Ep. 92 - Long Aged and Barrel Proof Canadian Whisky

ZACH & NICK TAYLOR // Found North Whisky

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Show Notes

What do you think of when you think of Canadian whisky? Maple sweetness, rye, non-age-stated, and mellow? Well, Zach and Nick are really pushing the limits of Canadian whisky and want to change your mind about what Canadian whisky can be.

In this episode, we're going to explore the distilleries of Canada through the eyes and palates of these brothers as they seek out whisky that has been resting in barrels for well over 10 years and sometimes over 20 and putting it in bottles at cask strength. We'll do a tasting of 5 of these whiskies and you'll get quite an education in Canadian whisky and the art of blending.

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript and resources talked about in this episode are available on the tab(s) above.

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Drew (00:00:10):
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, the interviews. I'm your host Drew Hannush, the Amazon bestselling author of Whiskey Lore's Travel Guide to Experiencing Irish Whiskey and Whiskey Lore's Travel Guide to Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon. And today we are going to be heading north, although maybe not as far north as we might think when we talk about what contents are going to be in these actual bottles, but we have some enterprising American whisky blenders who have tapped some high quality Canadian whisky and they are challenging our thoughts on what Canadian whisky is. Their company is found north, it is founded by the brothers Nick and Zach Taylor, and they just happen to be my guests today. And we're going to talk all about whisky from Canada. How are you doing, Nick and Zach?

Zach and Nick (00:00:56):
Great. Drew, thank you so much for having us on. We're really delighted to be on your show.

Drew (00:01:00):
Well, I see the name Zachary Taylor come across my inbox of me being the history geek that I am knowing that President Zachary Taylor's grand nephew was Colonel, eh Taylor. Are you any relation?

Zach and Nick (00:01:13):
We are distant, distant, related to the president and colonel, former president and Taylor. Yeah, it's like a fourth grade uncle.

Drew (00:01:24):

Zach and Nick (00:01:25):

Drew (00:01:27):
I say I kind of go through the same thing because my dad did our genealogy and when he did, we bumped into President John Adams in our family line, but it's like down then up, then over and there. Oh, there he is. So he's now a direct line descendant for sure. It gets a little confusing after that. Yeah. And all the rest. Well great. So Chris Reseck from Westland and now had been the one that introduced us and he had seen that I did an episode with Daven Degamo who wrote the book on Canadian whisky. And during our interview we ended up chatting a lot about Crown Royal and Canadian Club and JP Weiser. And I was really kind of curious because I am a whisky traveler, what it was like traveling around Canada and getting an opportunity to go to these different distilleries and what was the craft distilling world in Canada and what else was coming out of Canada because we get so few Canadian whiskys down here beyond the big names that everybody seems to know. So Chris said, Hey, you need to talk to these guys because they are actually sourcing Canadian whiskys and can talk a little bit more about some of that. So let's first jump into this by finding out how you guys got into this business of sourcing Canadian whiskys and bottling them for an American. And I guess, are you just a US market or are you also in Canada and elsewhere?

Zach and Nick (00:03:12):
Yeah, so far we're just in the US which is a little bit counterintuitive, but that's where we're based. And so that's kind of the first market that we've entered, but we would definitely like to make the whisky available in Canada. It's a bit longer process in terms of the logistics of getting over there. So it's definitely in our roadmap, but currently we're just US based.

Zach and Nick (00:03:35):
That's trickier than you'd think.

Drew (00:03:37):
It's like you're bringing the whisky across the border and then you're taking the whisky back across. Things would be simple.

Zach and Nick (00:03:42):
There's no simple answer for getting licensing and getting it all the work. It really is trickier. We want to be in Canada and we get have a people saying, where can I find you in Canada? And it's frustrating to be not there yet, but we'll be there soon. So

Drew (00:03:57):
Yeah, it seems like, because I know from years back it that Canada used to really try to push local in the music scene. So if you were a Canadian artist, you got more radio play in Canada because you were local and that was sort of, I don't know whether it was government mandated, but it's one of those things that you say, okay, well this is interesting. You could say yes. Well we are selling Canadian juice, so let us in

Zach and Nick (00:04:29):
Us in Yeah, exactly.

Drew (00:04:31):
How did you come about sourcing Canadian whisky and getting into this business?

Zach and Nick (00:04:37):
Yeah. How far back do you want us to go? We've been working in the business for quite some time, approaching a decade for me, which is totally crazy. But we didn't start with Canadian whisky. When Zach and I started working together, we started working together and started and really launched our whisky business back in, was it 2017? 2017. And so really it started with representing other whisky brands. Zach, and I'll let him tell the story Zack. Zack managed to get our foot in the door by actually starting with scotch. We started with representing Scotia. So,

Zach and Nick (00:05:22):
So I think Drew for us, we really wanted to do something in the space, but we weren't exactly sure what that was. And Nick had been working in retail in whisky for some years and had some great success basically taking these underappreciated scotch whiskys and showing them to his customers and telling the story and really educating around them. And I think this was about a decade ago, so it was sort of that time that we started seeing a lot of these lesser known single distilleries start to come to the forefront, primarily through independent bottlers but then as original bottlings as well. And so basically Nick got in touch with me and said, Hey, I know you're really happy doing what you're doing, but I'm going to start something. Just wanted to let you know and if for a pass ever cross again, certainly love to do something with you.

And having a very kind of entrepreneurial spirit myself, it didn't take a lot for me to say, Hey, I, I'd like to do that too if you'll have me. So we were really excited to start something, we weren't sure what we wanted to start and we spent basically the next four years figuring out what that was going to be and ultimately became found north. And I'm sure we'll get into that specifically, but it started for us as going to Scotland and identifying some of these brands that we thought were really terrific, that had shockingly little presence in the US and so we were able to convince some brands to pay us enough to keep our business going and get started to help build those brands in the us. And for us, that meant a lot of being behind the table telling stories about other folks' brands, which was really cool and we really appreciated and it was great to get to know those distilleries, but I think we still definitely had an itch to own it more and to develop our own story that we could tell.

And so the next several years were the fruition, that process coming to fruition. So it started with importing and we actually looked at Armac, which we thought was underserved category, where we were finding some really interesting brandy that we thought were terrific, sort of in the same vein as scotch whisky, where we were like, these are incredible. No one really is appreciating this and this could be a really exciting thing to show people. And we actually still on a very small scale import in Armonk from France that we really love and small scale being the key word there, we needed to do something that was more scalable and also we again wanted to move more into really owning what we were doing and having an influence, a greater influence on actually manufacturing and producing something. And that's kind of where we wound up with found north.

Drew (00:08:19):
So I heard that you initially took an intense tour of Scotland that would be near and dear to my heart because that's how I seem to do my travels when I went to Ireland. It's like 44 distilleries in 24 days, just a see what you can do.

Zach and Nick (00:08:40):
Yeah, no, I started the very beginning of my career. I did mean you almost named the numbers, it was like 40 distilleries in 30 days in Scotland. I was at an age where I could handle that kind of drinking because as I'm sure when you go into a distillery and you say, Hey, I'm really, I'm in the industry and I'm really interested in whisky. Like hey, we'll try these other four experiments we've got going on top of what we usually serve here. So it was a riot, it was really fun. And I think that was when we really first started to realize that there was a bit of a dislocation between what actually contributed to the flavor and what was being sort of marketed as being responsible for the flavor of CI malt in particular. But I found it relatively consistent across whisky distilleries. We've traveled Ireland, we've traveled Japan, we've traveled Kentucky a lot, we've really seen my, I think our combined distillery account is well over a hundred at this point. And it was really interesting seeing how people were really intrigued by some of the things that are more sort of common now with cast strength, nacho filtered, wanting to know about the cast type, wanting more transparency, wanting to really understand what was contributing to the flavor of whisky. And that gave us a little bit more of a broad perspective of what one day our whisky we'd, what we'd want to focus on, both in the story we told, but also in the principles of the whisky we released.

Drew (00:10:21):
It's really interesting in doing all of this travel that we sort of take it for granted now because the bourbon industry has really embraced barrel proof and going for single barrel and the rest. And then what Lima Vati, when I was talking to Daryl McNally, he said, this is the first single barrel release that we in Ireland, and I'm going really? I mean that seems amazing to me, but then I start thinking about, yes, LA Freud now has cast strength and there are some different offerings, but it's still fairly new. And then when I think of Canada, I don't think of Canada at all as doing anything cast strength or barrel proof or in doing single barrel. Is that what you found as well?

Zach and Nick (00:11:15):
Yes. Hard. Yes. There are a few products and we really like them. Some of there are a handful of whiskys that come out from Canada that are cast strength. And I mean honestly it's a little bit of an inspiration of like, okay, this can be a really be a category that absolutely is capable of scratching that itch and is really capable of having that fuller, more robust flavor profile that we as consumers have come to love. But I think also with having so much customer facing experience, we started to get a real feel for what a very particular, we like to say modern serious whisky drinker or frankly spirits drinker is looking for.

Drew (00:12:05):
Yeah. Well, so with that, what drew you to Canada? You had experience in Scotland, you had experience in other forms of whisky. What made Canada stand out to you?

