Distill America XV is in the books. Here's what you missed.


Yesterday, for the first time in its 15-year history, Distill America was held at Breese Stephens Field in downtown Madison. The venue was massive. There was plenty of room to walk around without bumping into other attendees.


May in Wisconsin is iffy weather-wise. It can rain. It can snow. You could be under tornado warnings. It could feel like you’re on the surface of the sun and muggy. Or, it can be downright pleasant. Mother Nature was a kind woman on May 20th. I’m unsure if you could custom-order better weather.


But, in the middle of this professional soccer field, there were six rows of tents filled with folks who distill American spirits. It wasn’t just whiskey, either. Just shy of 80 brands presented their wares, including rum, genever, gin, brandy, poitin, barrel-aged beer, pre-mixed drinks, and cocktails. Those brands included the big boys from Kentucky and Tennessee. Still, most were craft distillers from the Midwest and around the country. It was a real opportunity to #DrinkCurious and explore some (or many) new things.

I ran into friends I’ve known for years and made several new ones. I encountered brands I’d never heard of and was excited to learn everything I could about them.

Things started off for those few who held a VIP+ ticket. They participated in an educational seminar presented by Blade & Bow. They tried whiskey from the last of the Stitzel-Weller stocks, special swag, and glassware beyond what other ticket tiers received.


An hour later, those holding VIP tickets entered the arena. There were special VIP-only pours from Blaum Bros., J. Henry & Sons, Dancing Goat, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Buffalo Trace, and others. Sixty minutes later, the gates opened for those holding General Admission tickets. Things got busy without becoming crowded.

There were two educational seminars that anyone could attend. The first was An Afternoon of Gin with Travis Tober of Aviation Gin and John Mleziva of State Line Distillery. The second was Going Down the Rabbit Hole with Simon Cicolian of Pernod Ricard.

It is rare for an event to run without a hiccup, and Distill America had a handful of things it could improve upon. First, the caterer this year was… lacking. There was plenty of food; it was just not the right choice to serve for an outdoor event: hummus, falafel, hushpuppies, vegan “pulled pork,” and pulled chicken. Second, the water stations were not refilled as quickly as they should have been. If there were others, they went unnoticed.


In all, Distill America XV was much like Fantasy Island. Spirits flowed freely. People were full of smiles. We found a ton of new things to enjoy. I commend the Madison Malt Society for putting on another very affordable, high-quality event that is a joy to attend year after year.


Distill America XVI is only 12 months away. I can’t wait. Cheers!







  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Save the date...5/18/24

    1. Do you have any ideas about location, yet?

    2. We are planning on returning to Breese Stevens Field. With added improvements etc.


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