Abby Titcomb left behind a major in fine arts to become a brewer. Making beer taught her a lot of things, particularly the technical side of fermentation. Today she is the VP + Head Distiller at 3 Floyds Distilling.
BW: How did a major in fine arts prepare you for the art and craft of distilling?
AT: Preparedness from art school? Oof. The biggest thing I learned is that there will always be someone better at what you do than you. Find your strengths, be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and work your ass off in between. And stop trying so hard.
BW: How did working first as a brewer impact your career as a distiller?
AT: The obvious answer is that I learned fermentation— one of the most important steps to not fuck up in distilling. (Can I swear on this thing?* *Editor’s note: of course!) It rewired my brain to think technically, taught me discipline (eh!), and that every detail matters (or at least conveniently confirmed my belief of that.)
BW: What does your daily life at the VP and Head Distiller at Three Floyds look like?
AT: The VP thing is new to me, but luckily I have a very patient team and very patient and smart AF mentors. There are lots of emails, lots of calls, a ton of creative direction on brands, marketing, and big picture stuff, plus distilling 2-3 times a week depending on the production load. And, I’m training up another distiller, Meghan Fritz. She’s a killer.
BW: What advice do you have for women who want to be brewers or distillers?
AT: Whew! I’m not sure I’m qualified to be giving advice, but I guess the most important thing I can say is…beware of imposter syndrome.
BW: Tell me about your perfect whiskey weekend in Chicago.
AT: Friday night- Grab a snack and a drink at Five Star before hitting up Empty Bottle or Cobra for a show. End up at The Continental. It’s been a long week–stick to shots for efficiency’s sake and pray the Tamale Guy shows up to save your ass.
Saturday daytime – Big Star has one of the most thoughtful and well-curated whiskey lists in the city. When you wake up at noon, go grab a table and some tacos and get into that list. You’ll be fine.
Saturday night- Head up to Delilah’s for a couple-two-tree of their 800 whiskies, then go get verbally abused at the Weiner’s Circle while trying to order your late-night emergency hot dog. Finish your night at Liar’s Club—a Chicago institution.
Sunday-if you do “brunch” (I am strongly anti-brunch and yes I will die on this hill) hit up Longman and Eagle for a wild boar sloppy joe and a medicinal bourbon—you’ll have plenty to choose from. Slink yourself over to Small Bar on Albany or Ludlow Liquors on California and spend the rest of your day on one of their patios fighting off the Scaries. Go to bed at 7pm because your head hurts and you can’t imagine why. Fin.
Photos Courtesy of Taylor Peterson and Jesse Draxler