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Episode 50 Part 2 Top of Mind Video Transcript | The Science of Distilling

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, Episode 50 Part 2, 5/22/14  Watch Episode 50 Part 2

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, May 22, 2014, Episode 50, Part 2

>> In the second part of our series on Dark Horse Distillery we're taking a behind the scenes look at the science of distilling and finding out exactly what makes a good bourbon.  I'm Jon Robinson.  And this is "Top of Mind." 

>> Let's talk about the product a little bit.  

>> Okay.  

>> You began with the vodka and the white whiskey.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> What, what makes your craft distillery vodka different if I was to taste yours and then have a sip of Absolute or Skyy or something to that effect?  

>> Our vodka is a small batch vodka.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> We‑‑ the grain that we use with the vodka, it's all localized Kansas grain.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And we take good care of what we do.  And not to say those other companies don't.  But you really, when you taste a small batch vodka with a major branded vodka you're going to actually get a little bit more of a flavor coming from ours.  That has to do with the wheat, that has to do with the small batch process‑‑  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ that we're doing.  And we like to think that you can drink our‑‑ we have a lot of people that tell us that you could, you could really drink our vodka straight up‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ or on the rocks.  And it's just got so much flavor that people enjoy it.  

>> And what‑‑ what is white whiskey, other than my nickname around the office?  

>> White whiskey is a, it's the‑‑ when we do a‑‑ when we do the milling, the mashing, into fermentation‑‑  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ and then through the distillation everything that comes off the still is white.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> It's all clear.  

>> Okay.  So the character from the bourbon and the rye, it gets its‑‑ it gets its color, its flavor, most of its flavor from the barrel.  Okay.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> What we do with our white whiskey is we do not barrel age it.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> We pull it off the still.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And usually off the still it comes off anywhere between 140‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ to 150 proof.  

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, Episode 50 Part 2, 5/22/14  Watch Episode 50 Part 2

>> Wow.  

>> And so what we use with this particular spirit is we do a half corn‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ half wheat‑‑ 

>> Okay.  

>> ‑‑ for it.  

>> Okay.  

>> And then we twice distil it and filter it six times.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> So really in all essence, everything is clear that comes off.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> But what we do is we're taking this and turning it into an actual, an actual bottled spirit.  

>> Okay.  And that proof comes down overtime?  

>> Correct.  And actually what we will do we will distil, add a reverse osmosis or a distilled water‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ to this particular filter here.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And we take it down to 80 proof.  

>> Okay.  

>> So it's very‑‑ so really you could drink it neat.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> You can drink it on the rocks just like we did with our vodka, but also it does great mixed into a cocktail.

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ in order to call it whiskey we actually let this white whiskey sit into a barrel, go into a barrel for less than a day.  

>> Wow.  

>> So all whiskey has to touch‑‑ 

>> Wood.  

>> New American wood.  

>> Wow. 

>> Or just American wood.  

>> For less than a day and then you've made the grade?  

>> Correct.  Correct.  I'm sorry American oak‑‑  

>> Yeah.  

>> ‑‑ is what it needs to go into.  

>> Okay.  

>> So we'll put this spirit into a used barrel.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And we'll let it come out the side and that's why we can call it whiskey, too.  

>> Terrific.  Okay.  So then a couple of years later, or 18 months later‑‑  

>> Um, it's roughly around 18, anywhere from 18 to right around 22 to 23 months.  

>> Okay.  

>> The bourbon that we have, our Dark Horse Reserve Bourbon Whiskey is a different mash bill from what our Long Shot is.  

>> Okay.  

>> So what we did with our reserve bourbon was we did an 80 corn, 20 rye mash bill.  

>> Uh‑huh.  Uh‑huh.  

>> And then we let it rest in a barrel.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> We let all the flavors come out; the vanillas, the caramels, all that apple wood‑‑  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ the cherry wood.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> All that stuff that's coming from what the American oak barrel will do to the whiskey.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And we'll let this sit and let this sit in a barrel along with our 100 percent rye whiskey mash.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And let that sit in a barrel let it age and then the color and the flavor all comes out.  

>> What makes a good bourbon?  

>> Um, really a good bourbon is going to be, really, I mean, it depends on your, the mash bill you're using.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> So many different, so many different bourbons‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑so many different whiskeys use different mash bills.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And it really comes up to your preference‑‑  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ of a whiskey.  What we do with our whiskey is we barrel it at a lower proof.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> By law it's at 125 proof.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> That you can, that 125 proof on down‑‑ 

>> Okay.  

