A True Rogue. Oregon Rye Whiskey

Three years in the making, our first ever Rogue Spirits Oregon Rye Whiskey will debut nationwide on December 1st.

This is a traditional Rye Whiskey made revolutionary because we floor malted, micro-malted, mashed, distilled and ocean aged our own 100% Oregon Dream Rye from Rogue Farms in Independence.

And to think that we might have given up growing rye years ago because of some hungry shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusks.

empty rye field

November 2011: An empty field of Dream rye wiped clean by slugs.

Three years ago we planted our first crop of Dream rye in the alluvial soil of the Wigrich Appelation.  But just as soon as the first shoots emerged the entire crop was eaten by slugs.  We didn’t see it coming.  It was a reminder that not everything goes as planned when you’re a farmer.

Some folks around here suggested that, because people kill slugs with beer, the slugs were just getting even.  Instead of giving up we vowed that we would remain committed to our revolutionary path and would plant a new crop the following spring.

rye field

Our first successful crop of Dream rye in the summer of 2012.

When planting our next crop of rye, we discovered that rye farming has all but disappeared in Oregon. So little rye is grown here, that nobody bothers to keep track. Rogue Farms may be the last rye farmer in the state and we wouldn’t even know it.

john rye harvest 2013

Brewmaster John Maier swathing the rye into windrows at our second harvest in August 2013.

Our first harvest was an outstanding success.  We began crafting our Roguenbier Rye Ale from that crop and began making plans for our Oregon Rye Whiskey.

If growing rye was a challenge, we soon learned that floor malting it was even tougher.  Because rye has no hull, it’s more difficult to steep, germinate and kiln. It also complicates the mashing process at the Brewery. But we were determined to grow and malt our own rye, so our team of maltsters began experimenting with small batches at our Farmstead Malthouse in Tygh Valley, Oregon.

rye malting

Several months of experimenting with Dream rye to create floor malt and micro-malt  began in the fall of 2012.

As the bags of Rogue Farms Dream rye floor malt and micro-malt arrived at our Distillery in Newport we milled, mashed, fermented and distilled our inaugural batch of Oregon Rye Whiskey. And then the final test. No one knew for sure how our Oregon Rye Whiskey would taste until we were done ocean aging it in white oak barrels. We would wait for nearly a year.

rye barrel aging

The ocean aging barrel room at the Rogue Distillery on Yaquina Bay.

 

spirits-750ml-oregon-rye 10.29.14The wait is almost over. Oregon Rye Whiskey is coming out of the barrels to be blended for a smooth balanced flavor and then bottled by hand.

What we’ve learned from growing our own rye is that it can handle slugs, storms and other calamities and still keeps coming back. It is one tough grain.  A true Rogue.

When you open a bottle of Oregon Rye Whiskey you’ll taste the results of three years of hard work and dedication to getting the job done. A rye so rare there maybe nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

 

Dare Risk Dream_web

 

 



Categories: Farmstead Malting, Grow Your Own, Spirits

2 replies

Trackbacks

  1. Oregon’s Rogue Ales Draws From Its Own Rye Crop For New Rye Whiskey | The Whiskey Wash
  2. Pictorial: Malting Floors, USA | Tipple Sheet

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