SPVAQ32021 - 30

Jim Beam or Maker's Mark. But
craft distillers could put their own
marks on this popular whiskey.
Which invites the question: since
distillers must follow certain
guidelines to make a spirit that
can legally be called bourbon, how
can one distillery distinguish its
product from others?
Ingredients.
The distinctions of each
ingredient affect the final product.
Mash bill: The requirement
to use at least 51 percent corn
in the mash leaves the other 49
percent up for grabs. A distiller
could use more corn, wheat, barley
and/or rye. Like grapes used for
making wine, grains come in many
varieties, and local crops have
their own " terroir. "
Ragged Branch Distillery
grows its own grains in the
Virginia piedmont just outside of
Charlottesville.
Bourbons at Reservoir Distilling
in Richmond start with corn
from Renwood Farms in Charles
City. " We do not use malted
barley, which is usually found in
most bourbon mash bills, " says
Carpenter. " Instead, we focus
on showcasing individual grains
and how they interact with each
other. "
Ironclad Small Batch Bourbon
is made with Virginia corn, wheat
and rye along with malted barley.
" We opt for 70% corn, 20%
wheat, and 10% malted barley, "
says Bill Karlson, cofounder and
CEO of KO Distilling. " We use
100% Virginia-grown grains in
our Bare Knuckle Bourbon, and
our goal is to handcraft spirits
that showcase the quality of local
agriculture. "
Water: Water affects all stages
of distilling. In Kentucky, distillers
value the limestone-filtered water.
The natural filtration process has
removed iron, an element that
can negatively interact with oak
30 SPIRITED VIRGINIA
during aging, as well as other
impurities. Limestone-filtered
water also contains minerals that
play nicely with the yeast during
fermentation and contribute to
the final taste. Waters elsewhere
have different properties, for
different effects.
" Our flavor profile comes from
our well water on the farm, " says
Alex Toomy, cofounder of Ragged
Branch, in addition to " the grain
that we grow and the minerals in
the soil. "
Yeast: This single ingredient,
essential to making alcohol,
can influence the flavors and
complexity of the final product.
Some distillers use their own
proprietary strains, carefully
nurtured over the years.
Toomy says master distiller
Dave Pickerel, their consultant
in establishing Ragged Branch
Distillery, gave them the " formula
and yeast that goes all the way
back to Stitzel-Weller in the
1800s. "
KO uses a neutral distiller's
yeast, which produces alcohol
while letting other flavors, such as
from the grains and barrel aging,
dominate.
Reservoir uses a distinctive
open-top fermentation process.
" The open-top fermentation
allows a small percentage of wild
yeast as well as yeast from our
neighbors to make an appearance, "
says Carpenter. And as a resident
of Richmond's Scott's Addition
neighborhood, Reservoir's
" neighbors " include eight
breweries, three cideries, a winery
and a meadery!
Distillation and other
processes: From equipment to
distiller's prowess and myriad
elements between, the distillation
process affects the end result.
The most significant factor
making A. Smith Bowman

SPVAQ32021

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