Spirit of America with District Made Distillery (FKA One Eight Distilling)

Road Trip!

District Made Distillery (FKA One Eight Distilling) – Washington, D.C.

Join us on our Road Trip, visiting craft alcohol makers across America!

Today we’re meeting up with Alex Laufer, head distiller at District Made Distillery in Washington, DC. Alex spent years working in labs in the biotech industry before his passion for local spirits, beer, and wine led him and his former college roomate Sandy Wood to found One Eight Distilling, now known as District Made Distillery. Join us as we hear more about the joining of his passion and expertise.

“One Eight Distilling is named for Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution, which among other things provided for the establishment of a district to serve as the nation’s capital. This connection to history and tradition informs our founding values: we use local ingredients to create the bold flavors of our region for the people who take no shortcuts.”

Local spirits start with local ingredients.

We’re deeply committed to chasing the taste of the Mid-Atlantic.

We treasure the historical significance of using the same grains distillers used in the mid-Atlantic before our time and value organic farming practices that care for the future. This is our home, and we want you to find its spirit in every bottle.

We’re for the people who stand for what they believe, even if it’s not easy.

District Made Spirits are built from ingredients grown here by farmers we know and trust.

District Made Distillery

www.oneeightdistilling.com | www.districtmadespirits.com

Highlights

0:05 – Suzanne’s introduction

00:08 – Intro & Welcome

00:31 – One Eight Exterior Intro

01:26 – Mill Tour Begins

04:11 – Behind the Scenes with the Grain

05:01 – Tour Continues: The Stills

05:17 – Custom small batch Still

07:12 – Super Smooth Vodka Tasting

08:29 – Gin Tasting

10:30 – Get to know the spices

10:51 – Rye Tasting

13:54 – Closing & Thank You

14:15 – Outro

About Your Hosts

The Crafty Cask celebrates and supports craft alcohol makers through engaging consumer content, events, virtual tastings, and online education. We help craft enthusiasts drink better and craft makers market their brands better to build thriving small businesses that keep #TipplerNation drinking well!

Your hosts for this event, alongside the featured maker, are Suzanne Henricksen, Founder of The Crafty Cask and Evan Rothrock, sommelier, certified cider professional, mixologist, and bespoke wine tour guide.

Read the transcript

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Hi I’m Suzanne Henricksen, a researcher
and storyteller by trade, and a

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world explorer, drink local enthusiast, by heart.
I’m traveling the world to celebrate and

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share the people the process the stories
and the innovations behind craft alcohol

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and I can’t wait to share our amazing
finds with all of you

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So, let’s get drinking Crafty Cask style
Suzanne: Hello, hello Tippler Nation we just got

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on the road this morning from
Springfield, Massachusetts my parents

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house and head down to the DC area and
we are at ONE | EIGHT Distilling

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Suzanne: for those of you who have been following
us for a little while now you’ve

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probably seen hopefully you’ve seen some 

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of our virtual tastings 
with ONE | EIGHT Distilling

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down here in the Ivy City
Area of DC um and so we’ve done a couple

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of virtual tastings with them and have
totally fallen in love with not only

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their spirits but
their distiller and maker and kind of

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Co-owner here Alex Laufer as well um so
we’re gonna head on in this is the front

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right here they’re closed right now so
we kind of get a private experience so

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you can come on in with me

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[Upbeat Music]

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Suzanne: Smells so good in here!

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Alex: We are distilling on both stills…

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Alex: So really the smell for the most part is
the stillage coming off the column

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uh and that’s it’s cooking grain

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Alex: Process wise…start with milling *inaudible* with a sack of grain.

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Alex: And uh…we program what we want…

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what we overwatch
that will walk around to the mail

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they’ll
water over the flower to the masher.

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Alex: So we’re mashing three days a week
we’ve built two different mashers

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Suzanne: And so this is what we’re talking about, when we talk about like Grain-To-Glass

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Suzanne: Because..you know, a lot of, you know, a lot of distilleries, they craft, and craft different things

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Alex: Yup.

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Suzanne: But really like Grain-To-Glass…is, you know the farmers, you like go out there and you check on grain whenever you would want to.

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Suzanne: you know where its coming from! You are actually milling it, and kind of working with if yourself from that whole grain

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Suzanne: Kind of area, and then you do the whole process…

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Suzanne: And that’s a different level of dedication than…

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Alex: It’s different!

