When we started The Whisky Academy, our goal was to create an education experience in distilling that gave people the opportunity to discover more about the art and the science of what makes a great whisky.
Like the emergence of distilling in Australia – which has gone from half a dozen distilleries in the mid 1990’s to more than 120 distilleries in just over 25 year – the demand for what distilling education will provide has also changed with consumers expecting high value from our courses.
In November 2016, we rolled out the first course – Tasmania’s Introduction to Distilling and had seven people join us for our pilot.
The Introduction course provided a picture of the process of distilling, covering background and history in the industry; a visit to Moo Brew Brewery where students were taken through the process of turning grain into fermented wash; with an afternoon at Sullivans Cove Distillery exploring the wash and spirit runs, the barrel and maturation and finishing off with a tasting.
Since our original group – some of which have found jobs in the industry or new distilling ventures to pursue – we have run the education course seven times with 69 individuals joining us for the Introduction course in Tasmania.
Who’s into whisky?
From our Introduction to Distilling intakes, people who have joined us and gone on to start either a distillery business or embark on another distilling related venture are significant. Of our students, 36 people (roughly half) that we know of are transitioning to the distilling industry
- 6 have gone on to commence distilling or whisky related business
- 8 have commenced work on their distilleries
- 19 are actively working towards establishing their distillery in the next 1-2 years and
- 3 are actively seeking a role in the distilling industry.
We realise we can’t take the credit for the big steps these people have made, but we hope that we have in some little way made the journey a bit easier. Whether that’s through education, facilitating a link to the Tasmanian industry, connecting them with people in the industry, sharing information about where to find suppliers or some other way.
The other interesting part of the story is that our students have come. We had originally thought that our visitors would come about 50/50 from Tasmania and mainland Australia. As the following stats show – if you are prepared to chase your dreams, no stretch of water is going to stop you from seeking out the knowledge and an amazing distilling experience.
Our students have come from all over:
• ACT – 4
• NSW – 13
• Qld – 7
• SA – 1
• Tas – 22
• Vic – 19
• WA – 3
We are really proud that we have been able to play some role in inspiring people to embark on a journey that might take them into distilling. We are also mindful that, like any business, the journey to actually get there is significant and so we have been working out ways to ensure our students can continue to be supported as they transition to the industry.
This has included connecting new distillers with existing people in the industry, enabling connecting from people who want to know about distilling with those who have ‘been there done that’, and tools such as our Scholars facebook group – for people who have done one of our courses.
This November marks a milestone for The Academy and it also marks a significant evolution in the distilling education and experiences that we deliver, and what we are planning for the future.
Our partnership with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling
This year we have formed a partnership with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling to enable people to take the next step in technical learning of distillation. During 2017, we ran the General Certificate of Distilling Certificate twice with a further 55 students joining us and presenter Alan Barclay, from around the country, and a few from overseas.
These two groups have forged some astounding friendships and partnerships since the course and we’re always delighted to hear about the projects, collaborations, or just drinks at the distilleries that have come from those initial events.
So where to from here?
As we approach our milestone course in November, we’re planning our next set of products for 2018. The November course (run over 1.5 days) will be the first of our Foundations of Distilling courses – the pilot of which we ran in September, this time with Patrick Maguire from Sullivans Cove at the helm.
We’re transitioning the course because we want to ensure that it delivers the best possible content for aspiring distillers, and for people who love whisky or just want to understand distilling a little better. It covers what it takes to make a great spirit, taking in Moo Brew Brewery, Sullivans Cove Distillery and, on the following day, the art of great gin from Rex at Nonesuch Distillery. We’ve added a bit more structure to the business side of things and a road map to help people understand the steps in distilling.
We’re also working on the opportunity for people to have some time in a distillery and to learn about distilling in a structured way, alongside the distiller. We’ll have to wait for more information on that one.
Finally, we want to thank our supporters from Hadleys Orient Hotel, Sullivans Cove, Moo Brew, and Nonesuch Distillery and our friends (you know who you are): Patrick, Heather, Dave, Rowl, Rex, Ben, Clyde, Mike, Alex, Gareth, Timothy, Wesley, Oliver, John, Ben, Mark, Tim, Phillip, Rod, Lyntton, Dave, Guy, Lex, Clint, Emma, Shane, Koen, Othmar, Desmond, Trish, Craig, Shane, John, Roy, Dale, John, Judith, Kirk, Ryan, Kristian, Michael, Beau, Tom, Skey, Martin, Mim, Petrina, Dale, Rodney, Sarah, Kate, Joel, Damien, Tom, Craig, Ben, Ashley, Sue, Robert, Scott, Andrew, Nick, Adam, Les, Gaye, Deon, Adam, Des, Geoff, Nathan, Ian, Shane, Mick, Martin, Jeremy.
Book your spot
If you’re itching to get into the distilling industry, would just like to know a bit more about what it might take, or just love a damn good whisky – then join for our Foundations of Distilling course. We promise you’ll have a cracking good time – www.whiskyacademy.com.au/courses
Thanks to our partners