Kentucky is the land of all things bourbon and Woodford Reserve is one of the leading brands in the state producing award-winning product. The famed distillery just announced a new program that aims to bolster the production of rye grain grown locally in the state by way of a five-year study to uncover how local rye will affect bourbon and also create a viable cash crop.
Woodford Reserve, produced in Woodford County, Ky., owns a distinct share of the bourbon market by way of its offerings, which include its flagship Kentucky straight bourbon and a rye whiskey among a handful of premium selections. Rye makes up a portion of the mash bill in Woodford Reserve bourbon and the spicy notes of the grain help bring balance to the pour in one’s glass.
As shared in the announcement, rye is typically difficult to grow in Kentucky, hence the grain is usually sourced from other regions. The new five-year program, launched in collaboration with the University of Kentucky, will study 10 types of rye from four farmers in the state by running a series of small distillation trials to discover the flavor effects on bourbon.
“If we can bring rye back to Kentucky, it would not only support farmers, but give a sustainable grain to whiskey producers across the state,” Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall said in a quote. “Sustainability is a topic I care passionately about – and, working with partners, we can make a big impact.”
Woodford Reserve and other partners will invest over $1 million to help hone in on a Kentucky-grown version of rye that would be a welcome boost to bourbon distillers across the state and limit the need to purchase grain from other regions. This goes along with past plans from Woodford Reserve to create sustainability in agriculture across the state as rye has a positive effect on soil and carbon emissions.
A number of farmers who grow grain for the Brown Forman Corporation, which owns Woodford Reserve among other notable brands, are committed to growing the rye for research but also for the long haul, as Dace Brown Stubbs, owner of Log House Farm, shared in a statement.
“Rye is a wonderful crop. Cover crops keep our topsoil from blowing away and supply the soil with proper nutrients for growing other crops,” says Stubbs. “Rye is such a hot commodity in the spirits industry today so why do we buy our rye from Canada and Germany, it needs to happen right here at home.”
To learn more about Woodford Reserve, click here.
Photo: Woodford Reserve/Getty
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