Zach and Nick (00:12:21):
Yeah, so I mean I think it was really a confluence of factors. As we mentioned, we were really looking to start something and I think when we looked at the available options to us, the first most intuitive choices were start a distillery and source from American distillers and create a non distilling producer brand. And I think when we looked at that, it didn't really fit the criteria of why we got into what we were doing in the first place, which is we really wanted to do something that was different and we really wanted to do something that we saw as worthwhile. And I think for us, we were looking at so many of the entrance into the US market that were focusing on sourcing from MGP and other major producers in the US and we said, I don't know that we can add a lot of value there.

Folks are doing this, they're doing it really well. The demand for the supply and the stocks that are available is now exceeding the supply. And so it was very competitive to get access to good supply and we just didn't really think we could do anything that had longevity and had the ability to really have an impact on the industry or really make anything different and exciting. And so I think that deterred us from American whisky. And I think around that time we were exploring a very exciting distillery concept, which we still are interested in long term, but we serendipitously ran into one of the folks in Canada who told us about some stocks that they had available and we were trying these older Canadian whiskys, and when I say older, I mean 20 plus years old, 15 plus years old. And we were frankly shocked that kind of inventory was available compared to what we were seeing in the US market.

And then that was sort of the beginning of us saying, Hey, maybe we should take a hard look at this. And then through that process, it took us about a year of experimenting with those whiskys and starting to understand that we needed to view Canadian whisky through a very different lens than we view American whisky, which is these whiskys are not intended to be ready to bottle as soon as we find them, which is how we came into it. And we were thinking to ourselves, man, these are so close, but they're not, not sure we can bottle these. And then we started blending and that really changed everything for us. Once we started viewing the whiskys as components that allowed us to build these really exciting whiskys as blends. That's what really sort of was the aha moment, and we started blending these whiskys that we were getting and they were coming out in a really incredible way, and that's what I think ultimately compelled us to pursue that.

Zach and Nick (00:15:15):
Yeah, drew, I also think one of the really exciting things was there, as it turned out, there really wasn't a quality problem with the distillate from Canada. The challenge for us was going to be selling the idea of blended whisky, selling the idea of Canadian whisky, things that just haven't been as successful in the US. And I think it was much more appealing and frankly really exciting to take on the challenge of, okay, we can make phenomenal whisky. We know what the end point is that, and I mean, we do have to figure out how to blend this and get there, but once we get there, the whisky will speak for itself. And the challenge will really be to win people over to some of these ideas that frankly we think are winning ideas are really great ideas. Gamely blending really blended whisky is as a defined category, still slightly taboo, although that's changing a lot.

But when you look at distilleries internationally, even single malt distilleries, a lot of times they're trying to create variation within their own categories so they can blend new flavors and still call it single malt, right? Yeah. You look at a place like Yamazaki, right? Yamazaki, every single different still that they have is a different size shape because they're trying to create variations so they can blend and create different whisky. Yeah. Miko has 500 experimental yeast strains that they're using to create that diversity of flavor and still call it single malt four roses has 10 recipes that they can blend into different styles and into different whiskys. And so Canada really has just never gone down this track of, okay, we need to make straight bourbon or we need to make single malt, they've designed their whisky where they're doing these single streams of a hundred percent corn, a hundred percent rye, a hundred percent weed, a hundred percent barley, fermenting, distilling, aging separately so that they have this beautiful pallet to blend from. So that that's exciting for us because now we have so much of a hand in how the final product is going to taste. And I think that moment when sort of Zach and the whole team and I were realizing, hey, we have to blend this to get it where we want to, but also we get to blend this to get it where we want to. That was, yeah,

Drew (00:17:49):
I think that's one of the things that surprised me about Canadian whisky that I didn't understand. And I mean, Canadian whisky is blended, whisky is popular. I mean it sells a lot, but it sells as a value whisky. It does not sell as a premium whisky. And so the challenge then becomes kind of educating people first of why the need for a blended whisky in Canada because you're not distilling a mash bill, you're distilling individual grains and then you're blending them to make it, which creates a whole advantage. I think when I first started thinking about it, I thought, well, that's interesting because to me, rye whisky, sometimes when it ages longer, it sometimes takes out some of the spicy character that I really love in rye. And so if you could age that at a different amount of time, then you could age a wheat whisky, which to me, a wheat whisky needs more time in the barrel, and the barrel really imparts a lot of different flavor on it. If you're doing a mash bill, everything has to go through the same amount of time. You don't have that kind of control. And I think that is one of those things that beyond the blenders craft and really having the ability to taste what somebody can create, like creating a meal, they're creating a blend of flavors in blending. The Canadians have added an additional step to that, which is being able to age each of those individual grains in a different way

Zach and Nick (00:19:26):
And distill 'em in a different way. They really, because they don't adhere to really strict guidelines as to how the distillation process has to take, or you can even take it a step further and start with fermentation. The same strain that is optimized for barley might not be the same one that is optimized for rye or corn. And actually the acidity levels or the heat that you're controlling your ferments at can really be adjusted to match exactly what the grain is, and then based on what flavor components they want to create for the blending process, they're doing double distillation, single column distillation column into pot the way that you would do it with bourbon, they're even doing a double pot still distillation, right? So they're basically saying, we can create effectively as broad a pallet as we want to really pick and choose from and select the best whiskys. And we learned quickly the advantages of that as we were starting to blend and you had these old whiskys, these, to your point, these old rye whiskys that were distilled in a particular way that were aged in d r recharge barrels or something like that, and they're bringing both the fruit component of super aged whisky and still have some of the right backbone, and then we're getting a hundred percent new oak wheat. That's a completely different distillation technique, and you're sitting there going, holy cow, we have everything we want to work with.

Drew (00:21:04):
It's kind of like an artist having his colors in front of him to work with, and the more that you have to work with, the more creative you can get. And same with cooking, the reference to cooking and how many different spices you have and what flexibility that gives you in terms of what you're going to be able to create.

Zach and Nick (00:21:27):
And we actually are starting to further extrapolate on that, where we take the whiskys that we've been able to source and we put them in a bunch of different wood types in a warehouse that we have in New Hampshire so that we can create greater diversity. And as we start to get more and more comfortable with the whiskys that we're using, and we've used them in multiple blends, we know what to expect from them and we can put them into cast types that will give us a particular flavor profile or mouth feel that we really want to be able to add in the future. So we're actually taking this already fairly expansive pallet of options and expanding upon it to give ourselves even greater options and more flavor combinations that we can create.

Drew (00:22:05):
So what is your process for finding these whiskys? Are you sent samples? Are you actually going up to Canada and going to the distilleries and going through barrels?

Zach and Nick (00:22:15):
Both. Yeah. I mean the simplest way of course is to have samples sent, but often the best, as we all know, nothing can replace being on site and meeting people in person. So we just got back from Canada last night actually, so we're there quite frequently. And then we're also send samples particularly of sources that we are familiar with and we sort of want to see how they're progressing. That might be just someone sending us a sample, but we do both and we look as widely as we can, obviously to try to get the best supply that we can get.

Drew (00:22:46):
How do you make that decision? Because now you kind of have to choose a barrel by how you're going to blend it?

Zach and Nick (00:22:54):
That's a really good question. Yeah. Yeah. I think Zach is very generous in saying we, Zach is very much our procurer of great whisky, and he works directly with the rest of the team, and we're constantly blending and trying new things really all the time and seeing how it works. And then there's a direct feedback of like, all right, we're looking for this. This is the style, this is what it is, and Z Suite talks the distilleries and sending us really, really, really excellent whiskys that start fitting that bill. But it is difficult and does, as we've gotten more familiar with the blending process and the whiskys, we start seeing the gaps in the flavor that we want, and it's way less fancy than you would think. We're not sitting there going, oh, we really need something that has a lemongrass note. It's not that detailed. It's more just, okay, we need something that has more body. We need something that has a little bit more wood influence, or we need something that's bringing a little more sweetness. How can we get there either directly from a source or we can take a source we have and obviously put it into a different wood type that will hopefully mature it in the way we need.

Drew (00:24:19):
Yeah. It's interesting. When I started toying with blending stuff myself just with my home collection, sometimes you're thinking, oh, this and this, they should work together really well, and then they end up being a train wreck because there's something else in that flavor profile that clashes that you don't expect. I did the weirdest blend I think I ever did that actually worked and came up and came up with something fascinating was I took Glenro 12 and Wild Turkey 1 0 1 and blended them, and it actually made a really tasty whisky, and I'm going, okay, I never in a million years would've thought of putting those two together, but I thought, okay, I'm going to take two stalwarts for me and stick 'em together and see what we come up with. And sometimes those little happy accidents happen. I

Zach and Nick (00:25:09):
Don't know. I think that actually makes a lot of sense. You're getting the great sort of slightly spicy, but the sherry finish that gives you that nuttiness and that sweetness, and you're combining it with a sort of high rye, high spice content corn and corn and rye combination in the Wild Turkey 1 0 1. We try to do things literally just like that. So do you. Yeah, you get a rye that's sort of really spicy. And often what I think the hardest lesson we learned was all the flavor that you like from rye, either in high rye components or literally rye components themselves tend to bring out an astringency, right? That hot burning heat on the back of the pallet. So how do you mellow and enhance those flavors while tamping, but mellow and enhance the sort of good spice flavors while sort of tamping down on any of the kind of rye bite? And often that's going to be some kind of fortified wine cask. A reason why rye plus pork finish works so consistently you're getting kind of that chocolate sweet fruit and you're blending it with spice, baking spice. It's a pretty natural fit. Not surprised. You ended up there more impressed.

