Webinar: Distilling With Heirloom Corn
March 31st at 3 PM Eastern. With Gary Hinegardner (Wood Hat Spirits), Tara Steffens & Keith Meyer (Pinckney Bend Distillery), Lisa Wicker (Widow Jane Distillery). Free to ACSA Members, $59 to non-members
When?: March 31st, 3 PM Eastern
What?: A panel of whiskey-making icons update us on their latest experiments with heirloom corn varietals and detail how craft distillers can achieve a wide range of flavor profiles and push the boundaries of the entire whiskey category.
Gary Hinegardner, owner and distiller of Wood Hat Spirits, New Florence, MO, grew up on a timber and livestock farm in SW Missouri where the family cut white oak for barrels, among other things. Gary has a BS in Biology and a Master’s in Agronomy. He has been a Peace Corps volunteer, an agricultural extension agent, manager of a farm supply cooperative and president of Missouri Mulch (a division of Independent Stave Company). In the last 9 years he has built and operated a vertically integrated craft distillery where he is involved at every level from breeding, selecting, and growing heirloom corns to distributing product. The distillery produces nationally and internationally awarded bourbons, corn whiskeys, and liqueurs.
Lisa Wicker is President & Head Distiller of Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn, New York. Wicker started her career in a vineyard as a farm hand after working for several years in the arts. Trained first as an apprentice winemaker, she worked her way through all aspects of production, from harvest, winemaking, bottling, lab work and blending.
Wicker moved to Kentucky in 2010 to build a winery for ten year old established vineyards. She respected and replicated the old wine tradition of Kentucky, one of the largest wine producing states prior to prohibition. Wicker began working towards the legality of obtaining a still to produce brandy. She met Steve Beam of Limestone Branch Distillery, six miles from the winery, and began working there in the evenings, blending product and learning to distill. Working on a collaboration for peach brandy for a client of Limestone Branch facilitated the move to distilling full time.
Three years at Limestone Branch, she developed a client product that won “World’s Best Liqueur” at the 2015 World Liqueur Awards in London, had their first “brown spirit” release, perfected cooking heirloom corn mash, oversaw compliance, lab, bottling and product development.
Wicker moved to Starlight Distillery, distilling for Ted Huber, known for their brandies, they added a grain distillery late 2015. Distilling heirloom corn bourbon, malt whiskey, rye whiskey, rum and vodka, she was also Director of product development. She left Starlight after a year and a half, recommended by a well known Master Distiller in Kentucky, to oversee a distillery construction project as General Manager and Head Distiller, building the first craft distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky.
With the explosive growth of craft distilling, Wicker formed Saints & Monsters Distilling, her consulting firm. Clients included Samson & Surrey. She was hired by them full time as Director of Distilling and Product Development for their portfolio, then moved to Widow Jane Distillery to oversee distillery construction and expansion, production and the largest heirloom corn project for whiskey of it’s kind in the United States. Wicker personally blends every lot of the flagship ten year old, and develops new product.
Consulting Distiller for George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon in Alexandria Virginia, beginning in March of 2016, after an invitation to work and visit by Steve Bashore. She has written protocol and improved quality and yield in an eighteenth century setting. She wrote the first Bourbon mash bill, based on historic records. Wicker has worked on Rye Whiskey, Peach Brandy and the first Rum project there.
Whisky Magazine “Icons of Whisky” Master Distiller/Master Blender, “Highly Commended” 2019, second highest ranking in the US by Whisky Magazine.
Wicker has three grown children, two grandsons and a couple of whiskey loving son in laws, and resides in Brooklyn, New York and Bardstown, Kentucky.