I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky?
While spirits like our Ridgeline Whiskey ferment relatively quickly (three or four days) our Papilio needs a little more time in the fermenter before it’s ready to be double distilled. That means that, as we see our cases disappearing out the door, we need to plan ahead and cook up another batch ahead of time.
We make our Papilio Agave Spirit (known to some as “VTquila”) from agave nectar and Vermont maple syrup, combining two delicious sugars and fermenting the resulting mixture. It’s a sticky process getting everything in the mash tun to cook and pasteurize before adding the yeast and letting it do its magic, but it’s well worth the extra cleanup.
Papilio isn’t flavored or sweetened with maple syrup, as some people expect. Instead, by using it right alongside the agave nectar during our fermentation, we add that subtle, round maple finish that makes it so sip-able on its own and so unique to use in a cocktail. Here’s to another day of sticky Papilio production, and a new batch released in 3-4 weeks once it’s been fermented, distilled and bottled! Cheers!
We love bottling day! Why? Partly because it’s the ultimate fruition of all that hard work. Many early mornings of mashing the barley, corn and rye for our Ridgeline Whiskey, Mythic Gin and Fractal Vodka, many careful distillations and a lot of patience while our Whiskey ages or our gin botanicals macerate. After all of that work, once our spirits have been carefully proofed to the right strength, it’s time to taste test. Once everyone has signed off on the final product we begin bottling. This is the part of the process where we get to handle every bottle that finds its way out the door. It might sound goofy but it’s an intimate part of the process (and who doesn’t love taste testing?).
You hear a lot about things being “hand bottled” and that might seem like a buzz-word. For us, the term is quite literal. Every bottle that comes out of our distillery has been labeled by hand. Our hands. And our small bottling rig fits and fills four bottles at a time, but every one of those bottles is placed, corked and sealed by us. It’s just one more part of the process that we can be involved in.
One of the benefits to a distillery founded by a former chef and a former chemist is the extensive understanding of two incredibly important aspects of distillation: the science and the flavor. This is, perhaps, most fully realized when we get to blend the botanicals for our gin and begin our maceration. Yes, that’s right, “get to”. It’s that awesome of a task.
Our spent botanicals after maceration
Mythic Gin is a “new world” style of gin which departs from a traditional “london dry” style. Mythic is on the floral, herbal end of the gin spectrum and, above all, we shoot for balance. A blend where no one botanical steals the show. Instead, we want every one of our eleven botanicals to work collectively with the others. That’s where Mythic’s unique flavor profile comes from.
As a base spirit, we start with something kind of like an unaged version of our Ridgeline Whiskey. Rather than beginning with a neutral grain spirit or “NGS”, we use something that already has some flavor and character as a foundation, and then build off of that with our botanicals. Juniper (of course), balsam fir, chamomile, coriander, cardamom, szechuan black peppercorn, lemon peel, rose hips, sheep sorrel and cassia make up our unique botanical blend. All of these are carefully portioned out and added to our base, where they’ll sit for one week before our final distillation.
After portioning everything out it’s pretty incredible. Imagine a 5-gallon container filled with the pure scent of your favorite gin. It’s like being hit in the face with a beloved flavor profile. Then, after that week of macerating, the gin goes into our little copper gin still and we distill it once more. Then bottles, and then…martinis? G&Ts? Something more exotic? You decide.