Missouri’s oldest distillery underwent a $10 million renovation in 2015 and began distilling bourbon on-site again for the first time in three decades. The release of Ben Holladay Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey from the Holladay Distillery will be released next month. Here are six reasons to be excited about this new release.
#1 Ben Holladay Bourbon is the Real Deal
Ben Holladay Bourbon is Bottled-in-Bond, a designation that signals the highest level of authenticity and adherence to rigorous distilling standards. This is handcrafted small-batch bourbon, with each batch being pulled monthly from different barrels spread out on different floors of our two seven-story rickhouses and blended by our master distiller to match our strict criteria for the flavor profile. It was produced at a distillery that has a fascinating true history more compelling than any craft story you’ve been sold, and which has remained American-owned throughout all 166 years of its existence.
#2 Its made the Old-Fashioned Way
The Holladay Distillery was founded in 1856, making it Missouri’s oldest distillery. There is a fine balance between the evolving technology of modern distillation and this long legacy of distilling history. We have strived to honor the traditions of the past by renovating the original stillhouse, cooking with the original mash bill, distilling our bourbon in a column still with a doubler, and using two cookers to heat the corn at a high temperature and the more delicate grains at a lower temperature.
#3 We are the 5%
It is a common misconception that bourbon can only be made in Kentucky. While it is true that ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon supply comes from Kentucky, the spirit is by definition American-made. Bourbon can only be made in the United States and it can be made in any state, but the finest bourbon results from an ideal combination of climate and geology that is rare outside of Kentucky but is found in Weston, Missouri. Ben Holladay Bourbon meets both the federal requirements for bourbon and the additional Missouri state requirements to be classified as Real Missouri Bourbon.
#4 Location, Location, Location
The Holladay Distillery sits on land with active limestone springs that were first charted by Lewis and Clark in 1804. Limestone provides minerality and promotes fermentation, while also filtering out impurities and iron that can affect the spirit’s color and taste. The Midwestern climate of dry and cold winters with hot and humid summers results in variations in temperature that are ideal for aging bourbon. The barrels age in two historic rickhouses called ironclads that are not climate controlled, allowing the temperature to vary by as much as thirty degrees between the top and bottom floors.
#5 Ben Holladay was a Giant of the West
Ben Holladay is one of the greatest unknown figures in American history, an original transportation tycoon who has been called the “Elon Musk of his day.” He was famed as the “Stagecoach King” for creating the Overland Express stagecoach lines that were ultimately sold to Wells Fargo, just one piece of a transportation portfolio that also included steamships, streetcars, and a railroad. He even owned the Pony Express for part of its brief history. With everything from silver mines to saloons also under his domain, he was the largest individual employer in the US in the 1860s and kept close counsel with everyone from President Lincoln to Brigham Young. He built an empire that spanned the entire country, and this distillery is the only piece left standing.
#6 Kyle Merklein is Modern Distilling’s Best
Crafting bourbon is equal parts art and science. Our Master Distiller, Kyle Merklein, earned his biological/agricultural engineering degrees from Kansas State, with a Master’s research focus on the optimization of various fermentation systems. He’s been in charge of the distillery’s bourbon operation and new product development since 2016 and has spent countless hours comparing the lab work on current barrels to the data found in the company’s old handwritten ledgers and TTB records going back decades, all while working toward his Ph.D. in industrial engineering. He has a true passion for bourbon and attentiveness to the most minute details of bourbon-making that keeps him awake at night. He was the exact right person for the formidable task of producing a bourbon that both honors Holladay’s legacy and exceeds modern standards.
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