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Mentioned in this Episode:
Westward Whiskey: https://www.westwardwhiskey.com/
Chichibu Distillery: https://www.facebook.com/ChichibuDistillery
Look for Ichiro’s Malts
Yamazaki Distillery: https://www.suntory.com/factory/yamazaki/
Look for Hakushu 12
ACSA Convention March 29-31, 2020 : https://americancraftspirits.org/programs/convention/
Portland Dining Month: https://www.travelportland.com/about-us/about-portland-dining-month/
Christian’s PDX Food Recommendations:
Bullard @ Woodlark Hotel: https://www.bullardpdx.com/
Headwaters @ Heathman Hotel: https://www.headwaterspdx.com/menu-1
Checkerboard Pizza (From the owners of Trifecta): https://www.checkerboardpdx.com/
Colleen’s PDX Food Recommendations/Risks She’d Take:
Backwoods Brewing: https://www.backwoodsbrewingcompany.com/
Deschutes Brewing: https://www.deschutesbrewery.com/
Voysey Subterranean Speakeasy: https://www.facebook.com/voyseypdx/
Great View Departure Restaurant & Lounge: https://departureportland.com/
VooDoo Donuts: https://www.voodoodoughnut.com/locations/
KNRK 94.7: https://947.radio.com/
Episode Identifier (00:00):
Welcome back to season two of the Distilling Craft podcast. You’re listening to episode (6): “Moshi Moshi Whisky “.
Dalkita Promo (00:11):
Distilling Craft is brought to you by Dalkita, a group of architects and engineers who specialize in designing craft distilleries across the US. More information is available at our website www.dalkita.com
Colleen Moore (00:28):
This is Colleen Moore from Dalkita, your host for episode number (6) of Distilling Craft’s second season. Thank you for downloading and listening to this episode today. On today’s show, I talk with Christian Krogstad of “House Spirits” about his world travels, spinning off a brand, Japanese whiskey, and touring Asia like a rock star. But first, we reminisce with him about his road through craft spirits so far. This interview includes a bit of info on the seismic stability of whiskey barrels and he’s even baked in today’s safety moment with a nod to our safest lifting practice of all, and that’s not lifting something if you don’t have to. Take a listen.
Colleen Moore (01:10):
Our guest today is going to be Christian Krogstad from “House Spirits”. Welcome onto the show, Christian.
Christian Krogstad (01:18):
Thank you. I’m really excited to be here.
Colleen Moore (01:22):
Tell me the origin story for how you started your business.
Christian Krogstad (01:29):
My background is in brewing. I moved to Portland originally in winter of 1991. And then, my final job in brewing was managing the McMenamin’s, Edgefield brewery and we had a still there. We had recently brought in a still to make whiskey. I got involved in that from the wash- the wash creation side. I was managing the brewery. We were brewing all the beer for the whiskey washes and trucking them up the hill. I was spending a lot of time up there at the distillery, which was just up the hill. I got a chance to see what was involved and realized that it wasn’t that far off from brewing. And I said, “Screw it, I’m going to start a distillery”. And actually, got talking to Lee Medoff, who is the distiller up there. He and I hatched this plan to start a distillery together. We got it up and running in the summer of 2004. The summer of 2004 is when we sort of date of first sale to purpose the original goal, and still the goal was to make a single malt whiskey. But, we self funded it on savings and home equity loans and eventually credit card debt. So, we needed to make clear spirits. This is a kind of a familiar story. We decided to make clear spirits. We also did some contract manufacturing, launched some other brands into the market for people who wanted to get involved. And all the while we were always making a little bit of whiskey on whatever free cash flow we had. So that was really how we got it going. Very small to start with. Originally, in 1200 square foot space down in Corvallis, Oregon, which is about an hour drive South [of Portland]. Then a year and a half later, we moved up to Portland, found 4,000 square foot space up in Portland, continued to grow through the years. So, we started in 2004 and then in 2008, Lee and I decided to part ways. I bought him out of the distillery and he went off and started another distillery here in Portland called “Bull Run Distilling”. We metastasized. After that, continued to work “House Spirits”. at that point, Aviation Gin was our main brand. We had put a lot of feelers out there, created a few brands. And the one that really was taking off was the Aviation Gin. I think at that point say, 10 years ago in 2009, we were a little over 4,000 cases. So, fairly small brand at that point. Now, it’s 80,000- 9-liter cases a year. In that small facility, we were producing the Aviation Gin, the Krogstad Aquavit, so various small, fun, passion projects where like coffee liqueur, rum ,and pot distilled rum. Also, continuing to make malt whiskey. And, we’d always put up 20-30 barrels a year just to keep learning and keep doing it. But then, I met my future partners and we got engaged and married. In the summer of 2011, we hitched up. They brought with them a lot of expertise, but some investment money as well. And that allowed us to really ramp up whiskey production, build a new distillery that we got commissioned in four years ago now in 2015, Fall of 2015, and upped our production to about 1200 casks a year of malt whiskey. So that’s where we are now. We sold the Aviation Gin brand three years ago, but we still produce it. It’s a contract brand for us now.
