After being so impressed with the 2016 Whisky Jewbilee Wild Turkey selection (thanks again, Aaron), I decided to reach out to Joshua Hatton of the Jewish Whisky Co. to get a few additional details about Single Cask Nation, and more specifically, their stellar Wild Turkey bottling. My most sincere appreciation to Joshua for taking the time to answer these questions.
RB101: Would you mind giving me a brief description of the Jewish Whisky Co., Whisky Jewbilee, and Single Cask Nation, as well as how they differ?
JH: Right — so, the way it all breaks down is that Jewish Whisky Company is the parent or umbrella company that encompasses the many things we do:
Single Cask Nation, which started in 2011, is our Independent Bottling company where we function much in the same way as a traditional Scottish independent bottler. We find and purchase single casks of whisk(e)y we fall in love with, bottle them under the Single Cask Nation label, but then give full and transparent details of where that whisk(e)y came from. Everything we bottle is bottled as a single cask and at full cask strength (this rings true for both our Single Cask Nation bottlings as well as our Whisky Jewbilee festival bottlings). We’ve bottled whisky from Scotland, India, and England, as well as whiskey from here in the US and Ireland. Back in 2014, we were the first bottler to bottle whiskey from LDI/MGP and list the distillery name on the label. We continue to bottle whiskey from MGP. For us, it’s all about transparency.
Whisky Jewbilee is a festival we run in NYC, Chicago, and Seattle, with our 3rd annual Chicago event happening on Thursday, November 9th (2017). We completed our 6th annual NYC event back in June (2017). The idea behind the event is that it’s a learning event. We have 45 tables, 80-100 brands, and 250-300 whiskies(eys). We cap the attendance at 450 people so that attendees have room to move around our venues and can feel comfortable spending time with people behind the tables to learn about their whiskies(eys) and brands. We also have a no-models policy at Whisky Jewbilee. People behind the exhibitor tables must be brand-direct or have an intimate understanding of the brands they’re representing. Finally, we’re the only US whisk(e)y festival to feature a commemorative festival bottling. Each city gets its own bottling, so three festival bottlings per year. All of which have, to date, been American whiskeys. We’ve bottled bourbon from Heaven Hill, Koval, and Wild Turkey (as you know) but have also bottled single malts from Westland. For our 3rd NYC event, we worked with David Perkins (formerly of High West) to come up with an LDI/MGP blend of bourbon, rye, and American Light Whiskey. High West gave us the whiskeys, we designed the blend, and David Perkins gave the blend his final blessing.
We also have VIP distillery tours of Scotland through a company called WhiskyGeek Tours. The name pretty much sums up what we do. 7-10 days in Scotland. 10-20 distilleries, all VIP access. We generally are not there for standing stones, castles, or anything like that. It’s all about distilleries and whisky discovery.
Finally, we have a podcast we do called One Nation Under Whisky. For your Wild Turkey lovers in your readership: Ep. 5 features our cask selections with Eddie Russell in Warehouse A. Also, Episode 8 has us talking with Denny Potter of Heaven Hill. The podcast is an industry-insiders podcast which is a bi-weekly peek behind the curtain into our business, but also the industry in general. We also feature an interview or two in each episode.
RB101: How did the Jewish Whisky Co. manage to get a cask-strength single barrel Wild Turkey?
JH: For the most part, we try to be as open as possible with everything we do. In this case, however, we will not kiss and tell. Sorry!
RB101: Did you select the barrel yourself, with Eddie Russell, and/or with a group? Also, did you know which rickhouses you’d pull from or did Eddie guide you?
JH: For our first Wild Turkey selection (2016), because Jason’s (my business partner) schedule would not permit travel, I went to Wild Turkey alone to meet with Eddie. Eddie let me pick the one I fell in love with and finally selected (the one you tasted), but admitted that it was his favorite, too.
We selected two more casks with Eddie back in April (2017). This time Jason was able to join us, and together Jason and I selected a big spicy one from Warehouse M and a fruity/minty one from Warehouse G. It was during this visit with Eddie where Jason and I recorded our interview and time/cask selection with Eddie.
Each time I’ve met with Eddie he’s had casks sitting in Warehouse A that were pulled from various warehouses so that we can taste casks from a multitude of warehouses and warehouse floors. He (Eddie) tends to favor casks from the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors. 1-3 have not fully developed yet, and floors 7 and higher (not sure how high they go, actually) tend to be too oaky to be bottled as a single cask.
RB101: Anything special you’d like to share about the 2016 selection I recently reviewed (2931-O-5)?
JH: I had three casks that were finalists but one in particular that I felt stood out from the group. Eddie then poured these three whiskeys again, shuffled the glasses around, and had me blind taste them all. The one I felt stood out ended up being the winner. I’m terrible at blind tasting but this one was a charmer and was hard to miss!
The cask was bottled for our 2016 Whisky Jewbilee NYC event (our 5th annual) and sold for $101. Only attendees of Whisky Jewbilee and Single Cask Nation members had access to the bottling and it sold out in 2 days.
RB101: Sorry, I have to ask this as a true Turkey fan – are there any bottles of this (#2931) available anywhere for sale (I admit, this is a selfish question)?
JH: I’m sorry. This sold out super quickly. Even I don’t have a bottle for myself (drank mine).
RB101: You’ve mentioned there will be more of these Wild Turkey selections bottled in the near future. How would my readers be alerted to these releases?
JH: One of the casks we selected will be the festival bottling for our 3rd annual Whisky Jewbilee Chicago on Nov 9th (2017). All attendees of that event will have a crack at getting a bottle. Sales go live the day of the event via a secret URL that only attendees are made aware of. Your Chicagoland (and surrounding areas) readers can purchase tickets HERE. Tickets are only $95 for our Chicago event. After that, sales are open to Single Cask Nation members. You can become a member of Single Cask Nation for free by going to THIS URL and create a free account. Note: Founding Members get first crack at getting a bottle.
The other cask we selected will be available to members of Single Cask Nation. We will email members and also let them know about the bottling on our members-only Facebook page. To gain access to that Facebook page, you must have a Single Cask Nation account/membership, which again, is free!
RB101: Joshua, thanks so much for entertaining my questions. Again, excellent pick. It’s officially a Rare Bird 101 Top 10 whiskey!
JH: Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you liked our cask selection! We’re very proud of them.
For more information on the Jewish Whisky Co. and their exclusive bottlings, please visit SingleCaskNation.com.
Photo courtesy J. Hatton (2017)