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Suzanne: Other…you know- it’s really it’s a really like
it’s a harder proccess!

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Suzanne: You have more equipment, you have more things to do

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Suzanne: So
um that’s why you know

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there’s all sorts of great approaches
within craft and Grain-To-Glass is kind

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of the end of the extreme spectrum

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Alex: Yeah

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Suzanne: And I guess like the only other thing you could be doing is growing the grain yourself…

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Alex: Right

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Evan: Seed to Glass!

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*laughter*

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Suzanne: If you’re a farmer full time, you probably don’t have time to actually distill…

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[Upbeat Music]

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Evan: It feels like Malted Rye is not
as common in distilate…

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Alex: No.

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Suzanne: Is there a reason for that?

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Alex: Uh…well malted barley tends to have a
higher level of

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Alex: enzymatic activity to break down the
starch from the sugar so you need less

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of it
also it’s just the flavor that we

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become used to I mean all Single Malt
right? I mean that’s that Malted Barley

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that’s a hundred percent, uh blended
whiskey’s coming from

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Ireland, and Scotland are predominantly Malt, but
they have other grains too and then

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Bourbon
and Dry Whiskey have

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generally used
Malted Barley. We’re obviously not the first to do Malted Rye…

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Now our Rye is 28% Malt…

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Evan: Okay..

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Alex: Uh…And then the bourbon is 18%…Malted Rye and Malted Barley

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Alex: but even the Vodka, even the Gin, even the
barrel Gin; they all have Malted Rye

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[Evan: Yeah, that’s very cool

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Alex: They’re MOSTLY Rye

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[Upbeat Music]

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Suzanne: So this is Malted?

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Alex: This is Malted…yeah

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Alex: I like in the Malted Barley

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you’re converting all ready to start
sugar so you’re getting a little more

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sweetness that’s not quite- I mean I’ll
eat handfuls of this, when we’re malting, we’ll dump it

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in the copper there

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Suzanne: Yeah it’s like, it’s like..

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Alex: It’s breakfast!

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Suzanne: It’s like cereal like….yeah

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Alex: Yeah

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Evan: Whole Grain Cheerios!

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Suzanne: yeah

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Alex: exactly

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Suzanne: Yeah, that’s good

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Alex: yeah yeah…
it’s a lovely product I really like it um…

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Alex: most of it, they they use
North Carolina grown grain in all of

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their products
but they occasionally have gotten dry

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from the same farm we get our Rye!

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Suzanne: Cool

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[Upbeat Music]

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Alex: So these are our new stills, uh, although
we do use

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Alex: three other stills, some regularity, um…

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Alex: As simple and straightforward as this little alembic

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Suzanne: Yeah.

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Alex: with such a beautiful still

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Suzanne: yeah

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Alex: it doesn’t have to be this fancy uh we put this on a hot plate

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Alex: We run water in and a line out, and that’s it
we’ll do uh for example while I was

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talking about that distilling that
cinnamon and basil you did it all on this..

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Alex: So it’s many batches but you know

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Alex: doesn’t have to be that fancy-

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Suzanne: so what do you say about, you know, because I feel like some distillers say like..

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Suzanne: ‘This creates a better flavor, a better like… and as soon as you start using automation you lose some of that

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Suzanne: So how do you like…how do you think about like the balance of like the art and the science, and like pros and cons?

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Alex: I will never attribute the flavor of one
process there’s so many steps

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Alex: um the still itself absolutely does contribute to flavor. Uh…and…

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Alex: you know you’re, how you run it, is gonna impact um…

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Suzanne: something like this takes a lot of
effort and energy and paying attention, right?

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Alex: Right, yeah. We have to pay a little more attention to that. Uh…

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when we’re running it and we don’t do it
all the time have a library of botanical

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distillates, that we’ve done on this just when we have that…those flavors ready to go

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Alex: Umm, uh, but really I think
the flavor inputs

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Alex: starches with the grain itself a little bit of water

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Alex: where the grain is grown…uh..

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Alex: a variety of grain and

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Alex: you know, go from there
how are we handling the grain how are we milling…

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Alex: How we bring it in, how we it out, you know.