Colleen Moore (06:07):
You’ve just breezed through that and maybe five minutes, but I know that between each one of those steps was a lot of turbulence. So, how did you deal with that? Because, I know that when you were in your old facility and the city was making you move to a place that you did not know what it was going to look like, where it was going to be, things like that. Can you talk a little bit about that time period and how you were able to deal with it? Cause it’s pretty stressful.
Christian Krogstad (06:46):
There’s a lot of uncertainty. I mean, there’s a lot of uncertainty in business, whether it’s the market or your employee retention or whatever. There’s all kinds of uncertainty. In our case, the main uncertainty was the facility we were in. Our first spot that we were in, in Portland, in Southeast Portland for 10 years, we had not anticipated the scale that we would get to. So, we originally permitted it under much more lenient occupancy because, we weren’t expecting to have the volumes of alcohol that we ended up with. So, by 2011_2012, we were operating well-beyond our original stated parameters and that coincided with the city getting a new hazmat fire Marshall. And, he really wanted to make an impression. He wanted to put his mark on the town. So, he went out and started reviewing distilleries and we were the first one. At that point, we were the the largest of them. So, he really hit the books. He didn’t always interpret the codes accurately, but that was his prerogative I guess. So, he really brought the hammer down on us and gave us very little leeway. So, we had to go out and find a new space and contruct that in certain ways that made him happy.
Colleen Moore (08:35):
Is he your best friend now? How did you work through that?
Christian Krogstad (08:39):
No, he retired. He retired right after he was done with that. It was pretty funny.
Colleen Moore (08:45):
So, that was the pinnacle effort of his life’s work.
Christian Krogstad (08:49):
That was really his capstone achievement, costing us an extra couple million dollars in construction fees.
Colleen Moore (09:00):
But you have a safe facility now.
Christian Krogstad (09:02):
The safest. Well, it’s funny that he was very pedantic about his interpretations and he wanted to follow code even in areas that we could demonstrate that code wasn’t as safe as more pragmatic solutions. I mean, it was kind of a typical, he was covering his ass and by being able to point to the code, he could say, “Hey, I told them to follow code. Code is the highest standard rather than thinking for yourself”.
Colleen Moore (09:40):
And the thing I think that is important to point out about the building code and the fire code to people that are coming into essentially their first, maybe second construction project on a commercial level, is the building and fire code is trying to be this living, breathing document that is covering every iteration of building that could possibly exist. So that is anything from a petroleum factory down to a tiny stick-built cottage on the side of the lake. And they’re trying to address every possibility in between those two uses to have life safety be a top priority. So, there is obviously no possible way that they could cover every single industry, the industry’s needs. And at that time, which was what, 2013 ish?
Christian Krogstad (10:40):
2012, 2013 was when we really got into this.
Colleen Moore (10:44):
So, we were dealing with the 2012 building code in the best case scenario. And it’s evolved- every iteration it gets a little bit different. There are things that are passed through this committee process that go into the code, that make it more specific for different industries as we’re going through these growing pains. And the distilling craft distilling industry is a poster-child example I think of having that growing pains because, the code would essentially apply to larger scale facilities and we’re talking like Buffalo Trace in Kentucky. And that sense of scale was not something that was accommodated in the building and fire codes at that time. So, you guys had to make a very good case as to- Yeah, that’s all well and good, but let’s look at the scale of what we’re doing. I know that that was fraught with stress and lots of self-care was needed.
