Published July 17, 2013
After four years, Valentine Distillery releases Woodward-inspired whiskey
By Joshua Gordon email@example.com
FERNDALE — When Rifino Valentine opened his distillery a few years ago in Ferndale, vodka was his main selling point and he quickly made the move from life in New York to a life in his home state of Michigan.
While Valentine Vodka has had great success, with about 3,000 accounts in Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee and New York, Valentine said he always had plans to expand, though he kept it close to his chest on what that meant.
Four weeks ago, Valentine released his newly crafted spirit — Woodward Ltd. Whiskey, the first whiskey in Valentine’s line of products. Valentine aged the whiskey for four years, almost since he opened up shop in Ferndale.
“Having a whiskey was intended from the beginning; I just didn’t tell anyone,” Valentine, 42, said. “That was always in the plan, as was the gin. I don’t say a lot about the things that are going to be released years down the road. I like it when it is more of a secret.
“I just like to do my products well and that is why I don’t release all these products at the same time. We spend years on getting each recipe right.”
Distilling isn’t a job for an impatient man, Valentine said. He had to come up with the recipe, decide how he was going to age it and then wait until the taste was just right.
The recipe starts out with corn, barley and rye. Valentine and his employees tested the whiskey recipe in small barrels that took less time to age to see if it was right before placing the whiskey in bigger barrels.
The big distinction, Valentine said, between his whiskey and others on the market is he soaked his oak barrels in Michigan maple syrup before starting to age the whiskey.
“We got oak barrels from Kentucky that were charred inside, but we soaked it in maple syrup first,” Valentine said. “If I didn’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t know, but once I tell you, you can taste it. It is not a maple flavor, but it rounds it out nicely.”
The aging process was the longest part, however. Valentine said his whiskey, which is closer to bourbon, had to sit for at least two years. He continually tasted his product to make sure he got the right flavor.
“At two and three years, we felt the taste wasn’t good enough,” Valentine said. “We are always sampling little bits. We waited until we thought it was going to be the best it could be.”
Matt McCann has served as Valentine’s assistant distiller for a year and was on board during the final months of the whiskey’s process. McCann isn’t a distiller by trade, but it was always something he wanted to be a part of and he liked what he saw during his first few weeks working for Valentine.
While tasting the whiskey may be a job numerous visitors to Valentine’s may enjoy, McCann said it is all about getting the taste just right.
“I have mostly been here for being part of the proper finishing of the product,” McCann said. “We had to pick a proof we liked and we went with 88 proof. We had to have the proper filtration and could only pull (the whiskey) out of the barrel when it was ready. We tasted it on a weekly basis to see where things were.
“We want the whiskey to appeal to absolute purists and guys or girls who want something that tastes good. This isn’t a company that makes a package and quickly comes up with a product to fill it. We want to make a world-class product. ”
Valentine said when he moved back to Michigan, he wanted to help rebrand Detroit and tie in all his products into the Detroit brand. The front of the Woodward Ltd. Whiskey bottle has a car grille to represent Detroit’s nickname, the Motor City, and Valentine decided to name it after one of the country’s great highways.
The whiskey is only a limited edition because of the process it takes to create it, Valentine said. And, with the way it has been received, it may run out sooner than anticipated.
“We only have so much of the product because it takes four years to age and we don’t know how long each batch is going to last us,” Valentine said. “It has been four weeks and we are selling way more than we projected.
“Around here, antique cars are people’s pride and joy, so this whiskey is kind of our pride and joy, too.”
- 24 HRS
- 7 DAYS
- 30 DAYS
- Detroit Zoo crowdfunds to harness energy from poop - Metro Detroit
- Rebuilding Together breathes new life into homes - Farmington Hills
- Alleged murderer of party store owner to stand trial - Clinton Township
- Crime down, quality of department up in 2014 - Royal Oak
- Board approves incentive bonus for new police hires - Shelby Township
- Military museum announces upcoming event plans - Eastpointe
- Tour the chocolate factory with Lamphere High’s ‘Willy Wonka’ - Madison Heights
- New kiosk to assist Stony Creek cyclists - Sterling Heights
- By the book: Experts explain how strange, outdated laws manage to stick around - Metro Detroit
- Kroger receives approval for $25 million marketplace - Royal Oak
- Jazz pros, students to celebrate music of past and present at April 30 concert - Detroit
- Selfridge’s 127th Wing to fight Islamic State - Harrison Township
- Stolen wedding ring a fake report, police say - St. Clair Shores
- Police investigate fatal single-vehicle crash - Shelby Township
- Construction continues at Macomb Mall - Roseville
- Frankenfoods: Are GMOs as scary as people think? - Metro Detroit
- Man in skeleton hoodie robs 7-Eleven - St. Clair Shores
- Jump for Trevor helps teen in need of a heart transplant - Southfield
- Farewell to the Field event takes a look back - Clawson
- Stolen wedding ring a fake report, police say
- Henry, longtime police K-9, to retire April 17
- Construction continues at Macomb Mall
- Berkley, Huntington Woods rank in top 10 places to live in Michigan
- NAMM award is sweet music to UCS
- Rock community ready to roast local show promoter
- Jazz pros, students to celebrate music of past and present at April 30 concert