Lost Spirits Distillery Tour

I’m back from summer travels to California after a short hiatus. Last week I got the chance to visit Bryan, Joanne and Emily at Lost Spirits distillery. My wife and I were given a tour of the property and got a chance to taste their full range of offerings. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In that spirit here’s the tour in pictures accompanied by some light commentary.

Nested between Salinas, CA artichoke farms, Lost Spirits Distillery is the definition of a craft distillery. The staff is comprised of just three people. Most of the equipment: the stills, smoker, mash tun, etc. was custom built by master distiller Bryan Davis. When we arrived, Emily was working on re-purposing a barrel in the yard.

She charred the barrel later with a blow torch

Bryan walked us through the whole process starting with the smoking of their barley using peat. Lost Spirits has a knack for experimenting with new and unexplored sources of peat. They’re always pushing the envelope and have successfully developed new esters in their single malt whisky.

Homemade smoker
Raw peat

After the barley is malted and smoked, it’s mixed with hot water in the mash tun, causing the starch and in the grains to convert to sugars. The sugary liquid, known as wort, is then drained, cooled and transferred into the washback. In the washback yeast is added and fermentation begins. The yeast feeds on the sugar and as a by product produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.¬†After fermentation the resulting liquid (wash) is distilled by the most badass still I’ve ever seen.

View inside the mash tun
Lost Spirit’s unique dragon head still

After distillation the liquid is transferred and aged in a variety of oak casks. Lost Spirits has experimented with a variety of oak like Hungarian oak and French oak. This one was just filled prior to our visit.

The most exciting part of the visit was talking to Brian and hearing him explain the process. After spending some time in the hot sun, we were rewarded with a tasting of their full range. There were three here that I hadn’t tried before: Leviathan II Old Man by the Sea variation (only available at the distillery), Bohemian Bonfire (available at klwines.com) and Calafia (to be sold in Germany).

All in all it was a great time! Special thanks to Bryan, Joanne and Emily of  Lost Spirits. We are looking forward to future releases from this innovative US distillery.

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