Timber Creek is a Florida distillery located on a “family farm” that makes a variety os spirits in the panhandle of the sunshine state. The distillery has a variety of blends, this one being of local Floridian wheat, corn, and black rye grain. The bottle’s description has the following paragraph:
At Timber Creek, our Bourbons start with the finest local Florida grown Corn, Wheat, and Black Rye grains. We grind, cook, ferment, distill, and barrel each grain individually so we can extract the purest flavors from each grain. We barrel and age each grain in the finest #3 charred Missouri Oak barrels. After the appropriate aging , we then hand pick the most flavorful barrels to blend into our Bourbon. By barreling the grains individually, we have endless possible combinations of corn, wheat, rye, and barley so we can blend custom blends to blend the smoothest, most flavorful Bourbons. At our Distillery, we can even blend a custom bourbon for you.
-Aged a minimum of 9 months-
When I have to travel for work, I usually try to find something local to my destination. Some selections are a bust and some are great finds. This particular selections in St Petersburg, Florida. The whiskey is available at a number of retailers for between $35-40. The Timber Creek bottle was one of the only bottles that seemed to give credence to being made in Florida, so that is the one that I grabbed.
The bottle itself was a pretty standard looking bottle with a nice label and a synthetic cork. It is 93 proof (46.5%) and the description uses the word “Bourbon” a number of times. This was confusing because it’s my understanding that Bourbon was specifically something from Kentucky. Apparently, bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA, according to law. However, some 95% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky. But this isn’t the only restriction on calling a whiskey a bourbon.
In order to call a whiskey a bourbon, there are a few rules.
The requirement for new charred oak barrels contribute to better aging and color characteristics. Since no artificial colorings or flavorings can be added, this requirement is instrumental in the maturation of bourbon flavor. Other types of whiskey can be aged in used barrels.
All Natural, No additives
Unlike other types of whiskeys (Canadian, Scotch, Irish), where coloring and flavor additives may be present, bourbon maintains an authentic and unadulterated profile.
Bourbon barrels are often stored on their side in ricks, which allow for airflow throughout aging warehouses. This type of storage is unique, whereas other types of whiskeys are aged on pallets or standing on the ground. It is believed that the airflow is a major differentiating factor in the bourbon craft.
Bourbon recipes consist of at least 51% corn, which creates a sweet flavor. Other grains such as rye, wheat and malted barley are added for a more complex flavor. Other types of whiskeys might only use one grain. This is another factor in the distinct flavor characteristics of bourbon .
The temperature extremes between hot summer and cool winter seasons where bourbon is crafted contribute greatly to the aging process in bourbon whiskey. The temperature changes affect how the bourbon reacts with the oak, resulting in an accelerated aging process, relative to other whiskeys.
For bourbon to be designated “straight bourbon whiskey” it must have aged in new charred oak barrels for a period of at least two years.
Bottled In Bond
Bourbon classified as Bottled In Bond must have been made during a single distilled season at one distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse for a period of at least four years and bottled at 100 proof as originally defined in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. Only American whiskeys can carry the label of “Bottled in Bond,” and any such bourbon label must identify the distillery from which it was distilled and bottled.
Based on these rules, it would appear that bourbon can, in fact, be made in Florida.
Nevertheless, my initial expectation was high once I pulled the cork out. The aroma was robust and spicy. It was reminiscent of Marker’s Mark, but with a slight more white oak smell. However, MM used French Oak barrels rather than American White Oak. Interestingly, Timber Creek is aged in a Missouri Oak barrel.
The tasting of the whiskey was less impressive than the aroma. While the flavor was over-all quite good, it seemed as though there was a lot of White Oak astringent in the tasting. White Oak is naturally astringent because it’s high level of tannins. With long enough aging the level of astringency will be reduced and you will get a certain amount of sweetness in the flavor. However, if you just take a bunch of oak and dump it into any liquid, it’s going to have a certain amount of puckering flavors in it from the wood. When the barrel is dried and then charred many of the harsher tasting tanning are removed. When this whiskey is tasted there is a bit more of that harsh tannin flavor than expected for something that came from a charred barrel. Other than that, it’s a pleasant whiskey with lots of spice and almost no smoke.
Aroma: Aroma is spicy, think cinnamon, and oak.
Taste: The taste is both sweet and spicy. You get some oak flavor in there as well but beware that the tannins might be a bit strong on the back of the tongue.
Texture/color: The whiskey is smooth and rich feeling and the color is great. It’s a golden copper color.
Finish: The finish is not as nice as the original taste. The finish gets a lot of the harsher flavors from the oak.
Featured image via Timber Creek Distillery