Alcohol Distiller Jobs

What’s your favorite drink? Do you enjoy a gin and tonic? A rum and coke? A whiskey on the rocks? Alcoholic drinks are popular around the world thanks to creative distillers.

Distillers distill alcohol such as gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon, brandy, tequila, vodka, schnapps, and other spirits. Distillation involves purifying a liquid through evaporation and condensation to create alcohol. It’s a complex process that has been around for centuries, but it still takes years for a distiller to perfect the process.

For years, there were only a handful of distilleries in existence. They were world famous distilleries like Jack Daniels, Bacardi, Absolut, Jose Cuervo, or Tanqueray. In the past decade, craft distilleries have rapidly gained popularity. With only 50 micro-distilleries in 2005, in 2017, there are now over 2,000 in the US. These small batch distilleries create less than 100,000 gallons of spirits each year.

Entrepreneurial distillers have happily followed in the footsteps of trend-setting coffee roasters and craft beer brewers. Now there are more distiller opportunities than ever before. Boutique spirit companies are popping up all over the globe. In the US, Washington, Colorado, and Michigan are home to the most craft distilleries. It’s relatively easy to open a distillery with a bit of capital and an expansive knowledge of distillation.

Micro-distilleries can set themselves apart from the competition by creating complex tastes, using organic or local ingredients, utilizing fresh spring waters, focusing on quick turn around times, aging in special barrels, or distilling with unique techniques. They are pushing the envelope of what is possible in the spirits world and it’s all very exciting for spirit fans. When you combine this out of the box thinking with a unique location, inspirational story, unexpected ingredients, and small unique batches, you have a recipe for success.

While the best way to become a distiller is to learn via an apprenticeship or mentorship with a master distiller, many aspiring distillers are now attending spirit-specific courses and schools to learn the unique art form of distillation. This keeps distillers up-to-date on the latest and best techniques to mill, mash, ferment, distill, age, blend, market, and sell spirits.

To become a distiller, you must first learn about the distillation process. It’s the distiller’s job to select ingredients, ferment the alcohol, distill the spirit, perfect the taste, bottle it, market it, and sell it. Then they must be able to consistently duplicate the product to keep consumers coming back for more. Besides knowledge of distilling, a distiller also needs a highly trained nose to help develop unique tastes and flavors.

Distillers must also learn about the business of spirits. When working with alcohol, there are rules and regulations about marketing, production, distribution, zoning, and other factors. It can take several years to open a distillery as it requires permits and licenses from federal, state, and local authorities. Sometimes it’s easier to get started working for a distillery that is already established.

Once a distiller finds a job with a distillery or starts their own distillery, they can make an average salary of $56,000 per year. Pay varies based on company, location, reputation, experience, and other variables. An up and coming small craft distiller will make significantly less than a mainstream, name brand master distiller at a world class distillery. Either way, being a distiller is a super cool job.

Do you have what it takes to be a “spiritpreneur”? Do you want to work for an established distillery as a distiller? If you are passionate about the distillation of alcohol, then being a distiller is the only job for you.

Quick Facts About Distillers

Job Title: Distiller
Office: Distillery
Description: Distill and perfect the taste of hard alcohol
Certifications/Education: Apprenticeship, Courses
Necessary Skills: Highly developed nose
Potential Employers: Distilleries
Pay: $56,000 per year

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