Drew (00:26:39):
Yeah, yeah. Well, sometimes you get lucky, I guess mean, this is the fun part about it. I was trying to blend, I had some of that Jamon Caskmates IPA finish, and I have this thing with IPA that I keep thinking beer and whisky. I mean, they basically, you take beer and you're turning it into whisky, so why wouldn't a hops work in a whisky? But the blend I did, I forgot what I blended it with, but I was like, wow, this just it. Oh, I tried to do it with a smokey whisky. I did a K homan, and it just was like, because they both had a citrusy kind of note to 'em, but everything else clashed. It was like, so what happens when you're going through these barrels and you're doing your blending? Do you find that you're now getting to a point where you're much more successful on first and second attempts or

Zach and Nick (00:27:39):
Our first blend took almost a year to make, and now not to say we don't put a lot of work into it, but we can finish blends in a week pretty easily. One of that, those aspects is just sort of familiarity with the components we're using and knowing how they're going to behave with each other. But part of it is honestly what you just said, you do trial and error where you're like, okay, I think this is finish, or this style is going to match this because they have these corresponding flavors, and then it turns out that it's pithy because you use bitter with bitter and there you go, you get that number two pencil flavor. But no, I think the hard aspect for us was we really wanted to try everything. And that's not possible. If you have 15 samples that you can combine in any combination that you want at any ratio, you have virtually infinite whiskys you can make. And so it became more of a practice of, all right, focus in on one component that we really like and then build around it and give some sort of structure to how we construct the blends. Because if you throw a paint at the wall and see what sticks, you get inebriated and you don't get very far.

Drew (00:29:14):
So amazed me when you sent these bottles to me, and thank you for being so gracious and sending me some, I was talking to Dan Trout, dusty Dan. Yes. And he says hello. He was very complimentary, and he said, yeah, I got these little samples. I was like, wow, I got these full bottles here of stuff that I'm enjoying. Of course he has plenty of whisky around him to entertain himself, but we're talking about ages of whiskys and you are getting all of these, I'm looking at the bottles and them going, wow, 17 year, 18 year, 21 year. And one of the things that I don't necessarily understand yet about Canadian whisky is its aging process and how intense the aging is because we can go to Texas and you're going to get one kind of extreme aging. You can go to Scotland in Ireland and you have the damp conditions, and so you're going to get another kind of mild climate conditions. Now we're talking about Canada, where, I mean, I'm from Detroit originally, so I know the summers get hot, but they only get hot for a very short period of time, so the huge mosquitoes can come out and drive you crazy, and then it's all gone really quickly and it seems like you're into winter. I immediately, and so you figure how much climate change in terms of variations on those casts are you getting and are getting these from all over the country, or are you basically getting them from one section of the country?

Zach and Nick (00:31:01):
So I, I think one, we have multiple sources and we do find it, it's hard to know for sure. Oh, is it because it's over here in this part of the country that we're getting these flavors? Or is it because the distillate is inherently different? Right. It's a little tricky to know what exactly contributes to the variation and the differentiation. The interesting thing is also, and I mean the Scotts know this and it's pretty clear that how many times you're using the barrel, how you're treating the barrel, these things are going to have such a dramatic influence on your extraction rates, your oxidation. But the interesting thing you did nail it Canada we think, okay, Canada's north, so it must be aging in Scotland and Ireland. But as you know from traveling in Scotland and Ireland that October, November in Scotland is pretty darn similar to May and June in Scotland, whereas Canada really, it has a similar temperature cycle to a place like Kentucky in terms of the ups and downs. It's just 15 degrees colder, right? Right,

Exactly. Overall throughout the entire year. And so we are seeing that, for example, we do get much more extraction rates and much more rates of change in the summer. So if we do a barrel finish and we have a plan for it, if we're going to fill it in December, we know it's going to be June or July before we really see what the full influence of that barrel is going to be. And on top of it, the evaporation rate matters so much for the concentration of flavor because the truth is most of the barrel flavor you're getting from the barrel itself, from the wood itself is happening in the first 200 days. After that, you're getting both the oxidative effect and the concentration effect. Basically, as you have these flavors and all the water, the ethanol is evaporating out, you start getting darker more concentrated versions of those flavors. And so for us, it's hard to say, oh, it's just like Kentucky. Because in Kentucky they're always using new American oak, right? Whereas in Canada, they're using such a variety, but we're definitely seeing similar patterns in it being very seasonal. Temperature matters a lot, humidity matters a lot, and how you treat your barrels matters a lot.

Drew (00:33:44):
Well, and what you're challenging with me is when I was looking at these, and especially with the rye whisky, I'm a huge fan of rye whisky and I love the spiciness and I love when it's herbal or it's earthy or all the different expressions you can get out of rye whisky. And I have gotten into this mode of saying, I don't want to drink a long aged rye whisky because I don't want more barrel than I get out of the rye. But with your whiskys, and this is the reason why I get so curious about how the barrels are treated, is that that rye component stays there. It doesn't, I mean, 17, 18, 19 years in the barrel isn't really killing off the thing that I love about rye whisky,

Zach and Nick (00:34:30):
So I'll take that one. So what's cool about that Drew, is when you compare it to American rye whiskys, American rye whiskys are almost entirely aged in new wood. And the difference is not just the climate aspect that you mentioned, but also the number of times the barrel's been used, of course prior to the distillate going into the barrel. So with Canadian whisky, the majority of the whiskys that we are sourcing do not start in new wood, which is very divergent from how American whiskys are matured. And what that means is we get to choose, do we want to add barrel influence to this or do we like it as is? And I think in the case of the rye that has these beautiful spice notes, these beautiful top notes and fruit notes, the last thing we want to do is completely overpower those with wood.

And so you know, can see when you look at batch three for example, it's just a lighter color. And the reason for that is that we don't want to put more wood on this whisky because we want those top notes that you're discussing to be able to shine through. And what's cool is, to me, you talked about not wanting it to be too old, which is the challenge if you use new wood is it can't get past a certain age without really having the wood overpower the distillate. But what's available to us in terms of flavor profile in Canadian rise is those top notes that you're talking about, those spice notes now extended for another 10, 12 years without becoming overwrote. And that flavor profile is pretty much inaccessible to rye whisky that's been aged in new wood. So it's sort of only available in Canada compared to what's in the us.

Drew (00:36:15):
Very nice. So the thing that I think of when I think of Canadian whisky is I think that I blend, I think low proof, I think kind of to me Canadian and Irish have shared some similarities in that way of trying to be out mild each other and then the sweet notes that come through on a Canadian whisky. Now I look at these bottles I'm seeking seeing long ages, I'm also seeing cast strength, and I see that on everything. So is that kind of a company mission to put it out at barrel proof and not tamper with it too much?

Zach and Nick (00:36:56):
Good. Yeah, go ahead. I mean, I think for certainly as a starting point, yes, we personally, high proof whiskys, we find it just aligns with what we like to drink. It has greater concentration of flavor, greater mouth feel, so we like the way it tastes. I think the other thing is, you know, talked about the sort of conception of what Canadian whisky is, and I think we talked earlier about the desire to do something that was different, but not just to be different also that we thought could contribute to better flavor. And for us, Canadian whisky is so rarely presented at full strength and made for that designed to be compelling in that profile that it was an opportunity for us to take Canadian in a very different direction that we think also produces really, really delicious whiskys. So for us, high proof is definitely something that we intend to continue to adhere to, whether that's cash strength or just over proof. I think there's some flexibility there, but everything we've done to date has been cash strength, and we definitely intend to stay on the high proof side of things.

Drew (00:38:06):
I think the other challenge with Canadian whisky, and I approached this with Daven, and I mean Daven is a fan of Canadian whisky, so he's going to give me the supportive, and he jumped in and said that American whisky has less rules than Canadian whisky does, which is true, but we don't in the US really buy whisky, we buy bourbon or we buy rye or we buy, which goes, most of us look for straight whisky. So we're looking for something on the whole that probably has more regulations than we consider out of what the normal Canadian whisky may have. And that's not to say that these bigger brands of Canadian whisky are, they're coming out with really high quality stuff, but it does lead you to start questioning what's in your bottle because you have the ability to put additives in there. So how do you feel like you over can overcome those kinds of perceptions by the American audience?

