Road Trip! Grumpy Heads South for a Wee Dram of Heaven
Some very fine whiskey can be found in a surprising place.
You’ve probably suspected Grumpy enjoys good whiskey. You suspected correctly. It is my favorite spirit, it lifts my spirits, so I lift some to my lips every day. During that shining moment, I live in the best of all possible worlds.
So imagine my delight as I prepared for a recent trip to the Florida beach. I came across an article in “The Whiskey Wash” heralding an exceptional, new craft spirit distillery in Florida that I would be driving right by called Timber Creek Distillery. My excitement was such I knew I could never sleep again until I arranged a visit and sampled a dram or two or three. Well, maybe four. Grumpy is nothing if not thorough.
I sent Timber Creek a Facebook message and received an invitation. Tears flowed.
Timber Creek is located outside of Crestview, Florida on a farm owned by the family of Aaron Barnes, who, together with partner Camden Ford, turn grain, water, and time into sips of heaven. (That’s Aaron and Grumpy in the tasting room above). In addition to several whiskies, they also make craft gin, vodka, and rum.
Use of local ingredients make their spirits unique. For example, most bourbon and rye whiskies use rye grown in Canada. Timber Creek uses Florida 401 Black Rye that is adapted to the Florida climate and needs very little care. Because it naturally grows in poor, sandy, dry soil, the grain yield is low, but the flavor more concentrated. Other whiskey grains, such as Red Soft winter wheat and Yellow #2 dent corn, are also locally sourced. Combined with pure, iron-free spring water, the results are uniquely Florida spirits – something to take home, enjoy with sophisticated, worldly friends, and remind you of your visit.
Although some whiskeys are made from a single grain – like single malt (barley) and rye (guess!), most blend three or four in different proportions to achieve a particular flavor. Corn adds sweetness and lots of the alcohol; rye lends spice and kick; wheat offers a gentle, smooth sweetness and bready character; barley contributes caramel and honey notes. At Timber Creek, I savored the four-grain Southern Reserve Bourbon, the surprisingly good Single Malt, and the big, bold Florida Black Rye. I recommend them all. I should – at this year’s North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition held in New Orleans, both the Southern Reserve Bourbon and Black Rye took home silver medals.
Could it be cocktail hour already??