Honeymaking newcomer David Mullins adds a special flavor to his honey by aging it inside barrels used to age whiskey. He discovered the unique flavor combination after buying whiskey barrel-aged coffee beans at a local farmers market.
“We added our wildflower honey to the coffee and the taste was amazing,” says David, a beekeeper who started making his own honey a year ago. “We knew we had a winner.”
After searching online and finding only a handful of others making barrel-aged honeys, David dove in and made his first batch of Bee Great Indiana Whiskey Barrel Honey in a 15-gallon barrel he bought from a nearby distillery.
“It’s pure Hoosier! Our local honey went straight into a freshly emptied local whiskey barrel,” David says, explaining how he turned that first batch of honey every day, storing it in his laundry room during the winter months because it was the warmest room in the house.
“Now, we use 53-gallon barrels and are in the process of securing land and building a barn where customers can see our products being made by hand,” David says.
There’s more to making Indiana Whiskey Barrel Honey than simply adding honey to a barrel and waiting, he says. Bee Great specifically selects American White Oak barrels used to age whiskey, because they have a thick layer of char from being burned during construction. In comparison, finishing barrels are often only toasted.
“The char imparts a smokey flavor to the honey, and the oak gives the robust notes of vanilla and caramel, typical of bourbon and scotch,” David says. “We only add 5 gallons of honey at a time to the 53-gallon barrel, which allows us to turn the barrels by hand each day and impart the most flavor to the honey as possible.”
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