Q&A with Westland Distillery (Seattle, USA)

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Westland Distillery in Seattle produce single malt whiskey with a “grain-forward house style”. The distillery has three whiskies in its core range: American Oak, Peated Malt and Sherry Wood. 

In this Q&A Matt Hofmann, the Master Distiller at Westland Distillery, answers my questions about Westland’s “grain forward” American whiskey. Matt kindly provided these answers in August 2016.  Continue reading “Q&A with Westland Distillery (Seattle, USA)”

Bushmills 21 year old

Type: Single malt whiskey

Origin: Ireland 

ABV: 40% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4.5

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Baker’s Bourbon aged 7 years (batch B-90-001)

Type: Bourbon

Origin: Kentucky, USA  

ABV: 53.5% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4

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The Big Black Cock Whiskey

Type: Single malt whiskey

Origin: Queensland, Australia 

ABV: 43% 

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Bearded Lady Bourbon

Recommended use: Serve neat/with ice

Malt Mileage Rating: stars 4

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Type: Bourbon 

Origin: Indiana, United States 

ABV: 40% Continue reading “Bearded Lady Bourbon”

Jim Beam Signature Craft 12 year old

Recommended use: Serve neat/with ice

Malt Mileage Rating: stars 4

Reaction: 🤠

Type: Bourbon 

Origin: Kentucky, United States

ABV: 43%

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Tullamore Dew 12 year old Special Reserve

Type: Blended whiskey 

Origin: Ireland 

ABV: 40% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4

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Let’s talk about using SMALL BARRELS to age whisky: Does size matter?

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Casks that are used to mature whisky come in all kinds of sizes – you’ve got 500 litre sherry butts and port pipes, 320 litre puncheons, 250 litre hogsheads, 195 litre bourbon barrels and 80 litre quarter casks, among others. Whisky is usually aged in large casks, and used bourbon barrels are very popular. 

Fill a small barrel with whisky, and there is a greater ratio of wood to whisky than there would be in larger barrels. The more maturing whisky touches the wood surface of oak barrels, the more quickly it can react with the wood and extract its flavours.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask, as the name obviously suggests, is made from whisky that has spent some time aging in quarter casks (after being transferred from standard ex-bourbon barrels). According to Laphroaig, using the smaller casks creates a ‘soft and velvety edge’ in the whisky.

Used correctly, quarter casks can help create great whisky. Laphroaig Quarter Cask is proof of that!

But, can a cask or barrel be too small to age whisky and just make whisky taste “woody” rather than “mature”? Continue reading “Let’s talk about using SMALL BARRELS to age whisky: Does size matter?”

Let’s talk about HEAT and aging whisky

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As you lovingly gaze at your 18 year old Scotch whisky, have you ever wondered whether that Scotch can be produced in less time than 18 years?

Whisky is thought to get most of its flavour from interacting with the oak casks in which it ages. There may be a few ways to get a maturing whisky to increase its uptake of wood flavours from these oak casks, such as by using:

  • Heat;
  • Small barrels;
  • 1st-fill barrels or new barrels, instead of 2nd– or 3rd fill barrels.

In this post, I’ll just take a look at heat.  

Continue reading “Let’s talk about HEAT and aging whisky”

What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.    

The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.

Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.

What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?

Continue reading “What the heck is “moonshine”? A look at Melbourne Moonshine, Crazy Uncle Moonshine and Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine”