On Saturday 8/18/18, Brittani and I toured Independent Distilling in Atlanta, GA. Unfortunately, they fell short on product quality and I cannot recommend them.
Independent White Rum: This is the New Make of their Barrel Aged Rum. Independent uses Grade A molasses, which is the finest quality available. I appreciate that the objective of the brand is to pull the flavor from the base ingredients through to the final product. As a rum, the New Make should be decent, but I can forgive them for this particular product not making the grade. After all, New Make is by it’s very nature pretty rough stuff.
Independent Barrel Aged Rum: This needs to be the flagship product for Independent, but it is a bust. I was not able to taste the raw molasses, so I can’t say if it played a part in the off putting taste. For the wash, they use a beautiful 500 gallon pot still with a bulb and follow that with a similar 100 gallon finishing still. Typically, I see rum made with a triple distillation process, not using a bulb on the still. These differences have the potential to set Independent apart from the traditional view of rum. I hope that by changing the selection of molasses, but keeping the pot stills, they may be able to make a come-back.
Hellbender Corn Whisky: A hellbender is a large salamander that prefers cold, clean streams. Seeing a hellbender is a good indication that the stream is favorable for making whisky. It’s a great story behind the name. Not surprisingly, this New Make is terrible. Don’t take that as criticism, it’s New Make. Independent uses 85% heirloom corn and 15% wheat. This is an odd combination to say the least. The variety of corn that they use returns a low alcohol content after fermentation which limits their ability to turn raw material into cash. Of course, their angle is to use superior ingredients and pull the flavor through to the finished product.
Hellbender Bourbon: This needs to be a solid product for Independent. Unfortunately, it has a sharp and off-putting flavor. I think the mash is off. Cut down on that corn. Then throw in some malted barley to help convert starch to sugar and increase your conversion ratio. From there, play around with some grains to improve the flavor. Don’t be afraid to abandon the heirloom stuff.
I do want to throw a shout out to the host that we met and the co-owner that gave the tour. They were friendly, accommodating, and willing to answer the more personal / nosy questions that we had.
Price: $12 from Groupon for the flight