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Distillery Visit: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington, KY USA

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Distillery Visit: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington, KY USA

Postby sugarcreek » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:30 am

Last weekend my son had a baseball tourney down in and around Lexington, KY (and I thought it was only basketball country). In between games I was able to get down to Barrel House Distillery for a visit and a tasting. Peter Wright, one of the founders, was kind enough to give me a top tier tour and answer any questions I had. They use a 130 gallon alembic copper still from Portugal:

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The still is direct fired from a NG jet burner. BHD currently has three products: vodka, "moonshine", and rum.

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The moonshine is a corn-based product with cane sugar added to bump the OG and smooth out the product. Rather than malting the corn, they do a cereal mash and use enzymes for conversion. It's distilled a single time in the alembic and bottled at 90%. It had a nice smoothness with a distinct corn backbone and a sweetish finish. Although Im not a huge corn fan I enjoyed it.

The vodka comes from the same wash as the moonshine, but it is distilled an additional three times. It's cut to bottle strength (80%) with water from King Springs in Rockcastle County -- about 50 miles south of Lexington. Not sure it makes a difference in the product but it's a great story. Vodka was nice and clean, not trace of heads / tails. I could pickup a bit of the corn sweetness but it was way in the background. Im not a big vodka fan (unless it's a precursor to making gin) but this was an absolutely fine liquor (Im hard pressed to rate any neutral spirit as "excellent")

Lastly (and most interesting if not the best) is their oaked rum. BHD makes their rum from a simple cane sugar wash (dont have in my notes what yeast was used). It's aged for 3+ years in used bourbon casks sourced locally and bottled at cask strength (my bottle's hand-written proof statement was 103). At bottle proof, it's golden-hued with a slight medicinal nose, but comes across the palate clean and smooth with a sweet vanilla finish. After cutting about in half it really changes character and the oak becomes much more pronounced. I've grown to enjoy the rich (but not at all cloying) sweetness that I feel a molasses based rum brings to the table. This is much more subdued letting the oak / vanillian shine through without completely hiding is cane-sugar roots. It's really quite pleasant!

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All in all a fantastic visit. Look them up online and if you're in the neighborhood you should stop by and say "Hi"
What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk? ~Jack Handey
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Re: Distillery Visit: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington, KY USA

Postby kenfyoozed » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:01 am

We were able to tour that same distillery back in April. Nice little setup they have. I would have to disagree on the rum. Hopefully what we tested was not the same as your sample. I would describe the one i tasted was 180 degrees from your review. It was the only rum we had on the "Bourbon" tours. And i was so looking forward to it, but it close to the worst i have sampled. Couldnt even finish the sample.

But their other products were good. And they were the most open about showing everything they had and how it all worked. very good people. I would recommend this place to anyone in the area.
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Don't mind me, I'm just the village idiot.
Craft of Whisky Distilling. I like the pics.-
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Re: Distillery Visit: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington, KY USA

Postby sugarcreek » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:09 am

@kenfyoozed - what was the sample you tasted like?
What is it about a beautiful sunny afternoon, with the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves, that makes you want to get drunk? ~Jack Handey
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Re: Distillery Visit: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington, KY USA

Postby kenfyoozed » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:28 am

its been a couple of months now, but I do remember not liking it. It was very harsh, astringent taste. Not much in the way of vanillians, but i agree there was a lot of oakness. Like sucking on an oak log :D .
Pint, I HATE you!
Don't mind me, I'm just the village idiot.
Craft of Whisky Distilling. I like the pics.-
http://www.distilling.com/PDF/craftbook.pdf
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