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, Episode 50 Part 2, 5/22/14  Watch Episode 50 Part 2

>> ‑‑ that you can barrel your whiskey at.  But we take ours and barrel it at 110.  Because we feel like it's going to give you a more flavorful‑‑ 

>> Okay.  

>> ‑‑ whiskey.  So that's where we take it.  But like I said, there's all sorts of different mash bills.  It just comes upon‑‑ it comes up to your preference of what you like in a whiskey.  

>> Okay.  So it has to be 51 percent corn and it has to touch American oak?  

>> New American oak.  

>> New American oak.  

>> Correct.  

>> In the cask.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> Beyond that it's at the master distiller's discretion for how he or she wants to tweak the composite of the mash‑‑ 

>> That's correct.  

>> And various other variables.  

>> So that's the thing, 51 percent corn.  That's how‑‑ 

>> Yeah.  

>> ‑‑ that has to be the predominant grain‑‑  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ within a bourbon.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And then anything thereafter you can‑‑  

>> Okay.  

>> ‑‑ you can use wheat, you can use rye, barley.  You can use any sorts of‑‑ 

>> Yeah.  

>> ‑‑ any other secondary, third ingredients you want.  The same thing with the rye whiskey, too.  For a rye whiskey it has to be 51 percent rye.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And touch into American oak barrel for you to be considered a rye whiskey.  

>> Okay.  With the bourbon, to every extent possible with all of your spirits, you're looking to source as local as possible, right?  

>> That's correct, yes.  We're doing everything we can to, specifically the corn and the wheat.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> They come locally to us between Missouri and Kansas.  

>> We're going to now ask your brother, Patrick, the Master Distiller here, to give us a little tour.  

>> Okay.  

>> And show us how the how the whiskey and vodka are made.  

>> Okay.  

>> But first I wanted to try a little bit of product.  And so‑‑

>> Okay.  

>> ‑‑ here's to your future success.  

>> Well thank you very much.  Cheers!  


>> I'm here with Patrick Garcia, Master Distiller here at Dark Horse.  And he's going to talk us through how this, becomes this.  

>> Grain is actually what we're going to‑‑ we're going mill.  We're going to cook the grain.  We have to actually convert the starch to sugar.  So once that conversion happens, we're able to toss in our yeast.  That's the very end of that process on the mash cooker here.  That usually happens at about 80 degrees.  After that yeast goes in we can transfer it out to a fermenter.  

In the fermenter is where it will sit for six or seven days.  That's where the yeasts are going to start making the alcohol.  Byproducts of the yeast are the alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat.  We've got to keep the heat in check while we're in fermentation.  We want to keep it between 80 and 90 degrees.  On the sixth or seventh day it's ready to be distilled.  And what we're going to do is we're going to take everything out of the fermenter and put that into the still.  The still is where we can extract the alcohol from the fermented mash.  What we're going to do is turn on the steam.  The steam is going to get the pot up to about 210 degrees.  That's when the first alcohols come off.  We'll separate the first alcohols until we get to the middle alcohol region.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> That's where we want to be.  We call those the hearts.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> The hearts are the ethanol, ethyl alcohol.  So that's where we want to keep it throughout the rest of the day, is try to extract all of that good alcohol and not hit the lower alcohols again or higher alcohols.  

>> Uh‑huh.  Uh‑huh.  

>> But the still is just‑‑ is made so that as the alcohol vapors travel up the middle column it will catch the alcohol vapors in the smaller column, which is the condenser.  The condenser is run on chilled water.  That chilled water is gonna turn that vapor back into a liquid.  That liquid is going to come all the way from up here down to the spirit receiver.  The spirit receiver has three chambers in it that allow us to separate the good and the bad alcohol.  

>> Smells delicious in there.  

>> Yeah.  Yeah.  So we had a good run today.  So we got about 10 percent of our 500‑gallon mash is good alcohol.  

>> Okay.  

>> So about 40 to 50 gallons of good alcohol is what we get from each‑‑ 

>> Wow.  

>> ‑‑ mash.  

>> Wow.  Okay.  

>> So this is‑‑ in the middle chamber here is what we're going to now pump out of here.  Then we got to proof it down for barrelling.  This is our rye recipe, but it's definitely what you would call the, the first run.  

>> Okay.  

>> Or the I mean, some people could call it moonshine.  

>> Yeah.  

>> But we're not outside or under the moon or anything like that.  

>> Right.  

>> It's basically just the good alcohol.  And a lot of places just put this into a bottle and call it the moonshine.  

>> Sure.  Sure.  So this is‑‑ this is rye.  And this will go into barrels in the room next door.  

>> Correct.  

>> For how long?  

>> Just depends on the size of the barrel.  The size of the barrel matters.  The smaller the barrel the faster it ages.  We use mostly 25‑gallon, 30‑gallon and 53‑gallon barrels.  

>> And where are the barrels made?  

>> We have a couple of different cooperages that make them for us.  There's one down in Lebanon, Missouri called Independence Dave.  There's another one down in Southern Missouri called A&K Cooperage.  And there's one in Kentucky called Kelvin Cooperage.  And they all supply with us barrels that are ready to be filled.  

>> But otherwise you work hard to try and locally source?  

>> Oh yeah, of course, yeah.  Even like all of our fermenters, all of our stainless steel totes out there, those come from Springfield, Missouri.  

>> Sure.  

>> So those we try to stay as close to home as possible.

>> Yeah.

>> Support the local economy.  

>> Sure.  

>> And our, you know, generate some revenue for both the states.  

>>  Can we take a quick look at the tasting room?  

>> Yeah, definitely.  Definitely.  

>> We're here now in the Rider Room, your tasting room.  Like any good tour of a distillery it will end with an opportunity to sample the product.  Which we've had the great pleasure of already doing.  But as events or as tourists come through here‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ this would be a beautiful space where they can come and enjoy the various spirits.  

>> Correct.  

>> If you're not so fortunate to be on location here at the distillery, can you talk a little bit about where one might be able to find both in the Kansas City area and then beyond, where you might be able to find Dark Horse Spirits?  

>> Well we are located in both Kansas and Missouri.  

>> Okay.  

>> Our spirits are located everywhere.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> What you could do is if you're‑‑ if it's‑‑ if you want to go into your neighborhood retailer to see if it's there, usually it is.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> But if not, you can also hit our website as well.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> On or website we have a "Where to Buy" link‑‑‑  

>> Oh, great.  

>> ‑‑ where you can go to, click on it and it will take you to a page where you can actually plug in your zip code, or your city or your state‑‑ 

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> ‑‑ to find where you can buy it at.  

>> Okay.  We're not only available in Missouri and Kansas, but you can find us in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well.  

>> Oh, great.  

>> If you're not in these five states, on our "Where to Buy" in our "Where to Buy" section, you could click on "Order Online"‑‑   

>> Uh‑huh.  

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, Episode 50 Part 2, 5/22/14  Watch Episode 50 Part 2

>> ‑‑ and it will take you to a third‑party website‑‑  

>> Oh, great.  

>> ‑‑ to where you can order your spirits from.  

>> So what's next for Dark Horse Distillery?  Are you looking at new products, new markets?  Where are you heading from here?  

>> We actually are looking at further expanding Dark Horse.  We're located in Lenexa, Kansas now.  But we're going to expand into the Kansas City, Missouri side.  

>> Great.  

>> Closer to downtown.  

>> Uh‑huh.  

>> And we're also looking at other whiskeys that we're going to be aging and coming out with.  Not only whiskeys, but also other spirits to come down the pipeline.  That's going to take some time, but hopefully we can kind of get that going.  With anything, particularly whiskey, you can't rush it.  

>> Right.  

>> You got to let it, let it rest.  You got to let it age.  

>> You got to sip it.  

>> Exactly.  You got to test it and test it.  

>> Yeah.  

>> So with being a small‑batch guy we got to make sure that we're, we're pulling out the whiskey at the right time.  

>> Okay.  

>> Just not, just to supply our‑‑ 

>> Sure.  

>> ‑‑ our distribution channels.  So we're going to take it one step at a time.  We're going to grow organically‑‑  

>> Great.  

>> And not like wildfire.  So‑‑ 

>> Lots to look forward to.  

>> Yes, definitely, definitely.  We're a newer business.  And hopefully we can get there and make, make our hometown proud.  

>> All right.  Well, it's terrific to see such a fantastic product‑‑  

>> Well, thank you.  Thank you.  

>> ‑‑ beginning here in the Kansas City area and then spreading out all over the country.  So again, here's to your continued success.  

>> Well, thank you.  

>> Cheers!  

>> Cheers!  

"Top of Mind" with Jonathan Robinson, Episode 50 Part 2, 5/22/14  Watch Episode 50 Part 2