Mash Bill: Shadow Ridge Spirits’ Sean Hallman

Shadow Ridge Spirits makes very small batch whiskies in Oceanside, California. Owner and founder, Sean Hallman is a Navy veteran and a consultant. Lisa Hallman teaches school. On the weekends, they make bourbon, barrel-aged rum, and gin.

Distiller: Sean Hallman, Founder, and Distiller at Shadow Ridge Spirits in Oceanside, California

What whiskey first made you say ‘fuck yeah’?

Not my first whiskey, but it was a Glenfarclas. Sorry. It was Scotch.

If you weren’t making whiskey, you’d probably be . . .

I would be on a permanent vacation taking cruises.

What’s a fucked up way you drink whiskey you probably wouldn’t tell anyone if you weren’t filling out this questionnaire?

Bourbon in rootbeer. It’s damn good!

What’s a fucked up way someone you know drinks whiskey that makes you want to throw them off a cliff and seriously, Jesus Hashtag Christ, why, Darryll? Why?

An Uncle of mine drank Scotch in milk. And not good Scotch. I think it was Cutty Sark.

What song will get you onto the floor no matter what?

Tool’s “46 and 2”

Give a quote from a movie you obsess over.

In Something About Mary, when Matt Dillon thought he saw Mary naked, but it was her very elderly neighbor: “First chink in the armor, Ted.” I say that when things are going sideways.

Besides making whiskey, what do you do right?

Grilling. Smoking meat.

Sum up the essence of great whiskey with a single word.

Depth.

Whiskey with an e or whiskey without an e?

With an e.

What moment during distillation strikes you as perfect?

It’s that time between the transition from hearts to tails where you get the fruitness with the hearts and the nuttiness that comes out with the tails.

List three whiskies you love that aren’t yours.
  1. Maker’s Mark Privater Selection
  2. Elijah Craig cask strength
  3. Maker’s 46
Name the single most underrated or overlooked distillery in your state.

Pacific Coast. They’ve won a lot of medals but they’re just not on the map yet. Maybe Henebery. It’s a toss-up.

Name a whiskey you think our readers never heard of.

Shadow Ridge Spirit’s Hallman’s Rye.

What was your most embarrassing mistake as a new distiller?

Putting too much carafa (a roasted malt) in my American single malt. Totally overpowered everything else.

What’s a moment in your life that made you realize life is goddam beautiful?

When my wife and I got married. It was on a cliff. Standing there getting married looking over into the Atlantic ocean. Just the two of us standing there. It just seemed like we were the only two people alive.