Earlier this month I attended the Living History Farms’ Spirits and Sweets event in which Iowa distilleries and local eateries offer sips of spirits and local desserts. I was surprised to see a new distillery that I’d not heard of before, Dehner Distillery. Dehner Distillery is in Clive, Iowa and makes a Red Boot Spiced Whiskey and a Red Boot Corn Whiskey. I tried the Corn Whiskey because there is no better way to understand and gauge the whiskey-making skills of a distiller than to go for a dash of the white dog.
This is a very smooth whiskey. It is obviously a corn whiskey, with that sweet corn aroma and flavor profile unique to corn whiskeys. But it is the lack of any methanol burn that makes it amazing. Clearly something special is going on here. The owner is Joseph Dehner and he was kind enough to tell me his story. Mr. Dehner happens to be very handy with the welding torch and began welding at the tender age of five. After an earlier career he decided to start making whiskey stills. He hand-builds all of his still equipment. From the photos on his Facebook page it appears that he has a combo potstill/column setup. I see a lot of stainless steel, so I don’t know if there is much copper in the process. If not, I’d like to know how he gets such a nice product. He uses local Iowa corn that he buys from the local Waukee Elevator just down the road.
I don’t know how he does it, but I hope he continues. Even with the recent boom in local distilleries both here and around the country it is likely that there will be more than a few ringers, and I’ve tasted some. But this is hands-down the best corn whiskey I’ve tried that is made by an Iowa micro distiller. Try some and let me know if you agree.