Friday, November 24, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Friday



Distillery: Watershed
Location: Columbus, Ohio. USA
By: Aaron Cave

In 2009 Dave Rigo and his business partner Greg Lehman wrote a check for a still, and Watershed Distillery was born. Watershed is a Craft Distillery just a few miles outside of down town Columbus, in an area of town called Grandview. This part of town is filled with great restaurants, hopping, and some awesome brewery’s.

Watershed was a product of two friends who loved to put together business plans and business models. Dave and Greg loved the craft beer business plan, but at the time the craft beer scene in Columbus was booming, and the market over saturated. So if not a brewery why not a distillery?

Watershed open in 2009, and there first products to market were Watershed Four Peel Gin and Watershed Vodka. Gin was their true passion, but if you are making a clear spirits why not make a solid vodka as well? So two clear spirits hit the shelves. Clear spirits are just the beginning. From day one bourbon was on their brains, but as we all know bourbon takes time to age, unless you have that magic wand that some distilleries have. Knowing they wanted their own bourbon in their bottles, clear spirits had to do until the bourbon was ready.

As the bourbon aged and the gin sold, Dave and Greg were still thinking of new products to make and try. They thought, “We have this amazing gin, how can we make it better?” “Why not age the gin in bourbon barrels?” So Dave and Greg drove down to Kentucky and picked up three Wild Turkey barrels, came home, put the gin in the bourbon barrels and Four Peel Bourbon Barrel Gin was born. Did I mention they’re the first in the country to put gin in bourbon barrels?

Watershed has a very different and unique bourbon mash bill, it’s 65% corn 10% rye 10% wheat 10% spelt and 5% barley. Yes they have a five grain bourbon mash bill. As production increases, and the price of grain and how much they will need increases, they will be cutting out the spelt and the wheat. So in the future we will be seeing a more traditional mash bill. 65% corn 25% rye and 10% barley. They are coming off the still at 140 proof and barreling at 110 proof, and all products are non chill filtered. As of right now the five grain bourbon is a blend of pot and column still, but moving forward with the new mash bill all distillate will be column still produced.

Watershed is putting out some incredible products, and continues to dream and create. Just a couple of weeks ago, October 22nd, they released a barrel aged Apple Brandy. This brandy is aged for two years and uses 100% Ohio grown apples. Also non chill filtered.

When I say they dream and create I mean it. After 7 years of saying they would never get into the food business Dave and Greg opened the Watershed Kitchen. The Kitchen was added onto the distillery. So you can go take a distillery tour, and after the tour you can go enjoy a nice cocktail at the bar, or get a table and have a nice dinner. Watershed Kitchen hasn’t even been open for a year yet, and was rated one of the top five restaurants in Columbus.

So what does the future hold for Watershed? Well I did ask Dave about a barrel strength bourbon, and I liked his response, so we will leave it there and let your minds wonder. He did hint about maybe some barrel finished bourbons. Their main focus is getting their bourbon mash bill switchover and getting an older bourbon to the market. What ever the future holds for Watershed, they are producing some amazing products, and I believe they will be just fine!

To learn more about Watershed Distillery, check out their website here


Photos & Article By: Aaron Cave
Graphic Art By: Seth Brown

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Regular readers of The Son of Winston Churchill properly knows who Aaron Cave is, but for anyone new to this blog; Hi my name is Aaron Cave. I am bourbon lover and enthusiast, from the United States. I live in Columbus Ohio, just a short 2 hour drive to Kentucky. I have been a big bourbon enthusiast for about 4 years. I also helped start a whiskey enthusiast group in Columbus as well, the Whiskey Barrel Society. I really enjoy high proof and non-chill filtered bourbon and Scotch. Some of my favorite pours inclued E.H. Taylor barrel proof, Blanton’s SFTB, Knob Creek Single Barrel, and Old Scout barrel picks. Right now I am really into barrel picks from different bourbon society’s and liquor stores. I hope to write some great reviews.

Cheers!

