A Guide to Answering Questions on Distillery Tours

A Guide to Answering Questions on Distillery Tours

Beware the gatekeeper mentality in yourself and anyone working in your distillery. What is the gatekeeper mentality you ask? This is when people who know lots about a certain subject are dismissive and condescending to newbies who ask a lot of basic questions. This was a huge problem in the geek community when things like superhero movies brought new people and non-traditional geeks into the fold of all things nerdy. Hipsters have also taken this up and applied it to everything they do.

The same thing is happening with the craft distilling industry. People who never gave much thought to liquor before are now curious about where comes from and how it’s made. We see these types often. They’re the ones who have only had a few shots of a big national brand, like at college parties, who never had any of the good stuff. But when they get a taste of some good craft whiskey, they not only love it – they want to get to know it. So, they and their newfound love for craft spirits drive down to a distillery and ask a bunch of simple questions like, “What is blended whiskey?”

Answer Questions Genuinely

Answer their questions in full and politely. Answers don't start with an eye roll. No reply should. Remember what Mya Angelou once said. "People may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you made them feel." So, answer every neophyte question with kindness. The politeness can be done easy enough, however crafting a genuine answer (just like crafting a good whiskey) is harder than most people think.

Become an Expert

There is an unexpected pitfall that many experts in the distilling industry need to be aware of when it comes to explaining things and answering questions. That is their own expertise. It's kind of ironic, but one thing an expert and an idiot have in common are that they often cannot tell you what they are doing. It's obvious why the idiot can't, but for the expert, it's more complex. A true expert will go about a difficult job, and make it look simple. For them it is, and they are often on auto-pilot. The expert has become so good at their job that they don't even think about the steps they take from start to finish. Don't believe me. Take a few minutes to explain how you walk. You’ve been doing it your whole life, so it should be easy, but it isn’t. When a skill becomes that automatic, it is hard to explain it.

This can lead to some vague sounding answers. If you are the owner of a distillery and are pulling double duty running the place and playing tour guide, it might be a good idea to prepare answers for simple questions like what is small batch, what is a blended whiskey, or even what is a rackhouse. Not only will it make any tours more enjoyable, but it will also help people see you as the true expert you are.


Another side benefit of knowing the best way to answer newbie types of questions is when it comes to new partners and employees. Not everyone you hire will have an in-depth knowledge of the distilling process, especially office support staff. Also, there might be a time when someone with really deep pockets wants to invest in your craft distillery. A good, detailed answer given n a respectful way might be the difference between being funded or left looking for spare change in couch cushions.