This year for my birthday I did something different. Instead of heading to a bar and drinking quite a bit, we headed down south to New York (just blew your mind if you live in the US) and drank quite a bit at craft distilleries.
Now Craft Distilleries are in a bit of an odd spot. The spirits are young. The prices can be high because they are just starting up. And they are still trying to figure out what they are doing.
Most of them have to use smaller barrels. Most of them are trying different things, and sometimes things don’t work, and sometimes they do. Some people source, others feel it isn’t allowed. Some have 10 million in the bank to try crazy things.
Others love the taste of raw wheat. Which I and others would disagree with. A lot. Still others know a lot of people like “smooth” whiskey. And who can blame them? Johnnie Walker and Chivas may not be the most complex whiskies ever, but they are smooth, and they do sell really well.
None the less, I like to believe some of these distilleries will someday be the crazy next thing that we all love. And some will stick to being small, and others will unfortunately close.
Up first we have the Buffalo Distillery Company, makers of One Foot Cock Apple Brandy and One Foot Cock Bourbon. Both so good you can taste them in the back of your throat.
My wife and I walked into back, as the front was currently going through a ton of cleaning. Andy, one of the co-owners. He showed us around, ensuring we saw the beautiful building.
Located in Buffalo, the Buffalo Distillery Company is part of a slowly growing comeback for the city. Which is nice, because Toronto has been clutching it’s pearls and holding down it’s skirt in fear for too many years now.
Buffalo Distilling Co. itself recently moved back into the city walls, into a building that was created in 1800s. They are currently working on making a bar with live bands there, and plan to have it up and running mid December. It’s quite a beautiful space.
The distillery used to be in a farm house. They now have a hybrid still, however the real treat of visiting them were the amazing inventions they’ve created. For instance, they have created a mashtun from an old industrial machine. What type of machine was it before? No idea. But it’s a mash tank now. Real innovative stuff here.
Of the distilleries I visited, this one is still finding their footing, and are ready to try different things. For instance, their Vodka was being filtered when my wife and I visited. We tried some, and while I loved the “impurities” that made it taste like mint and sugar, Andy wasn’t quite sold on it yet.
Quick review of Vodka after three distillations:
Smells of cream soda and has sweet notes. The taste is clean with mint and sugar on it. The finish is quite herbal and tasty.
All in all, not a super clean vodka, however the impurities in it make it unique
Currently the main product that has had a lot of success is their Apple Brandy. Since this isn’t a Brandy Reviewer writing, I didn’t write up a review. That said, it was nice and smooth, and had surprising depth (from a layman’s point of view) for something so young. After a quick tour, including seeing their current Apple Brandy processes and Andy’s brother in law bottling One Foot Cock with their new label, my wife and I enjoyed each of their spirits.
My mouth was quite ready to taste the One Foot Cock Bourbon. Don’t think it was ready for anything else that day.
One Foot Cock Bourbon is made using whiskey that, at it’s youngest, is 17 months old. I asked if this differed from older batches, and was told yet. They are slowly working on the mashbill and releasing old and older whiskies as they come.
Everything is aged in New American Oak 15 gallon and 10 gallon barrels. Given their young age, it’s quite impressive to already have a One Foot Cock Bourbon on the shelves. They are also quite proud that nothing was sourced for their spirits.
They don’t know what the eventual age will be, however plans in the future are for a stronger, more robust One Foot Cock Bourbon that will satisfy the needs of even the most pickiest drinker.
Price: $44.00 (USD)
Region: New York
Age: 17 months
Mashbill is 70% corn, 20% rye, 10% malt.
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Corn, cream, light caramel, light floral notes
Somewhat light on the nose. The corn hits first, and it takes some time to pull out the other flavours. I’m liking the light floral notes.
I think the nose has been hurt the most from the young age, given it’s quite light.
Taste: Caramel, herbal, floral
I’m impressed at the smooth flavour on this one. While simple, this doesn’t have any rough elements. It reminds me of a few blends I’ve had before on the taste. It’s missing some more older elements, however I’m impressed that each flavour is quite distinct and pops well.
Finish: Potato, wheat, maple, cream, corn
The raw element is more evident in the finish, however not turning me off putting more and more in my mouth.
Nice creamy finish on it (this one isn’t a joke, I swear).
Conclusion: This is a good start to a whiskey. It’s young, that’s for certain. The nose is very light, and more time will be needed. You know what they say: A One Foot Cock is good to start, but time and practice will be needed for everyone to be happy about it.
I hope all the best for the distillery. They know enough to understand their dram will be pretty rough at a high Abv. They are making different products, working on a new space, and have a real innovative, dive in spirit.
I hope to hear about older and older Cocks in the future.
Bourbon review #149, New York review #1, Whiskey Network review #855