Canadian Craft Distilling Institute, Hands-On workshop2019-07-31T02:37:23+00:00



A proud member of the BC Craft Distilling Association

This expert led Workshop, a one of a kind in North America, is a certificate program dedicated to craft distilling. Whether you are a connoisseur of craft distilled spirits seeking to further your knowledge or an entrepreneur wishing to start and operate your own Craft Distillery in Canada or the USA, Urban Distilleries and the Canadian Craft Distilling Institute will teach you the art, science and business of Craft Distilling. Our workshops are comprised of a unique blend of classroom time and hands-on time in the distillery.

Urban Distilleries operates an award-winning Craft Distillery in Kelowna, B.C., Canada comprising one 600 litre Arnold Holstein still with full rectification capabilities as well as a 300 litre pot still. Urban Distilleries uses primarily B.C. grain and fruit ingredients to produce vodka, flavoured vodkas, gin, eau de vie and whiskies.

Participants in our 5 and 6 day Workshops will be exposed to every facet of true artisan craft distillery operations. You will be treated to a hands-on experience that will leave you with an in-depth knowledge of craft spirits distillation. Our workshops will help you thoroughly explore and evaluate the critical points of craft distilling – raw materials sourcing, equipment sourcing, business planning, production methods of various spirits, proofing, marketing and brand imaging, sales, distribution as well as Federal, Provincial and State taxation.

Our Workshops provide more in-depth information, more take-home learning materials and more hands-on distillery time than any other Canadian or USA-based Workshop/Course.

Our Workshops are a serious learning opportunity for people seriously interested in furthering their knowledge of distilled spirits or for people serious about launching a craft distillery. Our Workshops are NOT about learning how to retro-fit hot water tanks into stills. Our Workshops are NOT just focused on Corn Whisky and Moonshine. You are paying good money for this unique opportunity. Why not treat yourself to a first class learning opportunity?

Teaching instruction was well done. Learning from someone who has actually set up a distillery was a key component of the course.

B.S., Calgary, AB

It was an incredibly useful course. Equipment, logistics, business planning, licensing, codes etc…. I learned so much every day!

T.A., Saskatchewan

Learned about marketing strategies, federal and provincial taxations, raw materials and the range of possible products that a craft distiller could make.

C.B., Edmonton, Alberta

Almost everything was new to me. You did a great job of covering everything and teaching me the whole process.

Daniel B., New Jersey , USA

Invaluable lessons were learned and insights were shared. Excellent science explanations and well thought out course content.

L.S., Calgary, Alberta

Very good course! Leaned many practical skills!

H.W. and A.W., London, UK

…”the information given is plentiful. You are very generous with the information you share. I feel I have all I need to start small….”

F.S., Quebec, Canada

…”this course is great for those who have little prior experience in the alcohol business…”

P.J., Calgary, Alberta

…”excellent course overall and I found it a valuable experience to further my knowledge…”

M.E., Saskatchewan

…”all my expectation were either met or exceeded…”

D.N., Montreal, Canada

…”thank you for your time and commitment in sharing your industry knowledge with others. This is a rare quality and one that is greatly appreciated. We both found the workshop helpful and comprehensive.”

L.S. and B.S., Alberta

I spent 3 years gathering as much credible information as I could for my start-up craft distillery. Your course filled in the information I could not find – and all in 1 week!! Your course saved me thousands of dollars by helping me avoid mistakes I would otherwise have made. Excellent!!

David B., Halifax, Nova Scotia

I am already a craft distiller and I think I will take the course again in 2 years time to learn about the latest developments in the world of craft distilling.

Adam S., Regina, Saskatchewan

Very intensive and complete course. Excellent orators and teachers – both of you. Comprehensive information and very hands on. Thank You!

Tina T., Calgary, Alberta

This was an excellent course. I definitely learned the issues to avoid as I move ahead and start comtemplating a craft distillery start-up.