Zach and Nick (00:39:20):
Yeah, so I think one of the great things about bourbon is are the rules behind it. The rules behind bourbon, make bourbon what it is, and frankly, probably help make a taste good. You have regulations on barrels, you have regulations on fill strength, you have regulations on so many different aspects of it when you adhere to straight bourbon. And I think it creates a baseline of quality that's really excellent and it takes away those questions. It also narrows the field of what bourbon can taste like. I mean, frankly you're taking away levers. And so for us, the interesting aspect about Canadian is there's more freedom, but I think with that it almost necessitates more transparency, right? Yeah. I mean, we want to be really clear about what's in the bottle. And I think what's been awesome for us, particularly when we moved from making rye to making our whisky, which is not a very easily defined category, say 80% corn, 90% rye, 1% multi barley, what is it? And it's by Americans bottled in the US from Canada, we've actually found that consumers are pretty excited about it as long as we're saying exactly what's in it and how it's made. And so on one hand there's a little bit more expectation from us to be transparent, but on the other hand, we also get more freedom to have a more diverse taste profile. And that's the sort of give and take of the looser rules.

Drew (00:41:05):
It's really interesting too, when I look at your bottles, because I think of the TTB and their regulations and Canadian whisky, you can't call something Canadian whisky unless it's coming from Canada, but you overcame that by putting Origin Canada, which I think is a really interesting way to approach that. And you spelled whisky without an E. So you kind of followed the Canadian tradition on that as well,

Zach and Nick (00:41:32):
That that was a long meeting. That was a month long. Right. No, I'm glad. I'm glad you noticed because we put a lot of pot into that.

Drew (00:41:43):
Well, it's funny because I've been in several discussions over in Ireland. I was talking with a distiller over there and we were talking about to eat or not to E because it really is one of those things. And as I do my whisky history research, it's amazing. I'm doing a book on Tennessee whisky, and in the 19th century they all spelled it without an E. Yep. So it's like, okay, it's really interesting to see how the shifting tide is gone, but in a way, and tell me whether this is the case. I would imagine that you wouldn't want the E in there because the source is Canada. So you want to give people that feel.

Zach and Nick (00:42:25):
Yeah, I mean, I think the big thing for us is we want to not only be transparent, but we want to lean into Canadian. I think there's a temptation for sure to bring in Canadian stocks, but still position yourself as an American whisky company and really kind of just try to tread that fine line where your stuff's coming from Canada, but you really are marketing yourself as American. And I think for us, we are genuinely really excited about Canadian and what we can do in that. And we want to be forthcoming about the fact that we are making whiskys that are sourced from Canada that we are blending from in a Canadian style. And so I think for us, starting with the fact that the very first line is Origin Canada before any other information about the whisky except for the age, and I think also just choosing to keep no E on there are just ways of us very quickly telling the consumer, this is from Canada. So that that's really the intent there is both transparency and just really being forthcoming about using Canadian Muslim

Zach and Nick (00:43:35):
And the name

Drew (00:43:36):
And the name and

Zach and Nick (00:43:38):

Drew (00:43:38):
North. Absolutely.

Zach and Nick (00:43:39):

Zach and Nick (00:43:40):
Really hammered that point.

Zach and Nick (00:43:41):

Drew (00:43:43):
Well, you are in Massachusetts, so you're still north US here in the south

Zach and Nick (00:43:48):
Of New Hampshire. So yeah, we consider ourselves of the north.

Drew (00:43:52):
There's a little strip of land, and I'm not sure whether it was in Vermont or New Hampshire where they back during the war of 1812, I think it was. They built a military fort, but they built it on the wrong side of the line because the surveyor had not drawn the line properly. So you know, maybe could

Zach and Nick (00:44:16):

Zach and Nick (00:44:16):
Get that? Yeah,

Drew (00:44:18):
Exactly. They were probably drinking a little bit too much whisky up there at the time. So in doing some tastings of these whiskys, and we've got five to go through and they're all cast strength. So it'll be some light sipping here since we're recording in the morning. But I figure I'd sometimes going oldest aged to new, although one of yours is a variety of ages, so that would really kind of mess me up on that. But starting here at the batch four aged 18 year. And let's talk about a couple of things on here because all right, so we're at cast strength and it's really interesting because you have 80% corn, 19% rye, 1% barley. Now what I would think is if you were going north to Canada, your first thought might be, let's embrace rye whisky, and yet this particular whisky is 80% corn. So did you have a idea of what you were going after and that shifted or or was this the original intent?

Zach and Nick (00:45:34):
That's an awesome question. Yeah. Honestly, you, you've kind of nailed one of the key moments in the whole construction of this brand. We absolutely were aware that there was phenomenal rye in Canada. There were a lot of good brands that were US owned, brands that were sourcing from Canada, and we knew they were sourcing from Canada, whether it was sort of transparent or not. And that was sort of a big piece of this, and we set out to make rye, but when we were blending, again, we were funding rye was giving a lot of that, the rough edges that rye has. And we started getting these corn components that we were blending with. And the corn components were amazing. I mean, really, really blew us away. We had gone there for the rye, but we really stayed for the corn. And when we made batch two, it was originally going to be a rye.

We didn't want to launch the brand with just one whisky. We just felt like that wasn't exciting enough. We wanted a second whisky, so we were making a second rye, but we were blending with this corn component. And as we started tweaking the ratio where it was going to be no longer really officially awry, at least by American standards, we really had to sit down and have a meeting and say, wait a second, we can do some really cool stuff with and of corn whiskys we're just, we weren't a hundred percent sure about the commercial viability of it because there's no designation that fits cleanly for what we were doing, but the whisky was just delicious. And that I think was what opened our mind about, wait a second, there's it. We're not just going to be pigeonholed into making Canadian whiskys that arrive forward. We actually can make some awesome corn dominant whiskys that have a really unique perspective. They tell their own story and they're really fun.

Drew (00:47:56):
So this will be interesting because you've been to some of these distilleries and when I think of corn whisky, if you are in Ireland or Scotland, they're running it through a coffee still and they're coming out really high proof. So I mean, it's basically neutral grain spirits. Are you finding that in Canada with your corn whiskys that those are being distilled either in pot stills or using more the bourbon beer still kind of concept? Or what seems to be the norm up there? Or what do you gravitate towards?

Zach and Nick (00:48:33):
It tends to be the corn is often used in a classic double distillation column. Still, I think the underappreciated point for that style of whisky is both the fill strength. So what it goes into the barrel at can have a huge impact. If you put something in a barrel over 80% alcohol by volume, really not much is going to happen. But if you bring enough water into the mix, you're, you're going to get a lot of really interesting barrel influence and you can control for that. And then of course, the barrel type itself. So what we've gravitated towards is some of these sort of classic double distilled corns, but rather than seeing them in a, however, whatever big number fill, it's the fourth, the fifth fill, we're seeing stuff and we're actually doing some of our own maturation now with these where it's going into Hungarian Oak or it's going into a new American oak barrel, and suddenly you're getting really, really dynamic whisky that is also because it's distilled higher, it's incredibly clean.

And the thing about blending that a was a very painful lesson to learn was you don't take my most complex whisky and my other most complex whisky and a third complex whisky and match them all together. It actually doesn't work. You need whiskys that are foundation pieces because they resonate a particular court, they strum a really nice note, they give you a good baseline and you can layer some of your more challenging and more complex flavors on top of 'em. And so what we're really trying to do is find a little bit of a balance of this isn't just filler whisky, that's cheap. Right? I think that's the misconception with green whiskys from Scotland or Ireland where it's like, oh, we're going to use small percentage single malt that has all the flavors and we're going to just fill in with grain whisky. It, it's like, no, these things, if they're aged in a certain way, if they're filled with the right strength and you invest in the wood, you really are going to get these fascinating, excellent, but very sort of straightforward and easy to blend with flavors that can be actually the foundation stone of a great whisky.

Drew (00:51:08):
It's really interesting because the complex whiskys that I enjoy are mostly single malts and they're whisky for a time when you're just there wanting to, you're by yourself, you're just relaxing and you just want to nose it and get something different each time that that. But there's more of a comfort to me actually most of the time in drinking something where it's a whisky that I go to for a particular flavor. There is one thing that I know that when I grab that whisky, this is definitely going to be there and it's surrounded by other things. So I totally get where you're coming from on that point. Why Hungarian Oak and are these new Hungarian oak barrels, or are they used barrels?

Zach and Nick (00:51:59):
We're getting mostly new Hungarian oak, and the reason behind Hungarian Oak is it tends to be a little bit tighter grained. Now, we aren't actually told exactly. A lot of times they're buying it from a barrel broker or a third party, so we won't even know exactly where the wood was sourced from. But Hungarian Oak actually is the dominant species of oak in Ireland, so we are wondering if that's where the actual original wood is coming from. But the wood tends to be tighter grained and it tends to give a lot of wood sugar. So you get this beautiful molasses note instead of your kind of classic caramel note that you would get from New American Oak, but it has a little bit less of the associated tannin and bitterness on the finish. And so for us, when we made batch four and batch four is built around a 25 year old Gorn component that was H and Hungarian Oak, when we made batch four, we were blown away by the slightly slightly sort of sultry molasses, deep brown sugar notes that were reminiscent of what we like in Great American whiskys, but with kind of a darker side to 'em.

I don't know why I always start getting a little synesthesia when I talk about this, but it really reminds me of just taking those brighter notes and just bringing them down a shade of color. And we've found that with rye that we've used Agent Hungarian Oak and the corn that we've used as Agent Hungarian Oak, it tends to just get a little feistier, a little more sultry, a little darker, a little bit more molasses, a little bit more spice, and it is fun to work with.

