More fun than a barrel of gin?

The last few weeks have flown by in a whirl of projects, bottling and tasting hours.  It has been great to see so many faces in the tasting room and get direct feedback on some of the newest concoctions.  

Barrel after pulling aged gin out.  November 2017

Barrel after pulling aged gin out.  November 2017

One of the things that has been the most fun for us is introducing new flavors to people that come in to taste.  Everyone has their favorite go-to drink before they arrive here and we enjoy seeing if that still holds up when they leave.  The biggest swing seems to be around gin - people come in loving gin or making a ' I have to?' face when we go through the tasting options.  I admit to being one of those less-than-thrilled folks until having our latest rounds of drinks -  my admittedly very limited experience with gin & tonics left me wondering why people were so enthusiastic about it.  So when Nick and Dave started talking about distilling gin, I was vigorously voting for putting it last on the list.  Glad they didn't listen to me, however, as we now have several great options that make it easy for me (and many of you reluctant types) to understand the appeal.   

As of today, we have two ready-to-purchase options - a traditional London-dry style great for G&Ts and an extremely smooth barrel-aged gin that is fantastic for sipping over ice.  The barrel we emptied this weekend is particularly good as we aged it twice as long as our previous efforts, and the results are worth the wait (ask for a bottle from Batch 2 if you want to try it).  We have experimental batches of elderberry gin and an odd-sounding-but-great Aronia (Chokeberry) gin that we're hoping to have purchase-ready in a month or two from the tasting room.   

Finally, for those of you that are waiting very patiently, we have a (insert your favorite old-timey TV news bulletin noise)...Coffee Spirit Update!  You have not been shy about your love of the coffee/vodka spirit we have in the tasting room and we are working hard to get that ready for shelves.  Recipe is great, bottles are ordered and label design is almost done.  Had a visit with our coffee distributor yesterday to taste test and talk beans and we are hoping to start large batch production in the next couple of weeks.  Oddly enough, we've found that it is pretty rare for coffee-flavored spirits to use actual coffee - most use a coffee flavoring or additive.  The process of actually making large, fresh batches of coffee with great beans as a starting point is definitely more labor and cost intensive than adding a few drops of flavor in just before bottling, but we think the smell and the taste from the real thing are worth it.  We are doing our best to have it ready by the holidays - watch the website and social media pages for updates. 

This will be another big week for us.   We will be bottling the lovely new aged gin and putting our newly redesigned labels on it, anticipating a story in the Sun Prairie Star about Two Tall and finalizing plans for our December workshop with Odin from iStill.  We have distilling enthusiasts coming in from New York, Winnipeg, Missouri, and several other far-flung locations to spend December 14 and 15 with us learning to distill and extract with the iStill equipment.  Details can be found on our Classes page if you want to join them. 

Thank you for your continued support of this crazy little adventure!

Coffee spirit.jpg



Finally - we're open for business!

We have been quiet on the site lately but working like mad offline in order to be ready for what we're about to say - we are officially open!  Thank you to all of the friends and family members that have helped us test some of our processes and get ready for more visitors.

While we do not yet have the staff to have standard hours every week, we will be open a few times each month for tastings and bottle purchases.  We will announce a few months' worth of dates at a time so you can plan to stop in and shop or have a taste of the latest round of experimentation. (And yes, we realize it's Fall in Wisconsin - if the Badgers or Packers are playing, the game will be on!) 

  • Sunday, October 15, 12 – 3PM
  • Saturday, November 4, 1 – 5PM
  • Sunday, November 5, 12 – 3PM
  • Saturday, November 11, 1 – 5PM
  • Saturday, November 18, 1-5PM
  • Sunday, December 3, 12 – 3PM

We will have bottles available for purchase, along with some of our favorite mixers and snacks. Tastings will be available until 30 minutes before closing.

For those of you that love a bargain, we will usually have a limited selection of experimental bottles - new recipes we want feedback on or batches that taste great but are different from what we were trying to produce in a particular run.  These will vary and we'll be sure to mark them with information on the flavor profile, but feel free to ask.  

