The master craftsman shares what he loves most about the process of making whiskey and connects with his collaborative partner clown in a conversation that touches on everything from their shared love of Iowa to important role of Paul Gray.
Among the many creative outlets of M. Shawn Crahan, one of his most passionate remains the production of Slipknot’s Iowa No. 9 whiskey. Working exclusively with Cedar Ridge, the facility’s history dates back to the prohibition era, as the distillery was the first to open in Iowa when the moratorium on alcohol was lifted.
That kind of deep-seeded connection to Iowa reverberates throughout the latest episode of clown’s Electric Theater, where head distiller and director of operations for Cedar Ridge, Murphy Quint, guests for an in-depth conversation with the clown. Getting into the nuanced process of making whiskey, both clown and Quint share their love for the complexity in the craft, from the aging process to the experimentation that happens prior.
The guys also get into the importance of Iowa and how the region factors into quality of the juice – whether it is the variation in climate or the quality of ingredients that comes from Iowan soil, the state remains very near and dear to both artists and it’s evident in each of their respective crafts.
The conversation also manages to explore interesting parallels between making music and making whiskey. Each involve years of continued refinement, remaining a student and always studying, and the patience to wait until everything is just right before sharing it with the world – not to mention the gratification that comes with finally being able to share it.
Whiskey, music, and the love for Iowa are all on deck for the latest in the conversation series with clown on the Electric Theater with special guest, Murphy Quint of Cedar Ridge. Stream the exchange below.
1:19 – clown refers to the spirits he works on with the folks at Cedar Ridge, “juice” and has a bit of laboratory of his own at home where he tries out different things in the name of research and development of course.
2:28 – While he likes to enjoy whiskies on their own, one of the distiller’s favorite things to do is to blend a bunch of different whiskies together to see how that tastes.
3:06 – To avoid overthinking something he loves so much, Quint keeps the scrutiny to a minimum at home. He saves dissecting whiskey for the office. However, when he is at work, he gets very specific about his craft making sure to take diligent tasting notes, measurements, and experimenting with different micro brews to ensure whatever he is putting his name on is always the finest quality.
5:40 – The time aspect of distilling whiskey is something that really appeals to clown. It’s something he feels connects everyone and that is at least part of what makes the craft of distilling so important to him.
6:35 – clown details how his time during the pandemic has prompted him to develop his green thumb. Inspired by his mother who was a master gardener, clown has cultivated a plethora of peppers to help facilitate his love of spicy food. He is also using some of his peppers to infuse some of the spirits from Cedar Ridge. That is how he experiments.
9:40 – Explaining the process of mixing the last little bits of liquor with a musical analogy, clown cities those instances as ‘happy accidents’ when you stumble upon something magical that you never anticipated making.
10:40 – When he is not gardening considering the cold winters in Iowa, Quint asked clown if he was spending his time cultivating music? clown explained that he has dove into making music since the start of the lockdown.
12:50 – Explaining the process of ‘open lab’ for Slipknot, clown shares how the production process for the band has a big studio and smaller one within the footprint where any of the guys can go an flesh out ideas as they come to them. The environment is conducive to nurturing creative flow and is definitely ripe for more ‘happy accidents’.
14:30 – Sharing that he has been able to remain productive despite the time off, clown also shared the value of being able to work at his own pace and how that makes for a better quality product in the end. He also detailed how the band is still breaking new ground and discovering new creative territory with each record.
16:50 – Discussing his control room at home, clown shares that walls are adorned with 40 different masks from different shows that function as his council. He explains how some of the masks have heard and seen too much. He also details how the control room is designed to only fit three people to keep the distractions to a minimum. When in the control room, it’s all about getting to work.
20:40 – Quint and clown discuss their Iowa roots and the different cities/regions in the state and how it’s something they both love.
23:45 – Expressing just how much Ihe is connected to Iowa, clown shares that he has a plot with his name on it in Oelwein, Iowa if ever he wants it.
25:13 – Wearing multiple hats as both head distiller and director of operations, Quint stays very busy with work and family. He oversees what has grown to be a very sizable distillery in Cedar Ridge and due to the nature of his gig, is always on the go.
28:15 – Getting into the very nuanced process of making whiskey the guys discuss the various elements that go into making a quality finish product and detail how the aging process is so interesting to them both. Quint points out how Mother Nature in Iowa plays a very big part in this stage of production because of the region’s highly fluctuating temperatures which causes the barrels to expand, contract, and ultimately changes the complexity of the juice inside.
31:57 – Quint explains the concept of “sweet spots” within distilleries where the whiskey is stored in certain parts of the warehouse that are conducive to ideal temperatures. Located in Iowa, the change in temperature is natural and that kind of manipulation isn’t something that has to be done at Cedar Ridge.
33:33 – In the name of experimentation, clown proposed an idea in burying a barrel and see what a year does to the liquid.
36:45 – Showing off a small jar of vodka infused with grapes from Cedar Ridge, clown explains the significance behind the spirit in that when the prohibition was lifted in Iowa, vodka was the first product that came from Cedar Ridge distillery.
39:00 – Further nurturing his interest in the distilling process, clown shared how a things like kombucha and jailhouse pruno managed to pique his curiosity and prompted him to study and dive head in. The art of craftsmanship is what appeals to him.
41:25 – Discussing his involvement in the distilling process and being hands on with Slipknot No. 9 whiskey, clown shared that his dad was an inspiration. Teaching him to be good at ten things because you don’t know which will hit, is pat of what fuels clown’s creative pace.
42:30 – Further explaining the multi-faceted approach he takes with his art, clown confided how his brother Paul Gray was the one who really saw the artist in him. Detailing how Paul helped navigate him through the nuanced world of extreme music, clown shared that since he has been gone, he has realized just how integral he was to nurturing his creative drive.
46:20 – Quint likens the expansion of Cedar Ridge to that of a band going from a garage distillery to one that sits on 75 acres.
49:23 – Beaming with pride, clown explains what an achievement it was to see fans on an international level get their hands on Slipknot No. 9 whiskey from Cedar Ridge.
54:45 – Showing his fascination with peppers, clown shares his thoughts on the Carolina Reaper pepper and how he feels the heat of the pepper makes it too hot to serve any functional purpose on the planet.
1:02:19 – Recalling a pre-show whiskey tasting he did with Cedar Ridge, clown expressed how knowledgable the fans were in Kentucky. Passionate about Slipknot and whiskey, this was a tasting where shirtless metalheads were asking sophisticated questions about whiskey.
1:05:30 – There is a plan to eventually put out a 5-year and a 10-year of the Slipknot whiskey. clown also wants to create a whiskey that won’t be open until long after he is gone.