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Tom's Foolery tasting


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Well, we all know it's what is inside the bottle that counts. On that note, the bourbon will be a "traditional" mash bill with rye as the "spice" grain.

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Although Tom and Lianne don't let grass grow under their feet, they aren't that close to barreling their first batch of bourbon.

They also plan to use local corn and mill it at the distillery. (Many other 'craft' distillers don't mill themselves.)

They didn't so much change the wax color as change the type of wax they were using for improved performance and it happens to be a different color. They're not planning to do a color key thing, although now the first release will be distinctive.

Here's a pic of the new batch before it went out.

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I spoke with Tom last week and he is getting close. And when he is running I am going to see it. He is getting his ducks in a row the right way, and will be able to make a good product. Nice guy too. Chuck, wonder why so few mill their own grain. We just put in a new hammer mill and auger system. I can imagine buying ground grain is prohibitive cost wise.

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I'm not sure what the numbers are. I think what it amounts to is how committed are they to whiskey. If whiskey is only an occasional thing, then it might make more sense to use commercial grist.

On the other hand, Koval here in Chicago makes nothing but grain spirits, using a bunch of different grains, and they do not mill.

Everybody has different ideas about what they're doing and where their value-added is, different visions.

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Ground corn meal is about 50 cents a pound. Whole good clean corn is 16 cents. Delivered. It does not make sense to me.

How much does the mill go for?

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They have run their first, small batch, with the assistance of David Beam, his three sons, and Dick Stoll. David, of course, is a former distiller at Jim Beam, as Dick was at Michter's. The Beams never ran the barrel-a-day equipment in Kentucky, so this was the first batch run through it since the last one Stoll ran at Michter's.

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I have not talked to Tom, but saw pictures. The mash looked like high rye, which I think Tom said he wanted. I am planning to get out there if I can ever get our distillery to run 16 hours a day by itself.

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I have not talked to Tom, but saw pictures. The mash looked like high rye, which I think Tom said he wanted. I am planning to get out there if I can ever get our distillery to run 16 hours a day by itself.

Yeah, good luck with that. LOL.

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That's a HUGE accomplishment, Mr. Cowdery. Thank you.

Should also silence those who are new to distilling who say that you aren't pulling for the small guys.

Congratulations to Tom! How great is that that he's resurrecting such a fine part of America's whiskey history? Makes me proud to be an American distiller.

Really, really cool.

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Tom sent me this picture a couple of days ago. That's him in back. The guy on the left is Dick Stoll, the last master distiller at Michter's and the only person who actually operated the one-barrel-a-day distillery when it was in Pennsylvania.

It looks like they're having fun.

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Fascinating. Someone should sit down with Dick Stoll, what a fund of knowledge he must have. I can't believe he started so young at Michter's (21 if my numbers are right). I wish the bourbon venture well at Tom's Foolery, its applejack is superb.

My questions to Stoll would be, what was the exact origin of the recipe for Michter's Original Sour Mash 6 years old? Was it always aged in new charred oak and if not, why not? Finally, could that exact taste be duplicated today?

Gary

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Dick comes up and visits with me about every 6 months. He is a treasure trove of knowledge. He is getting up there in years, but his mind is rock solid. Hell of a nice guy. You should hear some of the stories he tells about how things used to go on and how Everett Beam was such a character. He said he had to drive him home many nights. I do wish somebody would get down what he remembers on paper. I have suggested Malt Advocate interview him, but I do not know if they did.

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One of the interseting things he told me of Michters, and I have heard this of other places where Beams worked was that every fall when they got started, Everett would call Ky, and one of his brothers would send up a copper jug of yeast. They would keep this jug yeast alive until they shut down in the summer. When Everett died, they lost the connection to the Beam yeast and had to switch to using red star. Annother fact he said they made a lactic yeast starter. Holding rye and malt at 128 degrees long enough for it to sour or the ph would drop to 4.7 or so, then jack it up to 180 to kill the lactic bacteria then cool and add the yeast.

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Fascinating!

That's precisely (128 is a tad high in temp for lactobacillus) how German brewers create acid to acidify their mash in accordance with Purity and Tax Law standards... only difference is that they use first wort from a lauter tun (unhopped, obviously) rather than rye. That's providing organic acid in the mash, leading to some well know esters in the barrel.

In German Breweries it's called biological acidification, and of course, instead of providing a starter for yeast, they're simply acidifying the mash and/or kettle. We use the process to make the acid portion of our Sour Apple Liqueur.

Betcha a quarter that there were some German brewers bouncing around in American distilleries back in the day.

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The Beams are German, originally Boehm. Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, and Heaven Hill all use some version of the Beam family yeast. It may also be somewhere in the Four Roses repertoire, since most of the pre-Seagram's distillers at Four Roses were Beams. Maybe even Brown-Forman, since the founder of Early Times was a Beam.

Kentucky is still crawling with them. :)

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