HIGHLAND — A distillery just south of Parkesburg is giving Kentucky a real run for its money.
Spring House Spirits produces whisky, bourbon and more recently rum on the 100-acre farm known as Chestnut. Grinding, brewing, fermentation, distillation and aging all take place on the farm.
The micro or nano distillery produces 300 bottles per month.
Distiller Chris Demars will tell you that it’s the property’s many natural sources that make the liquor so good, without having to use any additives. It’s no coincidence that the Parkesburg Victory Brewing Company uses the same water source.
Making whiskey and bourbon is in Demar’s DNA. Both grandmothers ran stills during Prohibition and when that ended, the two went back to making alcohol legally.
By reducing the size of the barrels, the product needs a quarter of time to age. Spring House whiskey only needs six months, instead of the usual two years, to bottle.
Real bourbon must be at least 51% corn and aged in new oak barrels.
Spring House Whiskey is produced in a former dairy and is made from 72% corn, which adds a full-bodied flavor, 12% wheat, 12% rye and 4% barley. The new Doc Windle Bourbon will be much richer in rye and less rich in corn.
The farm dates back to 1814, with the natives occupying the premises for 13,000 years. Many arrowheads were found near the springs that attracted so many.
Arthur Parkes was Parkesburg’s first mayor. He bought the hilly farmland from the Penn Foundation.
The third owner of the farm was Filmore Martin. His wife was sober, and Fillmore jumped on any old horse when the regular fox hunts passed through his property, despite knowing that the hunt always carried flasks of whiskey.
Doc Windle owned the farm during the Civil War. He always carried a bottle of alcohol in his doctor’s kit for “medicinal purposes”.
Bobby Cochran, Cochranville’s namesake, founded and ran the Cochran Hunt that ran through the farm.
“History gives a sense of place physically versus time,” Demars said.
The property will be permanently preserved by the Brandywine Nature Conservancy.
“We see ourselves as gatekeepers,” Demars said.
Demars is a retired nuclear engineer. He loves to cook and compares the balance of flavors in whiskey, so that they complement each other, to the blending of grains and woods to achieve those flavors.
Bourbon and whiskey are aged in oak barrels.
“The oak provides the complexity needed to create those flavors and to balance and produce a full flavored whiskey that is pure drinking pleasure,” he said.
His son Alexander Demars is the chief distiller and, like his father, also enjoys cooking. Chris said Alexander had a refined sense of taste, which is necessary for a distiller.
For more information or to purchase a bottle, go to www.springhousespirits.com