The smooth finish and one-of-a-kind quality of single-barrel whiskeys and bourbons are what attracts lovers of the spirits. As opposed to being mass produced, or even made in small batches (blending and bottling from a limited number of—say, a dozen or so—barrels), single-barrel spirits are just that: one barrel is used to age the distilled product, then the proof can be brought down from cask strength (typically around 130 proof) with distilled water, and finally, the product is bottled.
“It’s smooth, and the taste is all you really need to spark interest and enjoyment,” says Mark Stuhlreyer, Sycamore Distilling co-owner. “Like with beer, it has to stand on its own, and we believe this is a phenomenal product.”
Sycamore boasts a maturation of 12 years for Blue Label, which predates its 2016 founding. They use a process called “fortification,” Stuhlreyer says, which isn’t atypical for craft distillers. The process involves purchasing existing product from large distillery, and then blending it with their own distilled product. This method also helps single-barrel producers keep up with demand, he says, which is inherently limited.
“Those products that you see that are older than our brand are a combination of things we’ve distilled here, plus what we buy to fortify with,” Stuhlreyer says. “They’re unique blends and recipes you won’t find anywhere else.”
Bottles of Blue Label, all numbered and dated, are limited—just 250 in this first release—and can be purchased for $79.99 (plus tax) at the March First taproom and soon at select agency stores, which will be announced on the brand’s social media. Stuhlreyer expects the supply will go fast, and he says another release will come shortly after, though the two releases won’t be exact.
“They should be similar in taste profile, but that’s the ‘cool’ factor of being out of a single barrel,” he says. “The connoisseur likes to try to see the differences between the two barrels of product that were made at the same time but put in separate casks.”
Sycamore Distilling, most recognized for its association with March First Brewing, was actually the brand founders’ (Stuhlreyer and Kevin Kluener) first concept prior to opening the taproom. At the time, when craft brewing was at the forefront, “the hope was to attract the craft beer drinkers who would be interested in the spirits and learn a little bit about it, and hopefully that [would lead] to a loyal customer,” Stuhlreyer says. “So far that’s held true.”
The distiller currently operates from its brewing/distilling facility and taproom, but next fall it plans to open a standalone distillery and tasting room in Milford’s historic Millcroft Inn, which originally opened in 1828 and closed in 2009. It will occupy 50 percent of the site’s 25,000-square-foot complex, along with a yet-to-be-named restaurant tenant, a museum of the site’s history, and a space for private events.
Sycamore Distilling, 7885 E. Kemper Rd., Sycamore Township, (513) 718-9173, sycamorewhiskey.com