Microdistillery 101: Learn About Microdistilleries, What They Distill, & More

Unfortunately, mass production often dominates most markets today. In the distilling scene, however, there’s an up-and-coming realm of artisanal spirits. The microdistillery industry is where it’s at. Today, we’re going to discuss what sets microdistilleries apart from their industrial counterparts, exploring the artistry behind their creations and uncovering the unique appeal of spirits born from small-batch dedication. Let’s get started.

Which Term Is Correct? Micro Distillery, Microdistillery, or Micro-Distillery?

If you search the web, you’ll find a variety of spellings and combinations for the term “micro + distillery,” but which one is correct? Since the micro-distillery scene is a new idea that’s currently becoming popular, there isn’t an official consensus on the proper way to spell this term. If you look at Wikipedia’s article on “microdistillery,” you’ll see that they list it as one word: Microdistillery – Wikipedia.

However, you can, realistically, spell it any of the following ways:

  • Microdistillery
  • Micro-distillery
  • Micro distillery

Throughout this article, we’ve chosen to spell it as one word – microdistillery, like Wikipedia does.

So, What Is a Microdistillery?

A microdistillery is basically a “smaller” distillery. They tend to focus on small batches and improved quality. Microdistilleries tend to focus on one or two types of spirits, often with the same input materials or mash. You can find microdistillers across America that distill vodka, mezcal, bourbon, whiskey, liqueur, gin, and so much more. But let’s dig a little deeper: What sets a microdistillery apart from the industrial giants of the spirits industry?

What’s the Difference Between Microdistilleries and Industry Giants?

Unlike the massive production lines of mainstream distilleries, microdistilleries operate on a much smaller scale. They are often characterized by limited production capacity and a hands-on approach to every step of the distillation process.

Local Ingredients and Unique Flavors:

One of the hallmarks of microdistilleries is their love for using locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. This not only supports regional agriculture but also infuses their spirits with a distinct sense of “place.” 

These carefully selected ingredients, combined with innovative techniques, result in spirits with flavors that are as unique as the regions they hail from.

Attention to Detail:

Microdistilleries are helmed by passionate and skilled distillers who take immense pride in their craft. They don’t just follow a recipe; they meticulously tweak and refine their processes to create spirits that are nothing short of extraordinary.

Personalized Touch:

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of microdistilleries is the personal connection between the distillers and their customers. Many microdistilleries offer tours and tastings, allowing patrons to meet the artisans behind the spirits. This direct relationship often leads to customizations, limited releases, and a genuine sense of community.

What Kind of Equipment Does a Microdistillery Use?

Microdistilleries, with their emphasis on craftsmanship and small-batch production, often utilize equipment that differs significantly from what you’d find in a large-scale distillery. Here are some key pieces of equipment that might distinguish microdistilleries from their larger counterparts:

Pot Stills vs Column Stills

Microdistilleries often favor traditional pot stills for their ability to produce small quantities of highly refined spirits. While large distilleries may use continuous column stills for efficiency, pot stills allow for more hands-on control and the creation of unique flavors.

Smaller Mash Tuns and Fermentation Tanks

Microdistilleries typically have smaller capacity mash tuns and fermentation tanks compared to larger distilleries. This allows for precise control over the fermentation process and experimentation with different grain mashes.

Experimental Equipment

Microdistilleries often have a range of experimental equipment, such as miniature stills for test batches and small infusion vessels for experimenting with botanicals and flavor additives.

Basically, microdistilleries invest in equipment that aligns with their commitment to quality, innovation, and the art of crafting small-batch, unique spirits. This equipment allows them to differentiate themselves from larger, more industrialized distilleries and cater to consumers seeking exceptional and distinctive spirits.

What’s the Appeal of Microdistilleries for the Public?

In recent years, it’s become apparent that the allure of microdistilleries for the public is undeniable. Microdistilleries continue to draw enthusiasts and novices alike into their unique operations. Here are a few reasons why this has been the case over the past few years:

#1: Microdistilleries Boast a Special Type of Craftsmanship

Microdistilleries are dedicated to craftsmanship, where quality takes precedence over quantity. This dedication to artisanal production resonates with consumers who appreciate the artistry and attention to detail that goes into crafting each bottle.

#2: The Movement Driven Towards “Going Local”

Many microdistilleries make use of local agriculture by sourcing ingredients from nearby farms. This support for local businesses resonates with consumers who value community engagement and sustainability. This ties in with the push within the last decade to support local businesses and endeavors.

#3: More Variety and Innovation

Microdistilleries are also hubs of experimentation and innovation. They’re more willing to take risks and explore new flavor combinations, leading to a diverse range of products. With microdistilleries, consumers have the chance to discover spirits that they might never encounter in mainstream brands.

#4: It’s a More Engaging Experience to Visit a Microdistillery

Microdistilleries often offer tours, tastings, and events, creating immersive experiences for visitors. These experiences allow consumers to connect with the distillers, learn about the production process, and develop a deeper appreciation for the spirits.

#5: Exclusive, Small Batch Fun

The personal touch of microdistilleries extends to their ability to create custom blends or limited-edition releases. Consumers can feel like they’re part of an exclusive club, enjoying spirits tailored to their preferences or acquiring rare and collectible bottles. Some big brands do this, too, but their bottles end up being far too pricey for most drinkers.

How to Enjoy Microdistilled Spirits:

Since microdistilleries tend to price their bottles higher than the big name brands, you might be a little intimidated to pour some out and enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try your spirits neat or in cocktails. We recommend you try microdistilled spirits side-by-side with big brand spirits to get a full appreciation for the differences and nuances in their flavor profiles. 

Regardless, whether you’re sipping it neat, on the rocks, or in a carefully crafted cocktail, taking the time to savor the craftsmanship in each bottle is the key to enjoying microdistilled spirits to the fullest.

How to Find a Microdistillery Near You

Finding a microdistillery to try out is half the fun! Many distilleries have great websites that will come up in a quick Google search, but some of the lesser-known ones might be hard to find. Here at Distillery Nearby, we’ve set out to make finding distilleries near you easier. Here are a few tips on how to find microdistilleries in your area that you might enjoy!

  1. Browse Your Local Spirits Store: If you take a peek at your local package store, look for interesting bottles from distilleries you haven’t heard of. You can use your phone while at the liquor store to look up the different spirits and see if they’re close to you.
  2. Do a Google Search: One of the more obvious ways to find microdistilleries near you is to do a quick search! Remember that this won’t necessarily turn up some of the lesser-known ones in your area if they haven’t built up their website enough yet.
  3. Use Distillery Nearby’s By-State Directory: We’ve developed an in-depth distillery directory, filtered by state, so that you can browse distilleries and microdistilleries in your area with ease. Check it out here →

Happy Sipping!

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