Recently, a friend of ours told of us of a local distiller that was making a pretty awesome bourbon. Not a bourbon drinker myself, the story peaked my interest primarily because the company was local and more importantly it was a story of a someone breaking from the norm and following their life passion.
After trading some emails with Lianne, the wife of Tom of Tom’s Foolery, we set a date over the Labor Day weekend for Ashlee, our husbands, and myself to come out for an interview (and hopefully a tasting) at their current distillery that resided on their property.
On Sunday, we pulled up the long drive, not entirely sure what to expect from an Ohio distiller. We were immediately greeted by a friendly Siberian husky named Loki with mesmerizing eyes and distinguished patches of calico gray and brown. Numerous cars lined the driveway, as out-of-town-family had come in to help Tom and Lianne bottle their latest batch of Maple Bourbon.
Lianne greeted us with a warm smile and told us that Tom was still at their new farm repairing a still. Perhaps the name of the company gave us the impression that Tom was the only person of Tom’s Foolery, but we soon realized that Lianne was equally instrumental to the business. We even later learned that she came up with the name Tom’s Foolery.
As we waited for Tom to arrive, Lianne gave us the rundown of the distillery. She pointed to a framed yellow booklet on one of the barn walls that held proof of Tom’s notes and application for a license to distill at the early age of 15, evidence that this was something he had always wanted to do. She also told us about the two stills they bought from the Beam family on the condition that they allow the Beam family to come in and train them on the stills. Clearly, not a tough decision for Tom and Lianne.
Granted a license in 2008, Tom’s Foolery was only the second licensed distillery in Ohio since prohibition. It quickly became evident that although this distillery was just around the corner from us, Tom’s Foolery was no joke.
Tom’s Foolery is a craft distillery that prides themselves on making bourbon, whiskey, and brandy from farm to table. Most of the corn and rye used in their products are grown on their newly acquired 100 acre farm and their crabapples come from a local apple farm. Their farm is currently being transitioned into their permanent distillery and tasting room.
I could not get a firm date from Tom when the tasting room would open, but he did concede that once the distillery opened (likely in November) they would provide limited tastings. Based on our experience tasting Tom Foolery’s whiskey, Applejack brandy, and bourbon with these amazing people who have spent the last decade or so perfecting it, this is something you won’t want to miss!
Slow and steady. I asked Tom and Lianne what their future goals are for the distillery. “We’ve had baby steps of growth. It’s slow growth, but manageable for us.” While it may seem like slow growth to Tom and Lianne, their craft distillery is becoming well known on both the West and East Coast. “We thought we would be a local company, but now our sales to the West and East coast have surpassed our sales in Ohio.”
It turns out that people who love bourbon and whiskey, prefer a craft distillery like Tom’s Foolery. You can even go to their website to view their whiskey database to see how every single barrel was created and follow its transformation from a fruit or grain into a clear spirit and into the barrel it is presently aging in. Just another way they embrace their craft followers.
What makes all of this so great is that Tom and Lianne are amazing people. From our first introduction to the funny stories they told us throughout our tour. These are real people who are taking a step outside the norm to do something they are passionate about. And passionate is just the cusp of their emotion for their business. Just ask Lianne to describe her favorite rye whiskey.
And, it’s not just them. We met a host of family and friends who came into town to lend a hand with bottling or even to help fix a still. Luckily for us, we got to hang with some of them as we tasted Tom’s Foolery Applejack brandy, Rye Whiskey, and Maple Bourbon.
As I mentioned, before this tour I wasn’t a bourbon drinker. But after visiting Tom’s Foolery, tasting their impressive products and seeing the dedication and devotion of the people that surround Tom’s Foolery, I plan to sneak over to the brown side more often.
Tom’s Foolery Whiskey, Bourbon, and Applejack can be purchased at state liquor agencies and online at www.klwines.com and www.binnys.com. Follow them on Facebook to see when their new farm will be available for touring and tasting!
While Tom and Lianne prefer it neat, Ashlee came up with a yummy cocktail called Fool’s Lemonade using Tom Foolery’s bourbon that makes it a little less intimidating for you non-bourbon drinkers. It’s delicious – trust me – we had our fair share 🙂
Recipe for Fool’s Lemonade:
- Tsp Honey
- Light Lemonade
- 1 – 2 shots Tom Foolery’s Bourbon
Warm the honey in the microwave or on the stovetop to break it down so it will mix well with the other ingredients. Mix the honey with a shot or two of Tom Foolery’s Bourbon and stir. Take a tall rocks glass and fill it with ice. Add the honey/bourbon mixture. Top it off with a light lemonade. Stir and enjoy!
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This was the best article about/description of Tom’s Foolery that I have ever read. I may be biased about the distillery and its owners (full disclosure – I was one of the out-of-town family members present during your visit), but I read your article objectively and thought it was GREAT! You did a super job, right down to giving a shout-out to their very cool Distillery Dog, and surely your enthusiastic reporting will encourage people, bourbon drinkers or not, to try one or all of the excellent Foolery products as well as to consult your blog for information about other interesting “Happenings” in the Cleveland area.
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