Tennessee is all around me these days, I heard Arrested Development's late '90s big hit on the radio today and close oyster loving friends have just moved to Nashville. So I better start drinking some Tennessee whiskey, huh?
Also with perfect timing, Nick Demjen of Origin Spirits brought in an impressive lineup from Prichard's Distillery in Kelso, Tennessee. The family has been distilling since 1822, with the recent distillery being built in 1997.
Prichard's Tennessee Whiskey represents a traditional, original style using mostly white corn with a solid backbone of rye. 80 proof and aged 3-5 years in small 15 gallon new American oak barrels, to me, this makes the whiskey more complex and less sweet than Jack Daniel's which ages in 53 gallon barrels. Speaking of Jack, the distillery notes: "When Jack Daniel made whiskey during the Civil War, he used a pot still not unlike our own. He also used white corn according to the mash bill posted on the wall in his original office."
Prichard's Rye is my favorite, 86 proof, 95% rye with the remaining percentage of malt to give a round, slight sweetness. The spice of the rye is pleasantly magnified by 3-5 year aging in new oak barrels. While I prefer it alone with a large ice cube, it can be delicious in cocktails. Try it in a Red Hook variation: 1.5 oz Prichard's Rye, .75oz Punt e Mes (or other Sweet Vermouth) and .25 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. Stir ingredients and strain into a cocktail glass. Bittersweet and spicy, dark fruit, perfect for after diner on a fall evening.
The flagship is their Double Barrel Bourbon. Most Bourbon is barreled in large 53 gallon barrels at 125 proof. How does it get down to 80 proof? Water and evaporation. What makes Prichard's so unique is they get it to 95 proof and then re-barrel in smaller 15 gallon barrels. Intense caramel, spice, vanilla and overall richness result. This is delicious as a sipping whiskey, perhaps with one or two ice cubes.
Finally a big (and delicious) surprise, Double Chocolate Bourbon. From Nick's notes:
The product is a result of a joint effort between the Prichard’s Distillery (Kelso, TN) and the Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co. (Nashville, TN).
A byproduct of the chocolate making process is literally hundreds of pounds of crushed pieces of a cocoa bean hull, or “nibs” as they are referred to by the chocolate maker. Nibs are used to infuse the chocolate flavor into what it is initially our Double Barreled Bourbon product. The flavors come from the natural oils that are still present in the broken shells. The whiskey that is infused has already been “double barreled” for ultimate smoothness and bourbon flavor. The resulting product is a marriage of two flavors that complement one another. The chocolate taste is not overwhelming. The chocolate is picked up more in the nosing of the product and then on the back and sides of the tongue in tasting.
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