It might be known for rock, ballroom dancing, arcades, and even The Cure’s Robert Smith, but one wouldn’t automatically think of Blackpool, England as the home of Sweet Mash. Thanks to the efforts of our guest today, you will now.
Moving from New York City to Blackpool England is only a small step if your goal is to redefine what an English whiskey can be. Vince Oleson, Distillery Manager of Bankhall Sweet Mash, has taken that step. He is bourbon bent and hell-bound, to co-opt the title of the famous song by Hank Williams Jr.
Although, on their way to having liquid in the barrel for 3 years in oak casks, Bankhall’s Sweet Mash was just too good not to share. Vince is here with me today to chat about what makes it so good and what will be waiting for us when those 3 years are over already!
FYI we do say whiskey and bourbon interchangeably in the ep when describing Bankhall, but it is a sweet mash, bourbon style liquid technically!
The cocktail of the week is ‘From New York to Blackpool’
Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Vince. Just remember that I own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of Lush Life podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as my right of publicity. So if you want to use any of this, please email me!
This transcript is sponsored by:
Susan: On your LinkedIn profile, it says “bourbon bent and hell bound.” Now I know that’s taken from a Hank Williams Jr. Song. Since we’re about to talk about sweet mash, give me a little intro into Vince Oleson. Why you were “bourbon bent and hell bound” and where this love of our dark spirit came from.
Vince: I love that quote, just because I feel like I don’t take myself too seriously. I am a bit irreverent. I think that shows up in our spirits here at Bankhall for sure. The passion for whiskey though or my drive for dark spirits, I would say maybe started when I was a little kid.
My grandma was telling me about her St. Bernard. I was born in Denver, Colorado, but I kind of grew up between Phoenix, Arizona, and Denver, Colorado and I was learning about my grandmother’s St. Bernard up in the mountains of Denver in a little town called, well outside of Boulder. It was just so fascinating this idea of this dog with this barrel of whiskey around its neck that would rescue people that were lost in the blizzards and that the whiskey would somehow let them survive.
I was just fascinated from a very young age about whiskey. Fast forward. I turned 19 in Arizona and I was playing in a rock band. I really wanted to get into bartending and I just fell into the world of bars by way of music. Luckily, I had this kind of connection with the bar owners because I was playing in a band. Otherwise, I definitely would not have been able to get a job at a bar as a bartender at 19.
Susan: Now, what did you play?
Vince: Oh, I was the lead singer, but I also play guitar and would help write the songs with the rest of the band.
Susan: And what was the band called?
Vince: This is old, old stuff. , so I think, actually think we might be on Spotify somewhere.
It’s called Vastalence, but this is not a plug for that band. We broke up a long time ago. Best, best times I had. The best times and it taught me a lot about running your business. Being in a band is like having four other business partners or girlfriends, boyfriends, whatever. That, definitely, was a good experience to learn.
Susan: Right after this interview, I’m totally going to go to Spotify and check it out.
Vince: Gosh. I was not prepared for this.
Susan: And you never know if you give me the rights to it, it may be the music that accompanies this podcast. All right. Back to your adventures in bartending or trying to bartend at 19.
Vince: Well, I actually went to bartending school, which makes me, well, obviously is the highest level of achievement you can get in life as a bartender. I went to bartending college. I think it was called, oh my God, I mean, once I actually became a bartender, you realize how big of a joke it is, but respect to whoever’s doing it because it does give you a tiny bit of confidence and a tiny bit of knowledge.
I did this almost, it was just to tick the box of the bar owner, just that I had some knowledge, but ultimately, he was going to hire me either way. I got in and really fell in love with the whole atmosphere of the drinks industry. Obviously, I’d been around it being in a band. , I wasn’t of drinking age yet. I was 19 or 18 at the time. , I remember the first night I worked a real shift, I left and the bar manager had to chase me down in the parking lot to say, here’s your money! I was like, oh, I got paid to do that. That was amazing.
It’s always been a huge part of my life and listening to some of your other episodes, I was like, this is really kind of serendipitous because bartending, which is a common thread for a lot of your episodes, I thought it was really cool for me to kind of talk about that with you a little bit.
Susan: Absolutely. Now, when you were of drinking age, should we say, were you a whiskey drinker or were you more of a beer drinker?
