Higher education at Cornell

I was emailing with Nicolas at Carl about getting a part for our still when he mentioned that Carl is co-hosting a distilling workshop at Cornell University in a few days. Since Cornell is a four hour drive away, I signed up and hit the road. After an uneventful drive, I pulled into the Best Western University Inn in Ithaca just after midnight and was asleep within minutes.

While waiting for the morning shuttle bus to campus, I struck up a conversation with a a fellow Canadian attending the workshop. He manages the St. George's Golf Club and has been bitten by the distilling bug. On the bus in, I got to admire the gorgeous Cornell campus. I actually spent the second year of my life here when my dad was doing his post-doctorate. My parents have great memories of the campus and I was eager to explore. The workshop was held in the Agricultural building that houses among other things a working dairy. Unbelievable how much money the University has.

I was greeted by Nicolas and Carl owner Alexander.  It was great to finally meet Nicolas in person. They were joined by a couple Cornell professors who ran the distilling program (yes, the University has a distilling program). There were about 12 of us in the workshop each with a cool story.  Over the next two days we would spend the morning getting into the academic details of fermentation and distilling. The afternoon was spent in the University's distillery where I was totally blown away by the equipment. The had not one but two functional mini Carl stills. They also had a sea of computer controlled fermenters. I was particularly impressed with a hose bib they had and looked it up on the web.  It cost over $5K US!  Money is no object for Cornell.

We got a treat after our first day of class when we all visited 1911 Spirits.  The distillery is perched on a hill overlooking the Otisco valley.  The distillery makes apple vodka using almost the same still that we have. They even got the same size stripping still we're planning to get.  I felt a rush of excitement touring their distillery thinking that we'll have the same operation soon. For dinner, we crossed the road to Beak & Skiff apple orchard and cidery. I was introduced to their "hopped" cider and quickly purchased a case to bring home.  I was happy to spend the evening chatting with my fellow distillers who were all great people.