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Four Roses and Wild Turkey Bourbons Only Non-GMO Corn Users
Making Whiskey with Non-GMO Corn
Perhaps nowhere is the difference in the American world view and the European more stark than in the whiskey wars.
Yes, Bourbon and Tennessee whiskies are authentic American contributions to the spirits pantheon around the world. Yes, the thirst for American whiskeys is growing in Europe and Asia.
But here is where the rubber meets the road. While the American world view says until you prove something is bad for me, I’m doing it, and the European world view, ever more cautious, says until you can prove that something is NOT bad for me, I’m not having it. This value difference plays out in whiskeys.
European Countries and Asians routinely reject any food or drink concoctions based on GMO ingredients. Americans routinely embrace the cheaper GMO corn and other products that go into making industrial style whiskies.
So what are the American marketers to do? They want to satisfy the ever growing overseas thirst for American whiskey. They know they have to offer non GMO products.
Where can they go? Only two American whiskies are made with guaranteed non GMO corn. Four Roses, which was originally a part of the Seagram’s Company, has had a long term relationship with Midwestern farmers who produce non GMO corn. All of their product are made with non GMO corn.
As Master Distillers told Grist Magazine:
“European and Asian markets won’t buy whiskey made with GMO corn,” says Jim Rutledge, 45 year veteran distiller at Four Roses. “But due to cross-pollination, even farmers not using non GMO corn will end up with it eventually. I don’t know how many years we can continue like this.”
Wild Turkey master distiller, Jimmy Russell, takes the conservative view that the only way to guarantee the future of his product is to use non GMO corn. Why?
“Whiskey distilled today won’t be bottled for four to 15 years. If GMO grain is discovered to have issues 5 years from now, or if the government requires GMO labeling down the line, the distillery would be in quite a bind with a lot of aging whiskey that could be affected.”
Distillers from Four Roses and Wild Turkey both indicate they believe that GMO labeling will come to a head within 5 years and that American whiskies will either be labeled non GMO, or will all cave and no longer be agricultural products but simply industrial products, made with GMO corn.
But they’re hedging their bets and selecting only the non GMO corn. They will always have the European and Asian market this way, and in the US Market non GMO will be the premium for the foreseeable future.
Jack Daniels, the Tennesse Whiskey made by Brown-Forman has taken another route, indicating their faith in the American worldview.
“We’ve never been concerned by the use of GMO grains because not enough makes it through the distilling process to matter.” Says a Brown Forman statement. Huh?
According to Colin O’Neil, regulatory policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, “to assume that the only real risk is contamination of genetic material ignores the fact that these crops by and large will either produce an insecticide – which has been proved not to break down in the human gut – or are engineered to withstand exposure to herbicides.
“Residues of pesticides on corn present an increased exposure to consumers,” concludes Mr. O’Neil.
So OK. For me this means no more Jack Daniels. Good Bye, Uncle Jack. Call me when you see the light.
I like this Four Roses and Wild Turkey. Yes I do. Especially that Four Roses single batch. That’s gonna be my new go-to whiskey. Mighty fine for sipping and terrific in a cocktail.
By Austin Ratliff
M Street, Nashville, TN
2 oz Four Roses Small Batch
2 Brandied Cherries
Tablespoon Diced Red Delicious Apple
2 dash Cinnamon
½ oz Rich Syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters
Muddle cherries, apples, bitters and cinnamon with syrup in highball glass. Add bourbon and ice, stir to combine.