I remember trying to fill our first barrel of whiskey ever. Jess and I had thought through every part of the whiskey making process… except, of course how to get the finished spirit out of the tank and in to the barrel. We tried to use a hose and a funnel in the barrel and run the pump turned way down, but, of course we sprayed new spirit everywhere. We were horrified. All that work, all those resources, literally the first drops of our new whiskey spilling on to the floor. In frustration I turned to Jess and said “I wish it were like at the gas station, you know, just put the handle in and pull the trigger and when it is full it shuts off.” In classic Graber fashion, he shrugged and grinned and said “Why not?”. The next day he called the Husky corporation, manufactures of gas nozzle fillers. We told them we needed a food grade stainless steel filler nozzle for filling whiskey barrels. At first they were a little skeptical, but after bribing them with promises of bottles of fine whiskey he came around. A week or so later a food grade nozzle showed up in the mail and it worked like a charm, and we have used it ever since. Just today, 7 years later, Grenny Sutcliffe stopped in to see the new distillery. Grenny is the son of Grenville Sutcliffe Sr. who we had originally talked to back in 2004. Grenny had enjoyed some of the whiskey we had sent to his father, and he just happened to be in Denver and wanted to stop in and say hello. I happily showed him around and demonstrated how we used the nozzles. We ordered replacement nozzles this year. Grenny told us his R&D dept had torn apart our old worn out nozzles and used them to improve on the new design. I guess alcohol can corrode some parts and effect the performance. Later we were talking in the tasting room over a whiskey and he mentioned that his father had been inspired after our conversation years ago and and wondered if there was a market for whiskey barrel fillers. He called over to Scotland and it turns out that there was. Husky then designed and built specialized whiskey barrel fillers they named the 10-WN, for whiskey nozzle. They shipped them to The Bruichladdich , The Macallan and a few others. The 10-WN is just like a regular filler except the filling tube reaches to the bottom of the barrel so you can fill from the bottom to the top. I smile a bit knowing my little contribution, and cant help but wonder what the old houses were using up until that point. It is nice to think that distillers thousands of miles away are using fillers that were inspired by Jess and I fumbling around in a little warehouse getting our feet wet…………. both figuratively and literally.
Listening to: Hank Williams – I’m So lonesome I could Cry