Moonshine University Logo

The Art + Science of Distilling

Register Now

Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2018

September 11th, 2018

What is it?

A celebration of America’s fine native spirit. Anything and everything to do with Bourbon Whiskey.

Where is it?

Bardstown, Kentucky. Bourbon capital of the world.

When is it?

September 12 – 16, 2018

This year marks the 27th annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Kentucky. Started in 1992, the festival brings tens of thousands of visitors to the small town to celebrate all things Bourbon. There is something for everyone, with various events, educational opportunities, arts & crafts, music, and of course… plenty of Bourbon.

Moonshine University’s Stave & Thief Society will be presenting several classes at the Bourbon Festival. Stave & Thief Society is the premier bourbon certification program, designed for enthusiasts and aficionados. These 90 minute classes will go in-depth on different topics regarding bourbon production and how each aspect affects the final flavor profile of America’s favorite whiskey. Come join us at our educational sessions, and enjoy some great tasting bourbons.

Title: A Whiskey and its Grains

Thursday 09/13. 10am – 12 pm. Spalding Hall Chapel.

This class examines corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley, the four gains that make up over 99% of whiskies, and how each adds its own specific flavors and aromas. Learn the nuances of each grain and how it impacts the final product. We will also cover the fast-growing trend of using alternative grains and how those might change the whiskies that we know and love. Tasting includes a thorough analysis of each individual grain distillate.

The Flavors of Fermentation

Friday 09/14. 10am – 12 pm. Spalding Hall Chapel.

Fermentation is more than just where alcohol gets created – it’s where flavor gets created. During this session we will explore the how yeast became cultivated, how it works, and how distillers control its environment to make the flavor profile they desire. We will be discussing how without yeast we wouldn’t have beer, wine, spirits, or even things like vinegar. Tasting includes samples of distillates made with different yeast strains and samples of whiskeys made with different fermentation environments.

Title: The Science of Maturation

Saturday 09/15. 10am – 12 pm. Spalding Hall Chapel.

Have you ever wondered what happens inside a barrel? During this session we will take a look at how whiskey matures within the barrel it calls home. Barrels have additive, subtractive, and interactive properties, and each impacts whisky in different ways. Come taste what each action does and how the barrel and where it is stored affects what is happening to the spirit inside of it. Tasting includes analysis of barrel pulls and how each individual barrel imparts its own unique flavor.


May 14th, 2018

Have you ever wanted to create your own bourbon? Gin? Rum? Spend a week as a distiller at Moonshine University, then keep what you make! My Craft Distillery is a week-long custom barrel program that allows you to call the shots and craft your own unique spirit. Create your own recipe for any spirit you want and pick your own barrel. Then ferment it, distill it, and barrel it!

As far a experiential vacations go, you’ll not find a better souvenir than a cask of whiskey or other spirit that you created. The expert staff at Moonshine University will, of course, be available to give as much advice and feedback as requested, but the product will be all yours as you call the shots during the week-long process.

As your spirit ages to desired maturation, we’ll send you samples every six months so you can soothe your anticipation and make sure things are progressing smoothly. In the meantime, while you’re here you’ll have the opportunity to earn the title of Executive Bourbon Steward, a $500 per person value.

Read more, sign up:

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.


See What's Cookin'

Sign up for our newsletter to get notifications on new class dates and times, as well as special offers. Just enter your email address here.