By John Garland
UPDATE: Friday, June 6th: We’ve just received word from 11 Wells that the open house will not be happening this Saturday as first announced. It has been rescheduled for Saturday, June 21st, from noon to 4pm. They decided another two weeks was in order to get their distillery in open house-worthy shape. Minnesota 13 will still be on shelves in a week or two as planned. – John Garland
“Alright, I’m going to mix you something, you tell me what it is,” says Bob McManus, uttering one of my favorite phrases. He returns with a glass of pale yellow liquid and adds 11 Wells‘ debut spirit, an unaged whiskey called Minnesota 13.
The mix is grainy, warm, a little sweet and delicious. The mystery liquid is the fermented wort they distill into whiskey, making the drink a mix of Minnesota 13 before and after. They’re calling it The Cannibal and it’ll eventually be served at their cocktail room—a large space adjacent to their main distillery where they used to shoe horses in the old Hamm’s brewery.
For now, they’re focused on bottling Minnesota 13 which should be available on retail shelves in the next week or two. It’s the third un-aged whiskey to debut from a Minnesota distillery, following Panther Distillery’s White Water and Loon Liquors’ Loonshine.
Minnesota 13 is a mellow spirit. It has a well-defined graininess (the mashbill is roughly 40% oats, 40% wheat, 10% corn, 10% barley) though the sip as a whole is accommodating and delicate. The finished spirit will be bottled at 84 proof, but I tasted it at 106 and it didn’t bite back. McManus attributes that to his choice of grains.
“We think oats and wheat don’t get used enough in grain bills,” he says. “They have a really nice soft flavor and mouthfeel.” He suggests mixing the spirit like a fine blanco tequila. It’s just right for a margarita, or with lime juice, kosher salt and Joia grapefruit soda for a killer Paloma.
You can get your first taste of Minnesota 13 at their open house,
this Saturday from noon to 4pm. [Ed: Saturday, June 21st.] The next moves for 11 Wells are to get some whiskey into barrels before embarking on experiments with gin and rum.
11 Wells Spirits, 704 Minnehaha Ave E., Saint Paul, MN