Hodgson Mill: How a 5 lb Bag of Flour Turned Into All-American Whiskey [BrandScape]
Hodgson Mill is a family-owned company that’s been in the grain business since the late 1800s. We’re still stone-grinding grains like Master Millwright Alva Hodgson did all those years ago – taking away nothing, adding nothing, and keeping a tradition of natural goodness.
Sharpening Pink Granite Millstone
We’ve always been big into grains, making the highest quality, most consistent stone-ground flours, corn meals, cereals, and whole grain baking mixes like muffin and pancake mixes. If you’ve been in a grocery store in the last 100 years, you’ve probably seen our famous red water-driven grain mill logo. Maybe you’ve got some of our products in your pantry right now!
The Call That Got Us Started in Specialty Craft Spirits Distilling Grains
It was definitely a pleasant surprise when we discovered there was demand for our products for the craft spirits distilling industry. How we got started was, a few years back we heard pretty much out of the blue from a mid-sized distillery in the Midwest.
They told us they had been concerned about poor yield for a while, and they had actually gone to a local grocery store and picked up various flours including our stone-ground rye flour, to test for options that would work with their process.
From Retail Shelf to Super Sack to Truck Load
The distillery said they liked the results with our rye, and they wanted to know, “Can you pack this in super sacks?” We told them that’s right up our alley. (Supersacks are totes of 1000-3000lbs, that sit on pallets for easier shipping/receiving.)
They wanted a specific corn-rye blend, recommended by a distilling consultant because they believed it would give them the yield they were looking for. No problem, custom blending is our bread & butter. (That’s grain mill humor!) They placed an order for a few super sacks, we got it on a truck within a couple days, and they’ve been ordering truckloads ever since.
Finding Partners with Heart
Right away we felt at home working with craft distilleries on their own specific needs for grains, blends, and pack sizes. We’ve learned now that just about every distillery’s setup is different; it’s nice to be able to offer each one options that will work from them – some distilleries can handle a few 3000-pound totes at a time; some can only do 25 or 50-pound sacks. It’s a little bit of a puzzle, since there’s no one-size-fits-all.
And personally, it’s been refreshing to meet people who care so deeply about the quality and flavor of grains – we source, purchase, clean and grind millions of pounds of Non-GMO corn, wheat, rye, oats, and barley a year. (It can be hard to strike up interesting conversation about that at a dinner party. Learning that grains can contribute up to 25% of craft spirits’ final flavor has made us MUCH more interesting.) Seriously though, finding a new niche of people to work with who value and appreciate the flavor and unique qualities of grains is a pleasure.
At the end of the day, we aim to provide people (whether they’re amateur breadbakers, or master distillers) with the ingredients they need in a way that works for them. What we want to hear from our distillery partners is that our order came in right on time, and that they’re getting better yield with our quality product than they’d seen before.
Our family definitely plans to keep providing the same consistent quality grains year after year that will help all our partners succeed. (And we look forward to sampling the results.)
Find the craft spirits grains you’ve been waiting for here.
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