Looking out over the lazy undulation of farmland around a weathered barn in northern Illinois, you could be forgiven for thinking that the landscape is less than exciting.
But focus on the 700-acre wood just beyond the golden pasture in front of you. The fireburst of fall leaves have already fallen and what remains are ancient sentinels: the sometimes solitary withered and gnarled oak and walnut trees.
Camping alone in those woods while growing up, your imagination could have a tendency to run away from you. Before you blazes a warm, snapping fire, but beyond that light there is darkness … and it’s holding its breath.
The feeling of being alone against the mysteries of the world is what led me to create Ghostwood. This recipe was inspired by—and for—that world, when the remnants of summer have given way to the bracing turn of winter and darkness lurks just over your firelit shoulders, causing you to smile with a hidden warmth.
Go Beyond the Firelight.
—Lucas Perks, Ghostwood Founder
In early 2014, I was asked a question that terrified me: “If you could do anything in the world, for the rest of your life, what would you do?”
For most, it’s an interesting concept to ponder and dream about; for me—for whatever reason—the question struck a chord, and not a very pleasant one. I rolled it over and over in my mind, as if my very existence depended on the answer. Nothing I came up with seemed to assuage the restless feeling the simple query instilled. And then, I thought about making whiskey. Suddenly, a sense of calm washed over me and, although I’d always loved drinking whiskey, I had never before considered that producing it could be a reality.
What followed was a long journey involving a 5-gallon copper still, a hot pad, a few dozen mason jars and some long nights of trial and retrial in the back of my family’s Illinois barn, attempting to craft and refine a whiskey. A whiskey I could proudly point to and say was my very own; a whiskey with a background, a whiskey with a story.
The result was a distinguished 4-grain bourbon, but something was missing. The wheat I was using wasn’t giving me the earthy tone I was looking for. It was too sweet. Thus began my search for the perfect ingredients for the perfect whiskey mash bill.
My sojourn carried me from the farmlands of northern Illinois to the many mountain ranges of the northern Rockies and the rugged, rolling plains that lie between those snow-covered ridgelines. In south-central Montana, near the farming community of Manhattan, just northwest of Bozeman, I discovered Droge Farms, a family farm which produces a fantastic hard red spring variety of wheat that provided the exact flavor that my 4-grain bourbon was missing. Pairing this dry and earthy wheat with the sweetness of midwestern corn gave it the finishing touch I was longing for.
Blending my fondest memories—and crafted trials—of the midwest with this superlative red wheat creates a perfectly accentuated experience that is rich and complex.
Ghostwood is indebted as much to the greatness of midwest grains as it is to the hardiness of Montana’s changing seasons and the combination that those two factors produce are what make this blended bourbon such an exceptional offering.
Ghostwood Blended Bourbon is not only a tasteful pairing of ingredients from two celebrated regions, it is a pairing of two great families from those locales—Perks and Droge—and a partnership that we hope will last a lifetime.