Vince: I definitely dabbled in a lot of whiskey or, I’m sorry, in a lot of different kinds of spirits. I don’t think I really started to appreciate whiskey though, until I eventually took over as bar manager at that bar in downtown Phoenix. That’s where I first started working. It was a venue bar, so it was really cool.
I got to see live music and bartend, and it was basically just slinging drinks, like basic stuff. I didn’t really actually appreciate the art of bartending. Not that there’s any high form of bartending or low form bartending per se, but I think there’s a difference between a well-crafted cocktail and a Jack and Coke.
Susan: So, no mixology.
Vince: No mixology. Just, getting stuff out fast. I think I fell in love with whiskey though, or really started opening my eyes to whiskey, when I first tried a single barrel whiskey. The person that came in to share this whiskey with me really showcased how each individual barrel has each individual profile, different aromas, different, different notes, different flavors that might emerge from each cask.
I thought that was just so magical, and that really piqued my interest yet again into whiskey, so when I continued my career as a bartender, I started leaning more and more toward whiskey focused bars and endeavors. Fast forward to my journey to New York. I lived in Phoenix for a while. Bartended, always been this backbone for me, that allowed me to be braver in life. Because you could always fall back on bartending no matter what. I feel for all my bartenders out there right now because it must be such a hard time and I really do feel for them, but I think it will come around again and it will be the career path that will always open doors for you.
Susan: Wait a sec. Were you studying something at university while bartending that you thought, okay, I’m going to do this and I could fall back on bartending?
Vince: Sure. Yeah. It’s funny because bartending and it took me way further than my studies ever did. I studied at Arizona State University a little bit. Just the path at the time was not clear in front of me at all. I was taking all these different classes and I just didn’t really see them turning into something. I was thinking I had a communications degree or the start of it. That’s what it was my career path. That’s how general I was. It just didn’t seem like it was going to take me somewhere that I wanted to go at that time in my life. I literally, one day just stood up in the middle of some anthropology class and I just removed myself from the whole, the whole process and went back to bartending.
Susan: A good place go.
Vince: Yeah. , I think it was a wise move actually for me at the time. I really do.
Susan: Arizona is so beautiful. It’s one of my favorite states. What made you come east?
Vince: Well, I think New York for me always was this place like in the movies. I’d never really thought I would live there, but this opportunity arose. One of my best friends moved there and let me crash on her couch. Well, two of them, my best friends, they’re sisters, they let me crash on their couch in Brooklyn for well, I was looking for a job for the first month, but really just partying with them in Brooklyn and all over Manhattan.
Eventually I did find a job as a bartender which is so, so hard. Because in order to have a job as a New York city bartender, you have to have experience in New York city, but how do you get New York city experience? Unless so anyways, eventually somebody gave me a shot at a whiskey bar and that continued this progression for me.
Susan: Did you fall more and more in love with whiskey while you were at the whiskey bar? Thinking this could be my life?
Vince: I wasn’t sure I was at this time in my life where I was like, I was overwhelmed with all these different creators in New York City. it was a much more artisanal culture than I was used to in Arizona at the time, which I think Phoenix has traveled a long way since, but in Colorado, at Denver and Phoenix at both a little bit more like cookie cutter corporate takeover, it’s changed in both cities quite a bit since then.
But in Brooklyn it was, and in New York in general, It was just this like revolution of people that were doing things with their hands. And there’s like a boat workshop down the street from this place that I would go. And there was like all these artists I was interested in. I started just getting really passionate about the other elements behind bartending. How does the wine get made? How does the beer get made and started this journey where I was really just passionate about all the different little elements. I even went to shadow at Amy’s Bread to watch how they fed their yeast mother and toured the whole bakery. I was just like; I want to know these things.
I got a notification or my old school friend tapped me on my shoulder and said, Hey, there’s an ad on Craigslist for an assistant distiller at Widow Jane, which was a distillery I was pretty interested in. I fell in love with this story of this water from this limestone mine in Rosendale.
How they blended it with their whiskey. I thought that was super cool. And the fact that they were right there in New York, I was like, this is so awesome. I showed up for the interview, which is really just get to work. Assistant Distiller, which is a really fancy title for box maker and so I just dove right in and I was like, cool. I don’t care what it takes. I just want to be a part of this.
