Hank Ingram, founder and proprietor of O.H. Ingram River Aged Whiskey, shared his unique success story along with pours of his straight and rye whiskeys with approximately 200 people who attended the Owensboro Bourbon Society’s tasting event Wednesday night.
As Ingram explained, both of his whiskeys are literally aged on river barges. Through a permitting process that took Ingram and his team three years to complete, the journey toward creating his barrel-aged liquors was not an easy one.
“Everyone has a different story as to how bourbon got its name,” Ingram said. “But everyone pretty much agrees that bourbon got popular because it traveled down the river to New Orleans in the early times.”
According to Ingram, the process of shipping and aging bourbon via steamboats and flatboats became so tumultuous over time, distilleries started changing their techniques. Ingram said today’s industry was “a lot more reliable.”
Still, the historical relevance of the bourbon industry piqued Ingram’s interest, and he discovered there was a regulation that allowed distilled spirits to acquire experimental permits.
Ingram admitted there “weren’t a lot of handbooks out there” to help him get started on that venture.
But after three years, Ingram was able to secure a permit that allowed him to store his barrels via barges. He called it a scientific process that he was still learning about as time went on.
The river aging process gives Ingram’s whiskeys a smoothness that is achieved through the movement, heat and humidity associated with its placement on the water.
“The motion is critically important to the process,” he said.
While the movement and mixture of high and low temperatures help “massage the whiskey,” Ingram said the humidity provides a hot and wet environment that’s unique to the aging process, calling it “the best of both worlds.”
“It keeps the barrels moist … the sugars aren’t drawn out by the sun,” Ingram said.
The tasting event was held at Green River Distilling Co., which is currently distilling Ingram River Aged Whiskey.
“We’re still early on in this journey, but I enjoy being in the presence of some real bourbon enthusiasts, and I appreciate your support,” he told the crowd. “If you like this, great, because it’s only going to get better.”