Doc Porter’s, the Charlotte start-up distillery located on the lower side of South End, is now celebrating the release of its first bourbon since it opened its doors in fall 2015.
Co-owners Andrew Porter, 29, and Liz Porter, 35, named the grain-to-glass distillery, which has already released a popular vodka and gin, after Andrew’s late grandfather. All of the bourbon components (wheat, corn, and malted barley) in the new release are milled, mashed, fermented and distilled in house.
Sip Charlotte spoke with Andrew Porter, also the head distiller, about what to expect from the newest offering, how to get your hands on some, and what his drinks of choice are for each of Doc Porter’s signature liquors. Here are five things to know:
1. Like Doc Porter’s vodka and gin, the distillery’s high-wheat bourbon is made with local ingredients (60 percent corn, 30 percent wheat, 10 percent malted barley). The source: Jamie Austin Farm in Monroe, run by Jamie Austin. A friend of a friend connected them, Porter says, and now the farm supplies the corn and wheat used in all of Doc Porter’s spirits.”We go through 4,000 to 6,000 pounds of grain a month,” Porter says.
2. The bourbon is aged in a 15-gallon, charred American oak barrel. The small-batch barrels mature faster (within about nine months to a year) than than spirits made at larger distilleries, which often take up to four years. That’s because they use larger industry-standard barrels—usually holding 53 gallons—which means the spirits have less direct contact with the oak.
3. Bourbon is the distillery’s third product — and there’s a fourth on the way. Porter and his wife, Liz, launched the business with Doc Porter’s vodka, and about six months later, they released a gin. Next up: a rye, which went into barrels in August this year. It’ll be ready in the fall/winter of 2017, Porter says.4. There are a few ways to get your hands on some Doc Porter’s bourbon, other than requesting it at a local restaurant or bar. You can check with your nearest your ABC store to see if they carry it—many do—or you can stop by the distillery for a tour. Because of strict North Carolina liquor laws, Doc Porter’s can’t sell its wares without customers going on a tour first. And even after the tour, the distillery is only allowed to sell one bottle per customer per year.The hour-long tour costs $15, and includes a shot glass and the opportunity to taste all of the products. The mini-tours, lasting only five minutes, cost $7.
5. Andrew Porter’s favorite drinks with Doc Porter’s spirits are…: “I end up drinking a lot of spirits straight, constantly analyzing, ” Porter says. But if he does opt for a cocktail with vodka from the distillery, he opts for a good vodka martini with blue-cheese-stuffed olives. With Doc Porter’s gin—which has a lot of citrus flavor—he likes the standard gin and tonic.
As for the distillery’s new bourbon, Porter says you can’t go wrong with a classic Old Fashioned or a Boulevardier—a cocktail similar to a Negroni but with bourbon instead of gin, alongside sweet vermouth, and campari. Serve with a twist of orange peel.
Photos: All product shots by Remy Thurston. Couple shot by Justin Driscoll.
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