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Issue 133 - Pot Still Bourbons

Whisky Magazine Issue 133
January 2016


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Pot Still Bourbons

Distillation of a different kind

Nestled in a cut of Ohio far north of Bourbon's Kentucky kingdom, the Tom's Foolery distillery sits on private property, next to a residency and wouldn't be the kind of place you'd expect to see the resurrection of old school whiskey. Its owners, the Herbrucks, believe in a style of whiskey making seemingly forgotten, lost in the industrial age and ignored in the digital age – pot still distillation.

Pot still whiskeys, especially Bourbons, are an American rarity. Distillers have chosen the path of column still distillation, trading in the pot for more consistent and computer-automated column stills. Even the majority of the smaller distillers are using so-called hybrid stills – part column, part pot – making true pot still distillation an obsolete art form in the United States.

While pot stills are used in Scotland and Ireland, American distillers fell in love with the column for reasons of volume and profits. But there's a small trend of American distilleries using pot stills to produce Bourbon. Hillrock, Kings County, Dry Run, Town Branch, Ky-Mar Farm, Woodstone and Tom's Foolery Distilleries, to name a few, have been leading the charge for 100 per cent pot still distillation.

The Methods

In southern Ohio, is arguably the best pot still whiskey distillery in this country, but receives zero attention because the owner prefers to keep his methods secret. For this reason, Don Outterson doesn't even show me his 238 gallon pot still, which he personally manufa...

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