Christian Krogstad (11:54):
Exactly. They don’t really make a distinction between kerosene and ethanol, because they are both flammable and so forth. They treat them the same. And clearly a fireman, an actual fireman, would rather fight a alcohol fire than a kerosene fire. Anyway, so that’s one distinction. Also, one thing I would point out is that, so there’s the code and depending on your AHJ – your local jurisdiction – they might take the most restrictive interpretation, they might take the most lenience. And for us, the two examples, and we had an example in Portland, where they took the most restrictive interpretation of at every turn, and they were largely uninterested in what the professional engineers had to say.
Colleen Moore (13:03):
Tiny bit of a pissing contest going on there because, engineers and architects, both, have to be licensed in the state that they’re operating in and the building and fire code officials while they are official officials. And, they’re charged with these duties of enforcing these codes, there’s this balance that has to be derived between those two individuals of how much is professional discretion and putting your name and seal on it as an architect and/or engineer. And how much of it is laying down the law as “official.”
Christian Krogstad (13:50):
Right. I think, in recognition, most, I don’t know any reasonable code official is going to recognize that the code, like you said earlier, the code can’t contemplate every potential situation. And, that’s why we license engineers. And, that’s where the code came from in the first place was from engineers. That’s kind of the safety valve for a pragmatic code official is to say, “Okay, well the code says that you can’t do what you’re proposing to do, but if you can get a licensed engineer is going to put their livelihood on the line and say that you can do it – then that’s good enough with us”. When we went to build our barrel warehouse or rick house out in another County in another jurisdiction
Colleen Moore (14:47):
On purpose though, right?
Christian Krogstad (14:49):
Yes. We found much more refreshing approach, where they said, well, you’re proposing, for instance, high pile storage of hazmat so Spirit’s above a hundred or above 20 or whatever- I can’t remember the exact,
Colleen Moore (15:11):
I think it’s 12 feet high.
Christian Krogstad (15:13):
Well, you can’t go above six foot for class one or whatever. It’s been years now. This isn’t my purview regularly.
Colleen Moore (15:22):
No worries. So, it is a high-hazard commodity. And there are height limits and you wanted to store above it.
Christian Krogstad (15:31):
We wanted to store above that and he said, “Well you need to show me that it’s seismically stable”.
Colleen Moore (15:40):
How did you guys address seismic concerns?
Christian Krogstad (15:42):
We found a seismic engineer, who had done a study on palletized storage, and that was that. He was satisfied.
Colleen Moore (15:53):
That’s how it’s supposed to work for everyone at home.
Christian Krogstad (15:55):
He was like, okay. He didn’t pretend to be an expert. He didn’t say, “I’m an expert on earthquakes on seismic stability of storage and I think that you’re wrong”. He said, “No, this guy put his stamp on it and you guys are storing it this way as as long as you’re complying with the design specifications that this engineer put forth as being seismically stable, then you can do it”.
Colleen Moore (16:26):
We recently have here in Denver had to deal with a seismic regulations. They changed the rules a little bit recently. They have these maps come out and suddenly Denver was in a seismic zone. So, we ended up having to essentially strap all the barrels together to make a giant cube of barrels. Is that the approach that you guys took as well?
Christian Krogstad (16:53):
Exactly. We palletize barrels, so they’re stored on end rather than on their side. It is very space efficient. It’s also the safest as far as for back health. You’re not handling full barrels. You’re not not crushing feet with full barrels. You put an empty barrel on a pallet and you fill it in place and you never have to touch it again. And yeah, we put steel strapping around it to make it a solid unit, one around the barrel, two around the tops to tie it to the pallet. And then, after that, it’s forklift, it’s pallet jack, you’re not having to move barrels. Whereas we were originally planning on using Western squares and store on the side. We went to try to get seismic stability studies on those. And there isn’t any – because they aren’t stable. For everyone listening at home, I see people storing flammable materials on those up four and five high, you can’t go above six feet with those, anywhere. Second layer is that they’re pretty unstable at three high and incredibly unstable at four.
