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Flashcards in The Tour Deck (6)
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  1. Introduction (Barrel Room)
  • Check in with tour groups
  • Call tour ~10 minutes before scheduled time
  • Gather folks in the barrel room
  • Welcome them, introduce yourself, give overview of tour, ‘ground rules’
  1. Background (“The Lab”)

-Founded by Dave and Will Willis, Brothers who grew up outside of Boston -Worked on fourth generation working farm in Sherborn MA as Children
-Company draws heavily on New England agricultural history and tries to source
raw materials locally and give back to the local economy when possible -Grandfather taught them how to make cider from apples on the farm, later they began making hard cider. Eventually they rigged up a 2 gallon stovetop still to make apple brandy from the cider. Fell in love with the craft of making spirits
-9 Years ago Dave and Will quit their corporate jobs and wrote up a business plan for Bully Boy. They saw an opportunity to open Boston’s first craft distillery and desired to work together.
-Moved into a small warehouse space in Roxbury (across the street) about 7 years ago
-We still have this space as our primary barrel room and where we distill all of our
Estate Gin on the original 150 Gallon pot and column still.
-Moved into the current space in January 2017, quadrupling (or more) production
-750 Gallon Still
-3 x 1500 Gallon Fermentation Tuns -1 x 1500 Gallon Mash Tun
- Tasting Room / Cocktail Bar
-The name Bully Boy comes from the Sherborn farm where the brothers grew up. Their grandfathers biggest, most badass workhorse was named Bully Boy after the Teddy Roosevelt’s catch phrase “Bully for You,” meaning “Good for you”. It was a fitting tribute to both their grandfather and the farm.
-Their great grandfather graduated from Harvard with Teddy
-Mural on wall is a tribute to their grandfather and the horse, based on picture opposite it on top shelf
-After their grandparents past away, Will and Dave were out on the farm and hired a locksmith to come down an open a bank vault door they had in the basement. Turns out it was a room full of pre-prohibition era liquor– it was suspected their grandfather was running a neighborhood speakeasy out of the basement.
The company draws heavily on the influence of the Farm, New England Agriculture (sourcing ingredients locally), and Boston’s Pre-Prohibition drinking history.
Most of he bottles on the wall are a bunch of different trials for our Estate Gin. With these bottles we run a proprietary Gin program with local restraints and bars. Bar Managers and owners will come down, chat with Dave about what they want their Gin to taste like, and custom distill a gin for them.
o Juniper is Juniperus Virginian, which is indigenous to the Northeast and comes from the farm. ‘Estate’ reflects that the gin uses ingredients grown on the Willis farm
o Gin has to have juniper – all other ingredients are a bonus
o London Dry style with bigger flavor and aroma notes than you might find
in a British Gin. We don’t shy away from proof (94) or Juniper. Both are uncharacteristic for American Gins. In some ways it’s a hybrid London Dry and New American
o Based off of chamomile tea – grows locally, provides a complex floral characteristic
o How we make it. We distill Stormalong Cider into an Apple Brandy. We then distill the brandy along with a neutral grain base. We add Botanicals to that and redistill it one more time
o Distilled from a base of Macintosh Apples and grain, which is unique. Most gins simple use a grain base. It does not taste like Apples. The apples are a very subtle background note on the aroma
o There are the usual botanicals of Juniper, Corriander, Orris and Angelica Root, and Lemon, and then some unique ones like Apples, Hibiscus, and Pink Peppercorn
o Very terroir driven

