New Book: The Distiller’s Guide to Rum


Authors: (left to right) Michael Delevante, Ian Smiley and Eric Watson.

The Distiller’s Guide to Rum is a well-rounded opus owing to the collective expertise of its authors— Ian Smiley, Michael Delevante and Eric Watson. For rum aficionados this book navigates the history of rum and its new-found popularity among craft distillers. It also gets technical— providing the reader with information on ingredients, equipment and process. If you’re interested in all the nuances of rum this trio of authors brings it home— each with their unique perspective.

Eric Watson began AlBevCon consultancy for the brewing and distilling industries after a successful career that included industrial process contracting and the formation of Mesa Maltworks Microbiological. Mesa Maltworks specialized in yeast propagation and bacteriological audits for the brewing industry. As the industry grew the focus began to shift to recipe formulation, maximizing processes, and introducing statistical quality control to aide in increasing consistency and efficiency.

Eric is a graduate of Siebel Institute of Technology with a diploma in brewing science and has continuing education in Berlin from both the Technische Universitat Munchen Weihenstephan and Versuch- u. Lehranstalt fur Brauerei, along with a BSBA in Marketing from West Virginia University.

Watson has been the recipient of 16 professional brewing awards and 8 awards for distilled spirits. As a professionally certified judge he serves as such for the US Brewer’s Association at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup as well as for the Japanese Craft Brewers Association.

Watson is also an educator and author for the American Distilling Institute— training members in the art and science of producing whisky, rum, vodka and other distilled spirits as well as facility design and operations management.

Michael Delevante graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken in 1963. He joined Wray and Nephew, owner of the Appleton brand, in 1963 as Distillery Manager. In 1977 he immigrated to Canada where he worked as Technical Director of McGuinness Distillers until its closure in 1990. He then rejoined Wray and Nephew as Production Manager.

In 1992 he returned to Canada and established Delevante and Associates with Wray and Nephew as his principal client. He was responsible for the operation of Wray & Nephew’s division in Canada, for the design of distilling equipment at the company’s two distilleries, as well as, the supervision of Appleton’s contract bottling operations outside of Jamaica.

He is an author specializing in the production of various alcohol beverages and he is speaker and teacher on the subject of rum.

Ian Smiley is the author of Making Pure Corn Whiskey and he’s the owner of Smiley’s Home Distilling, a web store dedicated to home and laboratory distillers.  He has been exploring small-scale beverage-alcohol distillation all his adult life, and is a card-carrying member of the American Distilling Institute.  Smiley has written articles on distilling and has been involved in distilling—both professionally and as a hobby—for over 40 years.

Smiley has extensive experience in producing most distilled spirits, but his passion is for all types of whiskey.  He has formulated recipes for different whiskies and other grain spirits and produced them using the various equipment, methods of mashing, and distillation.

He is a consultant for the start-up of small artisan distilleries, and is presently part owner of a whiskey distillery in China, namely L.S. Moonshine LLC, and Dover Enterprises Distilleries in Simcoe Ontario, and Wood Duck Spirits in Dallas, TX.  As a distillery consultant, Ian designed the distilling operation for a number of new distilleries and he formulated each of their spirit products.  Ian is currently doing the same for 8 start-up distilleries.

Ian plans to write books on making schnapps and brandy and is writing a third edition of Making Pure Corn Whiskey.  He also plans to continue his activities in commercial artisan distilling.