Tuesday, November 19, 2013

“Field to Flask”™ with Heritage Distilling

I recently received the good fortune of having five spirits shipped to me from Heritage Distilling, a craft distiller located in Gig Harbor, Washington. Jack-pot. And just as importantly. I learned about the Washington State's craft distilling designations and this distiller's unique “Field to Flask”™ ethos.  First, in order to be classified as a Craft Distillery in Washington State, a distillery must certify on a monthly basis, that fifty percent of their non water raw materials are grown in the state. Heritage extends this further by establishing their “Field to Flask”™ program where they manage every part of the process. They work directly with the family farmers providing grain and fruit, mill this grain themselves, cooking the mash, distilling the wort, and so on and so on.

The distilleries main brand is the Elk Rider series which pays tribute to their Western heritage - particularly the pioneer families who resided in what is now Olympic National Park.  I sampled the Elk Rider Blended Whiskey, which is - simply - fantastic. The aroma is a sweet leathery texture, the mid-palette toasted grain - the the finish, sweet, clean and smooth. Don't waste mixing in a cocktail - neat or on the rocks is where this whiskey belongs. This bottle failed to live though the weekend.

The next whiskey was oh so cool, particularly for history buffs like me: the Commander’s Rye Whiskey - based on our Founding Father's original 1797 recipe. Heritage pays tribute to their state's namesake by recreating this rye whiskey using a combination of rye, corn and malted barley. They result is a raw, petrol aroma followed by a very pleasant mid-palette ending with a sweet, almost powdery sugar finish. Very interesting finish. Once again, consumer neat or on the rocks.

It appears that Heritage is leveraging the apple-moonshine popularity by creating the Fall Classic Apple Cider Flavored Whiskey.  This is made in the moon-shine tradition, by mixing corn whiskey and apple cider and sold in a jug. I was at first hesitant since I normally avoid these types of "flavored" spirits - but the Fall Classic won me over starting with the nutmeg- apple aroma. The flavor is then all apple with tail a mouthful of dry spices.  This one will be going into a Josie Russell.
The final two spirits where a first, vodka and gin distilled from Washington grapes - many different grapes to be precise. Apparently after the second distillation, all varietal characteristics of the grape disappears. The HDC Vodka is triple distilled - leaving no recognition of grapes or brandy -  just a pure clean spirit from the sweet start to the  smooth even finish. The HDC Soft Gin is basically the HDC Vodka infused with several botanicals. It is more citrus than most gins, with a lively spicy finish. The distiller recommends as a base for a Bloody Mary and with the citrus and spice - you may only need tomato juice and Worcestershire.  Also a spirit with pedigree - 2013 “DOUBLE GOLD-BEST GIN” medal winner at FiftyBest.com Int’l Tasting (New York). Nice.

Heritage Distilling epitomizes the renaissance in the craft distillery market. They produce a broad and unique portfolio of locally sourced, hand held spirits. Cheers to that - and pair with the American outlaw blues of the JD Hobson Band.

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