CRAFT by Under My Host® Issue No. 17 Made in America: Part II - Page 142

W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M of both positive and negative aromas. You’ll be surprised at how much more sensitive you become to aroma when you are consciously aware of it. What do you want your legacy to be in this industry? Wow, that’s a tough question! Naturally, it would be great to be remembered for creating and assembling some fantastic and artful spirits. More impor- tantly, I would like to pass along the ancient French philosophies, techniques, and art of good élevage, which I learned from my mentor, Hubert Ger- main-Robin. Élevage means to literally raise your barrels and the spirits in- side them as if they were your own children. The ultimate goal is to take them from their infanthood and turn them into mature, well-balanced adults. Thus, it is all the work of being a good cellar master, which entails making sure that the casks have the right environmental conditions they need. I do my best to pass on to my clients the old French techniques of good élevage, blending (“assemblage”), gradual water reduction, etc., which I learned from Hubert and studied further in France. I feel, as individuals, we are only stewards of this ancient knowledge during our lifetimes. If we are to continue making great spirits in the future, it is our duty to pass these techniques on to the next generation. If I can successfully achieve that, then that will far exceed what I’ve been able to create with any particular product. The spirits I’ve helped to create will pass with time, but the knowledge I help pass on will be eternal. Have you had advice rejected? Yes, absolutely. Depending upon the distillery and my level of involvement, I often have the final say in all quality control matters. I much prefer this kind of scenario. However, I have to admit that it is frustrating when I give what I consider sound advice, the distillery doesn’t follow it and then come back asking why there was a problem or defect with their spirit. What other “heroines” do you admire in this industry? I am deeply inspired by the work of many female master blenders, such as Rachel Barrie from the Scotch world, Joy Spence for rum, Pierrette Trichet for Cognac, and master taster Peggy Noe Stevens for bourbon. I’m also very much inspired by distillers such as Maggie Campbell at Privateer Rum, bourbon blender Ashley Barnes, J. Henry & Son’s co-owner Liz Henry, and Monique Huston, National Spirits Director at the Winebow Group. All of these strong, incredible women have amazing palates, are extremely knowledgea- ble in what they do, and are really forces of nature.