New Zealand Whisky
What is Malt Grain Whisky?
Whisky designations and categories can be difficult to express. Everyone knows about Single Malt and Blended but there are lots of other categories of whisky available. If this whisky were made in America, it would be Bourbon, but the rest of the world doesn't have a clear way to define a bourbon-like whisky that's not made in America. A lot of distilleries would use something like "American-style Whiskey."
Malt Grain refers to the fact that all the grain we use for this whisky are malted - that means the grain was partially germinated and then dried, which creates enzymes to convert starch into natural sugars. It's an all-natural process which means we don't have to use any extra sugar in our mash - only grain!
Triple Grain Whisky
You may have seen Triple or Four Grain whisky in the past - a lot of American distilleries use those terms when it's not a Bourbon and not a Single Malt. In our case, "Dusky" is a Triple Grain Malt Whisky, but that's a bit of a mouth full. It could also be misunderstood as being made at three distilleries - so we'll just not call it that - because we made it all!
We use Malted Corn, Malted Barley, and Malted Wheat which all are grown and malted here in Canterbury. The corn brings in most of the flavours including a creamy banana flavour while the wheat adds body and smoothes out some of the harsher notes in the whisky. The barley may add some nutty, grainy flavour but it's mostly there to help convert any leftover starches that the corn can't convert.
Wheat is the odd fellow out here. Most American Bourbons use a combination of Corn, Barley, and Rye but we decided we'd switch out the rye for wheat and see what we get. One isn't necessarily better than the other but we prefer wheat.
The wood you use to age whisky can contribute up to 80% of the whisky's flavour. That's a lot. Most Scotch Whisky is aged in used oak barrels while American Bourbon must be aged in new oak barrels. Since we're going for a Bourbon-like flavour profile, we are using new American oak barrels.
New oak barrels impart a lot more wood flavour and colour into the whisky. These barrels are charred to help caramelise some sugars in the wood and it helps filter out some of the harsher elements in the whisky. On top of that, we are using small 5 gallon barrels for these initial batches which imparts the flavours and colours even faster. It doesn't necessarily "age" it faster though.
Whisky or Whiskey?
If you're in Scotland or Canada, Whisky is the usual spelling. If you're in America or Ireland, it's usually Whiskey.
Which is right? Take your pick.
We are going to use Whisky if we've made it here in New Zealand. If we use Whiskey, it will be for something made in America.