Drew (00:53:51):
Well, I was getting some hazelnut notes out of this as well, which is really interesting with the baking spice, a little leather note you would expect with a whisky of this age that you would be dominated by tobacco and leather, but it's just a very subtle note in there.

Zach and Nick (00:54:15):
I'm glad you're getting that note because we tried to preserve that note.

Drew (00:54:19):
Yes, it is definitely there. So I've also found, and I'm going to sip this without putting any water in it, but I've also found that it is nice to put a bit of water in there, and it really kind of opens it up a bit.

Zach and Nick (00:54:33):
The thing about the thing that's frustrating about cast strength is, and as a serious whisky historian, I'm sure you're sort of familiar with the cast strength and the barrel proof movement is relatively young and was very much a about value as much as it was about flavor originally. Now we've gotten really used to that flavor, but the point was always that you could add water to your own liking. Yeah, it was cat strength, but there was an expectation that you bring it down to whatever proof you liked it at. For me personally, I tend to love my whisky somewhere between 55 and 60% alcohol by volume. We bottle it at cast strength that, you know what, 1 24 0.8 or 62.4% alcohol by volume. But I pretty much always put a little water in this,

Drew (00:55:31):
That sweetness comes out even more with the water, and then I get oaken Sweet Rye notes coming through on that. But the white pepper is undeniable. It kind of hits you there at the end and lays there on the pallet. And what's interesting is I have a toasted maple that comes in at the end. It's like I just had a pancake. It's really interesting, and it's just laying there. And it was funny talking to Daven because he is like, well, it's really not necessarily a maple flavor in Canadian whisky. And I'm like, well, my brain is throwing it there. That's all I can think of is may, maybe a caramel kind of note, but I mean, it's me. It's

Zach and Nick (00:56:22):
A little more than caramel, right? It's like it does have that little bit more of a syrup quality.

Drew (00:56:28):
It's a darker note, kind of like what you were talking about. So

Zach and Nick (00:56:31):

Drew (00:56:35):
Very good. Okay, so next up we go to one with even the higher corn ratio. This is the casting 17 year batch six and this one. So when you're doing these blendings, and what was curious to me is this has 87% corn, 12% rye, 1% barley. We're getting this 1% barley thing going on. Are you doing that because there is a certain amount of barley being put into each one for the enzymes, I'm guessing at this low, it's probably got commercial enzymes put into each of these whiskys as well. But

Zach and Nick (00:57:16):
Yeah, you nailed it. So the barley is just already in the whiskys because of that enzyme process, which for a lot of the distilleries as we understand it, they've now replaced it with chemical enzymes that they're adding. But because these whiskys are so old, they predate that process. And so the malt is in there for the enzymes.

Zach and Nick (00:57:37):
Some of the old rise. Yeah, it's mostly they pretty much use all cultivated enzymes for corn and wheat, but you'll notice with basically anything we have that has rye, it's going to have a small portion of barley. It's it Zach, Zach's got it right. It just predates when they stop doing it.

Drew (00:57:59):
Okay. That's really interesting. The other thing that's interesting is that you're sitting here sipping a whisky that if it were a human, it would be legal for them to drink whisky now. Yeah. And it really makes it so that you can't really, if you're going to keep blending these types of whiskys, you're going to have to be in business for a long time before you can hold sway over what kind of juice you're going to be getting from the distilleries.

Zach and Nick (00:58:28):
I think that's one of when we get asked about doing our own distilling that that's one of the issues, which is like, yeah, of course you to love that prospect, but we have an enormous amount of control over these whiskys and how they're going to taste, and they're old and it's awesome. And it's just like, do you really want to start from scratch? Yeah, eventually. But for now, I think we can keep backing up in the process by whisky that's a little younger, control the aging for a little bit longer, do more and more of our own maturation, and we're certainly not getting bored doing it.

Drew (00:59:09):
So this one, actually, the leather notes are a little bit heavier on this one. To me, what's interesting about corn whisky to me is that usually on the nose, I don't tend to be able to pick up as much, but when I add water to this, I get more of a butterscotch. And maybe that toasted sort of maple bullish, I don't know how to describe it because it's not like a sweet maple scent. It is kind of a, I don't know, it just, I say toasted. It has a toasted kind

Zach and Nick (00:59:50):
Of maple, right? Yeah. You put a little bit of maple syrup on the grill. Yeah, it gives you slight mesquite notes, and you just get a touch of that kind of barbecue, but it's still the syrup, so it's almost as if you're cooking it a little bit. It's really fun. This whisky was a five whisky blend. There were three different corn components that were in here. We actually used a little bit of the same super old Hungarian oak aged, not as much that we used in batch four. We also had some leftover, we used it in batch six. But the diversity of the corn components was really interesting, and I think that's another slight misconception, which is like, okay, if you distill it to high proof, it's all going to be the same, and that's not the case at all. We end up finding that we get so much dynamism from using multiple different corn sources that have different aging regimens. For us, when we made this, we got this distinct popcorn note leg big time, like a buttered popcorn that that's had some spices sprinkled in. And when we were blending, it was particularly when you add a little water, you get that classic kind of rock candy redf fruit note

Drew (01:01:14):
Very, again, syrup on the palette as well. And those toffy slash maple notes that I'm picking up on there. And then the rye shows up. I mean, there is heat on the tongue, but it's not aggressive at all. It's just kind of a nice warming feeling on the tongue on this one.

Zach and Nick (01:01:37):
Yeah, we loved making this play.

Drew (01:01:43):
So talk about the, because we're going to jump in here, well, not yet. We're going to do a rye first before we get into the wheat. But have you thought about playing around with making a really high wheat whisky and making maybe a one that is barley based? I guess the question with barley being there are so many single malts out in the world, it, does it really make sense to, if you're trying to carve your own path to jump into the world of making a high barley whisky?

Zach and Nick (01:02:17):
Yeah, I mean, I

Zach and Nick (01:02:18):
Think for us, because we're making blends, that's pretty different from a single mole, of course. So I think if we can find a component that we think is going to bring something really interesting to a blend, we're interested. And yeah, we've tasted some barley samples that we really, really liked. I think it's just a function of finding the right supply. And there are definitely some really interesting malt whiskys being made in Canada, both by the big producers and you know, talked about Chris Reseck at Westland earlier. But I think one of the really cool distilleries that we've watched a lot is Shetland, sorry, shelter Point in Canada, making some really nice single malts. And of course, Glen Ora, which we just saw Whistle Pig release a 21 year from. So I think there are some really cool malt whiskys there that we would definitely like to integrate, and definitely more wheat. We really, really love Batch five, so I think we want to explore more with what we can do with wheat whiskys for sure. I don't

Zach and Nick (01:03:17):
Know if they officially said it with Glen, we think it's Glen or

Drew (01:03:22):

Zach and Nick (01:03:22):
Think it's, yeah, yeah. I guess we won't go on record as saying that, but I'm pretty sure it's Glen, or just given the age and the fact that it's from North America and the fact they said it's from the oldest distillery making mold.

Zach and Nick (01:03:33):

Drew (01:03:35):
Well, you said Shetland and there is a Shetland distillery, but I don't think a lot of people know about it. It's the furthest north in Scotland,

Zach and Nick (01:03:43):
Which Yeah, that's not what I

Zach and Nick (01:03:44):

Drew (01:03:45):

Zach and Nick (01:03:46):
Yeah. Shelter point. I don't know why that one. Probably

Zach and Nick (01:03:49):
Malt. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Zach and Nick (01:03:51):
Yeah, I was talking about malt. But yeah, no shelter point's. Doing some really cool stuff.

Drew (01:03:56):
Very nice, very Nice. Yeah. So I know you have NDAs, so you can't really talk about where the whisky actually is coming from, but do you try to mix between smaller distilleries and big distilleries? Or right now, is it mostly stock that's coming from the larger distilleries?

Zach and Nick (01:04:15):
Definitely the larger distilleries. I mean, I think that's not because we necessarily would rather source for larger distilleries than smaller distilleries. I think it's just a function of where the best whiskys and the oldest whiskys we think are being produced in Canada are. I think Canada is, it seems to me that the big distilleries still really dominate the production of Canadian whisky. There have been some new interesting younger distilleries, but it's in its nassy. Yeah. So for us, the ability to source these super old whiskys that are well made, that sort of are very self-assured, they know how to make this whisky really well, has just offered the best opportunity from a sourcing perspective. So for now, I think that's the reason that we're focused on the bigger distilleries that have the age stocks.

Zach and Nick (01:05:05):
And I think one lesson that you learn from, I think traveling to different distilleries, not just in North America, but kind of everywhere, is the feedback loop for experimenting and innovating on whisky is really slow. It takes decades for distilleries to really work out what their best process is. There's a lot of whisky that is totally science and you know, can control the variables, but there's aspects of the process that are just kind of unique to the stills itself and the area. And it takes so long for them to say, okay, well we did this and then we waited five years and we don't like it, so let's tweak it. And then another five years we'll figure out whether it worked. As a result, a lot of the biggest distilleries are the oldest distilleries and they've had the most time to work out all the kinks. And so unlike something like beer where the smaller the production, the more control and therefore the higher the quality, or at least that's the assumption. whiskys often kind of the opposite. The best liquid is from the people who've been around the longest and the people been around the longest, often are the biggest distillers and how it goes.

