Owner, co-founder, and head distiller of Deerhammer Distillery in Buena Vista, CO, Lenny Eckstein invited us up to visit after hearing the podcast episode where we talked about young whiskey. Lenny felt that he could offer some valuable experience to us that would improve our understanding of distillation and maturation particularly as it relates to how craft distillers approach creating single malt, bourbon, and rye whiskies when they know they won't age them for longer than 2 to 5 years. It was indeed eye-opening to understand his process, how he grew to produce really good whiskey at 2 and 3 years of age, and his plan to extend the overall maturity of his primary expressions to 5 years in the barrel and beyond.
We got to experience Deerhammer distillate from 3 days off the still, at six months, at 2 years, 3 years, and older so that we could taste for ourselves how time in the barrel affects the flavor. Knowing what the distillate tastes like before ever entering the barrels was an invaluable experience in understanding what we drink down the road. I'd put it right up there with blind tasting if anyone wants to truly understand the value of a spirit.
In this first of two podcasts with Lenny, he gives us his history from attending art school to brewing beer in his basement, to him and his wife Amy deciding that they'd start a distillery in the mountain town of Buena Vista, or as locals call it, BV. We recorded this in the Deerhammer rack house surrounded by hundreds of barrels of aging whiskey, the smell was wondrous and frankly, intoxicating on its own. It was amazing!
After wrapping up this introductory recording, Lenny led us through tastings of smoked corn whiskey, bourbon including some experimentation with their four-grain bourbon mash bill, rye whiskey, and of course the Deerhammer American Single Malt - their flagship product. We were ready to be honest about what we tasted. If it was just wasn't good, we were going to say so but the truth was far simpler to deal with. All of the whiskey was very good. And we did taste ALL of the whiskey. Lenny has a fun and simple process to sample barrels using long silicon straws. The barrels employ silicon bungs so it's easy to pop out the bung and drop in the straw to siphon out whiskey in its purest form. It was all of our whiskey dreams come true. We had the cameras rolling most of the time too so we'll have videos up on YouTube soon as well.
Then we followed up with a second podcast to review what we'd learned. Be sure to give that a listen too. Cheers!
To learn more about Deerhammer Distillery go to https://www.deerhammer.com or follow them on social media @deerhammer