All whiskey begins as beer, but not the type you'd like the drink.
The low-alcohol, oatmeal-like mash of cooked grains in water is just the beginning of what will eventually get distilled and go into your bottle. But a new Brooklyn distillery is making a vacuum-distilled whiskey from a craft IPA, so it tastes good from start to finish.
Arcane Alpha is the first release from Bushwick-based Arcane Distilling. It's available now locally and online, with direct shipping to 30 states.
Arcane Distilling initially launched back in 2017 with a very small, very limited-run vacuum-distilled whiskey and fernet. Fast forward to now, and the brand has relaunched under new leadership, with a new distillery in Bushwick (it'll open to the public in early 2023) and its first product.
Arcane Alpha is the fledgling company's flagship whiskey. It's distilled from a triple IPA that's loaded with bright, citrusy hops. It's balanced by light malt notes, flavors of citrus, red berries and baking spices, and has a mild oak finish. It's bottled a 41.5% ABV.
Aside from its starter ingredients, the production process is also unique. Arcane uses a mash filter press during brewing, which they say uses 15% less grain and 30% less water than traditional methods. It doesn't end there.
Standard distilling techniques boil the mash to capture alcohol as vapors, but that would destroy the inherent flavors of the IPA. So these guys are employing a vacuum distillation technique that allows the alcohol to evaporate at a much lower temperature, thereby preserving all the aromas and flavor compounds in the beer. The vacuum process is another energy saver, using about one-third that of traditional distilleries, which usually rely on gas steam boilers.
That's a lot to think about, if you're the type to think about such things. But all you really need to know is that the above steps result in whiskey.
Which you can drink the same way as always.