Down a rustic country road about 30 minutes north of Madison sits J. Henry & Sons, home to a uniquely Wisconsin straight bourbon and the farm where the magic happens. A trip to J. Henry & Sons is steeped in history, family values, hard work and determination one soon won’t forget.
J. Henry & Sons’ tasting room is located in the former Henry farmhouse and has all the feels of a relative’s living room and for good reason – generations of Henrys grew up there since 1946. The quaint seating area, gift shop and adjacent tasting rooms were once living spaces and highlighted by the beautiful warming fireplace – especially when a rural Wisconsin snowscape provides the perfect backdrop. Guests can also enjoy the outdoor patio area overlooking the farm operations in warmer months.
Visitors can stop in for just a tasting, but we recommend both the tasting and tour. The 30-minute tour is a wonderful way to learn about bourbon in general and the history of how a Wisconsin bourbon came to be. Tour-goers will learn about the family-run business and how each member contributes to its success whether farming, distilling or marketing. The Henry family uses an heirloom red corn developed at the University of Wisconsin in 1939 and had to re-propagate these grains over time. They are the only ones in the world growing, harvesting and using these grains, making this small-batch bourbon truly special. The family also grows other contributing grains on their 900-acre farm.
The friendly and informative tour ambassadors give an up-close look at the process of aging and charring of American white oak barrels that are the keepers of J. Henry & Sons product during the slow five-plus-year aging process. (J. Henry started distilling in 2009, with the first bottles available in 2015.) The wild swings of hot and cold Wisconsin weather work to extract complex flavors in those barrels that are housed in the rickhouse, a historic former dairy barn. Tour-goers will also learn about grain percentages, alcohol proof, distilling and how there is really an art to making bourbon. We also loved learning how the used barrels get a second life by local breweries, maple syrup makers or cheese companies around the state.
After the tour, lean into the J. Henry & Sons mantra and “reward yourself” by enjoying the farmhouse tasting and lounge area. Delight in an Old Fashioned, Bourbon Sour, a specialty drink like the caramel pumpkin cocktail or enjoy a glass of bourbon neat. As closing time draws near, this cozy space makes one want to linger just a little longer.
Hot tip: The perfect pairing! Check out Sheboygan’s Deer Creek Cheese “The Night Walker” bathed in J. Henry & Sons bourbon.
J. Henry & Sons is open Thursday to Sunday with various seasonal hours for tastings and tours. Guests can also stop in and purchase cocktails in the tasting area without a tour or tasting. For more information, visit jhenryandsons.com.