I just started making boxes, helping with bottling everything that needed to get done. I was just doing it and about a week later, maybe two weeks later, the owner at the time he came up and he’s like, what are you doing here? I’m like, I’m just going to keep coming to you.
You guys hire, so you guys hire me and they put me on payroll.
Susan: They had no idea that you weren’t actually hired?
Vince: No. Well, I mean, I don’t think he did. Bless him. He was, involved in some things, but not everything at the time. And he just kept seeing me, I think he just saw my energy and was like, oh, who is this guy? I think we need him. I’m really grateful for that. They gave me a shot and I never took it for granted. I really did just give that place a hundred percent. I was still bartending at the time, which became so hard for me.
I was bartending nights and then getting up a few hours later to start the distillery some mornings. That was really when I needed to make it about which path, I wanted to choose. So, bartending, not that I didn’t still love it, but this path into whiskey just seems like had a lot more adventure and so that was the path I chose.
I really buckled down and just dove into all the different things that Widow Jane had to offer at the time, which was a ton: learning about all of the mashing in fermentation and distillation, the barreling, the brand ambassador side of things as well. Going out into the world and just talking to people about what we do and what we did, and that created a spark and I eventually was able to take over.
Funny, I started as a box maker and I took over as head distiller. It was quite a journey and all the while this brand was just growing and growing. I’m just really, really grateful that I have that opportunity with them. They are still growing to this day and I wish them all the best truly. But it came to a point where I felt like there was more opportunity if I was going to really grow as a distiller, I needed to kind of jump from the nest a bit.
Susan: Spread your wings and fly over the pond.
Vince: Exactly. Exactly.
Susan: Or down south, I guess, to two kinds of choices, right?
Vince: This is true.
Susan: It’s interesting that you’re in Blackpool because I’m sure as someone in whiskey, I guess there are these choices – do I go to Kentucky or Tennessee, or obviously you can make bourbon anywhere, but, or do I go to Scotland or how do I find my way? How did you find your way to Blackpool?
Vince: Blackpool’s kind of funny. It’s kind of, to me as a ex new Yorker, I lived in New York for nine years. I’d try to just compare everything to New York.
Susan: Oh, I lived there too for a long time before London.
Vince: I’m sure you understand. To me, Blackpool kind of feels like the Coney island of Manchester. It actually has this weird little bit of history of that where people would go to Blackpool to have vacations before European travel became so much easier.
They would stay in England. They would go from Manchester or Liverpool or maybe Preston or more surrounding even actually even Scot’s would come down here. Those in Scotland, north of the border, they would come down here as well. There’s these fond memories. A lot of people have been to Blackpool, but it’s in recent years because the tourism industry has dried up a little bit in terms of local tourism.
We’re really happy to be here helping to bring a positive image to this area. I mean, we’re in this little bit of an industrial section here and the fact that we’re in Blackpool, is right on all of our shirts and on the front of the building, we want to represent it. We not trying to hide from it. We really want to wear it and let Blackpool know that we’re happy to be here. We brought a bunch of jobs and business into this distillery when you can see.
It’s just really exciting, but I don’t think I answered your question. The trip for me to get to Blackpool, it was an opportunity that was originally packaged as this. Let’s do a bourbon style whiskey in England and I only say whiskey like that because our product isn’t quite whiskey yet.
It’s not three years old, which is funny because back where I’m from, it’s whiskey, the day it goes in the barrel, but here it’s got to be three years and a day old. Right now, what we have is spirit that’s in the bottle behind me. The bottle behind you, green spirit, we try to be really upfront about that. I mean, it feels like a whiskey, it drinks like a whiskey. It for all intents and purposes is a whiskey, but it’s not whiskey by name yet And we’re not legally allowed to call it a whiskey.
Susan: Before we get into Bankhall, was there a Bankhall before you came to do it, or was it
this proposition to create something that was then going to be Bankhall?
Vince: So, yeah, that was well..
Susan: A chicken and egg situation?
Vince: I know there was an original Bankhall and so we allude to that on the bottle. There’s a little nod to it. 1790 is when the original Bankhall Distillery was operating in Liverpool, actually. They were a massive operation making millions and millions of liters of alcohol per year. I think they made over 5 million liters of pure alcohol per year, which is just crazy.
