One of Oregon’s most beloved beers here within the state and beyond is Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery. Black Butte Porter is the quintessential porter in the western half of the United States. It may be the reason many breweries don’t even brew a porter.
Three years ago Deschutes Brewery brewed a batch of Black Butte Porter and sent it to twenty-year-old Bendistillery to produce a special whiskey that would mature while holding onto some of the flavors that Black Butte is well known for. Bendistillery then took over this process during this three year interval to age this whiskey in new #4 char toasted head American oak barrels from Demptos of Napa, California and France.
Now three years later this collaboration of craft brewing meets craft distilling is now available for the public to taste. Last evening both Deschutes Public Houses in Bend and Portland sampled and served the resulting beverage, Black Butte Whiskey for the very first time. Deschutes Brewery and Public House will be pouring Black Butte Whiskey either straight or on the rock and its highly recommended to be sampled alongside its namesake beer, Black Butte Porter.
“The origin of this project was nearly 20 years ago when I distilled and barreled a small batch of Deschutes’ Black Butte Porter beer as an experiment,” stated Jim Bendis, founder of Bendistillery, in a release. “We all kind of forgot about it until we ran across that original barrel when we moved the distillery. Tasting that spirit is what really inspired us to collaborate with Deschutes to produce a whiskey we could share with everybody. It brings happy tears to my eyes witnessing a 20-year-old dream come to fruition!”
“The whiskey was more about an opportunity to innovate at a new level by elevating the beer and creating a very different product altogether. This is what can happen when you’re having fun and not bound by convention!” stated Gary Fish, founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery in a release.
From aging for three years in new #4 charred toasted head American oak barrels, Black Butte Whiskey offers some interesting characters. This malt forward whiskey also conveys subtle notes of Black Butte Porter and its chocolate character.
Ryan Schmiege, assistant brewmaster for Deschutes Brewery, said in a release, “The base for this whiskey is very unusual because it is founded on a beer which is comprised of a lot of chocolate malts; not common for whiskey. I liked the challenges we had early on while learning to think, brew and ferment like distillers.” And the final whiskey we had last evening proved that the brewers and distillers produced a rich, interesting whiskey.
“I think the most exciting part of this project has been the public’s response. We have been able to sample and see how the whiskey develops over the years, so we know how good it is. But to see peoples’ eyes light up when they try it for the first time is the best part,” said Alan Dietrich, CEO of Bendistillery in a release.
This limited run of 1176 numbered bottles of Black Butte Whiskey will be available beginning today, September 22nd, at the Bendistillery Tasting Room in Bend, Oregon and making its way to select Oregon liquor stores. A 750 mL bottle of this 94 Proof whiskey will retail for $79.95 a bottle. Only 180 bottles will make its way thru the OLCC and the state’s liquor stores. We were told last evening from Neil Fisher of Young’s Market Company that select liquor stores would receive only three bottles each. Another way to try to locate Black Butte Whiskey is by using the Oregon Liquor Search and searching for product #3946B. Good luck hunting, and if you don’t find it a future release for the next round of Black Butte Whiskey is slated for the end of 2017.
Rumor has it that Bendistillery is working on a whiskey made from The Abyss….lets hope that this comes reality!
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.