GrandTen and Trillium Have Teamed Up on a Small Batch Whiskey

The tiny, 60-bottle project, will be released on October 17.
grand ten distilling

Photo by Chris Hughes

It’s a phenomenon you see often at craft breweries: people lining up for the chance at some rare triple IPA or barrel-aged imperial stout. But GrandTen cofounder Matt Nuernberger admits those types of exaggerated, frenzy-inducing releases are an anomaly in the craft distilling world.

“The following for craft beer isn’t quite the same as it is with craft spirits,” Nuernberger says. “I think these releases are pretty rare. It’s something we’ve been seeing in craft beer for a while now—these limited edition, one-bottle-per-person kind of events where people line up around the block. I only know of one other distillery out in Colorado [Stranahan’s] that does that, but overall, this is pretty new for the industry.”

That’s almost certain to change next week when GrandTen releases their new collaborative project with Trillium Brewing, a small batch whiskey that amounted to just 12 gallons worth of product. If you’re doing the math, that’s less than 60 bottles.

The two Boston businesses have long been friends and have discussed working together on a special project, but the possibility hadn’t presented itself until a year ago when Nuernberger approached Trillium brewmaster JC Tetreault about purchasing some of their pre-fermented product and distilling it down into a whiskey.

“We both started out at roughly the same time and we’re only about a mile apart from each other, so we’ve very friendly and communicate often,” Nuernberger says. “It was an opportunity that just kind of presented itself. We talked to them about making a whiskey together and the stars finally aligned.”

Nuernberger and his partner, Spencer McMinn, traveled down to Tetreault’s Fort Point brewery and picked up an un-hopped batch of  Trillium’s signature farmhouse ale—or what Nuernberger describes as “barley soup”—and transported it back to their Southie headquarters.  From there, the two distilled down the raw beer and oak-aged the whiskey for one year.

“All whiskey at one point is beer,” Nuernberger says. “Fermented grains is what you use to make whiskey, so essentially you’re brewing a really basic beer when you make whiskey. It’s nothing exotic like you see coming out of craft brewing today. Also, we avoided hops since I don’t think they come across well in the distillation process.”

GrandTen anticipates releasing the project, which is a part of their small batch 383 series, on October 17 during their regular Friday Night Flights! event. The whiskey is available in two proofs (91.6 or 105) and each bottle will be hand-numbered and signed by McMinn. If all goes well, Nuernberger says he could see them duplicating the project with other Massachusetts breweries.

“I’m a little nervous about it, honestly,” Nuernberger says. “I want it to be a hit, but I also don’t want it to sell out in the first day. I’ll be bummed if everyone who wants to taste this doesn’t get the opportunity.”

$55 (91.6 proof) or $70 (105 proof), 383 Dorchester Ave., Boston; 617-269-0497 or grandten.com


Christopher Hughes Chris Hughes, Food Editor at Boston Magazine chughes@bostonmagazine.com