Colleen Moore (18:12):
Don’t do it. Just say no! But, I’ve heard that they can go up to six high. But again, once you start throwing in free radicals, like seismic loading, it becomes a different story. But in the most stable situation, I think they can theoretically quote unquote per the manufacturer go up to six-high. However, at five high they start to deform the bottom barrel.
Christian Krogstad (18:41):
Yeah. I’ve seen them at six high in wineries. And I’ve seen a lot of pictures after that Northridge earthquake of jumbled stacks of barrels, piles of barrels, that had been neatly stacked six-high. I think that there are devices for tying barrels together to make a more like rods that would go from stack to stack to tie them together and to make them more stable, cohesive whole. But, I think, once the ground really starts shaking, it’s all bets are off.
Colleen Moore (19:21):
They had that big earthquake in Napa, in California a few years ago and that’s really when everybody started looking at the seismic stability of that particular storage mechanism. So, I am glad to hear that the manufacturers, because there is more than just Western Square at this point, I’m really glad that they have at least taken notes and addressed that issue. Because, a lot of times when manufacturers look at things, something happens, and then they just are kind of like… oh well, that was a one off situation. What are the chances that it’s going to happen again? Do you know what I mean? Like, those aren’t responsible manufacturers. So, I’m glad that that particular sub-industry has taken a look at that and addressed a hidden flaw I guess in their initial product. So that’s good. So, they’re being responsible.
New Speaker (20:20):
So, you managed to get through all of that turmoil and get your facility open. It was slightly more expensive than you had initially thought.
Christian Krogstad (20:32):
Yeah, a couple million.
Colleen Moore (20:34):
Just a one or 2 million, it’s fine. But like looking back from when you opened your initial Portland facility, did you plan for growth there? I mean, how did arrive from opening it to being over your limits and the Fire Marshall being like, “Hey! No way. Red tag. Shut this down.”?
Christian Krogstad (20:58):
I think it would be an exaggeration to say that there was planning.
Colleen Moore (21:02):
Christian Krogstad (21:03):
We found a space that was about four times the size of our previous spot in Corvallis. We thought, “Well this is.” I mean, when we first moved in in the spot that we’ve started operating in January 1st of 2006, it seemed huge. I mean, it was cavernous. There was lots of free space in there.
Colleen Moore (21:30):
Space for days!
Christian Krogstad (21:32):
Space for days. Exactly. And then, we started filling it up. We put in 6- 700 gallon fermenters and we put in another still, started stacking barrels. And before you know it, it was full.
Fermentis promo (21:51):
The Distilling Craft podcast is brought to in part by our great sponsors “Fermentis”. The obvious choice for beverage fermentation. Providing the craft spirits industry worldwide with the best fermentation needs for more than 100 years. Contact our sales team to help make your choice on yeast and products for distilling your next great spirit. For more information, or to find a distributor visit www.fermentis.com.
Colleen Moore (22:25):
Welcome back to The Distilling Craft podcast. In our next segment, we talk a bit about spinning-off the Aviation Gin brand, Japanese whiskey and touring Asia. Talk to me a little bit about selling off of a brand from your house of brands. So number one, did you get to meet Ryan Reynolds? That’s everyone’s first question.
Christian Krogstad (22:47):
No, it’s pretty funny. He actually hasn’t visited the distillery unless he did it in disguise.
Colleen Moore (23:00):
Right. Which could be possible.
Christian Krogstad (23:02):
Entirely possible. He’s an actor. He must have access to good costume and makeup and props and such. He’s very involved in the marketing of the brand, but he hasn’t actually come and distilled a batch yet, which I think he needs to do.
Colleen Moore (23:24):
That feels like a deficit. Right? So, selling off the brand, how long did negotiations take?
Christian Krogstad (23:34):
They didn’t take all that long- some weeks. It wasn’t out of the blue. We sold it to the company that was our third party sales agent. So, the company that bought it, had been selling it, had been representing it in the market for year. They were managing our distribution and sales efforts around the country. So, they had gotten to know the product and normally in something like this, there would be a lot of discussion and discovery around – what are your sales volumes and where is it sold? And, they knew all that stuff.
Colleen Moore (24:11):
They had the inside scoop, if you will.
