What’s shakin, cocktail fans? Welcome to Episode 260 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
This time around, I’m joined by our friend, distiller Mark Vierthaler, whom longtime listeners may remember from Episode 121, where he discussed the finer points of distilling absinthe. But folks, one thing you should know about Mr. Vierthaler is that he’s a Renaissance individual. A dog lover. A motorcycle enthusiast. Absinthe connoisseur? Perhaps. But the story doesn’t end there…because this time around, we’re here to talk about the American Single Malt category and the fascinating, delicious work that he’s doing as Head Distiller at Whiskey Del Bac in Tucson, Arizona.
In this Mesquited, not Peated conversation with Whiskey Del Bac Head Distiller Mark Vierthaler, some of the topics we discuss include:
- What it takes for a spirit to be called an “American Single Malt Whiskey,” a term that is currently self-administered by the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission, but that’s on track for nationwide federal approval and regulation by the TTB.
- A brief romp through some of the controversies still yet to be resolved regarding the mandatory or prohibited use of certain barrels and finishing techniques.
- The story of Whiskey Del Bac: from esoteric Southwest-inspired furniture, to calibrating against an iconic Scotch brand, to releasing some of the most innovative and distinct American Single Malt offerings on today’s market.
- Mark also walks us through some of the most important process-related decisions he and his team manage, including precise malt smoking, narrow cuts to accommodate small-format barrels, and the ever-crucial question of aging in the desert, where temperatures fluctuate aggressively.
- We wrap up by featuring the offerings in Whiskey Del Bac’s Global Cask Collection, including their Frontera, Normandy, and Ode to Islay annual bottlings.
- Along the way, we pen a love letter to the humble javelina, reenact one of the worst drams Eric has ever ordered at a bar, try our hand at designing the ultimate distillery cat, and much, much more.
Mark is one of those folks who really walks the walk when it comes to quality, and he manages to do it without any expense to the creative end of the distilling endeavor. We’ll be featuring this year’s Whiskey Del Bac Frontera release in our next “New and Noteworthy” bottle review episode, but for now, please enjoy this deep dive into the world of American Single Malts with the one and only Mark Vierthaler.