Why we’re drinking these: RF co-founders Turner Wathen and Jordan Morris (who, interestingly, still have day jobs) came up with an ingenious idea in 2017 after home distilling in a garage — import some of the world’s best rums and pair them, at cask strength, with hand-selected ex-whiskey casks from some very well known and loved distilleries. So you might get, say, some Foursquare from Barbados (aka the Pappy of rum) in a cask that once held some very prized wheated bourbon.
Admittedly, the actual rum distilleries and the exact barrel sources are not always disclosed, though you can probably figure them out. “We try to be as transparent as possible, and I’d love for [redacted] distillery to say, ‘you guys say whatever you want,’ but we do run into limitations,” Morris says.
The hybrid idea has certainly paid off: Fred Minnick named them Best Independent Bottler of the Year, and Rolling Fork won Best Rum and a Double Gold at the recent Barleycorn Awards.
The company’s first product, Fortuitous Union, was an accidental blending of a 12-year-old Trinidad rum — finished in Kentucky bourbon casks — and a 5-year-old cask-proof rye whiskey. From there, the company’s portfolio now includes the Rolling Fork Series, a revolving selection of aged, cask-strength rums matched to hand-selected ex-whiskey casks for secondary maturation; the Lost Cask Collection, a series of rare, single-cask, long-aged rums; and The Kentucky Cask Series, which features small batch rums partially aged in Kentucky and blended by the Rolling Fork Spirits founders, then additionally aged in hand-selected casks in Kentucky bourbon warehouses.
“We bring in, say, eight-year-old Barbados rum, or 3- to 4-year-old Jamaican rum, and we try to think about what cask to match them with or what cask can add a different flavor,” Wathen says.
So, the business plan is whiskey-adjacent, but proudly rum. “There’s no space left for someone to just bottle MGP whiskey product,” Morris says. “When we started, we looked at the market and thought, whiskey is super big, but we don’t need that. But really good rums, no one knows about those in the United States. Rum has been hard to get U.S. consumers to buy into.”
The company has also started secondary aging rum in other spirits casks, including brandy and Calvados, as you’ll see below.
How they taste:
- Rolling Fork Rum (Kentucky Cask Series): A small batch rum distilled in El Salvador and then aged in Kentucky bourbon and rye barrels, along with French Oak port casks and sherry casks, over two summers. Coming in at 110 proof, this one is full of baking spices, vanilla, dark fruit and hazelnut. It features a creamy mouthfeel and softer-than-expected barrel notes — ideal for both rum and bourbon fans.
- Rolling Fork Single Cask Rum: A 13-year-old rum (aged in Barbados, the UK and Kentucky) from Foursquare aged in ex-bourbon barrels, this is a delicious melange of baked apple, vanilla, toffee, clove and chocolate with a hint of orange on the finish.
Fun fact: Rolling Fork’s Indiana HQ is also the home of Starlight, an up-and-coming and rather excellent (and sustainable) whiskey distillery.
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