Steven Grasse and Tamworth Distilling, the makers behind Eau De Musc and The Deerslayer Whiskey – limited-edition whiskeys made with beaver castoreum and venison respectively - are once again pushing boundaries with bold choices of flavor and historically-influenced local ingredients. Just in time for the four hundredth anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, Bird of Courage, a roasted turkey flavored whiskey,will join The House of Tamworth lineup of rare and evocative limited-release spirits.
This limited-edition tryptophan-free whiskey was birthed from a barrel of 5-year-old Bottled in Bond Whiskey (12% rye, 81% corn, 7% malt) and was steeped with a (mostly) historically accurate and quintessential New England Thanksgiving dinner.
Distiller Matt Power utilized ingredients present at the first thanksgiving 400 years ago such as flint corn (in which he used to make hand-ground corn bread) and even sourced local chestnuts (a feat as they were highly prevalent at the time, but entire east coast forests died in the 1930’s when they were wiped out by the chestnut blight). Apples and cranberries were sourced from Sugar Hill farm in Maine and kabocha squash from a New Day Farm in Conway. Celery, flint corn, and parsley made its way into the bottle from Mountain Heartbeet Veggies in Effingham, and apples and cranberries were foraged from local trees and wild cranberry plants walking distance from the distillery, meanwhile fresh sage was plucked from the Tamworth Distilling’s backyard garden.
While sweet potatoes and stuffing were likely not present at that historic day (and the turkey was probably pretty dry) they were still added; and while wild turkeys do in fact roam about rural New Hampshire, the birds were sourced from a turkey farmer right across the river and historical landmark in Tamworth, Behr Farm, which is nearly 80 years old.
“All of the ingredients were cooked uniquely and infused into the bourbon before being distilled individually on our vacuum evaporator. The essence of the production strategy was to process every ingredient in the manner that they would be prepped for a real Thanksgiving dinner,” said Power. “So, the turkey was basted while roasting, the corn bread was baked until just right, and the stuffing recipe I used tasted just like my Mom’s! Everything was distilled fresh from the oven so we could capture the true essence of Thanksgiving.”
But where does the name Bird of Courage come from? “Franklin argued that the turkey would have been a more appropriate national symbol than the eagle," said Steven Grasse, historian and Tamworth Distilling founder. “Franklin was quoted as saying the turkey was a much more respectable bird and a true native of America, first dubbing the turkey as a ‘bird of courage’ that ‘would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on’. Unfortunately, congress was not convinced, however, and the eagle persisted as our national symbol.”
The distillers at Tamworth Distilling are passionate outdoor enthusiasts and the wilderness surrounding the facility in Tamworth, New Hampshire, is a major source of inspiration for the team. A friendsgiving dinner to be enjoyed at the Tamworth Distilling Lyceum (or pick up) - complete with bottle of Bird of Courage, will be raffled off with 100% of proceeds benefitting the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Bird of Courage (92 proof, $65) is available for national distribution through www.seelbachs.com and in limited quantities from Tamworth Distilling and at Philadelphia’s Art in the Age.