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


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.


You can find Aaron under the username @bourboncave on Instagram


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!