While craft spirits distilleries are not an entirely new phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest, whiskey – considered the crowned-jewel of craft distilling by many – has only recently begun to gain a foothold. The challenge of starting a whiskey distillery from scratch stems from the need for whiskey to age in casks for a significant period of time before being ready for distribution, making it difficult for a start-up to stay afloat during the aging period. Lee Medoff of Bull Run Distilling Co., solved this problem by importing whiskey from established distilleries to finish, dilute and sell while he waited for his original product be ready. Other distillers produce vodka and gin, significantly less time-intensive spirits, while waiting for their whiskey to come of age.
Now that a significant number of whiskey distilleries are up and running in the Pacific Northwest, some are beginning to ask whether there is a definable set of characteristics that make a Northwest or “Cascadia” whiskey. Stuart Ramsay, a Scottish-born whiskey expert living in Portland, holds seminars to introduce locals to the various craft whiskeys offered in the region and beyond. He and Lee Medoff join us to explore the world of craft whiskey distilling in the Northwest.
Have you tried any whiskeys distilled here in the Pacific Northwest? What sort of characteristics do you prefer in a whiskey?