Spirits of French Lick distillery in West Baden Springs, Indiana has released its first in a series of whiskeys, the Lee Sinclair, a Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This is the first straight bourbon whiskey the distillery has released since it began distilling operations in April 2016.
“Everything that went into making this spirit was carefully planned for and executed,” said Spirits of French Lick Head Distiller Alan Bishop. “Although this Bourbon was produced using a lot of unique methodology, it is all firmly rooted in the history of distillation. The double pot still distillation process allows us to caress, retain, and intensify the elements of the grain which we find the most pleasing and enables us to subsequently blend those elements with the flavor that our barrel and maturation program provides. The addition of oats onto our proprietary mash bill, though now rare, was once common. This provides us a subtle sweetness and a big buttery mouthfeel to this spirit.”
The Lee W. Sinclair 4 Grain Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey was built on a four-grain mash bill comprised of 60% corn, 17% wheat, 13% oats, and 10% caramel malt. Fermentation was completed by using two unique and proprietary strands of yeast. This process focuses on the flavor profile which is the sweet and mildly fruity elements of the grain. The bourbon was double pot distilled on small pots. The distillation cuts were catered to the nature of the grains and aging requirements.
The new make whiskey was then entered into new 53 gallon new American Oak barrels at 105 proof. Bishop states, “The low entry point of the distillate into a medium char barrel provides a couple of key characteristics for our flavor profile. The number 2 char allows us to “Respect the Grain” as well as provide a balance between 50% Distillers Art and 50% maturation without just pounding out straight caramel and vanilla at the sacrifice of the grain flavor. The low entry proof pulls more lignin for us giving those hazelnut and toffee aromas, while the caramel malt in the profile brings forward those more traditional Bourbon notes.”
The bourbon was aged in new Kelvin Cooperage barrels made with Oak staves that were air dried for a full 24 months before assembly. Each barrel was given a medium toast, including the heads, before receiving a No. 2 char. The staves were charred using wood left over from the coopering process, as opposed to gas fires. The bourbon maturation took place within the barrel Chai or cellar in the old Kimball Piano warehouse for a full two years. When it came time for bottling, the Lee Sinclair bourbon was slowly proofed down over a period of two weeks to avoid saponification.
“The best part is that we are just getting started and are excited to distill unique, high quality whiskies and to share them with the whiskey community when the time is right”, commented John Doty, owner of Spirits of French Lick.
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Why Lee W. Sinclair?
The new bourbon is named after Lee W. Sinclair, the businessman who purchased the original Baden Lick Hotel and transformed it into the West Baden Dome and Hotel in Baden, Indiana. The original hotel built in 1855 was the Mile Lick Inn but was later changed to West Baden Springs Hotel to highlight the abundance of natural mineral springs in the area. The hotel burned down in 1901 but was rebuilt on a much grander scale and reopened for business in June of 1902. The new hotel was an architectural feat with a fireplace that burned 14′ logs and a massive 200′ diameter atrium that was the largest free-standing dome in the world at the time. Sinclair was a native of Salem Indiana, a banker, a mill owner, and prominent businessman in both Orange and Washington County in Indiana.
The Spirits of French Lick distillery is an outgrowth of the French Lick Winery that started in 1995. In addition to whiskey, the distillery has been producing award winning botanical spirits like Aquavit, Absinthe, Old Tom Gin as well as Son Roho, Blackberry Eau De Vie, and Apple brandies for the past two years. This craft spirits distillery is currently laying down ten to twelve full size 53-gallon barrels of Bourbon, Rye, and other pot distilled whiskies weekly.
The Lee W. Sinclair 4 Grain Indiana Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 90° proof (45% ABV) and has a suggested retail price of $44.95. The bourbon will be available through distribution in Indiana via Southern Glazer’s Distributing Co. as well as at the French Lick Winery and Vintage Café gift shop.
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