Revisiting Tom's Foolery Distillery - The Whiskey Wash

Revisiting Tom’s Foolery Distillery

In today’s ever-expanding and ever-changing world of spirits, it can be easy to get lost in the noise of new start-ups and frustrations of established distilleries pulling bottom shelf labels to be rebranded as a premium marque. With so much “new” it is easy to overlook the evolution of current craft distillers and the moves they are making to remain relevant in the competitive environment of the spirits industry. So, I decided it was time to touch base and get reacquainted with Tom’s Foolery Distillery in Burton, Ohio.

The last time we touched base with Tom’s Foolery was in Dan Simpson’s article all the way back in 2015. I reached out to them to see what new innovations that they have to offer and co-founder Lianne Herbruck was kind enough to let me know all about the growth and evolution taking place on site.

The first thing to mention is the stills. Since we last spoke, Tom’s Foolery’s old historic stills ultimately found their way to Michter’s, and now they are over at Michter’s recently opened Fort Nelson Distillery in Louisville where you can watch the stills produce whiskey. From there, Lianne and Tom Herbruck acquired a 200 gallon, 150-year-old alembic/pot still from France and commissioned a 1,000-gallon beer still from Drew Engasser at Copper Smithworks in Cleveland, Ohio. These stills have allowed them to double their capacity on their new manufacturing location on their 115-acre farm in Burton.

The stills at Tom’s Foolery (image via Tom’s Foolery)

Not only are they ramping up distillation on their site, but they are remaining as hands-on and local as possible. They are amongst the few that are currently growing their own corn and rye on their farms and mill their grains on site to ensure the best possible grain that will be used for their whiskeys.

One of my favorite marques that they now offer is their maple finished bourbon. I was able to try this a couple of years ago in Chicago and it offers all of the flavors of autumn without the cloying sweetness found in some other “whiskeys” on the market. They achieved this by taking four-year-old bourbon and finishing it in barrels that local maple farmers used to produce bourbon barrel finished honey. A perfect way to highlight and celebrate the terroir that Midwest has to offer.

While not whiskey related per se; I felt that one thing worth mentioning is their gin. Lianne was very excited about this and in the grand scheme of innovation, is quite brilliant. Since you cannot rectify a spirit to near neutral character on a pot still, Tom’s Foolery decided to find the base of their gin in their apple brandy. They take some of the hearts for their brandy and macerate it with juniper, coriander, and cinnamon. The apple-based spirit adds its own botanical character that makes for a very distinct gin.

It is also worth noting that while Tom’s Foolery is not regularly open to visitors, they are open. And if the idea of hands-on craft distilling and innovation is not enough to entice you for a visit; they do have cask strength offerings of their whiskey and apple brandy along with side corn, wheat and rye whiskeys that you will not be able to find outside the distillery.