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Issue 135 - Alternative Grains

Whisky Magazine Issue 135
April 2016


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Alternative Grains

How to make ‘that' difference in whiskey production

This is a story that you can appreciate if you're a Nirvana fan or an REM fan or a Lou Reed fanatic. This is a story you can appreciate if you've ever liked a film by Todd Haynes, Darren Aronofsky or, for that matter, Quentin Tarantino. This is a story about high-impact alternative ideas which, in our modern world, can easily seep into the mainstream.

If you're reading this magazine, chances are you already know that Bourbon became widely produced when American pioneers headed west. They were obliged to distill corn because they no longer had easy access to the rye and apples that were abundant on the east coast. In essence, Bourbon was the first alternative whiskey. In today's distilling world, pioneering is more a matter of ideology than geography. And with only their creativity to limit them, distillers are venturing into unchartered territory with gusto.

To be sure, it's easier for a distillery to experiment with unconventional grains if it's been around long enough to have an aged whiskey on the market. Name recognition is everything in this game. After all, a consumer has to have a certain level of trust if he's going to invest in an unusual product.

There were only about 50 boutique distilleries in the USA when High West opened in Utah in 2006. Owner and distiller David Perkins's first products were made with sourced whiskeys, but today he's releasing plenty of his own hooch, including Campfire, a blend of Bourbon, rye and (wait for it…) peated malt. He's ...

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