You are currently viewing the International Edition. You can also switch to the Hong Kong Edition.
Tuesday 30 June 2015
Curtis McMillan
The views expressed in db Reader do not represent the views of the drinks business.

Fishing for something good in micro whiskey

13th December, 2012 by Curtis McMillan

Growing up my dad told me “don’t say anything at all if you have nothing nice to say”.

This message has stuck with me, and I use it when I write.

If you have seen more than three of my articles you can tell all of them are positive. This may sound like I’m just trying to keep the brands happy, but in truth I’m only covering things that I like.

I get lots of samples from people that taste appalling and I simply choose to say nothing at all. It is because of this line in the sand that I have kept away from writing about micro distilleries.

You see, in American in the last five years we have had an increase in micro distilleries. A micro distillery is a distillery that is much smaller than a traditional distillery. Most of them sell a gin or vodka to make money and then tinker with bourbon and other whiskey.

When I say tinker it is not a good thing; to me the art of making good whiskey is not a side job but a full time investment. Due to this I have waited a year to get the right funding for my own distillery. I wanted to make sure that when I create whiskey it’s evident in the quality that we don’t tinker.

The issue with most micro distilleries is they are cookie cutter for the most part. You can see the hopes and dreams of people rolling off the assembly lines of still manufacturer’s like Bavarian Holstein, and Vendome. In the end most young whiskey entrepreneurs don’t understand the hard work and science needed to make a distillery work. At the end of the day even the consumer thinks running a whiskey distillery is a bed of roses. Trust me it’s not.

After hard back-breaking days of manual labour we are forced to play the role of salesman and go out into the world trying to convince people why they should buy us over brands that spend millions of dollars in advertising.

With that being said, it’s time to get to the point of all this. When I started to build my business plan for my own distillery I was looking around at the other micro distilleries to see and taste what they had up their sleeve. Most are 10 years away from being drinkable and most don’t understand that people associate spirits with a memory. This memory can be the brand their dad drank or a group of friends playing cards and drinking a fine single malt.

I understood from day one that this association was important for a brand, but it would mean nothing if the juice in the bottle was undrinkable. So, as I looked for people who got the idea right, I found Dry Fly distillery in Washington. The website and marketing where clean and the idea was easy to get.

Growing up in northern Colorado hunting and fishing myself I understood the feeling they wanted to showcase to the consumer. I was already intrigued and became even more so after hearing rumours of tours in the distillery with fly fishing trips. This act of blending together great spirit with a great adventure would implant something that none of the industrial distilleries would ever be able to showcase.

In the end the only real question was: Is Dry Fly just gimmick, or is the juice drinkable?

Kent Fleischmann, left, Don Poffenroth and Patrick Donovan of Dry Fly Distillery at the company’s headquarters in Spokane, Wash. AP Photo

I was unable to cover this until a few days ago when I got a few samples from Kent, the owner. I was shocked at the grain choice and using such high proof whiskey. I found it to be more than first-class and would recommend it over most industrial whiskey.

It’s not just good enough to build bourbon in today’s market; you need new grains and you need to be creative with your wood. His Triticale hybrid wheat single grain was the kind of new discovery that you enjoy with the same awe and wonder as I did catching my first fish off the fly fishing rod.

It’s hard to believe that Kent is part of the micro distillery movement with such good whiskey in his portfolio. I can say with total certainty that his juice is worth it. I hope other young whiskey micro distilleries can take a lead out of his play book and I know for my own distillery I hope to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

If that's interesting, how about these?

Beck's forced to issue $50 refunds

Anyone that has bought a Beck's beer in the past four years could be entitled more...

Prince Charles enjoys Scotch tour

HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, paid a visit to a number of Scotch whisky more...

Red wine could help fight depression

A component found in the skins of red grapes could be used to treat depression more...

E-commerce, Sales & Marketing Executive

London, United Kingdom

Competitive salary and bonus package based on experience and qualification.

Japanese whisky shortage affects Nikka

Japan's Nikka Whisky will replace its entire range of single malts with more...

Top 10 architectural wonders of the wine world

You don't have to look far to find stunning examples of architectural prowess more...

AB InBev invests $1.5bn in US

Brewing colossus Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced plans to invest over US$1 more...

PR Manager


US Senate passes bill to boost spirits exports

The US senate has been applauded by members of the spirits trade for passing a more...

EU spirits trade calls for fresh approach

Spirits producers in the EU will "achieve much more" if they follow a new more...

Machine makes 'non-clinking' ice cubes

An Italian design company has joined forced with Chivas to launch a machine more...

Wine Buyer

London, United Kingdom

Based on experience

How to become a 'wine expert' in four hours

A doctor of psychology has devised 10 simple steps which he claims can set you more...

Tequila leads luxury spirits boost

Luxury brands of Tequila backed by celebrities such as P Diddy and George more...

Whisky has 'regained its attractiveness'

Scotch whisky is moving beyond its traditional consumer base and has "regained more...

Head of On-Trade Sales

London, United Kingdom

SWA creates heavyweight London team

The Scotch Whisky Association has appointed a number of senior high-fliers from more...

13-year-old drives drunken parents home

Parents in Texas have been charged with child endangerment after having their more...

Top 10 wines in the US press

An impressive Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel blend from Uruguay and a Vernaccia from more...

Digital and Communications Executive

£22,000-£26,000 dependent on experience

Brown-Forman launches first rye whiskey

Brown-Forman's Woodford Reserve is extending its range and tapping into the US more...

New £25m Chivas distillery opened

Nicola Sturgeon hailed the "exceptional quality" of Scotch whisky as she opened more...

Oregon producer takes international view

One of Oregon’s youngest wine estates has partnered with Jackson Family Wines more...

Top 10 wine brands 2015

In a year that saw major shifts in the global wine market, the drinks business more...

WW1 Scotch to be auctioned

A bottle of Scotch whisky purportedly belonging to a soldier in the First World more...