What is Rye Whiskey?
Learn from the first legal distillery in Loudoun Count, Virginia since Prohibition.
In 2009, husband-and-wife Scott & Becky Harris opened Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, the first legal distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia, since before Prohibition, producing multiple expressions of Roundstone Rye Whisky. Now, in addition to five(!) expressions of Roundstone, Catoctin Creek produces a range of brandies and gins, all of which rely upon local ingredients for their distinctive character. Join Scott of Catoctin Creek alongside Suzanne & Evan of The Crafty Cask to hear the Catoctin Creek story, virtually taste through a trio of Roundstone Rye whiskeys, and get ideas for cocktails with Virginia’s most-awarded whiskey!
Catoctin Creek was founded by Becky & Scott Harris in 2009 as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition. They are located in Purcellville, Virginia, in the heart of the Loudoun Valley. Virginia is the birthplace of American whiskey, and at Catoctin Creek, they faithfully dedicate themselves to that tradition, producing Virginia’s most awarded whisky—Roundstone Rye!
The name “Catoctin” is regional. Pronounced Ka-TOCK-tin, the name derives from the Indian tribal name “Kittocton,” which, legend has it, means”place of many deer.” Catoctin describes a range of mountains and the eponymous creek which flows picturesquely past the distillery and into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Watershed.
At Catoctin Creek, they believe in high quality food and spirits. They source their grain and fruit from local sources, free of pesticides and chemical additives that would come through in the spirits they produce. The results are the finest, cleanest spirits possible, with the greatest attention to detail in every single bottle they produce.
- Roundstone Rye (80 proof)
- Roundstone Rye Distiller’s Edition (92 proof)
- Roundstone Rye Cask Proof
- 4:18 Welcome
- 6:47 Tech Overview
- 8:08 Opening Cheers
- 8:34 Maker Catoctin Creek
- 36:00 Tasting Begins
- 1:27:27 Thank you/Close
Read the transcript
Hello hello everyone welcome thirsty Thursday is back! Yes thirsty Thursday with Scott from Catoctin Creek. We are so excited to have him here. Scott give us a wave. Hello everybody. And then we also have Philip here who co-hosts these with us from the Center for Culinary culture. Thank you for believing all. Yay all! Right, we’re going to give people a couple of minutes to settle in, so while we do that I’m going to throw a poll up here because we love to know where we’re starting from, if you’re already a rye enthusiast, if you’re not sure about rye, if you’ve had Catoctin Creek stuff before, all that good stuff so take the poll that we just threw up there please and thanks! Oh Danica let’s see you can’t hear us? Can everyone else hear us okay? Yeah we can hear you okay. Danica I think it’s just you sorry.
Danica we hope you figure it out. All right, so also maybe while we’re getting started here, throw in the chat where you’re joining us from. I know we have people from all over the country joining us tonight, so we’re super excited about that. Scott’s in Virginia, Evan and I are in Massachusetts temporarily through the end of March, Phillips in California, Los Angeles. Yeah the three of us are spread out too, yeah everyone.
Phillip Dobard here from the Center for Culinary Culture, one of our sponsors of these
exciting meet the maker events for sure. Culinary, drinks, all that good stuff. That’s right all things food and drink, we try to erase the false dichotomy between food and drink. right yeah we always joke, so we always kind of joke we call our our consumer guests and our our fans and our audience we call them tippler nation affectionately, because we always joke that it’s not fair that foodies get a word and people who drink like foodies don’t get a word, so we’re trying to bring tippler… we’re trying to bring tippler back! Yeah exactly.
I remember some years ago we’ve when we first started posting our, we’ve post our events and programs in I don’t know many dozens of Facebook groups when we first started posting in L.A foodies Los Angeles foodies, one person said this isn’t food! He was shouted down by about several dozen other group members and we haven’t had a problem since. Yeah I love it Alright, we have people from Ohio, and Seattle, and Maryland, Kansas City, New York City.
Great rye state Maryland.
I’m sorry Maryland, yeah Fairfax, Indiana I see. Yup 35 miles from the distillery awesome, love it. Some local love. Pasadena as well. Nice you’re close to Philip out there great Alright, well I say we get started and as people join they join. Yeah hello hey Philip how you doing? Just for the record i actually used the word tippler or tipple in a article I’m working on for artist spirit today, so very good. And Rich
Manning here writes for a number of publications, but he in the last year i believe interviewed
Becky Harris, master distiller at Catoctin Creek. That is correct I’ve actually, she was a huge part of two pieces I wrote one for Artisan Spirits, one for liquor.com so very good, very happy to sit in on this session and learn from her great well. Yeah Becky’s the more literate of the two of us here so…
Becky’s lesser half has the microphone tonight, but you’ll learn a great deal from him. Well that’s okay I’m excited to meet Scott as well, so yeah. Alright Scott I’m saying I’m saying that as a fellow man. No no I totally agree totally. Becky’s the greatest…
Men are always the lesser half let’s be honest. Becky’s greatest weakness in life was marrying me.
No argument no argument. Let’s get started everyone Welcome welcome I’m Suzanne I’m the founder of The Crafty Cask and we are all about celebrating and supporting craft alcohol makers like the fabulous Catoctin Creek, so we’re super excited to have them here. And my name is Evan I’m a certified sommelier, a certified cider professional, whiskey enthusiast, equal opportunity craft beer drinker. He’s your boozy expert. Yeah yeah. And yeah thrilled to be here and continuing to share my love of all things craft alcohol with you. Yeah so for those of you who maybe this is your first time with one of our public virtual tastings, here we are thrilled to have you and you know, we like to keep these relatively casual and so what that means is please feel free to unmute yourselves, ask questions. We might mute everyone occasionally if there’s background noise, things like that so just be conscious of your background noise, but if we mute you that does not mean we don’t want to hear from you we definitely still want you to unmute yourself ask us questions. If it’s easier to throw questions in the chat that’s fine too. We’ll be keeping an eye on them to make sure they get answered there, but we want this to be a conversation, because let’s be honest, one of the best things about virtual tastings is that you get to be hang out with the actual owners and makers of these brands versus when you go and visit a distillery on a random Thursday, they might not be there. Right, and so you have a captive audience with someone who really knows his stuff about whiskey and rye and beer and cocktails. Yeah great bartender. So make sure to leverage that and ask him your questions and get what you want to get out of this. We do these pretty regularly.
Our next one is coming up in February, so mark your calendar February 11th. We have a great grape spirit so it’s grape based spirits essentially, so we have great grape
spirits. Say that five times fast. So we have Piscologica joining us and it’s pisco from Peru and man, it’s phenomenal pisco. So they will be joining us, two of them, and then also Ansley Coale from
Germain-Robin and so he’s going to be bringing along his grappa. So it’s kind of fun to explore two spirits that most people don’t know quite as much about so pisco and grappa don’t get quite as much love as whiskey and so we’ll be having some fun with them on February 11th, also free to attend. But there’ll be lots more coming up so keep an eye on our calendar and Center for Culinary Cultures calendar. We’ll keep you informed. But let’s see any other housekeeping before we yeah you know?
If it’s by chance anyone’s first time on zoom at this point in our world… we did meet someone the other day who was their first zoom call ever with us and we were like what? But there’s a little button in the top right hand corner to switch your view from speaker view to gallery view, and if you’re not familiar with that, it’s really fun to be able to see a bunch of other people’s faces enjoying it, makes it feel like more of a party. So just a small little tidbit there. Yeah and if you don’t have your camera on currently, that’s okay but we do love to see everyone smiling faces. It also makes it feel more like a party. If it’s a bad hair day and a pajama day, your kids are running in the background, we don’t care. This is… we all have those days. I guess we can’t say it’s 20 20 anymore but i don’t know 2021 isn’t isn’t shaping up so far.
Now you’ve got that song stuck in my head. Love it, love it. I’m having a particularly bad hair day today. Phillip you have a permanently good hair day. That’s the beauty of it, thank you thank you. Suzanne thank you very much, I was going to say I thought Philip’s hair was particularly lovely today. That’s right thank you Josh thank you Josh, exactly. One last housekeeping thing before we get started because we are going to talk a little bit up front first and hear from scot about Catoctin Creek their story their brand we’re going to kind of just get you oriented with them a little bit. Please don’t wait for us to start drinking. Please feel free to start drinking, so don’t wait until we jump into the tasting to start drinking, go ahead. Thank you, yes cheers to you. We’re gonna pour some of ours as well. Let’s do a little cheers. If you have the sampler pack, the order that we’re gonna be drinking them in is the round stone first, followed by the distillers edition, followed by the cask strength if you wanted to kind of start with the first one, but we will be going through and doing kind of a tasting and talking about each one of these products a little bit later. But please feel free to start drinking now. We forget to say that sometimes and then we’re like wait are people not drinking! Oh no is it our fault? It’s our fault, oh no. Yeah but with that, Scott welcome. Thank you, thank you very much, I appreciate being here today .
