We’re sharing an exerpt from a recent interview with Kristine so you can learn a little more about her and what she brings to our table….
What made you want to become a distiller?
When I was studying for my ‘Brewing and Brewery Operations’ diploma at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in British Columbia, my classmates and professors would sometimes talk about distilling and how it compares to brewing. Through these conversations, I became interested in distilling since it seemed like a much more simple and elegant process. As well, I’ve always thought stills were beautiful pieces of equipment and wanted to learn how to use them. I think that distilling is the natural progression from brewing since you often can’t distil a spirit until you’ve brewed the wash first, so the switch from brewing to distilling was natural to me.
Tell us about your path in becoming a distiller.
Well, I’ve always loved creating things, whether it’s making pottery, drawing, or cooking. I see distilling as another outlet for that creative energy. My path to becoming a distiller began when one day my dad was in the car listening to the radio and they were interviewing Nancy More, a lecturer from the KPU brewing program. She talked about her life working at Labatt and all these big beer companies, and when my dad came home, he encouraged me to apply for the programme.
I started the programme and when I was close to graduating, I thought it might be fun to try working in the UK for a while. Excluding myself, everyone in my family lived in England for several years and hold British citizenship, so growing up I always felt like I missed out on the whole British experience. I was also interested in getting into distilling at that time, and since the UK is famous for their whisky and gin distilleries it seemed like the perfect reason to come here.
What’s your favourite part of the distilling process?
I love seeing people come in and try the spirits that I helped to make. When other people enjoy and value my work, I can’t help but feel proud.
What’s one thing you’d like to see change in the distilling industry?
One thing that would be cool to see is for home distilling to be legalised. Back home in Canada, all of my brewing class mates homebrew. From my experience, home brewing doesn’t take away business from breweries, it just makes consumers more educated and passionate about what they are drinking. I think legalising home distilling could have the same positive effect on the distilling industry.
Tell us about your Miss Brewbird video series on YouTube and what inspired you to make videos about the distilling industry.
I was browsing on YouTube and noticed that the distilling/spirits community on it isn’t very large. Most of the channels occupying this space are either cocktail making channels or drink review channels. There are very few channels actually about distilling. Of these channels, virtually all of them are made by men!
I don’t think there are many Asian female distillers in the world, so I saw an opportunity to create a channel that showcases a different perspective on the distilling industry. The “Miss Brewbird” YouTube channel is really about giving people an insider view of the spirits industry, from how distilleries operate to what life as a distiller is actually like. Some of my topics have included whether buying a whisky cask is a good investment and the science behind identifying fake spirits. Check it out here on YouTube!
The channel is also just a fun way for me to incorporate my distilling side with my artsy side. I’m never truly happy unless I’m busy creating something.
Welcome to the team, Kristine!