Author: OldDominickDistillery

Old Dominick in the News: May 2020

Formula Number 10 Gin bottle surrounded by plants

Old Dominick is Raising Spirits in Memphis
As COVID-19 takes a toll on the hospitality industry, Old Dominick is giving back to the Memphis community with our #RaiseSpirits initiative. A portion of of the proceeds from local beverage store sales go to support the Welcome to Memphis COVID-19 fund.

Read more from Storyboard Memphis

Whiskey is in our Blood
Master Distiller Alex Castle spoke with Our American Network about the history of Old Dominick distillery and what makes crafting fine spirits in Memphis so special.

Listen to the interview on Our American Network.

Old Dominick Launches Formula No. 10 Gin
We were proud to launch our Formula No. 10 Gin in March. A carefully-curated blend of eight botanicals, Formula No. 10 has a flavor and a complexity like no other gin on the market.

Read more on Distillery Trail.

24 Hours with Master Distiller Alex Castle
What does a day as a master distiller at a craft-obsessed distillery in Memphis look like? Our own Alex Castle gave The Scout Guide an inside look at what her days entail.

Read more on The Scout Guide.

Warding off the Sunday Scaries
There’s nothing worse than the dread that hits on Sunday night as you realize the weekend is all but over. See how Master Distiller Alex Castle keeps her chin up and embraces a new week.

Read more on M.M.Lafluer.

Step up your Cocktail Order
We all evolve our cocktail tastes as we get a little older. Master Distiller Alex Castle gives some suggestions on how to elevate your go-to cocktail order to the next level.

Read more on The Every Girl.

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [10.25]

Musician Mark Edgar Stuart

In Memphis, we’ve got a gorgeous forecast and our weekend plans locked in: we’ll be spiriting River Arts Fest, which will take place on Riverside Drive for the first time and (as always) feature artists, artisans and makers from across the country. Check out the details here and come Share A Sip with us this weekend!

Next week, IndieMemphis takes over midtown theaters for its 21st annual film festival and we’re proud to be spiriting all the music you’ll enjoy throughout the festivities. IndieMemphis is known for the unique ways it spotlights Memphis music, with performers before every film screened during the festival and a block party featuring multiple Memphis bands. If you follow us on Instagram and Facebook you might’ve gotten a peek at who’ll be performing — including Pure Memphis Artist Mark Edgar Stuart — as we helped them make the announcement last week!

And of course, we hope we’ll see you at the Distillery tonight for the Pure Memphis Music Series featuring Dale Watson! Tickets are $20 and you can still grab yours here – don’t forget that $5 from each ticket will go to our nonprofit co-host for the evening, Beale Street Caravan!

Over in Nashville, we’re looking forward to supporting emerging talent at Nashville Unexpected on October 30! Nashville Unexpected is a vibrant, diverse community of musicians and artists presenting monthly showcases of original music. Check out the October event details right here and come see us at The Back Corner!

Just down the road in Franklin, you’ll also find us at Pumpkinfest on October 27! Pumpkinfest is middle Tennessee’s largest family fall festival, expected to bring out more than 65,000 people for festivities stretching along main Street in downtown Franklin. If you’ll be there, keep an eye out for our cocktail cruiser and come say hello and enjoy an Old Dominick draft cocktail.

And if you’re in Franklin, we’d also love to see you at Puckett’s, where we’ve been spiriting the Hitmaker Series, a weekly show on the restaurant’s stage that exclusively features the writers behind beloved No. 1 hits in a ‘songwriters in the round’ format.

And last but not definitely least, farther east in Chattanooga we’re counting down til our next partnership with Songbirds Guitar Museum! We’ll be spiriting their November 20 show with the talented PJ Morton. Grab your tickets now and come Share a Sip with us.

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 10.18.18

The most prized piece in my whiskey collection is probably a bottle that no one will ever open.

Actually, all of the ones I prize most will never be opened – I have a 50 ml. bottle of the first distillate I ever made, which I guess would be 10 years old now. It’s just white whiskey – full strength, hasn’t touched a barrel or anything. It went into that bottle straight off the still, and that has traveled with me for the last ten years.

I also have a 50 ml. bottle of the first vodka I ever distilled, which was here at Old Dominick. I keep a bottle from each distillery I’ve ever worked at – when I was at Wild Turkey, at my interview, they gave me a 750 ml. bottle of their 101. A neat thing about it is that it’s got a really old label, because they’ve done so many label changes since then. That bottle will never get touched, because it’s commemorative of my job there. I have a bottle from the distillery before that, and I will eventually have a bottle from Old Dominick that will never be opened.

