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Whiskymag 137 July _Aug 2016

Triple Eight Distillery

The Notch Malt Whisky

Originally founded by Dean and Melissa Long in 1995 as Cisco Brewers they expanded into distilling with the building of the Triple Eight Distillery in 2000 becoming the region’s first micro-distillery.


Named after its ultra pure water source, well #888, Triple Eight Distillery makes a variety of premium spirits, all of which are hand crafted in small batches using only natural ingredients.


In addition to their flagship product, Triple Eight Vodka, they make Triple Eight Orange Vodka, Hurricane Rum, Gale Force Gin and Notch (“not scotch”) single malt whiskey, the first release of which took place on the 8th of August 2008.


Quoted as the “hard stuff that’s hard to get” this tag is noticeably changing. Currently distributed in 12 states and growing quickly, they have recently been the beneficiary of much national media exposure (The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, Boston Magazine, Agenda Magazine, Elle Magazine and much more).


Yet perhaps their strongest marketing force is the beautiful island of Nantucket itself and its 200,000 visitors each year.

Launch of Triple Eights Nantucket Whisky

“The Notch”


August 8, 2008 was a special day in Nantucket’s long and venerable history. This date was particularly auspicious for the Triple 8 Distillery that was established in the year 2000 as Massachusetts first Micro distillery.  Born as a brewery back in 1995 as Cisco Brewers, Triple Eight began making whisky with the help of George McClements, production manager for Morrison Bowmore in Scotland.


With Mr. McClements help, Dean Long, founder and co-owner of Nantucket Vineyards and Triple 8, studied the art of distillation and managed to barrel down the distillery's first whisky. This was the first ever legally produced whisky on Nantucket Island. The whisky is made from Maris Otter malt which the brewery mashes and ferments and then sells to the distillery as wash or young beer.


Blessed with Nantucket’s air with the requisite amounts of fog and terrific well water, Mr. Long was starting with “2 aces up his sleeve” so to speak. Combined with his distilling skills and patience, the end result was bound to be an audacious single malt whisky. The results are in on this first ever Nantucket produced whisky named “The Notch”.


The company had planned back in 2000 to celebrate the release of their first ever Whisky as well as tip their hat to their name. It called for and was the reason to be for a special occasion that occurred on Friday, August 8, 2008 at the rustic location and comfortable environs known as Nantucket Vineyard, Cisco Brewers and Triple Eight Distillers. The invited party guests and people fortunate to obtain tickets were treated to a friendly small crowd and the entire facility was decked out in celebration mode.


An enormous 90 foot long white tent with waving flags from the tops of the tent poles covered a lovely setting with beautifully decorated tables making for a very inviting setting was accompanied by weather that could not have been better.


The first ever Triple 8 whisky tasting was accompanied by the world’s biggest toast on and island at 8 P.M. with 5112 mini martinis being hoisted, hor d’oeuvres, a fantastic 5 course dinner and then Jay Harman, president of the distillery, addressed the guests. He spoke a bit about the history of the Distillery, Brewery and Winery, thanked numerous individuals and then introduced the most important man in whisky, recognized by all as such, a man who has visited and tasted virtually all of the world’s legal distilled whisky’s, Mr. Jim Murray.


Mr. Harman said “I am proud to introduce you to the planet’s foremost authority on whisky, in fact he writes the “Whisky Bible”, a serious, independent book that rates the world’s whisky’s, Mr. Jim Murray from the United Kingdom.” Mr. Murray took the podium and regaled, educated and joked with the guests. He had the tent in stitches.


Most importantly, and certainly a nerve-wracking gamble for the distiller and partners, was the fact the Mr. Murray is known for not pulling punches. In other words he tells it like it is. If the whisky was average or worse, he would call it likes he sees it. The whisky man is not for sale, is fiercely independent and his livelihood depends on getting it right. So there was a lot of anticipation and trepidation about what he would have to say on this 8 year long project that was seeing its first light of day.


Nerves were frayed, the distillers along with their families and employees decidedly on edge. Was this experiment a success or was it a boondoggle?


Mr. Murray was ebullient. He explained that after pulling samples of the first 8 barrels and creating an extensive tasting panel for blending, Mr. Long and Mr. Murray came up with what Jim Murray called "a superb dram!"  Jim gave this a score of 92 on his whisky rating scale. According to the Whisky Bible this rare rating makes this an exceptional whisky, called brilliant. Triple 8 has succeeded in producing a world-class premium whisky.


Mr. Murray commented on how the younger barrels seem to have aged up to 2 times faster than that of a similar aged whisky in Scotland. This faster aging process is due to a variety of reasons but primarily can be attributed to the fog and the temperature spike that Nantucket sees in the summer.  He also stated that there are many distilleries in Scotland who would only dream of making whisky this good.  Mr. Murray said that the guys behind the whisky project, Dean Long, Randy Hudson and Jay Harman should think about expansion and really start doing this full time.


Jay Harman said the night of the launch, "If it was not for Dean's attention to detail, Randy's great beer brewing skills and George McClements' advice on how to operate the still we would not be here today sampling such fine whisky. But, what really makes it all worthwhile is when someone like Jim Murray, who Dean claims has the best nose for tasting that he has ever seen, comes along and totally appreciates the time and heritage that goes into every cask and then raises a glass and toasts, "There once was a whisky from Nantucket, so good you could drink it by the bucket!" “


Unfortunately, the gentlemen who tend to the still also have a brewery, winery and distillery to run, with products reaching as far south as Florida and as far west as Las Vegas. Good whisky takes time and with such a small supply it’s no wonder bottles of The Notch are retailing for Eight Hundred Eighty Eight Dollars ($888.00).


 The first bottle was released on 08/08/08 and purchased for Seven Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($7500.00).  This blend was a combination of several barrels that Mr. Long and Mr. Murray, respectively the master distiller and the world's whisky authority and author of the Whiskey Bible, tasted prior to the event.  

Triple Eight Distillery

5 & 7 Barlett Farm Road


Massachusetts 02584


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Tours by appointment

(508 325 5929)