You can find Aaron under the username @bourboncave on Instagram

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Make sure to check back in tomorrow, where we are heading to Rudolf Jelínek Distillery in Vizovice, Czech Republic
with Leoš Vašek

Want to read our previously distillery visits? Click the links below!



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Thursday


Distillery: Aultmore
Location: Keith, Scotland
By: Chris Joseph


The Rarest of Speyside: Aultmore

In the heart of Speyside, along the Old Buckie Road that runs from Keith (home of Strathisla) to the fishing ports along the Moray Firth, you'll find the peat infused waters of the Foggie Moss Burn and Aultmore distillery. Founded in 1896, by whisky pioneer Alexander Edward, who also owned Benrinnes and built Craigellachie, Aultmore is an unfamiliar name to many scotch drinkers. Yet, the whiskies produced along the Foggie Moss have been unknowingly sampled by many readers of this blog. It's a well kept secret that Aultmore is one of the main components in Dewar's blends, including the top selling White Label.

Back to the late 1800s. Just two shorts years after construction began, Aultmore whisky had become so popular throughout northern Scotland that extensive improvements were announced by Edwards. Alterations included additional malt barns, a mash tun room and two duty free warehouses. By July, 1898, Aultmore’s capacity had doubled to 100,000 gallons a year. In addition, an Abernethy steam engine of 10 horsepower was installed to supplement the original source of power, a water-wheel driven by a lade from the distillery dam. All machinery in the plant was interconnected to allow it to be powered by either the steam engine or the water-wheel. After the water-wheel fell into disuse the steam engine worked the barley and malt conveying plant, the malt dresser and mill, the mashing machine, along with the wash still and various pumps. This piece of engineering brilliance continued to give service for almost three quarters of a century and is preserved inside the entrance of the distillery today.

Sadly for Alexander Edward, the whisky boom of the late 19th century was short lived. Due to barley shortages brought on by WWI, Aultmore was forced to close its doors for several years. In 1923 the distillery was purchased by John Dewar & Sons, which was not surprising as Edward and Tommy Dewar were good friends. Dewar's immediately began using Aultmore in its blends and demand exploded. Over time, so highly prized was Aultmore as a blending malt, it was said that when Bacardi was in the process of buying Dewar’s from Diageo, it was willing to walk away from the deal if the distillery wasn’t included.

These days, based on the uninspiring appearance of the distillery, it is easy to dismiss Aultmore as little more than a functional factory. Fortunately for us, the character of the Foggie Moss single malts can now be easily sampled. A variety of independent releases are available and Dewar's themselves have brought out several age statement expressions that are fairly priced and exceed the quality of the more glamorous, heavily marketed brands. Grab yourself a dram or bottle of the Old Buckie Road and find out what the blenders have been keeping secret for decades.

Did you know?  Aultmore’s founder, Alexander Edward, also owned Benrinnes distillery (inherited from his father), founded Craigellachie distillery and was one of the primary investors in both Dallas Dhu and Benromach.  If all that wasn’t enough, for a time he managed Oban distillery.

To learn more about Aultmore Distillery, check out their website here

Photos & Article By: Chris Joseph
Graphic Art By: Seth Brown

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Greetings everyone! This is Chris Joseph, the Whisky Highlander, coming to you straight from Speyside, Scotland. Living in a region that is home to over fifty distilleries, it's hard to not know a thing or two about the water of life. I've hiked along the Smugglers Trail, where back in the early 1800s many illicit stills were hidden away from the exciseman. I ride my mountain bike on trails along the river Spey, which provides the water source for a great deal of the scotch we all enjoy. For those of you that follow my Instagram account, it's easy to tell that I'm more photographer than writer. I enjoy showcasing the beauty of northern Scotland along with whiskies from all around my home country. Personally, I'm partial to cask strength, sherry monsters, many that are only available from the distillery shops. There are most definitely advantages to living here. Thank you for checking out my post and supporting SOWC.

Slàinte from Speyside!

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Make sure to check back in tomorrow, where we are heading to Westland Distillery in Columbus, Ohio, USA with Aaron Cave.

