Category Archives: Other Spirits

Distillery Tour: Lazy Guy Distillery

Did you know that there is a legal distillery making craft spirits right outside of Atlanta in Kennesaw? Yeah, I didn’t either. It seems like every other day new distilleries are popping up and keeping track of them is a giant undertaking. That said this one is about 15 minutes from my house so I really should’ve been a little more on top of it. Luckily for me, I have friends that are just as obsessed with all things whiskey as I am. A fellow Georgia Bourbon Society member put the word out on the Lazy Guy Distillery a couple of months ago and another member was industrious enough to organize a little tour for us.

It’s best to plan in advance if you want to visit Lazy Guy. It’s damn near a one man operation and that one man, Mark Allen can’t be making spirit if he’s got people randomly knocking on the front door. Also, he has a day job in consulting too. He will schedule tours for small groups and periodically he has open house events. We at met the distillery before the August Georgia Bourbon Society meeting in a torrential downpour. This is an extremely small operation and I drove past it twice before getting to the right place.

The distillery is two buildings near historic downtown Kennesaw dating back to the 1800’s. The front is an old house that serves as the office, tasting bar, and gift shop. Out back is an old barn right above the railroad tracks that serves as the distillery and aging warehouse. The tour comprises a walk out back for a very detailed walkthrough of the operations and a tasting of the four products Mark is bottling right now. You go into the barn and front and center you see the still, column, condenser and mash tun. image

Off to the right are the fermenting tubs, off to the left is the bottling line, and around the left corner in a little nook is the “warehouse” where the aging spirit is held. image3

When I say small, this is small. However, right now it is a one man operation. Mark is quick to tell you about his efficiency yields and how all of this is set up to allow him to produce spirit by himself. Right now his only help in product production are volunteers helping with the bottling.

Mark is a very enthusiast and knowledgeable distiller and he is more than happy to keep the tour at the newbie level or dive into all the geek detail you could want. He is a very technical and practical distiller. He’s more the mad chemist out back in the shed than the romantic idea of distillers that some hold on to. Mark’s background is information technology and consulting. Distilling is new to him and he is self taught through voracious reading, visits to other distilleries, and good old trial and error. He’s very forthcoming with how he does what he does and why he’s made the decisions he made that led up to now. As examples of this he uses enzyme, not malted barley to kick start fermentation and how his “fermenting tubs” are giant plastic container that allow him to (relatively) easily monitor and adjust temperature and maintain sanitation. image2

It may not be as romantic of a notion as those 50 year old wooden fermentation tubs and germinated malted barley for fermentation but it gets the job done in a way he likes and can manage. I have to respect that.

Currently, Lazy Guy has four products on the market that you would probably call white whiskey or white dog with plans for a straight bourbon (aged 2 years) in 2015. Here’s a rundown of each one:

Threesome Whiskey
The mashbill is 60% corn, 30% wheat, and 20% unmalted barley and it is bottled at 40% ABV. The distillate for this product is essentially bourbon distillate. It’s aged very briefly in used barrels. Lazy Guy uses used barrels for everything except the new bourbon they plan for next year. The reason is that Mark can’t get anymore barrels. You’ve heard of the dreaded bourbon shortage, which doesn’t actually exist to the extent you may think? Well the real concern is a true barrel shortage. There just isn’t enough production to keep up with demand so small guys like Mark can’t even get on the list. The barrels he does use were toasted rather than charred. Mark’s reasoning is that it gives more of a smoky and floral note rather than the typical coconut and vanilla. It was nice for a white whiskey. Better than most for sure.

Cold Heart Whiskey
This is essentially a high proof version of the Threesome coming in at 60% ABV with the same distillate but it spends a little less time in the wood. It’s a similar profile to Threesome but it drinks surprisingly well at the higher proof.

Kennesaw Lightning
This is Lazy Guy’s corn whiskey. The mash is 80% corn and 20% barley and clocks in at 50% ABV. It is a solid vodka replacement for sure. Maybe in a bloody mary?

The General
Don’t let this one confuse you with the recent Compass Box release. The two could not be farther apart. This is also a corn whiskey, although a four grain corn whiskey. The mash is 80% corn, 6% rye, 7% wheat, and 7% barley. It clocks in at an impressive 75.5% ABV. This was something Mark was playing around with when a distributor stopped by and had a taste from the still. It went over so well it became a new product, although reduced to 75.5% from the 90% it was tasted at. It also drinks surprisingly well at high proof.

I’ve got to say that I was impressed with what Mark Allen is doing over at Lazy Guy Distillery. He has a passion for it but he’s not deluded by his passion. He realizes that the whiskey geek isn’t his target market. He has a great business head on his shoulders. He knows his product, market, and distribution and works smartly within those bounds. I’m not rushing out to buy a bottle because it’s not my type of thing but I respect what he’s doing and wish him the best.

