The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 136

july 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  49 E ver since he was a teenager, Austin Hope has had a standard reply whenever someone has told him he can't do something or that an idea of his won't work: "Why not?" Through the years, that attitude has served Hope well at Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, where he launched Treana high-end blends at a time when expensive blended table wines were very un-sexy; was an early proponent of Rhône grape varieties in Paso; and had the courage to introduce Troublemaker premium multi-vintage table wine, one of the few vintners in the world to do so. Now, Hope has turned that same philosophy to the spirits world with his Highspire Whiskey, which has had a gradual rollout during the first part of this year. "They told me a lot of things wouldn't work in making whiskey," Hope says, "but I'm not afraid to break rules to stay true to my vision." So far, his vision of producing a premium brown spirit using lessons learned in the winery is succeeding quite well. Hope's inspiration came from an Irish immigrant, Robert Wilson, who began making the very popular Highspire Whiskey along the Susquehanna River in Highspire, Pennsylvania almost 200 years ago. But, in spite of Highspire's success, the brand did not survive Prohibition. Highspire was brought back to life over the past three years by Hope and his Kindred Distilled Spirits, which is located in the heart of Kentucky's bourbon country, using rye grain grown next door to the distillery at Waldeck Farm, resulting in estate distilling from barn-to-barrel. Hope draws on his experience as a winemaker by emphasizing quality raw ingredients, using only one variety of rye grain, fermenting it longer and at cooler temperatures for better aromatics and aging the finished product in red wine barrels with extra staves added to impart more flavor. "If you are using the best grain, 130 days of aging is enough," Hope says. He also says he will continue to experiment with making Highspire, which has now gone through three batches—each with a smooth, yet rich flavor. "The reception has been much better than I expected," Hope laughs. "I had expected more pushback. We are already in eight states and expect to be in another two or three by the end of the year." Highspire has its own sales team, which has shown that there was room for another premium, artisan rye, even in today's crowded marketplace. "We've actually had to slow down to catch up," Hope says. Austin Hope of Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, CA turned his sights to brown spirits with Highspire Whiskey. AUSTIN HOPE USES LESSONS LEARNED IN WINEMAKING AND APPLIES THEM TO DISTILLING PHOTOS COURTESY OF KINDRED DISTILLED SPIRITS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2015