Beard award winner, Christina is author of the books Momofuku Milk Bar and Milk Bar Life, and has appeared as a guest judge on Master Chef. Christina also just recently closed her first round of funding for Milk Bar and has plans to expand her e-commerce presence. 

Jordan Salcito

Named a 40 under 40 Tastemaker by Wine Enthusiast, Jordan is the Beverage Director for Momofuku Group (sensing a theme here?), a family of restaurants that have earned top markings for their wine programs. An entrepreneur as well, she founded her own “socially and environmentally conscious”  wine company, Bellus. Each bottle comes with a PALA-TABLE that her company developed, geared towards breaking down the characteristics of a wine so consumers can have a better idea of the wine style. She has also released a successful canned product, Ramona, which is an organic grapefruit wine cooler.

 

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Elderflower Manhattan

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When Woody Creek sent me a bottle of their 100% Rye Whiskey my mind went wild thinking of fun ideas for cocktails to share with you. As usual, I brainstormed a few original, season applications and then moved on to twists on classics like this Elderflower Manhattan… Minor hiccup: the stuff was so damn delicious that by the time I got around to recipe testing and photographing, the bottle was basically gone! Yes, THAT good.

Having long loved both wheat- and rye-heavy Bourbons, I got really into straight ryes this past year and this Woody Creek rye has to be one of the most well-balanced ones I’ve tried. In addition to the smooth warmth, stunning complexity and seductive vanilla notes, I love knowing that Woody Creek distillers mill, mash, ferment and distill every single drop themselves. There are a ton of great rye whiskeys on the market today but it’s difficult to find a craft producer that actually does it all. I so appreciate Woody Creek’s dedication to the art of distilling, and will definitely be buying this whiskey as soon as I see it. Do yourself a favor and pick up a second bottle when you do – the first goes too fast. 😉

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Elderflower Manhattan. Makes 1.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Woody Creek rye whiskey
  • 1 oz elderflower cordial or liqueur
  • 2 dashes passionfruit bitters

Directions:

  1. If using a non-alcoholic cordial*, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake gently with ice for 5 seconds. If using a liqueur, such as St. Germain, add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir for 10-15 seconds.
  2. Strain into a rocks or DOF glass over a large cube or sphere ice mold.
  3. Garnish with fresh elderflower blossoms and enjoy!

Notes: 

  • *Traditionally any cocktail recipe that calls for a non-alcoholic syrup, cordial or fresh juice should be shaken, but I wanted this cocktail to mimic the smooth, velvety texture of a proper stirred Manhattan. To achieve that with the Belvoir Farms cordial pictured below (I had run out of St. Germain, an alcoholic elderflower liqueur I prefer to use in applications like these), I shook the ingredients gently so not to break up the ice in the shaker too much and maintain as much of the natural texture of the Rye as possible, while still mixing the components thoroughly. I’d recommend using a liqueur like St. Germain and the correct mixing glass method if at all possible.
  • I find all my fresh edible flower garnishes at Specialty Produce. If you’re not located in the San Diego area, check with your local restaurant wholesale produce supplier!

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2016 FAQ & Mini Office Tour

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Happy (almost) 2017! For those of you who may be new to me or Distillerista, allow me to re-introduce myself via a little FAQ situation! Below are the questions I got A. LOT. in 2016… Keep scrolling down for more questions and a few photos of my home office I recently revamped. With the distillery construction still underway, I wanted to give myself a fresh space to work from in the new year. I hope you enjoy!

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Who tf are you? I’m Laura! I’m the professionally trained distiller behind this blog. I’m also in the process of opening my first distilling operation in downtown San Diego: You & Yours Distilling Co.

That’s an *interesting* name, what’s You & Yours all about? Y&Y is a boutique craft spirits destination distillery focused on bringing people together over elevated hospitality experiences. In addition to producing different styles of gin and eau de vies (double-distilled, unaged fruit brandies) on our custom hybrid still, our tasting room will be open to the public Thursday through Sunday offering tasting flights, cocktails and bottle sales. You can also come for a distillery tour and guided tasting on weekends. Sign up info coming soon!

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How did you get into distilling? Short version? I had an interest in and appreciation for spirits from a relatively early age. I was the one trying to convince my friends to mix up cocktails at house parties in high school instead of grabbing another 12-pack of Natty Light. I went on my first distillery tour at 18 and it was all over after that. After finishing undergrad at USD I traveled for the better part of a year taking classes, attending workshops and apprenticing at various distilleries around the country.

Do you have a chemistry or home brewing background? Nope.

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When are you opening?! You & Yours Distilling Co. will finally open to the public this coming January 2017. As fiercely as I wish I could give everyone a hard-and-fast date, those just don’t exist when you’re juggling a 4-fold permitting process AND a 7+ month long construction build-out. Stay tuned, I promise the light at the end of the tunnel is near!

