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Readers' Letters: Cheers to good story about distillers

I wanted to express my gratitude to Jennifer Anderson for writing the article regarding the different levels of craft spirits in Oregon (Distillers’ spirited debate, April 18).

I recently opened a tiny distillery out on the coast. I make everything from scratch, not always from Oregon-based ingredients, but in a way where I am milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and maturing on site. I do what I can to educate consumers, but it means so much more when the education comes from someone outside the industry.

It is incredibly disheartening to spend 80 to 100 hours a week producing something that is special to me, and then get lumped into the same category as those who spend a fraction of the time to produce exponentially more product from someone else’s alcohol. There is a difference in distilling for craft and distilling for business. They are both viable and will both always exist, but I am truly grateful to anyone who recognizes the difference and is willing to share that knowledge.

After a very long week, you put a very big smile on my face.

Mike Selberg

Owner, Cannon Beach Distillery

Cannon Beach

Some details about whiskey were wrong

Congratulations to Jennifer Anderson on a thorough and well-done story (Distillers’ spirited debate, April 18). This is, as you can imagine, an issue throughout the country. Interesting that in Portland you found the full gamut, from the dissembling Potemkin to the forthright bottlers to the true grain-to-glass artisans.

I hate to quibble because it really is a good piece, but there are one or two factual problems, all of them in two contiguous paragraphs. You wrote: “Much of the country’s straight bourbon, for example, comes from a wholesaler in Indiana called Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, commonly known as LDI. LDI ships its ‘Kentucky straight whiskey’ all over the world, to be sold under different names.”

First, the name. The distillery formerly known as LDI is now MGP of Indiana. MGP is one of the nation’s largest producers of grain neutral spirits (aka GNS, i.e., vodka). Their acquisition of the former Seagram’s distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ind., is their first foray into the whiskey business. The ownership changed in 2011. Many people still refer to LDI, but it’s not correct.

Since it’s in Indiana, MGP obviously can’t make Kentucky whiskey, although it can and does make bourbon. It’s a pretty big distillery, but most of its capacity is for GNS production. The whiskey portion is relatively small, though it is still macro-scale, not micro.

I know “much” is a very variable term, but MGP of Indiana produces a fairly small share of the country’s straight bourbon, though it makes a relatively larger share of the country’s straight rye. Saying they produce “much” of the country’s straight bourbon is potentially misleading. It would be correct to say that much of the bulk whiskey available for micros to buy comes from them.

They are one of a small number of producers in that part of the business. At present, they are the only macro-scale whiskey distiller that does contract and bulk sales exclusively. Most do it as a sideline to their regular self-branded output. They also are unusual in being willing to do very small-scale business. They’ll sell you one barrel if that’s all you want.Also, MGP of Indiana is not a wholesaler, which is a term of art in the liquor business. They are a producer. I hope this is helpful.

Charles K. Cowdery

Made & Bottled in Kentucky

Chicago

Lack of fluoride isn’t cause of dental woes

Fluoridation. When in doubt leave it out.

Lack of fluoride in the water supply is not the cause of tooth decay; rather, an unhealthy diet and excess sugar. If demonstrably beneficial, fluoride may be applied topically and strategically. Adding a fertilizer industry-promoted, potentially harmful chemical containing fluoride to the water supply is wasteful and perhaps dangerous.

J . Merrit

Southeast Portland

Soil lacks minerals for dental health

I believe the value of fluoridation has been in place for many, many years. One of the first things a good dental office hygienist will tell you is to brush twice per day, floss your teeth and use ACT or any good liquid fluoride after brushing (to supplement fluoridation in the water).

Proven to prevent approximately 50 percent of dental cavities, fluoridation is important in Oregon since the content of Oregon soil does not contain the needed minerals for good teeth. Ask any dentist if you don’t believe me. I was raised in Indiana, on a limestone bed, and have excellent teeth as told to me by my dentist. Native Oregonians have poor teeth.

My lifelong friend, Dr. Drew Oldham, of the Indiana School of Dentistry, has verified my facts. I feel sure any impartial professor of dentistry in any university teaching dentistry in Oregon would do the same. Kip Duchon of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says, as you reported in your April 18 issue, “I think it is a settled science.” I believe it is indeed. Vote “yes” in the May 21 election.

Jack Weemhoff

Retired hospital administrator

Milwaukie

Include animals in fluoride debate

One group that would be affected by the fluoridation of Portland’s water is usually left out of the debate: the animal kingdom.

The effect on pets such as dogs and horses could be devastating, depending on the amount of water consumed. Fluoridation in the water causes horses to develop pathological bone structure and other irreversible damage that worsens with consumption. In elephants, who drink 30 or more gallons of water a day, it has been shown that fluoride can be deadly. If we value the lives of our pets and the lives of the eight elephants at the Oregon Zoo, we need to include them in the pro and con debate over fluoridation of our water supply. And since they cannot participate in the electoral process, we should vote “no” to fluoridation for them.

The best way to prevent tooth decay in children and every human being is to brush and floss. If you don’t do that, drinking fluoride is not going to save your teeth. And it could severely damage the other species that share this planet with us.

Courtney Scott

Northeast Portland