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Starlight Distillery
by
Terry Sullivan

Starlight DistillerySummary: Spirits enthusiasts will enjoy a tour and tasting at the Starlight Distillery at Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards. Many of the distilled products are crafted with what is grown on the property.

The Huber family had been farming different fruits and distilling some of them since they acquired the land in 1843. Prohibition put an end to distilling spirits for awhile. During the 1990s, Ted Huber and Greg Huber, owners, spent years researching and working with the Indiana state legislature to allow wineries to produce wine and brandy. The Starlight Distillery was started in 2001 at the Huber farm. The name starlight is derived from the stars shining on a clear night. Early on, the distillery could only make distilled spirits from wine. The first brandy was released to the public in late 2004.

With the passing of the Indiana Artisan Distiller’s Permit in 2013, Starlight Distillery was able to obtain the permit and craft a wider portfolio of distilled spirits. Today in addition to brandy, the distillery is making fruit brandies, fruit infusions, grappa, vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey and rum.

Starlight DistilleryLise Buba-Kruer took us on a tour of the distillery facilities. The first room had the distilleries’ original still that was manufactured in Germany by Carl. The capacity of this still is between 2,000 and 3,000 cases per day. On the day of our visit, the column pot still was in operation. A stainless steel bucket caught the clear distilled liquid dripping from the system. The column pot still is a combination of stainless steel and copper for the pot and stainless steel for the column.

We met Jason Heiligenberg, master distiller. Jason compared winemaking to distilling noting that there are more steps in winemaking. One of the advantages of distilled spirits, noted Jason is, “Once you distill it, nothing can hurt it.”

Our tour continued through a hallway connecting the old production area with a new production area. In the wide hallway, wall displays give a gentle education to the distilling process. Mentioned are the grains used in some products including wheat, rye, corn and barley. A short description of different distilled spirits are on wood plaques. Descriptions were given for bourbon whiskey, fruit brandy, vodka and gin. A picture showed aromatics used for gin. The wall also had photographs of the fruits and vegetables used to produce distilled spirits grown on the farm.

Starlight DistilleryCentrally focused in the new production area is the gleaming copper pot still manufactured by Vendome Copper and Brass Works in neighboring Louisville, Kentucky. There were also columns in the production area. In this new still house area, whiskey, bourbon, rum and vodka are crafted.

Starlight DistilleryOur next building was the barrel aging building. Rows of barrels, some stacked five high, surrounded the sides of the building. Barrels were also in the center of the room with a tasting counter at the end.

Spirits

The distillery currently is crafting three to five thousand cases of distilled products. Spirits tastings take place on the second floor of the Huber Winery building.

The 1794 Gin was made with the botanicals: juniper, coriander, citrus, cubeb berries and cardamom. The gin had a clear color. A juniper aroma was predominant. The sweet taste showed citrus and juniper. The gin was very velvety in the mouth with some heat.

Starlight DistilleryThe Private Reserve Brandy was distilled from wine made with estate grown grapes. It aged for a minimum of three years. The 80 proof (40% alcohol) brandy was a dark gold color. It had a floral aroma with some yellow stone fruit. The taste was sweet with peach and honeysuckle. The brandy was very smooth in the mouth and there was some heat on the finish.

The Bourbon Whiskey Barrel 1464 was a cask strength bourbon. The 103.6 proof (51.8% alcohol) bourbon was a dark gold color. There was corn and alcohol on the aroma. The taste was reminiscent of corn and butterscotch. The very velvety mouthfeel had sweetness and some heat. There was a very long aftertaste.

A great deal of care is put into crafting the distilled spirits at Starlight Distillery. Spend some time taking the distillery tour and taste the products.

Starlight Distillery
19816 Huber Road
Starlight, Indiana 47106

GPS: N38º 25.3616’ W85º 55.7011’

Related article: Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards

 

Article written August 2017.



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