Many of our go-to bourbons are made on a large scale. So what makes the work of a smaller producer worth departing from a longtime, familiar favorite? We’ve highlighted a couple of small-scale distillers worthy of a spot on your bar cart!
Among spirits, bourbon is a stalwart, and its production is often loyal to tried-and-true historic recipes. Although we carry a few of those instantly-recognizable brands at the shop, what about the bourbon labels with less obvious fame? Like any thoughtfully made wine, bourbon also can transport us to a specific place as soon as it’s in the glass, and the work of smaller distillers makes for a short journey.
Take, for example, the “Southern Revival Jimmy Red Straight Bourbon” from High Wire Distilling Company in Charleston, SC, a bourbon made entirely from an heirloom corn variety called Jimmy Red. As part of an effort to bring back this corn from near-extinction, the folks of High Wire were gifted enough Jimmy Red seeds to plant two acres of this special variety, and now harvest this crop for this very small-batch bourbon. The uniqueness of Jimmy Red corn is unmistakable: distiller Sam Blackwell pinpoints a cherry note, while the texture of the palate is creamy, almost like suede, due to the corn’s naturally high oil content. Staying even more local (because bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky to be bourbon, despite what your well-meaning uncle may keep telling you!), you’ll find Claire Marin of Catskill Provisions, who sources only non-GMO grain from New York state for all of her spirits, and finishes her bourbon in used maple syrup barrels, also sourced from New York. It’s an expression of bourbon that’s keenly northeast in character, all woodsy spice and vanilla with (of course), a hint of maple. Both of these distillers create bourbon that is inextricably linked to place, opening us up to entirely new ideas of what bourbon can be. Pick up a bottle of either of these selections today, to confound (and delight) even your most seasoned bourbon lover!