On February 12th, 2016 I was invited by Kyle over at the Whiskey Barrel Society to partake in a special barrel selection at Tom’s Foolery distillery. This was my first ever barrel selection and I had an absolute blast. Thought I would share my experience………
First, I think I need to provide a little information about the Tom’s Foolery Distillery. It is possible that many haven’t heard about this up and coming micro-distillery. The distillery is family owned and run by Tom and Lianne in Northeast Ohio. Their specialty up until a few years ago was applejack, an apple brandy. The last 3 or so years Tom and Lianne began making whiskey (rye, bourbon, wheat, malt, corn, etc..). When they began getting serious about making whiskey, the Beam family came up to their house for a week and taught them everything they knew about making whiskey. In addition, I believe Tom’s Fooley purchased an old Michter’s still to run their first whiskey batches.
As I stated previously, this was my first barrel selection, but I know that Tom and Lianne went above and beyond to host the barrel selection. They had tasting glasses, crackers, cheeses, nuts, and water waiting for us on our arrival. In addition, Lianne made us dinner half way through the tasting! I am sure you do not get this type of experience at other distilleries.
In total, I believe we tasted 11 different barrels that included ryes, applejack, wheat, and corn whiskeys. Remember that all these whiskeys are young. Tom’s Foolery just began making whiskey a few years ago. I know that the young age will not be appealing to some, but Tom mentioned a few things during our tasting that I found very informative. The first being that because of the cold winters, and somewhat mild summers in Northeast Ohio, that liquor in the area actually decreases in proof with age. So if you are thinking, man I wish they had whiskey that was older, so do I, but it is likely that a cask strength of an older whiskey would be below 100 proof. Second, this whiskey has more oxidation in the barrel than most because of the colder winters. We all know how oxidation can help our whiskey open up.
Below are the barrels that the Whiskey Barrel Society selected. Tom’s Foolery has an amazing database of their inventory that provides a wealth of information about each barrel.
· 2 years, 9 months (barreled 4/27/2013)
· 113% proof
· In a regular 53 gallon barrel
· Notes: Definitely a pour that would be in a heavy rotation at my household. Sweet, with an interesting nose. Unique taste with a matly finish. Wish I could have spent more time with this one. Was one of the last barrels we tasted. At this point in the night there was a blizzard outside and I was starting to get a little buzzed, so had to pump the brakes a little on the booze front.
· 2 years, 1 month (barreled 1/5/2014)
· 121% proof
· In a 25 gallon barrel
· Notes: I have had the regular bottled AppleJack before. It is great for mixers, but never really thought of it as a sipper. This cask strength AppleJack is for sure a sipper. Holy candy apple! For those that have a sweet tooth and like sweetness in your pours, look no further. It is like King Kandy & Princess Frostine abducted me and transported me to Candy Land. Think of a liquidfied caramel apple sucker.
Both barrels are truly special. Not many offerings on the market for cask strength wheat whiskey or brandy. Plus, this is the very first cask strength selection that Tom’s Foolery has ever allowed! If you want to own and try the best whiskey made in Ohio, look no further. I hope that the Whiskey Barrel Society and Tom’s Foolery can do this again. There were other special barrels that didn’t make the cut this time around that I know would be very well received by whiskey lovers.
Thanks again to Tom & Lianne for the special evening and Whiskey Barrel Society for letting me tag along.