By Jake Emen
Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan, is another new entrant from Midwest into the distillery and whiskey business, one that opened their doors in October 2011. Journeyman is an organic distillery, with products certified as organic by MOSA, the Midwest Organic Services Association.
As is the rage with today’s multitude of American micro-distilleries, the name of the game is handmade and/or handcrafted. Either way, Journeyman practices what it preaches in this regard, featuring bottles with original artwork and hand-sealed wax bottles, Michigan-sourced grain which is milled on-site, and barrels from neighboring Minnesota. They ply their trade in a historic local factory, the Featherbone Factory, which dates back to the 1800s.
That factory happened to produce buggy whips, which brings us straight to their Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey. That brings us, in turn, back to the idea of new entrants, as the wheat whiskey field itself has only truly taken off in the last few years.
In addition to writing about whiskey, I’m also a boxing writer, and in boxing the term “journeyman” usually doesn’t perk your ears up too much. The meat and potatoes of the boxing trade, journeymen aren’t tomato cans and sometimes even acquire some fame and notoriety, but by and large they are nearly anonymous tradesmen of the Sweet Science. Against a world class boxer, journeyman opponents may be good enough to last a few rounds or show you a new wrinkle or two, but they won’t be too good, or too dangerous. So what to take away from that name?
Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey is aged in new charred oak barrels, and is bottled at 90 proof (45% ABV). It’s made with 100% wheat, and it showcases a dark bronze color in the glass.
When you pry off the dark green wax seal of Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey, or “The Whip,” and hold the bottle to your nose for your first scent, you’ll notice a powerful grainy aroma, with an undertone of sweetness.
On the palate, you’ll notice grain, a bit of caramel, earthy leather, and even a bit of nuttiness. The finish offers a sharp, long-lasting burn. On ice, Buggy Whip is sweeter and lighter, without the burn but still offering a pleasant warmness.
Overall, Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey is an enjoyable change of pace from your bourbon or rye routine. It holds up neat or on the rocks, and could certainly be well-used in a variety of cocktails. However, this particular Journeyman may be hard-pressed to kayo some of the competition in its wider division, such as Dry Fly’s Washington Wheat Whiskey.
Journeyman’s Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey can be found at several online stores, ranging between $40 and $50 for a 750 ml bottle. If you happen to live in Michigan or Indiana, you can pick up a bottle at local retailers.