Monday, July 13, 2015

:: boston harbor distillery ::

About two weeks ago, I was invited by the IndustryPress to take a tour of the new Boston Harbor Distillery. Since I have known co-proprietor Corey Bunnewith since his days as a bartender from Drink onward, I was definitely interested in attending. The distillery itself is on the south shore of the Harbor and visible from the I-93 as you head south of the city. The building itself has had a lot of history since it opened in 1859. First, it was the S.S. Putnam Nail Factory that produced nails including for horse shoes to both sides of the Civil War. Later, it became George Lawley ship builders and then part of the Seymour's Ice Cream dynasty -- the company the created the Nutty Buddy. To reflect the building's time line of land, sea, and confection, all whiskey products will pay respects under the Putnam line, rum and anything coastal with the Lawley line, and liqueurs via Seymour's. For a still, the distillery has a 150 gallon Vendrome with 6 plates, with a second, larger 250 or 500 gallon still from the same company to be ordered shortly. The still itself is run by John Couchot who besides working for various breweries such as Dogfish Head has also worked at Rogue where he helped with their distilled products line.

The Putnam Whiskeys that they were aging were a classic rye with 95.5% of that grain in the mashbill and a single malt whiskey that utilizes, beside a 2 row barley, chocolate roasted malts to add deeper, richer flavors that are often seen in amber and darker beers. With these spirits, they are trying to capture the essence of New England whiskey by grain and brewing styles. The rye that I tried had been aging for a month and was around 118° instead of the future bottling proof of 86°. At such a high rye content, it had plenty of spice from the grain and caramel from the new #4 char barrel. Next, in honor of the maritime past, the Lawley line has sugar cane spirits. To make it more New England, Vermont maple syrup is added to the ferment; however, this prevents the distillate from ever being called rum. Instead, they have branded it a New England spirit. Unaged, this maple gives a roundedness to the sugar cane, and in the barrel-aged sample, it complemented the woody spice. The third line is the Seymour's with the liqueurs, and here the maple syrup really shines. Their coffee liqueur using a white rye whiskey base and cold brew of New Barrington coffees is sweetened by maple syrup. Moreover, the maple lends an elegance to the mid-palate. Also connecting to the ice cream magnate, the rickhouse is in the old ice cream warehouse, so perhaps they will be able to tap into the architecture and design for better control during aging.
One of the product lines that I found most interesting was a collaboration set up by another of Boston Harbor Distillery's proprietors, CEO Rhonda Kallman. Tapping into her long history with Boston Beer Company as one of the co-founders of Sam Adams back in the mid 1980s, they are distilling Sam Adam beers into hopped whiskeys. Taking Sam Adams New World Belgian-style Tripel, the distillery made a hopped eau de vie that expressed both the hops and grain. While I tasted it at 120° instead of the bottling 86° strength (essentially 6-fold more concentrated than the approximate 10% starting beer strength), the nose offered darker malts and resiny floral hops aromas. While other beer whiskeys exist such as Aventinus, it is great to see a local connection to this style.

Please visit their website to learn more, and perhaps visit the distillery itself!

1 comment:

Eli@Clothbound said...

Hi Fred,

Thank you for taking the tour with the team at TIP. I hope you enjoyed it and appreciate the support.

Eli Feldman