Craft distilling guru goes between the covers

As the American craft distilling field gathers momentum, it is developing not only its own flavors, but its own literature and human catalysts.

Take Bill Owens. A craft distiller as well as being the founder of the American Distilling Institute, he has just published a pair of glossy paperback books on the craft -- "The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits" (Quarry Books, $24.99), written with Alan Dikty, and "Modern Moonshine Techniques" (White Mule Press).

(Full disclosure: I had nothing to do with the latter book, although I did contribute -- at no fee -- the cover photo.)

"The Art ..." is the glossier of the two books, chock full of Owens' color photos as well as distiller profiles, explanations of a variety of liqueurs, the machinery used in the distilling process and the science behind the art.

"Modern Moonshine Techniques" is more of a how-to book, with a variety of historic woodcuts, sketches explaining such things as how to build such devices as a mash tun, a corn cooker and different types of stills.

In addition to his distilling expertise, in 1989 Owens opened Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA. It was the nation's first brewpub. He also was publisher of American Brewer and BEER magazines.

Dikty is the author of "The Buying Guide to Spirits," and manages Allied Beverage Tanks Inc., a company that builds craft breweries and distilleries.

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