Columbus liquor is coming of age.
Columbus liquor is coming of age. Just two and a half years after local drinkers started toasting Watershed Distillery's Four Peel Gin and Middle West Spirits' Oyo Vodka, the two distilleries have released their own bourbon whiskeys.
It's not like oak barrels were strangers to their facilities in Grandview and the Short North. Watershed has been bottling a smoky, aromatic Bourbon Barrel Gin, aging their signature spirit in used barrels from Kentucky. Middle West has been making Oyo Whiskey, distilled from Ohio red winter wheat, which is like a smoother, less-spicy rye.
But the bourbons have amped up the buzz for the local liquor makers, and grabbed the attention of drinkers who thought good whiskey has to come from that state down south. (For the record, bourbon doesn't need to be made in Kentucky, it just needs to be distilled from at least 51 percent corn.) Here's a quick sip of Columbus' new bourbons.
Do Try This at Home
Ready to try your hand at whiskey-aging? Middle West Spirits can set you up with a 1-liter barrel and a fifth of un-aged rye. The $100 kit, available at select liquor stores and the distillery, also includes two tasting glasses. It does not include patience, which you may need as you wait 60 to 90 days (or more) for your whiskey to mature.
Watershed Bourbon ($40)
Oyo Bourbon Michelone Reserve ($45)
How is it made?
The bourbon was aged for two years in 10-, 30- and 53-gallon barrels with a very heavy char. The extra char speeds aging and enhances the flavor.
Using Old World blending traditions, Middle West showcased their 4-year wheat whiskey by mixing it with a Kentucky bourbon.
What does it taste like?
Light and balanced, with a sweet, grassy finish. Nice in a Manhattan with rhubarb bitters.
A rich, woody bourbon, with a little cinnamon and leather. Makes a nice Old Fashioned.
Where can I try it?
Curio in German Village. Proprietor Travis Owens is warming up hot toddies with Watershed Bourbon, clove-infused honey syrup, lemon and cinnamon.
Barrel 44 in the Short North. Bartender Jason Phillips recommends a Whiskey Smash: Oyo Bourbon muddled with citrus, mint and black walnut bitters.
What's still in barrels?
More bourbon. As it ages longer, the whiskey will develop different flavors over the years.
Rye whiskey. It's expected to be buttery, sweet and peppery, but it needs another year of aging.
Distillery shop & tours
1145 Chesapeake Ave., Grandview, watersheddistillery.com
1230 Courtland Ave., Short North, middlewestspirits.com