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You’ve been asking “when?” for years. Now we have the answer!
As many of you know, Cedar Ridge has been making Single Malt Whiskey for years. We are now ready to begin releasing a few barrels.
Most of you are familiar with our Bourbon. Bourbon whiskey is whiskey that is made from at least 51% corn, and aged only in new American oak barrels. Our Bourbon grain bill generally includes 70-75% corn, with the remainder split evenly between rye and malted barley.
Single Malt whiskey, by contrast, is made from 100% malted barley. If we were in Scotland, we would call this product Single Malt Scotch. But we’re not. So we lose the “Scotch” designation. It is virtually the same otherwise. Not all Scotch, however, is Single Malt. Blended Scotch is generally a blend of both Single Malts and barley-based Whisky that is largely un-malted. Malting is the process of wetting and warming the barley, to allow germination to begin, then drying (sometimes with peat smoke) this barley at just the right moment to stop the germination right after certain enzymes have developed.
So, while Bourbon is made from corn and aged in only NEW charred oak, Single Malt is made only from malted barley and never aged in new charred oak. In fact, most Single Malt is actually aged in used Bourbon casks (which can’t be used to make more Bourbon, because they are no longer “new”). Malted barley, in my opinion, makes a more delicate drink that requires more time in a more relaxed atmosphere. I’ve tasted Single Malt whiskey that was aged in new oak – it’s much more “upfront” or “forward” with its taste profile. Good Single Malt aged in used barrels takes more time to release all of its flavor and complexity on your tongue. You can’t rush Single Malt.
Cedar Ridge Single Malts will always be made from 100% malted barley. However, almost every barrel will be unique because we finish each cask differently. First of all, every “barrel” of our Single Malt will actually have aged in at least two different barrels. As our Single Malt matures, we dump it from the first barrel we age it in and transfer it to another barrel for “finishing”. We use a variety of different casks for this process – ex-Bourbon casks, ex-Port casks, ex-Rum casks, ex-Brandy cask, ex-Wine casks, even ex-Sherry casks we are shipping in from Europe. Secondly, we are experimenting with different styles of malts. We use two-row, peated, six-row – whatever we can get our hands on, as long as it is malted. This allows us to establish a unique “pedigree”, or history, for each finished barrel.
A couple of months ago, Kolin (our head distiller), Jon (our brewer) and I had the difficult task (haha) of tasting through our oldest 19 casks of Single Malt. (see photo above) After several hours of tasting, re-tasting and eliberation, we concluded we would have four casks worthy of release by this May. We believe we will have four more in August and four more in about November of 2013. We’re working hard to increase this production rate over time.
Over the coming weeks, please stay tuned to our emails and Facebook postings as we post more details on the release of Iowa’s first Single Malts.
--- Jeff Quint, Proprietor
For more information from Cedar Ridge, check out their website
Related: Cedar Ridge celebrates three year anniversary