Bourbon requires corn or at least 51% of the recipe must be made of corn. The state that produces the most corn is Iowa. Iowa has hot and humid summers and cold, frigid winters. It has a long, storied history of bootlegging. You'd think all of that would translate to the state offering some very good Bourbon.
I've had good Iowa Bourbon and I've had stuff that could be used to strip floors. To be fair, I could say the same thing about Kentucky. But, I'm not here to rehash the good and bad, I'm here to discover something new, or at least new to me, and that's Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon.
The distillery was founded in 2005 and was the first Iowa-licensed distillery since Prohibition. It is located in Swisher and is both a distillery and winery. Jeff Quint came from a long line of farmers and he began his operation with the idea that it was time for Iowa to earn its way onto the Bourbon distilling map. Everything is done grain-to-glass, and, in 2017, the American Distilling Institute named it Distillery of the Year.
"Fine craftsmanship is a true reflection of Iowa’s mentality of doing the best with what nature gives them. No temperature control aging, minimal waste, and that Midwest resourcefulness put production first, favoring quality over quantity." - Cedar Ridge Distillery
The journey starts at the family farm in nearby Winthrop, where the corn is grown. That is the first 74% of the recipe. Next up is 14% malted rye. The remaining 12% is two-row malted barley. Everything is milled and distilled on-site. It is then aged for three years in new, charred oak in a naturally-aired warehouse with no temperature controls. Typically Cedar Ridge experiences about 18% loss to the angels. After being dumped, it is bottled at 86°.
You can expect to find Cedar Ridge in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, and Kansas. A 750ml bottle runs around $30.00.
I'd like to thank the folks at Cedar Ridge Distillery for providing me a sample of Batch 0438 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this Bourbon is all about.
Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Cedar Ridge is the color of brass. It presented a thin rim, but fast, large tears fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: The aroma of roasted corn was difficult to miss. I also found vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted oak. When I took the vapor in my mouth, corn flowed across my tongue.
Palate: As the liquid brushed past my lips, I experienced a thick, creamy mouthfeel. Corn was at the front and joined by caramel. A fruity sensation of plum and pear hit the middle, and on the back, I tasted oak, caramel (again) and clove.
Finish: Long, lingering, and dry, flavors of corn, plum, clove, and oak created an satisfying finish.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: I believe Cedar Ridge is onto something here. Yes, it is a bit young and corn-forward. But it isn't overpowering and there's no slam of ethanol on the nose or palate, and that's important. Quint did a good job at judging the correct proof. It was high enough to pick up flavors without having them muted by too much water. When I take into account the affordability aspect, Cedar Ridge Iowa Straight Bourbon is a winner and snags my coveted Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:
- Bottle = Buy it
- Bar = Try it first
- Bust = Leave it
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.