This whiskey begins life with a very unorthodox mashbill. Typically, whiskies are made using a majority or even exclusively, one grain. Ours is produced with almost equal portions of Barley, Rye and Oats. To push the flavor even further we add Roasted and Chocolate Barley. Every step of the production process is meant to enhance or preserve the flavors of the final spirit.
Most whiskey is distilled after a few days of primary fermentation, we let ours go for a week or more sometimes, allowing bacterial fermentation to produce the building blocks for more aromatic compounds. After this our whiskey is then double distilled in a traditional style pot still custom built for us. Pot stills allow for a more richly flavored whiskey by not rectifying and stripping out all of the compounds we intentionally produce during mashing and fermentation. Column stills, while great for maximizing yield, tend to produce lighter and less interesting spirits in our opinion.
After distillation the whiskey begins the maturation process, first, in small 23 gallon barrels. After a few months a portion of this whiskey is transferred to larger 53 gallon barrels. The small barrels are then topped off with new make whiskey and the process begins again. This “Solera” technique is borrowed from Spanish winemakers and we believe it produces a better spirit in the long run through continued mellowing of both spirit and barrel.
The final step that really pushes the boundaries of whiskey is the addition of smoked apples. Being a huge fan of both Mezcal and Islay Scotch I knew I wanted to produce a smoky whiskey. I was disappointed with the results of using smoked grain and sought other ways to create the levels of smoke I desired. To achieve that, we cold smoke apples for 24 hours and then soak them in whiskey for a few days before redistilling. The resulting spirit is intensely smoky with just a hint of apple peel. This is then barrel aged separately and blended according to taste with the original whiskey. Our unorthodox methods force us to call it a flavored whiskey but rest assured, Dear Johnny is not some candy apple sugar bomb.
Our techniques result in a lot of additional work but I believe the results are worth it and speak for themselves. Our dream is for Dear Johnny and our other spirits to find space on your shelf alongside of, and not in place of other whiskies.