There's a new craft spirit on the market that can claim 100 percent homegrown Indiana status -- Sorgrhum, America's First Sweet Sorghum Spirit.
Labor Of Love
Creator Matt Colglazier is a spirits enthusiast who decided to take his hobby to the next level. Through his American Craft Spirits website, he's tasted spirits from all over the country, none of which were using sorghum. He wondered why not. "This is a homegrown sugar source. Why is nobody making this into booze?"
Colglazier speculates that potential distillers may have been deterred by how labor intensive it is to prep sorghum.
It grows like sugar cane, so the juice is in the stalk. The stalks are dried out and then pressed in a mill. The sugar is then boiled, similar to how maple syrup is prepared.
Most likely, the only people who attempted this process, Colglazier says, were farmers, "who have an incredible work ethic, no time for leisure and go to bed at 6:00pm," and were probably not drinkers in the first place, he adds. "So, none of those people were like, 'Hey let's turn this into booze.' That was my job."
Old Fashioned Partnership
When he first started forming the idea for a homegrown craft spirit two years ago, he wanted to plant his own sorghum. But he scratched that and eventually got in touch with an Amish farmer who lives near Bromer, Indiana.
The seeds he uses to grow the sorghum have been in his family for 48 years, and most sorghum mills that have been reclaimed are over 100 years old. This makes for a very old fashioned prep process.
"Nothing more than a simple machine ever touches any of this, from the time it's a seed to the time it's actually in the bottle," he says.
Tastes Like Home
The next step required collaboration as well, because unlike beer and wine, you can't produce spirits for beverage purposes out of your own home. So, he joined forces with Stuart Hobson, the owner of Heartland Distilling in Indianapolis.
When they sampled the first batch, the sweet and earthy flavor was unlike any other craft spirit they'd tasted.
"It's like tequila but it's not. It's like white rum but it's not. It goes really well as a tequila substitute," he says. "It's really it's own flavor profile."
More: Read more about Matt Colglazier's love of craft spirits here: American Craft Spirits Celebrates The Uniqueness Of Place.
Behind The Bar
One of the few places you can order a drink made with Sorgrhum is The Rail in Bloomington, Indiana.
Bartender Ben Zemel mixes a couple cocktails that incorporate Sorgrhum. He says it works best in a sour:
- 2 ounces of liquor
- Â½ ounce sweetener
- Â¾ ounce of acid
From that basic formula, he can then get creative. "It always makes things interesting to work off of a new product," he says, "something that's not the same thing done over and over again, but something that's really original."