Maddie Kelly graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland Oregon where she received a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry. She currently works for 2bar Spirits as their Head Distiller.
Where did you attend college?
Lewis & Clark College Portland Oregon
What degree/certificate(s)do you hold?
Bachelors of Chemistry
What do you do for your job?
As head distiller I oversee and often perform all tasks required for making whiskey. The basic steps are as follows:
- mashing: cooking grain to achieve maximum starch extraction, converting starch to sugar
- fermenting: sugar to alcohol conversion, development of esters and congeners
- distilling: separating ethanol and desired esters from everything else
- barreling: aging distillate at a specific abv and for a specific amount of time to achieve desired flavor
- bottling: proofing whiskey to the exact abv intended for consumption.
What are some techniques that you commonly use?
I use wet lab techniques to measure the appropriate amount of grain, determine when the sugar content is correct for fermentation, and check the proof of the alcohol before barreling and bottling.
Please describe what you do in an average day
Almost every work day includes mashing and distilling whiskey. Each day is a mix of physical labor along with scientific precision, and problem solving.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in a biotech career?
There are so many applications for degrees in biotech. Find a field in which not only the outcome of your work interests you but the actual process engages you as well. I graduated from college at that end of the 2008 recession. I was interested in the wine and distillery industry, but there were not that many jobs open. I learned about 2bar and decided to visit and volunteer to learn how to make whisky bourbon. Now I'm the head distiller, so I'd also advise people to take chances like I did. You might find something you really like.