About Corsair Quinoa Whiskey
"I'm an avid whiskey lover," says Darek Bell, master distiller at Corsair Artisan Distillery in Kentucky, "but I do think whiskey could be better. Different. More interesting. More imaginative." Bell, a graduate of the Bruichladdich Distilling Academy in Islay, Scotland, is a mad scientist and notoriously experimental distiller. Since opening its doors in 2009, Corsair Artisan Distillery has received numerous accolades and awards, including being named the 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year and 2013 Innovator of the Year by Whisky Magazine
"When you look at the palette the distilling world uses, the paints typically consist of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley," explains Bell, a former homebrewer. "Contrast that to craft brewing, where brewers use dozens of malts and adjuncts. With distilling, I think like a brewer: the better the ingredients you put into the whiskey, the better it will be."
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey is made from a mash of 80% malted barley and 20% unmalted quinoa seeds. While most of the malted barley (63%) is untoasted, two-row barley, the remainder is kiln-toasted and imparts sublime notes of butter and doughy bread to the whiskey.
In addition, Bell uses red and white quinoa (pronounced "Kin-wah") seeds that he sources from Bolivia. Quinoa is a type of plant that was domesticated in South America nearly 4,000 years ago, and has high levels of protein and dietary fiber. The Incas held the quinoa crop to be sacred and referred to it as chisaya mama
, or mother of all grains (the Incan emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season). "The quinoa seeds add a slightly nutty flavor to the whiskey," says Bell, "and nicely balance out the flavors from the barley."
After harvesting the barley and quinoa, Bell mashes and ferments the grains before distilling them through his custom-made, 50-gallon Vendome copper-pot hybrid still. The whiskey is then aged in new, heavily charred American oak barrels (the barrels have a #4 char), before Bell's team fills and labels each bottle by hand.
Corsair Quinoa Whiskey has a nose of baked apples, cinnamon and rye that gives way to sweet notes of dried fruits, pineapple and citrus. The flavors are well-balanced with notes of buttery dough and nutty bread, and lead to a slightly spicy, long finish.
"This may be the first commercially available whiskey distilled from quinoa," says Bell.
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About American Whiskey
There are two main representatives of the American whiskey family, bourbon, and rye, but some other spirits don't fall into those two strictly regulated categories.
There's equally strictly regulated American single malt, made from 100% malted barley, Tennessee whiskey, essentially bourbon filtered through maple charcoal and aged in new charred oak barrels.
And then there's moonshine, a high proof (150- 170 proof) distilled spirit mainly made out of corn which gained popularity during the prohibition.
Check out our impressive selection of American single malts, or find your new favorite in our rich whisk(e)y selection, and get familiarized with what the world has to offer.