You can visit the distillery at 2950 Moon Station Road, Kennesaw, Georgia. Make sure to call (770) 485-0081 or email media@lazyguydistillery.com first.

Event Notice: Troy & Sons Whiskey Tasting @ Mac McGee

Troy & Sons Tasting w/ Ambassador Eddie Varsalong
Tuesday July 29th @ 7:30pm

On Tuesday, July 29th, at 7.30 p.m. MacMcGees in Decatur will host a tasting of Troy & Sons Whiskey with Asheville Distilling Company’s Brand Ambassador, Eddie Varsalong.

We’ll begin the evening’s festivities with an opening cocktail. We’ll then try the Oak Reserve, the Platinum and then Troy & Sons Moonshine. Our host will also talk about the history of American Distilling with particular emphasis on the story of the Asheville Distilling Company. Cost of the tasting will be $20. If interested, please reply to this email or give us a call at the pub. The phone number is 404 377 8055. Cheers!

RSVP: macmcgees@gmail.com

Germain-Robin Old Havana

Germain-Robin Old Havana Alambic Brandy
40% ABV
$105 to $115
Website
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What the Distiller Says:
Rich deep fruit, nicely oaked, very very mellow. In 1995, during the cigar craze, we bottled a blend called “For the Lover of Fine Cigars”. When the craze died down, we changed the label to Old Havana, then (2001) decided to use the components for XO production. In 2009, we used the 5 surviving barrels to start a solera. “One of the world’s great spirits”(Mens’ Journal) Armagnac lovers prefer it to the XO. Unfiltered.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich dark stone fruits, honeysuckle, vanilla, toffee bars, and a rich sweetened cream.
Palate: Smooth, refined, not brash at all. This old gentlemen opens to the door to his library and enters with aged grace. Light fruity sweetness, well balanced with the wood and nice spiciness to play well with those cigars you’ve been laying down in your humidor.
Finish: Slightly oaked with nice layers of tobacco, and leather.
Comments: You’ll notice from the picture above that the label is the old style after they changed to Old Havana but before the 2009 solera re-imagining. If you find this grab it because it is truly delicious. If I get my hands on the new version before this one is gone I’ll do a side by side but I wouldn’t worry too much about which version you pick up. I haven’t had a Germain-Robin brandy that I didn’t like. For the record this is probably one of my top three favorite cigar accompanying beverages (along with the old version of Dalmore Cigar Malt[not the newer Reserve] and the Cognac barrel finished Parker’s Heritage).
Rating: Must Buy

Dartigalongue XO

Bas Armagnac Dartigalongue XO
40% ABV
$35 to $45
Website
armagnac
What the Distiller Says:
In 1838, under the reign of Louis Philippe, our ancestor Pascal Dartigalongue founded his Armagnac establishment in Nogaro, right in the heart of the Bas Armagnac Appellation, renowned to be the best Cru. Since then, traditions were passed on from father to son. Being hte oldest House in Armagnac, we are understandably committed to produce the best Armagnacs.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, deep, with dark fruit, and rich sweetness. Creme brulee, orange zest, and stewed stone fruits. This reminds me of some exceptionally old rums.
Palate: Lighter of palate than the nose would belie. The flavors are very muted and slow to develop.
Finish: Clean, slightly crisp and short.
Comments: This is almost light to the point of being bland. It’s more of an aperitif brandy than one to sit with and contemplate into the evening.
Rating: Average

Zafra 21 Year Old

Zafra Master Reserve Rum Aged 21 Years
40% ABV
$35 to $45
Website
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What the Distiller Says:
In Spanish, ZAFRA refers to the act of harvesting sugarcane: it is the moment in time when nature rewards men for months of dedicated and arduous labor. After the harvest, our skilled Master Distiller transforms the gathered cane into rum and, after careful maturation in selected oak casks, the alchemy is complete, converting aged rum into the masterpiece we call ZAFRA MASTER RESERVE. We invite you to celebrate the ageless ZAFRA tradition with us as you delight your senses with this rare rum treasure.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Vanilla, brown sugar, berries, and caramel.
Palate: Oak, brown sugar, and cherries jubilee.
Finish: Light oak and quick on the finish.
Comments: When I was new to aged rum I saw this on the shelf for around $35. I asked myself how could anything aged for 21 years be $35 dollars. I don’t know a lot about taxes in Panama but by whiskey standards that’s crazy. So I passed on this bottle many time. Finally, one day I decided out of nowhere to take the plunge. I wasn’t disappointed. This isn’t the greatest aged rum in the world but for the price it’s a very nice value.
Rating: Stands Out, Great Value