I had to go to Cincy to give a talk to the Anderson Township Historical Society yesterday and John Lipman was kind enough to put me up for the night. Of course John and I always enjoy an evening of discussing bourbon, rye and other American whiskeys, and he had the bottle of Woodstone Creek that he purchased for me. I have yet to open my bottle, but I did have a chance to taste his opened bottle. I will open my bottle and review it when Mark or Chris add it to the reviews section.
John is also friends with Don Outerson and he called this morning to see if we could come over and talk with, but unfortunately he was busy with an appointment to get his whiskey into the Ohio State system and we were not going to have time for a visit. I did get a chance to talk with Don on the telephone for about 20 minutes and we had a very Interesting conversation. I have heard John talk about Don for over a year and he had heard about from John, so we were not complete strangers. I found Don to be a very astute distiller with many interesting points in our conversation. I thought I would share some with you (with his permission) and see if you a gree with me in that he is a craft distiller that bears watching because he has some concepts that could change the industry.
The first point that I found very interesting was his belief that doing things the old fashioned way is key to making a new whiskey that will sell well. He believes that this first expression is good, but as he puts it "that is where I was five years ago and I think I am doing better now." He experimented for years with vodka before he was confident that he was ready to make bourbon. John told me a long time ago that he wanted to learn to use the still properly and it is quicker and cheaper to make the mistakes with vodka than with bourbon. I can't say that he is wrong with that philosophy. He uses only 2 row barley malt and no enzymes to aid conversions. He also said he used malted rye and malted wheat as well for aiding the conversion, but also because he believes that that malted rye probably does a better job of converting rye starches to sugars than depending upon the enzymes from barley to do this. I assume he felt the same way for wheat. This he feels, brings out different flavors from the grain that are not found in bourbons today.
He also discussed barrel proof. He has an old book, printed in France and I never asked exactly when, but I think during the 19th century, that tells the distiller at what proof to enter the spirit to bring out different flavors from the wood of the barrel. This alone has me wanting to visit with him in order to see the book and discussit with him. It is a concept that I had never thought about, but it makes a lot of sense. It may also explain the old Stitzel-Weller mystic - 107 barrel proof may be what brings out the flavors that make Van Winkle era wheated bourbon's so different even at young ages. I may have to start a thread on that subject later because I could spend all day theorizing about that subject.
We discussed his Redstone Creek and I will save my thoughts on the flavors I find in the product until I review the bottle. I will say that I like the product and find it very interesting and do not regret the money I spent on the bottle. Don Outterson takes a lot of pride in what he makes. He hopes to convince the beauracrats in Ohio to ease up on the laws and allow distillery tours and tastings in the future, but does face an uphill battle in the state that gave birth to the Temperance Union and the Anti-saloon League. Until then he hopes to struggle by and make good whiskey. I do think that he is a Master Distiller in the old sense of the term and his pride in what he does is not unjustified. He wants to make an old fashioned product that has grain flavor in the final product that will compliment the barrel flavors, not be overwhelmed by the barrel flavors.
In a final note, he was very complimentary to the discussion on this site even though he was saddened by what he feels is unfair treatment on another site. I promised him I would review his product here and give it a fair treastment and he is appreciative. I look forward to doing the review and and having members here comment and hopefully when they manage to get some of his bourbon, add reviews and constructive criticism when needed.
"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr. 25 April 1873