  1. Raw Materials (Mash Tun)

-The first step to creating out spirits from the raw materials (grains, corn, molasses), is to create a mash or wash.
-Mash = dry ingredients (grains/corn) = Whiskey, Vodka, -Wash = Wet Ingredients (black strap molasses) = Rum
ASW = 45% Corn, 45% Rye, 45% malted barley WW = 100% Hard Red Winter Wheat
WR = 100% Black Strap Molasses
BR = 100% Black Strap Molasses
V = 100% Corn
G = Apple Brandy, Neutral Grain Base
Our rum is made from 100% Blackstrap Molasses. Blackstrap molasses begins with sugar cane and is a byproduct of the sugar making process
• For comparison Caribbean and Jamaican rums like Appleton, Goslings, Mt. Gay, and Myers are made from Blackstrap Molasses
- Blackstrap Molasses is 45% sugar and 55% vegetable matter making it one of the least efficient ingredients used to make molasses. While not jam packed with sugar, molasses is a great source of iron and magnesium, actually making it quite nutritious.
-Draws back to Boston’s drinking history- pre prohibition millions of gallons of blackstrap molasses were imported to Boston to serving 62 distilleries in downtown alone.
-We were the first & only distillery to open after Mr. Boston closed in the 80’s until a few years ago when the Boston distilleries began popping up.
-The other type of rum is Rum Agricole, which is made from cane juice. Tends to have a vegetable flavor/odor
Ex) Cachaca, Martinique rum
Wheat: we use 2000 lb bags (called supersacks) of milled, unmalted hard red winter wheat from a farm called Aurora Mills in Linneaus Maine. The. The wheat is certified organic which means no pesticides or genetic engineering were used to grow the wheat in the soil.
a. We use this wheat because of the mouthfeel and sweetness it offers to our spirit. When you taste our product remember this wheat and look for a softness or creaminess as it rolls over your tongue.
b. Vodka can be made from anything that has sugar or starch. Variations in ingredients come from what grows regionally. Potatoes in Eastern Europe, grain in Western Europe, Maple Syrup in VT, Apples in NH. For the most part, what you are after is a high sugar content, but there are variations from one base ingredient to the next. Potatoes tend to create an oily vodka, corn is aired and medicinal, wheat has that nice sweetness.
- Rye comes in 50 pound
- Corn comes in 2000 lb supersacks that, like the wheat, are loaded onto the grain
conveyer at the start of the process
Creating a Mash:
First the raw materials are mixed with filtered water in the mash tun. We use an
activated carbon filter and particle filter make sure Boston hasn’t added anything fun into
the water like rust or fluoride. We use Boston City water, which is sourced from the
Quabbin Reservoir. We heat up the mixture to roughly 90C. At that point starch leaches
out of the grain. We’re after the starch because we convert it first to sugar, and then to
alcohol. The high heat breaks those long, starchy chains down into much more simply fermented sugars more suited to our yeast (which will eventually convert these sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide). If we were to expose the yeast to these long starchy chains it would be like you trying to take down a cheeseburger the size of your car – which sounds cool. But would be time consuming and exhausting. We then cool down the mixture to 30 C, rehydrate the yeast, and pitch it. We use a turbo-yeast which tires itself out after just one fermentation – we don’t reuse it. From the mash tun we pump out the wash into these 1500 gallon fermentation tanks, of which we have 3. We keep various mashes and washes The yeast feed on the sugars and after 5-7 days you have a weak, beer-like mixture of about 10% ABV at which point we are ready for distillation.

  1. Distribution & Bottling (Packaging Line)
  • New space has allowed us to up our production 5x
  • 10,000 Cases —> ~50,000 Cases *A large portion of which goes into barrels
  • Every bottle that makes it to our tasting room or on store shelfs goes through this line:
  • Filled 4 at a time on our bottle filler
  • corked by hand
  • labeled one at a time on our labeler
  • Neck labels are put on by hand
  • Recipe booklets are put on by hand
  • Each bottle is tamper sealed with a heat gun and put in a case by hand.
  • Its a super manual process, but its a labor of love to get these cases out the door. -Bully Boy only has 5 full time employees so we rely on a lot of help from part time family and friends
  • Distribution is in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine (new this summer)
  • Our farmer distillers license allows us to self distribute– Dave and Will used to load up their car with cases of Bully Boy and drive around to clients until we out grew it
  • Now we use Horizon distributors
  1. Distillation (Still/Lab)

-750 Gallon Pot & Column still made in Germany by Christian Carl
-Custom made and assembled in the space (as most stills are)
-Big version of the 150 gallon still across the street (about 5x bigger)
-Copper: Conducts heat very well, Naturally antiseptic (easy to clean)
The Process:
All distillation really boils down to is taking advantage of the different boiling points of trace alcohols already present in our mash or wash.
1. Pump in Mash/Wash from on of our fermenters (~10% ABV)
2. Steam Jacket heats mixture, pressure builds inside of the pot as alcohols evaporate 3. Pressure builds in the top portion (Helmet) and vapors are forced through the short path into the first chamber of the column.
4. Vapors rise through the column (heat rises) as cold water runs down copper plates
-At each spyglass there is a copper plate, looks like upside down frisbee. These are cooled by the water running down them. Alcohol vapors condense at different rates as the move up and trickle off with the water
5. Left with vapors at about 160 Proof at the top of the column -Vodka will go through the column once more up to 190 proof
-By definition a flavorless, odorless spirit so we want to get as pure of
alcohol vapors as we can out.
6. Goes to condenser which has copper pipe with cold water running down it, condenses alcohol vapors into liquid
-Every spirit we make comes out of this spout at about a pencil width’s thickness (with the exception of the gin across the street)
Dave’s Job as master distiller (a state issued license, not just a cool title we call him) is to collect the run gallon by gallon and determine what will be kept and what will be discarded.

Three Parts of the Run:

Lowest boiling point vapors, primarily Methanol (64.7 C). Is toxic in high concentration so we safely discard it.

The good stuff that gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, ethanol, evaporates at
about 66 C. The majority of what we collect.

Propanol, Cogeners, and additional flavor components some of which we collect. Tails are redistilled as part of additional runs to add flavor and increase yield.

The still, fermenters, and mash tun are cleaned out with a high pressure steam system we have installed in the space. Occasionally Dave will stick his head in the still and spray it out with a pressure washer.

  1. Barrel Room

Every spirit comes off the still clear– if it has any color to it then it has spent time in one of our Barrels. Mellows, Flavors, and Colors the spirit.
-The barrel room houses about 1/3 of our barrels, the rest are housed across the street. - Each barrel is 53 gallons and contains the makings of about 300 bottles
-New White American Oak Barrels sourced from Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky
-We ask for a 3 out of 4 Char for a rich carmelly flavor from the caramelizing of the natural sugars in the wood.
-In the U.S these barrels cannot be reused for whiskey production, must be a new barrel every time
-Our Rum is aged in the used whiskey barrels where it turns into a butterscotch bomb, full of mellow confectionary flavors. It is not a spiced Rum, just aged.
-Finished in Red Wine Casks for another 2-3 Months. This darkens the color and
adds subtle fruitiness at the back end.
-As the barrels change temperature they expand and contract soaking up and a r releasing spirits which imparts the flavor.
A Brief Whiskey Taxonomy:
Whiskey = Grain Spirit, Aged in a Barrel
-Typically has a geographical name associated with it, in our case American, in other cases Scotch (Scotland), Irish, Japanese, etc.
-Bourbon = 51% or more of corn (sweeter, smoother, rounder)
-Rye = 51% more of rye (spicier, sharper)
-Straight Whiskey = distilled to no more than 160 proof, charred new oak barrels for atlas two years. (All legal requirements in the U.S)
Our ASW sits somewhere between a Rye and Bourbon, a round sweet start from the corn, with a bit of a spicy kick at the end from the Rye.
After the Barrels are used for 3 years of Whiskey, and 3 years of Rum they are shipped off to local breweries
-Business relationship with Barrel House Z in Weymouth, MA which specializes in Barrel Aged Beers
-As a gift they gave us the port and madeira barrels which are using for a little experiment finishing some Whiskey and Rum right now.