I don’t think I’ll ever change my mind on that, which is weird, because I also firmly believe that you should never buy a bottle that you’re not willing to open. I really do! If you’re willing to spend $200 on a bottle of bourbon, you better open it at some point and enjoy it. Like, really enjoy that one! These will not get opened for a couple of reasons. First, they’re nothing special, as far as the liquid that’s inside them – they’re not single barrel, hand-picked by me or anything like that, they’re just what you could’ve bought on the shelf. Basically, the idea is just to have a portfolio, if you will, of where I’ve worked.

As you build your own whiskey collection – as I mentioned in the posts about building your home bar – your personal budget is the most important thing to keep in mind as you stock. If you have enough money that you can spend $500 on a bottle and it’s nothing to you, then by all means, do it! For me and my husband, personally, we tend to draw the line at around $150-175. Through all the whiskeys we’ve tasted, our experience has been that the higher-priced bottles are delicious, but for $100 cheaper we might be able to get something that is almost identical.

This is especially true when you consider that something like 95 percent of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky. Among those distilleries, there are only so many mash bills, so many yeast strains – the differences that you get at those highest price points are very nuanced. The liquid in the bottles may have simply been aged in different warehouses or have a slightly different blend. Unless your palate is incredibly discerning, you may not be able to taste some of the variances. As you’ve probably realized by now, my advice is almost always that you can probably spend a little bit less and still find something you love!

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [10.11]

The bar at old dominick

In Memphis, we’re looking forward to spiriting River Arts Fest, which will take place on Riverside Drive for the first time and feature artists, artisans and makers from across the country. Check out the details here and come Share A Sip with us October 27-28!

Just a few days later, IndieMemphis takes over midtown theaters for its 21st annual film festival and we’re proud to be spiriting all the music you’ll enjoy throughout the festivities. IndieMemphis is known for the unique ways it spotlights Memphis music, with performers before every film screened during the festival and a block party featuring multiple Memphis bands. Be sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram – we’ll be helping them announce their music line-up soon!

And of course, we hope we’ll see you at the Distillery tonight for the Pure Memphis Music Series featuring Liz Brasher! Tickets are $20 and you can still grab yours here – don’t forget that $5 from each ticket will go to our nonprofit co-host for the evening, the Soulsville Foundation!

Heading east to Nashville, we’re excited to share that we’ll be spiriting Nashville Unexpected’s October 30 event at The Back Corner. Nashville Unexpected is a vibrant, diverse community of musicians and artists presenting monthly showcases of original music. Check out the October event details right here and come see us at The Back Corner!

Last but not least: we’re kicking off a new partnership in Chattanooga with Songbirds! We got things started with last night’s show featuring Ana Popovic, and we’re looking forward to being back next month for PJ Morton. Check out their full schedule of live music here and come see us (and PJ) on November 20!

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 10.04.18

Welcome to the second post exploring how you can build a great home bar! In part one, we focused primarily on spirits and mixers – in part two, we’ll dive in to the tools you need to make magic in your own home bar set up.

My first and most important tip is to find bar tools that you’re comfortable with. Don’t just get a bar tool that someone tells you is awesome, because if it doesn’t fit your hand or your needs, you’re not going to use it. They don’t need to be fancy, they don’t need to be expensive. My favorite jigger is the OXO brand jigger that you can buy pretty much anywhere. I love it! You probably won’t see an actual bar using it – and I don’t really care. It’s the best one for me, and I think it cost me about $6. You just need to be able to use the tools, so the best options will be the ones that suit you.

In building out your arsenal of bar tools, a lot will depend on what you want in your cocktails. If you’re someone who wants a lot of fruit zest or even peels, you should probably look at getting tools that are designed to zest the fruit or even do a nice little spiral. I’ve seen people try to zest with a fork, which actually does seem to work pretty well – it’s not as sharp, so it can’t go too deep – but for me, I’m not very handy with a knife, so any utensil I can get that helps me cut anything thinly is high on my list.

Get a shaker, but get the type of shaker you like. There’s the Boston shaker, which looks like two pint glasses. (That’s my preferred style of shaker.) One of them is usually stainless, the other is usually glass. The glass fits inside the stainless, and you shake them, and you can pull them apart. The strainer fits easily into it. The more old-fashioned-looking shakers have a top with a built-in strainer – they look amazing, but I can never get the top off! I’ve heard other people say the same thing – because it gets so cold and the whole thing is stainless, the top just gets stuck and you can’t open it to empty it and make the next cocktail. They also just always leak on me! So the Boston shaker is my preference.

A strainer is another tool that is really inexpensive and would be a nice addition. They are designed to fit into the top of a shaker, holding back your ice, your fruit, so that when you pour it into a glass, you can either do straight up and not have to worry about ice, or you can at least be pouring it over fresh ice. Those are neat because if you’re doing egg white drinks, you can actually take the spring off the strainer, and throw it in the shaker to help froth up the egg.

