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This Oregon Vineyard Turned Its Smoke-Tainted Wine Into Whiskey

This Oregon Vineyard Turned Its Smoke-Tainted Wine Into Whiskey

When wildfires swept through the Pacific Northwest in 2020, winemakers were left reeling as their grape harvests tainted by soot and acrid smoke. So in a oenophile’s version of turning lemons into lemonade, Oregon’s Patricia Green Cellars decided to distill its ruined wine into brandy and then blend the distillate into an innovative new pair of whiskeys.

Patricia Green Cellars, which is known for its Pinor Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines, hooked up with Oregon distiller Lynsee Sardell of Big Wild Spirits, which produces Witch’s Gin and the The Wolf’s Whiskey (not to be confused with Wolves Whiskey). She worked with head winemaker Jim Anderson and associate winemaker Matt Russell on the new spirits under the name Patty Green Distillers. The point was to not just salvage the damaged grapes and wine, but to make spirits using locally grown heritage grain varietals to highlight a sense of terroir. “Whiskey, especially single strain barley whiskeys, are just as expressive of Oregon’s exceptional landscape as wine or filberts or any other cultivar we have here,” said Sardell in a statement. “Working with winemakers is a dream come true in that we’re able to imbue their skill, quality, and sense of placemaking into one-of-a-kind whiskeys that are distinctly descriptive of the Pacific Northwest.”

Patty Green Whiskey Distillers

There were about 12,000 gallons of Pinot Noir that the winery deemed to be undrinkable because of smoke taint, and fortunately Sardell was able to distill it into brandy that the winemaking team fell in love with. The inaugural pair of releases are both blends of whiskey and brandy. The first is called Multifarious, which uses a base distillate made from a blend of three different types of malted barley: Lightning Malt, Purple Karma, and Full Pint. There were five barrels in total, two made from a tree cut from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and charred to levels No. 2 and No. 3, and three that were previously used to age Pinot Noir. According to the team, the point of using the latter barrels was not as a cask finish—on the contrary, these barrels were sanded, toasted, and charred to really remove any trace of the wine. The final blend is 80 percent malted barley distillate and 20 percent brandy, bottled at 98 proof with notes of dried fruits, earthen spices, molasses, tea, oak, and ginger snaps on the palate.

The second release, Purple Karma Pinnacle, is much more limited and expensive. It’s named after the barley grain varietal used in the whiskey mashbill, which the winemaking team says is an ancient Himalayan varietal that likely has never have been used to make whiskey before. This was aged for 2.5 years in just two ex-Pinot Noir barrels that were repurposed to remove any traces of wine, and like the previous expression the blend consists of 80 percent whiskey and 20 percent brandy. It was bottled at cask strength of 112 proof, and has notes of fruit, tobacco, spice, and oaky sweetness on the palate.

You can purchase both whiskeys—Multifarious ($80) and Purple Karma Pinnacle ($200)—directly from the Patricia Green Cellars website. If you want to try the brandy on its own, you can find that available for purchase as well. And if you’re in the mood for some wine that is absolutely not smoke-tainted, you can find the Pinot Noir available from websites like Wine.com.

Source: Robb Report

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