On Growing Grain for Whiskey
All whiskey is made from grain. At Silver Brothers we are focusing on two specific types of whiskey: Rye and Single Malt. Rye whiskey is made from rye, of course, but can also incorporate other grains to round out its character, usually corn and barley. Single malt is traditionally 100% barley (though American producers of single malt don't always follow that approach).
Our ambition is to grow on our farm 100% of the grain we use to produce our whiskey, and we are working our way towards that goal. Last fall we planted 20 acres of rye and barley - we'll need about 40 acres for our full-year production needs. Because of constant rains and wet fields in September, we were not able to plant until late in the season. And while our rye thrived despite the late planting date, most of our our barley crop did not mature well enough in the fall to survive the cold winter of '22. We plowed much of it under (though were able to salvage a small parcel) and we are now left with about 12 acres of grain.
We will harvest this grain in early-mid July, and then keep it in storage until our distillery is ready for operation - hopefully by late-fall. This should get us through about three months of production needs, and we will source the remaining grain from local growers.
Growing small grains in the Hudson River Valley is uncommon, though increasingly less so, and the knowledge base is growing every year. We are planning to plant 25 acres this time around, and will go into the next planting season one year smarter about what to do and what not to do.