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How to start building a distillery

August 15th, 2017

Starting a distillery is a dream that more and more people share, but it’s not something you should take lightly or go into unprepared. There are many questions you need to ask and answers you need to know before you drop a wad of cash on a property and a bunch of equipment. Think if you were buying a house. There are certain things you want in a house and certain things you can live without. You’ve got to decide what you need and what you can afford, right?


Moonshine U Presents: BBQ and Bourbon Pairings!

May 23rd, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY – The air gets a little smokier in May as Americans fire up the grill for National Barbecue Month. For this summertime exercise, the team at Moonshine University, the epicenter of bourbon, looked at BBQ sauces from all over the U.S. and did a big taste testing to see which bourbons paired the best with each sauce. Let that stew in your work jealousy for a while. The Moonshine team tried each sauce with both pork and chicken and then narrowed down what bourbons to match to based off the initial tasting notes of the sauce. Here’s Moonshine University’s top BBQ and bourbon pairings.

Alabama White Sauce: This mayonnaise-based sauce hails from northern Alabama. Beyond mayo, this sauce includes: apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper. We found the sauce to be very mayonnaise forward, much like ranch dressing with a slight vinegar tinge.

  • Bourbon Pairing: Booker’s – The higher proof of the Booker’s was mellowed out by the oil in the sauce, letting a lot of the flavors in the bourbon to come out in a way they didn’t on its own. We thought dialing back the alcohol burn really opened the bourbon and since the sauce wasn’t wildly flavorful, we didn’t feel anything was lost in the bourbon or in the sauce. It was a nice juxtaposition pairing : the mellowness of the sauce, with the boldness of the bourbon.

South Carolina Mustard Sauce: This sauce, as the name would indicate, is a mustard-based sauce instead of your typical ketchup or tomato base. The flavor profile is like many of the red barbecue sauces, sweet and spicy. We loved this sauce. It was slightly sweet, a little tangy, and carried a nice balance between apple cider vinegar and mustard. It was loudly exclaimed by a member of the tasting panel, “Ain’t nothing wrong with that sauce!”

  • Bourbon Pairing: Maker’s Mark – Maker’s Mark was a perfect complement to this sauce. The sweetness of the bourbon matched the sweetness of the sauce just right and both flavor profiles complemented each other perfectly. Every time you took a sip after a bite or a bite after a sip, different flavors popped out, often blending together to create a tangy mustard with a sweet, subtle oak flavor. Leaving a light candy flavor aftertaste.


Wave 3 News: Moonshine University offers education in distilling

May 1st, 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – There’s no shortage of distilleries opening up in WAVE Country, and around the country.  Some of the people behind these distilleries are getting their education in Louisville, at a place called Moonshine University.

“We consider ourselves the home of distilling,” said David Dafoe, the founder of Moonshine University.  “We thought Moonshine University should be right here.”

It’s located on the campus of his main company called Flavorman, which creates drinks for companies.

Dafoe said he determined there was a need for such a place while attending a seminar.

“I realized in the three day convention they were having there was nowhere to go in the United States to learn how to be a craft distillery,” Dafoe said.  “How to start one, operate it, sell product.”

That’s exactly what Moonshine University does over a week-long course.


Jobs in the Distilling Industry

November 18th, 2016


So you want to get into the distilling industry? Well we’ve taken the liberty of breaking down what jobs are out there to choose from.  Whether you’re the face of the company working the more glamorous aspects of the job or you’re pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into making the actual spirit, you are part of the greatest industry out there. Distilling.

Head/Lead Distiller-As I’m sure you guessed, this is the big dog on campus. Depending on distillery size, you may also be the owner of the distillery if you have this title. You are the one who knows and controls the ins and outs of what goes on in the distillery. Generally you will need at least a few years of experience, an education in science or engineering is a plus, and being a creative problem solver is certainly helpful. Oh and TTB paperwork…lots and lots of TTB paperwork will pass over your desk.  So if you don’t like doing hours of government paperwork every week, make sure you find a sucker who is willing to take this on for you.



September 20th, 2016

8th Street Ventures (Flavorman) Financials and News | 100 Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses


Flavorman, founded in 1992 by current CEO and passionate flavor formulation aficionado, David Dafoe, creates, develops, and commercializes beverages for companies in every beverage category on every continent. In 2006, in an example of business needs overlapping with community needs, Dafoe turned an abandoned building in inner city Louisville with no windows, electricity, or running water into one of the nation’s preeminent beverage facilities. In 2013, Dafoe recognized there was no place in the country to learn how to open and operate a distillery so he purchased a dilapidated garage next door to Flavorman and opened Moonshine University, the only place in the United States dedicated to learning the distillery business. To date, with just more than 30 incredibly productive employees, the company has developed over 800 beverages for over 450 clients including four of the world’s five largest distilleries, educated almost 500 people in 15 countries about distilling and worked with such recognizable companies as Sunsweet, MillerCoors and Ocean Spray.



