The stereotype of the farmer is not the daring, innovative entrepreneur. One guy that shatters that old mold is Seth Klann, a seventh generation farmer in Madras that is the driving force behind Mecca Grade Estate Malt. He and his father designed a one-of-a-kind, million dollar machine to malt the barley, wheat, and rye grown on the farm. It takes scary big loans and a lot of faith to dive into a new market. Even more so when nobody else malts this way. Part of his faith comes from the fact that nobody else makes malt that is so consistent and that is a big plus when sourcing grains for whiskey (and I suppose for beer, ya know, that undistilled whiskey stuff).
I had the pleasure of meeting with Seth and seeing the farm and was very impressed. He thinks big and yet minds the details like developing a bag for the grain that is compostable. His stewardship of resources is also admirable, especially around water. He is acutely aware of how precious and essential that resource is to his existence. The family also rotates crops effectively to keep the soil rich.
After running a couple test batches, I am excited to announce that all of the barley we use to make our Ryegrass Whiskey will now come from Mecca Grade. I am proud to support such a bold endeavor.
For more information on Mecca Grade Estate Malt, click here.