Back in September we did a piece on Florida bourbons in honor of “Bourbon Heritage Month.” Little did we know it would lead to one of the great Christmas presents of our adult life.
There are three bourbon distilleries here in Florida, including the Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview – up in the panhandle. We were stunned when Timber Creek President Camden Ford himself contacted us and asked if we would like to try mixing our very own blend, using some of the mash that they use themselves.
This is a great thing in so many ways. First off, it’s a product created with crops harvested right here in the Sunshine State. For their whiskeys, they use local Red Soft Winter Wheat, local Yellow #2 Dent Corn, and local Florida 401 Black Rye.
When the box arrived, it was full of surprises. The kit is unexpectedly large and consists of everything one needs for the process. Four large bottles, one each of 100-percent corn, wheat, black rye and single malt barley ready for mixing. as well as a graduating mixing beaker, a dropper and glass stir stick.
We thought this would be a process where the mix would be blended, then age before consumption.
Once blended it can be sampled immediately to decide what to add next. We were advised that it could be left to sit for a few days to allow the flavors to meld if we wished – provided it was placed in a covered container to prevent any evaporation, which would cloud the mixture.
We were assured that it would not affect the taste, but it would turn cloudy and become basically unattractive.
This is to be a great experiment and being a total novice on the making of bourbon, we relied on beginners luck, the advantage of ignorance and the fact that they send along a detailed mixing guide complete with recipes so we could not get to far afield.
Step one was to sample each of the bottles to get an idea of the stock. The corn is sweet, the wheat is a bit dry (dry enough to make your mouth pucker), the rye is spicy and full of flavor while the single malt barley is described as “round and buttery.”
Then you begin the process of mixing. Starting with 40ml of the corn, the wheat mash is added at one milliliter increments to get a good blend. Their recommendation was to keep adding until it is good, then great, then good and finally – too much.
You then toss that batch, get back to the peak, then start adding the barley.
Starting the process, the batch is pretty darned stout. Even adding the wheat did not mitigate the taste to any appreciable degree. Nonetheless, after a couple milliliters it was tasting pretty darned good. When we got to the great stage, we stopped, then went to the barley, adding it in one milliliter increments until we got to something that tasted special.
The barley really rounded out the flavor and took the edge off the mix.
Mrs. Funmeister, who never has been a fan of alcohol, asked to taste it. To our absolute astonishment she said it was “not bad” and described the taste as “woody” – which was as an accurate description as any. To put it in perspective, before, all alcoholic beverages tasted like “cough syrup,” so this was as close to a compliment as anybody ever has come from her.
And this was our first foray into the process.
This is something that will take a bit of practice and everyone’s taste will be different. I can see inviting friends over to try their hand at it and see what they can create. It makes for a wonderful Christmas present and can provide hours of enjoyment and the ability to sample a wide variety of mixes.
Our plan is to do this again in the very near future, trying a different blend of corn, wheat and barley – and we haven’t even gotten to the rye yet.
Stay tuned, as we try again and report back. We also have a field trip planned to the actual Timber Creek Distillery for some face-to-face instructionals and suggestions.
If you simply cannot wait, we understand. Go here – https://timbercreekdistillery.com/