Monday, May 25, 2009

The California School of Whisky

Was introduced yesterday to something that could make history -- or become a footnote in the culinary history of California.

I did the tour & tasting at Hangar One yesterday.

While there the distiller/tour guide discussed the single malt whiskey they are working on. They are using the same techniques that would be used to make a single malt Scotch.

But there's a catch -- you can't call it Scotch because this isn't Scotland. The Bay Area also has very different environmental conditions -- which affects how long the whisky needs to age as well as how it will taste when its done.

So what it is it then?

My theory is that if these guys are at the early stages of what could become a California style of whiskey. What they are doing at Hangar One isn't that different from what the Canadians and Japanese were doing in the 19th century, and what was happening in the backwoods of Kentucky in the 1700's. If the Hangar One guys succeed, and if other distillers in the area copy them, decades from now there will be a California style whisky that is as well known as California wine and craft beer.

The whisky that Hangar One had a distinct taste. Its not as cloyingly sweet as a scotch, and it doesn't have the bite of bourbon. It is very remiscent of Japanese whisky in terms of being smooth and drinkable.

I feel like I was present at the conception.

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