Whisky and beer go together better than just about anything—which makes sense considering whisky is literally made from beer. That’s right, whisky is distilled from barley, which requires that barley to be malted, mashed, brewed and fermented before it can be turned into the strong stuff.
“It’s called a ‘wash’, but really it’s just like a really strong pale ale with no hops,” says Odd Society Spirits distiller, Joel McNichol.
Given that Odd Society Spirits is located smack dab in the middle of Yeast Van, surrounded by craft breweries, McNichol decided to partner up with a few of his neighbours to produce a unique set of whiskies by having each of the breweries be responsible for creating the wash. The idea was set into motion more than three years ago, when Legacy Liquor approached the distillery about creating celebratory collaboration whiskies in honour of the store’s 10-year anniversary.
McNichol, a former commercial brewer himself, partnered with Doan’s Craft Brewing Co., Parallel 49 Brewing, Powell Brewery and Storm Brewing for the first four collaboration whiskies. After three years of barrel-aging, the whiskies are being released to the public for the first time.
Most of these limited release whiskies were mashed at the brewery and then fermented, distilled and aged at Odd Society. Changing the types of grains in each recipe and the method for aging resulted in four uniquely expressive whiskies, according to McNichol.
“The grain and fermentation adds up to 25% of the aromatics of the whisky—the rest is from the wood,” he says. Still, that 25% is significant, as Odd Society’s brewery collab whiskies prove. “My friends and I intended to create something rare and cool together that honours our crafts and our community.”
The Doan’s Rye Stout Whisky was inspired by Doan’s Rye Stout and was brewed with rye grain and cold-brew coffee from Agro Roasters for notes of chocolate and espresso.
The P49 Old Boy Single Malt Whisky is based on the recipe of the Parallel 49’s beloved Old Boy Classic Brown Ale, resulting in more of a traditional single malt with distinct notes of toffee and chocolate.
The Storm Black Plague Stout Rye Whisky was mashed at Odd Society using 100% rye grain and then aged in an ex-Storm Brewing Black Plague Stout barrel, for a true-to-form dram with a spicy rye nose and anise finish.
The Powell Street Bourbon Style Corn Whisky was inspired by Powell’s experimental corn California common ale and is the distillery’s first bourbon-style corn whisky. Featuring Okanagan-grown grain corn, which was mashed with B.C. malt and then soured overnight at Powell Street Brewery. The resulting corn mash whisky is still aging in brand new American White Oak barrels at the distillery but taste tests confirm a rich, bourbon-style sweetness.
The first three Odd Society Spirits brewery collaboration whiskies—Doan’s, Parallel 49 and Storm—are priced at $39 (tax included) for a 375 mL bottle and are now available at Odd Society’s distillery (1725 Powell St.) and online at shop.oddsocietyspirits.com. The Powell Corn Whisky will be released in January 2021.
For more info, check out OddSocietySpirits.com.