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ELLC branches out into other spirits categories

East London Liquor Company (ELLC) has moved into brandy production and plans to launch its inaugural whiskies in the next year.

Andy Mooney (left) and Alex Wolpert

Speaking to The Spirits Business, ELLC founder Alex Wolpert and distiller Andy Mooney revealed they have teamed up with an English sparkling wine producer to create a 100% Chardonnay brandy, as well as a 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir expression.

The brandies have been double-pot-distilled and aged in a variety of casks, including French oak and ex-Sonoma rye. ELLC’s first brandy is currently being aged on-site and is planned for release towards the end of this year.

“Diversifying into something like this, geographically, carbon footprint-wise, makes a lot more sense,” said Wolpert. “So brandy is a natural progression for us.”

The London-based distiller may also consider moving into rum production in the future. “We have the equipment, it’s just a case of sourcing the main ingredient, depending on the style we want to make,” added Mooney. “To bring the cane here and crush it on site would be really amazing.”

ELLC, based in east London’s Bow Wharf, moved into rye whisky production in 2015, and added a new, larger whisky still to its premises in 2016.

The distillery initially sourced wash to create its whisky from a third-party brewery, but has now taken all stages of production in house. This has allowed ELLC to experiment with different mash bills for its core whisky product, a London rye, which will be released at the end of 2018.

“We produce a 42% rye and 58% malted barley – typically, ryes are 51% rye or more,” explained Mooney. “We have increased the amount of barley so it is similar to a Scotch-style, but it’s a rye as well. We wanted to take two different well-known styles of whisky and put a twist on them.”

Wolpert added: “People don’t remember what London whisky tastes of, and not many can remember a London rye, so there’s no concept. In one sense it feels like a lot of responsibility, but in another sense it’s a huge amount of freedom where we can try to define what a London rye is for us.”

Ageing innovation

ELLC also has an extensive barrel innovation programme, and has used a variety of barrels to age its whisky, including: new American oak, French oak, chestnut casks, ex-Bourbon, ex-rye, ex-red wine casks from Bordeaux, ex-white wine casks from Spain, ex-rum, ex-Port and ex-Sherry.

The company has also barrelled its single malt and has experimented with yeast in production. The first ELLC single malt is due to be released early next year.

The whisky has been matured in casks including ex-Sonoma rye, ex-Bourbon and ex-rye whisky. ELLC’s single malt product line will consist of cask blends and also single casks.

In the coming year, ELLC is hoping to “make some headway in the States and China” in terms of exports.

Wolpert added: “We will have so little of the whisky over the next couple of years that I imagine we won’t have any to export initially. And we really want to make sure that we really look after our home turf with the whisky first.

“We’ll make sure the local key accounts that have been supporting us have a bottle first. But as we expand the volume capacity of the whisky, we will start releasing it in key export markets.”

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