The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Bourbon barrels at Flag Hill Winery & Distillery. Photo courtesy of Kevin Ferguson.

Flag Hill Bourbon Release Party: Ole Country Hoedown

When: Saturday, Nov. 7, from 4 to 9 p.m.
Where: Flag Hill Winery & Distillery, 279 N. River Road, Lee
Cost: $65. Reservations required. 
Event is 21+.  Bands include The High Range BlueGrass Connection, Laura Orshaw’s Chasing Blue and Justin Raynor.


A spirited release
Flag Hill debuts straight bourbon whiskey

By Allie Ginwala

 When you’ve been waiting for over two years to release a product and the day finally arrives, there’s really no other option than to mark the occasion with a party. On Saturday, Nov. 7, Flag Hill Winery & Distillery will celebrate the release of Flag Hill straight bourbon whiskey with an Ole Country Hoedown.

“We have a number of entertainment acts that will be joining us, from square dancers and a caller to a country musician to a couple different bluegrass bands,” catering manager and event coordinator Christa Phaneuf said in a phone interview. “Our chef is really excited about the fun family-style menu she’s planned as well.”
The night includes a toast — the first time the public gets to try the bourbon— followed by a country-style meal featuring produce grown and chickens raised at Flag Hill Farm. The menu is made up of pit-roasted chicken, slow-roasted dry rub ribs, sweet potatoes with bourbon honey butter, whiskey meatballs, jalapeno cornbread and fried Brussels sprouts.
Brian Ferguson, owner/distiller/winemaker at Flag Hill, said folks who have attended a previous fall or spring product release party are in for a different experience that goes “above and beyond.”
“We’re building a tour which is going to be pretty unique,” he said in a phone interview. “Instead of seeing everything, we’re going to focus in on just whiskey and show why what we’re doing really matters, and we’re going to have a barrel maker here onsite making barrels so people can see that process.”
With an extensive background in spirits and wine making, Ferguson particularly loves whiskey.
“I think in general whiskey has caught on within the last 10 years or so and has taken off as a spirit category,” he said. “At the time when we started putting it up, there was no one in the state making a stride at it.”
Breaking down the components of the straight bourbon whiskey, Ferguson said to be called bourbon it simply has to be made in America from at least 51 percent corn, aged to no more than 125 proof in new charred American white oak barrels and distilled 160. 
“So that is bourbon. It can be 40 years old or four minutes old, as long as it meets the requirements,” he said. 
“Straight” is a designator of quality, he explained, so to put that word on the label it has to be at least two years old.
“We’ve painfully sat on this whiskey for two and three years,” he said. “There is no way to fake the maturity piece of it. You can get the oak piece really quick, but the actual maturation of the spirit takes time and it’s through a complex chemical reaction.”
The official release of Flag Hill straight bourbon whiskey is on Nov. 7 and Ferguson hopes to have it in liquor stores the following Monday so he can bring it to the Distiller’s Showcase in Manchester on Nov. 12.
Party attendees won’t have to wait to see the spirit in action, however, since there will be a cocktail competition and cocktail demos featuring the straight bourbon whiskey at the release party.
“We have bartenders [from Blue Moon Evolution, Tuckaway Tavern and Cotton] that are really excited to play with our bourbon ... and our bartender is through-the-roof excited,” Phaneuf said.  

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