The News from Distill America Bellefontaine Reserve
If you weren’t at Distill America, you missed the launch of our Bellefontaine Reserve, which is our extra-aged Wisconsin Straight Bourbon finished in ex-Cognac casks. While we wish you could have been at Distill America with us, because it is such a fun experience, we are excited to announce that Bellefontaine Reserve is now at your favorite liquor stores! Fans have already posted pictures on social media showing they’ve purchased a bottle and the positive response has been thrilling.
Many of you asked us what went into developing this unique whiskey.
To create Bellefontaine Reserve, we first started sampling various barrels of J. Henry & Sons Wisconsin Straight Bourbon still aging in our dairy barn rickhouse. We found some barrels had a unique profile different from the Small Batch and Patton Road Reserve profiles. These barrels exhibited sweeter, lighter, more toasty flavors and didn’t have the heavier char aroma. The Bourbon was lighter in color, had fewer tannins, and exhibited flavors of roasted nut and ripe fruit.
Once fully matured, these select barrels were dumped and blended and then the Bourbon inside was re-barreled into ex-VSOP Cognac casks, where they rested for another eight months. But, the Bourbon inside wasn’t really resting, it was ‘finishing’. It began taking on some characteristics of the Cognac casks, picking up even more ripe fruit, some barrel spice, incense, and cigar box flavors.
The magic didn’t end there. We could have just added water to proof the whiskey down. Instead, we used an ancient French blending technique called Slow Reduction. With this process, the French distillers incrementally proof add water to their Cognac slowly, over time, to bring it down from barrel proof to bottling proof. We found that Slow Reduction created a rounder mouth feel while preserving the subtle aromatics of our Bourbon both before and during the finishing process. It also eliminated the creation of any off-flavors by proofing down too quickly. In the end, Joe determined 103 was the optimal proof.
What does Bellefontaine Reserve taste like (or, why should you run out and get a bottle now)?
The initial nosing of the Bourbon offers toasted oak, browned butter, and cinnamon, reminiscent of French toast with cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup. A second pass, that French toast is still present, but now the Cognac essence starts to come through, bringing fruity aromas of apple, along with oak aromas of vanilla and caramel, followed by a spicy, slightly smoky note of sandalwood incense and a tobacco or cigar box at the end.
The palate brings similar, toasted aromas (French toast and accompaniments) and spice (incense and cigar box), along with orchard fruits. The long, lovely finish is soft and warm and the cinnamon and fruitiness hold on the back of the tongue.
While stores do have Bellefontaine Reserve now, we want everyone to know this is a very limited release of only 900 bottles. That means when they’re gone, they’re gone for good. As such, we encourage you to #RewardYourself by heading to your favorite liquor store and picking up a bottle before it is too late.
Thank you all so much for all the positive feedback and support. We love hearing from you and seeing the posts on social media. As always, we hope you’ll discover ways to #DrinkBetterNotMore. Cheers!