Alan Bishop, the distiller at Spirits of French Lick Distillery, is a big proponent of the Indiana distilling heritage, but also of Hoosier heritage as a whole. Lee W. Sinclair was the businessman who built the West Baden Springs Hotel with its magnificent dome in French Lick, Indiana. Spirits of French Lick chose him to honor with their first Bourbon released that is their own distillate. I think it is a fitting honor.
Alan is very open as to what was done to make this whiskey. First of all, the mash bill is very unique. It is 60% Indiana corn, 13% oats, 17% wheat and 10% caramel malt. He used two yeasts in the fermentation. The first was what he described as a grain forward yeast while the second was a brandy yeast. It went into the barrel at 105 proof and the barrel had a number 2 char and medium toasted heads from Kelvin Cooperage. It is one of his experiments in creating an Indiana style Bourbon. It is different from the whiskey made at the big Kentucky distilleries, but I find it very good at two years old and look forward to older versions in the future.
Lee W. Sinclair 4 Grain Bourbon
Age: 2 years old
Nose: Corn bread batter with vanilla and hints of fruit, spice and oak.
Taste: Corn, vanilla and apricots with some backing spices – cinnamon and nutmeg, with a little white pepper and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the apricot comes forward with lots of vanilla and caramel, but a big reduction in the spice notes. Tasted with a pecan it becomes very creamy with vanilla and the baking spices.
Finish: Long and dry with oak and white pepper spice. The cranberry shortens the finish and there is very little spice with the oak. The pecan brings out the baking spices with the oak and white pepper.
I chose a Fuente Reserva Xtra Viejo cigar to pair with this Bourbon as I find the smoke very full bodied with notes of chocolate and cedar spiciness. The Bourbon made the smoke richer in chocolate and the spice became a sweet spice of clove and nutmeg. The smoke brought out some citrus notes and enhanced the white pepper in the Bourbon. A very good pairing on a cold, rainy night in February.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller