Collaborations between beer and whiskey makers often yield mixed results. Far too often, the hops influence or some other variable will hijack the process, and the well-intended experiment loses the plot. Colorado’s Left Hand Brewing and its well-respected Milk Stout Nitro have been around for quite a bit, and the people behind Foundry may appear to be new on the block but have been around for a spell: the man behind the brand, Scott Bush, was the founder of Templeton Rye. After selling the company in 2016, he moved on to begin this new venture. Thus far, only rum, vodka, and gin have been produced, with this being the first whisky offering.
So how did this come to fruition? From the press release:
“In 2019, Left Hand began a batch of their acclaimed stout, creating a sweet liquid infusion of roasted malts. Before the addition of lactose or the process of fermentation that would turn it into a stout, this wash was transported from Colorado to Iowa to be fermented, distilled, barrel-aged, and bottled as a whiskey. [It is] aged 24 months in 30 gallon charred oak barrels.”
Unexpectedly, the nose is sweet with notes of honey and apricot, defying the expectations of heavy chocolate and coffee found on the nose of Left Hand’s milk stout. Adding a bit of water and time to the equation, there’s muted black licorice and the eventual arrival of dark chocolate. The palate is sharp but steady, with loads more chocolate at first giving way to heavy oak and pepper influences that never get too hot but demand their presence be known. There was an expectation of an equally rugged finish here, but it is surprisingly clean and sweet, with a generous balance of apricot, cream, and oak ending things on a high note.
A most curious inaugural whiskey, and for those who are into these sorts of experiments, its quality matches up with the ambition. This will be the first in a series of releases between the two companies, with whiskey iterations of Left Hand’s Galactic Cowboy Imperial Stout, Fade To Black Foreign Export Stout, and Sawtooth Amber Ale arriving in the not-too-distant future.
B+ / $60 / foundrydistillingcompany.com