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Posts Tagged ‘Watershed Distillery Nocino’

Tis the Reason(s) to Choose Watershed Distillery & Kitchen for the Season

Posted by cmh gourmand on November 20, 2017

During the holidays, I prefer to have all of my shopping completed before Thanksgiving. My lifelong goal, is to shop at as few places as possible and if at all possible, only one. However, I like my gifts to be a unique and original fit for the recipients. I don’t get out of the house much nowadays. I’m no longer the go to guy to get intel on all the new places and up and comers in the food world. With this as my criteria and my growing lack of hipness a big liabilities, what is a fella to do? Go with what I know well, Watershed Distillery. Although they do not know it, the gang at Watershed has worked hard to solve my holiday gift giving challenges by consolidating my needs into one entity.

My knowledge base of Watershed goes way back to 2013. I started running tours that showcased Watershed as one of our up and coming local businesses. Popping in a few times per month for almost four years, I experienced the equivalent of a time-lapse slide show of their growth. Every time I would bring in a group I would see a new piece of equipment or a wall knocked down or hear about another new spirit being distilled. Seeing how hard everyone worked, it was a true joy to see Watershed gradually realize success for their efforts. And one sure sign of “making the grade” is having a detailed overview of your business on Wikipedia. If you are new to the Watershed story, read a summary of their history and endeavors on Wikipedia -> HERE.

In sharing some more of that story, I make the case for how my holiday challenges are alleviated by what Watershed has to offer. Let’s start with the business. Two local guys create a local distillery that sources a fair amount of local ingredients. Supporting local businesses, that supports other local businesses is always a feel good decision and when those products are given as gifts, it certainly reflects well on the gift giver.

My first break out spirit from Watershed was their bourbon. Some would say bourbon can only be made in Kentucky, those folks are incorrect and may be suspect of spreading fake news. Watershed Bourbon, like the company, has evolved a bit over the years. From the start, Watershed bourbon has been a bit different from the corn squeezin’ crowd. In particular, Watershed double distills their bourbon (less common) and uses a four grain malt bill of corn, wheat, barley (much less common) and spelt (almost unheard of). Multiple grains are not unique in the world of distilling but the addition of spelt is a rare thing. Ohio is a major spelt producer so sourcing it for bourbon adds to the unique flavor and terroir of this barrel aged beverage. The version bottled today (late 2017) is aged three and one half years and is shifting to barrels crafted in Jackson, Ohio. The proof has shifted from 94 to 90. All of this combined gives the bourbon something that won’t get picked up by most palates or in reviews. Watershed Bourbon has a lot of the heart of Ohio mixed in to it. That ensures it will taste just a touch better. It will be interesting to see how Watershed Bourbon evolves over time since they have a goal of eventually aging each barrel 6 years.

My next Watershed moment was the addition of Nocino to the lineup. As you can read -> HERE, I am a fan. Nocino is a black walnut liquor that we can all thank a guy named Charlie for. The 2017 version will be released shortly after I post this so you should seek out and probably stockpile it before it is gone. It’s smaller bottle size makes it perfect stocking stuffer and its smoother, sweeter taste makes it an easy ice breaker for any gathering.

But wait there is more! Watershed recently added another unique spirit to their growing cast of local alcohol all-stars, in the form of apple brandy. Released in October 2017, Watershed brought apple brandy back after a one hundred year absence from the shelves of Ohioans. Made with Ohio apples, this brandy packs at punch at 80 proof. Each batch is aged for a minimum of two years with charred oak barrels. When I first caught a whiff of this in 2015 I knew it would be worth the wait, let’s just say I was smitten. The brandy is not in a climate controlled barrel house so the old style expansion and contraction of the wood in the barrels ensures this product has character and some old-timey goodness to it.

I picked up this little tip of how introduce others to this tasty treat, courtesy of Chris who works with the Watershed gang.

A great place to start for those who are not familiar with apple brandy or brandy in general is to switch out bourbon for apple brandy in a classic cocktail like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. Here are two quick recipes that we served at the launch party.

The Big Apple
1.5 oz Watershed Apple Brandy
.5 oz Watershed Bourbon
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dash Angostura Bitters

Old Granny Smith
2 oz Watershed Apple Brandy
.25 oz Simple Syrup
3 dash Angostura Bitters
3 dash Molé Bitters

So that gives you three spirits to seek out for the holidays but don’t just take my word for it, let Watershed help you feel even more secure in your choices. Last year, Watershed added a restaurant their operation. Watershed Kitchen and Bar adds a needed element to the Watershed experience, an immediate way to sample their spirits in their preferred habitat, a cocktail glass, instead of as thimble sized sample served straight during a tasting. The bar offers well thought out and hand crafted cocktails to show off what the spirits can do when they team up with other ingredients. The kitchen crafts exceptional food so you can enjoy a meal, while ensuring your have the fortitude to try out more than one cocktail and educate yourself on what you might do with several of their base concoctions.

On two visits to the Watershed Kitchen I have found the food pairs well with libations. If your mom always told you to eat your brussels sprouts, this is the place where you will do so with glee. Let your mom know and she might just take you off the naughty list.

So this is my fool-proof plan to help you cover all of your holiday shopping in one short visit and treat yourself at the same time.

