Creativity and collaboration. Inspiration and expertise. And malted barley. Lots of malted barley.
Turns out, that was a winning combination for our first release, Batch No. 1.
Small batch whiskey is a term that gets thrown around a lot. Add in malt to the moniker, and that’s fodder for quite the conversation. (More on that later.)
Beneath these words lies the complexity of what made that whiskey, and how. As lovers of the process, conversation and good whiskey, our goal is threefold:
Make great whiskey
Share the experience with good people
AND demystify how it’s done
Join us on the journey!
As our founder, Phil Downer, loves to quote from David Byrne of Talking Heads:
“You might ask yourself. Well, how did I(we) get here?”
Phil Downer, Founder / Collaborator / Maker
Our small batch malt whiskey (It’s made in the U.S. thus, the “e” vs. “whisky”) was inspired by Phil’s heritage, when Irish and Canadian Whiskeys were passed among family and friends to warm up cold Newfoundland nights.
Now, decades later, Phil is near completion of his Brewing and Distilling Diploma at the famed Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and exploring a unique twist on the long-standing small batch tradition: Forming distillery partnerships and collaborating through with them on production.
The Wanderback Approach
Partner with best-in-class distillers
Select barley malts and yeasts through focused trial and error
Create a mash recipe
Make mash and distill at partner distillery
Bring the barrels home to Hood River to age, finish, blend and bottle
Batch No. 1 is Born
With a bit of ingenuity, educated insight and good luck, Phil teamed up with Westland Distillery to bring his first batch of whiskey to fruition.
Here’s what he chose for the Batch #1 grain bill, and why. (More on beer vs whiskey mash process later.)
Batch No. 1’s Magical Mash
88% Pale malt Washington State Select® 2-Row Malt
This is a Washington-grown malt workhorse that provides a great base flavor
8% Crystal 60L
Creates a Red/amber hue, a pronounced malty, toffee, caramel flavor and a clean, smooth finish
2% Pale chocolate from Thomas Fawcett & Sons
Adds a dark brown color and a mild chocolate/coffee flavor
2% Munich from Great Western – Gives it a robust, rich, malt flavor
We were honored to learn that Phil’s very first whiskey earned Double Gold recognition from the American Distillers Institute (ADI). Here’s what ADI had to say about how it tastes:
“Batch No. 1 (which has notes of toffee, hazelnut, all spice, sandalwood and star fruit) has a “very nice balance” with a “long finish”.
We felt that was a little bit stiff. Here’s our take on the taste:
Rich with a touch of malty sweetness, Batch No. 1 has a long finish that’s like the glowing coals of a warm campfire. ROAD TRIP!
And so, now our story begins. We’d love to share the journey with you from here. Join us as we meet new distillery friends, make more whiskey and play everywhere in between.
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