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Whiskey Under Loch & Key

Cask to Glass I

Written by Ryan Maloney Photography by Scott Erb and Donna Dufault

Ryan Maloney has over twenty five years experience in the spirits industry. He has appeared in and on the cover of several international whisk(e)y and trade publications. He is the “go to” guy for all things alcohol related for the Phantom Gourmet T.V. and radio show. He has done consulting work for major players in the beverage field. He is the founder of The Loch & K(e)y Society and the creator of www.lochandkey.com a forum based whisk(e)y website. However, Ryan is most recognized as the owner of Julio’s Liquors in Westborough MA, where amongst other accolades he has been twice awarded “Retailer of the Year”.

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Foodies of New England

like what I do. Some might say I like it too much. One of the benefits of my job is picking barrels of spirits, mostly whiskey, cognac, and tequila. One day while tasting barrel samples, I had this question pop into my head: “Why can’t everyone enjoy whiskey straight from the barrel?” From that very simple question arose the “Cask to Glass” initiative. My mission was clear: to get distilleries to bottle as close to what was in the barrel or cask as I could. But what would that mean? I had to set up some basic parameters to explain what I was looking to accomplish. Here’s what I came up with: First, there should be no caramel coloring. This stuff is in everything from soda to whiskey and it does play its part in creating a uniform golden color so there are no shades of difference from one bottle to another. Many spirits use caramel coloring to portray a sense of “age” to the buying public. Tequila provides the best example. If you are buying a 1.75l of tequila for $20 and it is gold in color—that’s not from age, it’s from caramel coloring. Second, the bottling must be cask-strength. This is exactly what it says: no water added, and just as it comes out of the barrel. Now, this means that there will be some pretty high-proof whiskies. I just bottled a barrel of Willett Bourbon that was 123.4 proof! Please, if you have a bottle whiskey with this high of a proof, don’t drink it straight (as we have discussed in previous columns)—it is okay to add water. The point to getting cask-strength is that you can add the amount of water you wish. Think of cask-strength as whiskey concentrate. (Continued on page 114)

Foodies of New England Fall 2012  

Diners. Gluten-free Fall Classics.Farm to Table.