Is it possible to make great wine, rum, brandy, gin, and multiple styles of whiskey all under one roof? If you’re Jeff Quint and family, the answer is a resounding YES! Despite its youth, Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery (founded in 2005) has the Midas touch, turning grapes, corn, barley, and more into gold! I recently reviewed their amazing American single malt, The Quintessential, which is my new favorite in the genre, so I was eager to try their Corn likker: Iowa Straight Bourbon.
Despite Kentucky boasting the origins of bourbon, it seems logical that Iowa, the self-proclaimed corn capital of the world, would also produce quality bourbon, and Cedar Ridge does not disappoint! This luxe whiskey is one of the many reasons they’ve received “Distillery of the Year” and “Best Craft Whiskey” honors in such a short time.
In the glass, it’s a gorgeous, color-correct golden amber with an opening aroma that’s strikingly familiar. I may be projecting, but I swear there’s a distinct similarity to the single malt, like a “backbone” of commonality. Beyond that, the nose is winter-spice-forward, with notes of fresh-milled corn, vanilla, marzipan, and oak barrel, with a hint of alcohol zing.
On the tongue, it’s round and much softer than its ethanol nose would indicate- warm but not hot or biting. The spice is far more evident, along with roasted pecans, creamed sweet corn, and notes of caramel, toffee, and orchard fruits (apple and pear), with backing hints of mint and cherry pie, butter pastries, and a distant touch of savory spices. The whiskey is nicely balanced but in a sweet and youngish way.
The finish has a bit more nuance, with the corn slightly more prevalent, followed by cinnamon, more roasted pecans, oak, and hints of white pepper and cigarette tobacco. It’s a relatively short finish, with the pepper and nuts lingering.
This is not a “thinking” bourbon, but it would make an excellent starter whiskey for anyone interested in moving away from mixed bourbon drinks. The best? Probably not.! Really, really good? Absolutely!. I’m a huge fan of what Cedar Ridge is doing and look forward to trying more of their offerings. In the meantime, I’ll keep drinking their single malt and bourbon whiskeys!
***EDITOR’S NOTE: Like their American single malt, their bourbon is batch-bottled, so each batch number may be slightly different. YMMV!