On Monday night we visited J.P. Trodden Distilling in Woodinville for a tour and tasting. Owner and distiller, Mark Nesheim, along with his wife Jennifer, gave us a behind the scenes look into what’s happening at their distillery.
Four years ago Mark and Jennifer had a dream to start a business together. Being fans of bourbon, America’s spirit, they decided to focus on bourbon and bourbon alone. The American theme was important to them and they wanted to keep that spirit alive in everything they did.
So their copper alembic pot still is made in Eugene, Oregon, one of only two like it in the country. Their oak barrels are from Kentucky. Their glass bottles are made in Tennessee. In addition, 100% of their grains are from a family farm in Quincy, Washington. Mark and Jennifer are proud they can keep nearly everything made in America.
J.P. Trodden Distilling (JPT) gets its name from Mark’s grandfather. J.P.’s picture adorns the bottles and hangs proudly in the distillery. He grew up in North Central Washington in a small town called Chesaw and was the first mail carrier in the region. His mail route traveled to Canada frequently due to the proximity of the Canadian border. J.P.’s son (Mark’s father) took over the route in 1930, during the time of prohibition. Remember that alcohol sales thrived in Canada during prohibition. Mark writes on their website:
“Being a generous and thirsty man himself, J.P. was known to stash a few bottles of brown liquor in his mailbag, to share with his friends. Not a bootlegger, mind you, just a kind man helping his friends through a long, dry spell.”
So of course when Mark and Jennifer decided to open a distillery, it had to be named after the family’s patriarch.
JPT makes two bourbons. Their signature bourbon is a 90 proof wheated bourbon, 70% corn and 30% winter wheat. It’s 2.5-3 years old and was aged completely in 53 gallon barrels. There is a lot of cherry and wheat on the nose. The taste is smooth, partially from the high amount of wheat I’m sure, with notes of oak, mint, cherry, vanilla and some corn on the finish.
Their second bourbon is a 100 proof special release single barrel bourbon. I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally see a local distillery use 53 gallon barrels exclusively and release a single barrel expression. It’s about time and I hope this is the future of what we’ll see in Washington distilling. The single barrel release tasted pretty similar to me except with more flavor and complexity.
The single barrel expression comes from barrel number 13. After getting his first 12 barrels from a giant cooperage he wasn’t 100% satisfied with, Mark switched to a smaller cooperage in Hodgenville, Kentucky where he has bought every barrel since. He prefers this single barrel bourbon much more. There’s less than 90 bottles left so make sure to visit them on Saturdays and try a great single barrel bourbon.
Thank you to Mark and Jennifer for hosting the Seattle Whiskey Collective. We had a great time and look forward to tasting your future whiskeys.
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