Susan: Was it just neutral spirit or what?
Vince: They would make more of a neutral whiskey, almost a grain whiskey, which is funny. That’s kind of also what we do, what would be called a grain whiskey as well on our tax returns. We call it a grain whiskey because it’s not a malt whiskey, which is what so many other whiskeys, but they also did some malt whiskey as well. I, I don’t know if it was like a proper single malt. The records are a bit hazy on that, but they had malt-based whiskeys and corn-based whiskeys as well, which is a cool little nod to what we do now.
I think the thing that really drew me in to this distillery and to helping come over here and create this, obviously the opportunity’s amazing to build a distillery from the ground up, but also to help redefine what English whiskey is. I think there’s so much more that can be said for the English whiskey category.
Really the sky’s the limit in England. It just has to be made from grain aged in a barrel and three years to a day, you can do anything else. I think what we want to do is help change the conversation. What I am most excited about in this project, what took me from Brooklyn to England was this opportunity to help redefine what English Whisky is.
Susan: That’s a pretty sexy, opportunity. For someone to say, come from Brooklyn to Blackpool to redefine English whiskey. I would take that up to, I mean, it, you must’ve jumped at the chance. What did you jump into? There was Bankhall from 1790s. When you got there the first day, was it really right from the beginning or were they already recreating spirits?
Vince: We were dabbling with the idea of sourcing some liquid to get us started. Widow Jane did a lot of that, and so I was very familiar with it. But I’m really glad we went the option of choosing to make everything in house. I think it gives us a lot more integrity to stand with. When we started the project, the first day one was like, let’s actually, make sure all of our equipment will work properly.
We were still in this phase where we were piping it all in when I got here. I actually got to help choose where some of the routes went and what would make the most sense. Because a lot of it was being done by engineers and I love engineers. But, distilling, when you’re actually using things, you’re going to know that you want this to go this way and this to go this way.
Being a part of that, learning how to read a PID, which is a piping and instrumentation diagram. I had no idea what that was before I moved over here. Diving into the engineering, working with contractors learning all these things in the UK. I mean, it was, it was a blur. It was crazy.
I was in way over my head, but I think that’s the only way you really grow is if you put yourself in situations where you have to grow. I’m still a bit amazed that we got this thing off the ground. Now, looking back on it, we’re now at two years, little over two years, we first started distilling in March of 2020, which is a really weird time to get a distillery up and running.
Susan: I know what you did lock down create a distillery. How about the ingredients and what your recipe was going to be? Was that already decided or did you create that?
Vince: . There were some initial ideas about what the distillery would be, but we very much were changing a lot of this as we went along to suit the UK. A lot of the kit that’s built in this country and the process in this country is quite a bit different than they are in the US.
What we had to do was be kind of ingenious, develop some hybrid systems that would allow us to actually process whole grains, which is what you do with bourbon. Most everybody else in the UK will take their grains and leave them behind. They’re just left with the liquid, which is called a wort or a wash, but we deal with the full mash.
So, a lot of complications revolving around doing that for the first time, really in this country for a lot of people that we work with, a lot of our suppliers, they’re like, you’re doing what? Hold on. Why are the grains in the mix? No, no it’s supposed to be there. And then, working with local farmers to get the grains that we want as well.
We are still, we’re close. We’re close to getting our corn from the UK. We get our malt and our rye from the UK or the malted barley and, the rye from the UK. We also get wheat. We get wheat from the UK as well. But for the sake of quality, which is really important to us, because we really want to let the ingredients shine, the corn, which is the backbone of any bourbon or bourbon style, that we get the highest quality from France actually.
It’s shipped in from France to make sure that we have a high-quality maize or corn to work with on all of our recipes, but the rest of them are local. Once we get to a point where we can sustainably get high quality corn in the UK, we’ll do that as well. There’s actually some crop this year that might actually be viable. We’re really excited about, or I’m really excited about that. There’s some, some of my team is too, of course.
Susan: I have a question then. Are you then looking to keep doing this style of sweet mash or are you going to because you’re so new or is it’s liquid in barrels waiting to become either a bourbon or whiskey?