Incidentally, I love egg white cocktails! Whenever I see one on a cocktail menu, that’s always what I’m going to try. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make one, start with a whiskey sour, which traditionally has egg white in it. A good whiskey sour will change your life! What I love about the egg white is that it makes the cocktail creamy and adds a nice foamy consistency to it. And if you’ve got the spring from your strainer, throw it in there and it’ll help you get that perfect froth!

The bottom line is, you should have tools on hand that make it simple for you to craft the cocktails you like to drink. Just like with your spirits, they should make sense for your budget and your daily bartending needs. Just because something seems fancy doesn’t mean it will have utility for you – and any of these tools can elevate your game.

The Taste: where to find Old Dominick this week [09.27]

In Memphis tonight we’re welcoming Tia ‘Songbird’ Henderson to the Distillery for the third show in our fall season of the Pure Memphis Music Series. She stopped by the other day to perform a song for us in the Barrel Room and help our whiskey age – check her out:

Tickets are still available for tonight, and $5 from your purchase supports nonprofit co-host The CLTV!

In Nashville we’re counting down to the Nashville Whiskey Festival, Nashville’s premiere whiskey experience, next weekend. It’s going down October 6 at the Omni Hotel and tickets are still available. The goal of this festival is to encourage participants to truly taste, learn, explore and experience all the nuances in a variety of whiskeys. Regardless of personal taste preferences, this event is catered to a community with a deep appreciation for carefully handcrafted work and passionate, talented artisans.

October 6 is a big day for Tennesseans who heart whiskey, y’all. Over in east Tennessee, join us in Gatlinburg that day for the Tennessee Whiskey Experience, an elevated celebration of Tennessee distillers and Appalachian cuisine in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Tennessee Whiskey Experience will highlight the distilleries that make up the Tennessee Whiskey Trail with product samples and cocktails straight from the distillers. Complimenting these spirits, Park Vista Executive Chef Jeremy Hemen will be creating dishes highlighting authentic Appalachian cuisine. Tickets are still available!

And last but most definitely not least – back home in Memphis we’re gearing up for a weekend at Shelby Farms Park as the official craft vodka of Mempho Music Festival! Pssst: we’re also cooking up something pretty cool with our friends at WeAreMemphis. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media to learn more about how you can connect with us at the Fest!

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 09.20.18

Home bars are a favorite topic of mine — I started building my home bar about 10 years ago.

In this post, I’ll focus primarily on spirits. In my next post, I’ll go into a bit more detail on great tools and extras you can add to elevate your offering.

You want to keep a variety of everyday spirits on hand, and they don’t need to be expensive. They don’t even need to be names that you recognize, necessarily – you just need to find a comfortable price point for you. If you can have a $40 vodka be your everyday vodka, and you can afford that, then by all means, do that! If all you can afford is a $20 vodka for your everyday, that’s what you need to stock.

Keeping a variety of spirits on hand means that hopefully anytime anyone comes over, or anytime you find a cocktail that strikes your fancy, you have everything you need. You won’t have to make a special trip to the store to make it. For me, that variety does begin with vodka – you definitely need vodka on hand. Some people can get away without a gin, but I always like having it – I like gin, and I think it can do a lot in a cocktail. You want a whiskey – and I say whiskey, not bourbon. It’s completely up to you if you want a scotch, if you want a bourbon, if you want a rye whiskey. Rye and bourbon are very interchangeable with cocktails. You’ll want to keep standard bitters – orange bitters, angostura – those are pretty much the basics.  (I like throwing in weird ones, like the chocolate bitters and the hellfire bitters, because I like spicy drinks, and that’s an easy way to get a spicy drink.)

Next, make sure you have an orange liqueur or a triple sec – that’s what goes into a margarita. So, if you have that, you have tequila, and you have one fresh lime, you’ve got a margarita. You don’t need anything else. Then, vermouth. You should probably have a dry and a sweet vermouth, because they do have different uses. A dry vermouth is mainly for martinis, so that’s what you want that for. A sweet vermouth gets used in Manhattans most. You want to use those and simple mixers. A cranberry juice is always good, and any kind of juice that you like would work. Always go for the juice, not the fruit cocktails, because you don’t want the added sugars – you always want to be able to control the sugar level yourself. And to that end, I prefer sugar cubes over loose sugar. So, if you make an old fashioned, a lot of times that comes with a sugar cube, which allows you to meddle the cube with the orange slice, with the bitters, and really meld those flavors together. Loose sugar is harder to measure as well. A sugar cube, you just chuck one in and you’re done. If you’re using a regular spoon to get loose sugar out, how much do you put in? And please don’t ever use sugar packets! Sugar cubes are cheap. Buy them!

