Have you ever visited a distillery and found something completely unique and then wish you had bought a bottle of it to take home with you, but now it's too late? That happened to me tonight after visiting Red Eagle Distillery in Geneva, Ohio, north east of Cleveland and tasting their delicious Red Maple. All I have is the brief memories, so I'll share them with you guys now ...
After looking at my photos and remembering the experience of visiting this big red distillery barn nestled between wineries, I began to share the photo above. My friends dismissed my evangelism of this unique spirit as, "oh yeah I've tasted maple-flavored whiskey before". Others more politely expressed their curiosity and asked, "oh cool! Is that aged in maple barrels?"
The answer to both of those is, "no". However, the reality is far more exciting.
Red Maple is a truly original creation from the folks at Red Eagle Distillery. It's actually a spirit distilled from Ohio-sourced maple syrup and then aged for two years in oak barrels. The resulting 90.2 proof spirit is a unique blend that tastes somewhat like a rye or an aged rum. While the nose has hints of maple still, it's far from being a syrupy sweet-flavored whiskey.
For some, it might simply be a novelty to keep on their shelf as a memory. I'm dreaming of maple-themed cocktails though. Or maybe twists on cocktail classics like a Manhattan where you can substitute Red Maple for bourbon and have something pretty unique to spice things up for a change of pace. Maybe even a Red Maple Hot Toddy to keep you warm this fall!
Samples here are only $1 and it is absolutely worth a stop if you are doing the Geneva, Ohio wine trail. Along with Red Maple, they also have a Rye, Ohio Bourbon, Brandy, and a Vodka. The last two spirits are made from local grapes.
Red Eagle Distillery has been creating craft spirits from locally sourced ingredients since 2012. While not quite an estate distillery it's a humble but impressive operation that clearly has the right mixture of business acumen, chemistry, and divine inspiration to make even more great things happen in the future.
I absolutely revel in seeing distillers create innovative spirits and this is the epitome of what I dream of finding each time I visit a craft distillery. It also serves as a reminder that if you find something you love at first sip ... don't forget to reward the distiller by buying a bottle and then sharing your photos and excitement with friends!