Buckwheat whisky is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage produced entirely or principally from buckwheat. It is produced in the Brittany region of France and in the United States. Soba shōchū is a similar but weaker beverage produced in Japan. Liquor is also produced from buckwheat honey.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is in fact related to sorrel and rhubarb. It is a type of pseudocereal, being a non-grass used in much the same way as a true cereal. Over a million acres of buckwheat were harvested in the United States in 1918. Its cultivation declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer which increased the productivity of other staples. Buckwheat is gluten-free, and pure buckwheat whisky is an alternative for those who report an allergic response to other whiskies.
The production of buckwheat whisky is comparable to the production of malt whisky, except that all or most of the barley is replaced with buckwheat. Buckwheat malt is produced by soaking the grains in water allowing them to germinate. Once the shoots have appeared, the buckwheat is dried during which process enzymes convert the starch into fermentable sugars. The malt is ground in a mill and is mixed with hot water to produce a sugary liquid. Yeast is added to cause fermentation of the sugars into alcohol which is then distilled at least once to produce a colourless "heart" spirit. The heart is then put into oak casks to mature.
Distillerie des Menhirs
Distillerie des Menhirs is a family-owned business located in the village of Plomelin in Brittany, France. In 1998 the Le Lay family started producing the World's first pure buckwheat whisky, named Eddu Silver. "Eddu" means "buckwheat" in the local Breton language. Eddu Silver is produced from a double distillation in a pot heated by a direct flame, and is aged in French oak casks. It is described as having floral scents of rose and heather, fruity touches of honey, marmalade and spicy notes of nutmeg. Distillerie des Menhirs now produces a range of buckwheat whiskies, including Eddu Gold and Eddu Grey Rock.
Catskill Distilling Company
Pinchgut Hollow Distillery
Heston Farm's Pinchgut Hollow Distillery is located in the town of Fairmont, West Virginia. The distillery has a heritage dating to the prohibition era and uses traditional recipes handed down through the generations.
Corsair Artisan Distillery was licensed in 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee in the former home of Yazoo Brewery. The facility has a 240-gallon classic pot still, dating from circa 1920. It produces Buck Yeah buckwheat whiskey.