Christian Krogstad (24:14):
Basically, we just shifted the line responsibility. So, House Spirits Distillery, Westward Whiskey has always produced Aviation Gin. And, for the last six years or whatever, seven years Davos brands had distributed Aviation Gin. And in there somewhere, the responsibility for marketing it shifted from us to them when they bought the brand. So, that’s really all that changed. But, it went from us hiring them to represent it to them, hiring us to produce it.
Colleen Moore (24:57):
So, a little bit change in the relationship. With the sale of that it seems to me, and following your Facebook feeds and your world travels and such that, your position freed up a little bit and that you were able maybe to make a little bit more time for things that you wanted to do, maybe like traveling that also coincided with like a brand expansion with one of your other products.
Christian Krogstad (25:28):
As part of various changes, I had an opportunity to increase our footprint and that’s been really a big part of the the Westward Whiskey expansion is getting out of the U.S. a little bit. In some ways, it’s easier to get new distribution in other countries than it is to get it in other States. We are expanding into Europe. My partner works on Europe and Australia. I work on Asia. And these are some great markets out there for malt whiskey and I’m happy to visit them.
Colleen Moore (26:20):
We’re going to talk a little bit about Japanese whiskey here, which falls into your Asia market quite nicely. So, Japanese whiskey, just as the background as I know it, and I’m sure people will send me prolific amounts of comments about how this is not as accurate as I’m going to gloss over right now.
Christian Krogstad (26:44):
I don’t pretend to be an expert.
Colleen Moore (26:46):
Japan was closed off to outside trade for a long time. They didn’t really start trading with the world at large until the late 18 hundreds. That’s when they got an appreciation for Scotch. And they actually sent someone over to Scotland to learn about Scotch. And then he came back. A lot of the Japanese whiskey facilities seem to be in a Scotch style. It looks like they’ve cut those little malt houses out of Scotland and put them into Japan. From there, I believe it was basically two guys, one side became Suntory, one side became Nikka. Is that how you understand it?
Christian Krogstad (27:42):
It started with Suntory, and then the fellow who had gone to Scotland to kind of discover their… I mean, I think the funny part of it is, it was this guy Tori, who was a chemist and he went to Scotland, I think around 1910, to learn the Scottish science of distilling and discovered that there really was no science of distilling.
Colleen Moore (28:12):
It’s more an art.
Christian Krogstad (28:14):
And then he brought that back and sort of applied some science to it. And that’s how we ended up with Japanese whiskey.
Colleen Moore (28:22):
So, what is it that makes Japanese whiskey different from say Scotch, which clearly they’ve studied quite heavily. what are some of the things that make those two things different?
Christian Krogstad (28:36):
I think, a lot of it hinges on the science of distilling rather than the art of distilling. Obviously, the Japanese employ alot of art to it, but the original approach was to apply science to something that hadn’t really seen a lot of science. They tend to be more precise, almost more deliberate, but very much inspired by Scottish single malts. And now, fast forward, there are dozens of whiskey distilleries in Japan. The big ones, the first one Suntory started up Yamazaki distillery and it was something like 1923 or something. And then, Suntory’s had existed before that as a beverage company, but then they started the Yamazaki distillery I think at 23. And the original, master distiller left to start Nika up in Hokkaido in like 1932, something like that. It sounds like that’s fairly recent, but keep in mind too, that really what we think of as Scotch didn’t start until less than a hundred years before that. Japanese whiskey has been around for a hundred years. Scotch has been around for 200 years. And, single malt scotch is only been around since 1963. So these things feel like they’ve always been there, but they haven’t.
Colleen Moore (30:19):
When scotch is produced, I know that they are a large market for all of our used bourbon barrels, right?
Christian Krogstad (30:28):
Colleen Moore (30:30):
And the thing that they’re using to age in, is it similar in that Scotch style? Are they using the bourbon barrels? Or, is it a totally different type of wood?
Christian Krogstad (30:44):
No, they’re primarily using bourbon barrels. There is a native, the Mongolian Oak called Mizunara that is used to add a national influence. But Mizunara is not widely used.
