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04/10/18 - X.O. Alambic in Dayton

We took a side trip up to Dayton, a bit northeast of Walla Walla. Our goal wasn't a winery, but a distillery. Like many towns, Dayton has an agricultural business incubator, basically big open spaces with concrete floors, big doors, loading docks, good plumbing and good wiring. There was a Jolly Green Giant on the hillside behind it. This area is frozen vegetable country.

One never knows what one will find inside one of these spaces. They are intentionally generic, so businesses can make what they want of them. A step into the X.O.Alambic space was a trip into steam punk. We were suddenly back in the 19th century or early 20th with pipes, valves, shining metal boilers and condensers, pressure sealed windows and an air of organized clutter that would not have been out of place aboard Jules Verne's Nautilus.

There was methanol dripping from the recently charged still. Neurotoxic, we were informed. Our host carefully isolated the bucket and set up a new one. Soon, proper ethanol would start condensing. We stood and marveled. The drivers of modern industry are so dull in comparison. Compare the uniform matte racks of a modern server farm with the gleaming stainless still and rich copper of the alambic stills.

We tasted firewater prepared using the cognac process. It had been aged, and was quite good. We tasted a variety of whiskeys. We had passed grain farms and granaries on our drive to Dayton, and here a variety of grains were being fermented, then distilled and the product aged in oak barrels. We aren't whiskey people, but it was fun tasting. We'll stick with wine for now, but it's good to see people thinking and experimenting like this.


The Jolly Green Giant

Welcome to Captain Nemo's laboratory

A view towards the rear

Stills and barrels

Copper can be beautiful

The bottling area

Aging barrels

What it takes to keep things running

The tools

Another telephone; perhaps for calling one's broker when the silver standard returns

Our host preparing for sea trials

Keywords: farms, walla walla