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Bourbon Bound Farms

From Field to Bottle
Wischmeier family produces corn for whiskey

By law, bourbon whiskey must be made in the United States using American-grown corn as its primary ingredient.

Beth and Steve Wischmeier grow high-quality No. 1 yellow corn that is the majority ingredient in the classic, and distinctly American, spirit. Rye and malted barley are also among the ingredients that go into bourbon whiskey, but corn must make up at least 51 percent of the total recipe.

“About 30 years ago, I was shopping around for different markets for our crops,” explains Steve. “In our search to find end users for grain, we landed on liquor distilleries as a steady, reliable market.”

Today, most of the farm’s harvested corn is sold and delivered to Jim Beam distillery. Along with a farming operation, the couple also owns a commercial grain elevator and trucking operation near Brownstown, Indiana. The three companies work together to deliver a regular supply of corn and other commodities to the Kentucky distillery.

“The corn we supply to the distilleries must be No. 1 yellow corn. It Is normal field corn, but we harvest it knowing the grain must meet quality standards for test weight and moisture content,” Steve explains. “Decades after we started selling our corn to Jim Beam, we still continue to supply them with quality corn and trucking services.”

Once the Wischmeiers’ corn arrives at the distillery, it is combined with other ingredients, including rye and malted barley, to create a sour mash. This mash is cooked down before fresh Kentucky water is added to the mix. After being cooled, yeast is added, and the mixture is fermented and distilled. Then, the mixed ingredients are heated and distilled a second time before being aged in oak barrels for at least four years.

In addition to growing high-quality corn in the state of Indiana, the Wischmeiers’ farming and trucking operation includes soybean production and a second farm location in south central Georgia. Trucking has long been integral to the Wischmeiers’ operation. Steve founded the trucking operation in 1990 with a single truck. Today, Wischmeier Companies Inc. operates more than 100 trucks.

Our children, Britney, Jack, and Craig are actively involved in the trucking, elevator and farming operations.

“We couldn’t do this without our children, our employees and friends, and our extended family members who are also involved in our farming operation,” Steve adds.

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