Lianne blogs about how we make Bourbon

The acquisition of the Stills from David Beam was a bit of a game-changer for Tom’s Foolery. What do you do now that you own an historic piece of equipment designed to make bourbon? Make Bourbon, of course! As with all of our spirits, we source as much local grain as possible for our Bourbon. Presently the corn comes from nearby Troy Ohio, with the Rye coming from a farm in Napoleon, Ohio. The Malted Barley is sourced outside of Ohio.The Barrel-A-Day set up of our equipment allows for the ability to experiment with the Bourbon mash bill. Although we have standard mash bills, by using various specialty brewers’ malts and changing the percentage of the corn and rye, we are able to make select Bourbon barrels that are truly unique. We are using the traditional, and uniquely American, Sour Mash process to make our Bourbon. All Bourbon is Whiskey, but not all Whiskey is Bourbon. Bourbon must have a mash bill (grain ingredient list) of at least 51% corn and must be aged in a New Charred American Oak barrels. With the Sour Mash technique, the left-over, alcohol-free liquid (setback) from a prior distillation is used to make the Bourbon mash. You can think of it as like a Sourdough Bread Starter. Using this technique can enhance and deepen the flavors of the mash and, ultimately, the end product and it can also promote continuity between batches. This technique is also an interesting way to maintain the pH levels in your mash and provide a good environment for the yeast and it also helps to keep nasty bacteria from contaminating your mash. Our bourbon mash ferments out between 3-5 days and is then double-distilled, once in the 500-gallon Beer still and a second time in the 150-gallon Whiskey Still. The crystal clear white whiskey is collected, proofed and measured for barreling in its new home --a New Charred American Oak Barrel. It is here that it will rest for 2-4 years (and hopefully longer someday!) and slowly begin to mellow out in the wood, taking on its oaky characteristics and acquiring its beautiful golden hue. We are really interested to see how the weather here in Northeast Ohio will affect the Bourbon. Our rack house is not temperature controlled. And with our colder, longer winters and more temperate summers, the mingling of the spirit with the wood will be quite different from your usual Kentucky or Tennessee Bourbons! We can’t wait!

Tom Herbruck