Friday, October 5, 2012

Coal Yard, a new Albany whiskey, debuts today

ALBANY -- If you missed today's grand opening of the Albany Distilling Company, don't fret. Co-founders Matt Jager and John Curtin are supplying a number of Albany resturants with their initial product, called Coal Yard New Make Whiskey.

The Albany Pump Station, The Olde English Pub & Pantry, McGeary’s, DP: An American Brasserie, New World Bistro Bar, Mingle and the Excelsior Pub Room all are carrying the unaged spirit as of today.

I got an advance look at the facility, located adjacent to the Pump Station at the rear of Quackenbush Square off Broadway. All properly gleaming and spotless, with rows of small casks in which the bourbon mash spirit will be aging into legitimate bourbon while the new make whiskey is bottled and put up for sale.

Albany Distilling is the result of two years of planning, permit applications and sweat equity. The whiskey Jager and Curtin are creating is 60% corn, which meets the legal requirement for bourbon of at least 51%, after all the required aging in unused American white oak barrels. The small casks they're using to create Ironweed Bourbon will hasten the maturation a bit since the amount of liquor interacting with the barrel wood to create flavor and color is greater in smaller vessels.

"We're using two kinds of rye in the mash," Jager told me, "because Johnny and I both like the rye taste in our bourbon."

That means the finished aged product will have a spicier edge, rather than the sweetness readily evident in most high-production commercial bourbons which come from a corn percentage of more than 70%.

The partners have said they also plan to eventually make several other whiskies, as well as vodka and rum.

Meanwhile, enjoy the Coal Yard New Make brand -- named for the location's original use -- while you're waiting for the bourbon, which typically is aged at least two years in the wood.

Curtin, left, and Jager work on the whiskey mash.

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