I emailed Todd Leopold at Leopold Brothers distillery to let him know that we were discussing one of his products. He promptly replied with an informative email that he also allowed me to post here.
Sorry JoeBourbon, the PA scrapple whiskey is not in their plans..........I made that up..........and you knew that too, didn't you? Hope you ain't holding that agin me.
Here is the exchange with Todd.
From: "Mike Bowers" <mandpbowers>
> With your permission, I will post your reply on BourbonEnthusiast.
> There is a lot of information here that our members will find
> interesting. They will be keen to follow your progress toward making
> Straight Bourbon. There have been a number of threads on BE about
> craft distillers making bourbon and everyone is anxious for it to
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2007 11:13 PM
> To: Mike Bowers
> Subject: Re: Review of one of your products on a major bourbon web site
> Well, thank you so much for the critical input, Mike!
> To answer a few of the queries I read on the threads.....
> 1. This is indeed meant to be an updated version of Southern Comfort
> in the sense that I knew that SoCo was meant to be a
> peach-whiskey-liqueur in some combination of the three flavors. I
> thought that it'd be fun to make a craft distilled version of the
> spirit. I haven't the slightest idea how Southern Comfort is made, so
> I made it up as I went along.
> 2. I use new make whiskey for all of our flavored whiskeys. This is for a
> few reasons, most of them are obvious. I can make a marketable spirit
> quickly, the young flavors meld well with the fruits/berries, and it
> allows me to get to know my whiskey better in preparation for making
> true straight bourbon.
> For the peach whiskey in particular, I add a second step to the
> distilling process. I put whiskey back into the still with some of
> the peach stones, that were removed prior to juicing, for
> redistillation. This adds a soft bitter almond undertone that greatly
> adds to the peach flavors.
> I use a single reflux pot still for production. I distill small batches of
> wash until I can fill the still for a full spirits run. It is legally
> whiskey (one poster asked about that). There's a few other
> proprietary things that I do, but I won't get into that here.
> 3. Someone asked why we were a Michigan distillery making Georgia
> Peach Whiskey. Good question. Michigan has unusual laws governing
> distilleries. We have a 400 capacity bar that's the closest watering
> hole to the Big House. I am only allowed to sell what I produce, so
> in order to stock an entire cocktail-producing backbar, I had to
> produce 20 liqueurs out of nowhere. I had to find ingredients for
> these liqueurs as quickly as possible.
> The best place to go for fruit in this part of Michigan is the Eastern
> Market (in Detroit), where there are a couple of wholesalers who sell
> bulk fruit from all over the world. So I started purchasing my fruit
> there.......apples from Michigan and New York, Pears from California,
> Valencia Oranges from Florida, Peaches from.....well, you get the
> idea. Often they'd sell me fruit that was almost overripe at a steep
> discount because the fruit was of no use to them, but in a perfect
> state for my uses.
> That's why we started with both Georgia Whiskey and Liqueur. I mean,
> if you think peaches, you think Georgia (or at lease I do).
> In any event, we also produce New York Sour Apple Liqueur, New York
> Apple Whiskey (my personal favorite), Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur,
> Michigan Blueberry Liqueur, and quite a few more. The places that the fruit comes
> from, in my experience, makes a difference....much like grapes. So, long
> story short, that's why we use Georgia peaches.
> I've just started using peaches from the Rocky Mountains for both our
> liqueur and our whiskey (under a different label, obviously). I've
> found thus far that the varieties I've chosen lend a more tart finish
> to the spirit, allowing the whiskey flavor to come to the fore a bit
> more. I'm poking around for the same flavors in Georgia grown
> Each hand-numbered batch is actually a single barrel. I don't blend.
> One thing that I'm particularly happy with was my decision to aged the
> entire spirit in the barrel. In other words, I had to make a decision
> as to whether to simply age the whiskey, and then add the peach juice
> later; or, blend the peach juice with the whiskey and age exactly what
> will appear in the bottle. I chose the latter, even though I knew
> that the peaches would naturally oxidize and potentially produce some not-so-fine flavors.
> I was delighted to find that the mild oxidation yields even MORE
> positive flavors to the spirit (specifically, the raisiny flavors you
> picked out. That made my day to read that you tasted that, BTW). I
> put it in the cask at slightly above the bottle strength, and simply
> run it through a slight screen like filter before bottling.
> One last point, and I'll end this overly long email.
> A couple of posters mentioned cooking. I purposely strain the spirit,
> rather than chill filter it. This allows some of the peach fruit
> particles, and even tiny bits of barrel char, through to the final
> spirit. When cooked or reduced, these flavor laden particles make for
> a more tasty and flavorful glaze.
> One note of caution, if this isn't obvious: because I use real fruit,
> and because the corks are not perfectly air tight, the spirit will
> both evaporate and oxidize over time, so once it's opened, it's best
> to enjoy it quickly.
> Cheers, and thanks for giving us a try!
> P.S., Straight Bourbon will follow, if you are patient!
> Leopold Bros.
> Todd Leopold
P.S. A bit more info from Todd
As to the bourbon, we're making some changes to the plant here, and will be bringing in a second still hopefully by the end of the year. That's when we'll begin full-on bourbon production. Charred barrels. Four-grain. The whole nine yards. My diplomas are in brewing and malting science, so bourbon production is a bit more in my 'wheelhouse', so to speak, than the other spirits I produce. I'm excited to get it going.
Cheers, and thanks again for the interest. Without sounding like I'm blowing smoke up my skirt, it's people like you, who are willing to try something different, who are going to allow the craftdistillers to experiment and come up with interesting new spirits. Your support is critical.