America Wins the Distillers Decathlon at this year’s Technical Olympics!

August 17th, 2016

It’s another proud day for America as its Distillery Team turns copper into gold by winning the gold medal in Rio…at the Technical Olympics.  Much like the Technical Oscars (ask Google), the Technical Olympics are often overlooked for the flashier “big show” where the known names and events are shown. But gold is gold, whether it be in swimming or high altitude yodeling.

Rio’s distillery arena, Casa Bêbado, is off the beaten path in the southern suburb of São Paulo. It was there that the American team, with oak char lined bellies, and veins coursing with copper, made a show of this time-honored competition and beat reigning champions, Vatican City.

This 9-day competition consists of 10 different segments:

  • Grain-Put – The entire team throws hand-fulls of grains, granny style, into the mill from a distance of 10 Irish paces (an Irish pace is the length of a stride towards a bathroom after 8 pints of beer). The first team to load 5 distiller’s bushels of grain into the mill wins.
  • Grain Grind – A team of four hand crank a roller on a traditional bar-fight tooth mill (a mill made of rollers covered in teeth lost in bar fights) First team to grind all their grain to the consistency of not whole grain wins.
  • Hose Handoff – A team of two transfers the cooked mash to the fermenter only using human suction and natural siphon power.  First team to transfer all their mash wins.
  • The Yeast Yield – The team captain has 5 minutes to sing his favorite Barry White song to set the mood for yeast reproduction.  The team with the highest yield at the end of fermentation wins.
  • The Steam Shovel – A team of two shovels coal, wood pulp, and the cleaved beards of the previous decathlon’s losers into a fire beneath the still. First team to drop the resulting distillate proof to 20˚ wins.
  • Stillage Slurp – The entire team disposes of the remaining stillage through oral ingestion.  First team to finish consumption wins. (Sort of)
  • Barrel Build – A single team member cuts a tree down with their bare hands and pure will power. Staves are then carved beaver style and assembled with provided hoops. First to fully assemble a watertight vessel wins.
  • The Bung Hammer in the Middle – All teams fill their barrels on the edge of a giant circle and then race to the single bung hammer that is in the center.  The team that retrieves the hammer and successfully hammers in their bung wins.
  • Pencil Pushing – The team captains race each other in this final segment where they have to complete their native governments tax paperwork.  The other teams can shout numbers at each other to throw one another off. First to file without triggering an audit wins the segment.
  • Craft Crushing – The first team to make a coherent definition of the term ‘craft’ wins.  It is worth note that this segment has never been won by a team in the last 22 Technical Olympics.

It was a hard road wrought with fits and starts, but the Americans pulled out triumphant with a total of 4 segments won over the underdog, first-time competing nation of United Arab Emirates, who won 3 segments.

Every nation should be proud of what they did in the competition, but there can only be one winner (aside from Silver and Bronze) and we’re proud to say that this year it is the American team that made a show of their strength, intestinal fortitude, speed, accuracy, and sultry voices that is bringing home another victory for the U. S. of A.

TIMES HERALD: Five Saints Distilling in Norristown set for grand opening

July 25th, 2016
Five Saints ribbon cutting_LG

Amy and John George, center, co-owners of Five Saints Distilling, gather with family members as well as Norristown officials, firefighters and police officers for the ribbon cutting at the grand opening of their new business on East Main Street Saturday, July 23, 2016. Five Saints Distilling occupies the old Humane Firehouse, which was built in 1887. Joe Barron ― Digital First Media

NORRISTOWN >> The folks at Five Saint’s Distilling are welcoming everyone to “share the spirits” Saturday, July 23, at the grand opening of the firehouse-themed microdistillery and bar, which promises to be a linchpin of downtown revitalization.

Since acquiring the historic Humane Fire Engine Co. No. 1,129 E. Main St. in June 2014, owners John and Amy George and their dedicated team have been working hard to breathe new life into the Norristown landmark by refashioning it into a premiere “third place to be,” after home and work.

“What the firehouses represents — community, commitment, quality — is also what Five Saints Distilling is all about,” John George explained. “So it was a perfect tie-in.”

George, a transplant from upstate N.Y. who has lived locally for more than two decades, was working as a registered pharmacist when he first flirted with the idea of microbrewing in the 1990s.

Years later, his interest peaked again — this time in spirits — and after reading an article on distilling, he had an epiphany, and a determination to make his dream a reality.

“So I went to Louisville, Ky. and enrolled in Moonshine University,” George said. “I studied under some great distillers … and came back and was looking for a location and was also thinking of a name.

