View Full Version : Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky
I recently found this new single malt whisky that is made in the Virginia mountains using traditional floor malting like they do in Scotland. Where it differs with Scotch whisky is that they don't use peat to dry the malt but they use apple wood. I am going out to visit the distillery tomorrow where I hope to get a sample.
I have another American single malt in my bunker, St. George's. I'm not sure if it's actually floor malted, but the malt is smoked with beech and alder woods, rather than peat. While I don't consider it a daily drinker, it's a nice treat - my bottle has a rather surprising cocoa note to it.
Engh. A real honeyed raw-whiskey edge, and wood tannin. This has the same problem of wines whose producers use wood chips for oak flavor. It doesn't integrate.
This is a fascinating project, a barley malt whiskey with some serious terroir. But the (cash-necessary?) shortcut to market does not befit it.
Someone may need to talk me in off the ledge on this, but I think there is something fundamentally wrong with American micro-distillers trying to make malt whiskey. Am I crazy?
Not where this topic is concerned. :grin:
What are they thinking?
I can imagine that maybe a rigorous market analysis pointed in this direction, but I don't care. It's still wrong in some greater sense.
They only way it would make sense to me is if the proprietors are Scots.
If they make decent Whiskey I have absolutely no problem with it. On the other hand If they make crap and charge a lot for it...
What DB said. There's nothing wrong with them trying, and Wasmund's distillate has as much or more terroir as any whiskey in the world. But it's a pretty dear tariff for such a raw-tasting final product.
Any new distillery faces the challenge of balancing the need to age its distillate with the need to generate revenue. I suspect, based purely on my non-scientific gut feeling, that there is a part of the market that will pay more for underaged malt whiskey than it will for very young bourbon. Come to think of it, the market will generally pay more for older malt whiskey than for older bourbon, too. That, plus less complicated mashing, may explain why new small-scale distilleries tend to focus on malt whiskey. And it's tough to blame them for selling at least some of the distillate young, to make a little money. One only hopes that by doing so they don't irreparably tarnish the image of their product. Serious enthusiasts (like us, of course) may understand that today's nasty two-year-old spirit can become tomorrow's sublime eight-year-old spirit, but there is a risk that the distillery will get a reputation for making "bad whiskey" based on selling whiskey before it's ready.
Another reason, which may have been what you had in mind when you mentioned the "less complicated mashing" is that micro-distillers can draw on the experience of micro-brewers in making and working with a malt mash and, for that matter, the mechanics of separation and so forth. Until you hop it, making beer and making malt whisky are the same process. I know of at least one micro-distiller that is simply acquiring its "beer" from a local micro-brewer.
In my beer-focused days (and still) I can't count the times I would tell whisky snobs this very thing - they who looked down on beer needed to know that their fave drink was just a concentrated form of it (sans hops because the alcohol preserved it, you didn't the hops). Somehow it didn't seem to convince many of them, so rooted are "les idees recues"...
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