So it’s been a little while since I’ve had enough time to properly sit down and write for the Whiskey Jar Blog and one of the things that I’ve noticed and been able to taste on a great number of occasions in the past few years is products produced by an upstart company in Lawrenceburg, Indiana that has consistently and firmly rocked the world when it comes to distillation of spirits. Midwest Grain Products is a subsidiary of MGP Ingredients located in Atchisen, Kansas (https://www.mgpingredients.com/distilled-spirits/beverage/product) who has for years supplied juice for companies like High West Distillery, Smooth Ambler Old Scout, Joseph Magnus, George Remus, James E. Pepper, New Riff Distillery, Diagio, Sagamore Spirit American Whiskey, Templeton, Whistle Pig, Widow Jane and even Willett…all sourced whiskey coming from their Lawrenceburg, Indiana distillery.
(A collection of distillates from Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
The answer to the question only creates more questions. The flavor differences between rye and bourbon ultimately come down their main ingredients. The corn used in bourbon makes for a sweet, full-bodied flavor. While the rye whiskey of the world creates spicy tones and a drier profile. Aged bourbon doesn’t develop nearly as much as aged ryes, which becomes softer and more subtle while still packing their patented punch. Bourbon flavors are easier to tolerate early in your drinking experience because of their noticeable sweetness and consistency. Caramel & brown sugar often blend with charred oak and toasted marshmallow. Rye tends to have more intense tastes that develop on the palate and can often times center around the portion of the flavor wheel shown below that consists of spice, aromatic & earthy with undertones of leather, coffee, tobacco, licorice, clove, cinnamon and chocolate. I strongly recommend you print out a flavor wheel the next time you are trying a new whiskey for the first time to better familiarize yourself with your palate. Every person identifies something differently. Toasted marshmallow may be brown sugar to someone else and let me clarify NONE of them are wrong. A very wise friend of mine once told me that your favorite whiskey is the one you enjoy drinking the most, not the most popular or a function of price.
(flavor wheel courtesy of Modern Thirst)
The bigger and much more interesting question is how does such a small distillery produce such a wide variety of really excellent juice? For all those of us who love the hunt, the search for more excellent spirits that we can share with friends and family or a deeper understanding of an industry that has adapted and evolved over the centuries to be one of the most lucrative and heavily regulated in the history of the world it’s all right in front of us. There is a reason why people start to taste, compare, sample & hunt for things their palate specifically enjoys. We all have a flavor profile that suits our needs and to each person everything we try and like will change over time. As we age our palate better develops, I can tell you from the time I truly fell in love with bourbon the rye’s and malted barley of the world has crept more and more into the purchase and collection I now have in my speakeasy “The Bunker” and I have no doubt that as time passes that too will change. People love to share a cocktail with friends, take in a good album and enjoy the good stuff or sit outside of your home on a perfect August afternoon under the shade of a tree that was planted before the Bottle-In-Bond act of 1897 was passed into law.
Anyways, you aren’t reading the Whiskey Jar Blog for the educational content…or maybe you are? On to the product…all while listening to an excellent pressing of Pink Floyd’s – Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Bone Snapper Straight Rye Whiskey (Single Barrel)
The Backbone Bourbon Company is a NDP (non-distillery producer) located in Ontario, California east of Los Angeles. Their website is simple, but the story behind their sourced products is not. They named their first release Backbone as the Indiana supplier they claimed “flaked out” on them wanting to cut the product ABV down to a lower level and therefore increase the number of bottles available for sale. This fortunately never happened as I gather their supplier ultimately developed a spine and honored their requests to keep it strong in both flavor and character.
What I get is a combination of several flavors with caramel & baked goods leading the charge. Vanilla bean, general citrus (orange or lemon peel hard to tell) & new charred oak also play their part. I’d say that it’s like walking into the world best bakery and you immediately begin to drool. Excellent nosing whiskey.
Very smooth mouthfeel with enough of an edge to bring you back for another sip. Earthy and elegant.
The flavors linger but you do notice the alcohol bite especially if drinking it neat. Medium Long finish with that comes back to it’s roots of vanilla & more citrus.
Another home run from MGP. They really just continue to impress at all levels. All the more reason why I love flipping bottles over in the store and seeing “Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana” on the label.