10 Questions to Ask the Master Distiller on Your First Distillery Tour

Going on a distillery tour is fun and provides an excellent opportunity to see how your favorite spirit is made and learn more about the people behind the scenes running the machines. Whether you are visiting a local craft distillery or a mega brand, here are some questions to ask the master distiller during the tour.

1. How many cases or bottles do you produce yearly?

This is an interesting question, as it will give you a perspective of the size of the distilleries operation. Generally, large companies, such as Jack Daniels, produce up to 10 million cases a year. On the other hand, small to medium-sized distilleries can only manage a couple thousand bottles. 

It’s critical to understand that output size doesn’t directly correlate with quality, but it shows a company’s philosophy in most instances. Besides, if a medium-sized distillery produces thousands of cases yearly, that’s a clear sign that they aren’t making their spirits from scratch.

2. Do you ferment all the alcohol you distill?

Some distilleries will buy bulk alcohol from fellow distilleries and only reprocess it to increase sales and profits. They will then market the spirit as “artisanal” or “handmade.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with buying and then reprocessing; it is a common practice for most vodka and gin distilleries. But you need to be aware some companies will hide this information from you.

Luckily, nowadays, distilleries have become more forthcoming with their processes, so you should ask the master distiller what they do and why they do it. 

Even if a distillery sources some of its alcohol, it doesn’t mean it’s a dishonest company. Like everything else, the philosophies and intent behind a decision matter. Ask, and you may be surprised by the perspectives the distiller will offer.

3. What spirit do you enjoy making?

If you are touring a facility that produces various products in different categories ( such as gin, whiskey, liqueurs, and gin), asking the master distiller what spirit they enjoy making can yield an unexpected answer.

Many small distilleries produce more of a particular product to reach targeted profit margins. However, the master distiller could have a product that sells less, but he is deeply passionate about and will talk about it for hours.

By asking this question, you can better appreciate a product you previously dismissed. Plus, the master distiller can share what they have added a little love to.

4. Do you have any upcoming/ new releases?

To control their public relations narrative, many distillers won’t let you know what’s coming out soon. 

However, there are master distillers who will be more than happy to tell you about all their new or upcoming products. The type of ingredients they used and any new flavors they will have. If you are lucky, the distiller can even give you a taste of the products ( though it’s rare, but it’s worth a try)

5. How did you get into distilling?

If you would like to know how the idea and journey of creating your favorite rum, gin, vodka, or whiskey started, this is a question you can’t leave out. It’s always inspiring and exciting to hear the stories behind a bottle.

Although many distilleries have an “about us” section on their website where you can find answers, getting the story directly from the source is more interesting. Also, the master distiller can better explain their motivation to enter the industry.

6. What is your favorite way to drink your spirit?

No one understands how to enjoy a spirit better than the one making it. Ask the master distiller how they take their spirit, whether it’s a single malt whiskey, liqueur, or gin. 

The answers you get from this question can provide attractive drink styles, unexpected food pairings, and new cocktail recipes.

7. What do you like most about your craft?

Distilling is a complex process that involves numerous operations, from picking the right ingredients and aging to labeling and finally bottling the spirit. Without a doubt, the master distillers have plenty of fascinating stories about what drives them and why they enjoy the alcohol-making craft.

8. What challenges do you face?

Like all other industries, distilleries face many challenges while making their products. These can include finding the right ingredients, water shortages, etc. Of course, every distillery faces a unique challenge, and the master distiller can elaborate on their issues.

Also, you will be able to understand some of the creative ways the distiller has devised to overcome their challenges and achieve their targets.

9. How do you pick your employees?

Apart from the ingredients and the process a distillery follows, employees also directly affect the quality of the product. The parent teaches the next generation the entire process for family-owned distilleries, whereas other companies hire skilled personnel to make their spirits.

Ask the master distiller what method they use and why to get an understanding of their philosophy.

10. What makes your distillery unique?

All distilleries claim their products are the “best in the market,” and rightfully so, considering the time and resources spent. So it’s good to inquire what the master distiller thinks makes their distillery stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare for a distillery tour?

  • Write down a list of questions (like the ones above) you will ask to know more about the company and its products.
  • Visit the distillery website to know what to expect during the tour.

Can I bring a pet to a distillery tour?

That will depend on the distillery you are visiting. Some distilleries have a strict no-pet policy, whereas others allow you to bring pets. Check the company website in advance to know if they accept pets.

How long does a distillery tour last?

Tours can last for only thirty minutes and others over an hour. It solely depends on the size of the distillery and the number of people touring. The more people there are, the longer a tour will take as the guide will spend time answering questions.

Can I reschedule or cancel a distillery tour?

Some companies allow you to cancel a tour and even provide a refund within a particular time frame. However, you must review the distillery’s guidelines to understand their ticket rules.


Thousands of distilleries are spread nationwide, and you can learn all about them at Distillery Nearby. You will also find information about your favorite spirits, their history, and cocktail recipes you can try out. Visit our page today for more.

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