Touring: The Bully Boy Distillers
When I got to Bully Boy Distillers in Roxbury, where brothers Will and Dave Willis started selling spirits in June, the one thing I was most excited to taste was the whiskey.
From mash to mouth, whiskey presents choices to the distiller: Which grain will dominate the mash? In what percentage? How long to age the spirit? An adept distiller spins each of these variables to his advantage. The goal: a smooth, amber-colored spirit with a smoky kiss and whisper of dusky flavors.
Will and Dave started distilling on their stove. They recently graduated to a 150-gallon copper still, riddled with thermometers and portholes, culminating in a simple, pipe-like spigot. When I toured the distillery last Thursday, whiskey was trickling from the spigot and into a jug. But the newborn whiskey wasn’t amber. It was as clear as glass.
The whiskey is sold as White Whiskey. As with Bully Boy’s rum and vodka, the whiskey is USDA-certified organic. It begins as a wheat mash — also unusual for whiskeys — using wheat from Aurora Mills and Farm in Linneus, Maine. To taste, the whiskey hits floral notes that are usually smothered by the smoke and fire that develop during aging. This whiskey can be sipped neat, but it was born for cocktails. Dave mixes it with tonic, ginger, mint, and lime.
Dave and Will also plan to sell a more traditional whiskey. Their Wheat Whiskey, now aging in oak wine casks, will be ready next winter. By then, the brothers hope to source wheat and corn for mashes from their family farm in Sherborn. They also hope to do an applejack. But for now, we’ll take the vodka, white rum, and white whiskey — as restaurants (Eastern Standard, L’Espalier) and bartenders sure have. Look for Bully Boy spirits at certain Boston-area liquor stores. At $26 to $28, you’re practically stealing the bottle. —Chris Malloy
Tours by appointment, Bully Boy Distillers, 35 Cedric St., Boston, 617-442-6000, bullyboydistillers.com.