If you want to elevate your game, I recommend keeping fresh herbs. Most people don’t go that route with cocktails, even though a lot of the cocktails they drink have some sort of savory characteristic to them. I just don’t think people naturally go that route. If you can keep fresh herbs, because they will keep for quite some time, you can easily throw that in there. I’ve made cocktails using cilantro before, rosemary, thyme – you can really have fun with those, and they’re super easy. Chuck a couple leaves in and you’re done. Fresh jalapeno goes a long way. Choose your fruit seasonally. If a peach is in season, instead of making an Old Fashioned with an orange, just make it with a peach. I did peach-jalapeno for an old fashioned. (Just be sure to remove the seeds!)

Check back in October, when I’ll have part two of this series, focusing on tools and extras to elevate your home bar game!

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [09.13]

If you’re in Nashville, we hope to see you today at The Pure Memphis Happy Hour presented by Music Export Memphis and spirited by Old Dominick! We’ll be on hand with some signature cocktails – and we’re the secret ingredient in the boozy MemPops that’ll be available to cool you off! The line-up is a packed mix of soulful Memphis Americana and we’re looking forward to a packed house of folks coming in to discover it.

Back home in Memphis, tonight Alanna Royale will take over the Distillery with her 10-piece soul band for the second concert in the Pure Memphis Music Series fall season! There are tickets still available, and trust us – you don’t want to miss this one. Plus, $5 from your ticket purchase goes to support our nonprofit co-host for the night, Memphis Songwriters’ Association!

Later this month, we’re looking forward to spiriting studio happy hours during the 15th annual GonerFest! Do you have your passes yet?

We’ll be back in Chattanooga (did you see our posts from Moon River? Already counting down til next year!) this weekend for the fifth annual Tennessee Whiskey Festival! It’s going down on the campus of the Chattanooga Choo Choo from 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday and tickets are still available. Come share a sip with us!

 

Share A Sip with Alex Castle 09.06.18

If you follow Old Dominick on social media – or if you’ve perused the bourbon aisle in your local liquor store in Memphis this week – you might’ve seen that we’ve introduced a new spirit: Huling Station, a high rye bourbon. What you might not realize is that if you’ve had our Memphis Toddy, you’ve already had a little bit of Huling Station – this spirit is the base of the Toddy!

About four years ago, we began the development of what would become Huling Station. We took our recipe, our yeast, our barrels, our water – pretty much everything we physically could – to another distillery and had them make our product. (Our downtown Memphis Distillery home was still a ways from being ready to occupy!)

We knew we needed a base for the Toddy, and we knew we wanted that spirit to be the first one we released. So, we had them make the high rye bourbon for us. And they made a lot! That bourbon is ready to go, and we only consume so much in the production of the Toddy – so we decided it was time to bring it for people to enjoy, and that’s when the idea of Huling Station started to come to life.

It was a bit of a long road before we landed on the name Huling Station, but once we got there we knew it was perfect. The building that was once Huling Station is just a few blocks from where our Distillery sits now, and it’s where Domenico Canale bottled his spirits before prohibition. Back in the day, Domenico would take the train up to Indiana and Kentucky to hand select the finest barrels to be delivered to Huling Station for bottling. With Chris and Alex Canale’s vision of Old Dominick today, it’s only fitting we gave a nod to the origination of the Dominick Whiskey line through this very small batch bourbon whiskey.

Huling Station is a four-year-old high rye bourbon. It’s 44 percent rye – it does have the legally required minimum 51 percent corn, but we kind of want it to toe the line of a rye whiskey, so that’s what this recipe does for us. We decided to go ahead and bottle it at 100 proof. That was something I pushed for. Personally, when it comes to my whiskeys and in spirits in general, I tend to like stronger bottled spirits. When you put them in a cocktail, they tend to get watered down. If you start at a higher proof, you still get to taste the characteristic of the spirit regardless of what you’re putting with it. That’s why it’s a little on the high side for the proof. (By law, they have to be bottled at or above 80 proof, and you will see a lot in the 80-90 range. In the last five years, I’ve seen a pick-up in the higher proofs, because the industry has sort of realized that people actually do like it. It doesn’t scare people as much as it used to.)

Because of the rye content in it, there is a spiciness and heat to Huling Station that is not coming from the alcohol, it’s coming from the rye itself – that’s why I like it. I’m a huge rye whiskey fan. You do get the sweetness from the corn, and you get vanilla and caramel notes, mainly from the barrel, but you’re getting a really nice spicy characteristic just from the rye.

Have you had a chance to try Huling Station yet? (Nashville and Chattanooga, we’ll be in your stores soon!) I’d love to hear what you think.

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [08.30]

This Saturday is an important day in Memphis and we’ll be kicking off the celebrations the night before with our friends at Choose901join us at the Distillery for Toast the 901!

Starting at 6 p.m., get some grub from food trucks Say Cheese, Stickem and Sushi Jimmi and enjoy live music by Chase Campbell and the Stax Music Academy Alumni Band. DJ JD gets the dance party started at 10 p.m. and we’ll have a complimentary midnight toast of Toddy for you to properly welcome 901 Day!

While you’re at the Distillery, be sure to grab a taste of the newest member of the Old Dominick family: Huling Station high-rye bourbon. It’s available in stores across the state of Tennessee now, so look for it at your favorite spirits shop. (Or come share a sip with us at the next Pure Memphis Music Series show featuring Alanna Royale!)

Nashville: We’re counting down the days til AmericanaFest, which kicks off in two weeks – we’ll see you at the Pure Memphis Happy Hour hosted by our friends at Music Export Memphis and featuring a line-up of Memphis Americana (including one of our favorites, the magical Talibah Safiya) and Old Dominick cocktails. The night before, Spotlight615 hosts its monthly songwriter showcase at Tin Roof on Broadway and we’ll be there with a few special cocktail offerings.

Chattanooga: we’re ready to party with you one week from tomorrow! Whether you’ve got tickets to the sold-out Moon River Festival or not, you’ll want to join us for the kick-off party at Southside Social on Friday, September 7. There’ll be music, drink specials and some special giveaways. And if you’re coming from Memphis for the festival, be sure to let us know! Use #MemphistoMoonRiver and you might just get rewarded with some cool prizes back home.

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 08.23.18

Now that the first releases from our R&D Series – Formula #6, an American Dry Gin, and Formula #10, a Southern Gin – have been in our retail store and behind the bars in some of your favorite spots in Memphis and Nashville for a few weeks, I wanted to share a peak behind the scenes from the development process for these spirits.

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [08.16]

We’re in countdown mode today, y’all – just one week to go until the fall season of our Pure Memphis Music Series kicks off with Harlan T. Bobo! Did you know (maybe you read it in the series announcement in The  Memphis Flyer) that we’re partnering with nonprofit co-hosts all season long? Big shout out to our first co-host, Memphis Slim House!

If you’re joining us for Harlan’s show next week, $5 from your ticket purchase is going to Slim House to support the awesome and important work they’re doing with musicians in Memphis, including providing access to studio and rehearsal space and their Front Loan, which gives artists access to capital for everything from album recording to tours. Take a second to learn more about them here, and if you haven’t grabbed your ticket yet, click here to reserve your seat!

(And if you’re excited about the full line-up, save some $$ and join us for all six shows with a season ticket!)

Over in the 615: we’ll be back on the plaza this Sunday for one final installment of Americana at The Ryman! We’ve also got your nightcap covered after the show – head to Kayne Prime from 7 to 10 p.m. August 19 for Old Dominick featured cocktails.

Next week, you can find us at Walden – head distiller Alex Castle will be there August 22 to guide you through a tasting of our R&D Series Gins! Grab all the info and RSVP right here.

Last but definitely not least – if you’re making the trek to Chattanooga from Memphis for Moon River Festival, let us know with #MemphisToMoonRiver and you might win some Old Dominick prizes back at home after the fest. We’ll even help you kick off your weekend Friday Sept. 7 with a party at Southside Social!

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 08.09.18

I’ve been writing a lot about whiskey on the blog so far, and I wanted to take a pause and send some love to two other special spirits in my life: our vodka(s) and the Memphis Toddy.

The Toddy and I have a love-hate relationship: I absolutely love to drink it, but it’s a very involved spirit to make. We use a high-rye bourbon that’s about four years old, and we combine it with hot water and add what are, essentially, giant tea bags! They’re mesh bags that we put all of the dried botanicals in – then they’re tied up so nothing can get out. The reasoning behind putting them in these bags, as opposed to just dropping everything directly into the bourbon and water mix, is that it allows it to steep without us having to filter out all those botanicals and huge chunks of orange peel.

We keep the bags in the bourbon mixture for about 18 hours – so, overnight, of course – and then we come in the next morning, remove all the bags and get all the dry ingredients out. By that point, each bag is pushing like 70 pounds because it’s absorbed so much liquid in that time! Dried citrus peels like to absorb a lot of water. Then, we add natural grapefruit extract and natural orange extract, because those provide a much brighter flavor than a dry peel does. The really bright notes that you first get when you taste the Toddy are from those extracts. So we add those, and we also add a fair amount of sugar. I won’t admit to how many pounds, but there is a fair amount of liquid sucrose that goes in! After that, filtering usually takes two days because cinnamon is such a fine dust, and you’ve got the citrus peels as well, and that’s why it’s so tedious. You have a blending process that’s already two days long and then another two days for filtering on top of it. But then, it’s ready to bottle!

For our vodkas, the process is very different. What I think most people don’t realize about making a spirit like a vodka is just the time that actually goes into it. It’s not a faucet that you turn on and vodka just magically comes out. For us, the process actually takes about a week or a week and a half from start to finish.

We mill the grain, then cook it, then let it ferment for three to five days. And then that fermenter, that distiller’s beer, has to go through what we call our whiskey system. It’s our little 70-gallon doubler. That process gets us to 130 proof, and we have to get up to 190 at least. So the next day you take that and spend another nine to twelve hours distilling it from 130 to 190-194 proof.

If you want to get an even deeper understanding of how these spirits are made, you should come see us for a Distillery tour. And the Toddy has a story that’s pretty special – you can read more about it here.

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [08.02]

If you’re enjoying live music across the state of Tennessee in the next few weeks, there’s a good chance it’s spirited by Old Dominick! Here are just a few opportunities to Share a Sip with us…

In Nashville, don’t miss the Americana at the Ryman series – it’s happening on Sunday evenings at the Mother Church through August 19, and we’ll be on the plaza for the pre-party with some swag and giveaways! If you can’t be there in person, live vicariously through our Instagram story. (And if you can stop by the plaza, you just might win your way to the next week’s concert…)

Just a stone’s throw from the Ryman, you can also find us spiriting Live at Puckett’s! Head down to Church Street for their Sunday showcase, or hit the Franklin location for their new Hitmakers series on Saturdays.

And of course, we’re counting down the minutes until we’ll be in Chattanooga for Moon River – save the date for September 7 and join us at Southside Social to kick off the weekend! We’ll be sharing more details in the next few weeks, but you can count on drink specials and you just might go home with some OD swag. (And hey, Memphis folks – if you’re making the trek to Chattanooga, we definitely want to see you! Share your journey with #MemphisToMoonRiver and come see us at Southside for a chance to win prizes.)

Last but not least – back in Memphis, our Pure Memphis Music Series begins its fall season on August 23! Thanks to The Memphis Flyer for announcing the line-up this week. Click the links below to buy tickets to each show and learn about our nonprofit co-hosts. Don’t forget, new this fall, you can grab a season ticket at a discounted rate to join us for all six shows!

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 07.26.18

A conversation with Alex Castle

What’s it been like as a woman working in the spirits and distilling world?

I’ve been fortunate not to have too many struggles coming up as a female in a male-dominated industry, and to have had professors and colleagues who didn’t really see a difference. There are people along the way who definitely had issues with women in leadership or management positions, not necessarily just in this industry, but those were few and far between. Prior to coming to Old Dominick, my boss and I got along great from day one – he trusted me with everything that he’d trusted my male predecessor with. I have been very fortunate with my experience in this industry.

How did you decide this was what you wanted to do?

I was in high school. My plan, up until then, was to be a marine biologist. Well, freshman year of high school was the first time I ever took biology – and I realized it absolutely was not for me! It was horrible. I think it was the first time I ever failed an exam! I went home to my mom that day and told her, “Clearly I cannot do this. I need to switch gears.”

The next year I took chemistry and more advanced level math. Then physics, then more chemistry. And one day I was talking with my mom and I said, “I really like these subjects, but I don’t have the mentality to be a teacher. I’ll kill my students! So – what can I do with this?” And I guess she must’ve been reading articles – my brother was about to head off to college, and she knew I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do – because she immediately said, “Well, you could do chemical engineering.”

I thought, well, I don’t really know what that is – but it sounds like it incorporates everything. So I said, “What do you even do with that degree?” The first words out of her mouth? “You can be a brewmaster and make beer!”

Now mind you, my mom does not drink – especially not back then – so it took me by surprise a little bit and piqued my interest. And she kept going. “You don’t have to do just beer, you could be a master distiller and make whiskey, or a master vintner and make wine.” She continued and was listing off a few more options, but I have no clue what any of them were because I had stopped listening. There was something about that first title that was so intriguing to me.

I started off wanting to do beer, so when I was in college and I started looking for opportunities, I interviewed with Anheuser Busch and ended up with a small company in Lexington that had a craft brewery. What I didn’t know then – but I realize now my boss did know and influenced the choice to hire me – is that they were planning to add a distillery. I started hearing these conversations about the distillery project, but no one was telling me anything. Then one day the stills got delivered, and my first interaction was just cleaning them. Not the most fun or luxurious, but I absolutely loved it.

Finally, one day my boss asked me if I wanted to observe a distillation. We get there, and he’s frantic – he remembered that he had to take his kids to the dentist, so he can’t be there for the distillation. So immediately I’m disappointed, thinking I have to go back to the office and have a boring day. Instead, in five minutes, he walked me through what to do – so I spent the day unexpectedly running my first distillation.

I don’t think I stopped smiling once that entire day. I realized in that moment that beer wasn’t enough; I had to have that distillation element. From that point on, that was my focus – doing everything I had to do to get to where I am now.

 

 

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [07.19]

What do Mavis Staples, the Avett Brothers, Margo Price and Old Dominick have in common? Well, we all have pretty meaningful connections to Memphis, but we’ll also all be at Moon River Festival in Chattanooga September 8 and 9! You might’ve seen us share the news on Facebook or Instagram last week – we’re proud to be the official craft vodka of Moon River. The festival is completely sold out! If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s got a ticket, let us know with #MemphisToMoonRiver – we’ll have more to share about our plans in Chattanooga soon.

Did you catch our Instagram story from the #BringYourSoul Secret House Show in Nashville, featuring Talibah Safiya? We brought some Pure Memphis to the party and had a great time mixing up cocktails to complement the music. Here’s one of our favorite shots from the night of Talibah doing her thing.

From a house concert to the mother church: we’re also excited to share that the Americana at the Ryman series, happening Sunday evenings through August 19, will be spirited by Old Dominick! Look for featured cocktails at the shows and stay tuned to our social media accounts for a chance to win your way there.

Back at the Distillery: We’re getting geared up for the Pure Memphis Music Series fall season! The line-up will be announced next week. You’ll be able to purchase single tickets to shows ($20), but you’ll also have the option to buy a season ticket to save some cash ($100 for 6 shows) or add a VIP experience with cocktails and reserved seating ($125 for 6 shows). Each show will also have a nonprofit co-host, and $5 from your ticket will be donated back to that organization, including Memphis Slim House, Consortium MMT, The CLTV, Soulsville Foundation and Beale Street Caravan!

Share A Sip with Alex Castle 07.12.18

By now you’ve probably heard that we threw a little party at the Distillery a few weeks ago to celebrate the launch of a new line of Old Dominick spirits called R&D. If you missed it, here’s a taste:

R&D stands for research and development. The first two spirits we’ve released under the R&D heading are gins – Formula #6, an American Dry Gin, and Formula #10, a Southern Gin – but the idea is that the R&D label will be home to all sorts of spirits going forward. More than anything, it’s our home for experimentation. Every R&D release will be small batch, which means limited quantities of it will be available in the Old Dominick retail store at the Distillery and at bars and restaurants throughout Tennessee (Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga).

At the heart of R&D is a quest to know more and to challenge ourselves (and the rest of the spirits community) to be better, to be creative, to innovate. I am pretty much the polar opposite of a risk-taker in my personal life – but when I’m in the lab, I definitely am! The beauty of working in small batches is that the risk is a measured one. Our cookers hold 1,800 gallons, which is a very small quantity. If the risks you took paid off, you scale up. If they didn’t? You live, you learn, you move on to the next recipe or idea.

With these gins, I started with the flavors I like and tried to figure out how they could be translated. I’ve had fun playing with it and taking chances with a couple of different combinations. Some of them paid off, some of them didn’t – one of them really didn’t pay off! But that’s okay, because I’m trying to have fun with it. To me, that’s what’s going to make a good spirit, if you enjoy the process it takes to get there. If you really love doing it, the odds are you’ll really like the product in the end.

Have you had a chance to try either of the R&D series gins yet? If you have, we want to hear from you. Seriously – you’re part of the R&D team now! Head here to give us your feedback. And if you haven’t tried either one yet, you can pick up a bottle in the Old Dominick retail store while they last!

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [07.05]

If you’ve been watching our social media posts this week, you might’ve noticed there’s a new spirit in town.

Sunday night, we invited some friends to the Distillery to share the first sip of our new R&D Series, an experimental, small-batch product line that will be our home for innovation. The first two releases are gins – Formula #6, an American Dry Gin, and Formula #10, a Southern Gin – created in the lab at Old Dominick by our head distiller Alex Castle and her team.

Sunday’s event, called simply R&D, was a celebration of experimentation. We asked eight of Memphis’ finest bartenders to experiment with either R&D Series gin to build a cocktail inspired by a song from the Hi Records catalog. (Big thanks go to the Mitchell family for joining us on Sunday, and to Boo Mitchell for helping to select the songs – check out the playlist below to see what was in the mix.)

We invited a small group to join us to taste the gin, try the cocktails and share their feedback over eats and live music. Special thanks to our talented bartenders – Ben Williams, Bart Mallard, Q, Eric Martin, Morgan McKinney, Brad Pitts, David Hacking and Nick Lumpkin – and to the phenomenal Tia ‘Songbird’ Henderson, who serenaded us with Memphis soul.

