Honey and Bourbon have mingled in the past, but unfortunately most honey flavored spirits out there are merely just that. Flavored. Many times with artificial flavors, or “natural flavors” that are anything but real honey. So when the innovation team from River Drive, Stacey Drabb Director of Sales and Marketing of Burleson Honey, and Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers distillery all ran into each other in the halls of the American Craft Spirits Convention in Nashville, we knew our conversation would lead to something amazing; Garrison Brothers Honeydew.
“Garrison Brothers Distillery has become USA Today’s Best Craft Whiskey Distillery and home to a handcrafted straight Bourbon Whiskey that has twice been named American Whisky of the Year.”
The Problem with Honey and Booze
Have you ever noticed that your honey just can’t hold their liquor? Honey and alcohol are immiscible liquids, meaning they won’t mix together as one. Similar to oil and water. This is why many spirit makers don’t use real honey, and turn to more soluble alternatives to make their product taste like honey. Another trial and error was to barrel age honey, then age bourbon in the honey barrel.
Trial: Fill a barrel with honey.
Error: Honey is hygroscopic.
Honey, similar to salt and rice, absorbs moisture from its surroundings. So when a barrel, which relies on moisture to keep it tight and swelled, is filled with honey, the honey does the opposite. The barrel slowly dries out leading to a big, wet, sticky, albeit tasty mess. (And we don’t’ recommend using honey to dry a wet phone either)
While in the halls that day speaking with Dan and Stacey, I knew the River Drive Custom Aging Platform was just what was needed to finally bring Honey and Bourbon together in harmony. They both swiped right on Fiber Infusion Technology™.
“[We] went out and bought a bottle of every honey-flavored bourbon he could find… and generally, concluded that there was nothing on the shelf that retained its true bourbon character… Everything was a gooey, sticky, artificial chemical mess.”
(Read more about Operation Honeydew from Garrison Brothers Distillery)
We took some used Garrison Brothers bourbon barrels, milled the staves into cubes, and infused some custom tailored Burleson’s Honey deep into the wood. A much more difficult process then one would imagine due to the intense viscosity of honey. 100% more dense than alcohol to be exact. Infusing honey into the fibers of oak is much like trying to get a shirt on a toddler or a cat into a bathtub. Thanks to the magic of FIT™, we were able to achieve an infusion equivalent of 2.5 years of aging, and provide Garrison Brothers with a marriage of Honey and Bourbon, in the chapel of Oak.
“I have been drinking bourbon since I was 13 years old and this is the finest nectar I’ve ever tasted.” – Dan Garrison, Garrison Brothers Distillery
Ok, but why the Hassle and Fancy Words?
As noted above, traditional methods of using real honey as flavoring ingredient are difficult and near impossible without side effects. Oak cubes FIT™ with Burlesons honey tailors to the sophisticated complexities of the aging process. This allows for a traditional aging program to occur with uniform evolution of the flavor profiles as they build over time. No artificial mixing, and a completely natural process. Garrison’s barrels and Burleson’s Honey, united together by Fiber Infusion Technology™ to create Garrison Brothers Honeydew. For more information and release dates, check out garrisonbros.com
Fiber Infusion Technology™ is a key a part to our Custom Aging Platform™.
FIT™ involves an Atomized Particulate Cellular Infusion™ of a desired ingredients deep into the wood, efficiently mirroring the characteristics and profiles a barrel develops after years of aging a wine or spirit. These services are often used when trying to achieve very specific notes while avoiding the unknown variables that come with wood aging. When used by clients for aging, these products and barrels contribute oak profiles as well as the desired spirit profile, the best of both worlds. Fiber Infusion Technology™ allows for an advective mass transfer of the spirit’s flavor properties into the fibers of the wood while bringing forward, but not removing, precious tannins and compounds within the oak. Our patent pending processes are built on a foundation of three main values; Quality, Consistency, and Control. Three key factors that may be unpredictable with conventional aging platforms. Fiber Infusion Technology™ uses actual spirits. No artificial flavoring. This means there’s no need for confusing terminology or explanations in your marketing or formulas.