A miseducation by Lauren Patz
One of the most exciting aspects of distilling at a craft distillery is the opportunity to work outside the constraints of convention, push the boundaries of the industry’s current scope and create beautiful, unique, if at times misunderstood spirits. I find craft distillation to be an exercise in both science as well as art and typically more successful when there is some structure in place for experimentation. The most-clear set of guidelines come from the Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau or TTB whom have a standard of identity for spirit types. As they say you have to know the rules to break them.
Our Triticale whiskey follows the recognized definitions of whiskey in its process; mash bill percentage (minimum 51% Triticale), distillation requirements (below 160 proof), and aging parameters (I won’t bore you with these; P) but it diverges from tradition in its raw material. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat (TRITicum) and rye (SeCALE). As a whiskey distiller working with wheat, rye, barely, and corn is common. You learn to recognize and appreciate the unique flavor of each. Triticale is something entirely different from its origins. Breed as a nutrient dense, high yielding, disease and environmental tolerant grain in the 19th century it has yet to find its footing in the modern-day grain market and is often considered stock feed.
While conducting market research I was able to find and try several expressions of Triticale distillate. I found the combination of fragrant fruity floral (wheat) and rich spice (rye) fascinating and inspiring.
When we first started looking into alternative grains for a specialty whiskey program I knew I wanted to make a Triticale Whiskey and was lucky enough to find a local farm growing some, Front Porch Farms out of Healdsburg. They only had enough to supply us with the raw material for half a batch (1000lbs) so Triticale 001 is a single barrel release, available only through our Tasting Room.
We have been so pleased by the results of this project we put down another four barrels of Triticale Whiskey ready in 2-3 years!