SOKA combines distillates of fermented fresh sorghum juice and syrup. The fresh juice lends springy, green flavors of melon, cucumber, and green apple, with the syrup bringing forward darker aromas of harvest, and notes of hay and toasted honey. The use of a third fermentation inspired by the production of Jamaican rum contributes a touch of fermented grass and brininess, binding everything together.
Fresh cut grass,
Sorghum Cane, Thai Rice Chong Yeast
Enjoy neat, with cola or twist on a Mojito
SOKA is an intersection of flavors bound by our incessant curiosity and one key ingredient: sorghum.
Come with us to Rolling Meadows farm, Lake Elkhart, Wisconsin, and learn more about SOKA's inception, the importance of sorghum, and its incredible flavors.
Fermentation is a large part of our creative process, as is our constant search for new sources of sugar, the key to it all. So, when sorghum came to mind, it got us thinking. This truly ancient grain is the fifth most produced cereal crop worldwide, playing a large role in beer production across Africa and Asia. But what about the stalk that supports it? Where are all the sorghum-based spirits of the world? And so we delved further, looking into sorghum’s rich history, properties and high sugar content.
To begin with, we started fermenting sorghum syrup and decided to also experiment with fresh cane juice from European sorghum. We tried strain upon strain of yeast from our neighbor White Labs Copenhagen until we came across a winner: Thai Rice Chong. The resulting ferment delivered aromas and flavors reminiscent of freshly cut grass, green apples and barnyards. We were hooked – and we had a vision.
Excited and ready for more, we headed to Wisconsin to get our hands on sorghum syrup and juice from veteran hobbyists-turned-experts Richard and Brenda Wittgreve.
SOKA connects people to the flavors of the land. And this starts with Richard and Brenda Wittgreve from Rolling Meadows, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
With our juice in place, time was of the essence to avoid contamination and keep the flavor intact. First we pressed the juice before taking it to Central Standard Distillery in Milwaukee where it fermented over three days.
Meet the amazing team behind Central Standard Craft Distillery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
We had experimented with dunder in the past when working with molasses, inspired by the fermentation methods used in Jamaican distilleries. In SOKA; we reuse the leftover wash from the distillation of our fermented juice, to ferment our syrup before distilling it. This process concentrates critical esters and contributes notes of fermented grass and a touch of brininess.
The next step? To preserve all the wonderful esters, which meant turning to vacuum distillation. But our equipment was in Copenhagen, so we took what we could find at hand, gave it a tweak here and there, and voila: a vacuum still was born, and the problem solved.
Once distilled,our syrup (50%) and fermented juice (50%) cuts are blended to become the fully formed SOKA:
All of which is to say that for us, overall, SOKA is about connections.
Our connection to learning, to the history of sorghum, to the endless possibilities this grain and the world have to offer … and to flavor.