My mother was born in Scottsburg, Indiana and my Grandfather always said Indiana did not really start until you got north of Seymore. Indiana because the politicians in Indianapolis could care less about the people living along the Ohio River. Culturally the people in southern Indiana have more in common with Kentucky than the rest of Indiana and this is very true for their distilling heritage. They are on the same limestone self as Louisville and share much of Kentucky’s heritage in distilling whiskey and brandy.
The Huber family has been making brandy at their farm since the early 1800s. Yes, prohibition put a huge gap in this tradition but the present generation is trying to bring it back with a winery and distillery. I recently had the great pleasure of visiting The Huber Winery and Starlight Distillery and trying many samples from their barrels aging in the warehouse. They are making some excellent products.
The first product I tried was an American whiskey that is a barrel of Bourbon and rye whiskey aging together. It was very good with some nice fruit tones with vanilla and butterscotch tones even at a little short of 2 years old. I then tried some Bourbon samples that were 1-2 years old and liked what I was tasting. They are very different in that it is all sweet mash whiskey and in barrels with a low char level. One of my favorite whiskey experiences was some rye whiskey made on the same day with four barrels aging side by side in barrels with char levels ranging from 1 to 4. All were very interesting in their flavors and all very different.
What really excited me was their fruit brandy. I had a chance to taste a pear brandy laid done in 2011. It was very nice with the pear fruit with vanilla and caramel with a hint of spice and oak. I was ready to buy a bottle that day! Ted Huber has promised me that it will get even better and he will let me know when he bottles it. We then tasted some 5 years old peach brandy that was made from the same peach cider that was sent to Mount Vernon for them to distill into peach brandy. It was very good with a bit of a peach cobbler flavor with peaches, caramel and a hint of oak. Again, a very good brandy that I would purchase today if bottled. We ended with some apple brandy of about two years old. It was full of apple fruit and sweet baking spice flavors. Honey and oak came forward on the finish.
Huber’s Starlight Distillery is going to be a distillery to watch. They have a rich distilling history from their German ancestors that settled in southern Indiana. They planted vines and fruit trees and started distilling brandy very early in the 19th century. Southern Indiana was very well known for its apple brandy production before prohibition with dozens of small brandy distilleries the region making well over a thousand barrels of apple brandy a year. The Huber family is bringing back this heritage to southern Indiana.
They are also making whiskey. It is sweet mash whiskey not only of Bourbon and rye, but also corn and other types of “American” whiskey that do not fit a set category such as the rye/bourbon product I discussed earlier. Ted Huber is as excited about his whiskey as he is about his brandy. Huber is always looking to experiment and play around with mash bills, and aging as witnessed from the American whiskey I tried in their warehouse. It is a mixture of Bourbon and Rye whiskey married together as new make and then put into the barrel for aging. It is a very interesting whiskey and I plan to go back in the future to follow the progress of this whiskey as it matures. The Bourbon and Rye whiskeys I tasted were all very good and a lower barrel entry proof allows more good oak characteristics to shine even in the younger products. They are building another warehouse that will primarily be used to age their whiskey. I suspect that once they have a fully aged product of four years or more to bottle, the demand will drive them to add even more warehousing.
Huber’s Orchard and Winery is just a short drive from downtown Louisville. They have an excellent farmer’s market of produce grown on the farm and a spate wine and spirits shop where you can by their products of that nature. I recommend that you make the drive across the Ohio and visit the distillery and pick up a bottle of their whiskey and brandies.