One of the best results of the continuing trend in craft beer, wine, and spirits is that no one region really owns anything. The Champaign Province of France may have a legal stake on the name, but anyone with the right grapes and the right burst of inspiration can craft a sparkling wine in that exact style. They just aren’t allowed to call it what it really is.
Thankfully, that’s not the case for whiskey. And, just as practically every state has a winery and a microbrewery, most are now releasing some pretty notable craft spirits. Cedar Ridge, nestled in a scenic stretch of eastern Iowa just outside the town of Swisher, produces both wine and spirits, including their Iowa Bourbon Whiskey, which racked up awards at international spirits competitions in 2013.
As the name implies, this spirit is built on a base of 70% corn whiskey along with barley and rye. They then distill the blend, use charcoal filtering, and age it in barrels before bottling.
The end result pours an even amber color with a reserved nose with bits of grain, anise, and fresh wood shavings. The taste follows the direction of the aroma. Cedar Ridge isn’t trying to blow you away with overt spiciness or blasts of vanilla or caramel that you might find in a more aggressive bourbon. Instead it strives for a brighter flavor.
The corn certainly comes through, (a not-so-subtle reminder of the dominance of this crop in Iowa), and the finish is clean and easy, with a touch of honey sweetness. For those looking for some serious bite and burn, look elsewhere, like their Single Malt or their Reserve Bourbon, which gets extra time in the bourbon barrels. But for a more mellow, approachable bourbon, it may become all too drinkable.
Distillery: Cedar Ridge
City: Swisher, Iowa
Style: Bourbon Whiskey