For me [distilling] speaks a lot to history, culture, interconnecting folks - its science, its engineering, its math, its an art. There is a lot of craftmanship that has always been really interesting to me. It's a mad science.
fThis week’s Dish’n Dames feature has always been a bit of a mad scientist at heart. Ali Bloch, distiller and head of research and development at Still Austin Whisky Co. proudly professes that her passion for science, technology and healthcare was first sparked at a young age.
Chemistry sets gifted by her parents and grandparents opened the door to a world of possibilities for Ali. That encouragement combined with Ali’s natural love of food and drink geared her interests toward food science early on. Through travel, Ali’s hobby was fueled even further, learning about food culture, origins of wine and the people who crafted them.
While her initial career path would lead her to healthcare, Ali maintained a strong level of curiosity in natural medicines that use foods, herbs and alcohol — the original medicine. Then, just a few years ago, she started to focus on local and sustainable agriculture. Her lifelong hobby combined with that heart of a mad scientist piqued her interest in learning more about growing food. The transition from healthcare to health, based on what we consume, made perfect sense to her.
It wasn’t until a friend asked Ali what she’d really like to be doing that she realized she’d had the answer all along. She looked at the books and materials she’d been drawn to as she explored food science further. She knew she was meant to create something special, and it was in that moment, it was clear that she was meant to be a distiller.
Having limited experience but a passion grounded in food, drink and food science, she immersed herself in the world of distilleries and became an assistant distiller. It wasn’t long before she was at Still Austin Whisky Co. and heading up R&D.
While only in production since July 2017, Ali and the Still team have already made a tremendous impact and contribution to the distilling and beverage industry, offering unique and award-winning combinations of flavors, like the spicy Mother Pepper and citrus-centric Daydreamer whisky.
Ali continues to craft new creations in her science lab. She remains passionate about the connection food and beverage have to history, culture, engineering, math, craftsmanship, and science. Mostly, she appreciates the connection to people and values the simplicity of pulling up a chair to have a good drink and good conversation.