Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bourbon made in Florida?

My under-graduate alumni magazine had a feature on Rollins graduates who are operating breweries, wineries and a distillery.  The Winter Park Distilling Company, in Winter Park, Florida ( WPDC has only been open a few short years.  They make a variety of white distilled products, a vodka, a rum, an un-aged whiskey, and they have released a bourbon.  While I was visiting family, I decide to look into it.  The WPDC website does not give a street location and there is no mention of tours (darn!) So I went in search of a bottle to buy.  The first store had the un-aged whiskey (moonshine is not my favorite.)  The second store store had never heard of WPDC. The third stop had two bottles of the bourbon left in stock.  I bought both, when you find rare items, buy them.  With tax it was about $43 a bottle.  

This is listed as batch #4, bottled at 107 proof.  As far as the flavor, it is young, and you can taste the oak. I detect hints of pine, and southern charm.  Being classified as a bourbon, it has to be at least 51% corn and aged for at least 2 years in oak.  My guess would be that the secondary grain is rye, is has the spiciness of a corn/rye mash-bill.  It is relatively smooth.  If there are aging in the climate, it should age fast due to the abundance of hot weather - but I suspect this would be even better after a couple more years in oak. 

They say they are using pot stills, all small batch, handcrafted.  This is a combination that has great potential for high quality.  With a Rollins graduate in management, I know they will go far.  

So can you make bourbon in Florida? Yes, the definition says it is an American whiskey, it has to be made in the United States to be labeled as bourbon (despite being named after a county in Kentucky, that was named by Thomas Jefferson to honor a French King.) It does not have to be made in Kentucky. The location will impact the flavor.  The water, the aging temperatures, even the grain will be slightly different based on location and will impact the flavor of the final product. This type of small batch hand crafted operation can capitalize on the geographic distinction to a make a uniquely southern bourbon.  

There is an ongoing fight at the moment over the definition of Tennessee whiskey, strangely enough centering on if it has to be made in Tennessee - Jack Daniels and Dickel are bankrolling a campaign to place a geographic limitation on the name. Pritchard's in Kelso Tennessee, makes a couple of excellent bourbons and at least one Tennessee whiskey.      


  1. I thought bourbon had to be made in KY, in fact, I am sure one of the tours there told us that. Interesting.

    I love tasting new whiskeys and bourbons. They can be made ten miles from each other and still be very, very unique.

    Peace <3

  2. At thanksgiving I bought a bottle of the first Arizona made whisky. It wasn't bad; it was simple/smooth but oh the price tag ! I think it fun to try local distilleries. It keeps the bigwigs on their toes to keep their products good.