Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Middle West Spirits - A Distillery Tour

There are a couple of micro-distilleries in town.  One of which is Middle West Spirits, and I finally got a chance to go take a tour and sample their three spirits.  They've offered tours for a while, but it never seemed like a good time for us, but finally it seemed like we were free on a Friday, and they added a second, 8pm tour to the schedule.  I pitched the idea to Lynette and she agreed that it sounded like fun.  I called them up, got on the list, and on this last Friday, we went to check it out!  

It's really an awesome way to spend part of your evening.  It's only $10 a person, and it's not one of those 20 minute, come look at our place kind of tours.  It's 90 minutes long (though they seem very willing to chat longer if you hung around with questions) and extremely informative!  Granted, I think I was more interested in general, than Lynette, but she really had a great time too!  

Our host/tour guide was Brady Konya, one of the co-founders of Middle West.  Half of the tour was spent sitting in front of their incredible still and listening to how Middle West got started.

A significant amount of time was also spent talking about their ingredients. Basically, soft red winter wheat, from right here in Ohio.  

I'm not going to pretend to try to tell you (or remember) all the interest facts regarding the process, the differences in what they do and what the rest of the industry does, or really anything.  It's something you definitely have to check out for yourself!

After talking for what was probably 30 minutes or so, Brady took us back and to their mash and fermentation tanks.  

These are perfect indications that they make everything from scratch.  This was also the point where he told us that they had decided to go with all electric heating and cooling equipment, even though it was more costly to operate initially.  Middle West not only makes phenomenal spirits, they've definitely thought well into the future of their operation and their energy footprint.  They're working with OSU to develop a photovoltaic system to be able to supply all of their own electricity.  Once he mentioned this, I remembered reading something about it a year ago.  They are also working on ways to reuse their waste products. 

After learning about some other aspects of their business, it was time to get down to business.  The tasting!  I failed to get any pictures at this point because frankly, I was too excited to try some of their spirits.  They are remarkable!  I'm by no means a connoisseur, but there is no doubt that the OYO Vodka is exceptionally better than the "control" vodka we tried first.  Lynette was surprised to find out that she quite enjoyed their OYO Honey Vanilla Bean Vodka, though I doubt it's something either of us could drink straight up.  My favorite though, and what I had been waiting to try...their OYO Whiskey.  It's incredible!  Since it's an aged spirit, it's unfortunately only occasionally available, and when it's released I think it sells out pretty quick.  They said that the next batch is being released in mid-October, which is quite a coincidence considering my birthday falls at the end of October...

Spirits aren't for everyone.  Even if you do like mixed drinks, there's a good chance that you're not a straight vodka or whiskey drinker.  Whether you are or aren't, Middle West is definitely a place I would recommend checking out.  Get a group of friends together and go.  Make sure you call ahead because I think their tours fill up pretty quick.  They are a wonderful example of a local company that sources locally.  They don't take the word local lightly either.  They really do believe that Ohio has some wonderful and fascinating flavors and I think the folks at Middle West really enjoy bringing those flavors to the public in the form of some delicious vodka and whiskey.  Not only that, but they are a perfect example of a business that thinks beyond what they sell.  They're about sustainable and responsible practices, education, doing what's right, and dare I say...having fun while doing it!

Have you been to Middle West before?  Have you tried their spirits?  Do you have any suggestions on other local business that do tours?  We'd like to know!

No comments: