No this is not about Halloween spirits, although it could be Trick or Treat. Alcoholic spirits have been with us since the first distillers figured out another use for corn, rye and other grains besides cornbread and rye bread. New Mexico has a growing list of distillers who have come online recently, producing craft spirits with a local flavor using local infusions and flavorings; typically vodka, gin, brandy and whiskey.
However, how does one begin distilling and aging a product long enough to release a ten year-old bourbon? One approach would be to wait ten years after the distillery comes online to begin selling their product, but no one in their right mind would do that. More likely, a distillery will begin with gin, vodka and un-aged or “rough” whiskey.
However, there is another way to get market share with an aged whiskey and that is to go to a large distillery that offers aged whiskey, customized for the local distillery, to which they can then add their own infusions, flavoring and bottle under their own label.
This is where MGP Ingredients comes into the picture. Based in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, this distillery does just that with rye and bourbon whiskey, as well as producing custom gin and vodka products. Although they do not produce and market their own product, they are behind some of the more popular whiskies for mass-produced and craft distilleries.
Although not defined as a craft distillery, they put a lot of craft into their product, including using non-GMO grains and innovative wood-aging techniques, customized for their clients, which include the rye and bourbon whiskeys of KGB Spirits in Alcalde, New Mexico.
A number of spirits judges have commented on their recognition of an MGP “influence” to the final product, even while giving it a gold or silver medal. Ironically, MGP Ingredients is never mentioned as the prime ingredient in a local craft spirit. That might dispel some of the romance and mystique of a local product. However, it does point up the wisdom of a local distillery to use a quality product as their primary ingredient, which they can then customize for their own clients.
How can a buyer detect if a craft spirit was fully produced by the craft distillery? If the label states “distilled and bottled by” that indicates it was all done locally. If the label states, “bottled by”, part of your thanks for a smooth bourbon should go to the good folks at MGP Ingredients, where quality is their passion as well.