Distilling Dreams

Desert Diamond Distillery is proving its versatility yet again, with the upcoming release of its very first batch of whiskey. The Kingman distillery is known for its award-winning rums and has also produced vodka, but in the New Year it will present its newest spirit.
John and Deb Patt opened Desert Diamond Distillery in 2010, where they craft their signature Gold Miner spirits from start to finish with a state-of-the-art still from Arnold Holstein in Germany. The 1000-liter still has a double stack and a semi-automation process that was one of the first in the craft industry, designed by Bavarian-Holstein Partners.
The process for creating whiskey is similar to that of rum, except it calls for a grain base instead of sugarcane, John Patt said.
He made a single-barrel wheat whiskey, which has been aging in the barrel room for seven years. Patt tasted the whiskey each year and decided the flavor was ready for release in 2019, he said.
“As far as how long it ages was strictly my choice,” Patt said. “We have had a lot of desire for me to bottle it and it’s a very good whiskey right now.”
The Patts are inviting the public to an exclusive dinner party on Saturday, Jan. 5 to celebrate the upcoming release, where guests can pre-order a bottle of the D3 whiskey.
The dinner will include live entertainment, two featured cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a four-course dinner prepared with Gold Miner rum. Tickets are on sale now for $60 a person, and can be reserved by calling 928-757-7611.
Tours of the distillery and barrel room are available Thursday-Monday, for just $5 per person. Patt tells guests about the distillation process and his products, and then guests may choose to sample a few afterward.
They offer an “all in” flight for $10 per person, which includes a sampling of each spirit and a souvenir shot glass.
In the front store the Patts sell their liquor, along with a variety of oil and vinegar flavors, and a vanilla extract they make. They also have shirts, novelty gift items, artwork and organic drink mixes on sale in their gift shop.
A unique souvenir visitors may purchase is a mini version of their D3 barrels. Guests can bottle their rum with Patt and take home their own 5-liter barrel with a tap.
The spirits Patt crafts include a light rum, dark rum, 3-year single barrel reserve, 5-year single barrel reserve, agave rum, and a vodka that is made from the light rum.
All of their spirits have won awards at festivals, including a recent silver medal in the 2018 International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for their 5-year reserve. The silver medal is an outstanding achievement, as Patt said there has yet to be a gold medal awarded to a craft rum from the USA in the competition. Certainly a goal for D3 in next year’s competition.
Patt prides himself on the smooth, yet flavorful blends that make his spirits so popular.
“I make spirits for you to drink neat,” Patt said. “That’s my job. I want to show you what I can do with the spirit.”
And the proof is in the pudding. A tasting at D3 reveals the time and care that went into crafting each bottle. The variety of spirits ensures that every connoisseur will find a flavor that suits their fancy as well.
The light rum is nice and soft, and mixes well for cocktails. It is redistilled to 190 proof to make vodka. The dark rum has bourbon-like characteristics, and an oaky finish.
The 3-year reserve has a bit of a peppery taste and resembles an Irish whiskey. The 5-year reserve has a notably softer finish, and is a little sweeter with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg.
The agave is D3’s best seller, which is no surprise after tasting a sip. Patt adds real agave nectar and a few other natural flavors on top of the dark rum and the sweet honey-like flavor stands out, making it a real treat.
Patt explained the process of creating his spirits from raw plants to bottling.
“I do everything but grow the cane,” Patt said.
He uses sugar cane molasses from Louisiana for his rum, which has to ferment. This is the most important part of the process, Patt said, because at this stage “if you screw it up, you cannot fix it.”
He then runs it through the still, and it comes out at 175 proof. Patt uses a semi-automated system, a unique technology for a small-scale distillery, which allows him to produce his rum by himself. It ages in new oak barrels until being bottled for purchase.
Patt is excited to be nearing the ten-year mark of his business, as then he will have a platinum reserve.
“We got in this business to age spirits,” Patt said. “That’s really what identifies us as a long-term distillery.”
The Patts host dinners and barbecues at the distillery throughout the year, accommodate bus tours, and are also available for private parties.
D3 will soon have another attraction. In 2017 the Patts purchased a Pullman train car that is 100 years old, and plan to host tours and dinners inside the car once renovations are finished.
The distillery is located at 4875 Olympic Drive in Kingman, Arizona. For more information visit the D3 website at DesertDiamondDistillery.com.

HOW IT’S MADE

Whiskey boils down to three ingredients — water, yeast and grain. The choice of grain is up to the maker and may be a combination of barley, corn, wheat, oats and rye. Patt used wheat as the grain base for his Gold Miner whiskey.
The grain is ground into a meal and cooked with water to break down the starch granules. All whiskeys contain at least some malted barley. To malt the barley, it must be watered for weeks until it sprouts, Then it must be dried out, heated and ground.
The next step is mashing ­— mixing the cooked grain and malted barley with warm water. After several hours of mashing, the starches in the grain will turn into sugar.
Next the mash must be transferred to a wooden or steel vessel to ferment. Yeast is added to the mixture, which converts the sugars to alcohol. After a few days of fermentation, the liquid produced is known as “distiller’s beer,” as it will be only around 10 percent alcohol.
Now it is time for distilling — the liquid goes into the still for a continuous process of evaporation and condensation as steam enters from the bottom and the distiller’s beer drips slowly from the top. After one run through the still, the liquid produced is called “low wine.” After a second distillation, it becomes “high wine,” containing about 70 percent alcohol.
Water is added to the liquid to reduce the alcohol content before it is put in a new oak barrel for aging. The barrels are typically placed in a dry, warm room so the whiskey loses water and becomes more alcoholic as it ages. The oak adds flavor as the liquid moves back and forth within the pores of the wood.
The maker chooses how long to let the whiskey age, as there are no set rules. Once it reaches a desirable taste, it can be bottled right from the barrel.