Sitting in a condo in Aspen watching it snow is the perfect backdrop to write about bourbon…and of course to drink it as well.
This month I’m taking a departure from interviewing Denver’s finest bar keeps and um…researching. Yeah, that’s what I do, research. I’m not even interviewing Aspen’s finest. We’re going to take a trip to South Carolina to try a fairly new bourbon.
Let’s back up a bit. I want to make sure I bring my readers information on a lot of different bourbons. My first few articles focused on large scale, nationally available bourbons like Barterhouse, Breckenridge, and George Dickel—all of which are good bourbons. But, I started wondering about the small to mid-size batch bourbon producers and of course, what their bourbons taste like.
By pure chance, I met Tim Grovenburg at a birthday party while I was in Chicago. When discussing my article, he let me know he worked for Dark Corner Distillery, which makes Lewis Redmond bourbon. Of course, I said I would love to taste it and the next thing you know not only do I have a bottle of bourbon on my doorstep but also the distillate, better known as moonshine.
…Which was new to me. I didn’t realize that bourbon started as moonshine, but it makes sense.
The Dark Corner Distillery, located in Greenville, South Carolina, has not been around that long—only a few years. The distillery is in an old building erected in 1925. Keeping with the founders’ desire to provide small batch bourbon that focuses more on quality than quantity, they have an 80 gallon copper pot still and only make a few barrels at a time.
Dark Corner calls their moonshine The World’s Best Moonshine.
As you all can imagine, if I’m not a fan of George T. Stagg, moonshine probably isn’t going to be high on my list of beverages to taste. But I have to hand it to the distillers at Dark Corner because the moonshine is really good. Seriously. Sweet, balanced, and surprisingly easy to drink. The numerous awards they have won is a testament to the balance of flavors.
And, if you’ve been reading my column, you also know I preach that quality of ingredients matter—this couldn’t be more important than when making the distillate for bourbon. When you start with award-winning moonshine, chances are you’re going to get a quality product.
It’s time to meet Lewis Redmond. Not the bourbon “Robin Hood” outlaw of South Carolina, but the bourbon that is hand mashed from Dark Corner Distillery. I had high expectations given the quality of its distillate and the many awards it has won. Happily, I wasn’t disappointed.
Because of its mash bill of sweet corn, barley, and red wheat (no rye in this bourbon) the fragrance of molasses is a dominant scent—and what a lovely scent it is.
In addition to this sweet aroma, you will also get a whiff of peanuts. Not sure why, but you can smell it.
Like Lewis’ daddy, the bourbon is sweet, balanced, and has just a little bit of a bite.
It only ages for two years and I’m amazed at how smooth it is. You can easily sip this bourbon on its own, add a drop of water, or serve on ice.
Personally, I like it in a Manhattan—served up and stirred, not shaken. If you want a little thinner cocktail with ice floaters in your Manhattan, go ahead and shake it…it’s all personal preference. I prefer mine stirred because it makes the cocktail cold and doesn’t impart any additional dilution from the shaken ice.
And, speaking of a Manhattan, here’s the classic recipe:
2 ounces Lewis Redmond bourbon
1 ounce Italian vermouth (I prefer Dolin or Antica)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir the bourbon or rye, Vermouth, and bitters well with cracked ice. Strain into a “martini” glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry. (NO maraschino cherries—ever!)
Where can you get Lewis Redmond? Well, that’s the tricky part. You can only get it in Greenville, SC. So, if you have a friend there, ask them to send you some. It will make a great addition to your spirits collection and you will know that you have a rare bourbon just from the simple fact that they don’t make that much.