First, it was their amazing, award-winning success with a vodka (Stark Vatten) and a gin (Kur) that spoke richly of seasonal and hyper-local botanicals. Then came Dark Door, an inspirational, handcrafted bourbon.
Now, there’s more big news coming from Wildwood Spirits. The micro distillery in Bothell, Washington — one of the few establishments left in America that still believes in the artisanal philosophy of fractional distilling – is producing an Irish whisky, mysteriously named Old 830.
The whisky will be ready in about three years. But the story of its inception is a fascinating one for connoisseurs who’re happy to wait for something that promises to be remarkably special.
“The Irish whisky is something we decided to do with the philosophy that necessity is the mother of all inventions,” says head distiller and master sommelier Erik Liedholm. “We had spent a lot of money on the whisky barrels we bought for the Dark Door bourbon. [They cost about 500 dollars each.] As you can use barrels only once to make bourbon but can re-use them to make other whiskies like Scotch and Irish, we decided to go that route.”
The configurable stills at Wildwood Spirits, known as Lomond Stills, are the type that are used in Ireland to make Irish whiskey. “It seemed like every resource we had at our disposal was pointing us towards Old 830,” says Liedholm. “We had the right barrels, which is an extremely important ingredient, our stills could be re-configured to the right specifications and we were confident we could make an Irish we’re really proud of.”
As a counterpoint to Dark Door bourbon, which is big, caramelly and full of confectionary notes, Liedholm chose to go for a lighter style that was in the real tradition of Irish whiskies.
And so the Old 830 was born.
Only three barrels of the bourbon have been released until now, so there are three barrels of Old 830 currently in production. More will follow as more barrels become available in the very near future.
What about the name Old 830?
“830 was the number of my parent’s house on Wildwood Street in East Lansing, Michigan,” says Liedholm.
An interesting tidbit, because his bourbon was named Dark Door after the majestic, dark wood front door of the very same house.
“I believe that anything you make well, you put your heart into it,” explains Liedholm. “And when there’s heart in something there’s usually a back story as well. I am a nostalgic person who enjoyed his childhood and this house was an important part of my coming to age. Naming the Irish whiskey after its street number was my way of paying homage to a house that practically raised me.”
So there you have it. Another great spirit getting ready at Wildwood Spirit with a release date of February 2021.
“We’re looking forward to bottling of Old 830,” says Liedholm. “We’re pretty happy with where it is at right now, but whiskies evolve and change in the barrel and we’re excited to see what the end product will be like in 3 years’ time.”