One Sip: Journeyman Distillery’S Featherbone Bourbon

October 3rd, 2012

Last February when I wrote about the growing crop of local distilleries, who knew we’d be celebrating a movement a little over year and a half later with Craft Spirit Week, which hits its peak tonight at the Independent Spirits Expo?

Of that small group of fledgling distilleries, one has emerged as my favorite. In just one year Journeyman Distillery, located in Three Oaks, Michigan, has rolled out a wide-ranging profile of spirits, from a juniper-light gin, based on bilberries, to a light rum to the surprisingly smooth Ravenswood Rye. This week marks the official release of their first bourbon, called Featherbone for the restored corset factory that’s home to the distillery and bar.

According to Journeyman’s Bill Welter, it’s a fairly traditional wheated bourbon made from 70 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and just a bit of barley and rye. Like all the grains used at Journeymen, these are organic and local. In this case, the corn and rye come from Illinois, the wheat from Michigan, and the barley from Wisconsin. The whiskey was aged for one year in new, charred 15-gallon white oak barrels from Minnesota. You can’t call something a straight bourbon unless it’s aged at least two years, but Featherbone has quite a bit of depth for such a young whiskey. And it’s got a hit of spice due to the rye—a bit more than the Ravenswood Rye does, in fact.

Its official release isn’t until Saturday, but you buy it now at In Fine Spirits for $54.

Incidentally, if you’re anywhere near Three Oaks—perhaps hunting for bacon jam—check out the free tours at the Featherbone Factory (after grabbing a cocktail at the bar first, of course). Welter and company did a marvelous job restoring this old place, which was founded by prohibitionist E.K. Warren, who made his fortune by figuring out how to make women’s corsets out of turkey feathers instead of whalebone.