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Friday, September 16, 2016

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday! - Tom's Foolery Bonded Ohio Straight Bourbon

Every Friday will now be Bourbon and Rye Day Friday at Diving for Pearls.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  We may be embarrassed by our current election, but we mustn't be ashamed about (some) of our liquor.  Since I've just moved to Ohio, I'm going to start with a bourbon distilled (really!) by an Ohioan.

Tom Herbruck and his distillery are located in Chagrin Falls, about a two hour drive north of here.  Tom and his foolery started out with apple brandy -- he still has a bonded applejack out here that I'd really like to try next -- but once he purchased (the original) Michter's pot still, he started distilling bourbon.  Recently the current iteration of Michter's paid him big bucks for that pot still, so he's now distilling from an alembic still.  My assumption is that means the resulting bourbon spirit will change.  In any case, today's bourbon was from that old pot still.

What sets Tom apart from many craft distillers, aside from the pot still and bonded warehouse, is that he uses full-sized 53 gallon (200 liter) barrels for his bourbon.  So no tiny barrel f**kery with this one.  Because his unheated warehouse is in northern Ohio, its climate is different than that of Kentucky, thus it will mature differently than most Kentucky bourbons.  I have no idea what sort of results that creates.  Time to find out.

Distillery: Tom's Foolery
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Region: Chagrin Falls, OH
Age: 4 years (2012-2016)
Batch: 2
Mash Bill: Seeing some conflicting info on this, but it is 12-13% rye.  I'll update when I know more.
Limited release: 5 barrels, 1200+ bottles
Alcohol by volume: 50%
Thank you to The Whiskey Jug for the sample!

The nose doesn't have much oak, but is instead loaded with spirit.  Cassia cinnamon and mint at first.  It calms down after 10-15 minutes.  Curiously, it smells more of wheat and barley than corn.  Frosted flakes (current version), then fennel seed.  A slight funky mushroom-meets-honey note.  The palate comes across more adventurous than the average crafty.  Lots of cinnamon and mint, of course, but also horseradish and soil.  It's a little drying and salty, but has a nice bright bitter note.  Hints of cherries and fenugreek.  The finish has that fun herbal bite, along with the cinnamon buzz.  It's not sweet, but is minty fresh and a little salty.  Hints of caramel and horseradish.

This one was a puzzler.  Aside from the cinnamon and mint, it didn't come across as what one would expect from a bourbon.  It's a little herbal, earthy, and bitter.  And it kinda grew on me.  My first sniff announced, "Uh. Uh oh."  By the last sip, I was all, "Yeah, that actually works."  It's not going to please everyone, but if "a little herbal, earthy, and bitter" sounds like your thing, then it just might do it for you.  At the very least, it sets itself apart from much of the rest of the craft bourbon market.  At its best, I find it better than McKenzie, Smooth Ambler Contradiction, Garrison Cowboy, and everything coming from Hudson.

As Sku noticed, the bourbon needs a little air before it really wakes up.  Whisky Jug liked it better than I, but Scotch Noob less so.  It's still available at some shops in the Midwest, though K&L has sold through in California.  The price is a bit steep, but the whiskey does have some age to it and is of an actual limited quantity.  Also every purchase supports an Ohio small business that creates quality products.  Now I'm just going to cash this check from the Chagrin Chamber of Commerce...

Availability - The United States of the Midwest
Pricing - $50-$55
Rating - 80