Get to Know Us
10 Questions with One of Our Master Distillers
TJ grew up in Denver planning to join his family’s auto-body business. His path changed when he became intrigued by the rise of craft brewers and distillers in Colorado. Following his passion for this art, he joined MGP armed with degrees in both chemistry and chemical engineering. (Plus a savant’s affinity for the nuances of gin.) TJ recognized that he’d landed a dream job, and quickly made himself an invaluable team member.
Meet T.J. Anderson: Master Distiller, Fermentation and Distillation Manager, mountain biker and gin lover.
How would you describe what MGP does in your own words?
MGP is a leading producer of distilled alcohol and food ingredients. In other words, we are the behind-the-scenes guys making distilled spirits for many well-known and new alcohol brands. Whether it be vodka, gin, or whiskey as well as industrial alcohols. We also make a variety of food ingredients that make the everyday foods we eat better in many different ways.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job and MGP?
That we’re just a big “factory” making one beverage alcohol product, which a bunch of other brands label as their own. First off, MGP makes many different tailored products for our distilled spirits customers. Second off, the distilleries are actually pretty sweet when you see them in person. For someone like me, at least, there is a lot of very neat equipment, almost eye candy, that make the distilleries a fascinating place to visit and work in.
What is something great about MGP that you think no one knows about?
The complexity, the art, and the science that are involved with making beverage alcohol. It's pretty neat explaining it to people when they are curious.
Why do you do your work at MGP?
Because it is a fantastic, fun job with daily challenges. I routinely get pushed being a Fermentation and Distillation Manager. It's also pretty awesome to tell people that you're a distiller.
What do you listen to when you’re spending the day distilling?
Some good modern indie folk album with some banjo thrown in for good measure. Maybe a collection of Gregory Alan Isakov songs or something similar.
What blog, podcast, website, book do you go to for education on the industry?
The Institute of Brewers and Distillers is a favorite source. They have great educational information on their website if you’re a member as well as an awesome monthly publication magazine called “Brewer and Distiller International”.
What do you do exceptionally well?
Mountain Bike and Ski. Just kidding. In all honesty, with a pretty specialized job like mine, I like to think I know how to make alcohol exceptionally well from beginning to end.
How does the culture and landscape of Atchison, KS and Lawrenceburg, IN impact the products of MGP?
Being in Atchison the company is shaped by Midwest values and influences. Our products are made with grains from the heart of America by good, honest, hardworking Americans. And in Lawrenceburg, we have decades of experience in making Whiskeys and Bourbons and our final products show it. It also helps having good water from the Miami Aquifer there.
What part of your process do you consider crucial, that others might overlook?
Looking at the daily distillery conditions. The daily fermentation reports, Gas Chromatography analysis, lab results, process conditions, etc... This stuff can seem dry or uber-technical sometimes, but it makes a huge difference in running a great process versus a poor one.