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Technical Hooch

10/31/2018 • Shawn Patrick

So many customers who enjoy the spirits craft distillers create have no idea exactly how much actual craft there is to it. The blending of science and art is unreal.

Creativity is Complex

Even seemingly simple things can take a turn for the difficult. Not only does meddling with a step in the distilling process entail the need to get it right, but distillers also must make sure that everything is TTB compliant and documented correctly. 

Adding extra ingredients isn’t done casually. Craft distilleries have more to consider than pure curiosity. There is product quality and consistency to think about. If the end result is a good seller, they'll want to replicate their success. There is also the TTB paperwork. They want to know the proof, they want it measured accurately, and they want to know how a distiller arrived at that number. Managing these experimental small batches in a distillery management software is an easy way to track your process and fill out the required TTB reports at the same time.

Dropping Proof

Dropping the proof is relatively simple if that's all you want to do. All it takes to move the proof from 140 to 70 is adding the right amount of deionized water. Throwing in the sugar or other raw ingredient changes things. Close doesn’t cut it in the eyes of the TTB. The proof must be as exact as possible. Calculating proof with a wildcard ingredient added in involves some complicated math and a high degree of technical know-how, or some rather expensive testing equipment. Having a calculator handy can make these processes much easier. Check out the free, easy to use HoochWare Calculator app for several different calculations.


For the expert distiller, it's taken decades of dedication to the craft and a deep-seated passion for learning to master all aspects of making spirits. All that most people experience is taking a drink and maybe reading the about page from their favorite brand’s website. Perhaps they took a tour and got a hint of the Herculean effort and skill involved with distilling. Cheers to your efforts.