As some of you may have seen, we released our first 4 year Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey a couple days ago! You should come to the tasting room and get some. It’s incredible. You can read more about why this is so exciting and hard to achieve here. https://www.bevnet.com/news/spirits/2018/spirit-works-distillery-releases-bottled-bond-straight-rye-whiskey/
BUT instead of going on and on about it…I’m going to tell you a story about the day I made it.
On Dec 12th, 2013 I came in just before 8 am to start a mash for this batch of Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey. After filling the mashtun with our base level of water I did a check of the mill and mashtun and I thought I was ready to go. Carefully maneuvering our forklift, I placed our rye mash bill of 70% Rye berries and 30% specialty brewing malts above the hopper of the mill. Next step is to turn the auger on, then the mill, then let the grain into the mill. All went smoothly. But, as I was getting ready to go up and make sure the grain/now flour was going into the mashtun as I had planned, I noticed a little bit of flour on the ground out of place. Then I looked up. Oh no! The feed tube from the auger was left (obviously, not by me;) out of place from cleaning the day before and there was now a full stream of flour literally dumping onto all the pipes of the mash tun and the floor. Quick thinking, quick thinking — I ran up and lifted the feed tube into its housing. About this time Lauren, Tasting Room Manager at the time and now Head Distiller, walked into the distillery. She always had exceptional an eye for times that I needed help in production and she came right up looking at my predicament. We had quick chat as to the best way to clean up flour – decided that we should get as much up while it’s dry as possible and then follow up with a general scrub and hose down and got to work (did I mention most of a distiller’s job is to clean)?
Now, don’t worry folks. The actual amount lost in the minute of panic did almost nothing to the batch size and we got our normal two and a little bit full 53-gallon barrels worth of whiskey at the end. And it’s good whiskey at that. I tell this story because who really wants to hear how amazing we are over and over again? The fact is we’re running a small business that is highly technical, operates heavy machinery, and super specialized and while we are prepared for all situations, you can never predict the future, or even what’s going to come up 10 minutes from now. Now, I can tell you that this specific misplaced feed tube never happened again, but there’s always something and that something is what makes running a distillery a challenge but also good fun. We stick to some of the highest safety standards in the industry so there’s never been a problem there. But yes, sometimes the scales end up on kilograms instead of pounds, a pump decides to crap out at that exact wrong moment, or a barrel starts incessantly leaking and what do we do? We fix it. Because we can and that’s what we do. We’re regular folks just like you and we all want to operate on plan A, but the trick is to operate at plan F without being phased. Did I mention I love this job? And did I mention you must come to the distillery to try this Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey. I’m really, really, really proud of how it has come out;)