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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States


Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

The Drop

The Drop is your source for all things craft. 

Our first Bourbon: Everything you need to know

Erica Sagon


Here's our first bourbon, and the barrel it came from. The last time they'll be together.
Sad for them, good for you.

Our first ever Single Barrel Bourbon will be released at noon on Friday, Oct. 14, at the distillery only.

We have a limited quantity, and bottles will go quickly. If we were you, we'd line up at our door before we open at noon. 

The price is $42 for a 375ml bottle, and sales are limited to 1 per person.

It's Cardinal Spirits' first bourbon, but also Bloomington's first bourbon — hurray! — and we're proud of that. It is made with 4 grains sourced from Indiana farmers: corn and wheat from Glick in Columbus, and barley and rye from Sugar Creek Malt Co. in Lebanon. It was aged in a 20-gallon new American oak barrel.

This bourbon is distinctly Indiana. We thought you might have some questions about it....

What's the mash bill?

60% corn and 20% percent wheat, both sourced from Glick in Columbus, and 10% barley and 10% rye, both sourced from Sugar Creek Malt Co in Lebanon. It's considered a high-rye bourbon because it has more than 5% rye. 

How long did the bourbon age?

About a year and two months. The important thing to note is that we do not have any bourbon that is older than our distillery. Some distilleries choose to buy bourbon from elsewhere and simply bottle it, and that's how they get away with selling a spirit that's older than they are. 

But we don't buy any of our spirits. We make them. Everything is fermented, mashed, distilled and bottled entirely on site at Cardinal Spirits.



But, wait: Doesn't bourbon have to be aged for at least two years?

No. Lots of folks have a misconception about a 2-year rule when it comes to bourbon. That rule only comes into play if you plan to call the spirit "straight bourbon."

These are the federal rules for making bourbon: It must be made of a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, it must be aged charred new oak containers, it must be distilled to no more than 160 proof, it must be barreled at no more than 125 proof, and it must be bottled at 80 proof or higher. See, no mention of a 2-year rule.

Can bourbon be made outside of Kentucky?

Yes, yes it can! It's true that a lot of bourbon is made in Kentucky, but bourbon can be made anywhere.

Indiana has everything Kentucky has to make excellent bourbon: High-quality grains, limestone-filtered water, good, hard woods for making barrels and cooperages that manufacture them. And, of course, craft distilleries like ours!

What does this bourbon it taste like?

You'll notice a pleasant corn sweetness first, then a nice, rich mouthfeel, and a peppery finish. Some bourbons just taste like corn; ours is more interesting and finishes strong.

Because of the high-quality mash bill, it stands up against any big-name bourbon. 


Why is the proof so high?

Our Single Barrel Bourbon is 110 proof, down from 123.2 at barrel proof. We intentionally kept a high proof to give you control of how you drink it. It also means that this 375ml bottle will go far. 

Add a bit of water at a time to a neat pour to suit your taste.

Many distilleries want to get their bourbon into the hands of as many consumers as possible, so to fill more bottles, they add more water. That lowers the proof, but it also washes out the flavors we so enjoy in bourbon. 

The bottom line is: You can always add water, but you can't take it away. This is your bottle, and we think you should be in control.

When will you release more barrels?

We don't have a schedule. Our head distiller Justin Hughey will keep checking in with them. He knows good bourbon when he tastes it, and he'll wait for that taste.

What's interesting is that we filled 12 barrels from the same cooperage with the same mash bill at the same time. And we've got 12 different-tasting bourbons. Barrel #9 is wonderful right now, and the others will be ready on their own time.

How do you recommend drinking it?

It's nice on it's own. So you can drink it neat, but it's your bottle - drink it how you want. We recommend that you try the whiskey first, then add a few drops of water and see how it changes. We find that a bit of water opens up even more subtle flavors, but it's all about finding what you enjoy most.