as it does for some other types of mash, McCurdy says. Where most fermentations will take four or five days, Bedlam’s is closer to eight to ten. “The yeast is slow moving and part of that is because you have to create a high gravity,” McCurdy says. “In consequence, you end up with a lot of waste product, which is probably why a lot of people don’t use long-grain rice.” Graybeard went through about 40,000 pounds of rice in two and a half months just figuring out how to scale up. “Our entire first shipment of rice from Louisiana was nothing but up-scale R&D,” McCurdy notes, “but at the end of that we were able to capture the flavor profiles that we wanted and were able to take to market.” All of the time, effort and resources seem to have paid off for Graybeard as heightened demand for Bedlam made the distillery hit its capacity pretty quickly, which necessitated a further expansion. “This requires another upscale, going from 500-gallon batches
to 1,250-gallon batches,” says McCurdy. “There will probably be more trial and error, tweaking things as we go. But I think that’s the challenge with any distillery trying to grow.” Graybeard now has the capacity for about 100,000 cases. Some high-profile attention Bedlam attracted right out of the gate certainly helped Graybeard hit the ground running. When it launched at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America’s annual convention, it did so in style, winning a trio of awards at the event. It took home the Hot New Now Media Award, voted on by media professionals attending the convention, and it won the top prize in the Shark Tank-like Brand Battle competition. It was also among the winners in the spirit tasting competition sponsored by The Tasting Panel magazine and SOMM Journal. “We want people to understand that vodka can have variety in the category, it doesn’t have to have an antiseptic flavor profile,” Russ notes. “If it has some kind of personality, that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to vodka.”
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