Batches #2 through #5 of Ontario's first farm to table organic whisky are distilled from the same soft white winter wheat and the same Schomberg farm as Batch #1, this time the 2013 harvest. 2013 saw a lot more rain than in 2012, and sure enough, this led to subtle differences in the whisky. Original tasting notes are still present, now a bit nuttier and earthier.
Enjoy neat as a slow sipper or as a mixer.
50% alc./vol., 375 mL. LCBO Item # 365528. ONLINE PURCHASE NOTE: We don't offer delivery yet, just local pickup.
Here's the spirit's story:
Your bottle is distilled from the 2013 harvest of soft white winter wheat, grown by Mike & Bonnie O'Hara in Schomberg, Ontario. The O'Hara's organic family farm, less than an hour's drive up the 400 from our distillery, is conveniently located near to what's become an endangered breed: the artisan mill.
Before grains are mashed and fermented, they need to be milled first to free the grain's starches. Milling is its own delicate craft, and Health Canada has a nice & concise guide to the difference between whole grain and refined grain. Large scale milling practices sacrifice natural oils and waxes that are needed for good whisky. So we're very grateful to benefit from the work of Mark Heyhoe, owner of K2 Milling in Beeton, Ontario. As an artisan miller, Mark is able to mill the wheat while preserving the components of the whole grain.
From the Schomberg farm via the Beeton mill, the wheat's next stop is our distillery in the Junction. We then mix the grain with Toronto municipal water, carbon filtered. This "mash" is then heated, so that enzymes can do their work of converting the starch into sugar. Once cooled, the mash ferments on site for six days, with yeast converting the sugar to alcohol. After fermentation, the mash will have an alcohol volume a bit lower than a bottle of wine, and is ready to be put in our still.
"Distilling" begins here: because alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, it'll vaporize off the mash as the mash heats up. Thankfully it's not a precise separation, so the alcohol molecules bring along the grain's essence for the ride through the still. As the alcohol vapor climbs up our still, it comes into contact with a series of copper plates, which helps smooth it out by absorbing some of the less pleasant molecules. Finally as it rounds the bend at the top, cold water is circulated so that the alcohol vapor re-condenses into a liquid spirit.
When the liquid re-condenses and starts to come out of the still, it'll have a very high proof, upwards of 80% abv. The first phase of the run off is referred to as the "heads", then the hearts, then the tails. The "hearts" are the smoothest and most flavorful, and making this 'cut' is the height of the distiller's art. With the distillation run over and the hearts phase separated, we then "proof down" the hearts to 50% a.b.v. with distilled water. At this point, it's ready to be bottled and enjoyed.