Glassroom: The Q&A blog series with whisky distillers

Blaum Brothers

2 Jul, 2020

It all started when Mike got homeleave and we met in Florida with our families where we split and finished a bottle of subpar craft whiskey. Before taking the family to Animal Kingdom, we announced to our wives that we were going start our own distillery.

Can you give us a bit of background about yourself and how you started in the whiskey industry?

Mike:

We grew up as not only brothers but best friends.  As we grew older and moved to different places, we still stayed very close.  Our career paths were very different – Matt owned a nuclear pharmacy in Chicago, selling radioactive medicine to hospitals, while I worked overseas & in Washington DC for the NSA (The National Security Agency). It was during this time that I began to discover Scotch whisky and it became near & dear to me. I started to really get into it, Matt followed suit and we began to share our love of the spirit and became nerdy on the subject.

Matt:

It all started when Mike got home-leave and we met in Florida with our families where we split and finished a bottle of subpar craft whiskey. Before taking the family to Animal Kingdom, we announced to our wives that we were going start our own distillery. This was April 2012; 4 months later Matt was looking at property in the beautiful Galena territory!

Can you tell us about your distillery, and what makes it unique?

Mike:

The distillery is built inside a former Mormon Church, but what really makes the distillery unique is that we do not rely on any marketing story. We are coming from a place of two brothers who really enjoy working with each other and love making whiskey. 

Plus, we enjoy the independence & honesty of doing things our way with no one else calling the shots. We are actually at the distillery all the time, and people get a kick out that.

Oh yeah, we still use a Flux Capacitor!

Are there any little ‘distilling’ secrets you can let us in on?

Matt:

No bullshit. It is an art & a science that is constantly being tweaked, but we are quite transparent with everything.

Whiskey has been phenomenally successful
in the United States and around the planet,
why do you think this is compared to other spirits?

Mike:

American heritage, classic Americana – at least how Bourbon & American whiskeys go. It has made a resurgence, but it is as American as baseball.

It is also a younger generation who really care about the ingredients and authenticity of what they buy now, and that has overflowed into spirits.

In your years in the industry,what have been the biggest surprises you have faced?

Mike:

One would be the cohesiveness of the craft industry and willingness of industry people to work together. Many share the data & recipes. The community is amazing & unique. We have made a lot of good friends in this industry over the past 8 years or so.

What are the big trends that are affecting the whiskey industry at the moment?

Matt:

It appears that people have gotten away from the stigma of sourced whiskey as long as there is honesty behind it. Also, we are big fans of the American single malt movement, because it is relevant to what single malt means globally. 

Not sure where the future will take it, but I hope it comes to fruition.

Are there any interesting stories from your time in the whiskey industry that you could share?

Mike:

In the town Galena, the former #1 tourist attraction used to be the post-Civil War home of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, soon to be U.S. President, but since the founding of the Blaum Bros Distillery, the distillery has usurped the former General’s home for that top spot.

What developments in the whiskey industry most excite you?

Matt:

We both appreciate how the whiskey community is getting nerdier & smarter, which is meshing well with how we do things. Innovation and industry folks taking the hard way is pretty cool.

What do you see as being the future of whiskey in the short term?

Matt:

There are the uncertainties & the unknowns that make this difficult to answer.  There will be a fair share of casualties this year so it will be interesting to see how it all pans out after this is all over.

Why do you use the Glencairn Glass in your business and what makes it so special?

Mike:

We started using it because we used to drink Scotch whisky, we visited the distilleries in Scotland and it was the glass they used. 

We became fanboys of the glass, collecting them at every distillery we visited, before we ever started our own distillery. We would seek them out whenever we visited a tasting room as a badge of honor.

We had the glass in our tasting rooms even before we had our whiskey in bottles.

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