AUSTRALIA’S most comprehensive stand-alone university course specifically for distillers is being considered to feed into the nation’s booming craft spirits industry.
The University of Adelaide is looking to introduce the hands-on short course as well as one in brewing. The university has also flagged plans to more than double the size of its training winery, which is already the biggest of its kind in Australia. The expansion plan includes space for a distillery and a small brewery.
Professor of Oenology and Director of the ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production Vladimir Jiranek said the University of Adelaide’s winemaking degree touched on distilled beverages as an elective subject.
However, he said he did not know of any other leading universities in Australia offering specific courses in distilling.
“Back in the ’50s and ’60s a lot of Australian wine production and exports revolved around fortified beverages and so the University of Adelaide had a still that was used to support that side of the industry,” Prof Jiranek said.
“We’ve now added to that by purchasing a characteristic Australian pot still.
“The unique feature of our set up is that the scale is fairly small so it fits in nicely with the volumes that most craft producers are generating.”
The existing winery, opened in 1996, has been the centrepiece of a wine hub that has about 150 researchers from the university and co-located partners in wine and grape science – about 70per cent of Australia’s total research capability.
The planned expansion would more than double the size of the winery to cater for the growing interest in the course.
Prof Jiranek said although the revamped winery would be better placed to teach the short courses, the university was looking to introduce something sooner.
“I would actually hope that if we are going to introduce a distilling short course that we do it sooner rather than later. We have the facilities to do it now but it would be nicer down the track when we have better expanded facilities.
“We’ve never had a brewing facility so a small-scale brewery would be a real asset. It would help support what’s happening in the industry with the explosion of growth in craft breweries and cider producers around the place.
“I’m sure we could run a short course in either distilling or brewing without too much trouble and fill the class the first time around but it’s just a question of whether there’s the longer term interest and demand in Australia to justify it.”