Colleen Moore (31:04):
From my reading and research, I have discovered that particular type of tree, you have to age in it for like decades in order to get a quality product. It doesn’t do things well in like a 4/5/6 year timeframe. It does it in 20
Christian Krogstad (31:26):
Thing that isn’t in dispute about Mizunara is that, the wood is very twisted and is from a structural standpoint isn’t ideal for barrels because it tends to be very leaky.
Colleen Moore (31:43):
I think they use that tree, and that wood type to make a lot of nice furniture.
Christian Krogstad (31:50):
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are Coopers who are putting in one or two or a handful of staves in a barrel and having it a blend of Mizunara. I’m not wild about the flavor influence of Mizunara, but I’m not an expert on it, so maybe I just haven’t had the good stuff.
Colleen Moore (32:12):
I feel like you may have had more access to the good stuff then maybe I have. Having never been to Japan. That’s okay. You can like different things and you can notice things that are different. That’s fine.
Christian Krogstad (32:30):
I mean, I guess it’s also it’s a marketing thing. People want what they can’t have or what’s in limited supply and, Mizunara is very expensive and it’s fairly rare, so there isn’t a lot of Mizunara casks in Suntory or whatever. So, that drives up interest in it because, it’s bragging rights and it’s rare.
Colleen Moore (33:03):
Tell me about some of the distilleries that you have been privileged to visit, both in whiskey and maybe Sake production.
Christian Krogstad (33:13):
My visits to Sake breweries- there’s been a language barrier, let’s say. I don’t speak Japanese. And the people I visited don’t speak much English, which I wouldn’t expect them to. But, that’s been really fun. They have very different process to whiskey production or to beer brewing, Western beer brewing. They’re very steeped in tradition. They’re very Japanese. It’s really cool. But form distilleries, I did have a lot more access to distilleries and anywhere from some of the largest Hakushu and Yamazaki to some of the smallest like Ichiro’s Malt up in Chichibu, which is sort of the most popular among collectors right now. I would say, overall these facilities are immaculate. They justifiably take a lot of pride in what they do. They are a delight to visit. I’d encourage anyone who has an opportunity to go to Japan and see these spots, to go. I got inside tours into all of these and prearranged with English speakers, who could show me around. That’s not always the case if you just show up.
Colleen Moore (34:46):
I have an idea that I want to pitch you and I would totally have to talk somebody else into it. Scott has a cousin that lives here in Denver, who’s married to a Japanese woman that teaches Japanese here at Metro State College. She goes back, at least, once or twice a year to Japan. My understanding is it’s from a fairly prominent family in Japan. She’s a native speaker. Would you be down for doing a tour of Japanese distilleries with a guide that is fluent in English and Japanese?
Christian Krogstad (35:25):
I’m always up for going to Japan.
Colleen Moore (35:30):
We can see if we can make it work. It’s an idea. You have the distillery connections and I’ve got the language locked down, so I think between the two of us, we could totally make that happen.
Christian Krogstad (35:42):
We’ll talk more about this.
Colleen Moore (35:45):
What are some of your favorite Japanese products? What are you enjoying drinking from there?
Christian Krogstad (35:53):
It’s funny that, like I said earlier, people tend to want the small and the rare and the old. My very favorite of the Suntory products is the Hakushu 12, they’re sort of the young molt. I think, their best foot forward, very balanced, very flavorful, very drinkable, with a lot of interesting characteristics to it. It is a blend of a number of different barrels. They’re using some used wine barrels. They’re using a portion of peated malt. It’s a broad range of flavors and that’s why it’s so interesting and complex. Like I said, that’s what my favorite thing from the larger manufacturers/distillers in Japan. I also have a lot of fun with the Chichibu products that Ichuros malts because they are small. I think that they’re putting down. Well, they just completed a new distillery that increases their capacity. I’m not sure how much. I haven’t been to the new facility. It’s like literally just online this last summer. But before that, I think they were filling maybe around 500 casks a year. So definitely, a craft production that would be something in the range of maybe 12,000 cases a year. Really everything they do is small and limited. And, they’re really good at including their fans in the process. They have a lot of different expressions of whiskey that show different characteristics, whether it’s different malts or different barrels or whatnot. Because, they are so highly sought after, it can be challenging to find their products. But when you do, it’s always interesting to see what it is because there’s so much variety in it.
