Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Lost Lantern
Distillery: Ironroot Republic
Release Date: July 26th, 2023
Age: 3 Years
Mashbill: 65% Yellow Dent Corn, 30% Bloody Butcher Red Corn, 5% Floriani Corn
Color: Dark Amber
MSRP: $120 (2023)
Seasoned oak | Dark fruit | Cranberry | Cinnamon | Warm biscuits | Hot
Grain-forward | Buttered cornbread | Warming spice mix | Baking spices | Allspice | Burnt wood | Funky, earthy undertone | Creamy texture | Punchy & unfamiliar
Baking spices | Cornbread | Graham cracker | Brown sugar | Lingering heat
A bold, grain-forward 100% corn bourbon that has a tendency to grow on you with each passing sip.
According to the company’s press release, Ironroot Republic 2023 Single Cask #7 is one of eight bottles in Lost Lantern’s “Summer of Bourbon” release collection. It is one of six single barrels that is released alongside two very small blends. The release is a total of 167 bottles.
Ironroot Republic is located in Denison, Texas which is a small city just south of the Oklahoma border, about 75 miles north of Dallas. The company was founded by brothers Robert and Jonathan Likarish, and their mother Marcia manages daily operations. They started distilling in August 2014, use a pot still, and use dozens of different varieties of corn taking advantage of local terroir. While they distill with rye and wheat, most mashbills they use are 100% corn. All of their distilling and aging is done onsite, and they currently house approximately 1,100 barrels with construction plans underway to build a new rickhouse that will house an additional 5,000 barrels or so.
In addition to their unusual 100% corn bourbon mashbills, they also proof some of their whiskeys down in barrel, meaning they add water directly to some of the barrels as they age, and they use 65 gallon barrels as opposed to the more common 53 gallon barrels used to age bourbon and American whiskey. According to Robert Likarish, aging in Texas heat requires monitoring barrels closely, as they can run off course before reaching 3 years old, requiring each and every barrel to be tasted every 3-4 months once they reach the 1 year old mark. Likarish said they found good results and better control with the larger 65 gallon barrels in an effort to age their whiskey longer, and as a result, made a full switch to 65 gallon barrels about 4 years ago.
This particular barrel selected by Lost Lantern is derived from one of Ironroot Republic’s three core mashbills, which have evolved over the years, and comprise approximately 80% of what they distill according to Likarish. At over 137 proof it was not one of the barrels that was proofed down during aging, and clocks in quite a bit higher than Ironroot Republic’s highest proof standard offering, which comes in at 115 proof. It’s quite grain-forward, which is a trait akin to pot still distillation as compared to more commonly found column still bourbon. Despite common misconception, grain-forward whiskey does not necessarily equate to underaged whiskey. As Likarish noted, Ironroot specifically set out to make unique tasting whiskey, which was deliberately not in the same style as Kentucky bourbon.
Lost Lantern’s Ironroot Republic barrel is reminiscent of high proof Kings County Distillery bourbon, of which I really enjoy and have selected single barrels of over the years, each time seeking out something bold, punchy, and unlike anything else out there. As is the case with bourbons that fall well outside the typical Kentucky bourbon flavor profile range, most likely due to its 100% corn mashbill and the impact the Texas heat had on it. The bourbon takes a pour or two to get acclimated to, but once you recalibrate you’ll be rewarded with a robust, funky, grain-forward bourbon with highlights of buttered cornbread, baking spices, seasoned oak, brown sugar, and graham cracker in the mix. Such a robust, unique bourbon will not be for everyone, but if you enjoy unique, intense pours you will find a lot to love with this barrel.