Cedar Ridge announces “Unaged Whiskey” for sale.

Cedar Ridge distillery columns

It was probably only a matter of time before Cedar Ridge Vinyards, Winery & Distillery, one of only two distilleries in Iowa that produce and sell their own Bourbon whiskey, jumped on the white dog/corn whiskey/white lightning/moonshine bandwagon. After all, if you can sell your raw un-aged and unbarreled whiskey now instead of babying it for three to four years in a warehouse and sell it for practically the same price, why not? For those who have not been paying attention, moonshine is the latest rage to hit the bars as a “hip” cocktail base. In their announcement, Cedar Ridge states that it “is proud to introduce the newest product coming out of our distillery, Unaged Whiskey.” The release states that their unaged whiskey “is a corn based whiskey bottled at 100 proof that doesn’t touch the barrel, therefore it retains the character of the grain.” It is available at the distillery for $25.99. One interesting feature is that you can buy a one liter mini barrel for $39.99 so you can age your own whiskey. Now that is an interesting concept, and one that I would want to take advantage of. I seem to recall seeing some one liter barrels in the retail area of their showroom last time I was there. I do not know if those barrels are charred. Some of the versions available on the web are not. Keep in mind that the ratio of oak to spirits will be high in these small barrels. One very interesting reason to try a corn whiskey from your favorite distillery (they will all shortly sell it given the better profit margin and faster “time to market”) is that you can tell exactly what goes into a bourbon and what does not come out. With traditional bourbon, the charcoal in the charred barrel both imparts some flavor and removes others. The oak itself adds a significant amount of flavor. Also, as the “angel share” evaporates out, flavors from the spirit become more intense. Comparing an un-aged whiskey with its finished bourbon product, you can get a very good sense of what happened.

This new spirit joins several other recent announcements of similar moonshine products:

Two Jays Iowa Corn Whiskey

Heaven Hill TryBox Whiskey

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2 thoughts on “Cedar Ridge announces “Unaged Whiskey” for sale.

  1. I would love to start an open dialogue about whiskey distilling. I live in WA state where it appears that Costco is about to finally about to open wide the distilled spirits market to grocery stores. It’s about time. I have tried my hand at distilling and have thought about getting my craft distilling liscense but the regulations for commercial space are getting in the way. I have thought about starting a co-op where the expenses are shared along with the free flow of ideas. Any input would be appreciated.

    • A co-op would be an interesting approach. In my experience, the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau f/k/a ATF) requires background checks for owners and managers of distillery operations. I do not recall if smaller operations get a pass or not, I’m guessing not. A true co-op could make that process rather complicated and significantly add to the lead time necessary to get approval. As you note, the requirement to set up the operation in a commercial area that is properly zoned is the big stumbling block.

      A legal alternative is to by the unaged whiskey and new barrels and age it yourself. Keep the receipts or old bottles to prove you legally purchased the whiskey. This would only be legal for consumers and would likely violate many state laws if done by a retailer as it would run afoul of the two or three-tier system. So, if after paying $500 for 5 gallons of unaged whiskey at $20 per .750 Liter bottle, and another $200 for the barrel, you may or may not like your investment after two, four, six, and eight years of aging. And five gallons of one whiskey is a lot of whiskey if you are less than thrilled with the results. I’m not certain that it is even possible to really compete with Jim Beam’s aging process. But, like you said, these are all things to think about.

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