  • Step One: Visit Watershed Kitchen and Bar to sample all of their wares.
  • Step Two: Buy some restaurant gift cards for your friends that love food and/or do not drink.
  • Step Three: Pop into the Watershed store to stock up on bottles for you and for others. They even have some helpful recipe fliers to guide those that did not make it to the bar on how to craft cocktails to their liking. Pick up one for yourself and a few to go with your gifts.
  • Step Three Point Five: If you are pressed for time, the nice people at Watershed can create some gift packages for you to hand out as your own spirited Santa. Add in a flask, handy wooden crate, a t-shirt or whatnot to add to others holiday cheer. Your hard thought out efforts will much appreciated this holiday.
  • Drop in to Watershed Distillery, Kitchen & Bar.
    1145 Chesapeake Ave, Columbus, OH 43212

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    Posted in beverages, culinary knowledge, Food For Thought, Locally Sourced | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Watershed Distillery Nocino & The Vintage 2015 vs. 2016 Tasteoff

    Posted by cmh gourmand on December 25, 2016

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    Let’s breakdown everything in the title in case you need any recaps.

    Watershed Distillery is one of three, going on four distilleries in Central Ohio. An interesting story of their inception, while at a trade show they encountered a salesperson from the company working on their still who excitingly told them it was ready when he heard they were from Columbus. Since they had just ordered it and knew there was a long wait ahead they were both confused and excited. As it turned out, the still slated for delivery was for Middle West Spirits. That was how Watershed found out they were not going to be the first distillery in Central Ohio. There are many great stories and milestones accumulated while this libation creator has grown and expanded over the years. My favorite story and spirit are the same – Nocino.

    Nocino originated in Italy. It is made from walnuts harvested as a very specific time. I’ve sampled Nocino in Italy on each of my forays there and found a liking for it. It is a labor intensive and messy process to make so it is not commonly found in the United States and typically not in large quantities. To my knowledge only four companies produce it the United States, one of those being Watershed of course.

    Nocino was not in the original business plan nor phase two for growth of Watershed. A local physician hailing from Upper Arlington persistently pestered owners Dave and Greg to try a Nocino he made using an old family recipe. They deferred as long as they could. In the spirits business it is not uncommon for people to ply distilleries with homemade hooch begging to add a new recipe to the line up. However, to everyone’s surprise, the doctor’s prescription was easy on the palate and pleasant to the taste buds. Oddly, all the doctor asked for as compensation was a thank you, so every bottle of Nocino says Thanks Charlie on the back of the label.

    “Season three” of Nocino was released a few weeks ago. It is very likely most of it will be gone by March or early April. This concoction is as Ohio as a spirit can be. Ohio grown black walnuts soaked in alcohol made from mostly Ohio raw ingredients with so sugar and spices blended in and aged to create a dark, slightly sweet liquor. It goes good in a glass, goes great on ice cream or as a deft drizzle on top of some egg nog. Tis the season for Nocino.

    When I brought my first bottle of 2016 Nocino (bottle 229) home, I discovered I still had an unopened bottle of 2015 in the cupboard (bottle 4965). I was mildly surprised at this. I am not one to horde alcohol but then I recalled another development / expenditure in 2015 – CMH Griffin, my son. This in turn has reduced my alcohol consumption significantly because I don’t drink alone but fatherhood has, in part, reduced my socializing about 94%.

    In the spirit of research and socialization, I decided the 2015 and 2016 Nocinos needed to be evaluated head to head to see if one was better than the other. This might seem odd in that most alcohols by design are created to be consistent, to always taste the same and deliver the same flavor profile. In the case of Nocino with the base being walnuts we can expect to see a similar terrior effect that we see in wines – flavor variations due to soil, climate (thank goodness there is no climate change to worry about), etc. For my tasting team I recruited El Jefe (not previously mentioned in this blog) and the Grumpy Old Man (mentioned in Ohio Donut Trail expeditions). El Jefe is a professional drinker. The Grumpy Old Man is a conundrum wrapped around an oxymoron. He lives in a sliver of Venn Diagram that can not have much overlap an artist that is also an ultra conservative with some other far right rantings. Part of this involves an unexplained dislike for any locally made spirits or beers. It seems odd that an artist would be so uninclined to support another craftsperson. I had tricked him into drinking Nocino New Years Eve of 2015 so he had to begrudgingly admit that he had consumed it. I also started to build up his paranoia about this tasting. I placed both bottles on the table and shared nothing about the goals of the tasting other than both bottles needed to be sampled and both El Jefe and Grumpy Old Man had to determine the differences between the two bottles.

    Astute readers will note some slight labeling differences in the bottles in the photo included with this piece but I did not point this out to The Grumpy Old Man which further fueled his apprehension about this being another one of my “schemes”. Tasting was conducted with great earnest by Jefe and myself. The Grumpy Old Man vacillated back and forth muttering to himself while talking smalls tastes from each bottle repeatedly.

    The final verdict. There are discernible differences between the two years. Both versions of the Nocino will enjoyed…..sampled several times over the evening by all parties. The 2016 Nocino prefered over the 2015. The 2015 version seemed to show some slight “separation” within the bottle. There was a slightly different aroma between the two. The 2015 smelled more of alcohol whereas the 2016 had a trace of molasses wafting from it. There is .01 difference in alcohol by volume between the two years with the 2016 Nocino yielding the extra kick. Our unanimous winner is the 2016 Nocino which is great news for you because there is still time to buy some.

    Posted in food | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »