A terrific bi-product of the whisky explosion is that it’s allowed regions across the world to explore their own respective mash-bills, flavours and profiles. Here in Australia, we’ve seen places such as Tasmania develop a healthy craft scene with stunning results. And in America, states like Oregon, Colorado and Michigan are likewise forging their own distinct and delicious personas. Which brings us to Michigan’s Traverse City Whiskey Co. Touted as the “Whiskey of the North”, the label draws from a well of experience and, unlike many of their peers, actually distills its own product.
Traverse City Whiskey Co. is technically an upstart brand, but they employ techniques that go back further than most seasoned players. More specifically, the company is headed by Chris Fredrickson, Jared Rapp and Moti Goldring, and they make their product using patented distilling methods that Fredrickson’s own grandfather invented during the prohibition era. Meanwhile, all the grains in Traverse City’s portfolio are sourced in the midwest, and every product is made in Michigan.
Included in the Traverse City range are classic expressions like Straight Bourbon XXX Whiskey and North Coast Rye, however the brand is also willing to get experimental. Among their less traditional offerings is a Cherry Edition, which infuses local Montmorency Sour Cherries in the barrel to create unmistakable, award-winning flavour along with a smooth vanilla finish. Given that Michigan is the “Cherry Capitol of the World”, the Cherry Edition is perhaps the epitome of regional craft production.
The brand also offers a Port Barrel Finish whiskey that’s primarily available in the stillhouse. It sees their signature bourbon–which is aged for three years–being matured for an extra year in port wine barrels. On the nose are blasts of cherry, fruit, vanilla, corn and wine. The taste carries those notes in smooth, rich style while adding a discernible element of spice. The spice lingers at the finish, joined by a light bitterness and earthy accent.
Given their commitment to local grains and fruits, Traverse City represents the broader trend of new brands exploring native resources to craft tasty spirits unique to their regions. The result is new flavours, colours, aromas, scenes and ideas. To which we say, “the more, the merrier.”