BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Bloomington’s first batch of locally distilled bourbon was bottled Tuesday and now awaits the public.

At noon on Friday, Oct. 14, Cardinal Spirits will officially release its Single Barrel Bourbon, an unveiling long in the making for co-owner Jeff Wuslich and head distiller Justin Hughey.

In fact, Barrel No. 9 (of 12) was distilled and placed in a charred American white oak barrel to age 14 months ago. Since then, the barrels have been stored on site, left to expand and contract with the fluctuating temperatures of the seasons — an effect that allows the flavor of the wood to fuse with the bourbon.

When Cardinal Spirits opened in February 2015 it was with a simple mission — to provide the people of Bloomington with their own distillery and cocktail bar.

“We wanted to open a distillery, especially in Bloomington, because we knew that Indiana was a great state for agriculture and manufacturing, but we also wanted to make something with our hands, something we could hold in our hands and be proud of,” Wuslich said. “Everything we try to use here, we source as locally as possible. People in Bloomington really respond to that.”

Wuslich and Hughey believed Hoosiers would respond well to a barrel bourbon.

“This product, this bourbon, is really Indiana distilled in a bottle,” Wuslich said, because local grains and machinery were used to get the job done.

Wuslich said they wanted to make sure their first batch of bourbon wasn’t bottled prematurely, so they have remained content to let the barrels age as long as they need. Barrel No. 9 was tasted on Sept. 1 and deemed good to go.

“Now’s the right time, because it tastes right,” he said.

For Hughey, finally getting their first batch of bourbon out of the barrel is exciting.

“I’ve been watching those barrels for a long, long time,” Hughey said. “It’s great to finally have something ready that I am 100 percent confident in.

“I guess it’s also exciting because it’s technically Bloomington’s first bourbon, which is pretty great, too. Good for the city, good for the state.”

Wuslich, Hughey, employee Gabe Garber and production manager Jason Hackett spent Tuesday taste-testing the batch and making tweaks to the bourbon until it was down to 110 proof and right where they wanted it. They deemed it perfect — with or without a little bit of ice.

They then hand-bottled approximately 170 bottles in a mini assembly line set up in the back of the shop in preparation for the release.

With care and precision and a fair share of jokes at each others’ expense, the crew filled each bottle up to the nape of the neck, plugged it and sealed it with a heat gun.

Wuslich beamed with pride.

“It’s like we’re grandparents around a baby.”

Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times,

Information from: The Herald Times,

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Bloomington) Herald Times.