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Alex: The fermentation conditions, the yeast strain…

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Alex: Big inputs on flavor…

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Suzanne: Yeah

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Alex: Then, you get to distill…um, and then if you’re talking about Whiskey…its the barrel

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Alex: And thats going to be a big big piece of it

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[Upbeat Music]

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Suzanne: Alex that’s a sipping Vodka!

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Alex: Right?! Yes…

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Suzanne: And those are like…I am not a Vodka girl and but I love ‘Sipping Vodkas’ like

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Suzanne: So, I’m strange in a sense like I pretty much never

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Suzanne: order vodka cocktails I just
don’t really care for it that much

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Suzanne: but if I find a vodka like sipping on it
I really enjoy that over a beer.

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Evan: so do you attribute that the flavor
to the use of the Malted Rye?

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Alex: yeah the Malted Rye is a smaller component in
the batch, but the Rye itself…

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Evan: Good Rye!

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Alex: The Corn…is going to give a little sweetness…
there’s not too much corn but there is…

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Alex: about…trying to remember off the top of my head…28%?

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Alex: I sort of uh

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Alex: eyeball it at one point I set these up so that they

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would be representative of the batch bit-

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Suzanne: oh that’s fun! that’s a great idea

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Alex: So, the corn, rye, and then at the top just a little Malted Rye

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Suzanne: that’s a great idea to do that, I love that.

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Alex: My inspiration was twofold one I
wanted to go

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true to the roots of vodka and you’re going
back before potato before corn came to

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Europe and it was grains like Rye

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Suzanne: the mouth feel of your few spirits, man. I just don’t understand it I don’t know

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Alex: That’s that technicna-filter

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Suzanne: Yeah, like I just have a hard time on like…why aren’t other distillers doing that? That mouth feel is so fun!

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[Upbeat Music]

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Alex: So, okay. I filled this off the top it’s
been sitting for a little while

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it’s probably even higher proof than 88
because yeah we’ve got some separation

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occurring even in a tank that size um

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and again not filtered so…

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Evan: does the lack of filtration uh,

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Evan: encourage or like allow for
more stratification in the-

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Evan: Uh in the proof, from the top to the bottom?

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Alex: No uh…

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Alex: I mean we would mix the tank before we started filling it, and that would take

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care of that now the uh

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Alex: lack of filtration really is going to
allow

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Alex: some sediments from the botanicals
so after distillation, some of those oils will basically solidify.

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Suzanne: so it kind of falls on solutions

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Suzanne: I mean I’m super picky about Gin like, I prefer Gin

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In my martinis I prefer Gin to
Vodka but

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Suzanne: if they’re super Juniper heavy like I
have a hard time with that they taste

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like a Christmas tree and so I’m kind of
picky about them and your Gin is

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Suzanne: absolutely one of my favorites

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Alex: that’s definitely higher than 88.

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Alex: I should have mixed it up yeah yeah I
think so this is not how it’s going to be

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Alex: I mean it’s not so so different

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Evan: it’s not….102

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Alex: right, yeah yeah not the barrel-

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Evan: But it does feel like it’s got a *clears throat*
yeah

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Alex: So yeah I mean I just really stuck to
that top yeah

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Alex: these are some of them…they should be all of the botanicals…

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Suzanne: Yeah, I was wondering-

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Alex: this one was still…coming from

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Alex: Ohio…but now the same farm Lands End is growing the Appalachian spice

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Suzanne: Spice Bush?

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Alex: The American Spice Bush is
the other name so,

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Evan: but allspice…?

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Alex: So these, are our little dried out

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Suzanne: Appalachian Allspice, though!

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Alex: But, if you want to check it out

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Alex: I’d say break them up like this a little
bit okay

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Alex: uh it’s a little dry but
still getting this nice flavor, nice aroma…

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Suzanne: this seems unique too, Grains Of Paradise

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Suzanne: I don’t feel like I see that
in gin super often

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Alex: yeah, I mean it’s Grains Of Paradise come from Africa

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Alex: uh, and very peppery widely used

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Alex: pre-exploration to the Americas
and then the chile took over and you

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don’t see or hear about Grains Of
Paradise very much, commonly used in Hefeweizens

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Alex: even Blue Moon has Grains Of Paradise on their-

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[Upbeat Music]

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Alex: the cask strength Rye came out uh last uh…September

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Suzanne: your Rye is already
pretty high proof isn’t it?

