Hands-On 5 Day distillery school (American Version)2019-05-21T18:19:13+00:00



A proud member of the BC Craft Distilling Association

Craft distilled spirits in America are a growing phenomenon with over 700 small distilleries dotting the landscape. 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 America, Urban Distilleries and the Canadian Craft Distilling Institute will teach you the art, science and business of Craft Distilling in this specially designed 5-day Workshop created uniquely for the American marketplace.

True enough – you may have noticed a handful of advertised Distillery Workshops in America. But, here at the Canadian Craft Distilling Institute this workshop offers something you will not get at an American based Workshop. That something is our unique blend of hands-on distillery time coupled with classroom time. At this Workshop you will enjoy the opportunity to grind grain, load a mash tank, pump fermented mash into the 150 gallon Arnold Holstein still and then help to run the still under the guidance of the Master Distiller.

As a participant in this unique 5 day workshop you will be exposed to every facet of true artisan craft distillery operations. This workshop 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, marketing, sales/distribution, TTB proofing procedures, Excise taxes, label approval procedures and more.

This Workshops will provide you with more in-depth information, more take-home learning materials and more hands-on distillery time than any other American-based Workshop.

And as an added bonus – this Workshop is priced in Canadian Dollars. With the Canadian Dollar currently at a significantly low level relative to the Us Dollar, this is a serious savings for you!

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




March 2019
Workshop Sorry, class is full

Urban Distilleries,
Kelowna, BC

March 4-9, 2019

March 2019
Workshop Seats are filling

Urban Distilleries,
Kelowna, BC

March 11-16, 2019

May 2019 NEW
Workshop Seats are filling

Urban Distilleries,
Kelowna, BC

May 27 – June 1, 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, download and fill in the Master Distillers workshop application form.


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.
  • This workshop is guaranteed to be the most in-depth, hands-on course offered anywhere in America.
  • 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 bring in people from outside agencies to talk at you about marketing, social media or business planning. 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 75 gallon and 150 gallon stills, NOT on home-made moonshine stills.
  • To maximize the learning opportunity for participants, we limit enrolment to only 12 people per workshop
  • The hands-on part of the Workshop will offer you a chance to grind grain, prepare a mash, distill whisky and gin plus prep and fill a whisky barrel.

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 American 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 America as set down by US Regulators. 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 participate in the creation of a small-scale 5 gallon mash of malted grain.

You will participate in the creation of a small-scale 5 gallon mash of un-malted grain using 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.

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 650 pounds of grain and the making of a 300 US gallon mash.

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

You will then be treated to an in depth discussion of the various botanicals that a craft distiller can use in making Gin.

You will be treated to a practical introduction to some of the tools that a craft distiller will use to analyse 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 analyse 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 150 gallon Holstein 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 TTB Proofing Tables and show you how to use them. The class will then work in pairs to engage in some hands-on proofing using these 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 State regards craft distilling in a different light. We will explore the various requirements of your particular State. This will be complimented with a discussion of the necessary Federal Bonding requirements.

We will critically analyse the framework of a business plan suitable for use by a start-up craft distiller and we will show you how the 4-P’s of marketing can be properly used in such a plan.

We will show you how to prepare the financial projections for your planned craft distilling operation so 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 you can ask any final questions about anything that you have learned about during the week.

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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