Nice to see everybody. Based on that I’ve already poured my first drink and i’m having a sip too. It’ll make my speaking going easier, see it’s already crappy. And it’ll make your listening going easier too, so I don’t know what’s wrong with my grammar tonight. Okay it’s Thursday night we’re almost through the week here. I know right, it’s funny you were talking about, you were talking about doing these zoom meetings and who you know people who haven’t done it yet and I’ve been doing these classes you know my own classes on zoom and in my last series of classes it was like a six part series every Friday night kind of thing. I had a guy who spent the entire series in a dark room smoking a joint. That was it, like he was getting all he wanted out of that class just sitting there in a dark room watching. Whatever you need to bring to this meeting, you know it’s what you bring yeah. On a sidebar for those of you who aren’t aware of these events or these classes that scot is doing, they’re wonderful cocktail classes that are very inventive, very creative. Scott you want to share the the next round? I think that’s just a fascinating way to engage people. Yeah we’ve been doing it. There’s information on our website if anybody ever wants to pop over to catoctincreek.com, but basically it’s called Art of the Cocktail and we do basically, it’s a cocktail instruction/cocktail history class. um one of our participants here lyle and dora they’re they’re participating in those as well um and so this this season we’re doing a six week season we’re doing cocktails of things you’ll find in your pantry so last week we did cocktails made with jams and jellies which was kind of fun and neat and um and to this week we’re doing cocktails that have um hot peppers hot sauce things like sriracha in it so some really neat little zippy cocktails that are kind of really tasty yeah and that’s a really fun series because sometimes you know these cocktail classes can mean you have to go out and buy quite a few special ingredients and things and you know while that’s fun sometimes it’s even more fun to be able to make cocktails the way you make food where you just like open up your cupboard and you’re like what can i rip with here what can i do so i love the dog or there are half empty bottles of things in your fridge and you say what am i ever going to do with that exactly well we could make a cocktail from uh top ramen yeah yeah we make it we take a liberal approach to the cocktail making too you know it’s like if you can’t find certain ingredients like make a substitution it’s just a drink after all like let’s not sweat it too much yeah for sure so um all right so with that scott do you want to tell us a little bit about maybe you know how you guys got started your important story you know um what you guys are up to and while you’re talking in a bit i’ll i’ll show some pictures as well to kind of transport us all to virginia all right i’ll let you do the slideshow while i talk yeah so basically becky and i started the company in 2009 we were both engineers so i was a computer engineer becky was a chemical engineer she was working in contact lenses and doing things like making computer parts and things like that basically manufacturing process and i was doing classified security systems for the navy and so that all sounds interesting but basically when i hit 40 i decided that i no longer wanted to sit in a room in a cubicle you know under fluorescent lights typing for the rest of my life like this was my version of hell and so i like to tell people on my tours when i give tours that 20 years of government contracting taught me a great love of whiskey and so i i basically brought this idea to becky saying you’re a chemical engineer you would make great distiller and her response to me was of course i would make a great distiller distilling is easy from her perspective distilling was easy as a chemical engineer um she put the back on me and you know finger poked me in the chest and said but you need to find out if we can make money making whiskey and so she encouraged me to write a business plan um this was in 2009 so 2008 2009 so we’re talking about the great you know recession that we were having and uh she said go write a business plan take it to the bank and see if you can get money knowing full well the bank would say no and then she would not be the villain in this story she would be the hero you know it’s like well you gave it your best honey i was really supportive now go back to work we got kids coming to college soon um and so the the miracle turned for us was the bank said yes and we were both like holy crap you know we had a quarter million dollar check in our hands and we were like [ __ ] now we have to do this i don’t know if i can cuss on here but i just did we’re like holy crap we have to do this and so pretty quickly you know we never thought we’d get financing in that in that great recession um and we had it and uh you know when we went to the bank i mean they said well what’s a distillery like they didn’t even know what a distillery was and uh maybe that helped us because they didn’t but uh but we got the money and we started building the business we quickly got into virginia maryland dc sort of the mid-atlantic area and today we’re in uh about 27 states and um internationally in europe and singapore and mexico as well so you know um growing you know pretty fast um we have uh announced our this year we just announced actually this week our uh million dollar plant expansion to triple our production capacity to try to keep up with everything that we’re doing wow congratulations it was great yeah so it’s kind of a it’s kind of a weird time to be you know doing those kinds of things um but our investors have been very supportive and uh and they want to see us you know use this time well and and continue to grow uh i think with the vaccines on the horizon you know it’s going to be a long a launch pad to a really good year in 2021 so that’s kind of what we’re planning on right now is is being very optimistic for 2021 uh-oh scott we missed your audio am i not on it it just kind of disconnected there for a second it seems i’ve got a separate mic hopefully you guys what did you miss out on a whole bunch or just the last just a second there okay anyway so yeah so so we’re really optimistic for 2021 and uh i can tell you a little bit about the origin of why we do what we do why we make what we make and sort of doggedly stick to this kind of virginia rye if you’d like to know that yeah for sure i i do feel like it’s pretty rare that a distillery goes all in on rye yeah and so that’s it’s pretty exciting and i’d love to hear where that came from for sure so so one of the things becky and i really appreciate is history and when we started the company you know almost nobody was making rye there were a couple big houses making rye templeton i think had just come on the market you know but there wasn’t a whole lot of rye out there and um and we were doing a lot of research at the time trying to sort of find some niche in craft that we you know that really spoke to us and so you know if you study the history of america right and of course virginia being one of the first colonies in america you know in 1605 um the first permanent establishment of european settlers is in jamestown virginia right so that’s 400 years ago 1605 i mean it’s so long ago right and from the very beginning a guy named george thorpe is distilling whiskey in virginia um in the colonies right so 1600s all through the 1600s like if you just take the 1600s through the 1700s right till 1776 that’s almost 200 years of human beings europeans living in virginia living in the mid-atlantic living in the 13 colonies making whiskey and when they were making whiskey the way they were doing it for those 200 years was a small scale what we would call craft production right it was necessarily craft because there weren’t interstates and there weren’t logistical supply chains and all this kind of stuff you would grow some grain on your farm and whatever you didn’t eat or want to save for eating for bread and stuff would be distilled because it would rot or it would get mice and all these kinds of problems right so you could distill it and preserve it but it was also useful to have spirit for medicine for tinctures for solvents and it was money so you could trade it right so you could distill a bunch of whiskey and trade it and then get meat and other things that maybe other farmers had so nearly every farm had whiskey being distilled on the farm scale so that says it’s a small pot still it’s local grain right and it’s local tradition passed down you know orally and and from family to family well that kind of production it you know for 200 years happens and then in the in 1776 so we have a war right with britain the revolutionary war and before that war the common most common and largest volume spirit in america was rum not whiskey but rum so lots and lots of molasses and sugar and rum itself coming up from the islands and part of that sort of british trade triangle and all of this rum gets cut off in 1776 because king george is pissed off with us for having a war right so he cuts it all off and we have a first real crisis in that we have not enough spirit to to slake the needs of all these people who need it and it is true because it was like actually a need back then like you say that jokingly but there are all sorts of russians there’s well there’s documentation from like george washington i believe from a few other like really you know famous historians who say basically like we would not have won the revolutionary war if it wasn’t for like our rations of spirits so when those started to get like pulled back it was actually like a real threat to the morale of our soldiers to the morale of the people making the guns doing what we needed to do economic embargoes yeah yeah right indeed and we weren’t we weren’t just importing rum we were importing the raw materials new england new england was a center of rum production people think about new england they said well no textiles maybe but rum right yeah there were like over 100 distilleries back in those days that were primarily making rum in new england and so yeah that was a real opening i think for whiskey to kind of come back in again and become as popular as it is today well exactly and so what happens is whiskey from that point forward really booms into an industrial production operation right before it was small-scale home operation everybody was doing it for a long time they knew how to do it but then it really booms into something industrial right and so companies that kind of today feel like mrs you know started to establish themselves in places like western pennsylvania maryland is a very big center of whiskey pikesville and that kind of area and so those big industrial distilleries become established right and whiskey turns into business and so then what happens is the revolutionary war was very costly and they had to raise an excise tax to pay for the war well all these western distillers in pennsylvania said well hell no i’m not going to pay the tax we never paid it before why are we going to pay it now and so they have the whiskey rebellion right and george washington himself has to go out to western pennsylvania and quell this whiskey rebellion make them pay their taxes and uh and so you kind of can see within a span of like 10 15 years you know we go from basically little tiny home production to you know the equivalent at the time of like anheuser-busch kind of companies that making whiskey not quite that big but pretty big and so then of course you know presidency george washington has the presidency and then he retires well he’s got this whiskey thing in his mind and his his farm hands have told him you know you need to establish