Distill America was founded fourteen years ago by a small group of spirits enthusiasts in Madison known as the Madison Malt Society. They often traveled to Chicago for whiskey events, but growing expenses put a damper on their enjoyment and took from the excitement of attending year after year. Aside from travel costs, they contended with pricey entry fees, both for the distillers and attendees. They were struck with the notion of creating an event locally that someone could easily attend every year, whether they were an exhibitor or a fan of distilled spirits. The goal was to attract bartenders, retailers, and the general public to learn about what is out there and available to enjoy.
There's no gimmick. You come, meet people in the industry, learn, and sip amazing distilled spirits. You'll find no Scotch, Irish Whiskey, Tequila, or anything else that's not 100% Made In The USA at Distill America. That's the schtick.
Distill America features educational seminars, and Distill America XIV featured Nicole Austin, the master distiller at George Dickel. It was also the first time the event was outdoors. Usually, you couldn't do that in Wisconsin in February, but in 2022, due to uncertainty about COVID-19, it was held at Madison's East Side Club in May. The weather was gorgeous, and I'm not sure it could have been better.
One of the things I loved about the venue was how relaxed it was. When it was held indoors at The Edgewater, things got... cozy... with shoulder-to-shoulder people. That wasn't the best if you get claustrophobic. But, outside, there was plenty of room to spread around, and the grass was your dump bucket!
Even the food was easier to obtain. The quality of the food has always been excellent, but, again, with tight quarters, it was often difficult to get to it. This year, Hy-Vee provided the food, and there were no troubles grabbing a plate or two.
As always, I looked for new gems and visited old friends. This year, it was Blue Ash Farm from Argyle, Wisconsin. They were pouring their Honey Bourbon, which is Bourbon infused with wildflower honey from Pecatonica River Valley.
After the show, Patrick Belongia of My Whiskey Den interviewed a few of us, including me, Fred Swanson of Dancing Goat Distillery (and one of Distill America's founders), and Dave and Adina Ewaldz, who celebrated their wedding anniversary at the event. You can view the entire show on My Whiskey Den's YouTube page. Cheers!
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.