Last night I had the pleasure to meet Tom, his lovely wife and three adorable children. I also had about an hour to sit down and talk whiskey with him and to sample his product. We tasted a white dog rye at 140 proof, a bourbon white dog at 110 proof, his rye whiskey at 106 proof, aged in a small cask for almost a year, his bourbon at 100 proof aged in a small cask for two weeks, and his corn whiskey, Glen Thunder, at 90 proof. I will talk more about the products later as I have time to sit down and do some tasting notes, but I will say that they were all excellent products.
I do want to discuss some of his theories on distilling. I say theories, because Tom is very willing to experiment and I would say from our converastion, nothing is etched in stone, but there are many practical steps of the process that he does respect as tradition. He believes in low distillation proof (the rye white dog was something he made for a friend and I was lucky enough to sample it, but the rye for barreling is much lower proof). He has an unusual process in that the first distillation is always pot still and if a column is used, it is in the doubling process. He takes great pride in what he makes and that comes through in the final product. He wants to make his first release as a small barrel aged rye and hopes to have it for sale at a reasonable price of about $35.00 a 750ml. It will only be about a year old, but small barrels do tend to mature whiskey faster and the one I tasted last night could easily be passed off as a three or four years old product. I think that will do well. He also hopes to get a four year old product out at a price of $50.00 give or take $5.00. He wants to make money, but he wants to make it affordable. I like his thinking here.
I wish I had had more time to spend with him. I also wish I had a pint or two of that rye white dog. It wqs very good with a strong honey note to the taste with a bit of peppery spice. Very good. I did come home with samples of the bourbon white dog, the two week old bourbon, the nearly a year old rye and his Glen Thunder Corn whiskey. I am visiting John tomorrow so I will let you know what we think after an afternoon/evening tasting these products.