Tradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed! Most recently, we checked out the prized tools of L’Abattoir’s new bar manager, William Johnson. This week, we pull back the curtain with Gordon Glanz, Founder and Distiller at Odd Society Spirits.
1. Hydrometer | “A hydrometer is a tool we use almost every day. It measures the specific gravity of a liquid—in our case, alcohol. We use the gravity reading along with the temperature to calculate the alcohol percentage of the liquid. We are required to keep strict records of our production for excise and other tax purposes.”
2. Whisky Thief | “A whisky thief is used to extract a small amount of spirit from a barrel for sampling. There is a lot of nostalgia around this and similar instruments. When I was in Scotland, I often heard stories from the old warehouse men about the various methods they used to extract their daily whisky ration from the aging barrels. It’s an exciting moment when you try a whisky sample from a barrel for the first time.”
3. Refractometer | “A refractometer measures the amount of fermentable sugars in our wort. The higher the sugar level, the more potential alcohol we can get. It’s very simple to use. You take a drop of wort and place it on the slide area and hold the refractometer up to the light and read the sugar level. We are always trying to adjust our mashing process to get more sugar from the malt. It turns into a bit of contest between the distillers.”