Vince: Yes, I mean, I think so. Some of the answer to that question depends a little bit on the uptake of sweet mash in the market. We definitely are still new. We just released it in October and then routes to market, the distribution points as they call it here in the UK route to market. Those are just opening up now and it’s a weird time to release a whiskey in October, because then Christmas time and everything. We’re still very much in the process of launching it in a real way, and so if it does really, really well, we might, I think Mike, myself and our master blender, Dr Kirstie McCallum, we both would love to phase out, the grain spirit and phase in our whiskey, proper whiskey once it gets to three years old.
And I think that’s probably the route we’ll take, but if people really like this young whiskey quote-unquote whiskey, this young grain spirit, then we may continue making it. It’s kind of up to them, to the marketplace.
Susan: I can see the future. I can see what’s going to happen. You guys are going to stop making it. And then in 10 years, it’s going to be sold for tens of thousands on the market. I better stop drinking mine because it is absolutely delicious. I finished like half the bottle already. I just couldn’t wait. I’m a big fan of bourbon style or a bourbon. I am a big fan of bourbon and I just found this so easy to drink. It works amazingly in an old fashioned, and I just can’t see how it can get better. Really. It is just really, really delicious. How long did it take you to get this? I mean until it was good enough to bottle.
Vince: Well, the audio won’t show how much I’m blushing right now. It seriously is a huge compliment. Thank you. We are really, really proud of that liquid and, I mean, it’s nine months old. We’re just, we can’t wait to share with people when it gets even older. When we first released our whiskey, that was quite a few batches of just playing around with the ratio of grain. We started off with a high corn content of our mash bill. We then started playing around.
We’ve got these traditional pot stills, they’re gorgeous. They’re from Macmillan. They’re Scottish coppersmiths doing it for hundreds of years. They’re amazing. We’ve got three pot stills and so we wanted to nod to that a little bit at first and have a high malt recipe, but it just wasn’t as good as our high rye recipe. It was a bit of trial and error. I think by the time we got to maybe our 36th batch of bourbon, more like our 36 barrel of bourbon, sorry, I should say. We actually were executing to make the mash and then distill it and we have to distill it three times, which gives us a really cool profile and I think, sets our whiskey apart a little bit, from, from other bourbon whiskeys.
Of course, hats off to Woodford for being, I think the first triple distilled. But I think there’s room in the marketplace for more than one triple distilled bourbon. So, the 36th barrel of whiskey that we put down, I think is when it really came into view. That is a collection of whiskey that is right around that same high rye recipe. One thing we’re super upfront about everything that we do here. Just one thing that we don’t disclose is our mash bill. And I know it drives some people crazy.
I know there’s some bourbon whiskey nerds that will forever hound us on this, but mostly just to watch them squirm, we’re not going to say our mash bills. We’ll give you the general breakdown, but I don’t think you really need to know if it’s 17% or 18%. I don’t think it really matters that much as long as the second grain in the recipe. I think that’s all that really matters. The second grain we’re happy to say, and we even put it right on the label there, corn, rye ,and malt.
Susan: Everyone else, they can make it up. Why did you decide to release a bottle at nine months? Did you just taste it and go, oh my God, this has to be out there? People have to be drinking this. I can’t believe it’s so good.
Vince: Yeah, it was actually that we released the bottle at seven months even, which was our very, very first release. We pretty much did it distillery only. It was called Rebellion. It was a fun, little release, that we did only here at the distillery. Really. We released it at
47.6%, which is a cool little nod to the 4th of July 1776.
Vince: We did it with the red, white, and blue package. It was fun. It was just fun, but even that we really just liked where the whiskey was going and, or the green spirit was going, I should say. And I will say the word whiskey from time to time, you’ll have to forgive me, but I hope everybody knows my intentions here, not to mislead at all.
The sweet mash, that was something we knew we were going to release, even when we put the Rebellion out there. Wanting to get people behind what we’re doing and showcase how exciting this project is and letting people kind of peek behind the curtain before we have our proper whiskey, I think is a really cool way to bring people along on this adventure with us.
I mean, our tagline is Adventures in Distilling, which we love here at the distillery because it gives us carte blanche to have a bunch of experimental recipes, which is really a distiller’s dream. It’s really fun to have. We really do believe that this product is an adventure, this story is an adventure and we want to bring people on this with us so that that’s why.
