7/23

DISTILLING NATURE – JAPANESE TURN WOOD INTO BOOZE; OREGONIANS FOCUS ON BEER

When you think of Japanese spirits, you probably don’t think of Douglas fir notes or Western larch bark bits.

But that might be changing.

While Japan is best known for its sake and rice-infused concoctions, the South China Morning Post reports Japanese researchers are developing a new technique for making alcohol by fermenting wood, paving the way for the creation of the world’s first wood liquor.

The two-week distilling process requires water, wood chips and yeast — all ingredients Oregon excels at producing. The final product has an alcohol content of 20 percent and the unique aroma of cherry tree and cedar.

Oregon like Japan, has one of the highest ratios of forest area, and both regions embrace creative ways to utilize this abundance.

Breweries, distilleries and vineyards top the list of must-see activities when visiting Oregon. And the industry has already been working with its friends in forestry — and not just with evergreen-inspired brews such as Deschutes Pinedrops IPA or Rogue’s Juniper Ale.

Willamette Week reports Wolf Tree Brewery, located in Seal Rock, incorporates soft Sitka spruce tips into its tasty blend.

Even Oregon brewers who aren’t experimenting with tree parts, rely upon the forests. Up to 95 percent of alcohol beverages are water. And it is impossible to have good clean water without healthy resilient forests. But not all water is created equal, according to the Oregon Water Quality Index, the highest quality water comes from forested watersheds.

More fun facts: Oregon ranks number one in the percent of money spent on craft beer and is home to over 250 breweries. Nowhere does a finely fermented microbrew, a craft whiskey or a glass of cabernet taste better than in the woods.

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