Five Saints grand opening


How to Become a Master Distiller

May 27th, 2016

One of the questions we get asked more than any other is, “How do I become a master distiller?” And that’s a tricky question. Some are born into it, some just put it on their business cards (even though they don’t know where the steam valve is on their still), and some earn it through dedicating themselves to the craft.



May 18th, 2016

KDA logo | 48-Year Record

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon distilleries filled a whopping 1,886,821 barrels of amber nectar last year, breaking production records all the way back to 1967, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced today.

The previous all-time high was 1,922,009 barrels filled in 1967, the KDA reported. Since the turn of the century, Kentucky Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 315 percent (455,078 barrels were filled in 1999).

That gives the Commonwealth a total inventory of 6,657,063 barrels of Bourbon, the most since 1974 when 6,683,654 new charred oak casks were gently aging in Bluegrass warehouses. There are now 1.5 barrels for every person living in Kentucky (census population 4,425,092).

“This is astounding, phenomenal, mammoth,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “We’re running out of adjectives to describe the growth and success of Kentucky Bourbon. Plus, filling nearly 2 million barrels in one year should remove any doubts about the future of our signature industry.”

Distillers also are paying $17,814,134 in ad valorem barrel taxes this year, another all-time high. Revenue from this tax funds education, public safety, public health and other needs in local communities where barrels are stored.

Amounts include all distilleries in Kentucky compiled from state Department of Revenue data. The KDA represents 28 of the state’s distilleries, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distillers that are building upon centuries of craftsmanship and tradition.

Other key facts released today:

  • Bourbon isn’t the only spirit aging in barrels. When you include brandy and other whiskies, the state’s total barrel inventory was 7.2 million in 2015, the highest total since 1973.
  • Production in 2014 was 1,306,375 barrels. That means distilleries filled more than 580,000 barrels in 2015 over the previous year (44 percent increase). That’s the biggest difference in year-to-year production since 1967 and triples the previous record.
  • The tax-assessed value of aging barrels this year is $2.4 billion, an increase of $299 million from 2015 and a 135 percent increase over the last 10 years.

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.

The KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures also set an attendance record last year with nearly 900,000 guests touring an all-time high of 19 participating distilleries.

Gregory said these record-breaking statistics are further proof of the impressive economic momentum being created around Kentucky Bourbon. “This truly is the Golden Age of Kentucky Bourbon,” he said.

“We’re fillings more barrels, creating more good-paying jobs, generating more tax revenue and attracting more tourists than ever before. The entire Commonwealth, and especially our local distilling communities, is realizing the benefits of the growing global thirst for Bourbon.”

KDA member distilleries are in the midst of a $1.3 billion building boom, from new production facilities to aging warehouses, expanded bottling lines, state-of-the-art tourism centers and more, he said.

“That figure is sure to rise with the passage of Senate Bill 11, our landmark Kentucky Bourbon Tourism Reform measure, and the ongoing phase-in of our Barrel Tax Reinvestment Credit,” Gregory said. “Our distilleries are building for the future, and that future is brighter than ever.”

However, Gregory said there’s still much work to be done.

“Now more than ever, we need to protect Kentucky Bourbon. Each year we face threats to Bourbon’s growth in the Commonwealth, and we are grateful that our key policymakers recognize the vital role this homegrown industry plays in jobs, state revenue and tourism.

“As more challenges arise each day, these numbers demonstrate the importance of Kentucky Bourbon to the fabric and future of this state. The KDA is honored to be part of Bourbon’s historic resurgence, and we look forward to working with state leaders and tourism officials to ensure Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true authentic home for America’s native spirit.”

For more information, contact Eric Gregory, KDA President, (502) 875-9351

The KDA is a non-profit trade association founded in 1880 to promote, protect and elevate Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Heritage members include Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp. (Old Forester and Woodford Reserve), Diageo North America, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Brands, Michter’s Distillery and Wild Turkey Distillery. Proof members include Willett Distillery.

Craft members include Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, Barrel House Distilling Co., Bluegrass Distillers, Boone County Distilling Company, Boundary Oak Distillery, Casey Jones Distillery, Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery, Corsair Artisan Distillery, Dueling Grounds Distillery, Hartfield & Co. Distillery, Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., Limestone Branch Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, New Riff Distillery, The Old Pogue Distillery, Second Sight Spirits and Wilderness Trail Distillery. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter is the KDA’s official educational distillery.

KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIR™ and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Please drink responsibly.

WHAS: Bourbon Expertise Classes at Moonshine U

April 7th, 2016

Bourbon is big in Louisville, classes are available to advance your expertise in Kentucky’s biggest beverage.  Bourbon enthusiasts can hone their knowledge and sensory skills through the Executive Bourbon Steward program at Moonshine University.


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