Cheryl Lins is a distiller in New York State’s Delaware Phoenix Distillery. She is a very talented distiller and to my knowledge she has never called herself a “Master Distiller” because she feels she is still mastering the craft. I think she deserves to call herself a Master. She makes great whiskey as well as absinth that is supplied mostly in the New York market. She uses small, 10 gallon barrels for her whiskey mostly because she is a one person operation. The full size barrels would be too hard for her to handle by herself. Her distillery is also very small so warehousing space becomes a problem.

I normally am not a fan of small barrels but Cheryl seems to have a talent for making good Bourbon in small barrels. I think she has a very low entry proof and I suspect she does not over char her barrels because the whiskey has flavors from the wood that are not just wood tannins.  This bottle is from barrel number four and I was fortunate enough to have her gift the empty barrel to me. It is one of my prized processions. Cheryl is the first female distiller that I met and I have always been impressed with her skill at the distilling arts.

This bottle is bottle number 64 from barrel 4. It is less than 12 months old and bottled by hand at 100 proof with minimal filtration. Her still is a small pot still made of copper. Cheryl loves tradition and makes her whiskey using the 19th century methods that includes a lower barrel entry proof. Her whiskey lives up to the 19th century claim of being “Old Fashioned Copper Distilled Sour Mash Whiskey”.

Delaware Phoenix Bourbon

Proof: 100

Age: Less than 12 months

Nose: Corn, rye bread and vanilla with a hint of oak and spice.

Taste: Buttered corn, pepper and vanilla with a little oak wood and tobacco. Great mouth feel that covers the tongue like velvet and no burn. Tasted with a dried cranberry brings out some apple notes and baking spices. Tasted with a pecan brings out some buttery caramel and baking spices.

Finish: Long and dry with oak and pepper. The cranberry makes the finish a little sweeter and fruity with just a hint of oak. The pecan dries out the finish with lots of oak but with a buttery finish.

I really like this Bourbon. Cheryl makes great whiskey and I remember her rye and corn whiskeys being just as good as the Bourbon. I am going to have to find bottles of her rye and corn the next time I am in New York. It also pairs well with a cigar. Today I am having a Rocky Patel Martinique TAA 50th Anniversary. The smoke brings out the creamed corn sweetness of the Bourbon while the Bourbon adds a little sweet spice to the smoke. A great way to spend a cold winter’s evening for me.

Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach