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Issue 35 - Mixing it up with George Washington

Whisky Magazine Issue 35
November 2003


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Mixing it up with George Washington

The distillery at Woodford Reserve is like nowhere else on earth

This is truly surreal. Kentucky's youngest master distiller, Chris Morris, is standing over a single barrel which is full of a liquid that looks like concrete mix and has the consistency of gruel. His mentor and boss Lincoln Henderson is pouring a large bucket of icein to the mix.

And Chris is wielding what looks like two bits of wood stuck together – and indeed, that's exactly what it is. He plunges it in to the mess and starts to stir frantically, pausing only long enough to inform us that his paddle is the only one of its type to be made this century.

We're not surprised.

We're standing in the shade in a small courtyard between the maturing warehouses at Labrot & Graham and the dinkiest bottling and labelling plant you're ever likely to see. It gives new meaning to the expression ‘small batch.'

At the end of the courtyard is a disconnected pot still, just to remind us what these gentlemen are meant to be doing here.

A small group has gathered now, and is offering advice.

“This better work,” says Chris.

“It'll work,” says Lincoln with admirable confidence. And as if to convince himself he says it again.

Someone produces two containers bubbling with yeast. More ice is added while Chris starts to turn red with stirring. And all the time myself and London Telegraph journalist Andrew Catchpole stare at the scene in disbelief. Andrew, bless him, is determined to remain focused and continues to ask questions.

“How many people actually work at the distiller...

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