Monday, September 22, 2014

Tom's Foolery Straight Bourbon Whiskey: Craft Whiskey With Integrity

It’s not everyday that I get the chance to review a brand new bourbon. Tom’s Foolery Distillery in Chagrin Falls Ohio has been receiving critically acclaim for its Apple Jack for sometime now, but is on the verge of releasing its first whiskey. Tom’s Foolery Straight Sour Mash Bourbon will be on store shelves first in Ohio, around October 2014, with a Straight Rye Whiskey to be released in spring of 2015.

So I am abandoning my usual practice of placing this in my tasting notes and adding it here. Tom Herbruck has been laying up some really exciting bourbons and ryes here in Northeast Ohio and some of those are Straight, a minimum of two years old. See Tom's story here at his website 

As a founding member of the Cleveland Bourbon Club I had the foresight to invite Tom to be a member. I reveal this fact in the spirit of full disclosure, because some might take my review to be somewhat biased. That said, in the evening of September 15, 2014 Tom presented the Straight Sour Mash Bourbon (Batch 1) and his Straight 100% Rye Whiskey.

Tom’s Foolery Straight Sour Mash Bourbon (Batch 1)

Mash Bill 70% Corn 15% Rye 15% Malted Barley
Double Pot Distilled
Char No. 4 (Independent Stave Company 53 gallon)
No temperature control rickhouse with metal siding.
Small Batch Bourbon of five to six specifically selected barrels.
Bottled at 90 proof (45%ABV)

Nose: The nose of this two year old may not explode (What two year old does) but its age reveals notes of saddle leather, wet oak, and there is a surprisingly little ethanol for such young bourbon.

Taste: This bourbon has a full mouth feel but not overly viscous. Light honey, vanilla cream, and orangesicle through the mid-palate. It finishes with mint and clove and tobacco.

Overall Impression: Quite frankly I had great trepidation going into this tasting because I know the distiller so well. Plus it’s a two-year bourbon. However, it’s a great straight two-year bourbon. Granted its not yet a big bourbon with huge flavor, but it will probably get there. This two year old is subtle and well balanced showing potential for growth through maturity. Flavors are showing themselves already and in good portion. What is striking is the lack of bitterness, metallic, and that new make ethanol taste. This is a nice first release, worth drinking and owning. It is definitely a real Straight Bourbon.

PS. On September 18, 2014, I had a chance to sample Batch 2 of the Tom’s Foolery Straight Sour Mash Bourbon. This batch is less leathery and more floral with rose and hibiscus. There is more maple sweetness, vanilla cream, red-hot cinnamon, orange cream with a white pepper and clove on the finish. This batch is fuller in its flavor and even has a deeper richer color.

While I was impressed with Tom’s Foolery Bourbon, I was not prepared for what came next.

Tom’s Foolery Straight 100% Rye Whiskey.

Mash Bill 85% Raw Rye 15% Malted Rye
Double Pot Distilled
Char No. 4 (Independent Stave Company 53 gallon)
No temperature control rickhouse with metal siding.
Tasted as single barrel
Bottled at 90 proof (45%ABV)

Nose: This Rye presented itself with dusty nose, orange blossom, candied mint and vanilla cream

Taste: Cinnamon candy, anise, clove, and fennel.

Overall impression: Wow this is an amazing Straight Rye. There are couple of new two year old ryes out there that are good but in my opinion this beats them. This is an exceptional rye. Its full with a great mouth feel thick and rich. This is a completely complex rye whiskey and only two years old. Again, Wow!