Want to read our previously distillery visits? Click the links below!






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Wednesday


Distillery: American Spirit Works
Location: Atlanta, Georgia. USA
By: Seth Brown


Not all bourbon is made in Kentucky. Nor does it have to be. Unfortunately, there are still those out there that believe that it does. For the 1,300+ craft distilleries not located in Kentucky, that can be a huge stigma.

Perhaps an even larger stigma is that of age statements — or lack thereof. Many whiskey fans today believe that unless the bottle proudly proclaims an age-statement, it can’t possibly be good.



These two stigmas are hurdles that most craft distilleries can’t overcome —at least not at the moment.  Especially when pitted against the “big boys” in The Bluegrass.

One thing they can compete on is what matters most — taste. That is precisely what American Spirit Works is focused on.

Founded in 2009 by Jim Chasteen and Charlie Thompson, American Spirit Works (ASW)is located in Atlanta, GA. What started as a love and appreciation of whiskey between two friends quickly grew into the creation of their own whiskey recipe. That recipe would become known as American Spirit Whiskey. After partnering with Master Distiller Justin Manglitz, they began to refine their recipes and grow their portfolio of spirits.

Six short years later in 2015, ASW moved into their current location just off of Interstate 85. In an effort to help promote their brand, during the build-out of the space Jim and Charlie knew they had to focus on creating a whiskey and event experience.

What Atlanta lacks in Bourbon Trail tourism, it more than makes up for as a meeting and event destination. The city routinely ranks in the top 10 U.S. locations for conferences. It’s these visitors in addition to the hundreds of thousands of whiskey-loving residents and tourists that ASW hopes to attract. Now that Georgia Senate Bill 85 has passed allowing breweries and distilleries to sell direct to consumer, ASW is able up its experience game. As of September 1, they now sell full bottles of their regular and special “distillery only” releases as well as handcrafted cocktails.

The main tasting room is fantastic in and of itself. It features a large bar, large solid wood tables, a sitting area and the gift shop. There is also a stunning, private whiskey lounge that includes a ping-pong table, big leather chairs, a sofa and a fireplace. The main focal point of the room is a huge mural of local residents celebrating the repeal of Prohibition in Georgia at the near-by Marietta Square in 1935.For events, they have a large indoor green space complete with an Airstream bar and a turfed area for lawn games such as corn hole. There is also a smaller outdoor space.

After visiting the distillery, I believe they’ve nailed the “experience” thing. The entire facility is almost lifted from the pages of a magazine.



There are distillery tours, too. ASW already boasts larger equipment than some well-known craft distilleries. They run a 1000-gallon cooker and two 500-gallon fermentation tanks. Then there are the two beautiful Vendom Copper pot stills; a 500-gallon still and a 300-gallon still. Perched high upon a catwalk, they are almost like a king and queen sitting on their throne overlooking their court.

Running two distillation cycles per week, they are currently producing an average of 4 53-gallon barrels. With the planned addition of more fermenters, they should increase that output to around 10 barrels per week. At this pace, they have almost outgrown their warehouse. They have an equivalent of around 200 53-gallon barrels of aging whiskey. To help accommodate the soon-to-be increased output, they recently secured a second warehouse just across town.

With their guiding principle of “crafted with character” always in mind, they are producing some truly unique expressions. Their portfolio includes:

  • Duality – the world’s first double malt whiskey
  • Resurgens Rye – a single malt rye produced from 100% malted rye
  • Georgia Orchard Apple Brandy – a double pot distilled brandy made entirely from apples harvested in North Georgia
  • American Spirit Whiskey – a silver whiskey great for making cocktails
  • Fiddler Bourbon –comprised of a somewhat rare MGP wheated bourbon(51% corn, 45% wheat, 4% malted barley)

All of these are distilled and aged on-site with the exception of two. They also produce a handful of specialty whiskies. Some are held for special events such as the annual Halloween party. Others are released within Georgia or the Atlanta-area only.


Being the good Kentucky boy that I am, I’m focusing on Fiddler Bourbon Whiskey for this installment of “Around the Whiskey World.”

Now in its fourth release, Fiddler Bourbon batches include:

  • Batch 1:Wheated and Repeated – the above mentioned wheated bourbon sourced from MGP, finished on-site at ASW in new char 3 quarter (13 gallon) oak casks
  • Batch 2: Fiddler Georgia Heartwood – the same high-wheat mash bill as batch 1 but finished using special staves (more on these below)
  • Batch 3: Fiddler Straight Bourbon Whiskey–using the same high-wheat mash bill as batches 1 and 2, this is Atlanta’s first Straight Bourbon Whiskey since prohibition
  • Batch 4: Fiddler Unison –the same high-wheat mash bill as the first three batches married with ASW’s own in-house distilled, high-malted bourbon, aged on-site at ASW

The release that I will be reviewing comes from batch 2, Fiddler Georgia Heartwood. What makes it unique are the special finishing staves I mentioned above. In 2015, a large white oak tree fell on Master Distiller Justin Manglitz’s family property in North Georgia. Instead of hauling it off or using it as firewood, Justin, being the innovator that he is, harvested the tree by creating staves from the wood. After curing the staves outdoors for one year, they were then hand-charred to a level 4. These handcrafted staves where placed into each barrel of Fiddler batch 2 and finished for several months. Hence the name “Fiddler Georgia Heartwood.”Making this bottle even more unique is that it was from a private barrel pick conducted by members of the Atlanta Bourbon Society. When the group tasted the whiskey from this batch, they fell in love with it. Keeping with the ASW principle of “crafted with character,” the group decided to add a few additional handcrafted staves to the selected barrel and allow it to age several more months.

To make this bottle even more special, half of the proceeds of this release goes towards Cystic Fibrosis. As of the writing of this article, only a few bottles remain available.

This release is uncut and non-chill filtered. It was aged for 2 years, 6 months and comes in at 58.77% ABV, 117.54 proof. And, it’s delicious!

Nose: 
I found the nose to be very inviting. There is no pungent alcohol burn like you might expect to find in a relatively young cask strength whiskey. It’s sweet with ripe citrus, plums, caramel and toffee. Once it opens up a little bit I began to pickup some light oak, brown sugar, hints of nutmeg, honey and clove.

Palate: 
The mouthfeel on this whiskey is really nice. With a little swirl around my mouth and a good old Kentucky chew it introduces some additional oiliness. The flavors start off with a good bit of red pepper spice. That hangs around for a while but then transitions to some citrus flavors and then into softer hints of salted caramel, burnt sugar and toffee.

Finish: 
The spice really helps to draw this out into a nice long, enjoyable finish. In contrast to the palate, the spice lets up a little quicker here allowing those softer, sweeter notes to really shine. I get more caramel, burnt sugar, toffee, hints of chocolate and sweet pipe tobacco.

This was such a great pour. To have a young, cask strength whiskey be this enjoyable is really impressive. It makes it even more enjoyable to know that it’s from a local distillery and a portion of the proceeds go toward a great cause.

Overall, I give this release an 89/100.

This bourbon is a prime example of why age statements don’t always matter. There are craft distilleries producing some fantastic whiskey that is aged 3 years or less. This goes to show that quality grains and a love, appreciation and knowledge of the craft go a long way. When the distillery can provide a great experience in addition to great whiskey, it’s a huge win for everyone.

ASW is doing great and innovative work. I look forward to enjoying their other expressions and perhaps picking my own barrel of Fiddler in the future. If you find yourself in Atlanta, ASW is a must-visit. Be sure to tell them I sent you and pick up some of their whiskey while you’re there! Because now you can.

Cheers!

ASW Distillery
199 Armour Drive Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30324
(404) 590-2279


Photos & Article By: Seth Brown

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Regular readers of The Son of Winston Churchill properly knows who Seth Brown is, but for anyone new to this blog; Having grown up in Kentucky I was aware of Bourbon at a very early age — what it was and of course, where most of it was made. Living in the Blue Grass State, you would have almost had to go out of your way to not know.

Hello, my name is Seth Brown.

My childhood neighbor, Mr. Barton, of course only drank Very Old Barton (no relation) in his “totties.” On the way to visit my grandparents we passed exits for Maker’s Mark, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and George T. Stagg (now Buffalo Trace Distillery). It was the Bourbon Trail before there was a commercialized version of it. At Christmas, my grandmother always made Bourbon balls; a chocolate ball-shaped cookie, of sorts, made with Bourbon.
Bourbon was always around in some form. Even in the dismal Bourbon days of the late 70’s and 1980’s.

Through my college years it was Kentucky Gentleman and Coke. After college I “moved up” to Evan Williams and Coke. And there was always a bottle of Maker’s Mark around for those “special” occasions. As I got older my tastes refined and matured. The first Bourbon that I remember enjoying neat (sipping, not taking a shot — of course there were plenty of those in my college days) was Pappy Van Winkle 20 year. Though it isn’t my favorite Bourbon it certainly was a game changer for me.

My favorite pours these days are Four Roses 2014 Single Barrel Limited Edition, Four Roses 2015 Small Batch Limited Edition, Elmer T. Lee and E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof (specifically the late 2014 release, 64.5%/129 proof). While I change my everyday pour from time to time, my cabinet staples are usually Elijah Craig 12 year (now a non-age stated Bourbon) or Four Roses Single Barrel. I typically lean toward high-rye Bourbon mash bills at higher proofs.

For the past 17 years I have lived in Atlanta, Georgia. While I no longer live in my home state of Kentucky I am still just as passionate about Bourbon. Perhaps even more. I use to feel that if I drank a whiskey made outside of Kentucky that I was cheating on my home. I have since found that there are a lot of really great whiskies made all over the world. Over the last several years my whiskey collection has expanded to include Rye, Scotch (thanks in large part to Hasse), Japanese and Canadian whiskies. But my true love will always be Bourbon.

I hope you enjoy my reviews and contributions on the Son of Winston Churchill. You can also follow me on Instagram, @sethpbrown

Cheers!

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Make sure to check back in tomorrow, where we are heading to Aultmore in Keith, Scotland with Chris Joseph.

Want to read our previously distillery visits? Click the links below!





Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Around The Whisk(e)y World In 7 Days - Tuesday


Distillery: Tevsjö Destilleri
Location: Järvsö, Sweden
By: Erik Hasselgärde


Anna Larsson is a seventh generation miller–managing the Tevekvarn mill in Järvsö, a 1500 population village 300 kilometers north of Stockholm. In 2009 Anna and her then soon-to-be husband Jonas started to think about how to grow their business as to include more parts of the grain cycle. Doubting the success of Jonas becoming a baker, they instead decided on distilling, which was a common use of grain surplus, and also a childhood dream of Jonas.

The farm property that the couple owns already had most of the resources needed, and after about a year of getting everything ready, including installing the German-made Carl-stills, the production began. The Larssons gathered their very first drops of alcohol off the still on 12/12/12.

The Tevekvarn mill, with working machine parts from 1897, was integral in the creation of the distillery. “Without the mill, there would be no distillery”, Jonas says. “It’s like a living museum”. There, grains from both local farmers and their own fields are processed in the same way as a hundred years ago–with power from the nearby river.

Speaking of museums: Jonas collects old private stills, once used for moonshining. Many of the sixty stills he’s collected were given to him from local old-timers, and he is hoping to open a moonshining museum on the premise.

Today, a restaurant and a small store selling products from the mill and local products from nearby producers are vital parts of the operations.

“One thing serves the other”, Jonas tells me. “We get grains from the mill to use in the distillery, products from the distillery we can serve in the restaurant, and the restaurant brings visitors to the mill and the distillery.”.

Unfortunately, visitors are not able to buy bottles from the distillery on-site. That’s not legal in Sweden. But the Larssons are hopeful–convinced it’s no longer a question of if, but when.

