Self-proclaimed “bourbon babe” and partner at J. Henry & Sons bourbon farm distillery
Let’s start with the history of the farm and distillery. My husband has been farming all his life. We’re seed corn producers, and our two sons are fourth generation working on the farm. Lots of people know about our farm but now visitors are learning about our bourbon business too. We started making bourbon in 2009, aging it in an old dairy barn, with the first product available in 2016. Bourbon was a bug in my husband’s bonnet, so to speak. He did a lot of reading. He and his dad were big bourbon fans. Corn was the key to bourbon, and we handle the grain very carefully. As for me, I studied agriculture in college, and my first job was at ABS Global.
How does the land here influence the taste of your bourbon? Bourbon is value-added agriculture. Our goal is to make an all-Wisconsin product and we grow an heirloom red corn developed in 1939 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aging affects about 65 percent of the flavor, and the rest is grain and water.
Are people here really as nice as they seem? I like to say that “Minnesota nice” was something Minnesotans learned from Wisconsin! For me it’s really noticeable when you go away and come home to Wisconsin. People won’t just give you directions, they’ll show you the way. If you ask for a dinner recommendation, they’ll invite you to join them.
What can visitors expect when they visit the farm? Not many people have had a chance to see and experience value-added agriculture. We encourage people to do the tour, nosing and tasting. You can see how the bourbon is aged, and that’s where the really important stuff happens. We host a dinner in the field too and we’re glad we can provide that experience.
Any other recommendations for visitors? Walk the Yahara River Trail for 30 minutes and you’ll feel better about the world!
Favorite cheese? I was Alice in Dairyland a long time ago! I was treated like royalty by every ag business, which turned out to be great training for what we’re doing now. We have so many incredible artisanal cheeses here, and traditional cheeses too. We do bourbon and cheese pairings, and people realize right away the intense flavors make it an elevated experience.
Favorite cocktail? I make a tart cherry smash and it’s so drinkable. I like a Manhattan made with our bourbon. It’s fun when a local bartender makes it for me! Where do the locals like to eat? Norske Nook warrants a stop, even if you’re just taking a piece of pie back to your hotel.
Favorite slice of pie? Depends what they have! I love the Dutch apple. Sometimes a cream pie, like coconut cream.
When you’re not at work, what are you enjoying in the area? Biking and hiking and snowshoeing are great, but we also have a lot of simple celebrations, like the art fair.Back to the Group