I'm still whittling through all the bottles of booze I brought back from Kentucky and Tennessee this past summer as part of my annual sojourn to the South. Almost all of it has been great: spicy Virginia bourbons, smokey Tennessee whiskeys, and the beauty that was Buffalo Trace's Bourbon Cream, which I previously reviewed in this column. I'm now currently swimming in one of my favorite finds: the beauties distilled by Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky.
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You want history? The people behind this are Steve and Paul Beam, great-great-great-great-grandsons of Jacob Boehm, who just happens to be the founder of Jim Beam. Opened two years ago to capitalize on America's bourbon craze, Limestone Branch's distillery is a gorgeous, modest building just down the street from Kentucky Cooperage, which just happens to make the majority of bourbon barrels in this country. Steve and Paul offer tours, which is essentially them taking you to the back of their distillery, offering samples, and that's that--homespun fun! They specialize in flavored moonshines that they sell under their Sugar*Shine label, which serve as great digestifs. I like the hard stuff, though, so went with their T.J. Pottinger Moon*Shine.
The Pottinger brand was that of their great-grandpappy, Minor Case Beam, and is derived from his original recipe. If you take their tour, you'll see that this stuff comes from sour mash and nothing else, and it tastes like it: strong corn notes that settle onto the palate and knock you back with a mule kick. They sell it in cute little jugs complete with cork top, the better to carry around in the front seat of your car...or not.
Only problem? None of Limestone Branch's offerings are yet in California, let alone OC. My response? If you're a serious drinker, you'll travel to Kentucky and do its Bourbon Trail, which Limestone joined just this year. Love your liver, and head on over to your old Kentucky hooch home.