Whiskey and beer have always had a special relationship, but that was usually defined by a sequence. An evening might include a glass of beer served with “a whiskey chaser,” though crazier nights could involve a Boilermaker, a shot of whiskey dumped right into beer. All of these options demand a certain alcoholic commitment. Let’s face it: an evening begun with these aperitifs might end in jail—or, at least, with a stranger and a headache. Happily, some local distillers have begun streamlining the process that unites, in one survivable dose, the pleasure of whiskey paired with beer.
In October, StillTheOne Distillery debuted 287, a whiskey distilled from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s Freshchester Pale Ale. Its name comes from the Cross Westchester Expressway, I-287, the roughly east-to-west highway that ties the Elmsford brewery to the Port Chester distillery. Though Comb’s other spirits are distributed in multiple states, 287 is only available in New York State—and Tiedge says its sales are concentrated in Westchester.
Of the collaboration, Tiedge says “It’s the best thing we’ve ever made.” He attributes the whiskey’s success to its birth as a product that was specifically developed for flavor. “There’s a lot of complexity in the beer making process. It’s different from what we do in distilling. When most people distill, they take powdered grain—flour, essentially—and add water. With beer making, there are more stages that are designed to build complexity.”
The first release of 287 has been aged for ten months in newly charred oak barrels. Tiedge describes the flavor of the whiskey as predominately “floral,” though he anticipates that future releases will show a whiskey with more caramel and vanilla notes. At this point, the whiskey still offers palpable beer notes. To find StillTheOne’s 287, check its website combvodka.com.