It’s not widely known among consumers, but Whiskey is distilled beer. Although, it’s not typically the kind of beer that we all know and love — most distillers start with what is called “low wash.” Low Wash is a watery, fermented grain base that is the usual base for distilling whiskey, usually made with lesser yeasts and would not be suitable for bottling. Charbay Distillery, the only family-owned craft-distiller in Napa Valley, says “not anymore.”
In 1999, 12th & 13th generation Master Distillers Miles and Marko Karakasevic distilled 20,000 gallons of premium, bottle-ready pilsner beer from a top Northern California micro-brewery. Those 20,000 gallons yielded just 1000 gallons (~24 barrels) of Whiskey, which are being watched (and tasted) over many years. The Karakasevics look at this as an art endeavor, not an on-going production.
“HOLY WOW! You have really outdone yourself, this release is absolutely amazing. This seriously might be one of the best made American Whiskies I have ever laid my lips on, and just ask my liver, I have had quite a few.” – Buyer/Morrell Wines & Spirits, NYC
The Pilsner base was created from ultra-premium ingredients: European two-row barley, grown and malted in British Columbia. Additional choice hops were added just before distillation to add floral and spice notes. Classical 7-Fraction Distillation in Alambic Charentais Pot Stills took place for 3.5 weeks around the clock 24/7.
Whiskey Release #1 of two barrels was bottled at cask-strength (129.4 proof) at 3 years of age, and was called “possibly the best barley whiskey ever made on American soil” by Whisky.com. It sold out almost immediately.
“…one of the best things I ever tasted in my life (now, and every time I taste it): Release II of Charbay Whiskey”. – Virginia Miller/Bay Guardian
It’s time for Release #2.
After six-years in custom-made American oak barrels charred to #3 Gator Skin, and then stored in a stainless steel tank for 3 years. Cut to 100 proof with water that would make Fiji jealous: ultra-soft with just 3ppm dissolved solids. (Fiji has 210ppm) Just five barrels produced, or 124 cases.
“There is no other whiskey out that you can really taste the beer that it’s made from. The spice from the hops and the barley flavors are very well balanced with just the right amount of oak.”
— Marko Karakasevic, Master Distiller
Vinecraft proudly represents and distributes Charbay Distillery in Florida.