What’s the mf’in hold up? See: 4-fold permitting process AND a 7+ month long build-out. Thanks to pre-prohibition era regulations and an archaic three-tier system, a legal distillery has to obtain Federal, State, City, and – in our case – Civic permits to operate a legal distillery (we’re the very first urban distillery in California!). “It’s been a process,” is the understatement of 2016.

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Where can I buy You & Yours Distilling Co. merch? Right here! (These aren’t regular shirts, these are cool shirts)

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Are you hiring? We’ll begin interviewing after the holidays for a small but mighty team of “spirits specialists” to help man the tasting room and retail areas. These positions will closely reflect your standard bartender, barback and server roles. If you’re interested in joining our front of house team, email a resume and cover letter to LKJ@YouAndYours.com with the subject line ‘YAYDC JOBS.’

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How can I stay in touch, involved and in-the-know? You know the drill… follow You & Yours (@YouAndYoursSD across all platforms) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and sign up for the You & Yours email list here.

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You can also follow ME on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat (@laurakj11)!

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Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to get to know you if I don’t already, please leave me a comment below!

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Spirit Review: St. George Dry Rye Gin

Distillerista-Product-Review-StGeorge-Dry-Rye-Gin

Introducing a new series, Distillerista Spirit Reviews! All spirits featured in this series are products I’ve personally purchased/acquired unless stated otherwise.

Product: Dry Rye Gin

Category: Dry, juniper-forward gin

Distillery: St. George Spirits of Alameda, CA

ABV: 90 proof / 45% ABV

Price: $38

Tasting Notes: Rich, bold and slightly spicy base (from the rye) with a near perfect amount of juniper. This 100% unaged rye-based gin is reminiscent of Genever thanks to the spicy, cereal-y texture of the rye. At 45% I expected the unaged rye base to taste little hot but the geniuses at St. George have once again struck a perfect balance.

Ideal Cocktail Pairings: Anything. This gin is gorgeous and interesting enough to shine on it’s own but also hearty enough to stand up to other flavors.

Similar Products: As mentioned, it’s reminiscent of Genever while also identifying with the London Dry style due to it’s unabashed amount of juniper.

Final Thoughts: An elegant, impressive gin for those looking for something just a bit different.

Check out other past Spirit Reviews:

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Introducing You & Yours Distilling Co.

Introducing-You-and-Yours-Distillerista

Happy spring lovely Distillerista readers!

As you may or may not know, I started Distillerista as both an industry resource and an outlet to keep friends, family and craft spirit enthusiasts informed on the progress of my upcoming distilling venture, You & Yours Distilling Co. Since then, Distillerista has grown into an insanely fun and ever-inspiring passion project where I share cocktail recipes, entertaining ideas, informative “beginner’s” guides to niche spirit categories and my personal favorite, interviews with fellow distillers. Working on Distillerista over the last twelve months has been a dream, so thank you most sincerely for coming along on the ride with me!

What I’ve yet to give you guys a real peek into is our progress on said distilling venture. The last year has been a major labor of love to make this distillery happen, so if there’s ever a week or two where Distillerista goes MIA, there’s a good chance it’s because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Y&Y business. That said, it’s high time you guys got the scoop! Here’s what you need to know…

  • Name: You & Yours Distilling Co.
  • What we’re all about: Bringing friends and family together over elevated imbibing experiences. Fun, crowd-pleasing spirits created with backyard barbecues, first dates, dinner parties and Sunday brunch on the patio in mind.
  • What we’re going to make: A few different styles of gin, a vodka or two, Eau de Vies (un aged fruit brandies – a.k.a. what you should be splashing into your champagne) and eventually, the good stuff: whiskey!
  • Where: in the heart of downtown San Diego! Up and coming East Village to be exact, just a stone’s throw from the convention center, Petco Park and the historic Gaslamp quarter.
  • Will I able to visit? Hell. Yasss. We’ll have hours open to the public for you to enjoy tastings, tours and best of all, COCKTAILS in a swanky and intimate urban setting! That’s right people, Y&Y will be a bonafide destination distillery. We can’t wait to welcome you in.
  • When is this sh*t happening? Stay tuned – we’re hoping for a late summer opening.
  • How can I get involved? Like Y&Y on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and if you really want to be a badass, order some branded gear from our online shop! (These aren’t regular t-shirts, these are cool t-shirts) Oh! And share this post on social media!

To be clear, Distillerista and You & Yours will remain completely separate animals. You’ll continue to hear about Y&Y progress in upcoming posts, but as always Distillerista will continue to function first and foremost as a colorful, inspiration-filled and easy to digest online resource for all things craft spirits. On that note, please shoot me a message or comment on social media with things you’d like to see on Distillerista. Looking for a new whiskey cocktail to make at home? A boozy wedding gift idea? The best bar tools perhaps? Let me know, your wish is my command!

It’s going to be a hell of a summer y’all. Get excited and stay thirsty!

Holland, Form 15, San Diego, California,  Janis Miglavs^^ See that shiny street-level corner unit? That’s us! ^^

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P.S. Check us out on Eater San Diego!

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