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El Gringo unmasked

By Dominic Roskrow

One whisky distillery in Argentina is strange enough. But two?

The country has two projects underway. I featured one in the last issue. But noes the man behind the second can be unmasked. He blogs as El Gringo, suggested he had already distilled and then wrote a lengthy blog of despair, blaming lack of finance for the possible end of his distilling dream.

As a child I read the "Fox Fire" books about moonshining and how to do it

So what's going on? Are the lunatics taking over the Argentinian asylum? What's going on? Here's the answer.

Meet El Gringo - so the questions are who are you, how did you get to this point, are you distilling and what are your plans?

El Gringo wrote me a book on his background which I'll spare you - but basically he moved to Argentina with an Argentinian woman and although he is not longer with her, he lives in Argentina to be close to his son. Here is his whimsy story:

"I have used the still several times to fabricate vodka, corn whiskey and single malt whisky. 

My name is Steven Twilegar. I was born in Idaho, and I have a still which i have used several times to make vodka, corn whiskey and single malt whisky. 

The Twilegar family history is strewn with whisky makers from their very first arrival. They were farmers who realized it was easier to move liquid grain than dry grain. In more recent times my great uncles were known to make illicit spirits in New York, Kentucky, Nebraska, Missouri and Idaho.

My own fascination with making whisky began when I was a youngster of 12 years old. My father had purchased a series of books called the "Fox Fire" books and in these I read about moonshining and how to do it.

After moving to Argentina the micro-brewery movement was just coming of age. Knowing that the micro-distillery movement followed in the steps of micro-breweries led me to believe that the same could happen in Argentina with a little push. So, for the last two years I have been gathering equipment that was available to purchase and making those that were not.

I purchased my first copper still from Italy which is only 100 litres. After spending a several weeks in the states I managed to bring back several different strains of distiller's yeast and began distilling.

Financing was an issue but a friend and business associate expressed an interest in investing and is also a connoisseur of fine whiskies.

Now we are looking for a piece of land in order to start construction on the distillery.
We plan to purchase or build at least one still of at least 450 litres. We have been talking to an American firm about coming to Argentina and build the still onsite.

We plan to build the distillery outside Trevelin in the province of Chubut which is the gateway to the national park "Los Alerces".Trevelin is a Welsh settled town which happens to some of the best fly fishing in the world. People come from all over the planet to fish for our trout from high end lodges. We expect to begin construction in about six to eight months.

I suspect we will make our first 'commercial' run early in 2014.  In the mean time I will continue to refine my processes. Our plan is to begin by using new charred oak casks, used malbec casks and immersion of two or three different Argentina hard woods.  

We will probabley use smaller casks as well in order to mature the whisky in less time.  Our whisky will be single malt yet very Argentine.  We have no desire to re-create a Scotch, American nor any other whisky."