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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

J. Henry & Sons La Flamme Reserve

J. Henry & Sons is one of the rising stars in Midwest bourbon. Located 20 miles north of Madison, Wisconsin in the hamlet of Dane, they've been taking a true farm-to-bottle route. in Dane, Wisconsin.

The Secret is in the Corn The Henry Family has operated the 900-acre grain, dairy, and seed corn farm since the 1940s. During the farm crisis of the 1980’s, Joe Henry made the decision to do whatever it took to save the family farm. Taking off-farm jobs, Joe and wife, Liz, worked for others before taking the leap of faith to produce their own product. Most of the grains are grown onsite, including 1939 University of Wisconsin heirloom red corn, wheat, and rye. While barley isn't grown onsite, it is still grown in Wisconsin, making this an all-Wisconsin product. 45th Parallel Distillery in New Richmond, Wisconsin (not far from Minneapolis) takes grains from the farm, and provides mashing and distilling services. The finished distillate is returned to the Dane farm, placed in barrels with a #3 char and allowed to age in former dairy barns - now converted to a modern-day rickhouse storing about 500 barrels. Mother Nature provides the rest over five successive Wisconsin summers and winters. The Tasting The mash bill is approximately 60% heirloom red corn, 14% wheat, 14% rye, and 12% malted barley. This Batch #1 is from October 2021 and bottle number 1192. La Flamme Reserve is finished in armagnac barrels (a distinctive kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in southwest France) and is bottled at 114 proof. Armagnac is often compared to cognac. At earlier aging, it can be rougher than cognac, and is said to taste of fire and earth. After aging for longer periods, it can be tamed and becomes wonderfully layered. Eye: Fiery red copper, with multiple legs exhibited in the Glencairn glass.

Nose: Some alcohol at first, then cinnamon and toasted oak. After adding a couple drops of water, there were scents of vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon apple pie, followed by toasted oak. Palate: Cinnamon spice, cornbread, cashew, stewed raisins and plums. A little water tames the spice and brought the cornbread and fruit compote to the front. Finish: Long and spicy with cinnamon red hot candy and toasted oak.

Overall: I've enjoyed J. Henry & Sons in the past. This family farm-to-bottle operation has produced some great spirits. La Flamme Reserve that has been finished in armagnac barrels and aged for 5 years has proved that the Midwest can produce some great spirits. If you come across this bottle, grab this unique finished bourbon to add to your collection!

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