The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2015

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Page 131 of 140

september 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  131 organic ingredients that change season to season and farm to farm. To this end, the Greenbar opera- tions team tastes and adjusts everything in produc- tion—from raw ingredients and fermentations to distillations and infusions—every day to achieve their goal of 95% batch-to-batch consistency. (They leave 3% for nature to be different and 2% for continuous improvement.) "Being slightly drunk is the secret to our marriage," Litty jokes. The capturing and careful cultivation of flavor imbues every step of production. Greenbar starts with the slow fermentation of high-quality organic ingredients like grains, molasses and grapes. They then distill the resulting beer and wine in an ultra- precise continuous fractionating column still, allow- ing the separation and capture of the best flavors in each fermentation. Because the still is variable and powerful, they can also make everything from flavorful whiskey to neutral vodka on the same still. They do use a traditional pot still, but only to re-distill gin-like spirits. Next, every spirit undergoes micro-oxygentation (a technique Greenbar borrowed from the California wine industry) to introduce small amounts of oxygen into the spirit and smooth it out before bottling, flavoring or aging. "We try to eliminate the burn so customers can focus on flavor," says Litty. The final step for all but clear spirits is what the company is most known for—complex flavor development. Until two years ago, Greenbar relied solely on food for this step, using a combination of infusion, re-distillation and re-infusion to create everything from liqueurs and bitters to spiced rums and flavored vodkas. Recently it's turned its attention to aged whiskey and different species of woods for flavor. Melkon, an amateur woodworker, was enamored with the smells of freshly cut woods. Litty wondered what each wood would taste like. After testing more than 30 types of trees for flavor, they settled on six for their recently introduced SLOW HAND Six Woods Malt whiskey, including white oak, red oak, mulberry, hickory, maple and grape woods. They ordered large 1,000- and 2,000-gallon French white oak vats, as that was the only wood that could be turned into a container, and seasoned, toasted and hung staves of the other woods in the vats. By thinking of woods for flavor, not just barrels, they're hoping to open up the range of flavors whiskey lovers can taste in their favorite tipple. After delicious flavor, Melkon and Litty place strong emphasis on sustainability as a promise to their customers. While they chose organic ingredients originally for better flavor and aroma, this decision also keeps harmful chemicals out of the environment. They use lightweight bottles and recycled labels to keep a small carbon footprint and plant a tree in the Central American rainforest for each bottle sold. Since 2008, they've planted more than 450,000 trees. "In cocktail speak, that means a drink with two ounces of any Greenbar spirits makes the drinker carbon negative for the day," says Melkon. This devotion to craft and responsibility might, in the end, prove the truest of loves. griffith by Josh Lurie, named L.A.'s Signature Cocktail by the California Artisanal Distiller's Guild ◗ 1 oz. TRU Garden Vodka ◗ 1 oz. GRAND POPPY ◗ 3 muddled cucumbers ◗ 1 oz. simple syrup ◗ 1 oz. lemon juice

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