Meet Douglas & Todd, the newest member(s) of the Phillips family.
The recently launched 93-proof bourbon is made from short-summer corn and red winter wheat, with a smoky, woody character and a vanilla finish. Because it’s aged longer than other bourbons, it’s smoother and sweeter than its competitors. And, bonus: no burn.
Dare we say it was worth waiting more than a century for?
“Quite frankly, we wanted to be in the bourbon market three years ago, but we had to be super patient,” says Mike Duggan, who took over as the Minneapolis distillery's CEO in 2015. One of his first tasks at the helm was to fill in the bourbon gap in Phillips’ product line, which includes everything from whiskey to mezcal to rum and liqueurs.
With its first bourbon, Duggan wanted to mimic the company’s farm-crafted Prairie Organic Vodka, which has been “just exploding” since it came to market in 2008. “Being Phillips, we have a history of innovation and firsts, we wanted to make sure that whatever we came with was going to be different than everything out there.”
What would make it different? Simply being Minnesotan, as Kentucky tends to be the birthplace of bourbons. Duggan met with Adrian and Pam Panther, the husband-wife owners of Panther Distillery in Osakis, MN. Theirs was the first craft distillery in Minnesota and home to the oldest bourbon to date in the state.
They got to work on what would become Douglas & Todd (after aging in #4 Char barrels for four years). Minnesota’s extreme temperatures actually worked to the bourbon’s advantage during the distilling and aging process, as water from the aquifer was naturally cold—38 degrees—which makes for better distilling. And as the barrels expanded and contracted with heat waves and cold streaks, more of the liquid came in contact with the wood. “We believe that it creates a liquid that’s just a little bit different, a distinct flavor,” Duggan says. “A lot of people try to offset the cold, and don’t celebrate it. We’re here celebrating it.”
Douglas & Todd was named after the two counties that surround the distillery, a tip of the hat to the bourbon’s origins. Even its ABV (46.5 percent) aligns with the latitude of Osakis. “There’s a lot of little hidden gems in the creation of this brand,” Duggan says.
Knowing bourbon takes four years to come to fruition, it’s tricky to ensure supply matches demand. “You’ve got to get it right, because if you don’t get it right, you’re going to run out of product,” Duggan admits. This is where Phillips’ long history helps; it’s already faced that challenge with products like Tomatin single malt scotch and Cabrito tequila. Experts further helped forecast and build a long-term plan to stay on top of demand despite the lag time.
But it’s here now—so how, or with what, should you drink it? How shouldn’t you? “The one reason why bourbon is growing so much these days is people are drinking it with everything,” Duggan says. Summer bourbon-drinking is growing in popularity, thanks to bourbon Manhattans, bourbon and lemonade, and bourbon and soda.
And ultimately? “It goes great with ice.”