Back to Blog

Distilling in the Past

07/18/2018 • Shawn Patrick

Distilling in the past was a gamble with life and limb. Even still, distillers actively try to do things the same way it was done a century or two ago. The development of electricity, the Industrial Revolution, and the development of safety and software have all aided in bringing distilling into the future, while keeping the best parts romanticized in the past.

The Scary Past

One thing that wasn’t so good about the good ole' days was how distilleries approached safety. Many old distilleries were deathtraps. There were open shafts sixty feet deep, exposed sprockets, and moving machinery parts perfect for getting fingers stuck. And fire safety? Let's just say if you were in a rackhouse that was going up in flames you weren't going to make it home.

The Industrial Revolution wasn’t just about better machines and automation creation. It was also about the centralization of production – thanks mostly to trains. Modernization meant that there could be one big facility to do it all instead of several small distillery operations scattered throughout the hills. Growth and progress went hand-in-hand with the old adage - the bigger, the better. That new mindset, of course, required larger machines.

The Dark Past

One of the hardest things to imagine about the past is how dark it used to be. Even those who live in rural areas still have the occasional security light buzzing at all hours. Not only that, there is an enormous amount of light from nearby cities that manages to edge out some of the darkness far into the rural back country. But before electricity lanterns, candles and moonlight were the only sources of light at night.

Electricity was still a rarity in many parts of America even less than a century ago, and often all workers had was a kerosene lantern. In the bowels of a dark warehouse, mill, or distillery, all that stood between a man and a mangled arm or leg was dim light and deep shadows.

Let’s Be Thankful

Once OSHA was created in the 1970's, workplace safety became a standard practice. Electricity, advanced shipping logistics, and more communication all assisted in building the society and comforts we have today. Let's toast to working in safe distilleries. And let's be even more thankful for the distillery management technology that makes running them easier.