A GMO Argument

A GMO Argument

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about the use of GMO and non-GMO corn a lot lately.  I believe the conversation is usually a bit off the mark. (one example- https://daily.sevenfifty.com/bourbon-producers-consider-the-pros-and-cons-of-non-gmo-corn/) The vast majority of corn and soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified organisms, or GMO’s.  This means that the genes/traits of another organism (in most cases, genes from bacteria) have been inserted into that of the corn or soybeans to improve the plant’s ability to survive and prosper. This, in itself, is a great leap forward for science and its ability to improve sustainability of corn and soy crops. When you admire those corn and soy fields that are weed free, identically green, very close...

Potential in Pennsylvania

Potential in Pennsylvania

Picture a seed in your mind. It’s small. Even sitting in the palm of your hand, it doesn’t seem like much. But for all its unassuming nature, make no mistake, that seed holds powerful potential. Grind it, smash it, plant it, grow it, soak it. The seed is a food. It can multiply itself when planted and grown. A seed can be ground into flour. Its versatility has literally changed mankind from hunter-gatherer to farmer through its cultivation. In our modern times, its importance gets lost amongst high tech gadgets, ultra-capacity food distribution and light speed communication. Just for a moment, I want to reset and refocus our attention back on the humble seed and its unlimited potential. It is not just a food stuff, it is an economic powerhouse. The creation of...

Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

Meadow Brook Farms in Lehigh County

“To be interested in food and not food production is clearly absurd.” -Wendell Berry I believe the same can be said of whiskey and grain production. I had an opportunity to meet with Nevada Mease, a young, entrepreneurial Lehigh Valley farmer back in September, 2016.  I was incredibly impressed with the farm and all the efforts on behalf of Meadow Brook Farms to embrace new, organic practices in their farming. The farm itself is beautiful and nestled into wooded acreage along the outskirts of the property. It’s built into the side of a hill with the barn and storage facilities higher up above the stone farm house.  Animals were grazing in the fields, and Nevada was making plans to get his winter crops laid down in the fields. Meadow Brook Farm is one...

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Visit to CJ Spirits in Kane, Pa

Sometimes the long drive between two Pennsylvania distilleries can take you on an unexpected route. I wound my way through northwest Pennsylvania between Conneaut Lake and Kane on very isolated (and sometimes dirt) roadways past Pennsylvania Dutch settlements. I’m from the eastern part of the state where Lancaster and the surrounding countryside is home to many PA Dutch towns and villages. I was taken by surprise to see young ladies and children walking their bikes up steep hills with their packages only to ride them down the other side on these western roads. Views of farmsteads and front yards filled with families meeting for picnics and brimmed hat and bonnet wearing parents pushing small children in strollers up long winding roads made for a slow trip. I...

The New Relationship Between Farmer and Distiller

The New Relationship Between Farmer and Distiller

The modern distilling boom is creating a unique opportunity for farmers and businesses involved in grain production. In Pennsylvania, distilling is growing by leaps and bounds, but the raw material for making whiskey is grain and many distillers just don’t know much about it. They know they want rye for rye whiskey, for instance, but where are they supposed to get it? What is the difference between Danko and Aroostok? Is it non-GMO? Do I buy it directly from a farmer or a grain merchant? It’s not just the distillers, either. The farmers are also beginning to see a demand for small grains, but don’t quite know how to approach distillers. I’ve been learning a lot about  just how much of Pennsylvania’s distilling tradition has been lost. Pennsylvania was once a huge...

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #3- Triple Sun Spirits in Emmaus, Pa

Summer 2016 PA Distillery Tour #3- Triple Sun Spirits in Emmaus, Pa

Some micro-distilleries are more micro than others. Triple Sun Spirits in Emmaus is a recent addition to the Pennsylvania distilling scene that opened on April 22nd. The owner, Kristofer Kwant, a local Lehigh valley resident, found his passion for distilling after many years of home-brewing. He traveled throughout the US to learn more about the process of distillation from others in the field, but his travels to the Caribbean crafted his passion for rum. I was lucky enough to catch Kris in the afternoon before he opened his tasting room to the public. The tour he gave was beautifully informative and he made no effort to dumb anything down, which I found refreshing. The tours are free! His distillery is small and tidy and located right near the railroad tracks in...

White Corn is in the Mashbill

Did you know that the original recipe for Old Taylor called for an heirloom white corn, not yellow corn? Generally bourbon made today uses feed corn in their recipes because it’s the least expensive and can be bought in large quantities. White corn, for distilling, has been described as having less taste than yellow corn, but that is debatable. When tests were done to discover the original composition of pre-Prohibition Old Taylor bourbon, they found that white corn was used. Distilling is an art as well as a science, and master distiller/chemical engineer, Marianne Barnes, will be working with these original recipes to create her whiskeys at her new home, the distillery once known as Old Taylor. She was the lead blender for the special release Old Forester...

What is Corn Whiskey?

What is corn whiskey? With bourbon booming in America, I wanted to discuss the difference. Bourbon needs to be made from at least 51% corn, but can, of course, have a good deal more corn in the mix. The fact is that a bourbon could be made with 100% corn, but it’s not likely. The taste profile of bourbon is created with flavoring grains like rye or wheat. Malted barley is necessary to create the enzymatic breakdown of starches to sugars in the corn. One of the largest corn heavy mash bills in the bourbon world is Old Charter (Buffalo Trace) with 80% corn. In order to be called corn whiskey, the mash must be composed of at least 80% corn. The big difference between corn whiskey and bourbon, aside from the mashbill, is the aging process. Bourbon must be aged in...