SUMMER SPIRITS

Brandon Cox | Kentucky New Era

Paul Tomaszewski of Pembroke's MB Roland Distillery (left), and Peg Hays and AJ Jones of Hopkinsville's Casey Jones Distillery speak about their businesses during a recent Kentucky New Era Podkinsville podcast. Each shared their favorite foods to pair with whiskey, bourbon and moonshine.

Hosts of summer gatherings and parties may consider serving local spirits with their meals courtesy of MB Roland Distillery in Pembroke and Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville.

The business owners shared the origins of their products and their favorite food pairings with whiskey, bourbon and moonshine during a recent Kentucky New Era Podkinsville podcast.

Established in 2009 by Paul and Merry Beth (Roland) Tomaszewski, MB Roland's products include whiskey, bourbon and moonshine.

"The focus of our production is 95% whiskey and about 5% everything else," Paul Tomaszewski said. "Our bourbons and our whiskeys are essentially made the same. The difference is the recipe and the grain content."

The Tomaszewskis use locally grown white corn in their uncut and unfiltered products.

"When we distill it, it comes off the still roughly 110 proof or 55% alcohol and we put that in the barrel for aging. A lot of your larger distilleries might distill as high as 140 proof and then they'll cut it down with water to go into the barrel," Paul Tomaszewski said. "When we dump our product, after its finished aging, we blend it and put it straight into the bottle. Every batch is hand-written on there with the alcohol content. It's going to vary from batch-to-batch. That makes a very unique, full-flavored bourbon that is both different because of the white corn, the pot distillation process, but also the uncut, unfiltered aspect.

"We like to think we're bringing back a lot of the way bourbon and whiskey was made before prohibition when large-scale production took over following World War II," he added.

Among their products are Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, Kentucky Black Patch Whiskey, St. Elmo's Fire and Kentucky Mint Julep.

"When you think about bourbon, whether it be cooking with bourbon for certain dishes, or what would bourbon pair well with," Tomaszewski said. "Barbecue is an easy one and any kind of smoking or grilling is going to go well with that kind of charred flavor you get from a bourbon aging. My personal favorite because I'm from Louisiana … is a bread pudding. The sauce is pretty simple. It's bourbon, cane sugar and butter. I like my bread pudding completely swimming in the sauce."

Established in 2014, Casey Jones Distillery co-owners AJ Jones and Peg Hays produce a variety of spirits also using locally grown corn.

"We too have a base recipe and we are making one that we use for our clear spirits, our barrel-aged spirits and our fruit-flavored spirits and the other one is bourbon," she said. "We have three fruit flavors, which are peach, Granny Smith apple and then Muscadine, which is an American grape. Those are made with 100% natural fruit juices added to the corn distillation process that we have."

Hays said their 92 proof moonshine was the first spirit they distilled.

"People who knew Casey … advised us that they think that was the taste he would have liked. That was our first product to honor Casey Jones," she said.

In 2017, Casey Jones Distillery filled the requests for 100 proof moonshine by trademarking Total Eclipse Moonshine for the total solar eclipse.

"Our Barrel Cut (moonshine) is that same product in a variety of proofs that … we will barrel and age it just like bourbon," she added. "Unfiltered, uncut. It's kind of a really unique and hard-to-find spirit … People that like it, really like it."

Hays recommended serving dinner guests a Moonarita using their peach, apple or Muscadine moonshine. A Moonarita is similar to the familiar Margarita, which features tequila.

"The fruit flavors (of moonshine) are good, of course, with cheeses, with any type of grilled product -- fishes and chicken. The peach goes well with pork," Hays said. "Barrel Cut is great with beef; it's great with salads. The clears you would use like you would vodka or tequila. They go best with corn-based dishes, pork or chicken. The barrel-cut we like to have with a really good chocolate."

MB Roland is located at 137 Barkers Mill Road, Pembroke. Visit Casey Jones Distillery at 2815 Witty Lane, Hopkinsville.

Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or mvowell@kentuckynewera.com.

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