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Ep. 18 - Robert Likarish of Ironroot Republic Distillery

TEXAS WHISKEY // How a grape man drew two brothers into the distilling business.

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Show Notes

This interview pairs nicely with the Whiskey Lore Story Episode: Phylloxera's Effect on Scotch, Cognac, and Texas Whiskey

The whiskey tasted during this interview was provided by Ironroot Republic. Opinions are my own.

A true family business, Robert, his brother Jonathan, and their mother Marcia run all of the operations at the distillery - and if you think this is the typical family ascent into the whiskey industry - featuring years of background making spirits - you would be mistaken. Robert was a law student and Jonathan was an engineer.

One of their inspirations - in fact the namesake of the distillery is TV Ironroot Munson, also known as the grape man of Texas and the man who saved Cognac from a dreaded aphid. You can hear that whole story in the Phylloxera episode in Season 3 of Whiskey Lore, and we will talk a bit about the man here in this episode.

We'll also talk about their fascination with terroir, the types of corn they use, and the influnce Cognac and Armanac have had on them. The more I asked questions, the more fascinating the discussion became.

 In this interview we discuss:

  • Why Denison?
  • The French style of working with spirits
  • Terroir, Provenance, and Elevage
  • Working with local corn varietals
  • Tasting a Bloody Butcher Corn
  • Chill-filtering and mouthfeel
  • The Texas funk and distillery character
  • Handling an intense environment
  • Finishing casks
  • European oak in Texas and tannins
  • Harbinger the name
  • Naming the still
  • Choosing the right char level for a barrel
  • Kentucky bourbon vs Texas bourbon
  • The oddballs
  • The experiments and tasting a green Oaxacan corn
  • Whiskey slows you down
  • Robert and Jonathan's background
  • Visiting Huber's Starlight and touring Kentucky and Tennessee
  • Winning awards and the impact
  • The French and European relationship with American whiskey
  • The story behind Texas Legation and Berry Bros.
  • Breakfast burrito in England
  • Pot still from Vendome
  • How mom got involved
  • How they choose barrels for bottling
  • Tracking your progress and always making something better
  • Creating a core profile
  • Longer fermentation for more esthers
  • Philosophy on yeast
  • Scorching a whiskey
  • Speaking of peated whiskies, Icarus tasting
  • Bottle shape (shoo fly flask)
  • That blue cheese note
  • Scotch vs bourbon and the American whiskey movement
  • Tasting an Ironroot Irish style whiskey
  • Tasting an Ironroot 6 year old Texas Bourbon unicorn
  • Drinking a high proof whiskey and off the still
  • The wild west of Texas whiskey
  • The beauty of tradition, but the fun of experimentation

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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Transcript

Welcome to Whiskey Lore: The Interviews
I'm your host Drew Hannush - Amazon best selling author of the Whiskey Lore Travel Guide to Experiencing Kentucky Bourbon

and welcome to an encore interview from back in 2020 in Denison, Texas with Iron Root Republic's co-founder Robert Likarish.

A true family business, Robert, his brother Jonathan, and their mother Marcia run all of the operations at the distillery - and if you think this is the typical family ascent into the whiskey industry - featuring years of background making spirits - you would be mistaken. Robert was a law student and Jonathan was an engineer.

One of their inspirations - in fact the namesake of the distillery is TV Ironroot Munson, also known as the grape man of Texas and the man who saved Cognac from a dreaded aphid. You can hear that whole story in the Phylloxera episode in Season 3 of Whiskey Lore, and we will talk a bit about the man here in this episode.

We'll also talk about their fascination with terroir, the types of corn they use, and the influnce Cognac and Armanac have had on them. The more I asked questions, the more fascinating the discussion became.

Now, you will notice I am little bit hoarce in this interview. Full disclosure, my mother had passed away the day before, so to say my body was not in tip top shape is an understatement. But the show must go on and I'm really glad I got to meet Robert and talk about his passion for whiskey. You'll hear it show through in this episode.

So, as we moved into the boardroom at Ironroot Republic, I sat down and was greeted by some lovely drams I will be sampling in this episode. Let's listen in to the conversation I had with Robert Likarish.

(Completing the translation, should have available by the end of August)

Thanks so much to Robert for taking time to sit and talk and then show me around the distillery.
And for more interviews, make sure to subscribe to Whiskey Lore: The Interviews and if you're a fan of whiskey and stories, check out the Whiskey Lore stories podcast. And for show notes of any of these episodes, head to Whiskey-Lore.com

I'm your host Drew Hannush and until next time.

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