Quills Visits Kentucky Distilleries

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Our operations team took some time out to visit a few of Kentucky's treasured breweries and distilleries recently. The goal was to simply enjoy some good old-fashioned team building while further supporting and appreciating one of our great state's finest legacies. Of course- there was also discussion of the craft itself and how closely the creation of the two potent potables -coffee and bourbon- might be related (as opposite as their generally happy effects on our body might be). However it was just that latter consideration that had a bit of a surprising resolution- at least according to what many of us might have guessed. Our roaster -Jesse Myers- and New Albany manager- Justin Taylor- gave us their thoughts on the trip and what they learned.

We got to see everything. It was awesome. We tasted sour mash and sweet mash side by side. Both are appropriately named. The sour mash uses some fresh corn and some that is carried over from previous mashes (yeast and all). Then - something like SIXTY pounds of yeast is added to these massive fermentation tanks filled with mash. It was all churning and bubbling and alive. We tried a few different “white dogs” (high proof whiskey before it’s diluted and added to barrels for aging). One neat thing was getting to to allow the volatiles to evaporate in sequence from our hands. First- we smelled strong burning alcohol. After that evaporated we smelled yeast. And last- sweet corn. Our tour guide was a total nut and we loved him.

I thought it was all fascinating. It’s interesting considering potential similarities to coffee, but I don’t really think there are many. It’s a completely different product and requires a different palate to taste. One thing I found very interesting was how grand everything was. Bourbon has been made in largely the same ways for well over a hundred years. Coffee- on the other hand- goes through so many waves and trends. It goes to show how precarious our product and craft is and how many different ways it can be made to taste delicious.
— Jesse Myers, Roaster
The coolest thing for me was just the history behind it all. Dealing with the coffee industry- which is young itself- everything’s a relatively new development. We’re still working out things and bickering amongst ourselves. It was awesome hearing about storing techniques, test batches and the smells. Oh the smells! Great time with great people learning about an industry similar, though at the same time not at all similar, to ours.
— Justin Taylor, New Albany Manager