At StilL 630 we value research, so I created my own library: a collection of experiments, in three sections. I call it the Library of Indomitable Spirits.
Our Botanical Library has over 200 distilled samples of flavors: layered, complex, and even curious compositions from herbs, leaves, seeds, roots, fruits, berries, nuts, and flowers. We macerate each botanical in a high-proof neutral spirit base, and the flavor-packed liquid is distilled again. (I have a one-liter electric still just for this purpose.) That gives us a portfolio of possibilities to work with. I can create the exact flavor of gin I want to drink.
The Evolutionary Library has samples from our brown spirits—whiskey, rum, brandy—“thieved” (or siphoned) from their aging barrels at different stages. Using our Davey Decimal System of organization—yes, I’m a nerd—we can compare the same spirit side by side and taste each through its evolution.
The Experimental Spirits Program is where we catalog each spirit we’ve released in our public search for awesome new recipes. For example, let’s say we want to make a wheat whiskey. I distill a whole bunch of individual ingredients (like grains) and blend them in different proportions: 100 percent wheat? 80 percent wheat, 20 percent corn? What about some rye in there? Should it have a smoked component? We release the Experimental Spirits at a free public event on the first Friday of every month—one per month for five years: 60 different spirits. People are invited to come try it and tell us what they think. We’re literally asking everyone who shows up what they want the future of craft spirits to taste like.