When Widow Jane decided to try its hand at crafting Bourbons, it started by identifying its goal:
Produce the finest Bourbons and whiskeys, sparing no expenses, cutting no corners, making no compromises, using no genetically modified corns, grains, yeasts, or enzymes.
I began carefully researching heirloom and ancient strains of corn. I love stories and history, and since this company started with researching genealogy and stories of my own ancestors, I related personally to a number of corn varietals that were developed and kept alive by passionate families, tribes, and individuals. For example, Bloody Butcher corn was bred by crossing Native American seeds with settlers’ white seeds around 1800, in the Appalachian mountains. Wapsie Valley, another hybrid of American Indian corn, got its start in the hands of dedicated farmers in Iowa. Along with other native and heirloom grains, these varietals have carried with them the hopes and hard work of their progenitors for generations.
While we started farm-to-table on the chocolate/rum side or our business, we were not corn or grain farmers to start in New York. We had a rough time getting going on our whiskey program, catching dismissive comments with everyone from farmers to whiskey industry insiders. From a farmer’s perspective the yield of these heirloom corns/grains were unknown to significantly lower than growing Monsanto varieties. In their minds they would be giving away money. Comments from many industry people were to the effect: you are wasting your money, too high a protein content, will get low yields, just use yellow, it’s cheap, etc…
It’s true that the economics of growing these ancient grains over modern GMO varieties are not immediately to our advantage; the yields on our crops are 1/10 to 1/4 that of GMO yellow varieties, thus costing proportionally that much more to grow. The protein contents are higher and starch significantly lower, driving the efficiency of converting corn to whiskey down and cost further up.
Despite these factors, we are extremely happy we strayed from popular opinion and went our own way.
Why? Because the results are spectacular.
We are distilling, in our opinion and in the opinion of those who have tasted, some of the finest American whiskeys ever produced.
American Whiskey: Bourbon & Rye have all of the subtleties and complexities of the finest wines. In wine terroir can be noted field by field; such is largely not the case for American Whiskey, where the mainstay ingredients are modern GMO corn, rye and barley, farmed on a mass agricultural scale hard to imagine and then centrally batched.
We are committed to changing this, beginning with what we call single expressions.
I am proud to share with you the fruits of our labor: New York State grown farm-to-bottle distillations of Bloody Butcher corn and Wapsie Valley corn.
I hope you will enjoy.
Founder, Widow Jane & Cacao Prieto Distilleries
“I am excited to see history and terroir expressed in the heirloom bourbon whiskey releases from Widow Jane. By selecting single expressions of the individual heirloom grains, we can compare one varietal against another to see terroir expressed to the fullest extent, and appreciate the vast differences so expressed. It is a treat to taste these distinctive varietals displayed in bourbon whiskey.” – Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller
HEIRLOOM VARIETALS TASTING NOTES
WAPSIE VALLEY “SINGLE EXPRESSION” BOURBON
Mash Bill 60% Organic Wapsie Valley Corn (Mixed yellow and red endosperm corn), 15% Heirloom Barley, 25% Rye.
Nose: Almond, Maple, Light Bitters, Unsweetened Chocolate
Taste: Pralines, Orange Oils, Bergamot, Cacao, Zesty
Finish: Honey, Brown Spices (Mace or Soft Nutmeg), Clean, Lingering
BLOODY BUTCHER “SINGLE EXPRESSION” BOURBON
Mash Bill 85% Organic Bloody Butcher Corn (Dark Red endosperm corn), 15% Heirloom Barley.
Nose: Sweet Oak, Graham Cracker
Taste: Vanilla, Dry Up Front, Bright, Allspice
Finish: Tannic, Sharp, Tobacco, Molasses, Oak
BLOODY BUTCHER HIGH RYE BOURBON
Mash Bill 58% Organic Bloody Butcher Corn, 15% Heirloom Barley, 27% Rye.
Nose: Cacao, Sandalwood, Cedar, Leather
Taste: Sharp Apricot, Toasted Marshmallows, Cardamom, Candied Apples
Finish: Salted Peanuts, Grilled Honeyed Peaches, Dates
“It is great to see Widow Jane embrace organic, open pollinated, non-GMO varieties of corn in their selection of Bloody Butcher and Wapsie Valley for their heirloom bourbon whiskey releases. These expressions add greatly to our understanding of fine bourbon whiskey.” – Dave Pickerell, Master Distiller
This small batch bourbon is available in extremely limited quantities. Please pick up this special gift at our distillery or call to order. Each bottle is handsomely packaged in a tube box with a collectible print and a few kernels of our corn.
Wapsie Valley Bourbon Whiskey: $115
Bloody Butcher Bourbon Whiskey: $125
Widow Jane Bloody Butcher High Rye Bourbon Whiskey: $135
WIDOW JANE DISTILLERY
218 Conover Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Please see more about Widow Jane’s Non-GMO Heirloom varietals at http://widowjane.com/heirloom/
“To be involved in a project of this magnitude is truly an inspiration and a pleasure. The task we have undertaken in hand making these amazing whiskeys has truly been a labor of love. From the specific cultivation of our non-GMO grains to the crafting and aging of the whiskeys themselves, we have taken a careful hand in literally every step of our process.” – Matthew Jones, Head Distiller.
“These bourbons take you on a journey. Like a Roller-coaster ride through Eden.” – Vince, Widow Jane, Distiller
Widow Jane Distillery:
As great whiskey distillers throughout the world — from Kentucky to Scotland — have long known, it takes sweet water from tough rock to make great whiskey. And, that’s what Widow Jane Whiskey, distilled in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, is all about. Made with pure sweet water of the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale, New York, it was limestone from this mine which built the Brooklyn Bridge, that Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building. Learn more on Widow Jane’s Facebook or www.widowjane.com