Corn to heirloom whiskey
Just imagine having a bottle of whiskey as an heirloom from your farm. Ryan Bare is the founder and CEO of Century Farm Distillery in Spencer, Iowa. He and his wife Amanda opened the distillery in 2017 and came up with a program where farmers can turn their own corn into whiskey.
He says they buy corn from the farmer and the farmer agrees to buy 60 bottles of bourbon made from their corn and the distillery markets the rest. The farm family also gets to keep one of the barrels.
"It's a really unique program where a farmer can bring us 40-50 bushels of corn from their farm, grown on their farm, and we will make a barrel of whiskey out of that. In fact, three barrels, so about 1,000 bottles of whiskey from 45 bushels of corn," says Bare. "The family agrees to buy 60 bottles of bourbon made using their corn and that’s essentially the deal. Of course, the used whiskey barrel, bourbon barrel, it looks great in your living room or basement."
It only takes a couple of weeks to grind the corn, ferment it, and distill it, but the aging process takes about two years.
When finished, the spirits have some very special information on each bottle.
"There’s a little QR sticker that we put on the side and that has the family’s name, state and county where the corn was grown, and then a biography of that family is on our website," he says. "So, it’s really a unique way to memorialize a family’s history, and evermore important because a lot of times these farms are owned by three or four different people who live in three or four different states, or maybe one or two generations removed from being on that farm. And so, this is really a way to reestablish a connection back to that farm for those absentee landowners."