Alibi V.29 No.6 • Feb 6-12, 2020 

Drink This

Whiskey Away

Taylor Garrett Whiskey changes the rules of distilling

Scott Feuille
Scott Feuille is ready to prove he can make change in the industry.
Courtesy of Lindsay Rowe Parker
We've all done it at some point. We looked at the cost of a nice bottle of alcohol and thought, "Surely, I can do this cheaper!" Then, through a short series of defeats from online articles about the process, we realize how hard it is to just go about it on your own. Sure, the dream of having a barrel of whiskey lying around the house for personal use sounds great, but are you ready to commit three years to that dream? What if we told you there was another way? What if someone had found a secret to cut that time down dramatically? Well, Scott Feuille of Taylor Garrett Whiskey claims he has.

"It's something I came up with after wanting a solution to the fact that craft really has to struggle to get any kind of whiskeys or brown spirits released because you gotta let it sit in a barrel. Even if you rush it to market, it still is going to take a significant amount of time. I know a little bit about the chemistry of aging and kind of stumbled upon an article that talked about a completely unrelated field, and there was a certain oxidation process that was happening and I thought, 'I wonder if I can apply that to spirits.' I worked through a couple of prototypes and was able to achieve those results with aging spirits," says Scott Feuille, a retired Naval aviator and founder of Taylor Garrett Whiskey, located in Albuquerque. Through a collaboration with VARA Winery, Feuille was able to test and distill his conceptual accelerated whiskey, eventually crafting a product he is proud to sell.

"I've kind of created a magic barrel, so to speak. It's not actually aged in a barrel but in a vessel with treated staves that we toast, very similar to profiles that the winemakers would toast their staves to, then we charge them. But because the wood is exposed on all sides, and not just the interior of the barrel, we can get similar exposure rates to a 53 gallon barrel with a quarter of the wood required for that 53 gallon barrel. We're not jamming a bunch of wood in there and accelerating it that way. But we're very meticulous about how we chose the wood to get a very specific flavor profile out of it. To kind of maximize the vanilla and with the charring, it has that nice layer of caramel right below the char layer. Then we've got other physical processes that are going on that essentially aid in the oxidation process that would normally happen in a barrel over years. We end up with a final result in anywhere between six and seven days," said Feuille. If this is true, the turnaround time on whiskey being cut down by years would be revolutionary. Purists might scoff, but the real trick is if it passes the taste test. At the end of the day, a process is only as important as the end result product, and if Taylor Garrett Whiskey can pass with aged products, then the process only counts for show. But Feuille isn't worried.

copper mash tun
Be still our hearts.
Taylorgarrettspirits.com
"You know, the proof is in the bottle. I'm confident that people will like our product, we've got our finished whiskey bottled and we'll release that on Saturday and I've got a rye that will probably release in anywhere from four to six weeks, depending on how the whiskey is received and what we need to do to keep up with production for that. But what's really cool about it is it opens up a whole new door of possibilities for experimentals. We can do different grain bills, we can do different woods and see what kind of results we get very quickly, and whether or not they're products that are worth taking to the market. So we could be like the brewers now, they can come up with some really cool beers and then come up with new flavor profiles and things that the traditional beer manufacturers were never considering and now they've opened up that entire market. And I'm hoping we can kind of do the same thing with whiskey."

It's true that risk of loss prevents experimentation in whiskey, with three plus years down the drain for a bad batch, which leaves many producers focused on making sure the one they release is as good as it can be and not touching the formula otherwise. For those in the know about whiskey, what can they expect from the launch? According to Feuille, "The whiskey is done on a bourbon mash. Now it's a high rye bourbon mash. So we're at 65% corn, 25% rye, and then 10% is the malted barley. So, we're definitely going after that bourbon field. Our rye is kind of a kind of a swap of that."

Will innovation win the day? It's hard to say for sure until the product is in our hands (Weekly Alibi will be at a launch party this weekend to find out for sure) but if it passes the tests, this could be a true game changer for the craft spirits industry. For those looking to try Taylor Garrett Whiskey themselves, the product will be officially launching to the public on Feb. 9 and will be available at $53 a bottle. You’ll be able to purchase your own bottle at VARA Winery at 315 Alameda Blvd. NE.