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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    110

    New from West Virginia

    Hello.

    I joined a while back but haven't made an introduction.

    I'm the head distiller and partner for a small, craft distillery in West Virginia: Smooth Ambler Spirits. We make a variety of products including vodka, gin, white whiskey and are currently aging 5 different types of whiskey (mostly bourbon) in everything from 5 to 53 gallon barrels. We do it all from whole grain to finished bottled product in house. We have both a Christian Carl pot still/hybrid column, and a Vendome Pot Still. We've also toyed with the idea of buying brokered bourbon. However, you can be sure, that whatever we do, we'll be open and honest with the folks here (and everywhere) and not try to market a crazy story.

    I'm not going to come on here to pimp my products (other than the intro) or act like I know everything. I do hope that I get to learn more about what you like and don't like and what motivates you with bourbon. I've been trying to read up in my free time, if there's such a thing as free time.

    I'm a fan of forums in general, so I'm glad to be on board.

    Best,

    John Little
    VP, Head Distiller
    Smooth Ambler Spirits

  2. #2
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Just East of the Big Chicken, GA
    Posts
    6,027

    Thumbs up Re: New from West Virginia

    Welcome aboard. It's always great when ya'll in the biz jump in. I hope you post often, and enjoy your time here. I was looking at your website, and it looks like you have a cool operation. Looks like you're doing everything in the process. Great! Particularly like hearing about your forays into Bourbon.

    Again, Welcome!



    PS: I think it would be cool to have regularly scheduled Distiller's Roundtables with all you distillery guys, in it's own special place on the forum, so you guys can banter back and forth on what you're doing, experiencing, trying, etc. Let us laymen be flies on the walls and listen in. And, ask a few dumb questions, too!
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  3. #3
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Northern Indiana
    Posts
    1,661

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Thanks for stopping by, and I second Joe's comments about a distiller's area. I think a designated time on the chat would be really cool if the timing could be cooridinated and the gentlemen in the business were willing.

  4. #4
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    1,509

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Welcome John! I agree on the roundtable thing too....could be a great chance for us newer guys to learn more about the entire process.
    Jack
    GBS Member #3 (Sorry Dawn!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Pieface
    I think i'm god but I'll get a confirmation and go from there

  5. #5
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Reston, VA
    Posts
    365

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Hello John, and welcome. I debated posting this but figured if you didn't want feedback, you wouldn't have identified yourself. I have tried your gin at a tasting earlier this year, and frankly was a little disappointed- especially having grown up in WV I was excited to see a distiller had set up shop. If my memory is correct, the nose was pretty heavy and had some unique notes to it, the botanicals were a bit overpowering, and it lacked the smooth, clean taste I prefer in gin. Now, the tasting was straight spirits only, so if I ever find it again at a bar I would love to try it in a properly mixed martini. And don't worry, I still look forward to trying your whiskey products as they come out.

  6. #6
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    442

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Welcome John! Always great to see another producer join the ranks. My father hails from "West-By-Gawd-Virginia", so I'll be eager to check out your distillates.
    Mat Garretson
    HIGH WEST DISTILLERY

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    110

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Happyhour: We love getting feedback. Negative feedback is always a bit disheartening because we pour so much time, energy, and money into the business. Two things I always try to think about: 1. Everyone blowing smoke up you butt doesn't make you better. 2. Half the people I know don't like Pepsi (or any other product). Making a product that's subject to personal tastes is always difficult.

    Regarding your gin comments:
    Thanks for commenting....it's valuable and appreciated. I'm not trying to argue only to give you my observations. We usually hear quite the opposite. We only bottle at 80 proof, which as you know is pretty light for gin. We also use vapor infusion, so our botanical load is also pretty light. Many reviews say that it's a nice entry into gin versus some other products because of these two points. But it points to my comments earlier about each consumer having their own experience. If we hear that it's too light for some people and that it's too heavy for others, we have a hard time adjusting to both of those view points versus if we only heard one side of that argument. Am I making sense or is this clear as mud?

    Regarding a clean palate, I do agree that it's different. Our somewhat neutral base is our vodka, which is the only vodka I know of in the world that's made from a bourbon grain bill (60% corn, 20% wheat, 20% malted barley) so even after reaching 190 proof and some carbon filtration, our vodka (and therefore gin base) still has some of that sweetness from the grain. I think it's what draws many people to our gin. It reminds some experienced reviewers of Genever gin.

    If you are ever in the area, please come see us at the distillery. We'd love to have you and hopefully, change your opinion of our product. If not, we'll make you a drink with somebody else's product.

    Oh, I'd love to do the distiller's corner. Count me in!

    John

  8. #8
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    110

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Oh...I forgot to comment on the other posters. Thanks for the warm welcome. I'll try to add in when I think it's appropriate. But if I can answer any questions, please let me know.

    Thanks folks!

    John

  9. #9
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Reston, VA
    Posts
    365

    Re: New from West Virginia

    John, I don't consider it arguing, I wouldn't be on this forum if I didn't like talking about liquor! interesting note about your base spirit, the guy running the tasting didn't have that info, and he is usually very through about that type if thing. I went back to see if I had tasting notes, and I only had a couple. It didn't seem to be overly heavy on the juniper, which fits into your comments; and I had that there was distinct banana on the nose. Now, keep in mind that for tasting purposes these samples were all at room temperature and undiluted; thus my comment that if I find it available at a restaurant or bar I will certainly give it a try in a martini. Unless something is truly horrible, I usually give it at least two tries before giving up on it. I would absolutely love to come visit sometime. Not that I will necessarily wait for it, but when do you anticipate having your aged whiskey ready?

  10. #10
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Reston, VA
    Posts
    365

    Re: New from West Virginia

    Hey John- just checked out your website- the "where to buy" feature is fantastic! I am familiar with a number of the restaurants listed; the next time I visit one I will order up and let you know how the second impression is.

 

 

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