These new liquors are going against the grain

Whiskey in the US must be made from grain, which is defined as corn, wheat, rye, or barley. That might be about to change, however, as distillers have asked the regulatory agency in charge of such definitions – the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) – to allow other plants to be used. Specifically, the manufacturers want to broaden the definition of grain to include ‘pseudocereal’ grains like amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. 


While distillers could make an alcoholic beverage from said pseudocereals, they were previously not allowed to call it whiskey. The TTB has tentatively approved the rule change, which is now in the public comment phase. In the interim, some brands have been given the green light to call these kinds of products “whiskey.” 

Nashville-based Corsair Distillery is leading the vanguard of this trend. They currently sell a whiskey that is 80% and 20% quinoa. “If I’m making a painting, I want to have as many colors in my palate that I can paint with,” Corsair founder Darek Bell told National Public Radio. “So as I’m making these whiskeys going forward, maybe it’s just a small touch of oatmeal that adds a little more to the body of the whiskey, or just a little bit of quinoa that adds something different.” 

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