At the heart of our brand there’s a story, an inspiration cultivated from history and a promise to create spirits without limitation or boundary.
The Horyzon story begins with one of the world’s most well-known and widely produced domestic grains. For thousands of years, rice has long been a staple ingredient in food production. It remains the most valuable crop in the world, consumed by millions of people every day. Rice production in America predates the United States. As the British colonies expanded, the cultivation of rice – particularly Carolina Gold rice – stretched along the east coast from lower North Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. And, while the 20th century saw rice production shift toward the Mississippi River Basin and Sacramento Valley, coastal Carolina reemerged as a producer in the 1980s, as farmers and chefs re-established these heirloom grains as a culinary staple of Southern cuisine. Today, the US remains one of the world’s largest producers of rice mostly grown across five states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, California and South Carolina.
Inspired by this small slice of history, the founders of Horyzon set out on a journey to connect others with our American pastime and create a new expression of whiskey to be shared with all our friends and family.
As it turns out, rice doesn’t handle as well as barley or rye with the traditional western-style malting process seen across familiar whiskeys and bourbons. In order to unlock the rich starch content, we had to turn half-way across the world to discover production techniques that have been crafted for hundreds of years. Asian production of rice-based alcoholic beverages dates back over 2,000 years. In Japan specifically, family-owned distilleries have perfected ways to bring out the unique flavors and aromas of rice in their spirits using a unique ingredient called koji to break down the rice starch and transform into sugar. Those recipes and distillation techniques have been passed from generation to generation and an integral part of Japanese tradition.
In 2014, we started to trial and test the delicate combination of American rice and Japanese koji to release our own expressions of rice whiskey. In 2021, we released our first rice spirit using American ingredients blended with traditional Japanese style techniques. Over the coming years, we plan to release new expressions of our rice whiskey through grain combinations, barrel blending, barrel aging, and barrel finishing techniques.
We look forward to hearing from you as we create the new standard for American rice whiskey.
Not all rice is the same. Spirits distilled from rice require the right combination of starch content, polishing potential, water absorption, and steaming capability. Japanese rice grains such as Yamadanishiki, which are used specifically in making sake and shochu, have been bred over hundreds of years to express those ideal characteristics. In order to find rice grains with similar profiles, we worked directly with scientists at notable agricultural universities to sort through high yield, medium grain species in current production. For Harvest Select, we selected a medium grain variety with a higher starch content and its ability to absorb water. Quality soil also plays an integral role. For Southern Blend, we specifically selected Charleston Gold Rice from the farms along coastal South Carolina where regular flooding provides essential nutrients to the soil.
Water quality has a significant impact on the overall taste and smoothness of a finished spirit. Therefore, we selected water from the Pine Mountain ridge in Blue Springs, Georgia where pristine, natural water flows from a deep quartzite spring. Every fermentation is made using this water.
Black koji, our most important ingredient, comes from the humid, tropical islands of Okinawa which share a similar humid climate to coastal South Carolina and Georgia in the summer months. We selected black koji for its ability to produce natural citric acid and protect the fermentation which is susceptible to bacterial growth. Black koji gives the mash a deep, complex, tropical flavor.