But through the legal means offered today, sales are not a problem for Tevsjö. “We’re pushing the limit of demand”, Jonas tells me and continues: “we’re distilling two shifts, six days out of the week”.

With over sixty different products, among them vodkas, gins, punches, and liqueurs both under their own brand, but also licensing to others, they are now looking into increasing production which would enable around-the-clock distillation.

Producing locally but reaching globally, Tevsjö Destilleri is looking into exporting their products as well, hoping that a larger market share enables growth of the brand: “We have a really cool story to tell here”, Jonas says. “If you want to do something, you can do something. You learn as you go, and it takes time–but it’s possible”.

Bourbon:

Among the many spirits made at Tevsjö Destilleri, one is especially important to Jonas: the first Swedish bourbon: “...or whatever we’re going to call it. We probably can’t call it bourbon, but apart from not making it in the USA, it’s by the book”.

“I love bourbon and so I wanted to make it”, Jonas explains, and when a local farmer offered them corn they got started right away: “We picked and peeled all the corn right there, by hand”.

Researching his own favorites and experimenting with the mash bill–he settled on 70% corn, 5% rye, 5% wheat, 10% barley, and another 10% malted barley.

The first batch was made in 2014, used local grains. “Corn isn’t supposed to grow up here”, Jonas laughs, then telling me they’ve lately instead used corn from southern Sweden. Although just under a day’s car ride away, Jonas almost sounds disappointed–maybe a sign of a personal standard set extremely high.

The fermented mash is distilled to just under 80% and then cut to 62,5% before aging. The barrels are charred 30-liter new American white oak, imported from the USA by Swedish cooperage Thorslundkagge. “You have to be careful when aging in smaller barrels”, Jonas warns me. “Especially ones with new oak”.

As of today, the product is only offered by sale of private barrels, and the first ones filled and sold are under European law not far from the legal age to be commercially sold as whiskey: three years.

Not excluded from grand expansion plans, Jonas hopes to ramp up production to put away a substantial amount to bottle and sell to consumers. Fascinated by blending and finishing, he excitedly talks to me about sourcing bourbon stock from the USA and also different barrel types for finishing.

Doing all this with American style whiskey in Sweden is completely uncharted territory, but Jonas seems inspired more than anything else: “Absolutely, it’s going to be an exciting time!”

To learn more about Tevsjö Destilleri, check out their website here

Article By: Erik Hasselgärde
Photos By: Tevsjö Distilleri 
Graphic Art By: Seth Brown

(SOWC has kindly been granted permission to use the photos in the article)


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Regular readers of The Son of Winston Churchill properly knows who Erik Hasselgärde is, but for anyone new to this blog; My name is Erik Hasselgärde. I’m from the northern part of Sweden, and I’m currently living in Stockholm, working with musicians. A state monopoly, heavy taxation and a non-existent market makes for a frustrating interest, but after falling in love with bourbon from the first sip–I didn’t really have a choice.
I opened a bottle of Bulleit bourbon one warm summer weekend and, when experiencing that rich spicy whiskey while the sun was going down, it clicked with me. I’ve been nosing, tasting, reading, experimenting since then, and recently also started exploring the bourbon community on social media–writing and sharing experiences with some of the best people out there.
These days – if I’m picking – I go for the complex, sweet, oaky bourbons, and I drink them neat or in a stiff cocktail. I try my best to preserve personal bottles of Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel, Noah’s Mill and Booker’s and try to keep a bottle open at all times of Wild Turkey 101, Four Roses Single Barrel and Evan Williams Extra Aged.
I post pictures on Instagram as @northernbourbon, and I also write personal articles about bourbon and Swedish alcohol history on the Medium publication Northern Bourbon.
At best I hope to add a Nordic perspective on bourbon to the Sons, and if nothing else then some guidance and opinion of the whiskey that I love!

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Make sure to check back in tomorrow, where we are heading to American Spirits Works in Atlanta, Georgia, USA with Seth Brown

Want to read our previously distillery visits? Click the link below!