Farm-to-Flask Distilling isn't a Slogan at Maine Craft Distilling, it’s our Operating Principle.
Farm-to-flask distilling isn’t a slogan at Maine Craft Distilling, it’s our operating principle. We work in close collaboration with local farmers to carefully select agricultural products and then bring together centuries-old distilling methods, a good dose of innovation, and a whole lot of Yankee ingenuity. In the process we’ve created a line-up of creative, high-quality, craft-distilled spirits—each as unique and interesting as the landscape and seascape of Maine.
Our everyday practices include floor-malting locally sourced barley and smoking malted grain with peat from Maine’s uplands and seaweed harvested from our rocky coast. We hand craft our spirits in small batches using carefully designed processes and artisanal methods. Our hand-hewn washbacks come from Maine-grown fir and we age many of our spirits in barrels handmade of Maine white oak. Every bottle we produce blends the land and pride of Maine with our down-to-earth, can-do approach to life and liquor.
the HISTORY of MCD
Luke Davidson, Founder and CEO of Maine Craft Distilling, grew up interested in grains on a farm in the midcoast of Maine. Before Maine Craft Distilling was born, Luke spent his days in the barn with a homemade still. He began by malting grains to sell to brewers. With an excess of malted grain, he decided to test his luck and make Whiskey. Luke thought it was about time that Maine had a Whiskey created in the Scottish tradition with Maine’s natural resources. With a heavy focus on the terroir and ingredients of Maine, he teamed up with co-founder Fred Farber, and the mission to create the best whiskey began, and with it Maine Craft Distilling.
How it Works...
We make our own malt at MCD in the traditional Scottish way. We first soak our raw dehydrated barley, then lay the grain out on our malting floor and rake it. The grain needs to be moved continuously to keep from malting too fast or inconsistently, or from sprouting right up on the floor! During the process, our grains are exposed to yeast and bacteria from the air, adding to the unique flavor and our focus on terroir. When the grain is finished malting, we run it through our dehydrators, and it is ready to be transferred to our Silo!
2. SMOKE KILN
For our Whiskey, we smoke a small percentage of our grain over Maine peat moss from Kelley Farms as well as Maine seaweed. Scottish Whisky traditionally includes smoked grain, so again we used locally harvested things to create unique flavor in our final product. We smoke the grain in our large red kiln in the parking lot behind our silo.
3. MASH TUN
Grain comes from the silo, into our grinder. We grind the grain, and it gets sent into the Mash Tun. We then add 171˚ degree water to the grain, and our barley tea begins! We are trying to get the maximum amount of sugar out of the spent grain as possible.
4. THE CHILLER
When the mash is complete, the “tea” which is called wort goes through our liquid screen, and into our coolship. It is a traditional way to exchange heat, and basically cool our wort to the ideal 90˚ degrees to pitch yeast into. Cold water runs up through the chambers, and wort runs down and cools. From here, the 90˚ degree wort goes into fermentation.
Our fermentation tanks were built from Douglas Fir and styled after traditional Scottish tanks, referred to as washbacks. The wood of the tank does not impart any flavor into the wort, but there is yeast that lives in the wood which helps with fermentation. The open tanks allow for the liquid to acquire wild yeast from the air, as well as the yeast pitched into the tank to take action. The yeast basically eats the sugar in the wort, and turns it into alcohol, realeasing Co2 as a byproduct.
6. STRIPPING SILL
This still is a replica of a Scottish still, except that it’s not copper. We heat our stills with steam, which you can see runs through the coils at the bottom of the still. We heat the still to evaporate the alcohol, and leave the water. The evaporated alcohol goes up the neck of the still, and into the condensor. Inside this tube, the evaporated alcohol goes through another heat exchange, and condenses back into a liquid called “low wines”. The spirit then goes into our spirit safe until its next distillation.
7. SPIRIT STILL
We pump the yield from the spirit safe into the spirit still. As the alcohol evaporates, we send it through various levels in the column before it runs out of the still. The vapor expands and condenses, and only very pure alcohol can travel through the column. The vapor again goes through a chilling coil, and comes out of what we call the money hole. We treat all our spirits differently, for example, Alchemy bypasses the column and get infused and then distilled again. All of our spirits run off the still clear. If you see a spirit with color to it, it has either been aged in a barrel, or it has been infused with flavor.
8. BARREL ROOM
The final stage is barreling. Our barrel room has the ability to hold 250 barrels. The small barrels are all Maine white oak and made here in Maine. The large barrels are American white oak and made is Missouri.