Editor’s note: The following story was originally published by Flatland, the digital magazine of Kansas City PBS and a fellow member of the KC Media Collective. Click here to read the original story or here to sign up for the weekly Flatland email newsletter.
This is a historic moment for the folks at Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri, and also a big deal for bourbon enthusiasts alike.
Holladay is releasing a bottled-in-bond bourbon, Ben Holladay Missouri Straight Bourbon, for the first time in over 35 years at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the distillery. Sales are limited to one bottle per person. Would-be buyers should be early risers.
The distillery is using the same recipe and some of the processes that Ben Holladay, also known as the “stagecoach king,” used to make his bourbon in 1856. Holladay, one of the region’s most successful early business magnates, eventually sold his stagecoach lines to Wells Fargo.
Unsure what this process looks like and want to hear more of the history behind it and about Ben Holladay the man himself? Watch the video from Flatland below, then keep reading.
McCormick Distilling Co., which owns 360 vodka, Tequila Rose and Five Farms Irish Cream, is the local company resurrecting Ben Holladay bourbon.
Ben Holladay Bourbon is bottled-in-bond. This means “the spirit must be aged for at least four years and bottled at precisely 100 proof (50% abv). It must be made by one distiller at a single distillery in one season, then aged in a bonded warehouse,” according to the Wine Enthusiast
The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was created to make sure people were actually getting a distilled spirit with nothing else added, and to make sure what you were drinking was safe and wouldn’t kill you. Drinking yourself to death wasn’t at all uncommon back then. Spirits were often cut down with things like methanol, tobacco spit, prune juice, caramel coloring etc.
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Kyle Merklein, master distiller at Holladay Distillery, says bottled-in-bond has “morphed into a stamp of authenticity,” but it still means “you’re not going to die.”
The Ben Holladay Bourbon release is the latest sign of a booze boom in these parts. J. Rieger & Co. plans to release its bottled-in-bond straight bourbon on June 2, 2022.
Taste test anyone?
Emily Woodring is a food content producer for Kansas City PBS.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.