You might know them as One Eight Distilling. Recently rebranded, this Washington DC-based company now goes by District Made Spirits. Originally, only their vodka brand was called District Made, but it was fitting for the distillery’s whole lineup of rye-forward spirits to earn this name that nods to their location and their long-term local commitments.
All About the Terroir
“I love the idea of terroir in spirits,” says District Made Co-Founder and Head Distiller Alex Laufer. “It’s so established in the wine world, but there is more and more evidence of expressing the region in your spirits. Why be a ‘local’ distillery if you’re buying your grain from the midwest or Canada?”
Laufer’s approach to local sourcing is rooted in his food background. “For me it all starts on the farm,” he says. “My love of cooking comes from living in North California and having access to incredible ingredients. [Whether in cooking or distilling], I believe in letting these ingredients shine through.”
For the Love of Rye
The ingredient that District Made is most focused on is rye. Beyond their Straight Rye Whiskey, Laufer and his team utilize rye across their portfolio. There’s a strong history of using this grain in spirits in Maryland, and it’s also their favorite flavor. “We love the spice character that rye brings to spirits,” he says.
The raw rye in District Made spirits comes primarily from two regional farms: all-organic Lands End Farm in Chestertown, Maryland and Fairview Cattle & Grain in Culpepper, Virginia. Choosing local farm partners hits Laufer’s objectives to distill spirits with a sense of place as sustainably as possible. “Not having to truck grain as far means not putting as much CO2 in the atmosphere,” he says.
The malted rye that District Made uses is Riverbend’s malted Carolina Rye, sourced from Carter Farms in Eagle Springs, North Carolina. “We love Carolina Rye malt so much that we kept upping the percentage of malted grains in our Straight Rye Whiskey,” Laufer says. “We’re up to 29 percent.”
A New Release
Most recently, District Made debuted the Bottled In Bond High Rye Bourbon. This 2023 release starts with the 2014 harvest of rye and corn. Distilling took place in April of the following year, and seven barrels were filled. Three of those were hand-selected to create a bourbon bursting with sweet citrus, white peppercorn, and cherry cola flavors. The layers of spice build with each taste.
It’s true to the region to add rye to whiskey recipes, and it also becomes another botanical in the gin, Laufer explains. “We add other botanicals— coriander, fennel, and grains of paradise— to accentuate the rye.”
At District Made, the more rye- the better. And not just because Laufer loves snacking on it while he’s milling. “The mash bills that I love the most by far are the ones that have the most malt,” he adds. “The aroma when I’m cooking up in the mash is so pleasant.”
With rye in the spotlight, the spirits at District Made are truly one-of-a-kind. We’re excited to contribute increasing volumes of Carolina Rye to their mash bills, and proud to work with a company invested in stewarding Malt With A Mission.