WOOD RIVER — Jake Rickert owns a couple of bottles of corn whiskey that wouldn’t exist without his farm.
There’s more than a kernel of truth to that. In fact, the beverage includes a lot of his kernels.
A company called Flyover Whiskey took corn from his farm and transformed it into whiskey. That company is owned by Andrew Minarick of North Bend.
Rickert, who farms north of Wood River along Highway 11, is not one of the owners of the Flyover Whiskey.
But he’s a good friend of Minarick’s,
They were both members of the Farm House fraternity at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Minarick, 25, started the company earlier this year. Rickert and a few other friends from Farm House days placed an order with Flyover Whiskey. Rickert, 24, sent some of his field corn to produce the product.
A few weeks ago, Rickert received four bottles, each of which proclaims that it’s a product of Rickert Farms.
Flyover Whiskey’s slogan is “grown by farmers, enjoyed by all.”
Doing its own distillation and bottling, the company provides people with a personalized, custom batch of whiskey.
Rickert likes the way each bottle can be traced directly to the farm that produced the corn. Each bottle is labeled with the information and harvest details provided by the farm.
The label on Rickert’s whiskey says the date the corn was planted and harvested, along with the name of the hybrid and yield amount.
“It’s customized to reflect exactly where that grain came from,” Minarick said.
“It kind of pays tribute to the family farms and operations that feed our world.”
Minarick’s distillery needs only about a third of a bushel to make whiskey.
In addition to providing the corn, farmers pay the company $325. For that, they receive six bottles of 80 proof whiskey. Each bottle holds 750 milliliters.
People who don’t farm would also like to try the product, Minarick said. For those people, the cost is $375 per order. If those customers want to use a friend’s corn, a portion of the payment will go to the farmer.
Rickert says Minarick is an intelligent and innovative guy. Even in college, Minarick was talking about his distilling idea.
Rickert, who graduated from UNL with a degree in agronomy, farms with his dad, Ron, and his grandfather, Marvin.
Rickert plans to share his whiskey at family gatherings.
A bottle of whiskey made from your own farm sounds like a great Christmas gift. It’s too late for this Christmas, though. Minarick has enough orders to keep him busy until then.
But he welcomes orders for corn whiskey in the future. The web site for the business is flyoverwhiskey.com.
On the website, Minarick writes that as a young man he gained deep respect for the hard work and resolve of agricultural producers “and their producers across the Midwest. The producers in these ‘flyover states’ have a type of grit you don’t see many other places, and they know how to celebrate their hard work the right way — with cold drinks and good friends.”
It takes four to six weeks to produce a batch, he said. Distilling requires only a day. But there are “a lot of different steps in making whiskey,” Minarick said. The process includes fermentation, aging and mashing.
What does the finished product taste like?
“I think it tastes pretty good,” Minarick says.
He tells people that his company isn’t producing top-shelf whiskey that’s been aged 20 years.
But he thinks “it’s a very drinkable whiskey and so far everyone’s really liked it.”
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