Jackson S., Calgary, Alberta




September 30, 2019
Workshop Class is filling

Urban Distilleries,
West Kelowna, BC

Sept 30 – Oct 4, 2019

Due to the High demand, we have added more 2019 dates. As classes fill up, more class dates will be displayed.
** Once the course date is full, it is not possible to move or cancel your reservation. **

To enrol: email


Sign up today – it’s easy to enrol! We accept Visa, Mastercard or Interac email transfer. $100 Early Registration savings in effect 30+ days prior to your course.

Purchase through our online store.


For more information or to make payment by phone, please call the distillery at 778-478-0939 or use our contact page

Workshop Overview

  • Class instruction will be done by Malcolm Bucholtz – a graduate of the U.K. based Institute for Brewing & Distilling and the founder of Prohibition University.
  • Hands-on instruction will be done by Mike Urban, Owner & Master Distiller of Urban Distilleries with over 2 dedcades of distilling experience.
  • This Workshop is guaranteed to be the most in-depth, hands-on course offered anywhere in Canada or USA.
  • We do not bring in people from other distilleries to teach you about distilling. You get our full and un-divided attention each and every day.
  • We do not tour you around to other distilleries. Urban Distilleries is a full scale, working distillery with commercial sized equipment. All hands-on activity in the workshop is done on commercial 300 liter and 600 liter stills, NOT on home-made moonshine stills.
  • To maximize the learning opportunity for participants, we limit enrolment to only 14 people per workshop.

During the hands-on part of the Workshop, you will:

  • learn about the operation of the Boiler system
  • become aquainted with the workings of the glycol cooling system
  • examine the design and construction of the mash tank and fermenter tanks
  • learn how to efficiently design and lay out a distillery
  • become familiar with the grain handling system
  • be introduced to the R.O. water treatment system
  • have an opportunity to get your hands dirty Weighing and grinding grain
  • work with the Master Distiller to clean and sanitize the mash tank and fermenter tank
  • become familiar with the various clamps, hoses and fittings that are used in a distillery
  • fill the mash tank with grain and water and operate the direct steam injection to heat the mash
  • control the temperature steps so as to complete the mash conversion of starch to fermentable sugar
  • learn how to determine if a mash conversion has been taken to completion
  • work with the Master Distiller to prepare and pitch the yeast
  • study the design of a pot still, a stripping column and a rectification column
  • hands-on operate the 600 L still along with fellow classmates to conduct two stripping runs
  • work with your fellow classmates to fill some oak barrels with whisky distillate

Through all of this hands-on time, you will also gain significant knowledge of the many do’s and dont’s of operating a distillery based on the years of experience of Master Distiller Mike Urban

During the classroom part of the Workshop, you will explore, discuss and learn about:

  • The History of Distilled Spirits
  • The Canadian and US Government legal definitions governing spirit types
  • The various raw materials available to craft distillers (various fruits, molasses, various grains) and their economics
  • Cleaning and sanitization of equipment
  • The use of artificial enzymes
  • The science of yeast and fermentation, with special emphasis on water chemistry
  • The science of alcohol distillation as it pertains to vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, brandy and liqueurs.
  • The science and practicalities of Oak Aging of spirits
  • The layout of a distillery and the equipment and supplies needed for successful operation.
  • The business plan implications of the equipment needed to make various types of alcoholic spirits.
  • Proofing and Gauging of spirits (Excise Canada and TTB analysis techniques)
  • Packaging (bottles, closures, boxes and colors)
  • Labelling (with emphasis on your target market consideration)
  • Business Plan basics as well as financial projections for a craft distillery start-up
  • Marketing and Brand Imaging tactics and techniques for spirits
  • The various Federal permits and licenses needed to operate a craft distillery
  • The various Provincial rules and regulations and how they vary dramatically from Province to Province
  • The various Building, Electrical and Fire Codes you will face as you establish a craft distillery
  • During the Classroom activities, you will taste, evaluate and critique various commercially made spirits along with various craft distilled spirits, all with an aim of educating your palate.
  • In addition, you will be provided with copies of two course textbooks and a compilation of scientfic papers and journal articles. You will also be provided with a comprehensive list of equipment and supply vendors from across North America.
  • The end of your Workshop is never really the end. As participants leave here with their Certificate of Completion, we encourage them to keep in touch with us so that future questions and queries are answered.
  • We have furthermore set up a LinkedIn Discussion Group to provide a forum for people to exchange ideas, recipes and questions.


