The Origins of Ehime by Lars Williams
“Empirical was not even a year old and a friend had given us an old bourbon barrel. We decided to fill it with our koji based spirit Helena to see what would happen to the flavor and aroma over time in wood. Mark and I envisioned a time far in the future where our kids, or even grandkids would crack the first ever aged barrel that Empirical had produced.
About a year later my dear friend Shinobu Namae, a super talented chef in Tokyo called me with some bad news. The Ehime region of Japan where we’d spent a week learning the traditional style of Shoyu production, had been devastated by a once in a century flooding. Our friend had his ancestral home and factory completely destroyed. Namae-san was putting together a relief fund for the region and asked if there was anything we could donate.
I looked around our distillery; we were selling everything we had as fast as we could produce it but there was that barrel. It was definitely the most valuable product we had, both monetarily and personally. So we bottled it up, named it Ehime after the region that was destroyed by the flooding, and all the sales went to Namae-san’s fundraiser. This first barrel of Ehime is what inspired our new barrel program that is more of an experiment with both time and wood from around the world”