Henstone Old Dog Corn Liquor: a British Bourbon!
Ever heard of a British Bourbon? Well you have now!
Chris Toller had always intended to make whisky when he and his business partners set up Henstone Distillery in Oswestry, Shropshire in 2017. However, whisky requires a minimum of three years’ maturation in cask to be called whisky, before release. Therefore, Henstone began making gin and vodka and have picked up a clutch of prestigious awards in the process. The whisky will be ready on 11th January next year, but in the meantime they created Old Dog Corn Liquor.
A British Bourbon
Because it’s made in Shropshire and not in the US, it can’t be legally labelled a Bourbon. However, for all intents and purposes, that’s precisely what it is: a ‘British Bourbon’!
Chris explains how this came about. “Nobody in the UK was producing a Bourbon. We did loads of research and developed our own recipe based on 50% torrefied maize, 25% wheat and 25% barley.” With the brewing equipment of Stonehouse Brewery at their disposal, they could formulate the mash bill to create the wash on-site. Co-owner Shane Parr used his brewery contacts to work out which yeasts would be most appropriate. They made their first batch during April 2019 and moved the spirit to new American oak barrels sourced from Speyside Cooperage at the end of the month. The finished product was taken out of cask and bottled, ready for sale, on 17th January 2020.
The first batch spent eight months in oak, which imparted plenty of colour and vanilla flavour. Chris notes the style as “very drinkable and sippable”. He continues: “Some Bourbons can be harsh, but this isn’t. It’s like all the other products we do.”
Old Dog Corn Liquor
Realising that they couldn’t label the product ‘Bourbon’, they had to come up with a name. Chris explains further. “The four of us went out to dinner one evening. My wife Alex and I had done some research on the local valley where we lived, which is only one mile from the distillery. In the mid-to-late 1800s, it was a coal mining area and one of the shafts was called Old Dog. We thought this is so ‘Bourbonesque’ and so over dinner we came up with Old Dog Corn Liquor. Corn Liquor is what it is and Old Dog is linked to our community.”
So far, Henstone Distillery has made four batches, each of around 300 bottles, with the first batch selling out. They sell through their website, the distillery shop, some local independent stores, Master of Malt and Turmeaus. RRP is £34.95 for a 70cl bottle.
Ryebeck supplied the brand new, German handmade Kothe K1200N 1000L pot still that Henstone uses for all its spirits distillations. You can read here an exclusive interview on how Ryebeck became the partner of choice for Chris and his colleagues.
Author: Robin Goldsmith of The Write Taste.