Distiller magazine


Distiller magazine a publication of the American Distilling Institute, the Voice of Artisan Distilling; devoted to the craft spirits industry: vendors and distillers alike.

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Page 93 of 179

94 distiller use: "We monitor programs dealing with water quality in the Gulf of Maine, we sample-test our plants, and our organic requirements have stipulations about where we harvest in relation to municipal sewage treatment plants, nuclear power plants and shipping lanes." Oregon's cool oceanic climate, in which rainfall feeds clear streams, is prov- ing ideal for a popular flavor from the other side of the Pacific Ocean—wasabi (Wasabia japonica). When growing wild in Japan, wasabi inhabits clear woodland streams. It is a difficult habitat to re-cre- ate, and one of the reasons why areas with climates similar to wasabi's wild haunts are suited to wasabi growing. Jennifer Bloeser of Frog Eyes Wasabi said, "We found out most wasabi paste is fake [usu- ally made with horseradish, not wasabi]. We were interested in growing some- thing and realized that the Oregon coast had an optimal climate for wasabi and we wanted to be able to provide people with access to the real thing. e water is clean, cool, coastal stream water—wasabi likes cool water—and because of its purity the plants love it! It makes excel- lent Bloody Marys by infusing the vodka with fresh wasabi root and serving it gar- nished with wasabi leaves and leaf stems." e whole wasabi plant is suffused with a fresh hot taste; its leaves are milder than the rhizome—the rootlike stem that is predominantly used for wasabi. While wasabi's aroma is retained through dis- tillation, the fierce heat is diminished. Paul Bowler, founder of the Winchester Distillery in England, followed the trend for adding wasabi to Bloody Marys and added locally grown wasabi into his still to create wasabi vodka. It has proved a versatile and enduring version of fla- vored vodka. When Bowler created Twisted Nose Gin, he looked for an ingredient that was part of Hampshire, England, where his distillery is based. Hampshire is interna- tionally renowned for its chalk streams, whose waters form the perfect habitat for watercress to grow in. Hampshire watercress was once in such demand that a railway line was built to connect the watercress farms with London. It now operates as a heritage rather than a commercial railway, but by using water- cress, Paul drew on local history to build his brand as well as adding a peppery note to his gin. Watercress (Nasturium officinale) is not native to the USA, but has become established in 46 states as a noxious weed. Edible invasive weeds are ideal candidates for commercial uses as a means of controlling their spread, particularly in aquatic systems in which chemical control via herbicides is damag- ing to native wildlife and picking allows removal of the invasive with minimum disruption to native wildlife. If planning to use an invasive species, it is important to check with local authorities regarding what control measures are being used and if there are any stipulations on col- lection and transport of the plant. Another aquatic plant with the pepper- iness that is mild in watercress and fierce in wasabi is swamp smartweed (Persicaria hydropiperoides, also referred to by the synonym Polygonum hydropiperoides). Its sprawling weedy habit makes it look unremarkable but its leaves have a pep- pery bite, and it has a history of use in food and medicine in the USA. It is native to most of the states, although it should not be harvested from the wild in Indiana and New York where it is rare. In contrast, water mints yield a cooling flavor. ere are several species of mint that grow in aquatic habitats across the USA. Water mint (Mentha aquatica), one of the botanicals in e Botanist Gin (Bruichladdich Distillery), is not native to the USA but grows in many states. Wild mint (Mentha arvensis) has simi- lar properties and grows across the USA in marshes, fens, lake edges and damp fields. In taste comparisons with spear- mint (Mentha spicata), the main type of mint sold as a fresh herb, water mints are more perfumed and slightly less minty in aroma, which makes them combine bet- ter with other ingredients than the strong mint note of spearmint. Sweet flag (Acorus species) grows wild in the USA but has yet to be utilized by contemporary distillers. Acorus cala- mus is listed by the FDA as a poisonous plant because of its beta-asarone content. However, recent botanical work has dis- tinguished Acorus americanus from Acorus calamus. A distiller who utilizes Acorus americanus and can demonstrate that the end product does not contain beta-asar- aone may, in negotiation with the FDA, be able to add this plant to products. For example, Źubrówka vodka reformu- lated to remove coumarin in order to sell Bison Grass Vodka in the USA. Is sweet flag worth the extra effort on the part of the distiller? Both Acorus americanus and Cattail moonshine is an American distillation that uses the starchy roots of cattails (Typha species) as the base for creating alcohol. Water mint (Mentha aquatica), one of the botanicals in e Botanist Gin (Bruichladdich Distillery), is not native to the USA but grows in many states.

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