We’re pleased to announce our October Whiskey of the Month will be W.H. Harrison Indiana Bourbon. Indiana Bourbon? For starters, American law states that to qualify as a Bourbon whiskey, it must be:
• Made from at least 51% corn
• Distilled to not more than 160 proof
• Barreled at not more than 125 proof
• Aged in new, charred oak barrels
That’s it, there are no geographic requirements – as is often thought – to qualify as a bourbon. W.H. Harrison is named after William Henry Harrison, former governor of Indiana and ninth President of the United States. He also happened to run a distillery for a short while on his farm in North Bend, Ohio between his term as Indiana governor and his runs for President.
Scarcely known these days is that Kentucky wasn’t always the hot bed of whiskey production in the States. The Whiskey Rebellion is still taught in history texts, giving a clue to the fact that whiskey was once produced elsewhere, and it’s true that Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky used to produce their fair share. Prior to the Civil War, Ohio and Indiana supplied much of the bourbon consumed in New Orleans, and for a generation the most popular brand in the Crescent City was Old Hamer, produced in a tiny settlement near present-day Mitchell, Indiana. As you might guess, the method of transportation to get these goods to New Orleans was by river, from the Ohio River to the Mississippi.
The Civil War made it hard, nearly impossible really, to get the whiskeys produced in Indiana and Ohio to market in New Orleans, and most distilleries didn’t survive the hit, closing either during the war or during reconstruction with but a few surviving to be snuffed out by prohibition, and Kentucky rose quickly to be the Whiskey capital of the South, and then the whole country. The expanse of Kentucky’s wild forests and rural traditions of moonshining surely helped Kentucky maintain its form during the dark years of prohibition.
That’s not a bad thing – Bourbon is one of the world’s great spirits, and Kentucky has produced potables of amazing complexity and longevity over the years. We suspect Kentucky’s going to continue to be the capital of American whiskey, but even so, it’s refreshing to see Indiana putting out its first whiskey since before prohibition.
You’ll find W.H. Harrison to be a beautiful, easy-drinking bourbon, lighter-bodied, with vanilla, tea, and mocha flavors and aromas, with hints of honey and citrus. If you haven’t yet, please come join the Big Jones Bourbon Society. Members get a complimentary pour of the Whiskey of the Month on each visit, so c’mon in!