Drew (01:06:28):
Well, and it's part of the reason why I always say don't kick MGP products because MGP is a great distillery that creates amazing whiskys. It's just probably the thing that gets frustrating about them is so many people are using them that how many different variations can you do on a 95 5 rye and really get somebody excited about it? And especially when you have 2000 plus distillers now in the United States or coming up distilleries that are using that juice to get themselves launched. So it is a challenge ever. I said we haven't get to it in a little bit, but you have a whisky that it was eight year. I look at that, I look at the bottle and it says eight year yet when I looked at the back, we've got 21 year whisky in there, 25 year whisky in there. Is there sometimes with that regulation that the whisky can only be aged on the bottle marketing as that youngest whisky that was put into the blend? Does that hold you back in some ways in making you go, what if I had a younger whisky that I tossed in, this would make it perfect, but I hedge because I don't, I've got these 20 year old whiskys and I don't want to not have an age statement on this thing.

Zach and Nick (01:07:59):
I mean, I think the commercial reality is the higher the number, the more people are comfortable paying for it. So I think there is definitely a challenge in that, but I think it also creates an opportunity which we were excited about with batch five specifically to sort of point out that doesn't necessarily dictate the quality of the whisky. So we make an eight year that is predominantly 21 year old whisky that obviously sacrifices our age statement by 13 years, but it allows us for the folks that are interested in digging deeper into the whisky to dispel some of the notions about what's possible by taking an older whisky and blending it with a younger whisky. So I think if we just have our whisky sitting on the shelf, is it a disadvantage probably, right? We're we're going to probably do better with batch four, which has an 18 year on it versus an eight year. But I think for the times when we can speak to people or when the folks that have gotten into our brand at the retail level speak to their customers and they're able to explain this is actually a majority 21 year, and there's a lot of really cool things that come from having an eight year in there, then it becomes an opportunity to sort of challenge the notion that the age statement is the key determinant of the quality.

Zach and Nick (01:09:21):
There also has, that's how we look at it. There has to be a level of trust. Totally. So for us

Zach and Nick (01:09:26):
It's batch five, not

Zach and Nick (01:09:26):
Batch one. Yeah, it's batch five, not batch five. The hope is that when people drink found north, they like it and that the quality is consistently high to the point where on batch five, if you bought batches one through four and you were happy with them, and we come out with something that has an eight year age statement that the consumer says, wait a second, they released a 16, a 17, a 17 an 18 and an eight eight,

Drew (01:10:00):
Why is this eight coming

Zach and Nick (01:10:01):
In here? They're not going to release an eight if they don't think it really is awesome. Right? And so there's a degree of when you get to know our products and you get to know how neurotic we are about our blends, you start to realize, okay, let's trust the blender a little bit. And that's what we're hoping for. And I think as we get further down the line here and build that trust of these guys, make quality product regardless of the age statement, we will have more freedom to mess around in that space. And maybe we can do something that's five year plus 10 year plus 25 year, we can start really getting into that.

Drew (01:10:49):
This is what's interesting is that the big guys really haven't figured this out for themselves yet either. If you look at La Fre lore, when you go to the distillery and they talk about it, they talk about the fact that it has older 20 plus year older whisky in it, but it's non age stated. And the reason it's non age stated is because there's younger whisky in it as well. But we look at that bottle and you really don't get that. You don't have an education by looking at the bottle. Whereas when I look at your bottle, I see eight, you're on the front, but I flip it around and suddenly I'm shocked by going, wow, look at the ages that are on this. And in being transparent, you are educating the audience, which I think is something that has been missed by the big guys at this point.

Zach and Nick (01:11:38):
It's also tougher, I will say it's tougher for the big guys because when they release lore, they're expecting to sell enormous amount of whisky to the world. We are selling not at a scale where most of the people who are buying found North want to dig in. They want to dig in and know what's in there, and they watch the live streams we do, and they read what we write about the whiskys with, sorry, LA Freud, they need to win consumers over at the point of sale in a one line shelf talker. You know what I mean? I just think that's part of why it's hard, and that's part of why it's awesome to make a really super premium whisky like ours where we get to cultivate it for a very particular audience.

Drew (01:12:40):
So this one now that we're jumping into is the cast strength rye, 17 year batch three. And I have to tell you, when I first looked at it and I went 17 year rye, am I going to get any rye out of this at all or is it going to just be kind of blending in? And I was surprised by it. It's on the nose, it's on the pallet, but I also get kind of an almond note out of this. It's interesting, the different kinds of nutty character that I pull out of your whiskys. And again, is this, this isn't an American oak, so it's not. And so is this a charred American oak or is this a bourbon?

Zach and Nick (01:13:23):
Okay, great question. There are multiple different types of American oak in here. When we originally did the labels, we put all of the maturations on the label and it looked like a kind of grocery list. It's a point where aesthetics need to jump in and say, we can't sell a shopping list. So what we've done is we try to be really transparent on our website. You can go look up why even we even try to describe this is why we use these components, not just what's in it, but this is what they brought to the table. But on the label, we try to just focus in on the whisky that the blend was built around, and in this case it was a d r recharge barrel. So effectively stripping the charcoal from the inside of the barrel recharge, it does a couple things. One rejuvenates the oak, but it also thins it out.

So there's a little bit more oxygen interaction, literally there are more pores, it's easier for the air to get in, you get a little bit more of an oxidative reaction. But the recharge is super fun because you've al also already, you've already gotten a lot of the heavy extraction, so it's a much longer gentler process, so you retain that rye, but you do start getting these really cool, you know, notice the nutty notes. I think this is the most floral rye that it's certainly the most floral rye we've made. It also was by far the hardest whisky for us to make. Well,

Drew (01:15:02):
When I have to tell you once this hits the pallet, you sold me ins instantly because I am a sucker for gingerbread cookies. Yes. And this is just nailing, it's got the molasses nice amount of mola molasses in there, that gingery note in there on top of it mean I would be drinking this by a fire around Christmas time and it would be absolutely perfect.

Zach and Nick (01:15:29):
Oh man, thank you. Yeah, that's awesome.

Drew (01:15:34):
And you're changing my impression of what rye whisky can do and it's got some of the, it's funny because it has a little bit of that rye spice, but it's not aggressive again and it kind of mixes with a little leather notes and you get some of the oak notes as well. But to me that's just, like I say, it's gingerbread cookie to me on the pallet big time. So how was it shifting from being a brand ambassador for other people's whiskys to being your own? Does it become a little bit more personal and you kind of have to hold yourself back or are you getting a little too emotional about it?

Zach and Nick (01:16:15):
I get emotional about it.

Zach and Nick (01:16:20):
Yeah. I mean think we do get a lot more emotional about it, which is I think wonderful. I think just that sense of ownership for us and just being able to really take pride in what we're making is one of the reasons why we work so hard at a startup business. It's just really, really fun to make the whisky ourselves and to learn as we go. I think we really like what we've made, but we're just learning at such a rapid rate and we have so much control with the maturation programs in the blending. It's just really cool to be able to make our own stuff and speaking about it firsthand is a lot different from speaking about it thirdhand or secondhand. So yeah, it's a lot more

Zach and Nick (01:17:04):
Emotional invested, I guess. Yeah, it's also really tough when people, Hey, what's the favorite whisky you've made far? It's like, oh wow, you really want me to disparage all the other ones?

Drew (01:17:14):
Right. You're talking about my babies here. Absolutely. I could see that. So this cast rank eight year is interesting in that this is a 27% wheat, 73% corn. So talk about a mash bill versus a blending experience. Do you think they would equate to each other? We talked about how aging in different kinds of barrels and that sort of thing will have a certain effect on it, but should we as a customer be experiencing or expecting a different experience out of a high wheat blend rather than a high wheat mash bill?

Zach and Nick (01:17:59):
Yeah, I think one of the really interesting aspects of Canadian whisky where they're separating the grains before distillation and frankly before, more importantly before fermentation, is you have to consider the starch content of the grain. And what I mean by that is to make alcohol, you need yeast and sugar. So the yeast eats the sugar, the byproduct is alcohol, so the more sugar there is, the more alcohol you make. Well, of course grain has starch, but the starch converts to sugar. So the level of that starch content is going to really dictate to how much alcohol you actually get from the grain. Corn has twice as much starch as rye does. I actually don't know what it is with weed. I think if you did a hundred percent rye mash bill, you get about 8% alcohol by volume. Beer With corn you can get 14 to 16%.

And with weed it's somewhere in between. I think it's like 10 or 11. So why is this important? Well, when you do a mash bill like you do in the us, you're talking about your grains by weight, not by what the alcohol yield was when you did the fermentation. And so when you're separating these things, and this happens all the time with people tasting our batch six, and they sit there and they go, well, it's 87% corn, it's 12% rye, but I'm tasting so much rye. Well, yeah, because if you did a mash bill that was 87 point 12, you'd actually be literally getting way less rye from the whisky. So by doing it by liquid ratio, there should be a little bit different expectation of how much influence you're going to get from the respective grains. And you're also changing what's available to interact with the wood.

