Capturing and culturing the Daisy Spring Distillery yeast strain

If you have been reading for a while you probably remember me posting last year about capturing the yeast strain used at the now infamous McCoy Distillery in Orange County Indiana. I ended up employing that strain last fall in a practical demonstration at Locust Grove farm Distillery (the mash was later distilled by my brother Jade Peterson at Kentucky Artisan Distillery) last fall where we were filmed by Townsend’s making historic apple mash/apple jack brandy. The video is below:

In the meantime I’ve been doing a lot of research on the old Daisy Spring Distillery located in Lawrence County Indiana at Spring Mill State Park. I started wondering about the feasibility of capturing the strain used here by Johnathan Turley at the end of the 19’th century after speaking about the history of Distilling in Southern Indiana at the mill there this last Saturday and finding out that the logs (as well as the remaining hogshead and scrap staves) are original to the building. I decided that the chances of catching yeast from the site were pretty damn good, particularly given the luck I had at the McCoy Distillery.
On Monday i prepped two quart jars of mash at home. Corn malt, Marris Otter, and just a tiny bit of sweet corn and placed one jar inside a rebuilt hogshead and another next to an original hogshead designed to look like a flake stand for a worm. Near this was an old hollowed out log that used to be a storage bin for Distillery grain that is now filled with old hogshead/fermentation barrel staves. Tuesday evening I picked up the sample jars and by Tuesday night they were running fast and hard!

The aroma of the yeast is unlike any I have ever captured before, it’s cinnamon, but not cinnamon alone, in fact the closest thing that comes to mind is Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. I have no doubt this will be a great Distilling yeast as it finished Fermentation by Friday morning and I’m now propigation it with plans to incorporate it into Distilling at several permitted historic sites.
I have no way to prove or verify this is the strain used by the Distillery but given it’s unique quality aromatics and ability to synthesize sugar to alcohol quickly and efficiently I have no reason to believe otherwise and I look forward to seeing what she can do!IMG_20190429_163910237.jpg

5 thoughts on “Capturing and culturing the Daisy Spring Distillery yeast strain

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  1. You may be the coolest human ever. Well done, sir, well done indeed. *initiate slow clap*

    I’m a bread baker, and my sourdough culture dates back to 1820’s from Schnersheim *near Strasbourg) … and I LOVE YEAST!!!!
    Can’t believe I didn’t know about you before now.. but rest assured, you’ve got a new friend for life in BC, Canada. (By way of New York, Chicago, Leadville Colorado, San Fran and finally, Vancouver BC).

    Just keep doing what you’re doing. The world needs people who love what they do and your pretty awesome! Thanks for being you and keep on rocking!!!


    1. Ellie,

      Great to hear from you! I collect lots of “heritage” and wild yeast from locations locally. I have one from Spring Mill, one from the McCoy Distillery in Orange County Indiana, one from Old Clifty/Cave River Valley distillery, a few strains of Kveik, and even one from a pre-prohibition laugering cave under St Louis! We have used various others as well including pulling a little bark from the pin oak in our front yard every spring for something super special and hyper local.

      It is a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for your comment!


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