In the video interview that accompanies this post, the subjects reference some of the similarities an early-stage distillery might have to a rookie professional athlete. It makes sense that such comparisons would arise, given the interviewees’ identities: Ed Belfour, who earned Hockey Hall of Fame selection as a goaltender, and his son Dayn, also an adept netminder who played at the college level.
The pair have launched a venture called Belfour Spirits. The production facility will eventually be based in North Texas, but we conducted this interview in Statesville, North Carolina. The travel had a lot to do with timing. While the Belfours do the legwork of making plans for physical buildings and finalizing investment, they realize they also need to have some product in the pipeline, because certain spirits need time to age before going to market. They therefore decided to enter into an arrangement to use Statesville-based Southern Distilling’s stills and personnel to help them create some whiskey on a contract basis.
Last week, they assembled a team of experts to taste and evaluate the product as it currently sits in barrels, including variants on bourbons and ryes. In the video, you’ll hear the duo explain the process and some of the outcomes. The feedback they received will determine which products, if any, they should bring to market and in what timeframe.
In many ways, the process resembles that of a sport. Teamwork, for instance, played a crucial role, with tasters, finance experts, and salesmen all contributing to the final strategies. Preparation, something for which the elder Belfour became known as a player, manifested itself in the research they had done on barrels and recipes. And the part about working for months to get one pressure-filled, make-or-break day – that part felt very much like a long season culminating in a huge playoff game.
Did the Belfours win on their big day, or did the tasters tell them their months of work had ended with a blowout loss on the road? Watch the interview to find out and to learn a bit about the fascinating process of evaluating whiskey.