Nearly six years ago, Twisted Path’s Brian Sammons began laying down whiskey as he sold the other, less age-focused fruits of his Bay View distillery.
A year and a half ago Sammons released Twisted Path’s first Bottled in Bond rye – which he says was the first BiB whiskey ever in the state – along with barrel proof rye whiskey, and they both became so sought-after that they’d sell out almost immediately.
In addition to being locally made, the spirits were really good.
Regulations require that Bottled in Bond whiskey be made by a single distiller in a single season, barrel aged at least four years and bottled at 100 proof.
"This is what I’ve always wanted," Sammons told me at the time. "To have a good whiskey without an asterisk. Like, ‘It’s good whiskey for Wisconsin or whatever'."
The second batch, released a year later, was similarly quickly snatched up.
Earlier in summer, a third batch arrived, followed by a fourth batch later in the season. That one flew a bit more under the radar.
“We didn't make a big deal of its release in August because now we have enough of it to not run out too fast,” says Sammons, “so it wasn't a line up or you'll miss it’ situation.”
Number four has garnered great reviews, including one from Wisconsin’s Whiskeyfellow, Jeff Schwartz, for its fruity nose of dried orange peel, tobacco and cinnamon palate, and dry finish that comes paired with a hint of pear crispness.
“It's a blend of a few barrels and I think it is by far our best bottled-in-bond yet,” says Sammons, who is also president of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild. “I can’t stop drinking it.”
It is regularly available, says Sammons, but only in the tasting room, at $65 for a 750ml bottle.
“This one is a blend of eight barrels, all right around 4.5 years in the barrel,” Sammons notes. “It is, of course, 100 proof (as required by Bottled in Bond rules) in the bottle, and like all our products, it is certified organic.”
But, wait, there’s more.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, Twisted Path is releasing a special single barrel, barrel-proof rye in 375ml bottles for $40 each.
For barrel-spotters, this is barrel No. 4, and it was aged just short of 5.5 years, finishing out at 130.9 proof.
It’s got classic vanilla and caramel on the nose, with some rich tobacco, leather and cocoa on the palate. Again it’s got a nice medium body and a long finish.
“I had some whiskey fans over to pick barrels and everyone loved this one,” says Sammons. “So this one will probably go pretty fast, there are only about 175 bottles of it.”
The mash bills on Twisted Path's ryes are 60 percent rye and 40 percent corn, according to Sammons.
If you want this one, don’t hesitate or it’ll be gone.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.