At MGP, spirit blending is a crucial role in our business. It’s our Master Blenders, like Sam Schmeltzer, who create the custom formulations that help brands stand apart.
Sam recently earned the distinction of Master Blender after completing MGP’s robust certification process that includes education, on-the-job experience, specialized training, exams, and even a dissertation.
With his new level of expertise, Sam is excited to take everything he’s learned to create exceptional and unique spirits for MGP partners.
Meet Sam Schmeltzer, blending genius, golfer, traveler and music lover.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job?
People often think smelling and drinking whiskey all day long for a living would be a dream job. Don't get me wrong, it is close. At the same time, when you are staring 50 glasses of whiskey in the face, it becomes work.
What is something great about MGP that you think no one knows about?
The variety of whiskey in MGP's warehouses. It is a blender’s dream. Each warehouse is filled with different mash bills, barrel types, and ages. Every tiny detail can cause the whiskey to be slightly different. The possibilities for creation are endless.
Why do you do what you do?
I love to create and imagine. MGP's whiskey provides me with unlimited possibilities for flavor combinations. Every barrel and every batch is different. The differences allow me to create one-of-a-kind beverages that whiskey lovers will want to drink again and again. There’s one bourbon in particular I’ve worked on over the last three years. There’s not a bourbon on the shelf today that compares in flavor complexity. The amount of thought, care and expertise that goes into making it is what makes it so special. It was created by time, passion, and patience, which are three things often forgotten in this day and age. And like every spirit I work on, it gives me the ability to wonder and experiment, which is something I am very thankful to have as part of my job.
What do you listen to when you’re spending the day distilling?
Strange Trails by Lord Huron
Who has had the most impactful influence on your career?
Pam Soule, David Whitmer, Perry Ford and Barry Younkie have provided me with priceless industry experience. I would not be who I am today without their guidance. They have provided me with experience in quality, blending sales, and corporate structure. I am very lucky to have them all as mentors.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping people. Helping a small craft distillery build a brand is one of my favorite type of projects. Being part of making their dream come true and seeing their product on the liquor store shelf is very rewarding. The same goes for larger brands. Helping our bigger partners create entire portfolios of unique spirits has been a great experience.
What part of your process do you consider crucial, that others might overlook?
Numbers, letters, dates, and times are crucial. Keeping all the fine details recorded properly means keeping the quality right where we want it. Especially with whiskey, where time is king. It can't be cheated, sped up, or changed. So we have to be very diligent in keeping track of time to meet the age requirement of the label we’re going for. If we’re off, the brand will be off.
What has been the most rewarding part of your time at MGP?
The people I have grown to care for and the brands I have had the privilege to help create. There is nothing more rewarding than sharing something you have created with people that you care about.