Susan: Back to the story of the brand and it being from the 1700s from Liverpool, Bankhall, or the desire to bring that back as opposed to just create a new name and a new story.
Vince: That’s a really good question. I think the desire to have a nod to the past, to the history of whiskey making in England with an irreverent look to the future is what we’re all about. We definitely love the history of what Bankhall was and what English whiskey making was, but we very much want to take it in a whole new direction. I think that it kind of rides that line for us of being old school and new school.
Susan: And the bottle , why did you decide on this bottle and, making it kind of a slim rectangular bottle, and the font and all that stuff. Tell me about the bottle creation.
Vince: I can’t take a lot of credit for that, honestly. I believe it was our CEO Stewart Hainsworth who came up with the bottle design. I love it. It’s such a cool square bottle. As a bartender, I love that. Even if you turn it sideways on the shelf to save space, it still says Bankhall up the side.
Susan: Yes, it does.
Vince: Very, very clever. I would say, the higher ups and the design team, they took the project and just pulled it out of creative energy into real life. Then it was up to us because the bottle existed before the whiskey did. It was a lot of pressure on us to be like, oh, okay, we got to fill that bottle with something amazing.
Susan: Now as a former bartender and as someone who’s making this liquid, how did you see it being drunk? I know everyone says, oh, whatever anyone wants to, however anyone wants to drink it. But when you were thinking about it, was it neat or in cocktails or both? Where did you think it would find its home?
Vince: Well, I am a realist. And as an ex-venue bartender, and also, I kind of skipped over a part of my life where I was a hardcore cocktail bartender. I worked at a New Orleans cocktail bar on the Upper East Side which no longer exists, but it was called Infirmary. Anybody ever get a chance to go there, they will know it was a really killer bar. But that’s when I really learned about real cocktail bartending.
I thought I knew and I thought I made cocktails before, but you don’t really know the true art of a cocktail until you have to make for Ramos Gin Fizzes and stir Sazeracs while you’re doing it. That side of me is a bit of a purist and I’m like, oh we have to express the spirit and it has to be highlighted in the cocktail. On the other hand, I see the English whiskey market and I see when people go out and drink and a lot of people are still mixing their whiskey with Coke.
And there’s no shame in that whatsoever. I think for us here wanting a spirit that could do both, that’s a bit tough, but that was the aim. I think if we, always in the back of my mind, if we got somewhere close to that, it would be still good. I think it works in a cocktail. I love it.
And an old fashioned, that’s my drink of choice, but I’ve played around with it in summery drinks this past summer we were at home. Playing around with different summery drinks, lemon based like a Bee’s Knees, and it works well there. It also works in a little bit heavier cocktails, like a Manhattan or like a barrel aged Old Fashioned. We were playing around with doing one here, actually. So, I do think it works well in a cocktail as well as just mixed with Coke.
Susan: Yeah, whiskey and Coke. Whiskey has to have a lot of personality to compete with the Coke because Coke has pretty strong personality itself.
Vince: Yes. I think having it at 46% helps. It does stand up in a cocktail a little bit more. It does bring a little bit more of the barrel forward, but I think we have a signature character here at the distillery, at Bankhall, that does shine through whether the drink is just mixed with water, like a Whiskey Highball, or if it’s more complex. we’re really glad that that shines through no matter what .
Susan: For such a high ABV, it’s really smooth. It’s super smooth and young. It’s really smooth. Can I say smooth one more time? It’s super smooth.
Vince: Smooth. I mean, triple distilled, I mean that screams smoothness. I think the vivacity, the youth of the whiskey, the way it was put together in this blend really helps bring the whole experience together, so you have the strength of the sweet mash at 46%, and all the barrel character that comes with that.
But also, the vibrancy of the young corn spirit, a little bit of rye and barley is in there as well. All of this works really harmoniously and does present really well. We plan to continue this sweet mash line until we have a whiskey, and then once we get to the whiskey mark, it’ll actually be a single malt. That’ll be our first whiskey. ‘m really excited for that as well, to introduce a single mode into such a deeply rich single-malt community here in the UK. We are a little nervous ,if we’re honest, but we are very proud of our single malt. Very, very proud of it. That’ll be fun. In 2023, our first actual whiskey will end up being a single malt.
