Richmond’s Reservoir Distillery is working with several Scott’s Addition breweries, meaderies and distilleries to create one-of-a-kind spirits for their newest collaboration, the Mash-Up Series. Owner David Cuttino gives us further details on the first two releases in the series and more on the process of distilling hoppy ales and gingerbread flavored stouts into rich and smooth whiskeys.
Cuttino shares that the Mash-Up Series was an entirely collaborative venture that experiments with distilling beers, meads and other spirits into whiskey. To kick off the series, Reservoir Distillery partnered with Ardent Craft Ales to produce a spirit distilled from grain with hops from an Ardent IPA, and finished in bourbon barrels.
According to Cuttino, the process of distilling beer into whiskey is rather simple. Beer, on its most basic level, is essentially scotch with additional hops and flavors. When beer’s complex mash is stripped, cut and aged, the product results in a smooth and flavorful whiskey that complements the tasting notes of the original brew. Cuttino claims that Reservoir Distillery’s role for the first mash-up was to distill and age the IPA, while Ardent Craft Ales completed the beer’s brewing and fermentation processes.
The second and newest release in the mash-up series features Gingerbread Stout from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. The Gingerbread Stout Whiskey makes for the perfect after-dinner drink and is described by Cuttino as “Christmas in a bottle.” This holiday-flavored whiskey was developed in charred New American light oak barrels using a bourbon-style aging process. “All the warm characteristics that the beer has definitely comes through in the whiskey,” says Cuttino. “It’s very sweet, very round. While the stout is very filling and very rich, the whiskey [has a] sweet, smooth flavor that envelops your senses, but leaves a ginger burn just to lighten things up.”
All mash-ups are exclusive to Reservoir Distillery’s tasting room, and for a good reason. “If we send this stuff out into the wild, most people are going to go, ‘Wait, what is this?’,” jokes Cuttino. “When it’s at the distillery, we can interact with customers, we can talk to [them] about the [mash-up], we can explain to people what is it.”