There’s a new Israeli bourbon on the spirits scene, although it may be something of a misnomer to call it Israeli, since bourbon has always famously been an all-American drink.
And Dew of B’Dolah, as the bourbon created by Thinkers Distillery is called, is actually mostly made in the US, but infused with the airs of Haifa’s port.
The Jerusalem-based distillery rented space in Columbus, Ohio, made its mash from kosher Kansas corn and stored it in 140 new American oak barrels for four months.
Thinkers then “clocked” the barrels on the ship for six months, said distiller Bennett Kaplan, referring to the longtime tradition of letting the barrels rock back and forth on a boat.
Placing barrels of bourbon on flat boats along the Ohio River was once the method of getting the spirit from Kentucky, considered the king of bourbon, to other destinations. Distillers found the color and smoky flavor of the golden elixir improved from rocking on the water.
This bourbon then spent another three and a half years at the Haifa port, accessing the brackish sea air.
“We did a meteorological study and found Haifa made the most sense,” said Kaplan. “Bourbon is all about looking for the balance.”
The bourbon’s name, Dew of B’Dolah, stems from Kabbalah, according to Kaplan, describing the harmonic balance between many factors. The Hebrew word bedolah means crystal.
The 47.3 percent (94.6 proof) bourbon is smooth to the palate and not overly smoky, easy to sip straight or on the rocks, and would make a great addition to an old fashioned, John Collins or boulevardier.
But what makes it Israeli?
The brains that made it, said Kaplan, saying the distillery’s plan is to take what everybody else knows and figure out how to make it better — or in company parlance, furthering. (They call their spirits “Furthered.”)
“We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, that’s why we call ourselves furthered,” added Bennett. “Israel didn’t invent tomatoes or social media but we figured out how to get out of traffic with it,” referring to traffic application Waze and Israel’s genetically modified cherry tomatoes.
Thinkers opened in 2021 with two vodkas and two kinds of gin — one a classic London dry gin and the other distilled with rose petals and strawberries. Now, there’s bourbon, too, and rum and tequila are on the way.
The distillery went for bourbon rather than whisky because “it’s the classiest of them all,” said Bennett.
Thinkers’ first run of bourbon comprises 35,000 750-milliliter bottles that are being sold for around $92 by HaKerem distributors.