The R&D Series gin will be available for purchase in the Old Dominick retail store at the Distillery, or you can try it in cocktails at bars and restaurants in Memphis and Nashville while it lasts.

All photos by Ben Powers / Red Deluxe

What else is up: we’ll be pouring Old Dominick cocktails at a super secret house show this weekend in Nashville with our girl Talibah Safiya. That’s all we can tell you – for now! – but if you keep an eye on our Instagram story you just might get a peek at the fun.

Share a Sip with Alex Castle 06.28.18

Three things you might not know about distilling

If you’ve ever had the chance to tour our Distillery in downtown Memphis, you got a pretty good education on what it actually means to distill spirits. And in case you haven’t yet (psst: click here to come see us) we’ll consult the dictionary for help.

Distill: purify (a liquid) by vaporizing it, then condensing it by cooling the vapor, and collecting the resulting liquid.

Okay, that’s a good start – but that definition only gives you a hint of everything that goes into great whiskey. Here are a few more facts you can impress your friends with tonight over an Old Fashioned:

  1. Flavor profiles: Most of the flavor of the whiskey (60-70%) comes directly from the barrel it’s aged in, not from the distilling process itself. At Old Dominick, we’re fortunate enough to be able to use barrels made from 100% West Tennessee wood – white American oak, to be specific. We like to use a number four char, an alligator char, which is the deepest char. That char opens up the wood so the liquid can get in more easily, but it also caramelizes the sugars that are naturally present in the wood. That’s where you get those caramel and vanilla notes associated with whiskeys – it’s all about the barrel and the char!
  2. Top secret: the type of barrel or char that a Distillery uses typically is something that is widely shared and known – but there are some secrets in this world. One of them is yeast strains. In the distilling process, the yeast yields different chemicals during fermentation, and those chemical compounds are what can change the flavor of the spirit. If you used the same barrel and char but three different yeast strains, for example, you could have markedly different whiskeys in the end. Another element of the process that tends to be pretty protected is what’s known as the blending strategy. If a particular whiskey maker has 12 warehouses and is doing a batch of 50 barrels, for example, they might use barrels from each of the 12 warehouses in the ultimate blend.
  3. Angel’s Share: In the aging process you rely on temperature changes. You need those cycles of warming and cooling, but as the liquid heats up there’s a risk: it can evaporate. This happens with both the water molecules and the alcohol molecules, and in the first year it’s estimated that about 10% of your volume is lost out of a barrel. If you’re working with 53 gallons, you just lost five gallons in one year. And over the course of its life, as it ages, you’ll probably lose about 8% depending on your climate. We call that lost spirit the “Angel’s Share.”
  4. H2Oh Yeah: Water is crucial in spirit production. You start with water to cook, you add more water to barrel proof and bottle proof it – really clean water is absolutely vital. Can you filter it and get it where it needs to be? Sure. Plenty of distilleries exist in places that don’t have great water, and they filter everything they use. We’re spoiled to have incredible water in Memphis, right from the source!

 

Old Dominick Head Distiller Alex Castle shares insights every other week in our “Share A Sip” blog series.

The Taste: Where to find Old Dominick this week [06.21]

If you’re cruising the streets of downtown Memphis on your Bird this weekend, stop by and see us – the Distillery bar will be open Thursday through Sunday, and we can’t think of a better way to beat the heat than a refreshing Honeybell cocktail. (But hey, don’t count the Toddy out for summer – check out the latest Share A Sip with Alex Castle for some ideas.)

Speaking of the heat: these temps might’ve had you fooled into thinking we were already there, but as of today it’s officially summer. That has us thinking about some of our favorite unsung heroes – teachers – and the Teach901 We Love Teachers campaign. We’re excited to partner with the campaign to give away a special VIP tour to 10 teachers (and their lucky plus ones) this weekend, taking them behind the scenes with Head Distiller Alex Castle.

We’re also excited to offer a year-round discount to teachers through the We Love Teachers campaign, a collection of educator exclusive dining, retail and service discounts across Memphis. Come see us at the Distillery for $5 cocktails and 15% off at the Old Dominick retail store (excluding spirits).

And last but not least – did you see the cover of The Memphis Flyer this week? We’ve been counting down the days until this crew takes over Railgarten. Join us there on June 30 for the Stuntarious Vol. III release party featuring the whole Unapologetic roster and Old Dominick cocktails.

Outside of the 901 area code, the Old Dominick footprint is growing. If you don’t see us in your favorite Spirits shops throughout Tennessee, ask for us by name (and stay tuned here to find out about upcoming activations in your area)!