You have to admire Cedar Ridge Distillery. It’s in Iowa. And when it began in 2005, it was the state’s first distillery since Prohibition and one of about a dozen distillers in the country. Now, what do they have in Iowa, besides the Iowa caucuses every four years? Corn. Thousands and thousands of acres of corn. This fact was not lost on Iowa native and Cedar Ridge founder Jeff Quint, who made the state’s first Bourbon in 2010. Fast forward to last week when the American Distilling Institute named Cedar Ridge the 2017 “Distillery of the Year.”
“This is huge for us,” Quint said in a press release adding the now 20,000 bottles a year operation is one where, “We use our own corn. We grow it; we mash it; we ferment it; we distil it; we barrel-age it, and we bottle it.”
Buffalo Trace The Michael Phelps Of Distilleries?
Early April must be awards season for spirits. Eight Buffalo Trace Distillery whiskies won medals at the Sixth Annual Denver International Spirits Competition including Blanton’s Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which won a double gold.
Complete results of the competition are here.
“We are very pleased and humbled by these results,” Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley said. “This is great recognition for our whiskies, and we could not be more proud of the whole crew at the Distillery who work hard every day to produce our great whiskies.”
Wheatley is someone who likes to experiment. Last month, he began experimenting with barrels made of 300-year-old wood that will allow the Buffalo Trace team to observe what effects the age of the oak itself could have on the taste of the bourbon.
The barrel wood came from 300-year-old trees previously cut in Kentucky, the oldest oak trees the Distillery could find that had already been harvested, Wheatley said. Such wood is rare, as most oak trees die before reaching the age of 200 years old.
Previously, Buffalo Trace has experimented for more than 20 years while exploring the questions of how infrared light, non-traditional grains, and various proofs affect whiskey. The 300-year-old barrels will join more than 14,000 other experimental whisky barrels aging at the Distillery.
Templeton Rye Moves Closer To Being Iowa Made
Templeton Rye, which was “born during Prohibition around 1920,” according to the company, is building a 34,500 sq. ft. distillery and aging warehouse at its current 20-acre facility in the town of Templeton, Iowa. The $26 million expansion product is expected to be completed in about 18 months and will employ 27 people.
The distillery will be able to produce 500,000 proof gallons of rye whiskey annually. However, the initial production is expected to be 250,000 gallons. The aging warehouse will be able to store 40,000 barrels. The first Iowa-distilled Templeton Rye would be on retail shelves sometime in 2022.
The company settled lawsuits in 2015 over labeling that implied that the whiskey was made in Iowa. The company in fact uses a mash made up of 95 percent rye from MGP Ingredients in Indiana as the whiskey’s foundation. The Templeton plant currently combines distilled rye whiskey with the company’s proprietary formula and local purified water in batches of 900 gallons for bottling in Templeton.