Five Points Distilling - Great Whiskey Coming Out of a Barn (and potentially made by a ghost)

There wasn't a lot going on at Five Points Distilling the day I visited. It's kind of fitting, because the rolling hills I had to traverse to get there were equally quiet. Forney, TX is only a half hour East of Dallas, but feels so remote, it might as well be a state away.

I notice when I roll up that the barn door is open. I hear the hum of machinery, but no one to be seen. I walk in further, yelling out "hello?" and "knock knock." No answer. I make it all the way to a back room and poke my head in. Nobody.

Right when I turn around, there's Logan. An apparition! This barn is haunted! No, it's just that Logan is a very quiet but perfectly gracious young man. He's not the owner. That would be Bill, whom I spoke to a number of times by phone previously, but is not there today.

Logan is a distiller, and has been there for two years, fresh from a bachelors in chemistry from Occidental College. He's originally from Nebraska.When we walk outside and take a look at the fields surrounding us, I ask him how this part of Texas compares to his hometown. Very similar, he says, but quickly adds that he's from a relatively big town back there (all of three thousand people).  Mea culpa, I stand corrected.

Speaking of Midwest, Lone Elm, the imprint Five Star uses, is all about wheat. Except theirs comes from Texas.

I try the thrice-distilled vodka, made from 100% wheat. I'm amazed that it has a predominant chocolate nose and even stronger chocolate taste. How did that happen, if they're not adding chocolate flavor? It's the wheat, Logan tells me. "It's the wheat" may as well become Lone Elm's tagline. I won't ask Logan anything as foolish again.

The Wheat Whiskey is their flagship spirit. It's 90% wheat and 10% malted barley. Logan shows me the grinder where they do all their milling. He invites me to stick my nose into an open-top fermenter. Sure enough, its smells of both sugar and microbial funk. Counter to a lot of distillers, Logan tells me Five Points likes gathering wild yeast and bacteria from the open tops. (The tanks are in a room inside the barn).

Five Points used to get water from a well on the property before it dried up. Now they reverse-osmosis-filter rain water.  The whiskey goes into #3 char oak barrels at 125 proof. It ages there for two to three years before coming out at 90 proof.

So what kind of whiskey does an all-wheat mash produce? First, I try it coming out of the still at 180 proof. It tastes very smooth and of sweet corn.

Poured from the bottle, the nose is very grassy and earthy. Wet grass, you could call it. It has an oily mouth feel and notes of spice. Not a lot of grass on the palate, but definitely some spice.

Just for kicks, I try the barrel strength version. Wow, to both the kick and the taste. It has a sweet caramel and chocolate nose. The palate is all cinnamon and deep wood.

I've sampled all Logan and Lone Elm have to offer, so I walk back out into the sunlight just as it's gearing into midday. Logan was just with me but now I don't know where he went. I turn around, he's gone. That same countryside stillness as when I arrived returns; and remains until I start up my car and the tires slip against the dirt path out of the ranch.


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