Ever since we began distilling ten years ago, one of our dreams at Rogue Spirits has been an Oregon Bourbon made with the ingredients we grow and malt at Rogue Farms.
This summer we planted those dreams in the dirt of the Wigrich Appellation, seeding four acres of Wigrich Corn at Rogue Farms in Independence. The seeds quickly grew into stalks and produced a bountiful harvest. We were excited.
But, as often is the case in being a small farmer, there were some bumps along the way. We tried for months to find someone to harvest the corn for us. But time and again we were told that four acres was too small. “Not worth the trouble,” we were told over and over again. With no one to help us out, we decided to pick it ourselves. Four acres picked by hand.
When the crop arrived at our Farmstead Malt House in Tygh Valley it was all hands on deck. Each of those 18,000 ears was shucked and shelled one at time.
Over the coming weeks and months we will craft from it our first ever batch of corn micro-malt which we’ll mash and distill to create a true Rogue Farms Bourbon.
Now, malting corn is almost unheard of. Literally, we made the calls and everyone we spoke with thought we were crazy. But after hand-picking and shucking, this is the least crazy part of the process. For the next 4 weeks, we will be micro-malting our Rogue-grown corn in small, 1000-lb batches.
Bourbon is an all American whiskey. It was created by the farmers/distillers of Kentucky back in the mid 1800’s. Today Bourbon is made from a mash that is at least 51% corn and aged in new oak barrels. The Bourbon we’ll craft from our own micro-malt will be ocean aged at the Rogue Distillery on Yaquina Bay along the Oregon Coast.
From the time we planted our corn back in July, it will take us 2 years to mash, ferment, distill, ocean age and hand bottle our first batch of Rogue Sweet Corn Bourbon. It’s an insane labor of love.
We began this journey with no guarantee of how things will turn out. But the philosophy of Dare, Risk, Dream is at the heart of everything we do at Rogue Spirits.