Before 1980’s, most of the Bourbon brands, the preferred spirit by a large margin, competed on price and little else. There were a few distinct Bourbon brands than focused on quality, but preferred to cater to a small, select discriminating market segment.
P.Masson, E and J Gallo, Christian brothers, and Korbel, distilleries brown Forman and other national marketers, dominated the market with their brands coming out of columnar stills; these are efficient steam-powered three column stills that strip alcohol from an alcohol-containing liquid in each column. The process is fast, inexpensive and makes it possible to market spirits at the lowest price possible.
As the average American disposable income started to grow and people’s palates became more sophisticated, small, artisan distilleries started to spring up in California, Texas, Kentucky and other states. They use alembic style copper batch stills that can be controlled much more accurately, and yield more flavourful spirits due to their high polyphenol content, low alcohol density, using only the “heart” of the batch. The foreshot (forerunner or head) and faints (tail) are diverted and redistilled.
Alembic style stills were first employed in the 12th century in Poland for vodka. In the 14th century Armagnac distilleries started using alembic stills, and Cognac distilleries followed suit a century later.
Alembic style stills are used in Armagnac, and Cognac, exclusively for spirits.
Single malt distilleries and fruit brandy (eau de vie) distilleries also employ alembic stills.
In teh U S A, the use of alembic style stills increased steadily since 1980’s, particularly by small quality-oriented distillers. Small, artisan American distilleries spirits are more expensive than their columnar still competitors, but once consumers taste an artisan distillate, their superior quality becomes obvious.
Jorg Rupp of California started St. George spirits to still exclusively frit brandies, and Germain-Robin, another small California distiller, is known for its excellent grape brandies and eaux de vie of cherries, apples, pears, raspberries and blueberries. It takes approximately 10 Kg of fruit to obtain one litre of distillate.
Evan Williams’s single barrel Kentucky straight Bourbon vintage 1993 found a very receptive audience upon release despite its high price.
Eagle Nest Single Barrel Kentucky straight Bourbon is equally delicious and less expensive.
Junipero gin of Anchor Distillery in San Francisco, owned by a member of the Maytag family, has a well-earned huge following.
Booker’s Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon by Jim beam Distillery used three different corn strains to achieve its depth of flavour.
Vodka connoisseurs claim Tito’s hand-made vodka by Tito’s Distilling of Austin, Texas, the purest and most flavourful of all American vodkas.
Skyy vodka marketers have managed to make million believe that it is the priest fo all American vodkas, mainly because its attractive blue bottle. Skyy is distilled in Coffey or columnar stills, invented by Aeneas Coffey, an Irish liquor inspector in British employ to control illegal Scottish whisky distilleries in the 19th century.
Coffey stills are faster and more efficient than alembic stills, but produce less flavourful spirits.
Kaffir and lime-flavoured vodka by St. George Spirits, Charboy Vodka, Shaker’s Vodka by Infinite Spirits, and Pritchard’s Fine Rum of Florida, also enjoy local popularity.
Genrally, apple rbandy (Calvados in Normandy, France) tastes best when distilled with specially cultivated high-acid apples of Pays d’Auge region in north-western France, but Clear Creek distillery in California has been able to produce an apple brandy (eau-de-vie de pomme) that comes remarkably close to those of Normandy.
Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon vineyards in California enjoys an excellent reputation for its wines and fruit spirits.
The products of these distilleries are available in specialty shops in selected markets in teh
U S A.
Few attempt to export since internal demand absorbs most of what they produce. Some even ship to only few states, and only on a quota basis. Retailers reserve them for their regular and best customers. You must ask clerks about them and see whether they would be willing to sell you a few cherished bottles/
Below, please find a list of distilleries that enjoy an excellent reputation for their consistent and high-quality distillates:
Clear Creek Distillery
Bonny Doon Vineyards and Distilelry
Domaine Charboy Spirits
Wild Turkey Distillery
Jim beam Distillery
Germain-Robin Alembic Inc.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.