panel discussion

Replay: Whiskey Grains

Grains are the foundation of whisk(e)y. Barley, rye, wheat, rice, and yellow and white corn help us create spirits that will become whiskey by expressing sugars for yeasts to eat. But it goes so much deeper than just an exchange of sugars into alcohol and that’s what we’re going to dive into in this panel discussion. Experts Dr. Steven Jones (Washington State University and Bread lab founder) and Matt Hoffman (Westland Distillery) will join UPROXX Drinks Editor Zach Johnston as they dive into how we can coax deep flavors from a seemingly inert seed or grain.

In this discussion, we’ll talk with grain experts about…

  • What are we talking about when we say “grains”?
  • How does the strain selection of the particular grain influence the final product?
  • Where/how does regionality play a role when we hear about “North Dakota Wheat” or “Iowa Corn”?
  • What do whiskey makers look for when they select where to source their grains from?
  • Is there a world where certain grains will get replaced by synthetics (like synthetic wheat) like we’re seeing in Beyond Meat?


Don’t forget to join us for other Panel Discussions, every Wednesday at 8:45pm EST/5:45pm PST

Zach Johnston, @ztpjohnston & Spirits Editor, UPROXX Life
Before getting into a writing career online, Zach spent years working around the globe as both a chef and a high-end bartender. Highlights include living with chefs in Thailand, cutting his teeth as a pizzaiolo in a Neapolitan pizzeria in Washington, DC, popping up with Indigenous American food tasting menus in Berlin, and opening oysters from the Pacific to the streets of Europe. He's also worked in organic wine bars in Prague, tended bar on Rhodes, and refined his cocktail skills at award-winning and iconic bars in Berlin. Zach parlayed those skills into writing for UPROXX where his burger recipes get hundreds of thousands of views and his whiskey tasting notes are some of the most read in the industry. Oh, and he still knows how to make a mean cocktail.
Special Guests:
Dr. Stephen Jones, Washington State University, Breadlab
Stephen Jones has a PhD in Molecular Cytogenetics from UC Davis. He is a professor at Washington State University and holds the Clif Bar and King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation. Stephen founded and directs WSU Breadlab in Skagit Valley Washington. Together with his PhD students, Stephen works globally with farmers, millers and bakers to develop decentralized equitable and affordable non-commodity grain systems. At WSU Breadlab they work with whole grain wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat and focus on yield for the farmer and flavor and nutrition for all of us.
Matt Hofmann, Co-Founder and Master Distiller at Westland Distillery
Hofmann studied Economics at the University of Washington before earning his Master of Arts degree from Heriot Watt University in Scotland. He was one of the principal craftsmen in the creation and development of this exceptional whiskey. In 2015, the distillery was named Whiskey of the Year by the American Distilling Institute.