Bully Boy Distillers is a family-owned distillery in Boston. Founded by brothers Will and Dave Willis, the company makes craft spirits using a method rich in purity and artisanship. I was given a bottle of their new American Straight Whiskey to sample, and had the opportunity to speak with Dave Willis about the company. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share my interview, as well as my thoughts on the company’s latest offering. Check out part one of my interview here.
Dave Willis Interview: Part Two
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for the unaged recipes?
A: A lot of trial and error. With unaged whiskey – the mistake that people make is that they don’t barrel age it, and you need to use certain grains. Wheat has a very nice fruitiness to it and it retains this in its unaged state. We were going to ignore grains like corn and rye, which can be not as pleasant. We liked the wheat so much we stuck with 100% wheat. With the rum, we used blackstrap molasses instead of sugar cane, and it was really just a matter of getting the proof correct. Blackstrap has that classic burnt sugar flavor. With the vodka, we kept coming back to the wheat instead of potato or corn. Wheat was more balanced.
Q: Each bottle of American Straight Whiskey is individually numbered by batch and bottle. Approximately how many batches have you produced thus far? How many bottles?
A: There are 400 bottles per batch. I’m in the barrel room right now and we probably have about 50 barrels and we continue to sock it away. The nice thing about concentrating on barrel aging is that we got an initial head start. We have to keep up with that because if you sell through your stock and you haven’t been doing more, you’ll be in trouble. We should have plenty of whiskey to meet demand.
Q: How long is it aged for?
A: Over two years. That’s where the “straight” comes from.
Q: What other brands do you personally enjoy?
A: When it comes to whiskey, I like Makers, Pritchards, and High West. I respect what they’re doing – most of their products are blended whiskeys, and they’re pretty unabashed about it, which is great. I’ve always been a big Mount Gay rum drinker. It’s lighter and fruitier, which I enjoy. There are a lot of nice rums out there. On the vodka side of things, I tend to gravitate toward grain based vodkas, but I don’t have a particular favorite.
Check back next week for part three of the interview.