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Ramen Whiskey? Limited Release Portland Spirit Highlights A Zero-Waste Philosophy

Portland-based distillery Stone Barn Brandyworks partnered with noodle maker Umi Organic to make a spirit in the style of whiskey, actually made from the Portland company’s first batches of organic ramen noodles from back in 2015.

Four years ago, Stone Barn’s Head Distiller Andy Garrison reached out to CEO of Umi Organic, Lola Milholland, to see if she had any ramen noodles she couldn’t sell.

“Whiskey is made from grain, and so are noodles!” Garrison said at the time. He was looking to make a whiskey-like spirit using Lola’s excess noodles. Umi was a new company, and as Milholland learned about her inventory, she was glad to find a home for her soon-to-expire product.

Umi Ramen Spirit
Umi Ramen Spirit (image via Stone Barn Brandyworks)

Zero waste was a win-win in this case.

The noodles, made from organic wheat and barley, were distilled and found to produce a mellow, fruity spirit with a unique minerality from the kansui (lye solution) which gives ramen noodles their classic chewy texture.

After maturing the spirit in used Stone Barn whiskey casks for more than a thousand days, they had Umi Ramen Spirit.

Umi Ramen Spirit is set to release as part of an annual event, the Kobe + Portland Yakisoba Project, now in its third year. It brings together food artisans from across the Pacific to create interactive food-based opportunities for Portlanders to experience Kobe food and drink culture.

Several restaurants and bars around Portland, including Expatriate, Oma’s Hideaway, Obon, Sunrice at Deadshot, and Ippai PDX will present the Umi Kobe Combo, a meal known to satiate the late-night crowds.

The meal features the singular Umi Ramen Spirit served as an cold Kobe-style highball with a yakisoba-pan … yakisoba noodles tucked into a hotdog bun.

And after the event, Stone Barn will sell a small number of bottles of the Umi Ramen Spirit from their Southeast Portland tasting room and at farmers’ markets in the region.

Kobe International Club PDX is part of a worldwide networking initiative for those passionate about or interested in learning more about the city of Kobe, Japan. You can check out the Kobe lover’s club in PDX @kobeclubpdx, #kobepdx, and at

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Here are my recommendations for those of you who want something sweet and luscious, but a little different in your glass this year. 

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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