Colleen Moore (38:02):
That’s cool. So, you’ve given us a couple of things that we could maybe try at home if we can get our hands on them.
Christian Krogstad (38:11):
I mean, you can find the Chichibu or Ichiro’s Malt whiskeys. You can mostly find them in online retailers and stuff. You’re not gonna find them at your local Von’s market or whatever Liquor Barn – you might, I don’t know.
Colleen Moore (38:27):
On how good the staff is at the Liquor Barn. Right?
Christian Krogstad (38:31):
Yeah. Some of these things just aren’t, they don’t make it every state.
Colleen Moore (38:36):
it’s like collecting all the state quarters. You look at your change every time and you’re like, Ooh, I’ve got two Iowa. So, where else in the world have you gone and what’s maybe some of the best things that you’ve seen or done in the past month, two months, three months?
Christian Krogstad (38:57):
We just opened up Singapore. We are now available in Singapore, which is pretty exciting. So I’ve been there twice in the last few months. That’s really fun for me because, the food there is so great. Like I said, I travel for food. It’s also a great whiskey market. I think, that’s something that we’re finding is that, there is a lot of interest in American whiskey around the world. I mean, there’s a lot of interest in whiskey around the world. And American whiskey has a good reputation, whether it’s bourbon or rye, or single malt. When we’re first introducing it, people assume that it’s bourbon because, that’s what American whiskey is conflated with. But, people are pretty quickly understand once we start explaining that- well, if you can make single malt whiskey in a every other country in the world, why not in the U.S. In particular, Singapore is a very advanced market. They have been a big market for Scottish single malts and Japanese single malts. So, it’s just a small intellectual step to go from Japanese single malt to American single malt.
Colleen Moore (40:25):
How much does the real world parachute into your travels related to the brand?
Christian Krogstad (40:35):
We’re also exporting to Hong Kong and that has really affected our distribution into Hong Kong. It’s just slowing it down and we don’t know where that all is going. I mean, there are always considerations. We started distributing in Europe, and then we’re getting some trade tariffs slapped on our products. And so it’s more expensive to sell into Europe. We view those things as, they’re temporary. The other sort of bigger factor right now is just that, the dollar is so strong that it makes our products more expensive than they normally would be in export. But, those things are like the weather it’s going to change and when it does, it’s going to change for the better.
Colleen Moore (41:34):
All you can do is keep your head down and keep going. So, you with the name Krogstad seem to be quite involved in Scandinavian culture there. And you’ve even recently traveled up to Scandinavia. Tell me a little bit about that trip.
Christian Krogstad (41:52):
It was primarily, a holiday, but a visit a couple of distilleries in Oslow. It was interesting to see they have a very different approach to marketing and production there. It’s a state monopoly just like in Oregon, but a puff their taxes are quite a bit higher. I was there in June and into early July. It’s a very different culture. The whiskey has always been popular, but Aquavit is the King. Most of the consumption of Aquavit is at home, family dinners and so forth. Aquavit is from Scandinavia. We really only see about five or six different Scandinavian Aquavit brands here in the U.S. But just as is happening here in Scandinavia, there’s a profusion of craft distilleries opening up. So, you go into a liquor store in Sweden and there’s dozens and dozens of Aquavit’s available.
Colleen Moore (43:04):
Were you like a kid in a candy store and you’re like, I’ve never seen this one. I’ll take one of those. And those and those…
Christian Krogstad (43:10):
And in certain bars and tried a lot of different documents. So yeah, it’s really fun.
Colleen Moore (43:15):
Do you remember some of the holiday! Good for you! Well, thank you for talking with me about all your amazing travels and if you ever need a travel assistant, I’m really good at booking tickets and finding people to give tours. So keep that in mind.
Christian Krogstad (43:34):
I will do that.
Colleen Moore (43:35):
Cool. Well thanks Christian. I really appreciate your time and talking with you. You’re my favorite foodie in Portland.
Christian Krogstad (43:43):
All right, well let me know next time you’re coming out, I’ll take you somewhere new.