You will be treated to a colourful review of the History of Alcohol interspersed with various samplings and critical analysis of spirits that the Canadian consumer is accustomed to seeing on the shelf. As a craft distiller, one must be cognizant of these products and their shortcomings if one is to create and market a product that will compete for the consumer’s attention.

You will be engaged in a study of the legal definitions of spirit types in Canada as set down by Canadian Food and Drug Regulations. This study will be interspersed with samplings and critical analysis of various craft distilled spirits to illustrate the creative possibilities available to a craft distiller.

You will enjoy plenty of floor time in the Distillery during the day to study the layout of a working distillery and the various pieces of equipment needed for successful distillery operation.


You will have a chance to participate in the creation of a small-scale mash of un-malted grain and artificial enzymes.

You will then delve into a detailed study of grains and other raw materials available to a craft distiller as well as a detailed study of the grain malting process as well as artificial enzymes.

You will then learn about the nasty bacteria that can cause problems to a distiller. You will be introduced to the various sanitizing chemicals that a distiller can use to combat bacteria.

This classroom work will then be followed by hands-on grinding of 300Kg of grain and the making of a 1200 liter mash.

A detailed examination of water, yeast and the science behind the fermentation process will follow.

You will be treated to a practical introduction to some of the tools that a craft distiller will use to analyze a mash.

You will enjoy more floor time in the Distillery during the day to further study and evaluate the layout of a working distillery and the various pieces of equipment needed for successful distillery operation.


The success of any craft distillery will rest in large part on its ability to reach out to the consumer and market its craft distilled creations. There is much more to marketing than just running a few ads here and there. Marketing is a science unto itself. We delve deep into the science of marketing and as a practical exercise to compliment your learning. The class will work together to critique and analyze other craft distillers’ websites. This in-depth study of marketing is interspersed with more samplings and critical analysis of various craft distilled spirits.

You will enjoy more floor time in the Distillery during the day to further study and evaluate the layout of a working distillery and the various pieces of equipment needed for successful distillery operation


The mathematics and physics of the distillation process at first glance appear complex. But distillation is easily understandable, and this portion of the workshop will ensure that you fully understand the process.

To put your distillation knowledge to work, you will then engage in hands-on participation of filling the 600 liter still with a fermented mash. Then, under the guidance of Master Distiller Mike Urban, the class will work together to conduct a stripping run. You will make the heads and tails cuts and you will taste and smell the heads and the tails. The spent mash from this distillation run will be pumped from the still and the class will re-load the still and conduct a second stripping run.

As a craft distiller you will have to proof your spirits down to a suitable alcoholic strength. We introduce you to the Canadian Excise Tables and show you how to use them. The class will then work in pairs to engage in some hands-on proofing using the Excise Tables.

As a craft distiller, you will possibly mature your distilled spirits in Oak barrels. We will delve into the science of oak barrel aging. The class will then have a hands-on opportunity to take the distillate from the two stripping runs, proof it down and load it into an ex-Jack Daniels barrel.


Bottle filling, packaging and labelling is a vital part of the craft distilling process. We will explore the various options available to a craft distiller for caps, bottles and labels.

Every Province regards craft distilling in a different light. We will explore the various requirements of the different Provinces. This will be complimented with a discussion of the necessary Federal Excise requirements, including surety bonds.

We will critically analyze the business plan used by Urban Distilleries for its start-up and we will show you how the 4-P’s of marketing have been properly used in this plan.

We will show you how to prepare the financial projections for your planned craft distilling operation so that you can determine your needed equipment sizes and capabilities.

More floor time with Master distiller Mike Urban will be made available throughout this final day so that you may can ask any final questions about anything that you have learned about during the week.


Gin Master Class – learn how to create and distill Gin

The end of your course does not mean the end of your relationship with us at the Canadian Craft Distilling Institute. We have created a members-only Linked In social media page where you can interface with past workshop attendees. As you take steps towards creating your craft distillery, we will be available to help you with your business plan, your marketing strategies and even some recipe development.

To enrol, download and fill in the Master Distillers workshop application form.



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