So if the corn spirit is going to be more interactive with the wood than the wheat, then the wheat doesn't develop when it's a mash bill. Whereas with us, we found with this eight year old wheat, it was one of the most spectacular components we've worked with at eight years, and it was exclusively in new wood. It was another one of Zach's legendary finds, and it was like, man, it was having a brand new toy to play with. It was really aw. We were like, what are we going to do with this? It was so cool.

Drew (01:20:41):
So what are you finding in wheat that really is drawing you to it?

Zach and Nick (01:20:46):
Mouth feel big, tough mouth feel, the mouth feel in this whisky is not just in one sort of section of your mouth. It is. This is total mouth coating. Okay. And we were blown away by that. We also find that we brings almost like a buttery shortbread cookie note and a minted Irish butter note. And the whole plan around this whisky was we wanted to lay it on a foundation of really old corn because corn, it takes that the length of the whisky. So when you taste a whisky and it tastes a little bit abbreviated when you use older whiskys, that goes away. It starts to basically stretch the experience out. So we were taking this almost explosively flavorful wheat that had so much mouth feel laying it on this foundation of old corn, which was just making the song a lot longer, was just really stretching it out.

Drew (01:21:53):
It has a nice long finish on it. It's really interesting too that the corn on this, and maybe it's the age and the time it's spent in the warehouse, but it just gives me some of what I get in some of those classic older whiskys that Dan and I went through and tasted that it has some of that old warehouse kind of flavor coming through on it. And when you talk about Mayfield, and I've learned this from going to Ireland, Ireland's working with Potstill whisky and they're trying to get regulations changed so they can have up to 30% oats used in their whisky. But the thing I've heard about oats is that 30% is about how far you can go with it, which is because it's so hard to work with, but it creates such a really nice mouth feel to a whisky and it makes me go, does that restrict Canadian distillers from ever making a high oat whisky where they maybe use barley and oats and just make that kind of a whisky

Zach and Nick (01:22:58):
Next project?

Drew (01:23:00):
What's that? As

Zach and Nick (01:23:01):
Soon as that our next project

Drew (01:23:03):
Maybe, I don't know, but I mean, oats are supposed to have a really nice mouth feel to 'em. And everything I've had that have had oats in them have had a nice mouth feel it's, they're really hard to work with

Zach and Nick (01:23:17):
Because it gums up the stills

Drew (01:23:18):
Or it does. Well, and it's funny, actually being in Tennessee, George Dickel sources their rye from mgp and it's because it's really hard to make rye whisky because it also can be a bear to work with. It expands while it's fermenting. So then you have a lot of distillers that won't work with and make ry whiskys because of that particular situation. And I was at a particular distillery in Tennessee and he was working with Ry and he said, yeah, this, we knew we needed to make it, but it's just tough to get around. So I guess you have to lean on your distilleries and of course you're going to have to wait 15 to 20 years before if you request an out whisky, you got to wait. Got some time to wait to get that.

Zach and Nick (01:24:13):
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I mean I would basically work with anything we found that was really interesting. And you're absolutely right, which is a bit of the luxury of sourcing the whisky is we don't have to go through the experimental phase of oh great, this was great mouth field, but we used 40% oats and now we got to spend six weeks cleaning the stills.

Drew (01:24:40):
Yeah, no, I mean there's a lot of distilleries that I talked to that they're dealing with yield issues because they're trying to use an experiment with old varieties of barley and corn and all the rest. So there's so many different headaches that can work into that particular end of it. So this gives you a little bit of a breather on that side of things. So in terms of feedback, when you have people tasting your whiskys and then you hear what they're saying about them, does that influence you to want to try different things and maybe hunt down different barrels that you haven't been looking for when you're on those hunts?

Zach and Nick (01:25:26):
Yeah, that's a cool question. I think we do think about that as a dialogue. So when we make things, we of course care a lot about whether the folks that are drinking the whisky are getting the same things we're getting from them. I think we definitely have a style that it, it's very hard for us to make a whisky that we don't organically genuinely love. That would be sort of inauthentic. It would be hard for us to make whiskys that don't ring a bell for us personally. So I think there's definitely a very personal nature to whisky making where it adheres to what we believe to be a good whisky. But I think on the edges of that is that feedback loop. And I think a great example of that is the fact that we make more corn dominant grain ratios than rye dominant. You spoke about the challenge of that initially commercially, and I think there's a huge challenge to that.

When we started, the benefit of making rye whisky is it sits nicely in the American whisky category. So when the kind of drinkers that we, our whiskys come into a store, very few of them look in the Canadian whisky section. They're looking in the bourbon and rye section. And so for us, we thought that it would be a necessity to focus on rye, but our batch two sold more quickly than our batch one, our batch two being a corn dominant grain ratio versus a rye dominant. And when that happened, that feedback that we got from the customers really unlocked our ability to go forward and make a ton of corn dominant grain ratios, which is what makes batches four, five, and six possible. So I think that's a great example of where the feedback loop just unlocked us to pursue something that if folks hadn't gotten into that product line, we would've probably had to really dial back. So yeah, I mean it's kind of a give and take, but we're just excited that folks embraced a whisky that has a challenging designation that we don't really love calling, we just don't love all the names. It's hard. It doesn't fit neatly into a category, but the fact that people supported that and enjoy it allows us to go much deeper into that.

Drew (01:27:45):
It's really interesting to me. I think about, I'm a big music fan, so I think about music that kind of fits in between styles. And I love when an artist tries to push those categories and tries to nudge themselves. Prince comes to mind because early on he could have been almost disco, but then it kind of worked into is he r and b? Is he a rock artist? What is this guy? How does he fit landscape? The problem is that we need labels to be able to find something within the store, but this is getting tougher, and I've had this discussion actually with a couple of people about the idea that is it time to kick the scotch category out and the Irish category out and the American whisky categories of bourbon category out and actually have a store set up to where you have have single malt and you have rye whisky and then you have, but then that kind of still doesn't solve your issue because you're going to be in a whisky category. And the question then being what else is in that whisky category along with you and is that the whisky you want to be associated with?

Zach and Nick (01:29:09):
I would think North American whisky would be an interesting way of categorizing that because if you look at the dominant whisky making regions outside of North America, they're really pretty focused on malt outside of the kind of really high proof grain whiskys that they're using where they don't even designate the grain. It's just whatever commodity is lowest cost. The focus is on making malt whisky. And I think North America as a whisky making tradition is focused on rye and corn. So I think we would consider ourselves more adjacent to American whiskys than the broader global whisky category. So that's one way you might look at it.

Drew (01:29:51):
Well, and we still have the concept of top shelf, middle shelf, bottom shelf as well. And I can't ignore the fact that you guys created these really tall bottles, which the rumor is that the reason you create a really tall bottle is because it forces the liquor store to put it on the top shelf.

Zach and Nick (01:30:12):
The Greg story, that was

Zach and Nick (01:30:16):

Zach and Nick (01:30:16):
Guy to be funny. We have our little stumpy bottle, and

Drew (01:30:21):
So there we go. So why is this bottle different from the other ones?

Zach and Nick (01:30:27):
We wanted really, when we created our single barrel program, we wanted it to stand out in the sense that I got to do a lot of barrel picking when I was working in retail. It's one of the really fun aspects of the business. And the reason being that picking a barrel, it gives you the sense of one of a kind whisky, right? The ephemeral nature of whisky is one of the really exciting aspects of it. And so for us, when we were designing our process, we wanted it to be very one of one, and we wanted the packaging to match that in a sense so that when you walked into a store, though, we sell so many of the bottles to clubs, but when you walk into a store and you see a short stumpy found north bottle, you immediately are going, oh, that's different from everything else they make. That is something that is unique, that is something that's very individual, and that was really the consideration.

Drew (01:31:26):
So this is a cast strength single barrel. And so let's talk about this single barrel concept because this has a 19 year old rye, a 12 year old rye and a 21 year old corn. So what point does it become a single barrel?

Zach and Nick (01:31:42):
No, I love the way

Zach and Nick (01:31:44):
You described it. Yeah, so you go for this one. So basically when we were creating the single barrel program, how do you make a Canadian whisky that fully embraces the process of blending and yet have a single barrel program, right? It's almost oxymoronic. If we were to take one of our corn components or one of our ripe components and just select a single barrel out of that lot, it would effectively kind of defeat the whole purpose or over, it's not the best way of presenting the whisky, right? It wouldn't make the best whisky. And for us, we're very much following the best whisky. And so how do we create our single barrel program? We decided, okay, let's create a blend and then let's recast the blend into different barrel types. And those different finishing casts will become our single barrels. And the attitude around that was twofold.

