3 Whiskeys from Florida's Timber Creek Distillery
It has been brought to my attention that a blog post from a certain writer that will not be named (who happens to be an undisclosed former promotional man for a different small distillery...hmmm conflict of interest?) called out this post specifically as an example of how you cannot trust me (and various other reviewers) because, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I obviously do not know the definition of bourbon because I didn't call out a fact of how these are made clearly enough." I'm not going to name that blog because, since he didn't reach out to me for comment or clarification, he is obviously more interested in being a dick, attacking people, and proving he is correct than he is about having a dialog. The sad fact of the matter is, in today's world the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser. And as there is no way to prove that I knew something before I was accused of ignorance, I am placing my thought process on why I wrote the post the way I did here.
The unnamed blog is correct. I did make a mistake when I wrote this post. Though I know better, I didn't call BS on the process that the distiller is using explicitly enough. I explained the process used, but did so in a way so as to not be a dick about it. Yes, it is technically correct that you should not call a product bourbon if the grains were not mixed before fermentation. The products reviewed below mixed different types of 100% grain whiskey after the fact to get the same ratios as would have been used if the product would have been distilled in a traditional manner. My thoughts on the matter were that this is a distinction without a difference, but since the law doesn't always follow my idea of common sense, I probably should have made my thought process clearer. I tried that in the comments, but I probably should have edited the post.
I continued to refer to the various whiskeys as "bourbon" because I felt that using a different name than what was on the bottle would be confusing to readers when I was reviewing multiple whiskeys of different taste profiles. I stand by that as I still feel that would be confusing.
To be clear, I still find the process that was used by the distiller very interesting. That and the fact I am nowhere near where it was distributed is why I accepted the samples in the first place. And now on to the review that you probably came here to see. In order to maintain transparency, I haven't changed a word below the line. It's sad that I've had to explain this because one person on the internet decided to make an accusation of untrustworthiness without even asking a question as to why a writer would write a certain way, but welcome to the United States of America in 2018.
I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. Please consider it disclosed. I’d like to thank Timber Creek Distillery for providing this sample to me with no strings attached.
A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the PR firm that works with Timber Creek Distillery to see if I would like to review some of their products. At first, I was a little leery since, unfortunately, I've sort of soured on trying new craft whiskey lately. At this point, they have to be interesting on some level to even get me to respond anymore. I've just been burned too many times.
But as I was reading through some of the notes that came along with the offer, I thought to myself, "what the heck? I probably won't be back to Florida for a while, and the rye says it's made with a Florida specific strain of Rye grain." So I said yes to the offer of samples. The worst that would happen is that I would have something to make another batch of Cherry Bounce this summer.
Timber Creek is located in the Florida Panhandle near the town of Crestview, about 70 miles north and east of Pensacola). In talking to Camden Ford, the proprietor, I was intrigued by a few of things. First, he is very particular about where he gets his barrels. He sources 15-gallon barrels from McGinnis Wood Products in Cuba, MO and 53-gallon barrels from Canton Cooperage in Lebanon, KY. Both sizes are charred to a #3 char level. (I was glad to hear he shared my opinion of the Minnesota produced barrels you often see small distillers use. I've had very little good whiskey that came out of them.)
I liked the idea that they were doing things a little differently than the big guys. They use a roller mill to crack the grains instead of a hammer mill. Then they lauter them before fermentation (in other words they filter out the grains as you would in making beer) and ferment the wort instead of distilling with the grains still in. They also produce their whiskey in the Canadian manner. They grind, ferment, distill and age each of the grains individually and then blend them after aging. To my knowledge, I've never had an American Whiskey that was created this way.
So yes, they make their own products. These whiskeys are young. The age statements are nine months on each of them. But as they are blending product from small and large barrels, this isn't surprising, particularly in the heat of Florida. Their standard Bourbon is a wheated bourbon made from corn, wheat, and less than 5% barley. The Reserve Bourbon is a four-grain Bourbon made from corn, wheat, less than 5% barley, and a Florida-specific strain of rye called Florida 401 or Black Rye. The Black Rye Whiskey is made from 100% Florida Black Rye.
Timber Creek Florida Bourbon
Purchase info: This bottle was provided to me for review purposes by the distillery. Doing a little digging shows that it is available for purchase online for $40.
Details: 9 months old, 46.5% ABV
Nose: Young with raisin, cinnamon, and cedar.
Mouth: Peppery with dried fruit and a lot of baking spice.
Finish: Short and gentle with lingering dried fruit notes.
Thoughts: If you are generally a fan of craft bourbon, you are probably also a fan of very young whiskey. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking a young, well-crafted whiskey. And while this certainly is a well-crafted whiskey, it is not my preferred style. There's no nice way to say this. For me, this tastes way too young.
Timber Creek Florida Reserve Bourbon
Purchase info: This bottle was provided to me for review purposes by the distillery. Doing a little digging shows that, it is available for purchase online for $50.
Details: 9 months old, 50% ABV
Nose: Young with raisins, brown sugar, and almonds.
Mouth: Sweet with wintergreen, brown sugar, raisin, and ginger.
Finish: Short with lingering wintergreen, ginger, and sweetness.
Thoughts: On the first taste of this, I am finding it much more palatable than the previous bourbon in tonight's review. It's still young tasting, but the sweetness, ginger and wintergreen add a nice counter to the young grain/raisin notes. As far as young bourbons go, this is pretty interesting. I'm going to say that I like this, but if you are turned off by young bourbons, you probably won't.
Timber Creek Florida Black Rye
Purchase info: This bottle was provided to me for review purposes by the distillery. Doing a little digging shows that it is available for purchase online for $51.
Details: 9 months old, 46.5% ABV
Nose: Sweetness with raisin, anise, cedar and a hint of wintergreen.
Mouth: Gentle in the mouth with dried fruit, wintergreen, baking spice and a generic sweetness.
Finish: Short and gentle with lingering wintergreen and granola.
Thoughts: This is definitely the most interesting of the three as it was distilled from a local Florida grain I have never encountered before. I'm actually very happy that this one wasn't aged too long as too much barrel influence might well overwhelm what makes it different from other rye strains.
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