MGP Ingredients- The Distillery Prohibition Did Not Destroy

MGP Ingredients- The Distillery Prohibition Did Not Destroy

If you’re tasting a lot of whiskeys and considering where they come from, you’ll have already become familiar with MGP (Midwest Grain Products) Ingredients.  In most cases, you’ll have read an article about how hundreds of whiskeys on the market today are, in fact, distilled at MGP and that many of those companies are not honest about their whiskeys’ provenance.  In some cases, people cannot believe that a company that sells extracted starches, textured plant proteins and cleaning products could also make such great whiskey. I’m here to tell you, this is as American as apple pie. (Apple pie is originally European, too, by the way…We imported its recipe the same way we imported our distilling traditions.) To be clear, MGP Ingredients (also referred to by...

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...

Pennsylvania and Its Whiskey Rebellion

Pennsylvania and Its Whiskey Rebellion

With the American Whiskey Convention coming to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s whiskey history has been on the brain.  Our most famous Pennsylvanian claim to historic infamy is the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States were in a great deal of debt.  Alexander Hamilton estimated that debt to be around $54 million.  Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury during George Washington’s presidency and he proposed the taxation of alcohol to pay off the country’s looming debt.  The tax called for 11 cents per gallon of spirits.  (To think that that amount of money could pay off that huge debt in a few years just goes to show how much Americans were drinking at the time.)  In 1791, Washington and his new government began to...

American Whiskey Convention

American Whiskey Convention

I’m so excited to be a part of the American Whiskey Convention in Philadelphia.  The Dram Devotees of Bucks County will have a booth at the event and we will enjoy every minute of it! The event is designed to celebrate American whiskeys in all stages of production and beyond.  It starts with the farmers and the maltsters.  There will be grain farmers present to explain the importance of sustainable grain agriculture and farming practices within the state.  Pennsylvania actually boasts a malting house with a honest to goodness malting floor!  Deer Creek Malthouse is in Glen Mills, Pa and they are sticklers for grain quality, buying only the healthiest local grains.  They will be there at their own booth amongst local distillers that use their products....

What is Triticale Whiskey?

What is Triticale Whiskey?

We know that whiskey is made from grain.  A lot of new micro-distillers, in an effort to try something new and set themselves apart, are creating interesting artisanal whiskeys with odd-ball grain combinations.  Americans have grown comfortable with bourbon whiskey made with corn, rye whiskey made with rye, and malt whiskey made with barley.  But triticale whiskey?  What is that? Triticale is a hybrid of rye and wheat.  Rye is booming on the whiskey market today. (Rye whiskey is made of at least 51%rye in the grain recipe/mashbill.) Everyone is tripping over themselves to buy a bottle of the wheated bourbon that is Pappy Van Winkle. (A wheated bourbon usually has a dominance of corn -usually close to 70%- and uses wheat as a flavoring grain- usually 16%.)...

Whiskey and the Season

Whiskey and the Season

Christmas may be over, but the season certainly isn’t!   Christmas has certain flavors that most people can relate to.  I’m sure you’ve heard someone say,” This tastes just like Christmas!” Most of those Christmas flavors (like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, mint, figs, raisin, fruitcake-or Christmas cake, gingerbread, chocolate, sugar cookie, etc.) are found in whiskey!  It’s no coincidence that whiskey is such a popular drink during the holidays.  It just pairs so well with all the foods we eat during the season. I opened a bottle of High West’s “A Midwinternight’s Dram” with my family on Christmas Eve and it was the perfect complement to the evening.  The blended rye whiskey was full of spices and fruit.  We paired the whiskey with Diamond Crown’s Julius Caesar...