**Boar Creek Appalachian Whiskey is NOT open to the public for tours and tastings, though their product can be found at fine restaurants and retailers in Washington, D.C., and will soon be carried at Virginia ABC stores.**
We recently sat down with Will Dawson, owner of E. Wright & C. Wallace Distilleries (aka “Boar Creek Appalachian Whiskey“), to talk about how he approaches making whiskey in Virginia. His distillery is located in Carroll County in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is about a mile and a half away from the northern border of 960 acres, which were deeded to Josiah Hiatt, Will’s great-great-great grandfather, in the late 1700s. Since then, every generation all the way down to Will has lived in Carroll County. The farthest distance any component in Will’s pre-production whiskey travels is just 45 minutes away. Check out Will’s editorial below to learn more about his philosophy, and how he approaches making whiskey at E. Wright & C. Wallace Distilleries.
by: Will Dawson
Our Philosophy: Tradition is a Wonderful Thing.
It’s why fathers take sons out hunting and fishing. It’s why we cookout on the 4th of July. It’s also why whiskey must age for years to be good and why the world was known to be flat. At Boar Creek, we utilize an old-time mashing and distillation process that makes great tasting whiskey right out of the still. We rest it just long enough to absorb the color and flavor of the charred oak, and then bottle and send it out right away.
Down here in Orchard Gap, we don’t believe in doing things poorly and then trying to cover them up. We do things right the first time, and that makes ours a better tasting whiskey from the start. You may know it’s not as good as aged whiskey, but remember, everyone knew the earth was flat as well. Go on and give it a try. It’s only aged a few weeks, but it’s more than enough time… So long as you know what you’re doing.
Mashing: It all starts with a good mash recipe.
One mash recipe has been in our family ever since ‘Cicero’ Dick Guynn perfected it way back in the early 1870s. It’s a recipe unlike any other whiskey, calling on six different grains, two different yeasts, our secret family ingredient and most importantly, cool Appalachian water, which we draw straight out of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Our founder travels personally to inspect each and every ingredient’s source to make sure it is all up to our standards. We spend quite a bit of time carefully brewing our mash mixture to ensure its consistent purity and that the constituent flavors are properly generated. As the mash begins to ferment, we diligently monitor it for the health of the yeast, as well as the proper development required to extract all of the flavors from the sugars and grains.
Once the mash has fully fermented, it becomes what the old timers called “still beer.” Because of the care that is put into making the mash, when it enters the still, it is already a delicious beverage that was often drank during production. Most mash is harsh and difficult to imbibe, but ours has deep floral and citrus notes that carry over into distillation, as well as a slight sweetness and some lightly nutty notes.
After our mash is done fermenting, it goes to the still for distillation. We use two stills that are designed and fabricated in house.
The ‘Stripping Still‘ has an 800-gallon capacity from which we catch as much steam as we can, because what makes Boar Creek so special is that it retains so much of its flavor from the mash.
Most whiskey mashes lose much of their original flavor as they are run through the still and are then watered back down, deriving most of their taste before barreling from only ethanol and water. We capture a much wider spectrum of evaporates by using our custom designed columns that are specifically designed to retain as much of the constituent flavors from the mash as possible. Our design allows the spirits to cool gradually, easing themselves from steam back into the precursor of our delicious whiskey.
Once it goes through the stripping still, the whiskey is put in the ‘Finishing Still.’ The Finishing Still has a column that is slightly more complex than the Stripping Still’s, as we added another layer of filtration and evaporation control inside of it. When collecting this round of condensate, we are far more selective about what we keep and what we discard. The finished whiskey is then ported over to our stainless steel barrels, where it awaits the next step: Aging.
After being placed in our stainless steel barrels, we add in red oak staves that we have charred by hand. The wood is locally grown, cut and milled, especially for us. After monitoring each barrel’s development and modifying the wood content by added or removing staves of various sizes. Three weeks later, Boar Creek Appalachian Whiskey is done. We bottle, cork and box on site, and ship it out to you.
Each bottle of whiskey represents two pounds of left over grain. Many distilleries dry it and ship it out, or sell it to farmers. At Boar Creek, we like to keep everything close to home, so we just feed it to our own hogs. We keep a pretty big sounder (what you call a group of hogs) right next to the distillery and feed them all our leftovers. We take good care of them, letting them range outdoors in a wide open field. We then butcher them and sell the meat locally, making some of the finest pork products in the county.
That’s what it’s all about down here. Staying true to your family and land, making good whiskey, raising fat hogs, and every once in a while going down to Boar Creek itself, laying out next to the river as the sun goes down just sippin’ on a little bit of whiskey.
Boar Creek Appalachian Whisky Tasting Notes: A richly complex bouquet through the nose, apple and floral tones prevail, supported by citrus, rose, and vanilla, with fleeting hints of cherry with a nutty finish. The palate enjoys robust tones, with a smoky aroma of oak and fruit. The finish consists of stone fruit, especially cherry and plum, as well as rose hips, with a remarkably smooth finish and pleasant lingering floral notes.