The world's first ryegrass whiskey is now in the barrel. This is not the rye grain that many of you are familiar with - this is ryegrass, the plant grown for turf and forage here in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Actually, we are the ryegrass capitol of the world and produce much of the planet's grass seed. During my previous biofuel research using ryegrass, we learned that there is quite a bit of usable sugar in the grass at certain growth stages. Where there is sugar, there can be fermentation! We made the beer and it was awful due the salts that the grass plant also takes up. We then distilled the beer and got a whole different animal. The resulting flavor profile has a rhum agricole or cachaca sort of feel - earthy and, yes, sort of grassy. We then created a whiskey with a ryegrass component in an otherwise normal Bourbon recipe (#2) and put it into a new 30 gallon charred American Oak barrel. We are still in discussion with the TTB about whether we can call it "Ryegrass Whiskey" versus "Ryegrass Spirit", but either way it is a truly unique offering.
After a year in new oak, the ryegrass whiskey has been moved to an old barrel to mellow. I plan to release a handful of cases this Fall (2018) and allow most of it to mellow for another year.