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Late Night: Whiskeycooler


A bottle of Bulleit Bourbon with a glass.

Many “craft” whiskeys actually come from a factory in Indiana.

Tonight the Watercooler is in solidarity with the Unist’ot’en Camp, for their actions to evict Transcanada helicopters and workers from their land.

On July 22, 2014, the Unist’ot’en camp evicted a TransCanada crew working on the Coastal Gaslink pipeline within their territories in northern BC. If caught tresspassing again, TransCanada’s equipment will be confiscated.

Are you a fan of whiskey? If you’re drinking what you think is a small distillery’s “craft” whiskey, you may be in for a shock: many so-called craft whiskeys come from a single, large-scale factory. From the Daily Beast: 

These are the standard selling points of the craft-distilling movement, with its locavore lingo, terroir talk, and handmade hype. But, in the new crowd of micro-distillers, it is now standard for the alcohol being sold to come not from their own distinctive stills, but from a hulking factory in Indiana.

Lawrenceburg, Indiana (not to be confused with bourbon-locale Lawrenceburg, Kentucky) is home to a massive brick complex that cranks out mega-industrial quantities of beverage-grade alcohol. The factory, once a Seagram distillery, has changed hands over the decades and was most recently acquired by food-ingredient corporation MGP. It is now a one-stop shop for marketers who want to bottle their own brands of spirits without having to distill the product themselves. MGP sells them bulk vodka and gin, as well as a large selection of whiskies, including bourbons of varying recipes, wheat whiskey, corn whiskey, and rye.

[…] Upstart spirits companies selling juice they didn’t distill rarely advertise the fact. But there are ways to tell: whiskey aged longer than a distillery has been in business is one of the telltale signs that the ‘distiller’ is actually just bottling someone else’s product. […] Part of the problem is the competition. MGP has plenty of aged whiskey ready to go in the bottle right now. An upstart distiller has to buy a still and learn how to use it; then buy all the ingredients and actually ferment and distill them; buy barrels and build or lease warehouses in which to put them; and then sit on the investment for years. Todd Leopold, master distiller at Denver’s Leopold Bros., has managed to do it. But how much easier, he says with disdain, for those who just buy whiskey off the shelf and market it. ‘All that they do is hire salespeople, make up a BS story, and boom, they look like a distillery,’ Leopold says.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and