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Alex: it’s 95 okay and our Bourbon is 94. so yeah up there
and then the Bottled in Bond Bourbon

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Alex: which yeah sold out very very quickly
came out in January

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Alex: So, yeah 144 bottles total on the Bourbon
and 186 on the Rye.

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Suzanne: the flavor of the Rye though comes through crazily on that yeah

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Alex: and again um

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Suzanne: there’s the like the malty, creamy

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Suzanne: like it’s not like, I feel like a lot of
times past strength is just like hot

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Suzanne: enough you can’t get past it and you
can’t get flavor and that is like

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Suzanne: flavorful you know make a beautiful impression

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00:11:53,760 –> 00:11:58,184
Suzanne: we’re constantly telling people, ’cause cask strength but like the…whatever and we’re like

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00:11:58,184 –> 00:12:00,358
Suzanne: I really believe like higher proof

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00:12:00,358 –> 00:12:04,160
Suzanne: is better for cocktails like I just I
just feel like it shows up more it holds

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00:12:04,160 –> 00:12:07,680
its own it doesn’t get lost with all the
other like flavors in there and that

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00:12:07,680 –> 00:12:10,612
would make a beautiful Manhattan or Old Fashion

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00:12:11,520 –> 00:12:15,760
Alex: Our Standard Bourbon is a blend of
both the styles that we distill so we

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00:12:15,760 –> 00:12:18,720
Alex: distill high Rye and we distill a wheated Bourbon

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00:12:19,360 –> 00:12:22,720
Alex: after aging separately we blend them back

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00:12:23,360 –> 00:12:27,600
and so we make a four grain Bourbon. So the Hickory King corn that white

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00:12:28,320 –> 00:12:30,080
kerneled corn I was talking about
earlier

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00:12:30,960 –> 00:12:33,920
that heirloom that has grown for us on
all three farms now

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00:12:35,600 –> 00:12:38,880
and uh…Rye, Malted Rye

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00:12:39,520 –> 00:12:43,840
Wheat and Malted Barley
but this one was only a single barrel

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and it was a High Rye so there’s
none of the Wheat and there’s none of

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00:12:48,080 –> 00:12:51,120
the Malted Barley. We had a really fun

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00:12:51,120 –> 00:12:54,240
virtual release party for this back in January

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Suzanne: Fun!

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00:12:54,800 –> 00:12:56,160
Alex: Um, we had

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00:12:56,800 –> 00:13:00,320
there’s a local group called the Whiskey Library of DC so we had one of a couple of

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00:13:00,320 –> 00:13:03,280
Alex: those guys on and we had

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00:13:04,080 –> 00:13:08,160
Alex: um there’s a fantastic uh bar in DC called

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00:13:08,160 –> 00:13:10,000
Alex: ‘Jack Rose’ uh it’s

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00:13:10,800 –> 00:13:12,880
Alex: a Temple to Whiskey…to all kinds of
Whiskey

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00:13:14,320 –> 00:13:18,080
Alex: you want to taste something really
unique that’s where to go

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Alex: and so Bill from there came oh well he
didn’t come…he was at his house we were

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Alex: doing it all virtually uh and yeah we just

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00:13:27,520 –> 00:13:29,760
Alex: had a good time talking about it how we
make it and

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00:13:31,280 –> 00:13:34,720
Alex: also you know it’s
the Standard Release of Bourbon

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00:13:35,360 –> 00:13:38,720
Alex: started at two years old
and now our Standard Bourbon is about

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00:13:38,720 –> 00:13:42,320
Alex: three and a half uh the most recent batch that we uh we

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00:13:42,320 –> 00:13:45,654
Alex: just bottled last week this would be
three and a half um…

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00:13:45,654 –> 00:13:48,152
Suzanne: two years is the definition for
straight?

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Alex: yep exactly

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Alex: and then um Bottle and Bond has to be 4 and this over 5

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Suzanne: Well, we are so grateful for your time and

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we you know we already we already knew
we loved your spirits but it was so fun to come back and try-

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00:14:01,720 –> 00:14:03,177
Evan: try a few more that we
haven’t tried

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Suzanne: to see your production facility be here in person, instead of just seeing pictures of it!

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00:14:08,102 –> 00:14:09,827
Suzanne: That sure was fun, so thank you

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00:14:10,334 –> 00:14:23,300
[Upbeat Music]

Until next time… Drink craft and drink the world. Cheers!

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