Category Archives: Corporate

The BTI Laboratory in the Age of Coronavirus

We strive to uphold and maintain the most professional tasting environment in the beverage industry. In doing so, we’ve taken extra steps to ensure the safety of our esteemed professional panelists. Read on to learn about how we’ve adapted our laboratory protocols to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 


Timed Panelist Arrivals
We maintain physical distance by asking that our panelists arrive to our facility at staggered times, minimizing close contact in elevators and in our foyer. Additionally, we ask that our panelists take their temperatures prior to heading to a tasting in order to ensure that they are simultaneously taking care of themselves and the colleagues they share the room with. 


Plexiglass Panelist Dividers
BTI’s innovative VP of Operations designed and installed the new Plexiglass dividers that enable panelists to safely taste together in the same room. Panelists are able to remove their masks once situated in their tasting stations and the group is then able to sniff, taste, spit, and communicate; preserving BTI’s convivial and stimulating product discovery experience. 


Surface Contact Minimization
BTI has temporarily halted the use of lab coats in the sensory lab. Notebooks, pens, and other objects non-essential to the process have also been removed. Each panelist station also includes replenishable water and personal spittoons in order to prevent any unnecessary contact.


Modified Sample Presentation and Product Reveal
Panelists receive a cart bearing the entirety of the day’s samples to be tasted. Samples are covered in order to retain their integrity, and panelists  are then guided in a categorical tasting by BTI’s Associate Director and Panel Moderator. Post-tasting, products are revealed, and panelists are able to individually examine products and re-visit samples of interest.


Tasting Room Sanitation
Immediately following each tasting, all surfaces in the Sensory Lab are thoroughly cleaned, including the sanitization of doorknobs, chairs, and computers. This particular process is not a new practice for BTI, but its continuation is more important than ever. 

For BTI, Black Lives Matter

Never before has the Beverage Testing institute commented on a political or social issue. Never before is now.

As a company dedicated to helping those in the pursuit of happiness through the enjoyment of pleasurable beverages, we must acknowledge that without life and liberty there can be no pursuit of happiness and we must recognize the moral crisis that our country and its people are suffering today. The despicable murders by police of Mr. George Perry Floyd and Ms. Breonna Taylor, the senseless slaying of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, and the mysterious killing of Mr. David McAtee, from our closely allied hospitality industry, have made silence not an option.

Our company, its owners and staff stand in resolute support and alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for civil rights, social justice, equality, and inclusiveness for all races, genders and sexual orientations.

It will not be business as usual for BTI. As of this moment we commit:

– To spotlight wine, beer, and spirits brands and organizations owned by Black and Brown folks and committed to the principles of equity, justice, and inclusiveness.

– To actively recruit more Black and Brown folks into our network of panelists and training platform

– To support and donate to local and national efforts and organizations that seek to include more Black and Brown folks into leadership positions in the beverage and hospitality industries.

– To create educational and training opportunities for Black and Brown folks to increase their beverage knowledge and skill set to help advance their careers in the beverage industry.

On a personal note, as an African-American man who as a small child survived the 1968 Chicago Democrat Convention police riot in my neighborhood and whose first memories of blood and carnage in the streets of Chicago have been my lifelong nightmares, I have been deeply shaken by the events of the past month, as has my team.

But now, I also remember the memories of my father, an African-American artist, community activist, and a founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History, who courageously and selflessly saved the life of a Hispanic man being beaten to death by police in Lincoln Park that day and then with my mother gathered a group of terrified and beaten protesters to give them sanctuary in our modest apartment in Old Town until the tumult was over. It is these memories of old and the courage of the new and young faces in the streets that give me hope, that beat back the nightmares, expel the fear, and shake off the long-building numbness that we’ve collectively been subjected to that prevents taking action against the seemingly insurmountable social and moral discords of the day…today…this day… this time…this time that will be different…this time never before must be no more.

In Solidarity and with Hope,

Jerald O’Kennard

Executive Director & Co-Owner, Beverage Testing Institute