Le Claire, Iowa, February 20, 2011 – When distillers Ryan and Garrett Burchett of Mississippi River Distilling Company set out to open a small distillery, it was with a passion for whiskey. That passion is about to come to fruition as the pair of brothers gears up to barrel their first batch of homegrown bourbon whiskey.
The distillery’s first batch of bourbon will be distilled on Saturday, February 26. That date is of significance as it is the birthday of Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody, who was born in the distillery’s hometown of LeClaire, Iowa, will be the namesake of the new bourbon whiskey.
Mississippi River Distilling Company opened in December to great fanfare with the release of their River Baron Vodka. The unique vodka has been flying off shelves in Iowa and Illinois over the past two months. It’s been selling so fast that the distillery had to wait to start making their bourbon.
“We knew people in these parts were passionate about local products, but we underestimated just how passionate they truly are.” said distiller and owner Ryan Burchett. “River Baron has been selling so fast, it’s taken over two months to catch up our production so we can finally stop making it long enough to start on some of our other products.”
All of the spirits at Mississippi River Distilling Company are made from raw grain purchased directly from farmers within 25 miles of the distillery. The bourbon will be made with corn from LeClaire, Iowa along with wheat and barley from Reynolds, Illinois.
The bourbon will be aged less than one year. Not a typical approach for most distillers. “Our story here is all about the local grains and the farmers that produce them. Our vodka is unique because of the rich sweetness of the corn, the butterscotch finish of the wheat and the beautiful aroma they blend to provide.” said distiller Garrettt Burchett. “We’re taking a similar approach to our bourbon. We want it to taste more like the sweet grain than just what comes from the walls of the barrel.”
The brothers are excited about the process they have developed for their bourbon. By using small barrels, they increase the ratio of oak to spirit in order to get a faster age on their whiskey. By only barreling the sweetest and smoothest portion of the distillation, they will have a very clean and smooth spirit before it even hits the barrel.
“We really are looking for enough time in the barrel for our spirit to get its color and extract some of the vanilla and caramel flavors that bourbon is known for. The grain recipe for the bourbon is very similar to our vodka. But we distill the bourbon at a lower alcohol content, so the flavor will be much fuller.” added Ryan. “If you like our vodka, I think you’ll love this bourbon.”
Visitors are encouraged to come to the distillery to see the distillation process up close. Free tours are offered to the public daily on the hour from 12 to 4 PM or by appointment. Tours end in the Grand Tasting Room with free samples of products for those patrons over 21 years of age.