McClintock Distilling is an award-winning craft distillery in Frederick County–the heart of some of Maryland’s finest spirits production over the centuries. This legacy is preserved through the federal regulations required for making a Bottled-in-Bond whiskey.
To qualify, a spirit has to be the product of a single distillery, made by one distiller, in a single distillation season. It must also be aged in a federally-bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). These criteria remain unchanged today.
McClintock Distilling was already primed and ready to meet these specific requirements because those guidelines have been essential to its mission and values since the beginning. When Husker was originally barreled, it was crafted to be a historically-inspired bourbon. But when co-owners Braeden Bumpers and Tyler Hegamyer tasted it at the two-year mark, they realized they had something special and decided to make it their Bottled-in-Bond debut.
“Because we’re a micro-distillery, we can discover and identify small variations in each batch that can become something beautiful and unique in the bottle,” Bumpers said. “And when we find that special stuff, we highlight it.” Their attention to every detail of the whiskey-making process allows them to catch lightning-in-a-bottle moments like Husker and produce high-quality whiskeys, gin, vodka, and cordials that use organic, non-GMO ingredients from family-owned, local farms.
Before Prohibition, this quality whiskey was hard to come by, particularly in Maryland. The state has a nuanced history between distillers and rectifiers–secondary parties who would purchase spirits from distillers and cut them with their ingredients, such as fruit juice, turpentine, formaldehyde, or other undesirable liquids. Because of this tampering, the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 was passed as the first federal consumer protection act in the U.S. to provide a standard for quality, authentic whiskey. Before there was the FDA or USDA, there was Bottled-in-Bond.
To create Husker’s unique profile, the McClintock team combined old-world ingredients with cutting-edge technology and put them into one bottle, selecting the best of both worlds. Husker’s mash bill is 51% yellow king corn (an heirloom variety local to Maryland), 40% red fife wheat, and 9% chocolate-malted barley and rye. According to Bumpers, it was likely historically common for Maryland whiskeys to have a multi-ingredient mash bill. By using local grains and malting the barley with cacao nibs rather than the typical peat or wood, Husker honors past Maryland traditions while showcasing new styles and flavors of distilling.
In addition to the thoughtfully-crafted mash bill, Husker gets its name from the distillery’s namesake, McClintock Young. Young was an inventor in Frederick County in the mid-1800s, and one of his hundreds of inventions was the automatic cornhusker. Bumpers remarked, “It’s special to be part of bringing back a lot of that [distilling] history, and being the first to do it, along with honoring the work of a relatively unknown, but influential, member of Frederick County’s history.” Young’s process of taking the best elements of old machines to create innovative inventions speaks to the heart of McClintock Distilling, offering the perfect namesake.
McClintock will release Husker to the public at noon on Saturday, March 4th. In addition to purchasing the new release, guests can sample the full McClintock lineup, tour the distillery, and relax with cocktail specials at their speakeasy-style Back Bar next door.
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