Distinctively Sweet: Why We Use Bloody Butcher Corn

There are a lot of things about Jeptha Creed that make us stand out. We’re family-owned, majority women-owned, and dedicated to ground-to-glass distillation practices. “Ground-to-glass” means that we grow or locally source every ingredient used in our spirits, including growing our own corn. This is unusual in the distillation industry in general, but even more unusual is the kind of corn that we grow.

From our vodka to our bourbon, Jeptha Creed uses Bloody Butcher Corn grown on our family farmland. Bloody Butcher is an heirloom variety of corn, dating back to the mid-19th century in the United States. It’s non-GMO and open-pollinated, meaning that we save seeds year after year to replant.

As of 2020, we’re up to 450 acres of Bloody Butcher Corn, but harvesting and using Bloody Butcher is a little different from your common sweet corn. Today in Kentucky, most white and yellow corn is harvested at a rate of 190 to upwards of 250 bushels an acre. When it comes to Bloody Butcher, we’re happy to harvest about 100 bushels an acre. There are a couple of reasons for this: first, wind loss. Bloody Butcher stalks can easily grow as high as 12 feet or even taller, so wind and thunderstorms can knock down stalks. Additionally, we always allow what we call the “critter’s share”: a certain amount of corn that we know will be eaten by the deer, raccoons, squirrels, and turkeys on our property.

The “critter’s share” is a big part of the reason why we began using Bloody Butcher Corn. Back when we were just toying around with the idea of starting a distillery, we planted one field of Bloody Butcher, and one field of non-GMO yellow corn, to distill some test batches. We noticed wild animals walking right through the yellow corn to eat the Bloody Butcher!

Why is it called “Bloody Butcher”? It’s not as dismal as it sounds. During the corn’s milk stage, when we would pick cobs to eat with dinner, Bloody Butcher is white corn. Then, a tiny red dot appears on every kernel of the corn. About 15 days later, the cob is shot through with burnt oranges and reds in a splotchy pattern, said to resemble a butcher’s bloody apron. By the time corn reaches maturity, it has a deep purplish cast. It’s a grisly name for a truly lovely (and lovely tasting) corn!

Speaking of taste, Bloody Butcher has a distinctive nutty sweetness. In our vodka, it comes through as buttery and bright. In our Straight Four-Grain Bourbon, it shines through with notes of vanilla and toasted pecans. Our moonshine shows off the Bloody Butcher through sweet and spicy almond notes. Bloody Butcher isn’t just great for spirits: you can eat it fresh, use the cornmeal for corn dodgers, cornbread, or a fish batter!

It’s a little more expensive, and a little more work than white or yellow corn, but we think growing Bloody Butcher is well worth the effort. Ready to taste Bloody Butcher spirits for yourself? Our exclusive barrel tasting experience is now available to book. Visit jepthacreed.com/tours-and-tastings/ to learn more.

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