It was a dark and stormy night... Karl was an avid homebrewer and craft beer enthusiast with a little dream of opening up his own brewery one day. After getting bitten hard by the craft beer bug, he dove headfirst into the pool full of alligators, piranhas and yeast that is homebrewing. His wife (at the time) was "skeptical" about his ability to craft a drinkable, much less GOOD, beer using that crusty old gumbo stock pot on their tiny kitchen stove. But then, lo and behold, she one day begrudgingly admitted that an IPA he fermented in a 5 gallon bucket tucked away in the back corner of a dark closet, behind the dusty dress shoes Karl never wore, with a wet t-shirt wrapped around it to keep it below room temperature, was "pretty okay." That beer was thus christened the India Pale Skeptic Ale in honor of having turned a Skeptic into a Believer (well, not exactly, but you get the drift). It was official, the idea if not yet the company, Skeptic Brewing Co. was born.
So then some life stuff happened. Flash forward 5 years or so later. Karl gets introduced to vacuum distillation through his former gig as a part owner of a specialty cleaning solvent company (yes, it's almost as exciting as it sounds). Whilst knee deep in new product development in a laboratory full of beakers, condensers, strange glass tubes and toxic chemicals, a Chem E slash Jehovah's Witness named Rich DeGroot introduces Karl to the idea of distilling wines under vacuum to make brandies. As a burgeoning wannabe brewery owner, an Edison light bulb explodes into tiny glass shards of inspiration in Karl's neural matrix. He imagines, what if, another delicious and hoppy fermented beverage could also be distilled in such a manner? What would it taste like? Would it be like drinking liquid nirvana in a Glencairn crystal glass? Short answer, yes. Yes, it would. But making whiskey, much less gin and vodka, from craft beer would take some super specialized, custom equipment. And there was more yet to learn, so it was time to go to school...
Lots of studying, book and online learnin', a few explosions here and there, and countless f--kups later, Karl was hooked on cold vacuum distillation. Being a ginthusiast, as it were, his favorite gin was (although now it's his SECOND favorite gin...) The Botanist, from Scotland. It was, and remains, a worthy adversary. But Karl wanted his gin to be second to none, and unique amongst the quickly ballooning crowd of gins coming on the market. He was semi-obsessed with mangoes in beers and in life, and was determined to bring that tropical vibe to what he thought should be a refreshing gin, suitable for any day you'd want to imagine that it's summer at the beach, except for during summer, which is when you wouldn't need to imagine it. Some 35 or 80 recipes later, Skeptic Gin was finalized.
All the while, he was also busy working on the process to craft Skeptic Vodka. As a non-vodka enthusiast, yet a huge fan of mixing vodka into anything and everything he had available in the fridge, Karl sought to make a vodka that was so ultra smooth it would blend in seamlessly to any environment, like a well camouflaged moth on a tree, or a stick insect, or a polar bear. It took a lot of trial and error. It took a lot of crying and laughing, and laughing and crying, and childish tantrums with breaking of glassware, before he landed on the perfect process. A process unique to vodka and distilling as a whole.
In June of 2018, Karl finally flipped the script on his former career and moved on. Skeptic went into full production later that month and the rest is still being written. In the next chapter, Whiskey In The Jar, Skeptic will finish that whiskey still and begin turning that India Pale Skeptic Ale into India Pale Believer Whiskey. Strap in. The engines are lit, and it's time for liftoff!