We have some additional limited availability for private tours and tastings, particularly on Thursday and Friday evenings.  Please send us an email if you are interested in bringing a group in. 

Thank you to all of you for your on-going support as we have been moving through all the stages of making this happen.  See you soon!

Stroopwafels and Gin

We're going to use the special blog time machine today to jump back to March and revisit Dave's training trip to Amsterdam.  And before I forget at the end, the training was through iStill and the classes are open to anyone - distillery owners and 'just' aficionados are both welcome.  The 3-day certification courses cover quite a bit of general distilling science and process, though the machinery part of the course is specific to the iStill equipment.  Future sessions get posted here:  These are usually at iStill headquarters in Woerden (about 45 mins from Amsterdam) but there is one this coming September out in Utah at New World Distillery.  The New World owners are also engineers and great people, so that should be a very well run course.

Things Dave Learned While in Woerden

Those of you that know Dave understand that he's generally not one that tends toward wordiness and so writing a blog post about his experiences when I wasn't there myself proved to be a bit of a challenge.  As such, I am invoking Section 4.a.i. of the "Being Married to an Engineer" contract and distilling (you knew I would say it!) the trip into a list.

1.  The bells at the church next door to the Stadshotel Woerden ring every 15 minutes, 24/7.  It is a great hotel otherwise and very reasonable, you just might want to ask for a room that doesn't open onto the Town Square when trying to recover from jet lag.  Also, the Dutch enjoy unusual artwork. 

2. Taking a class with an international group is a great way to make a new list of future vacation destinations.  Dave's classmates included folks from Belgium, Scotland, England, and Central America.  All of them either had or were planning to purchase iStill equipment and were at various points in their distilling experiences.   By the end of Day 3, all were good friends and there have been a number of post-training recipe collaborations that have happened across the time zones.  A special congratulations to  classmate Kevin of Loch Ness Gin, who won a prominent Scottish distilling award recently. 

iStill Class March 2017

3.  Gin is typically flavored with juniper berries and coriander seeds.  Coriander seeds are the seeds of the cilantro plant (and cilantro is simply called coriander in Europe) and if you are part of the 20-ish percent of the population that thinks cilantro and coriander taste like soap, you are not likely to enjoy most gins.  Dave is one of these people and had an Oprah-style "aha!" moment during the training, which has kicked off work on a recipe that should be equally-enjoyable by all.  

4. You never know what you'll find in a windmill. The distilling crew had a great dinner in the base of one on the second night.  

Windmill restaurant

5.  For certain spirits that are intended to be flavor-intense, particularly rum, the distilling team will purposely infect the batch with bacteria to develop a flavor-packed oil.  If you're feeling brave, look up Dunder Pits on Google.  Maybe not immediately before pouring a drink. 

6. On inaugural flights, your airplane will get an extra-special welcome.  Dave's return flight was the first KLM direct flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis in over a decade.  They put special flags on the plane at the gate and the fire department gave them a celebratory bath after landing, for reasons unclear to all of us. 

7. The bike-friendly culture of Woerden made the commute to class very enjoyable and was also well-suited to the post-tasting return trip.

Bikes in the Town Square ready for commuting to/from class.

Bikes in the Town Square ready for commuting to/from class.

8.  Different still shapes work best for different alcohols.  Bubble plate stills work best for fruit-based drinks like brandy and pot stills work best for whiskey.  When you're shopping for drinks, it's helpful to know the equipment because of those kinds of factors.  [Luckily, iStills work really well for everything because we can control the vapor speeds. That's for a different post.]

9.  Anything that contains sugar can be distilled.  This also goes for starches that can be converted to sugars - a point they proved by making a vodka from artichokes on the last day of class.    

10.  Overall, business trips are more fun when they involve gin and stroopwafels


Stroopwafels! (Photo courtesy of Top Holiday Amsterdam)

Stroopwafels! (Photo courtesy of Top Holiday Amsterdam)


Two Tall Distilling had our first Science advisory panel last week. We talked about esters, stoichiometry, and yeast selection to name a few topics. Our scientific panel will be doing more than talking, we hope to be experimenting with new distillation ideas in our facility early in 2017. More to come!