Monday, February 15, 2010
WEST MICHIGAN – Step into the basement of the taproom at New Holland Brewing in Holland, and one can see the future of artisan distilling in Michigan sits in small, 5-gallon barrels.
Taking a novel approach to the process of aging spirits, distiller Dennis Downing is turning to science and art to shorten the time it takes to turn raw distilled grain alcohol into aged goodness. Where traditional distilling utilizes 55 gallon oak barrels, Downing uses barrels one tenth the size in the hopes that it will speed the process, taking a process that takes years in large barrels and accomplishing it in just months.
“Very little work has been done on small-barrel whiskeys,” said Downing. “We’re interested in determining what taste components are extracted at what rates.”
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