The very first “Black Friday” bourbon will be released on Black Friday.
Great Lakes Distillery will be releasing its Still & Oak Black Friday straight bourbon whiskey finished in imperial stout beer barrels on Black Friday. The two-year-old bourbon was finished with an additional two years of aging in barrels that previously aged Lakefront Brewery’s Black FridayTM imperial stout.
“Over the years, we’ve done several collaborations with Lakefront, including our Pumpkin Spirit that we make, using barrels that aged their pumpkin beer,” says Guy Rehorst, founder of Great Lakes Distillery. “We had the idea to take some of their Black Friday imperial stout beer barrels, and we filled it with some of our Still & Oak straight bourbon. This imperial stout has a big flavor to begin with, and we thought it would make a really cool combination with our bourbon.”
Most whiskeys, if finished in another type of barrel, usually aren’t aged for two years, as the Black Friday was aged. “Most people don’t age in an alternative finish for two years, but we’ve found that longer time in those finishing barrels can result in some pretty neat stuff,” Rehorst says. “This is really unique, and the finish on this whiskey from the imperial stout barrels is really unique and has a ton of flavor.”
This very limited release, which will be sold first on Black Friday at the distillery’s Milwaukee tasting room, will have a suggested retail price of $79, and after Black Friday, it will be sold, in limited quantities, at liquor stores and other locations.
What the finishing barrels do, Rehorst says, is impart an extra layer of flavors that you wouldn’t get in regular barrels, which for bourbon are new, charred oak barrels for at least two years. Only two barrels worth of bottles will be released, though Great Lakes has aged additional bourbon in the Lakefront Black Friday imperial stout barrels, and that will likely be released in another two years.
“It’s really a limited supply,” Rehorst says.
And, in order for this bourbon to be named Black Friday, Great Lakes had to lease the name from Lakefront Brewery, which trademarked it. “Lakefront has had a huge success with their Black Friday beer, and they were smart enough to trademark the name as it relates to alcohol,” Rehorst says. “So, I talked to Russ (Klisch), owner of Lakefront, and I tell him ‘Hey, our bourbon’s been sitting for a couple of years in these barrels, could we call it Black Friday?’”
Klisch, he says, was amenable to that, but since it was trademarked, they had to write a contract and license the name from them. Rehorst says he gave a bottle of Black Friday straight bourbon whiskey to Klisch. “He really liked it,”Rehorst says.
The whiskey boasts notes of malt, chocolate and caramel before the notes of oak and vanilla of the bourbon shine through. “Because it is so limited, not many people have tasted it yet,” Rehorst says. “Most people who have tried it go ‘Wow. I don’t even want to mix this in a cocktail.’”
As such, Rehorst recommends drinking it straight up or just with a little bit of ice. “But if you do want to put it in a cocktail, I would say put it in a Manhattan,” Rehorst says. “Just a little bit of vermouth and bitters.”
While this might be the splashiest collaboration with Lakefront, Rehorst says he has other spirits aging in some unique barrels. “We’re not ready to announce those collaborations yet, but we have some interesting spirits coming,” Rehorst says.