Distilling Fielden Rye Whisky

When you observe a field over the seasons, you almost feel you start to understand the circle of life. The constant evolution of stages shows you what nature can and should mean. You will never again encounter this field in this exact same state. There are moments after harvest where all you can see is straw lying on the ground, small green plants interspersed, trying to catch the sunlight. Later, that straw is gone, almost as if those green plants swallowed it. But, they are not responsible. The fungi, bacteria and all the soil life were in charge of that; decomposing it, turning what was organic matter into other forms.

Fielden Rye Whisky in bed of clover

It’s like the soil is the mother of all things above it. If this planet was only hard rock, there would be so little life above it. So few plants, animals, insects, no music, no dancing. The soil keeps the water, filters it, keeps our base chemicals and transforms them into life in all its many forms. It is the home for all beings. Soil makes our lives possible.

Above ground, it is when temperatures start to rise that you understand how diverse and lively the fields can and should be. A rainbow of colours, different flowers; purple, yellow, red, dancing with the blossoms appearing in the hedgerows. Bees arrive, birds fly. The grain grasses slowly rise, almost unexpectedly for the impatient ones who have waited months for their emergence. The ones who thought the weeds had taken over forever. But nothing is forever in nature, only nature herself.

Fielden Rye

Our whisky comes from these fields full of life. They are the inspiration for every step of our whisky making process. We wanted to express life, the seasons, the diversity, and to start with, we were lost on how to do so. But we realised that to express diversity, the concept must flow from field to bottle.

We practise a diverse and complex way of making whisky. We give the grains every chance to express themselves, in all directions. We cannot deny the impact a yeast or fermentation temperature has in the fermentation process, even more the impact of a cask on the final spirit. But, we must never forget the grains. For the base of any whisky is grain. It is the bedrock of what we do.

Every grain has a set composition of chemicals by the time it is milled and mashed. Molecules that will influence how they ferment, regardless of what the temperature is or of what yeast is used. Of course, different yeasts will thrive better with specific grain recipes or molecules, but then the grain impacts how the ferment distils, both in a direct and indirect way. If there are more heads or tails, we may get a fruitier or earthier spirit.

Rye Field and Neat serve of Fielden Rye Whisky

In nature, there is constant transformation. Our fields and our whisky are no different. From the soil condition and the natural genetic diversity of the grain, through to the changes in each specific growing season; there is always change. Each process of fermentation and distillation also changes how the spirit matures in the cask. And with different casks, the combination of all of these elements can again be varied. We enable the expression of our fields full of life, and in so doing we deliver whiskies full of flavour.

We used a wide range of casks to produce our signature whisky. In the end, if we used only refilled casks we wouldn’t unlock the full flavour potential of our grains. We love grooving in the making, connecting with nature and allowing diversity - in field, grain and cask - to gift us a wide flavour profile.

Fielden Rye is composed of rye, malted rye, wheat and malted barley, processed in different recipes, fermented in different oak and stainless steel vessels, distilled in different stills with different shapes and heating and condensing designs and matured in different environments. We love American oak with rye. But we also like French oak and strong white wines like Moscatel, Sauternes and Madeira. They all allow our spirits to reveal more Fielden notes without overpowering our whisky with wine character.

Column and pot distillation are both hugely important to us. Each style allows us to capture specific attributes from our grains with more or less refined results. It’s all about balancing the expressions and thinking about the maturation style ahead. By using both methods, we are able to concentrate aromas and their precursors like straw, earth, pastry, flowers or herbal expressions.

We make whiskies where grain is mashed, fermented and distilled. In other batches, we separate the grain from the sugary wort before fermentation. This variability alone highly impacts the final result, so we keep producing both ways. The blending of both methods, as well as the blending of different grain recipes constantly delivers minor variances, batch after batch. With this, we ensure we develop our flavours, deliver constant quality, and keep perfecting the expression of the fields, harvest after harvest.

Francisco (Chico) Rosa

Chico Rosa, Whiskymaker Fielden