Education and learning
This is the first article of the year, so I wanted to take a moment to thank every one of the readers that devote some of their time to read these every week. I learned that you’re 20 000 weekly readers, which kind of blew my mind! Happy New Year to each and every one of you; I wish you all plenty of adventures, love and new friends!
When opening our first restaurant, I put myself in charge of the bar and I didn’t know much about spirits. But because I can get pretty obsessive, I spent years studying what is now a profession. It is also through education that I gained most of my clientele. I made it my mission to get customers to enjoy something they said they didn’t by the end of the night. The idea behind the Rum Club of Quebec was also to educate people on how to drink rum, how rum is made and to open their minds to the different rums available around the world. With the growing demand of spirits, I truly think that education should be a major priority to any brand along with transparency.
The question has sparked back up a few times lately on different platforms: “How can I know more about what I am drinking?”
This question means a lot; it means that the consumer cares about what he is drinking, he cares about transparency and about authenticity. So how to answer this question? First of all you should attempt to get minimum of knowledge on how your favorite spirit is made; how can you comprehend the information a brand will give you if you can’t understand what they are saying. I think I will try to write an article by type of spirit in the coming months to explain how they are made, what to look for, what tricks distilleries attempt to use to make you think this is a good quality product, etc. But even from home, you can educate yourself; Google is a fantastic source of information. With only a few key words, you can find hours worth of legitimate reading. You have access to different clubs: Rum, Gin, Whisky and schools. Bars are now offering tastings helmed by professionals; you can find them by browsing the Facebook events around you.
Knowing how a spirit is made is only the beginning of your education, if you want to know more about a specific product, look for blogs and forums dedicated to your favorite spirit, in French or in English; the internet is filled with articles on specific products and these people spend a considerable amount of time researching specific details about each product.
Go visit your favorite distilleries, ask questions, look around, be curious. If they say they produce Grain to Glass but the floor is spotless and the alambic is shiny as new, they might blend it with NGS (Neutral Grain Spirit). If you see big 1.000L white plastic tanks, ask if this is for storage or if it is the NGS they use to produce their spirits. Understand that it can cost as much as 10 times more to produce from Grain to Glass than it can cost to buy NGS. Some distilleries might be inclined to cut corners short to save money, which is absolutely fine as long as they are transparent about it.
Be curious, ask questions, educate yourself!