About five years ago, I was part of an event at the Leiper’s Fork Distillery, near Franklin, Tennessee. The distiller (I don’t think he was calling himself a “Master Distiller” at the time), Lee Kennedy, was hosting the event at this beautiful distillery. The distillery is a timber structure housing a modern distillery of medium size. Kennedy let me taste some of his new make and I liked what I tasted. I was impressed with the quality and taste. I have been waiting to taste some of this whiskey after it aged a few years and now I have a bottle of Leiper’s Fork Tennessee Whiskey.
Kennedy is a distiller with more than a little skill. He told me at the time that he just wanted to make high quality whiskey, and I would say he has achieved that goal. He was very open as to how he was making his whiskey and even admitted that he preferred to make Bourbon, but being in Tennessee, he was obliged to make a Tennessee whiskey as well as a Bourbon. I am glad he has done so. This is an excellent Tennessee whiskey.
His openness to what he is doing is apparent when you look at the label. It is full of information about the whiskey. There is the mash bill of 70% corn, 15% rye and 15% barley malt. It has a barrel entry proof of 110 in new American oak with a number 4 char level. It is, of course, bottled at 100 proof and is four years old. It is also labeled as a small batch whiskey. My thought is that the distillery is small enough that everything they bottle will be either single barrel or small batch. Rosemary found this bottle online and it was about $80 plus shipping. It is worth the cost. Matt and I tasted it and here are our notes.
Leiper’s Fork Tennessee Whiskey Bottled-in-Bond
Age: Four Years Old
- Mike: Fruit forward with apricots and peaches, vanilla with the smokiness from the Tennessee mellowing process and some oak wood.
- Matt: Pleasantly earthy with smoke, floral notes and vanilla with a hint of peanut butter and oak.
- Mike: Fruit forward with peaches and plums, a little cinnamon spice, vanilla, oak and just a hint of smoke. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the peach and vanilla are enhanced but the spice is taken down a couple of notches – still there but in the deep background. Tasted with a pecan and some berry fruit and chocolate come out to join the party.
- Matt: Chocolate and peanut butter with some floral notes and smoke. The dried cranberry added hints of dark fruit, the smoke notes get a little dry. Tasted with a pecan and it becomes dark chocolate and peanut butter with a rich chewy mouthfeel.
- Mike: Long with oak and cinnamon and lingering fruity sweetness. The dried cranberry made the fruit notes stronger and the finish sweeter. The pecan made the finish very long with chocolate, oak and lingering berry fruit sweetness.
- Matt: A strong, smoky, nutty finish. The dried cranberry gave the finish a viscosity of a fine red wine with fruit and oak. The pecan brought out a beautiful oak and smoke finish with a pleasant warmth.
I would pair this fine whiskey with my pipe. A good pipe tobacco with lots of vanilla, chocolate and coffee notes such as my favorite Kremer’s Black Royal would be an excellent pairing with this whiskey.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller