What came first, the farm or the distillery? In the case of Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. in Dekalb, Illinois the answer is the farm but distilling wasn’t far behind according to the family photo dated 1897. You see this farm distillery was co-founded by 4th generation farmer Jim Walter, his son and 5th generation farmer Jamie Walter and Nick Nagele. When you farm the land that grows the crops used to make your distilled spirits you tend to dream in colors like yellow corn, green corn or even blue popcorn.
In the case of Whiskey Acres, these experimental and heirloom corns are what they harvest to make their Artisan Series whiskies. Their latest release falls into this category with the aptly named Whiskey Acres Artisan Series 5.5 Grain Bourbon Whiskey. It takes a little funny math to get to the t 5.5 grains but, we’ll walk you through it.
What is a 5.5 Grain Mashbill?
We all know that to legally called bourbon a whiskey has to contain a minimum of 51% corn but it doesn’t say that it has to be all the same kind of corn. In this case, the Artisan Series it uses a mashbill of 50% yellow dent corn, 10% Oaxacan green corn, 10% wheat, 10% rye, 10% oat and 10% malted barley. Because they use two kinds of corn, they call those two (Yellow dent/Oaxacan Green) the 1.5. It’s the new distiller’s math.
In addition to the unusual six grains, Nagele added, “We used an experimental yeast strain. Distilled and fermented at the same SOP’s as our normal runs. This was an experimental batch that was a “let’s see what happens” moment. We knew that this combo of grains had never been used before, so this was a fun way to take some of the unique grains that we had limited supplies of, and make something special.”
This small batch bourbon was aged in three 15 gallon barrels for 2 years and 11 days. The Angels took 13.82% for their cut which Nagele says is well below the average of 20% for 15 gallon barrels that old. The bourbon went into the barrels at 124.1° proof and dropped slightly to 122.7° proof when they were dumped and then bottled at 87° proof (43.5% ABV.)
Nose: caramel, warm spices, vanilla, dried dark fruits, and pipe tobacco.
Palate: sweet and peppery with herbal notes and toasted oak.
Finish: medium length with vanilla, hint of chocolate, that gives way to herbal notes and oak.
This Whiskey Acres Artisan Series 5.5 Grain Bourbon Whiskey small batch release is on sale now at the distillery with a suggested retail price of $29.99 for a 375ml bottle.