Masthouse Column Malt Whisky – July 2021
Masthouse Column Malt Whisky uses Belgravia barley from a single harvest from a single Kentish field (40 Acre Field), less than 15 miles from Copper Rivet Distillery, where Masthouse Whisky is created.
Fermented for seven days before the wash is distilled slowly in a pot still and then for a second time in a unique 10m tall, 40 plate column still, designed and made by the Copper Rivet team. The whisky is aged in ex-Bourbon casks from bourbon distilleries selected by founders Matthew and Abhi after visits to cooperages to find the one whose craft ethos most closely matched theirs.
Before bottling, seven casks of the whisky were married for as long as it takes, in this case 6 weeks, to develop the flavours and mouth-feel the team is looking to capture in the bottle.
After years of discussion, the Russell family began work to create Copper Rivet Distillery in 2011. Meanwhile, co-founder and Head Distiller Abhishek Banik was studying and teaching brewing and distilling at Herriot Watt University. They began distilling whisky, gin and vodka from farm to glass in 2016.
The distillery is housed in Pumphouse Number 5, a magnificent Victorian building on the banks of the River Medway in Chatham at the site of Britain’s first Royal Naval Dockyard. The team say that bringing the building back to life from dereliction and learning about the ingenuity, craft and world-beating excellence of the dockyard inspired many of their decisions to go the extra mile when it came to making, what they plan to be, world-beating spirits.
That’s why they made the decision to create their spirits from farm to glass – working with a farming partner less than fifteen miles from the distillery. And why they decided to design and build their stills themselves with local craftsmen – it gave them control, the ability to create stills which would do exactly what they wanted and, crucially, a greater sense of ownership.
They currently have three stills – a classic pot still, a unique 10m tall, 40 copper plate batch column still and a patented gin still. Designing and building the stills themselves has benefits – the column still can be controlled so it can be used as a neutral grain spirit tower for their farm to glass clear spirits and also to distil whisky at a lower ABV. The gin still designed by Abhi has earned a patent because it reinvented the way flavour can be infused into gin.
It’s the possibilities created by having both a classic pot still and column still to make whisky which makes Copper Rivet Distillery’s Masthouse Whisky fascinating and unique.
Their mission is to create approachable, easy-drinking spirits with layers of complexity. They agreed that Abhi should focus entirely on making the very best spirit possible – virtually unconstrained by commercial considerations. Every step of the process (including growing the grain, of course) is slow. Mashing-in takes place at a comparatively low temperature and so takes longer than usual and fermentation takes place over seven days.
With an obsessive attention to detail and desire to control all of the inputs, founders Matthew and Abhi personally visited cooperages in Europe and the US before identifying the one they felt most closely resembled their craft ethos.
Being in the south east of England they experience some of the UK’s warmest weather and the distillery, where the filled whisky barrels are stored for the first year, can reach temperatures up to 40 degrees in the summer. The leads to a significant ‘angels’ share’, but appears to have helped the sense of ageing in the spirit.
Finally, approaching the marrying process with no sense of rushing the liquid’s development created an exceptional whisky. So the distillery take as long as the whisky takes in marrying before bottling and this can be up to six weeks.
Their approach to whisky at this stage is to create three core expressions of Masthouse Whisky – Single Malt, Column Malt (a single malt with the second distillation in the column) and Grain Whisky. These are released annually as single estate, single harvest or vintage whiskies. This will offer the chance to experience Masthouse Whisky’s variations according to the batch process and the chance to get to know its distinctive, easy-drinking, fruity, floral character.
About Column Malt Whisky
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