One, by putting it into a bunch of different barrel types. When you buy a single barrel as a club or a store, when you purchase a single barrel from us, you're really getting something that's different from all the other whiskys, even all the other found north whiskys that are on the market. And on top of it, this isn't just us pulling a single barrel out of a line of whisky we make. So this isn't the batch three single barrel and we just pulled the barrel out of it. Each blend that we do for our single barrel program will be a unique one of a kind blend. So it was how do we enhance that unique quality as much as possible? How do we really make these single barrels that are worth opening for a special occasion that mark a moment? And that's what we settled on. That was kind of the way we settled on it.

Drew (01:33:50):
It's really interesting too. This is 54.7 abb, so I think this is the lowest A B V that we've gone for on this is that I is more aging being done here? Or the other thing I would think would be, and when I say here, I mean in the United States, or is it because in Scotland you tend to lose more alcohol evaporating because of the weather conditions versus in Kentucky you're losing more of the water is which of those would be affecting this A B V

Zach and Nick (01:34:30):
Humidity? So humidity is the biggest effect on a B V. So when you use a dge warehouse and you have a hundred percent humidity, the whole concept of a hundred percent humidity is the air molecule is literally physically holding its maximum amount of water, hence a hundred percent. So when you have a hundred percent humidity in the air, the only thing that can really evaporate into the air is the ethanol. So in Scotland, you'll constantly see it effectively go down. In Kentucky, it actually goes down and then it goes up, it goes down at first because the molecules that are escaping are all the really small molecules. But once you have these longer chain molecules that are existing and you get this dry climate, it's actually much easier for the relatively small H two O molecule to evaporate out of the barrel, and therefore the proof starts to go up. That's how you can have something that's 125 filling proof, be 140 proof. With us, our single barrel program went everywhere. This was actually our lowest a V barrel. Most of them went up a little bit, so this went in around 56%, and that was just the combination of components we were using. But a bunch of 'em went up, this one went down. Why

Drew (01:35:59):
The grand mystery of the whisky world?

Zach and Nick (01:36:01):
Yes, exactly. So I can tell you the science that's been, I can regurgitate the science that I've learned from. Yeah, distillers. But the fact is that, was it not quite as tight a barrel or did they screw up the angle a little bit when they were installing one of the stil? One of the staves, who knows?

Drew (01:36:25):
Well, this one is probably closer to what I would think of when I think of rye. The rye does stand out on the nose on this. I get a little hazelnut on this one also, but on the pallet, I get the dark chocolate that I sometimes expect out of awry whisky and nice urbanly kind of awry on this one, which again is spot on for me.

Zach and Nick (01:36:53):
So we actually sold this one it. This was really fun because effectively we don't have a gift shop as someone who has been to so many different distilleries, I'm sure. I mean, most fun part has to be when you get to the gift shop and you see what's only being sold there. That's really fun things about traveling to whisky distilleries. We don't get that, right. We don't actually do that. We don't have our physical location where we have a gift shop built in. Not yet. We're working on it, not yet. But how do we recreate that experience? We did it by having an online only release. So effectively you have to be on our mailing list to get the link that notifies when it's released. It's up for grabs at that point, but if you're not waiting at the computer, you missed your chance. This one sold out in 12 minutes.

So that was pretty fun. So this was actually our first single barrel we ever did. And what was interesting about it was we had several barrels that we were picking from to be quote unquote barrel one. This one had you mentioned that chocolate note, we nickname all the whiskys as we're before. We actually officially name 'em, and we nicknamed this one, the S'more. Nice. It just had the marshmallow of the sort of dark chocolate and that a little bit sort of rise spice graham cracker note. It reminded us so much of a s'more that we said, this is just so identifiable that we wanted it to be released as our first barrel.

Drew (01:38:33):
That's fantastic. So have you had feedback from your Canadian neighbors? Because here we are. See, I love Canada and in fact, I would travel to Canada once every couple years in Quebec's, one of my favorite places to go. So I would spend time in Quebec. And then it was funny interviewing Daven because I had forgotten my Canadian etiquette and I had said something, I said, I keep wanting to say American American, but I need to be realize that you guys are also in North America. And he gave me a, well, I'll forgive you for that kind of a thing. So there is that kind of tongue in cheek. I know it's all in fun, but it's one of those things where you're taking, you're an American, taking a Canadian whisky and you are trying to give people an impression of Canadian whisky. Have you heard any feedback from anybody in Canada about what it is that you're doing with their spirit?

Zach and Nick (01:39:41):
I mean, we haven't heard from any of the suppliers,

Zach and Nick (01:39:45):

Zach and Nick (01:39:47):
A lot of customers or would be customers, which is cool. Yeah, because we don't, I mean, we have a much better understanding of American consumers. We don't really fully understand what Canadian whisky drinkers want, but through just a lot of emails and direct messages through social media and stuff like that, we have definitely gotten a lot of interest in what we're doing, which is really exciting, frankly for us. So there's definitely interest in how we're approaching Canadian at the consumer level. I think the suppliers, again, the bigger suppliers, they're focused on much bigger production items than we are. So maybe, I don't know, maybe they don't pay as much attention to us as we do to them. But yeah, consumer level, we've gotten a ton of interest and I think it'll be really interesting to hear from some folks who, we've gotten a lot of feedback from American whisky drinkers who are trying this interesting adjacency. Yeah, it'll be very interesting to get more direct feedback from Canadian whisky drinkers and how we fit into what they are used to tasting and drinking as opposed to having this lens of how do we compare this to the American whiskys that we've had and how does this fit into that discussion? So I mean, being two years old, there's a lot more for us to get feedback on.

Drew (01:41:07):
I just think of the first time I took a friend of mine across the border. We were going to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but we came in through Port Huron, Michigan, and he was just starting to get into hockey. And when we got to the border, the border guard said, what? What's your purpose in Canada? We're going to the ho. He said, proudly, we're going to the Hockey Hall of fame. And the guy said, well, who's your favorite hockey player? And he says, oh, John LeClair. Well, John LeClair was an American hockey player that played for the Philadelphia Flyers, and he gave them a weird look. And he said, he looked over at me and he said, who's your favorite? Well, I'm from Detroit, so I said, Steve Eiserman, who is Canadian. And so I got through fine, but it's just that funny kind of relationship there. And so I can see the border guard when somebody who's Canadian comes down to the United States and they say, what do you have to declare? And they said, I'm bringing some Canadian whisky back with me into Canada. What kind of looks though again?

What's that? You got there, eh? It will be very interesting. Very interesting. Well, I appreciate,

Zach and Nick (01:42:28):
Sorry, go. Yeah,

Drew (01:42:29):
Yeah, I was going to say, I really appreciate you guys taking the time and sending me such great whisky to taste here and to introduce to my audience. And it's one, it's a rarity actually that I stretch beyond history stuff when I'm doing my whisky tastings, but occasionally I want people to stretch themselves into whiskys beyond their own borders or what they're familiar with drinking and see that there's a greater world of spirits out there. And what you guys are doing right now is you are basically introducing people to Canadian whisky, but in a different way and expanding that concept of what Canadian whisky could actually be. And I think that's brilliant. So I really appreciate you guys presenting all these to me and giving me an opportunity to taste them and introduce them to the audience.

Zach and Nick (01:43:22):
Yeah, well, thank you mean, yeah, seriously, that's really nice to hear.

Drew (01:43:26):
Well, and so if people are looking for bottles of your whisky, how are they going to find them?

Zach and Nick (01:43:30):
Probably the best places. Our website, our website shows not only can our e-commerce partners deliver to many of the states in the us but also we have a store locator that we update judiciously that shows where our products are available. So that would be a great starting point. We also, in light of transparency, we are descriptive about the whiskys on our site, so all the information's there. So I think that's probably the best starting point for learning and figuring out where to buy our stuff from North whisky.com.

Zach and Nick (01:44:00):
Yeah, and we on there, and I'll say it out loud, but we really encourage people to email us. We've had a lot of people that email us, I'm Nick, he zach@foundnorthwhisky.com, but even we put it right on there, it there's founders@foundnorthwhisky.com. If you email that, we we're pretty good. We usually get to it within 24 hours. We find perhaps the most romantic aspect of whisky is the back and forth between the consumer and the producer. So we try to adhere to that and cultivate that. So if you can't find it or it's not in your state or there's some issue or you want it, let us know. We love hearing that.

Drew (01:44:45):
Fantastic. Well, I wish you guys all the success in the world and cheers.

Zach and Nick (01:44:50):
Cheers, cheers.

Zach and Nick (01:44:51):
Thank you, drew.

Zach and Nick (01:44:52):
Thanks Drew.

Drew (01:44:53):
And coming up in two weeks, we're going to jump back into history on this podcast and get into a historic brand that's returning in the form of a Kentucky Bourbon. And then we're going to be heading back overseas to learn a little bit about a brand centered around the shipping docks of Belfast. A little more Irish whisky history there for you. And while I continue to work on my Tennessee whisky history book, whisky Lore Stories is going to remain on hiatus. But if you can't get enough whisky history, make sure to join me on patreon.com/whisky. As a member, you're going to have access to member only videos with lots of history for as little as $5 a month. That's whisky history for the price of a cup of coffee. That's patriot.com/whisky. I'm your host, drew Hamish. Thanks for listening and until next time, cheers. And SL jva whisky Lore is a production of Travel Fuel's Life, L L C.


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