Gold medal: Website honors Iron Vault Distillery's single malt whiskey
GALION — When a website that offers rated listings of wine and spirits reached out to John Bassett late last fall, his Iron Vault Distillery had just bottled the latest batch of its 1803 Single Malt Whiskey.
"The guy who runs the program sent me an email saying, 'Hey, we're doing an American whiskey tasting.' I'm like, 'Oh, excellent timing.' ... We had just bottled that and it turns out it was really good, so it was good timing."
As a result, this month The Fifty Best awarded Iron Vault, 134 Harding Way West, a gold medal for the whiskey.
Contenders were evaluated at a blind tasting in which a pre-qualified panel of judges used professional criteria to evaluate American malt whiskies, according to a news release from Zach Morrow, the distillery's manager of wholesale distribution.
The whiskey is one of the distillery's regular offerings, but it's not always available, Bassett explained — sometimes one batch sells out before the next is ready.
"It's always made from Ohio grains, Ohio barley," he said. "And we age it in one of our previous bourbon barrels."
Distillery produced hand-sanitizer during pandemic
Bassett, his wife Lori and friend Sam Thacker opened Iron Vault Distillery in March 2018 after beginning production the previous year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the business produced hand-sanitizer, which was in high demand at the time.
Business has slowed a little bit in recent months because of the economy and competition from liquor retailers, Bassett said. There aren't any other distilleries in the region, though — the nearest are in Sandusky and Wooster. There are several in Columbus and in Cleveland.
Within the last two years, Iron Vault has added a 400-gallon pot still with a column for making higher-proof spirits, Bassett said. Its first straight bourbon will be available soon, starting with a kickoff event planned on April 15 — Tax Day. (Although this year's filing deadline is actually April 18.)
"Everybody's going to have their checks to buy bourbon," Bassett said. "Either that or they'll be crying that they owe a lot of money and they'll need a bottle. Straight bourbon just means it's been aged at least four years. It's kind of like the de facto standard for aged bourbon."
Distillery offers tastings, tours and more
Iron Vault is open for tastings and sales 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays.
"People come in and have a great time," said Lori Bassett. "We're not a bar, but we offer tours. It's a great group thing or date night or just have fun with friends. We've done special events."
"And nobody leaves unhappy," John Bassett added.
"We've done bachelor and bachelorette parties. It's a lot of fun — birthday things. They come in and do a tour," Lori Bassett continued.
In late April, Iron Vault will offer a bourbon-making class. After a lesson on how the whiskey is made, students leave with a small oak barrel and five bottles of the clear alcohol they've made in class, John Bassett explained.
"We sell them the bottles and we sell them the barrel and then they take it home and they pour the the liquid into the barrel and they age it and make their own bourbon at home," he explained. "They age it at home."
The barrels can be used more than once — although legally, only the first batch would be considered bourbon, he said. People can buy moonshine to age in the barrel, or try adding few extra oak chips to help with the aging process
"So it's not like it's a one and done thing," he said. "Barrels have a life to them."
People interested in tours or the class need to register in advance online at IronVaultDistillery.com or by calling 419-777-7400.
"We need to know how many people we have, so we have all of everything available when they come," Lori Bassett said.
This article originally appeared on Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum: Gold medal: Website honors Iron Vault Distillery's single malt whiskey