Louisville Magazine

AUG 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.18 121 which recently opened its doors to public tours, names its products after Louisville neighborhoods: Phoenix Hill Vodka, Baxters Rum, Highlands Gin, an agave called NULU. e company's name is rooted in the building's history: the last place in Kentucky to dole out medicinal alcohol during Prohibition. Owner Keith Hazelbaker says it makes sense to branch out into clear spirits, which go straight into the bottle without bourbon's aging process. "ere's so dang many bourbon things out there," he says. "Bourbon is the best in the world (in Kentucky) because of the limestone water. But the water doesn't just do it for bourbon; it does it for all (spirits)." "We put a lot of time and passion into (our work)," says Turner Wathen, founder of Fortuitous Union. "at's why we took eight years to mess up our first product." Fortuitous Union is exactly that — a happy accident. Wathen and co-founder Jordan Morris had sourced a 12-year-old rum from Trinidad and aged it for eight months in empty bourbon barrels. e next step, the "second finish," would be in port barrels. Not having their own space, they used a contract facility for that step — which dumped the rum into a stainless-steel vat before entering the port barrels. e problem? e vat wasn't emp- ty. It contained a five-year-old rye whiskey. Wathen and Larry Rice, owner of the Silver Dollar and a partner in the venture, tasted samples last year. "At that moment, my level of panic was reduced from 100 to seven," Wathen says, adding that he thought, "is can be salvaged." He says they were lucky that rye whiskey and not, say, vodka was in the tank. e blend has the sweetness of rum upon the first coating of your tongue, the spiciness of rye as a finish. Wathen likes it in tiki drinks and as a replacement in whis- key-centric cocktails like a Manhattan or an old fashioned. "It has too much rum in it to be a whiskey and too much whiskey to be a rum," Wathen says. "It falls into the WTF category." (ey're still experi- menting to determine the actual ratio of rum to whiskey.) Wathen says their biggest challenge has been convincing someone to buy one of the 1,650 bottles of a seeming- ly strange blend of whiskey and rum. When this passion project was con- ceived in 2010, Wathen wanted to revive a family history that included the Rolling Fork Distillery and whiskeys like Old Grand-Dad and Old Crow beginning in 1788, when Kentucky was still Virginia. e new Rolling Fork, which stores its barrels at Kentucky Artisan Distillery in Crestwood, is currently working to produce a blend of four-year-old rums, and a rum from El Salvador that will be "triple-finished" in empty — empty! — bourbon barrels. "We can bring rums to Kentucky and do really interesting things to it," Wathen says. "Whether we acciden- tally do it or do it on purpose."

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