Susan: That I am really excited for .
Vince: Well, I’ll make sure you get a bottle.
Susan: Well, just now 2022. but at least it gives us something to look forward to in these dark days of the beginning of 2022.
Vince: I was just having a thought. I haven’t run this by anybody above me yet, but we were just looking at the stocks this morning and we could put a rye out this year and I think it would be pretty cool. It still won’t be a whiskey, but the cool thing about rye is you just call it rye and people kind of get it. It’ll still be green spirit. It’ll only be two years old, but a lot of rye in the world is two years old. I think probably 80% of the rye that people drink in the US comes from MGP (FYI Midwest Grain Products of Indiana) and is two years old. I don’t know, it’s something that we’re toying with. And then, we’ll see. But yeah, a lot of exciting things.
Susan: I love it. I was going to ask you what were you going to be planning for in the future? And now we know there’s going to be a single malt and a rye. And would you ever think of doing anything like other spirits like gin or a vodka or anything like that, or you set on your dark spirits?
Vince: I think dark spirits are the way for us. No gin for us, I don’t think we like being a whisky brand. We are going to do a peated expression and we’re not sure when we’ll release that. It’s maybe our favorite spirit that we make. The general public will be lucky if they get a bottle because we might just drink it all first, but definitely there’ll be some fun stuff in the future for us.
Susan: Well, I just, I can’t wait. I can’t wait. Now I always end by asking a couple of questions and I was wondering if you have any top tips for the home bartender, it can be about Bankhall or it can be anything else .
Vince: Sure. I think for the novice or someone who’s curious about bartending at home, I would just urge you if you’re listening, just do it, just dive in. You’re going to make something probably ridiculous and too sugary to begin with, but at least it’ll be yours. I say, no matter what it is, follow the recipes online, get yourself a little jigger, measure.
For other bartenders at home listening that may be a little more advanced. I just want to share a tip because I’ve listened to a few of your episodes. And I, I think this tip is actually really important, because I don’t think I actually learned it until I was quite a bit into the bartending game. If you’re making a drink and it has juice in it, 99% of the time it’s shaken. If you’re making a drink and it’s just spirits 99% of the time, it’s stirred.
Susan: Ah, I had no idea.
Vince: It’s a really good rule to work from if, especially if you’re at the stage where you’re starting to make your own drinks, if you use those just simple two rules, there are exceptions of course, to both, but I think in general, you’ll have a little bit more confidence with building a new cocktail and then break those rules.
Susan: Fantastic. Fantastic. Now how about the last question is if you could be anywhere drinking anything. Where would that be? And what would you drink?
Vince: I did think about this a bit and I had a thousand ideas, but I think I’ll paint a picture of Red Hook, Brooklyn, sunset over the cobblestones. Sitting down at Fort Defiance and ordering one of the best Irish coffees in the known universe and sipping it with your friends and then walking over to look at the Statue of Liberty as the sunsets. That’s where I’d be.
Susan: Oh, that’s very romantic. I love that. That’s fabulous. Maybe next time I’m in New York, I’m going to do that.
Vince: . I don’t know if they’re open still right now as a bar, they switched during COVID to a general grocery, but I think they’re going to reopen as a bar in the near future. If you get a chance to definitely look it up first. Don’t just go if it’s still a grocery store, but if it has converted to a bar, definitely go. It’s amazing.
Susan: Maybe they sell takeaway Irish Coffee.
Vince: I didn’t ask when I was just there.
Susan: Ah, we’ll have to explore that. Well, listen, it has been so lovely to have you on the show. Thank you so much. As I said, I’ve downed half a bottle of Bankhall by myself. Not all at one time, obviously, but making Old Fashioneds with my friends’ Bittered Sling Plum and Root Beer Bitters. They have been amazing these Old Fashioned. I’m going to have to get me another bottle and leave it unopened. And I know that when you stop making it, I’ll have one.
Vince: Well, been an absolute pleasure being here. Seriously. Thank you for hosting me and having this forum for people to talk about spirits in this way. Seriously. Thank you.
Susan: It’s my pleasure.