NCC Craft Distillery Students Create Their Own Spirits

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Images provided by  Northampton Community College

BETHLEHEM, PA -Northampton Community College (NCC) craft distillery students worked with distillation runs at Doan Distillery in Quakertown, PA this March. Students must complete this process as a part of the craft distillery program at NCC.

The students in the class each brought their own recipe for a Gin to Doan Distillery, where Owner, Christopher LaBonge, helped them navigate the process. LaBonge, teaches the distillery and maturation operations course for NCC’s new and exciting craft distillery program.

Images provided by  Northampton Community College

Students added their botanicals, flavors and ingredients, to mason jars to create their own special concoction for Gin. The students start with a grain neutral spirit, which means the grains, like barley, wheat, corn, and so forth, are distilled with no added flavors or aging. After adding the botanicals from their recipes, the ingredients macerate and ferment before going through the limbic system where the alcohol is pulled from the spirit to a drinkable level and then finished in the final step.

“Every Gin must have some level of juniper. That botanical makes it a Gin,” said NCC student, Denise Pierson-Balik. Adding anything else, she says, will connect flavors in a way that’s unique to each student’s recipe.

The students learned to identify important steps in the distillation process and honed in on the key qualities of the spirit.

NCC partners with several local area distilleries that offer internships and help teach courses in the program, including Doan Distillery, Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, Silverback Distillery, Wardog Spirits, and County Seat Spirits. McCall Brewing and Franklin Hill Vineyards help students learn about fermentation.

“We really are one of only colleges in the region to offer a craft distillery program. It’s a growing business and extremely popular in our area, and students can put their skills to good use in the industry after completing the program. Our goal is to have programs for wine, beer and distilling,” says Director, Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Sport Management at NCC, David F. Schweiger.

Learn more about the program at

About Northampton Community College

With an enduring commitment to the regional community it serves and a focus on student success, Northampton Community College has developed a reputation as an institution of extraordinary distinction, earning accolades at the state and national levels for innovative programs, outstanding faculty and impressive student achievements. It counts among its successful alumni a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an Academy Award winning director as well as a host of CEOs, presidents, and leaders of business and industry. Today, Northampton Community College has locations in Bethlehem, Southside Bethlehem, and Monroe County, serving 30,000 students each year from 53 counties, 42 countries and 25 states. For more information, or to apply, please visit Follow NCC’s President on Twitter @NCCPresDaveRuth, and follow the College on TikTok @NorthamptonCC and on Instagram @NorthamptonCommCollege. Like us on Facebook at Northampton Community College.