Ted Huber has been distilling a long time. While many of today’s craft distillers were running around in diapers, Ted was running spirit through the imported German still at his family’s farm in Boden, southern Indiana. The Huber family have been farming this land since 1843, when Simon Huber emigrated from Baden-Baden in Germany, bringing with him his extensive knowledge of farming and winemaking. Ted Huber cut his teeth in fruit production and winemaking and later decided that he should begin distilling the fruits of his labor into brandies, carrying on the practice as his ancestors did in Germany. It was 2001 when Ted fired up his still for the first time, and since then his brandies have won critical acclaim. Producing a world-class spirit on a small scale takes a lot of skill and perseverance, but it’s the attention to detail that Ted, Jason Heiligenberg (Master Distiller at Huber) and his closely knit team have put into their work that really shines through.
It’s for this reason that Vine & Table’s crack tasting team headed south in April of this year to visit with Ted and Jason and check out some of the projects that they are working on. And one of those happens to be bourbon. While we are big fans of Huber’s original release ‘Carl T. Bourbon,’ we wanted to see the barrels, the German still that produced the spirit, the corn that is all grown on the family farm, and taste the golden nectar straight from the barrels for ourselves. And then something happened…
The second barrel that we tasted was so profoundly good that we asked if we could purchase it then and there. The expression on Ted’s face was priceless, simply because he had prepared about a dozen barrels for us to taste. But we wanted this one; there was no need to go any further because we had tasted bourbon nirvana!
The nose has inviting notes of black tea, light wispy toffee, freshly buttered toast and oak spice that sits evenly in check with all of the other aromas. At 108 proof, there is not the faintest hint of alcohol, which is one of the key features of this barrel and a testament to Ted and his team. On the palate, warming honey comes in waves along with light liquid toffee and flecks of vanilla. The richness of the spirit is what drew us to to Barrel 1401 and that richness continues into a pretty long finish. A drop of water or an ice cube accentuates the richness and really brings the sweetness of the whisky to the fore. In a nutshell, this is 750mls of sheer elegance!
Enjoy this little piece of Indiana history while it lasts!
Zach Pratt’s Review– It didn’t take us long to figure out that we really needed to come home with a barrel selection when we visited Starlight during the spring this year. As a matter of fact, this very barrel was only the second one that we tasted! Instead of throwing a quick #4 char on all of their barrels, the Hubers like to play around a bit with their various options. The barrel this bottling comes from was fired at a lower level for a bit longer in order to toast it – a wine barrel process – and then given a lower level char, since you can’t make bourbon without a charred barrel. The result is a fantastic whiskey that, at only two years of age, has enormous amounts of wooded spice character, but keeps the caramel-vanilla notes in check. Admittedly, being bottled at 108 proof may be helping the spice character a bit, but even a bit of water doesn’t take away from what this bourbon brings to the table. From the full, slightly sweet nose all the way to the lingering finish on the sides of your tongue, this is a whiskey to be enjoyed a sip at a time, and even then you’ll find the bottle empty sooner than you’d like!