a distillery here on mount vernon where he’s retired and he does and he establishes the mount vernon distillery which is a wonderful uh place to visit today they have a very faithful um like rebuilding of that distillery complete with stills and they still do still whiskey there and you could see you know that kind of production well in his day george washington was the largest commercial distiller and so he was producing predominantly rye whiskey so he was doing other things too apple brandy and peach brandy and things like that but it was predominantly rye whiskey and this rye whiskey then dominated certainly virginia but really the whole mid-atlantic area and then as we swing into the 1800s 1804 you know we have the first documented recipe book or recipe written down of the old-fashioned which at the time was just called the whiskey cocktail and then later the old-fashioned did you say that was because we tell this story in our corporate virtual tastings a lot yes i’m curious we have the same year yeah so i heard 1804 is when when we have the first documentation of the old-fashioned at the time called the whiskey cocktail and it was whiskey sugar water and bitters right and then we have um as it goes on it becomes known as the old-fashioned whiskey cocktail and then later just the old-fashioned but then as we get into the later 1800s of course the martini the manhattan all of these other cocktails become invented and if you’re in the east coast right new york particular new york city you’re drinking rye whiskey that was the common spirit in that if you were in the frontier um which of course at that time was like tennessee ohio kentucky you know those are the western countries or counties out there then you might be drinking some bourbon and if you’re in new orleans you’re drinking cognac almost certainly so those kinds of things those regional things if you were on the east coast which we are here you’re drinking rye whiskey and of course it all comes to a screeching halt you know in 1920 right and everything comes to an end and so that history and it really never comes back like it was before as the dominant spirit of of america and we wanted that history to be told and so what we’re really focusing on when we’re making brownstone rye is we’re making it in that traditional virginia style so we call ourselves the virginia rye whiskey and that’s because we’ll use local grain right which is organically grown we’re not organic because we think it’s healthy or a bunch of granola nuts it’s because it’s the closest that we can get to heirloom quality grain that would have been made back in the time and it’s also been not treated with herbicides and pesticides which of course you know would create off flavors that have to be aged out in the barrel process so local production organic grain pot still whiskey that’s very important pot stilling is is key and look at those handsome fellas i just have my my chrome dome shined in that picture um the uh pot still beautiful and uh and then the the last uh thing is of course the terroir right the terroir of the not just the grain that we’re growing here in virginia but also the aging of the whiskey in that climate that climate of um you know the hot summers and the cold winters and the crazy springs and falls where we have temperature going back and forth and all of that produces for us basically a very traditional whiskey on today’s modern equipment which gives us reliability and safety and all those kinds of things you can see the stills here these are german stills that we use producing that spirit but there’s still a pot still process which is really really key to the whiskey production is using that pot still process yeah scott i think it might be might be worth mentioning here that uh bourbon uh uh came to predominate in um in the on the frontier because corn grew better than rye right the conditions the conditions were favorable more favorable to corn than they were to rye yeah and and and and the opposite when you’re talking about the east coast where we are here right so if you’re in virginia all the way up into quebec right you’re talking about rye growing really really well here it grows like grass and and like you said out west bourbon corn you know people are going to make what they make because of what grows where they grow right and that’s why you have barley in scotland and they don’t have you know a whole lot of corn i think it’s important important to note that whiskey is an agricultural product absolutely at least originally you know if they had surplus grain so what do they do to extend the life of it and to make some money make whiskey they’re still whiskey you used what was on hand indeed uh now this is often this is why uh uh rye is often referred to as america’s first whiskey yeah yeah yeah and so many people even today don’t really understand that or know that and that’s the history we want to tell in every one of these bottles you know so we do there’s hand production right there i mean that’s what it’s all about we literally are handling this stuff these are 30 gallon barrels because that was the biggest barrel that becky herself could move around that’s becky there with the hair um that’s the reeling that’s the reason most ceilings are eight feet high today because one one eight foot length of sheetrock is what one person can carry yeah yeah this is the picture of our bond this is actually really nostalgic for me because this is a picture of our whiskey aging barn um we’re no longer in this barn the barn actually fell down it’s not it’s not safe it didn’t fall down while we were in it but it was it was not long for this world when we were using it and we’ve since moved to a more modern production facility every single bottle here being signed by becky uh as we do this um the so yeah that that you know that rye production was just really important to the to the uh the tradition that we have you know the two keys of that you know it’s like when we’re fermenting we’re fermenting at room temperature so that is you know if you were in the 1800s you didn’t have a chilled glycol you know perfectly controlled fermenter you had you know subject to the seasons and um and then the pot still is really important as well because in the pot still you have actually a my yard reaction so this is a change that happens because of the cooking of the grain and the analogy that i really love to use for that is like the the cooking of tomato sauce on your stove so if you took tomatoes fresh from the garden and you pureed them and drank them right away they’re very bright and acidic right but then if you take that same puree and then you put it on the stove for six hours and you just cook it at a low simmer it’s gonna change right it’s gonna get caramelized and sweet and it’s gonna get richer and and things are gonna happen these chain reactions are gonna happen and that’s what’s happening with the rye so the fact that we’re in this um in this still cooking this rye for nine hours um what comes out at the end isn’t what came in at the beginning we’re getting a lot of richness in this spirit that wouldn’t be there if we were just flash columns stilling it and pulling off the extracted alcohol within a few minutes which is of course much more efficient and cheaper but we really feel like it’s a it’s an important you know point to differentiate our product by pot stilling it and i guess that’s why all the scottish do it as well because they really i mean that’s key to their process as well so we kind of attach ourselves to that tradition as well i like your futility to history a lot that’s really it’s pretty compelling scott it makes for a great case for you know why doing things the way that they were done years and years ago is versatile and worthwhile to continue pursuing today yeah i agree you know it’s funny because when we started this company of course we we started putting this whiskey out and we would often hear from some people you know who maybe you know you might say whiskey snobs or something like that who had certain opinions well why aren’t you putting it in 53 gallon barrels and why aren’t you doing this and why aren’t you aging it for this amount of time and all of this kind of stuff and why don’t you have a mash bill of xyz and you know it’s like well look you know heaven hill or bardstown or whatever you know these people are already doing that why should we do something else let’s do something different and then you can either like it or not like it right and and that’s up to you but if we’re all doing the same thing then what the hell is the point so and that’s really what craft is all about at least for us we always say it’s like art and science right and anyone can do the science anyone can press the button and get consistency to come off a line that’s easy it’s the like using your judgment and kind of doing things differently and changing things up every time you do that like that’s art you know and we often compare it to finding a musician you really love you find a musician you really love but you don’t want every album to sound exactly the same you look forward to seeing what that new album is going to sound like and that’s the same thing with the next batch of whiskey or when they play that song live and you’re like well i never imagined it that way yeah but you know it’s it’s it’s it’s true you know like um like i’m learning to play the piano right now because that’s my quarantine activity and every now and then like you hit the wrong chord right but you’re like hey that sounds nice like that’s a nice chord and that’s the arc serendipity exactly and sometimes you stumble onto something like you know aging something in a chardonnay cast because you had it and you’re like holy crap that actually turned out nice yeah so that’s another reason why i think uh craft spirits are important and what you’re doing is gotten uh becky because that’s where the real innovation is coming from uh you know you get your some of your bigger uh spirits uh your bigger distillery brands and they’re not gonna go and do something that’s outside the normal parameters right you guys don’t have anything to lose and that’s where the innovation and move the spirit category forward so thank you for that yeah thank you i appreciate the appreciation you know one of the things when we first started putting this product out in the market and this was like 10 years ago now you know 90 of the rye in the market was coming from mgp from indiana right and it’s perfectly delicious right but it has a very distinctive flavor right then the flavor is the flavor of you know dill and mint and green vegetable flavors right and our rye typically is coming across much more like fruity nutty kind of flavor and so people would tell me they’d say this doesn’t taste like rye and that’s because you know the 75 bottles that they’ve had that’s mgp all tasted the same so they assume that’s what rye tastes like and and i would be somewhat offended by the question i’d be like what do you mean it doesn’t taste like rye it’s a hundred percent rye how can it not taste like rye and so what we had to learn really and it’s it’s only just recently that we’ve really learned how to how to put words to this is we’re talking about terroir it’s like this rye grown in virginia tastes different and that’s a good thing let’s enjoy that let’s celebrate that nobody expects a pinot noir from oregon to taste the same as a pinot noir from from france or from california or whatever you know and that’s understood and we’re just trying to make that knowledge also into spirits
couple questions one um you said 100 rye your rise all of your eyes are 100 right that’s right that is not that is not altogether common in rye production that is correct and we are gluttons for punishment and that’s why we do it um very difficult to work with it is very difficult it’s very sticky um and you have to use enzymes to to sacrifice the starch because the rye itself isn’t very good at that we we use um four different sources of rye so even though it’s 100 rye one of the things that we um have developed over time is multiple different farms that we use so we have the pictures you saw earlier were from rappahannock so that’s about three hours east of us towards the ocean towards the chesapeake bay and so it has a maritime kind of climate um where it’s drier and and stays warmer longer and then we have um rye that’s coming up from like lancaster county pennsylvania you know so that’s kind of within about 60 miles of here so it’s a little more inland we have rye coming from this county that we’re in right now and so all of those different rides together different strains different regions if you took any one of them by themselves you’d have a very sort of one-dimensional flavor profile but you add those together and you’ve got some complexity some is a little sweet some is a little spicy and those kinds of things come together and create something that’s more interesting than just the single grain itself and it also gives us diversity from our farmers if a farmer has a particularly bad year we’re not you know caught with our pants down so that’s just kind of it’s like rotating crops uh as it were indeed the other question is and this matters this matters not to the quality of your spirits but uh your spelling of whiskey it is it is old country it is it is it would have been spelled that way in the 17 1800s actually of course and we also in modern parlance you know you’d say that american whiskey with an e canadian with a y irish with an e scotch with a y right and we uh you know i’m i’m a big nut for everything’s scottish i have two kilts i wear them even on zoom calls um the uh and so it was a bit of a nod to our scottish ancestors we figured if other brands are doing it maker’s mark does it you know then then we should do it too so we just kind of enjoyed it it’s our company we’ll do what we want so yeah for those of you not familiar um a fun a fun catch to remember which is usually the spelling in most places is if the country name has an e in the country name they put an e in their whiskey typically and if they don’t japan canada they don’t they don’t put an e in their whiskey that’s that’s an easy cheat to kind of remember the norms but there certainly are i think balcones spells it without the e as well there’s a lot of expensive people who who march to their own beat of the drum because it’s not regulation at all yeah actually in the code of federal regulations it’s spelled without the e so all of the the federal laws actually spell it the way we spell it so yeah all right it’s funny because when we were doing the business plan of course contextually i was spelling whiskey exactly as it was supposed to be spelled depending on the context of how i was using it and and then i had my business plan reviewed by an entrepreneur who was in the construction business and she’d know nothing of whiskey but she was a very smart entrepreneur so i wanted her opinion and she went with the red pencil and she’s like you are illiterate you need to straighten this up and spell whiskey right the whole time and i was like oh it’s too hard to explain just okay i’ll fix it so funny scott scott how does um i’m a big fan of the pendleton 1910 rye how does which is also 100 rye mash bill how does how does yours compare um flavor profile wise to something like that because unfortunately i haven’t had yours yet yeah so well i haven’t had theirs yet so i can’t explain too much but what you’ll get in ours and i’ll go through the flavor notes when we taste it officially here tonight but generally i would say fruity nutty you know heavy tones of citrus and then definitely that little bit of a tingly spice sort of finish that you you know it’s rye the uh so comparing it to other rise you know it’s easier to compare to mgb because everybody’s had mgp and mgp beautiful solid rye again typically has a bit of a more grassy dill kind of kind of profile that that is completely not present in in our rye um yeah and i will say often you know anything that’s 100 rye i mean rye is spicy on its own right and that’s usually why people put you know barley in their wheat and their other things to kind of mellow it out a little bit so like if you like rye these are good these are punchy they’re spicy but they’re well balanced as well um so it really it brings that characteristic of rye that you likely love if you’re a rye drinker turns it up a little notch but then rounds it out really nicely yeah um with that though scott why don’t we jump into the tasting we can keep talking and answering questions as we do but i’d love to for those of you who have the sample pack with us or one of these bottles yeah chime in and kind of converse about these yeah for sure so the first one we’ll taste is what we call a round stone right 80 proof so you’ll see the 80 proof there of just above the monogram and it’s our single barrel it’s the red label so if you have the red label that’s the one to do i’ve got the big 750s here in my house but the little ones will do as well so if you pour yourself a slug of that let’s just start with the nosing shall we ah that’s really really lovely so you know i get sort of toasted bread and and i get citrus right away i always get citrus lemon particular for me on the nose on these all right and so now i’m going to take a taste be sure to put in the chat window if you guys have certain things you’re tasting if somebody says you know whatever raisins or whatever it is you know just i’d love to read tobacco you guys do it tobacco tobacco for me big tobacco i told becky this when we interviewed her for the podcast yeah i’m getting like a kind of an annis biscotti type of thing yup yup i think that biscotti kind of ties in with what i was saying kind of like toasted bread you know that kind of a note with the sweeter element you know like those breads that have embedded fruits in them for for those of you let’s take a little a little detour for a half a second here um we we teach a lot we do a lot of corporate tastings and we teach whiskey tasting techniques as we do that and so i think it’s fun as we’re gonna dive into these a little bit let’s just give a couple of those like high level tips on nosing and why that’s so important so you know if you’ve ever had a head cold and your significant other orders pizza when it’s your favorite dish in the whole wide world even though you have a head cold and you take a bite of it and it tastes like cardboard because your nose is stuff that tells you why you’re no like smelling your whiskey before you drink it is so important eighty percent of what you taste is actually coming from your nose um and so the more time you spend nosing things smelling it while you’re drinking it the more you’re gonna get out of and there’s a couple of fun techniques because there are different different types of aromas in here some are heavier some are lighter and kind of float right out of the glass a little bit some are coming from the grain which are floral grassier notes others are heavier kind of baking spices vanilla that’s coming from the barrel aging right and so being able to kind of find all of those different things in there can really enhance your appreciation of the whiskey um and a couple of tips as you’re smelling your whiskey a don’t stick your nose in it like a wine glass we’re all so trained with wine to like really get on in there so keep it lower maybe around your chin a little bit up near your mouth kind of and kind of move it around a little bit and then there’s if you do a low slow inhalation almost like a yoga breath or a meditation breath you’re going to find kind of certain aromas versus if you do kind of a dog sniff so if you sniff in and out really quickly and actually sniffing out so you’re adding a little humidity into that glass while you’re doing it is totally okay even if you fog it up a little bit because that’s why dogs smell that way they’re adding humidity to whatever they’re smelling so that they can smell it better and that will help you find different notes in there and so those different kind of approaches play around with that a little bit to see if you can find different aromas and there really is no wrong answer there are certain things that you’re going to feel silly saying but really the ones that you’re going to feel silly saying those are the ones we want to hear because those are the ones that are really fun to kind of unravel and figure out like what you’re smelling and why you’re smelling it and what memory it’s triggering for you um so it’s it’s a really fun part of the experience that i feel like a lot of people kind of skate right over and think that we’re just doing it to be like snobby and like pretentious but it really enhances your whole experience and especially when you’re spending time with craft spirits that maybe you’re spending a little bit more money on it allows you to like experience them fully it allows you to kind of almost transport yourself and travel through a glass which we all need right now so i just wanted to i would say the one rule is not to plunge your nose into that glass because you’re going to get the whiskey equivalent of a wasabi rush right it’ll just be like rubbing alcohol um one of my favorite techniques with regard to old faction is um this uh kind of fun technique particularly with spirits that’s known as retro nasal olefaction so orthonasal olafaction is basically just smelling something by breathing in but you smell things on when air is leaving your body too and so a technique that’s really helpful with spirits because of the fact that sticking your nose in a glass of whiskey can burn your can burn your old factory out as philip was just saying take a sip of whiskey with a full lung of air and then when you swallow it keep your mouth closed press your tongue up into the roof of your mouth and exhale exhale rather forcefully out your nose and you’ll actually smell the whiskey on the way out now just be careful not to do that and have the actual whiskey go at your nose yeah for sure but something else fun to play with yeah and when you’re tasting your whiskey you know there’s a couple of things if you spend some time smelling it when you taste it you kind of want to assess does it taste like what you thought it was going gonna taste like based on the smell or does it taste very different and neither of those are wrong those can be equally fun to like explore like oh that tastes just like i thought it would or like whoa what is that um so that’s one thing you’re looking for the other thing to be careful of is don’t ever trust your first sip your first sip of alcohol especially when it’s high proof is really just your mouth acclimating and kind of being like whoa that’s alcohol it’s a primer coke yeah and so they they have a term called the kentucky chew where if your first sip you put it in your mouth and you do kind of like roll it around in there and move it around a little bit and get it to touch all the different parts of your mouth so that your mouth is fully acclimated then take a second sip and then start to assess it after that yeah or if you’re like me just don’t stop drinking all day and you’re ready to go at any time that’s right that’s right keep your mouth acclimated all the time drinking professional drinking i am uh i never knew the thing about the dogs and the humidity that’s really cool the introduction moisture i mean if you travel to florida and then travel to arizona you smell things more in florida for better for worse yeah right no for worse um anybody here from florida tonight anyone anyone
yeah i’ve lived in florida the uh there were there’s a lot phil there were a couple questions hey i grew up in new orleans i’m stylish it’s in my dna see it bounce balances out then that’s right hey scott you’re right there were a question a couple of questions about rye in the chat did you i was just gonna hit those for mark if you wanted me to the um mark uh we have you know as i said four different farms and and they all average around 70 to 100 acres um for for each of those farms and those guys are producing for us um so those are special contracts that we have with those farmers um the uh and the rye is typically planted in the early spring so it’s a spring crop we typically are harvesting that in the latter part of july and i say we meaning not i meaning the farmer the collective the royal week yeah i have a i have a spectator’s involvement in that harvest so um but we do like to work with the farmers and and keep pretty close up with them um just on that on that note scott uh given that my primary background with alcohol is wine and that was my first love um there’s obviously with with wine and the cultivation of grapes there’s a lot of discussion with regard to yield and the process and growing and they’re growing just for you um do you have influence or or kind of say over how they’re growing and are there techniques that you can influence the way the product the final product that you’re making your whiskies uh will you make make for a better whiskey yeah so absolutely so there’s a lot to unpack there so the first thing i wanted to say is i also started in wine so when i was 16 years old i worked in a winery as the intern and i got to do everything from crushing into bottling even sparkling wine so you know props to being in a wine background um the um we we like to collaborate with the farmers right so we’re not dictating so much as trying to find some something that works for everybody right so i’m not a farmer becky’s not a farmer so we don’t try to be farmers um you know people ask us if we grow this grain ourselves and i’m like good lord no that’s a lot of work too and so you know like one of our farmers timmy who who is the farmer out in rappahannock you know we go and we talk to him and he’s like i’m thinking of planting these varieties this year um you know i’ve been talking to the people at the virginia tech you know ag department you know and they think these will work well in virginia you know so he’s done his research but then on our part you know we’re looking for does it have a good yield does it convert a lot of starch into sugar which means a lot of alcohol coming out of it um does it taste good right so when we get a new strain of of grain in from someone like timmy or any farmer who might come to us with you know wanting us to buy their grain we’re going to run a single mash of just that grain by itself so that we can taste if we know what the new make spirit is going to taste like then we know it’s going to be good in the barrel and so we’ll do that and we’ve rejected certain grains because they don’t taste good so we’ve rejected grains because um you know they taste dusty like they were pulled dirt from the floor um and and so it’s just not good enough we also will reject god isn’t it scott isn’t that what they call terroir yeah a different kind of terroir but it’s got to be good and not terror
yeah trademark scott harris
the other reason we can reject grain is is because of of um imperfections like fungus right so we inspect the grain visually for things like ergot which is a very dangerous fungi fungus that can infect grain and we can’t have any of it in our stuff so we’ll inspect that and that shows good crop practices especially when you’re when you’re using organic practices and you can’t just sort of blitz the whole um field with fungicides you’ve got to be more thoughtful about how you do that and the farmer will have concerns like does this grain like if it rains it does it lay down and then i can’t combine it you know so if you have to be able to harvest it it can’t just be heirloom for heirloom’s sake the guys at virginia tech you know laugh they’re like you know some of these heirloom grains are heirloom for a reason um so you know you can’t just be sort of all artsy about it you’ve got to have some some some sense and some science in there as well um so yeah so it’s really a partnership that we have with the farmer in an open dialogue that continues every year every year every year cool that’s that’s great thank you thank you for that it’s a neat background and so scott as we’re drinking through these are these all the same base rye whiskey they are they are i hadn’t talked about that yet but this is at the stage of the distillation okay so once we’ve done our heads our hearts and our tails of our distillation and we’ve taken the hearts the very best part of it and put that into the barrel to age these are all the same and so they go off in the age and then mother nature takes over something that we can’t control and so what we found when we’re pulling these out of the the barrel house becky will pull samples to taste all three of these are single barrel whiskeys right so we want to have some consistency in these products and so when she tastes the whiskey 90 of the time the whiskey is going to be soft and round and buttery and that’s going to be this one right i mean buttery is kind of a textural or a texture word not really a flavor word for me in this case but that softness and that easy drinking nature of this 80 proof rye that the first one that we started with that’s going to be what we end up um distill or bottling it at now sometimes about one barrel and 10 we’ll find a a barrel that exhibits a spicier profile a deeper richer profile of things like clove and cinnamon and nutmeg and those kinds of baking spice kind of flavors are coming through and then we’ll bottle that at 92 proof and that’s becky’s distillers edition so when she started seeing some of those barrels coming a few years ago you know they were just naturally popping out with that flavor and this would be a good time to go ahead and taste that expression if you’re if you’re not doing it she was noticing interesting other flavors in there and tasting those with a lot of her staff in the distillery and kind of coming to that decision to this one tastes better preserved at the 92 proof now one barrel every say a hundred will be so perfectly beautifully balanced just naturally the time we hit it when we took the sample was perfect whatever it is the grain and the wood and everything is so well done and it’s really drinkable and smooth on its own then we’ll bottle it at cast proof and that cast group is something really special it has so much richness you know people always think it’s just higher in alcohol but no it’s higher in everything it’s a concentrated whisky it’s never been diluted right so you’ve got more wood flavor you’ve got more vanilla flavor you’ve got more all of that stuff and um and it just makes a really really decadent spirit proof is first an indicator of flavor or should be and secondarily an indicator of heat yeah absolutely right and the the brownstone um cask when we get to it i think you’ll find it has surprisingly little heat for the alcohol that is there and that’s a really neat testament to becky’s ability as a distiller she can produce a really smooth i mean you’ve she always tells me scott you have to respect the juice like you can’t just drink that like 80 proof liquid which i do foolishly um but it is really really really really good now another thing that sets you apart is that all of your whiskeys are single barrel indeed yeah and and that would that came it started as basically we were small right and we didn’t have a big reserve of inventory of whiskies to cross blend to get some uniformity and things so we had to use our nasal and our olfactory um i guess those are the same thing the um so our eyes and our nose and our mouth you know we were using our senses to produce a whiskey that was consistent from bottle to bottle to bottle and so even today that’s how we do it becky has a team of about four or five of her employees all women by the way she she believes the women have the better palette for this um and they’ll lower the proof and do different tastes of different proofs um and determine what they what they can tease out of these whiskies to get them in here and they’re doing a hell of a job because the consistency between the lineup is great so that gave us by sorting flavor instead of instead of blending flavor by sorting flavors we’re able to get a single barrel whiskey that has consistency across those three product lines uh something that i’m curious about since these are all single barrels um and you you know mentioned that it’s simply by experience that you decide which ones are going to be 92 or which ones are going to be cast have you noticed any kind of pattern with regard to your uh you know your cooperage sources and particular forests or uh you know coopers that are making barrels that tend to be candidates for cast strength yeah so that’s a great question that is a great question we haven’t figured it out yet we’re sort of honing in on the fact that you know we about three or four years ago we started introducing virginia oak into the mix so we were using before that just exclusively minnesota oak and we wanted to see what the virginia oak would do to it and of course if the flavor took a big left turn then we would have to figure out like make a new product line or something like that but as it turned out when becky started doing taste trials at 80 proof there was no difference in the flavor between the virginia oak and the minnesota she couldn’t tell the difference in a blind taste test in a blind you know like a truly blind sort of sampling survey or whatever and nobody else could either and then when we sampled the virginia oak and the minnesota oak at 92 proof you could pick it out so the 92 proof whatever is happening in that barrel in virginia is is coming to the forefront you know and it’s a weird thing about chemistry and proof i mean proof is so unusual for different spirits you know sometimes things go away at the low proof and sometimes they don’t become evident unless they’re at this proof and so it’s those kinds of proofing experiments that becky had done to basically find in the uh hone in you know which barrels are for what and so now the predominance of our 92 proof product is in the virginia wood gotcha and then one last corollary on this topic again is uh when you proof down is the water source that you use something that you’re particularly proud of fonda yeah yeah it is it is and that’s a great question i saw it asked earlier in the comment i’m glad you mentioned it um so in the 80 proof product 60 of the product is water right and so that’s kind of important so the water is um for us sourced from a reservoir so we sit nestled right in the blue ridge mountains so we’re right up against the shenandoah valley we’re just on the eastern side of that valley about five miles from the appalachian trail right so this beautiful deciduous hardwood forest that’s been you know since the beginning of our country gorgeous um land that we live in and up in the top of the mountains is the jt hurst reservoir and that reservoir is basically appalachian rain water runoff right and so just like the kentucky folks will brag about their limestone and how that minerals affect that you know we sit in an area that has you know granite and quartz and all these wonderful minerals in our soil and clay you know and these kinds of things and so that water trickling through this environment that’s the water that we use then for for mashing and for topping off the barrel so if you were to take this and fill it with you know the barrels proof it down with reverse osmosis water which is pure water or if you were say to you know bottle this at