CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 138

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M Though her distilled spirits consulting firm is Nosing Services, Master Blender Nancy L. Fraley is much more than “just a nose.” She is a ghost blender, formulation expert, sensory analyst, teacher, and our featured Heroine. Fortunately for her clients, including Jos. A. Magnus & Co., Iron- root Republic, Wyoming Whiskey, J. Henry & Sons, VA Distillery Company and several others, Fraley decided not to become a professor of Buddhist Studies, nor a human rights lawyer. After sampling a portfolio of brandies from the Germain-Robin distillery, she became obsessed with learning all she could about distilled spirits production. She quit her job at a law firm, traveled through Morocco, Spain, and Mexico, then began working with Germain-Robin/Alambic Inc. The rest is history – a rather unique one, which we had the privilege of learning more about from Fraley, firsthand. How did you know you had a special nose for distilled spirits? Oh boy, I knew quite early on…maybe a little too early! My sense of smell really came alive when I was about seven years old. During the after-party at my father’s wedding to my stepmother, I was drinking a Coca-Cola and put my glass down on a table so my father could introduce me to guests. When I returned to get my Coke, I picked up what smelled like Coke with bourbon in it – a smell I recognized because my father drank Jack Daniels and Coke (along with most everyone else in East Tennessee during the 1970’s). I told my aunt that the drink I thought was mine smelled like alcohol, and she said, “Oh no honey, that’s right where you left your drink.” I took that as having an adult’s permission to drink it and went for it! The aroma and taste left an in- delible impression upon me. Why did you decide to become a Master Blender? When I started working at Germain-Robin, I did numerous things from le- gal-type work and research to events and marketing. Although I knew I wanted to be in the craft spirits industry, I imagined myself working with barrels, in cellars and blending. I was very mismatched for the job I origi- nally had there and left for a few years. When I came back to GR, I worked in production. It became very clear to me that I had a knack for doing what I do now. Why do distillers come to you? The primary reason is to help with the maturation, warehousing, and blend- ing of spirits that have spent time in a cask. Year after year, I am responsible for various distilleries’ quality control, as well as all the blending, picking out which casks should be destined to become single barrels, creating new prod-