On a recent beautiful Saturday afternoon, we resumed our pursuit of completing the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. Our travels this day took us to H. Clark Distillery in Thompson’s Station and Leiper’s Fork Distillery in Leiper’s Fork, both of which lie just south of Nashville.
We began our day by meeting our friends John and Donna for lunch. If you get a chance, check out Mojo Tacos in Thompson’s Station. Great food and relaxed vibe.
After lunch, we made the short drive to H. Clark Distillery, also located in Thompson’s Station, TN. In 2009, Mr. Clark himself (still a practicing attorney) helped pen the legislation that allowed for the return of distilleries to a state already very well known for whiskey, but sadly lacking in distilleries. The bill was passed, and Mr. Clark – and many other folks around this fine state – began distilling whiskey. He also produced two different versions of gin, one of which was aged in whiskey barrels.
We sampled three different whiskies and both gins, but you soon won’t be able to purchase any of those – at least under the H. Clark name and label. H. Clark is now known as Company Distilling. Mr. Clark brought in some partners and formed a new company, complete with a new name and look. They also brought in the former master distiller from Jack Daniels. This is already paying dividends. So far, their first and only product is a straight Tennessee bourbon aged in oak barrels, just as it should be, but then finished with Maplewood. It is very easy to drink, with notes of cinnamon and caramel. You also pick up the maple on the finish. I would drink this bourbon again, and I plan to add it to my collection – which sounds too ostentatious. I don’t collect bourbon. I buy bourbon I plan to drink, which is the plan for this bourbon, to be sure.
After Company Distilling (née H. Clark), we made our way over to the bucolic town of Leiper’s Fork to tour and taste at Leiper’s Fork Distillery. Located in Williamson County, Leiper’s Fork is home to cute boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, as well as some musicians you have definitely heard of. It’s also home to an excellent craft distillery that prides itself on sourcing local ingredients and using pure, limestone-filtered water. The result is very good Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon.
After our tour and explanation of the distillation process, we gathered in their tasting room for some instructional sipping. We tasted several whiskies, all of which I would recommend, depending on your tastes and situation.
The Tennessee Whiskey is made with a mash that’s 76% corn, and it’s noticeable. It also has 15% rye, which adds a little spice to the flavor profile, but nothing so much as to put you off if you don’t like rye whiskies. The nose is cherry, roasted coffee, and chocolate. Drop in an ice cube, and the entire thing mellows out and becomes very, very smooth.
Leiper’s Fork Bourbon is a wheated bourbon made with 70% corn, 15% wheat, and 15% malted barley. It’s bottled in bond, so it’s 100 proof. On the nose, you get dark chocolate, brown sugar, apple, and oak. The flavor profile is one of vanilla, butterscotch, and dark fruit. This was my favorite of the day and definitely worthy of your collection.
The Straight Rye Whiskey is only available at certain times of the year. If you like rye whiskies, I think you’ll like this one. It’s made with 55% rye, 15% wheat, and 15% malted barley. What the other 15% is, I couldn’t say, but it doesn’t matter. This is a full-bodied, complex rye whiskey that might make you rethink your opinion on rye whiskies.
Our final tasting was Old Natchez Trace White Whiskey. If you’re thinking moonshine, you’re close. The only thing separating this from ‘shine is the fact that it’s distilled legally and taxed accordingly. It’s unaged, so it’s clear. Depending on which version you get, it might have 15% rye or 15% wheat. Either way, it’s going to have 70% corn and 15% malted barley. So, what it comes down to is this: are you drinking the unaged version of their Tennessee Whiskey or their Bourbon? I honestly cannot remember which one we tasted, and that’s not really my thing anyway, but I must say it was better than I anticipated.
If you would like to have a fun day trip to Williamson County and sample some whiskey, you cannot go wrong with Company Distilling and Leiper’s Fork Distillery.
(Image courtesy of Leiper’s Fork Distillery)