In March 2018, Dram & Draught co-founders Kevin Barrett and Drew Schenck attended Moonshine University’s Stave & Thief Society Bourbon Steward Certification class in Louisville, KY, and they are now spreading the gospel of the legendary whiskey throughout their North Carolina footprint.
Barrett and Schenck are always striving to learn more about the spirits industry which is one of the reasons they chose to attend a day-long workshop where they furthered their knowledge specifically of Kentucky’s signature spirit: bourbon. Barrett and Schenck now proudly sport “Certified Executive Bourbon Steward” pins and have started down the path of also certifying their establishments and employees.
The goal of the Stave & Thief Society Executive Bourbon Steward Certification is to provide a standardized education of bourbon. For proprietors, those certified learn skills to guide their staff in various aspects of Bourbon Stewardship and customer relations, as well as further hone opportunities to improve bourbon sales.
The program was created in 2015 by the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association official educational member, with input from an independent advisory panel of distilling experts, historians, leaders in the hospitality industry and professional spirits educators.
Prior to attending, only two other North Carolina establishments had received certification – Raleigh’s Relish Craft Kitchen & Bourbon Bar and 73 & Main in Mount Pleasant, just outside of Charlotte. There are now eight, including Dram & Draught. You can see the growing list of member establishments at StaveandThief.com/Members.
“Working in the operational distillery, the history, really dialing into the flavor profiles… there was a lot to learn in becoming a Certified Executive Bourbon Steward,” says Schenck. “This was worth all the effort, but the biggest thing for me is for Dram & Draught being among the first in North Carolina to go through the program.”
“The best of the class for me was the mini distillery. We had a good knowledge of bourbon already, but we got to mill our own grain, distill our own mash, and even taste the heads, hearts, and tails. That’s something you just don’t get to do in everyday life,” shares Barrett.
The eight-hour course began by covering a basic history of whiskey in the United States and leading to the evolution of bourbon (which Barrett and Schenck were already well-versed in), but the real magic for the duo began when the class moved into a real, functioning distillery for a hands-on experience of the bourbon-making process.
The final portion of the class focused on examining the array of aroma and flavor components of bourbon and identifying how specific decisions during the production process determine the final attributes of the bourbon.
From the certification class, Barrett and Schenck have deepened their knowledge on a variety of bourbon topics including the basic science of the distillation process, flight building, and legal classifications. With a heightened ability to identify proof, age, and mash bill through blind sensory evaluation – and a better understanding of the bourbon industry as a whole – the two have returned to the Old North State ready to serve as true Bourbon Stewards through their growing list of whiskey establishments and planned tourism opportunities.
About Stave & Thief Society
Stave & Thief Society was founded in 2014, and is the first bourbon certification program recognized by the bourbon industry and the only to be recognized by the Kentucky Distillers Association as its “Official Bourbon Education Course.” The programs were developed by professional distilling and spirits educators and advised by a panel of experts in the bourbon and hospitality industries to provide a premium, standardized bourbon education that is accessible and holds real value. To learn more, please visit StaveandThief.com.