Spirits Writer

I don’t get to do it that often, but that’s just a sign I need to pitch more spirits stories. The latest occasion was an assignment from Willy Week for this week’s Spirits Guide (though why I’m not listed in the guide’s contributors, I’ll take as an egregious slight) with the task: uncover the den of moonshiners and bootleggers, minus the bootlegging. I’m happy with the feedback I’ve received, even if much of it centered around, “Are you back in town?”

As I’d commented to the fine gent, who shall remain nameless for legal purposes, who poured me his homemade brandy, grappa, and more, I don’t catch myself drinking much brandy, grappa, and more. First and foremost I’m a bourbon lover, with other whisk(e)ys rounding out the bulk of my spirits consumption, and of course mixed cocktails. When I drank to drink in my youth, I went from silly stuff (Rusty Nails and whiskey sours to quote-unquote mature cocktails that I still enjoy such as Moscow Mules or Dark and Stormy’s, but mostly just vodka-soda with lime. There’s a no bullshit factor with vodka-soda.

But like I said, my heart lies with the yellow spirits and I loved researching the first story I’d done on ’em for Draft about distilling beer into whiskey. It’s an issue I revisited on my old blog, Distill My Beating Heart about Sam Adams’ beerified whiskeys. Most people have never heard of what is essentially hopped whiskey. Perhaps most people wouldn’t enjoy them. But I do. And I still think it’ll turn into a bigger segment of the craft spirits and, synergistically, craft brewing world.

Turning Beer into Booze

I only knew of Charbay Distillery since they make the best infused vodkas–flavors like green tea–so while I don’t recall how I first heard about their experimental whiskey made from distilled pilsner, I knew I had to try it and get the story (for DRAFT, vol 5.5, 2010). Days after reaching out to them, I found myself on their Napa Valley property, talking to the father-son duo of Miles and Marko Karakasevic, master distillers, and, yes, sampling an array of beers spun into golden whiskeys (and some white ones).