“We are not interested in making the most, just the best.”
In the late ‘90s, Wilderness Trail co-founders Shane Baker and Pat Heist were in a rock band together and quickly realized they needed to chase another dream. In 2006, their journey began with a passion for creating the finest whiskeys in the world. The two were fortunate to be based in the rolling hills of Historically Bold Danville, Kentucky, the birthplace of Kentucky, and also being exposed to the Kentucky Bourbon industry for generations while growing up. In fact, Shane’s family has been distilling in Kentucky since the 1940s when his grandmother, Doris Ballard, met his grandfather, Hubert Ballard, at the Kentucky River Distillery when they were 14 and 16 years old. Doris Ballard went on to retire from Stitzel-Weller after a more than 50 year career in the industry. This type of family history provides a lot of our influences today, including some special yeast strains.
With strong backgrounds in several sciences and more than 20 years of industry experience, Shane and Pat started down thier Bourbon path with a lot of yeast strains they collected over the years and combined those proprietary yeast with a premium selection of seed grade corn, wheat and rye varietals grown just a few miles from the distillery, on Caverndale Farms. They also source rye from Walnut Grove Farms in Adairville, Ky. The distillery's malted barley, grown in the northern states, arrives from a grain elevator in Louisville and their water comes from Kentucky’s natural limestone springs. Wilderness Trail primarily produce two varieties of Bourbon Whiskey and a Rye Whiskey, all of which are made with 100% KY Proud®-sourced ingredients.
A noticeable distinction in our process and the flavor of Wilderness Trail whiskeys comes from their proprietary Infusion Mashing Process, a process where they use the exact amount of heat to gelatinize starches without degradation of the quality of the grains. This process yields a much softer and flavorful distillate when married with Wilderness Trail's unique yeast strains. Another important distinction is that the distillery's steam is chemical-free because they use a clean steam boiler, the first Kentucky Bourbon distillery to do so. With this process, boiler chemicals or off flavors is avoided. Only pure steam goes into the cooker and into the beer column.
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