Colleen Moore (43:48):
A special thanks to Christian Krogstad from “House Spirits” for joining me to discuss his story in this business and what he’s discovered about Japanese whiskey through his travels. He definitely has had an amazing and wild ride. He’s actually so easy going about all of the ups downs, twists, turns. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps that is a Portland thing. If you’re going to the ACSA convention, at the end of March, 2020, maybe you and I can figure that out together. In our next few episodes, listen for our Portland recommendations to try while you’re in town. Portland dining month is through the whole month of March, so there are plenty of places to try three courses for $33. However, since Christian is from Portland and also the quintessential foodie, I took the opportunity to ask him for his favorite restaurant picks.
Colleen Moore (44:41):
Quick before I go, what are your top three choices for restaurants in Portland?
Christian Krogstad (44:48):
Bullard is really killing it right now, that’s a Doug Adams place at the Woodlark hotel. There’s a seafood restaurant called Headwaters. One of Vitaly Paley’s places. It is at the Heathman hotel, very beautiful room, great seafood restaurant. I had loved Trifecta. Unfortunately, they are closing the end of the year. There’s TOURNAUNT. They’re open to the public maybe two or three nights a week for various events. The menu is always changing. They’ll do oyster social or a Pisole night. It’s always changing. So I would say TOURNAUNT is a pretty fun spot.
Colleen Moore (45:37):
Christian mentioned Bullard at the Woodlark hotel and they build that restaurant as where Texas meets Oregon. It’s located near iconic Pioneer Courthouse Square, so that one should be pretty easy to find. Headwaters and the Heathman hotel is a bit North of the downtown district. And while we may have missed Trifecta, it closed at the end of 2019. But the James Beard award winning chef has a standout pizza joint named checkerboard pizza. It claims to marry New York and Italian pizza styles together. So that sounds promising. My picks for a nice restaurant would be in Southeast Portland in a place called Clark Lewis, focusing on a Northwest style of cuisine. If you want a vibrant bar scene, I would check out Backwoods brewing company or even the Deschutes brewery and public house, both of which are in the Pearl District. And if you’re looking for a speakeasy with a complex cocktail menu, try the Subterranean Voysey in Southeast Portland, which is named in omaj to an English architect named Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, who was a furniture and textile designer. His early work was simple arts and crafts style that made its way onto wallpapers, fabrics, patterns, and even furnishings. You’ll find influences from his life, design and art throughout the Voysey space. If you want a great view of downtown Portland and potentially – depending on the weather – perhaps the Willamette river or even Mount St. Helens, checkout Departure Restaurant and Lounge. It is billed with a modern Asian food menu and is located at top the historic Meyer and Frank building. Of course, there are the iconic Voodoo Doughnuts to eat and more beer and coffee than you can shake a stick at. There’s actually so many good choices in PDX. It’s hard to narrow it all down. We will link all of the restaurants we just mentioned on our show notes page, so you can look one up when you are at the ACSA convention. And just for fun while you’re there, tune into my favorite radio station in the entire country, KNRK 94.7 who is still using the logo that I designed for them almost 10 years ago. God bless him.
Colleen Moore (47:59):
If I’ve missed any stand out restaurant, send me an email and I’ll get them list it on our site asap. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a giant thank YOU goes out to you for downloading and listening to this episode of our podcast. Don’t forget to like, share, subscribe, even if you like just a tiny bit of today’s show, it really helps out with our shows vital statistics.
Colleen Moore (47:59):
If you want more information about this show, go to the show notes on our website, www.dalkita.com/shownotes where we will have links to the people, places and things mentioned today. There is even a real live transcript of the show to share with all your friends and you can post a short comment for our team to obsess over dissect, and even infer your tone and judge your grammar. Our theme music was composed by Jason Shaw and is used under creative comments, attribution 3.0 license. The final shout out goes to the man that puts all of this together, our sound editor, Daniel Phillips of zero crossing productions. Until next time, seriously guys stay safe out there. I’m Colleen Moore from Dalkita, and this has been the Distilling Craft podcast.
Dalkita Sponsor (47:59):
Dalkita is committed to getting intelligent and quality design solutions out of the Craft Distilling Industry. Check them out at their website: www.dalkita.com. Until next time, this has been Distilling Craft. Cheers!
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