The Olympics have passed, but it’s time to update the medal count, Kansas City. You can add three gold medals to Dark Horse Distillery’s trophy case. The microdistillery, which opened in December 2010 in Lenexa, came home from the American Craft Distillers Association first Distillers Convention with the highest awards given for three of their whiskey offerings.
“To be recognized among all those amazing small batch craft spirits is an honor,” Damian Garcia, Dark Horse’s Director of Sales and Marketing, says.
The American Craft Distillers Association is a non-profit trade association based out of Indiana. The association held its first Distillers Convention this past weekend in Denver, Colorado, as part of DSTILL, a week-long celebration of American craft spirits.
“Craft beer has taken off and now craft spirits are right behind it,” Garcia says. “The cool and interesting thing is that ingredients — water and grain — are so localized and that’s reflected in the spirits.”
At the convention, the ACDA held a craft spirits judging contest — awarding Dark Horse Distillery gold medals for its Reserve Bourbon, Barrel Strength Reunion Rye and Long Shot White Whiskey in the Whiskey category. [The full results are available here].
The Barrel Strength Reunion Rye — a limited release of 625 bottles — was sold in Kansas City back in December for the first time. The distillers were sampling the whiskey on the racks, when they came across a group of 10-gallon barrels that had a higher proof but none of the “hot” (burn-y flavor) typically associated with a higher level of alcohol. The warehouse is not temperature controlled, so Dark Horse’s current theory is that the temperature fluctuations led to the barrels contracting, expanding and imparting the unique flavors into the whiskey.
“We couldn’t believe the flavors that were coming out during sampling,” Garcia says. “So we pulled it out and bottled it unfiltered. The rye had this spicy, bold brash flavors that really melded with the notes from the barrel.”
The microdistillery is actually moving toward bigger barrels, aging their whiskey in 25-gallon and 53-gallon barrels. Some of their smaller rye and whiskey barrels have been repurposed by the recently opened Martin City Pizza & Tap. Dark Horse has tucked away another group of barrels in the hopes of recreating the barrel strength offering this December.[Image via Facebook: Dark Horse Distillery]