Only 200 bottles of this inaugural bottling of Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whiskey will be available globally, from select group of retailers and from the distillery directly.
ORGANIC CRAFT DISTILLERY LOOKS EAST TO CREATE FIRST-EVER WHISKEY
Bainbridge Island, Washington State, U.S.A., January 1, 2016: Bainbridge Organic Distillers, winners of multiple awards including World’s Best Wheat Whiskey and World’s Best Vodka, is proud to announce the launch of Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Single Grain Whiskey. Bainbridge Yama is the first-ever non- Japanese whiskey to be aged exclusively in hand-crafted barrels made from rare Mizunara oak harvested from the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Set for limited global release in Spring 2016, Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whiskey takes its inspiration from the small village of Yama founded on Bainbridge Island by Japanese immigrants in the 1880s.
THE JAPANESE MIZUNARA CASKS
Bainbridge Organic Distillers’ Mizunara casks begin their life as standing oak timber (Quercus crispula) on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. These trees, some more than 200 years old, are hand selected based on the vitality of the tree and the quality of the wood. Only a small number of trees are ever selected for cutting and in some years no trees are taken. After harvest the Mizunara oak is quarter-sawn and then air-dried in Japan for at least 3 years. When the rough wood has fully seasoned Bainbridge Organic Distillers imports the wood to the United States. Once the Mizunara oak arrives in the U.S. it is inspected by master distiller Keith Barnes, and then transported to a family-owned 4th generation custom barrel cooperage where the talented and dedicated team of coopers patiently transforms the wood into barrels designed to meet Bainbridge Organic Distillers’ unique requirements.
THE YAMA WHISKEY
4000 miles away the whiskey that will become Yama begins its journey from grain to glass in the fertile fields of Washington state’s Skagit Valley where organic Full Pint and Alba barley is grown on a small 3rd generation family farm near the saltwater confluence of the Skagit River and the Puget Sound. After harvest the barley is trucked 77 miles to Bainbridge Organic Distillers facility, where the un-malted grain is milled and mashed. Fermentation takes place in one of the distillery’s four 550 gallon stainless steel fermentation vessels. Yeast used in the production of Scottish malt whisky is used to develop the set of flavor notes that makes this whiskey so special and unique. After fermentation the mash is distilled on the grain where small head and tail cuts are made, and then a second time where the distilling team monitors the run continuously so they can make the cuts at precisely the right moment. As with all of Bainbridge Organic Distillers’ spirits, cuts are made “by hand” and based on the qualities of the spirit as it flows into the spirit receiving tank, no computers or electronic equipment are used.
EAST MEETS WEST, BAINBRIDGE ISLAND STYLE
After the second distillation the whiskey is diluted to 126.5 proof and allowed to marry with the water for a period of 1 to 2 weeks. While this is happening the virgin Japanese Mizunara oak barrels are readied for filling. The casks are filled with hot water to allow the wood to swell sufficiently to achieve a watertight state and any leaks are addressed before whiskey is introduced into the barrels. Mizunara oak has a well-earned reputation for being brittle and prone to leakage and this is especially true when working with barrels that have never been used. Once the Bainbridge team is satisfied that the barrels are tight and sound the casks are filled with the new-make YAMA whiskey. The YAMA whiskey will rest in 100% virgin Japanese Mizunara oak cooperage until it is mature and ready for bottling. The finished whiskey, a ruddy copper in color, is un-chill filtered and free from additives, flavor enhancers and coloring agents, and bottled at 90 Proof or 45% ALC./VOL..
“Obtaining stocks of this rare and sought-after wood, and bringing this special whiskey to fruition, has taken more than 6 years and the efforts of several people both here in America and in Japan”, says distillery owner and master distiller Keith Barnes. “It has been an effort fueled by friendship, passion, determination and an unbelievable amount of hard work by all those involved. But once we stood back to look at the accomplishment, and taste the whiskey, it’s been worth every effort we’ve made.”
Bright aromatics of mango, vanilla, toasted sandalwood, tropical flowers, marzipan and star anise. Flavors open on nutmeg and clove, pear and toasty wood notes, settling out to honeyed vanilla and toasted marshmallow. Finish is warm and lingering with fading spice and a pleasant oak grip.
THE BAINBRIDGE YAMA PROJECT
Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whiskey takes its name from the village of Yama, founded on Bainbridge Island in 1883 by Japanese immigrants coming to Bainbridge Island to start new lives and realize new opportunities. Creating Bainbridge Yama has been a goal of Bainbridge Organic Distillers founder and master distiller Keith Barnes since opening the distillery in 2009. “Living on Bainbridge Island we have always known that this place shares a special connection with Japan and the Japanese that first came to Bainbridge Island in the 1880s. The small Yama village was a thriving place back then, complete with a traditional Japanese teahouse, Japanese baths, Buddhist temple, a hotel and shops. Tamegoro Takayoshi’s general store in Yama was said to have the best ice cream on the island.” The closure of Port Blakely Mill in 1922, an employer for many of the men living in Yama, caused village residents to relocate to different parts of the island where they took up farming or opened shops and other small businesses. Over the decades the Yama village site was slowly reclaimed by nature.
Today the Yama village site represents the last undisturbed Issei (First Generation Japanese immigrant) village site in the United States not destroyed by development. Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Whisky was first envisioned by distillery founder and distiller Keith Barnes as a way to draw attention to the unique history of the island he calls home, and also to raise money to support the efforts of the community to preserve and present Yama’s history to today’s generation of Bainbridge Island residents and visitors to Bainbridge Island.
“When I heard that efforts were being organized to preserve the Yama site, its artifacts and history, I wanted to take part. Making a very special whiskey using rare Japanese Mizunara oak that follows the same path to Bainbridge Island from Japan made by those first Japanese immigrants seemed fitting. And creating a whiskey that harmoniously blends the Mizunara wood’s Japanese character with the unique salt-air influence we see in the whiskies we barrel-mature here on Bainbridge Island seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Making the whiskey USDA Certified Organic was icing on the cake.”
Profits from the sale of Bainbridge Yama Mizunara Cask Single Grain Whiskey will support the ongoing efforts to preserve the unique Yama history for the study and enrichment of generations to come.
ABOUT BAINBRIDGE ORGANIC DISTILLERS
Bainbridge Organic Distillers is a USDA Certified Organic craft distillery located on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. The distillery is Washington State’s first USDA Certified craft distillery, and the only organic “Grain To Glass” distillery in the state. Bainbridge Organic Distillers uses only organic grains grown in Washington state and conducts all production processes on site in their Bainbridge Island distillery – bulk or contract made spirits are NEVER used. In 2014 the distillery’s Bainbridge Legacy Vodka and Bainbridge Battle Point Whiskey were named WORLD’S BEST by the World Drinks Awards and World Whisky Awards and combined with the distillery’s Bainbridge Heritage Gin and Bainbridge Organic Vanilla Vodka have earned more than 20 national and international gold medal awards in the past 2 years. In 2015 the distillery doubled the size of its facility, hired a second distiller and added to its equipment set to help meet growing demand for its award winning spirits. Bainbridge Organic Distillers products are currently available in Washington, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington DC. The distillery will be expanding distribution to Georgia, Idaho, Colorado, New York, the UK and the EU in 2016.