a at a bottling plant in ohio or something it’s not going to taste the same the water is a really important factor in the in the taste of the terroir as well to that point do you um do you sell your water alongside of it so if people want to do this at home that’s a good idea actually i had not thought of that yeah i could get in the bottled water business too yeah there are definitely definitely distilleries who do it and it is if you are drinking these at home especially since raya spicy these are higher proof if any of them are drinking a little punchy for you that’s okay like everyone has a different palette some water drop or two of water and just do a drop or two at a time and kind of see how that changes the and honestly if you’re going to do it do a side-by-side like pour a little bit in a different glass smell them it will change the smell the taste like it really opens things up can smooth things out sometimes it can be a fun experiment to do it a lineup of them and do one drop two drop three drop four to just to see kind of where your your power is that’s that’s very similar to the process that becky uses actually when proofing these spirits down you know what’s also fun is if you take a glass and you put like you know just a a drip of whiskey in the glass and then just let it sit overnight and come back the next day and smell it it’s going to smell like your wood shop back in high school it’s going to smell like sawdust and wood and it tells you you know all the other stuff has evaporated away and what’s left is wood that was absorbed out of the barrel into the whiskey and it’s remarkable because it smells exactly like a fresh cut piece of wood yeah that’s great hey i want to take a pause for a minute because we’re all geeking out and super passionate and we’re taking up all the air time everyone have questions comments thoughts anything at all we’ll be quiet for a minute and let you jump in i just wanted to say that um when i went in to buy i didn’t get the sample pack because i was not really on it but i went in and bought a bottle today and the gentleman at uh mission wine and spirits in pasadena talked about how fantastic you guys are and how amazing becky’s palette is and he mentioned um a maple yeah something maybe you can talk about that at the end for sure actually um he said it sold out really fast and he said next christmas i’m trying to reach with an earphone in my ear here um yeah i actually so we have done various cast proof versions so this is one of our cast proof where we have done different kinds of barrel finishes so this is our hickory syrup barrel and um we have a maple syrup barrel as well so maple was the first one we ever did so while other people were out there doing port finished and sherry finished becky was looking for something different right we always want to do something different that’s just becky’s nature and so we were working at the time with a producer of maple syrup for your pancakes you know and he would take our barrels and he would age the maple syrup in those barrels to get the whiskey flavor into the maple syrup well it took us a lot longer than it should have but we eventually got smart and said hey wait a minute let’s get those barrels back yeah and do that and so we put that in there and so what we were not trying to achieve is like a maple flavored whiskey that’s not what we’re doing you know whiskey if you were talking about the spectrum of flavors of whiskey you could talk about all different flavors and maple would be one of them naturally in whiskey and so it’s i like to think of it as like a sound board or an equalizer and there’s a note for maple and you can just turn that note up really high on it and so that was a really nice um and we do that about once a year so it does come out and you can get it um but it’s only a yearly uh thing because we only have so many of those barrels
the hickory syrup is interesting because that’s actually dates back to an old indian recipe so there’s a producer here of hickory syrup so just like you can make syrup from maple trees they make a syrup from hickory trees and it’s a little bit different process it involves boiling the bark and things like that to fuse the flavor but if you take this hickory syrup itself not the the whiskey but the hickory syrup and you mix it with tomato paste you’re on your way to make a really nice barbecue sauce really oh interesting yeah so we do a hickory syrup finished as well and that’s really lovely scott you mentioned becky’s always wanting to do something new so before before we get off this call i want to make sure we talk about your at least four brandies and your gym yes sir sure anyway back to whiskey scott and scott i’ll just say if you want a blast from the past in terms of a finished bottle oh yes
hold on keep that up there for a minute i’m going to spotlight you because we we’re all talking and let’s see i want to see this i should have the two-year on itself somewhere but we recently moved and i can’t find it right now yeah the two-year is perhaps my favorite bottle of all time uh of everything we’ve ever done is probably that two-year-old single cast nation i i agree the two-year is astounding this is great but the two years is now two years certainly the best two-year-old whiskey i’ve ever had in my life yeah it was it was that serendipity i was talking about it earlier that was the two-year-old was the chardonnay cask and we just put it there not knowing what the hell to do with it and it turned out to be an amazing amazing whiskey jason johnston yellen who runs that company had taken it to scotland and was blind tasting it to scottish distillers and bartenders and they were guessing 11 12 13 years and stuff they couldn’t wow no it was insane and of course all that color completely natural about how many barrels do you distill each year like how small are you what’s your kind of yeah so so i like to talk in bottles and so if you divide the number of bottles that i say by about 120 or 180 you’ll get the number of barrels but um we did last year well in 2019 we did 60 000 bottles so still really a small distillery you know we’re still pretty much craft distillery in 2020 we were because of covid we were hoping to get zero percent growth right so what we didn’t we didn’t have any growth but we didn’t want to have any loss right we’re just trying to hold our own like everybody else in the world and in 2009 we did about 60 or sorry 2020 we did about um 60 000 bottles as well so we held the line um and this year with our expansion this year we’re hoping to up that to about a hundred thousand bottles so that is you know i don’t know how many um six-pack cases that is but you know you can kind of do the math there um something math-wise that i’m happy to do but uh 60 000 bottles comes from how many acres of rye uh that’s a good question so i would estimate probably about three to four hundred acres of rye yeah um it’s a lot it’s a lot of rye um we use about a ton right now at current at current production rates we’re using about a ton and a half to two tons of rye per week so it’s a lot how does a distiller make a decision about what states to expand into um sometimes we flip a coin sometimes sometimes the states will knock on our door and and and make a case and we’ll agree and and go into them and sometimes we decide that a state is really important that we really want to be in it because you know it has a really important drinking city in it um san francisco you know um new york and places like that so we’re kind of deciding based on sort of some demographic and and those kinds of data also you have to figure you have to look at whether or not it’s a controlled state absolutely that’s worse franchise states you know those those states are killer for distillers too because they you you’re married for life um in some of those states so that’s that’s another big consideration because you’re pitching to a bureaucrat rather than the market right right so um hey scott you’re you’re a great mixologist you make great cocktails can you treat us to some of your favorite cocktails that you make with your rye whiskies and kind of play around with yeah i get my little spirits journal i’m tethered with my ear so i have to reach back here carefully so i have a little like you know home spirits journal and we actually like we’ll hand write drinks that we come up with um and things like that and so you know it’s it’s kind of a fun little it’s the best diary i’ve ever kept you know where you can kind of keep i can’t see the camera and looking at the same time but um you know for instance i’ll give you i’ll give you a recipe right now this is a fun one and these we don’t we don’t claim to author all of these you know a lot of times these are made by some of our friends who are bartenders in dc and places like that so one of our favorites is one called the ric flair named after the wrestler and it’s actually created by a guy named rick newton who also spells his name ric with no k um who was at a place that’s now unfortunately closed called dinos in dc and it’s the ric flair is an ounce and a half of rye i i would have a recommendation as to which one um about a half ounce of cherry hearing a half ounce of nardini amaro a half ounce of senzano uh sweet vermouth he liked the the lower sort of you know everybody always wants to go to carpano antica which is lovely but he likes the the lower amount of vermouth because there’s a lot of other things going on with the amaro in there a dash of angostura and a dash of orange bitters um and serve that um with a in a rocks glass a big rock and an orange twist so that’s kind of a really neat sort of little bit of a take on an old fashioned with cherry you just did that one more time i’m throwing it in the chat afterwards what’s that what was the ingredient after the nardini oh i see you’re doing it in the chat yeah yeah one ounce and a half of rye half ounce of cherry hearing a half ounce of nardini amaro a half ounce of sweet vermouth any any cheap sweet vermouth will do a dash of mango an orange you said and a dash of orange yep dash of mango and a dash of orange and then serve with an orange twist with a big rock yeah most people who know nardini know them for their grappa i don’t know them for their amaro but their amaro is wonderful yeah the um the the grappa and we have one of their like almond infused grappas here uh at the home and that’s like becky’s secret little thing if you get to taste that then she really likes you
very good um i don’t have a preference with orange bitters there’s a lot of really good ones out there in the market and i’ll as often use reagan’s or any of the different brands that are available to me great i love it yeah that sounds um scott i have a leg up on the competition here tonight as competition as it were in that i have a i i have a bottle of the uh bottled in bond yes indeed talked about about this release yeah so so if you saw the pictures of our stills earlier um you’ll see that they were hybrid um pot stills with the plate a plate column above it and um that plate column is configurable so we can turn those plates on or off and so when we’re doing round stone we want a fairly highly refined spirit coming out for the relatively youthful spirit that’s going to go into the barrel but with rabble rouser becky was again experimenting in the early days she opened up all the plates and just let us get a really boisterous robust spirit coming through so the new make was much rougher right it doesn’t taste as good as a new make spirit there’s a lot of fusel oils and things in it but there’s a lot of stuff that wouldn’t get stripped away and left behind by the distillation process so letting all that come through as i like to say more of a hillbilly kind of distillation and then it needs time in the barrel so we put it in the barrel for four years originally when we first released the rabble rouser the original labels don’t say bottle of bond it always qualified for that but nobody cared about bottled and bond up until the last say four or five years or so now it’s sexy and now it’s sexy because now it’s shorthand for yes we made it here um every bit of it and so that’s our bottled and bonnet of course set to 100 proof by the government regulations 100 proof is a lovely proof for a spirit like that and so what you’re going to find in the rabble rouser is it is more of a um chewy you know there’s a lot of other flavors happening in that spirit even though it’s the same mash bill and it’s the same uh barrel process i i have to say it is the it is the sweetest it has the sweetest palette of of your four standard releases interesting yeah it’s it’s a it’s a really neat spirit and it’s a very limited if you see that available in your area grab it because you know we only do like a thousand bottles a year it’s really really small run limited stuff and so you don’t have to drink it a lot of it you know you can save it or whatever but it’s speaking of availability we have several questions on on the chat right now about availability uh someone in ohio saying please make the case how can we help she asked how can we help make the case for ohio and also where in l.a this is available yeah so great questions um we had the person from pasadena i guess that’s kind of north of l.a um east do east okay yeah mission mission um up there um has it the um everson royce i don’t know if they’re still running with kova being what it is right now um but they they have it um total wines across the nation have it um in you know if in orange county uh where i’m at high time wine cellar carries your uh cares your stuff that’s yeah that’s that’s great and then um in um bevmo’s bevmo’s have it um bevmo did a barrel pick actually so they have one of our barrel selections as well um if you’re in the illinois area benny’s of course is kind of the place to go um if you are in uh texas you know then um total wine and specs um so you know those kinds of places and as as to the ohio people ohio actually is a really compelling state for us um you know four major metropolitan areas that’s that’s exactly the biggest problem for us with ohio right now is the fact that a it was a control state and b it just went through some real histrionics as far as like the control system there was like really messed up and they were like de-listing all kinds of things and cleaning up their inventory and having all these auctions and it was just like too messy so we had to stay away for a while we would definitely like to be in ohio um just not quite ready for it yet um you know if we can get becky’s actually the president of the american craft spirits association and she’s working hard with you know people in the industry to try to get direct-to-consumer shipping allowed for spirits nationwide and that would really solve some of these problems right because then we don’t have to necessarily crack some of these markets we could just ship onesie twozies out to people as needed yeah i will say one thing about becky kentucky uh i was just gonna say one one thing i i wanted to say thank you for becky for all of the help that she’s doing with direct to consumer and fighting for the federal exercise tax reduction she is a huge hero to a lot of us in the industry oh that’s great i’m sure she’d love to hear it she she has a very humble uh attitude towards these things and doesn’t take compliments well but um but she is a hero she’s working so hard if people knew what she did to save the industry on new year’s eve it was incredible you know she basically found the the the number two guy at the health and human services the guy who sits right under azar who’s the the cabinet appointee and convinced him that they were gonna kill the craft distilling business if they didn’t release the fda fees that were being retroactively assigned to people who made hand sanitizer 14k per 14k per for for your privilege to make hand sanitizer and help save the world you now get assessed a 14 000 fee that you didn’t agree to when you started that whole process um and she got on the phone and by new year’s eve she had resolved that with the hhs and got in the hhs to tell the fda to renege that fee so uh she’s mine yeah cheers to yeah absolutely i’m gonna get somebody to do a gofundme and we’re going to get the statue erected somewhere so maybe maybe can you talk to us can you talk to us about your brandings because you have four you have four brandies in the portfolio um plus uh plus a gin yeah yeah let me talk about those briefly so you know shorthand for people who aren’t in the know brandy is basically whiskey made from fruit so it’s the same process the the same you know whiskey starts with beer and brandy starts with wine and so you know the most common brandy if you just say brandy and you don’t say anything else then that’s talking about grapes right so grapes that are wine then distilled on a pot still or a column still and then um aged in a barrel so exactly the same process as whiskey the two kind of brandies most people know about of course are cognac and armagnac and those are of course brandies from france there’s also a ton of california brandy as well obviously um so um we also make brandies from other fruits so we make brandies from peaches from pears from apples and the reason we choose those fruits is because those are the historical brandies that would have been made in colonial times peaches set fruit about two years before apples set fruit so early colonists were planting peaches and making peach brandy then of course this virginia park that we live in is very big apple country and so lots of people planting apples and making apple brandy and so those are products that we like for the historical reason but also i you know i was born and raised in germany and the tradition of fruit brandies in germany is very strong and so i kind of brought that into the into the thing yeah there’s a picture of the uh go ahead and say the apple yeah there’s the apple
these come in 375s yep there is the peach
and every one of these fruits that he’s showing you is uh the pear and the pear and every one of these fruits that he’s showing you is locally harvested fruit so those pears come from 10 miles north of the distillery the peaches come from six miles west of the distillery and the apples come from richmond which is about two hours south of the distillery so all local fruit and your grapes are local as well yeah and the grapes are as well yeah loudoun county is a very um rich grain sorry grape county so we have about 40 different wineries and we like working with those wine makers of course my wine background i love the smell of you know wine and the harvest and being in that that chaos that’s happening once every year so immerse ourselves into that can i ask are your brandies available are they as available as your whiskey they’re not they’re super limited so we have just a very limited amount of fruit and so when we do brandy runs we’re talking like 336 bottles or something like that so very small runs of those brandies so think of it as a treat so when covett is over and you get to travel and you come to the distillery and visit that’s a special thing that you’re really going to get this experience then okay we’ll do that thank you how are you how are you helping kind of educate consumers about brandy because brandy has a bad rap right a lot of people kind of feel like it’s something that their grandparents and great-grandparents drank and it’s not for you know modern drinking we need to make it hip again yeah so honey a lot of americans a lot of americans think it’s sweet exactly when they hear brandy they think fruit liqueur right just because it’s just a misconception it is absolutely a widely held misconception yeah they they think of the blackberry schnapps they were drinking on a ski lodge when they were in college you know it’s garbage um and uh and and we had to educate people so when we first started having people taste our brandies they returned it because they were expecting bowls and we’re like oh my god no it’s not that at all and so we had to start telling people just setting an expectation in their head think of this as like a cognac but made from pears you know etc etc so at least cognac put them up on the right level you know to think about it and it’s not sweet it is the essence of the fruit literally the essence of the fruit so we also have to educate people when they say pear brandy it’s made from pears only it’s not a pear flavored brandy right which exists it’s a brandy made from pears so we take pears we squeeze them into cider we ferment the cider we then distill that fermented cider and then age it in a barrel so it’s made from nothing but pears um so those are the kind of processes that we go through and educate people about and what distinguishes your gin so the gin is a it’s a great thing to talk about because gin came about as like the number two product we started making behind the whiskey so when we do our whiskey we do our heads hearts and tails right and so our tails um that we have the tails are the non-flavorful alcohols at the end of the process they taste bitter they smell like mold and old socks you know so you don’t want that in the whiskey so you cut it you remove it but the tails still have about 50 percent ethanol in them and you never throw that down the drain you don’t waste ethanol in scotland they’ll take the tails and they’ll put it into the next batch to try to recoup some of the lost ethanol but in our case we will take the tails and accumulate them and distill them separately and in doing so by separately distilling them you can squeeze all those fusal oils to the back of the second distillation and recover about eighty percent ninety percent of the ethanol that would have been lost now that ethanol has very little flavor because all the flavor came out during the run of the hearts in the whiskey process so that alcohol is quasi-neutral and so therefore we will introduce to it coriander cinnamon anise juniper orange peel and basically make an herbal tea so we do a maceration of herbs into that spirit and then we’ll take the macerated herbs out and give those to like a local chef who’ll use them for all kinds of chefy stuff and then we’ll take the liquid what we call a gin wash and then redistill it in a pot still and that’s very unique for gin usually gin is done in a basket but we do it in a pot still so you’re getting an enormous amount of botanical oil coming through in the distillation which gives when you have oil and alcohol it gives it wonderful mouth feel and viscosity and so you’re getting a really rich nice gin with this viscosity built on a rye base and the rye base gives it this really like sweet base that tastes sweet but there’s no sugar in it so you get this kind of really interesting gin with the kind of a winter spice profile so it’s a 100 rye gin that’s right and so it says on the bottle you know rye based gin and that makes it a little bit unique too so it really truly is an outgrowth of the whiskey production process yeah and so that’s the way craft distilleries you know the usual path is vodka gin oh why are you waiting for your whiskey’s till while your whiskeys are laying down and ready for release two to three more years but you you you led with whiskey yeah we did and that was actually you know we we had planned to do that exact business plan that you talked about but when we went to the virginia abc which was going to be our first customer and of course that’s a control state so that’s a bureaucrat you’re talking to um and we we came in with three products we came in with a moonshine we came in with a gin and we came in with the whiskey right and the whiskey had literally been aged for one month in one of those little bitty barrels like this i had done the labels on an ink like we were that much of a rush to get this product in front of the abc and when we were done with that process a few weeks later when they came back they said we have decided to choose one of your products to list in the state of virginia and they were like hooray it’s the whiskey and we’re like oh [ __ ] what are we gonna do like we just started in january this was like march and so the first whiskey we were putting out was very very very young because it had to be that was the we had no option if we didn’t do that because it’s not the right thing to do we’d be out of business and they’d all be over tomorrow so we started putting out whiskey and it was good and it was brown and it had enough flavor and and we were able to evolve it to where we have it today but in the early days i mean if you grab one of those early bottles and you turn it around it says aged 1.5 months you know it was really really young hopefully it was in a really small barrel for 1.5 right yeah we were using 30 gallon barrels at that time even then so but it was more of an uh a blonde than it was in amber let’s say that as long as it wasn’t beige yeah and it was translucent mostly tell us a little bit about the the growing pains i mean it is such a crazy story that you know what it hasn’t been now five years ten years ago like you guys had completely different lives you weren’t distillery owners you weren’t making spirits and now you have this whole different life and different like were there points in that early phase where you were like what did we do and why are we still doing it we still do you know to be an entrepreneur is to be um somebody with a manic depressive kind of disorder right because i mean you’re constantly having these ups and downs um you know one day we’re floating on air because we get a nice story from somebody like rich you know and we feel like we’re kings of the world you know and then and then you know we have some crisis and and you know i’d sell the whole business for a dollar you know it’s just it that’s the way it is and and we’ve gotten used to that roller coaster i can tell you you know as we were first getting started um you know like availability of cash you know you couldn’t go broke putting whiskey into a warehouse and so that is a tricky thing to manage and we had to learn like okay we can’t just produce endlessly like we have to manage our production against our sales numbers and try to match them as best we can so that we have some inventory but but not enough that you know we’ve spent everything on grain and that’s you know finances that you can’t even get your hands on anymore um if it you know if you needed to really quickly um so things like that we had some crises as we went through you know some really tough days when you know we have like say four or five people working for us at this point who have families and you know they’re supporting their families and um you know and we’re not gonna make payroll you know because you know it’s august and nobody’s buying whiskey you know we have these doldrum periods and and so you know becky and i would look at each other and we’d be like you know we need to come up with 50 000 you know and so it’s like you know shall i dip into our savings at home to make payroll so that these four people can get a paycheck this week and they say that very difficult thing to do but you know the two shortest routes to bankruptcy are financing a film mm-hmm and opening a distillery yeah and it’s true and and so you know we got a few lifelines thrown to us you know um you know along the way you know which were really great because you know you can only do so much with bank lending you know the banks are really not interested in working with small business that you know they’ll happily you know take a note on a building that they can resell but they have no interest in you know if you’re in a growth phase and you’re you know you’re in the red and you’re but you’re investing in marketing and sales and things like that banks don’t want to hear anything about that and so you know we’ve had dozens of banks tell us no as we are on this journey to grow this brand and so those kinds of things can be really really disheartening and when let me tell you if you have a set of employees who are doing well that’s great but if you have a set of employees who might be you know having some kinds of issues and you’re dipping in your pocket to pay seventy thousand dollars to to so they can have their paycheck you become really salty if they you know if they’re not giving it their all because you’re literally giving it your all and they may not even know you’re doing it but it does it does have an effect on your psychology and you have to as an owner i think push that down because you can’t have that infect you know what would be otherwise a good team spirit and environment but those are the challenges that we face and the things that you know keep us up at night there’s always sort of a latent level of low-level anxiety that’s always sort of simmering in there that those recurring college dreams about being in your underwear taking a test you know those happen to me all the time because it’s just that anxiety that’s always with us yeah and so what’s coming up for the future anything exciting you can sneak preview or any new things you guys are thinking about or what’s what’s the future hold Yeah we have some exciting stuff coming out.
Probably the most exciting thing that a lot of people are nuts about is our collaboration with Gwar the rock band, so if you’re not familiar with Gwar go check them out they’re kind of crazy. Wow! They are! They are actually a Richmond based, band so they were fans of the brand before we sort of knew who they were. I will admit fully, I’m an easy listening kind of guy so when when Gwar came to us I kind of checked them out and it was like you know, mock beheadings on a stage from these aliens that invaded from outer space and things like that. So this was like really out of my comfort zone, but Becky put together some really great whiskey for the band. They’re really really neat guys and they’ve got some really cool stuff going on, so we’re doing a collaborative whiskey with them. They’re designing a lot of the artwork that’s going to go on the label so it’s really in keeping with sort of that gothy kind of intergalactic space alien theme, but the whiskey that’s going into it is whiskey that Becky’s been playing with through other research that’s aging in other words that would have been influenced in the Virginia area. So here we’re talking things like sugar maple and spoons.
Yeah and so there’s there’s a few different wood types that she’s used . And what was the other, oh cherry wood. And so you know those kinds of woods that are native in in this area, because with Gwar we’re obviously wanting to sort of hone in on more of that Virginia stuff even though Gwar is from outer space, you know they have representatives from Richmond.
That’s great, and you and Becky were recently named to the imbibe top 75, that’s exciting. Yeah a little bit about that, that was really sweet. That was a really nice honor.
You know they they did that because of the work I think that Becky and I you know sort of spearheaded with the covid crisis last year. We did a collaborative whiskey called In This Together Hang On. I have a bottle here
I’m on the tether hang on, I gotta take my microphone off. Oh shoot, just kind of cleared my bar. He said it again! Oh it’s terrible I’m too tethered to this thing. Here it is. So we have this In This Together rye whiskey here and basically what that came to be from was we had restaurants during the beginning of the covid crisis, like March April time frame, that could not sustain their barrel selection so they had already bought and paid for whiskey that was a private barrel pick and in fact it was bottled and delivered to them and these restaurants were fighting for their existence. They didn’t know if they were going to be here the next day and so they asked us can they return it and of course I mean we could have said no, but you know all of these restaurants you know for the past 10 years were what put us on the map. How could we say no? So we had four restaurants return their whiskey and then we took that whiskey and Becky was we were like what are we going to do with it? You know we just want to break even on it, you know are we just going to do nothing with it? And so Becky decided let’s try taste testing it, blending it and seeing what happens. And they were really different flavors, so one was a stable craft beer barrel one was a chardonnay barrel and then one of them was, I’m forgetting now, but i think it was a peach barrel and we blended those barrels together and the different notes the fruit note and the chardonnay which was a kind of a wine note and then the beer note, the maltiness really actually instead of fighting each other kind of blended together really nicely. And so we released it out to the public. We had a hundred cases of whiskey, 600 bottles, and a hundred cases. We put it on our online store and it sold out in two hours. It was incredible absolutely incredible. And so we took every bit of profits from it, we broke even on our cost, and every bit of profits we we gave to charity, to four different restaurant charities that were supporting people who are out of work. The people in the kitchen who are usually immigrants and don’t speak English, all of these different people who who you know were literally in food lines at the time. Twelve thousand dollars, that we were able to raise and give away for that process. And so you know we just did it because it was the right thing to do, and we wanted to you know recoup our loss. But it turned into something bigger than that and I guess that’s why they gave us the the recognition you know and it was a really nice thing to do. Yeah it’s really amazing. I mean you know it’s always hard for restaurants and craft distillers and all of it, you know it’s it’s tough business to be in at any time, but this past year it’s been incredibly tough for people who work in these industries and it takes a big heart when you’re struggling yourself to turn around and be generous. Yeah absolutely. Yeah it’s hard, but you know at the end of the day you know we’ve got to do what’s right or what we can be proud of you know. Nothing else really matters, you know, so that’s right. Well we’re really proud to have you on the show and to support you and thank you to all of our guests who showed up and hung out with us for an hour and a half, yeah, to support you. And you know hopefully all of you are gonna go out and find some Catoctin Creek rye if you didn’t already get your sampler pack, you’re gonna go get one because it’s really great stuff. It’s so good and as you all heard tonight they have such an amazing story behind it as well, which makes it all that more enjoyable. Yeah Scott, you leave a great story. Yeah thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Yeah you know we’re happy to stick around for for a little bit longer you guys have some questions at all, you want to unmute yourselves and chit chat a little bit, but otherwise you know we are at the 90 minute point so I’ll let everyone kind of say their goodbyes and and take off. But thank you so much Scott for being here and give Becky our love and tell her all the nice things we were all saying about her here. Have a great day Scott good, to see you. Thank you, thank you so much again. It’s great to see you guys on the screen. Very best to Becky. Yes. Thank you, yes please everybody be well thank you
Until next time… Drink craft and drink the world. Cheers!
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