On the next stop of the RackHouse Whiskey road trip to find the best craft distilleries in America, we traveled to Le Claire, Iowa. Overlooking the Mississippi River, it’s the birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody and now home to TV favorite, American Pickers.
A marriage of land and water
It’s also the spot where brothers Ryan and Garrett Burchett decided to pursue a dream. Ryan swapped the green screen from his TV meteorologist days to making delicious brown stuff, while Garrett hit the highway up to Iowa from Texas where he had a career in designing roads. One predicted precipitation and the other mastered the engineering of land. It’s this marriage of land and water that best describes what they’re doing at Mississippi River Distilling Company.
The Mississippi River used to act as the original highway. At onetime, nearby Keokuk, Iowa was twice the size as Chicago. Timber was chopped and sent down stream and in its wake was replaced with rye, which grew well in the sandy soil.
“There was a tremendous amount of rye whiskey that came out of the Midwest region. This was really where whiskey got its start,” Garrett told us over a Buffalo Bill cocktail. “That’s what we’ve tried to recreate here.”
Everything Mississippi River Distilling Company creates is crafted from grains sourced from farmers within 25 miles of the distillery.
New flavors that reflect history
Since beginning in 2010, the brothers say they’ve seen a boom in craft distilleries from about 200 to now nearing 2,000 offering flavors that haven’t been seen for generations.
“There is an expectation of what American whiskey tastes like right now that is all the same. Say the word ‘Scotch.’ What does that mean? What does that tastes like? Scotch tastes like anything under the sun — a million different flavors all from this small specific region,” Garrett said. “That’s what America used to be before prohibition, and I think that’s what we will be again.”
The brothers are on the leading edge of developing flavors that mirror the region’s history and celebrating the time when the Mississippi River was the nation’s artery and epicenter for whiskey.
“What we’ve done here is really put the craft back into and it’s a very unique whiskey that you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Ryan told us.
What’s in the box?
Expect to receive a bottle from our very own special edition RackHouse Whiskey Club barrel of high proof Cody Road Bourbon Whiskey.
There will also be a sample small batch seasonal bottle of Stone Fence Apple Cider Whiskey, which is a rye whiskey blended with local apple cider instead of water to bring it down to proof. Legend has it that Buffalo Bill Cody's cocktail of choice was the "Stone Fence."