Bees, bats, dragonflies and our Jimmy Red Corn

    Honey bee on a purple flower, close up

Here in Georgia, we’re blessed with everything farmers need – sunshine, a mild climate and fertile soil. And let’s not forget Mother Nature. She’s here to help us farmers, which is something that’s been overlooked as farming has industrialized over the last century or so, here in America and around the world.

At Doc Brown Farm & Distillers, we use natural and sustainable methods to raise our crops. An industrial, yield-boosting approach wouldn’t work anyway, because our Jimmy Red Corn is extremely sensitive to chemical sprays. We gotta grow it the natural way in order to bring all of its rich, nutty goodness over into our bourbon.

The buzz about bees

Beehives on the edge of a field in Georgia

When we planted our first rows of corn, we called up a beekeeper and asked him to put six hives at the edges of our field. Now, any farmer will tell you that you don’t need bees to grow corn or rye. Corn is self-pollinating – the pollen literally tumbles from the tassels down onto the silks and that’s how you get an ear of corn. The wind will take the pollen through the field.

However, our bees are all over those tassels when the corn flowers, aiding in the dispersion of the pollen across the rows for a healthier crop. All the other trees and plants on the farm benefit as well, including the kitchen garden where we grow our delicious tomatoes, squash, basil, mint, rosemary, potatoes, radishes, peppers and more.

We grow crimson red clover and wildflowers to keep the bees extra happy, and they pay us back. Let me tell you, the last time we took the honey from the hives it was a deep golden red with a sweet rich flavor. It’s unique to our farm, and we’re using it to flavor Day Swigger Honey Liqueur Whiskey which launches later this year. The more farm fresh ingredients we can use, the better.

Bats on the farm

A brown bat on a tree trunk

The bats we have at Doc Brown Farm play a different role. Yes, they carry out a little pollination when they land on the corn and in the trees. However, their job is to eliminate pests.

We rely on our bats to keep the fields free of corn earworm. While many farmers use sprays to kill the moths and their eggs, we rely on little flying mammals to chow down on them, night after night through spring, summer and fall. When we sit out back in the evening and look out over the farm it’s like watching a crazy mini airshow. And did you know a bat can eat 100 mosquitos in an hour?

Most people don’t realize how important bats are to agriculture. When we first planted the Jimmy Red, we were reading about sustainable farming and article after article told us what an amazing contribution bats would make on the farm. So, we researched the steps you need to take to attract them and found instructions on how to build bat boxes. I got out the old saw and hammer, and some timber from the pile in the barn, and built homes for the little critters to move into.

We put them up south facing, as advised, and we crossed our fingers. Well, if you build it, they will come! Our farm is now home to hundreds of bats and every night the doom patrol (if you’re a corn earworm, anyway) is on the wing, protecting the fields. We oughta make a bourbon dedicated to bats. What do you think?

Dragonflies are good news

A dragonfly on a grass seed stem

One afternoon, a few years back, we were sitting out by the pool after a long day in the fields, and for the first time we noticed just how many dragonflies there are on the farm. They were hovering and zipping around, coming and going, and I wondered what this meant.

So, I looked it up and discovered that, if you’re a farmer, dragonflies bring what you might call ‘glad tidings’. A thriving dragonfly population means you have a healthy ecosystem on your farm – which is exactly what we hoped to create when we set out.

Like the bats, our dragonflies catch pests like mosquitos and whitefly, and they might do a little pollination as well. They’re here to give us the thumbs-up from Mother Nature that tells us we’re doing something right.

God’s creatures

Alongside the bees, bats and dragonflies, our farm is home to hoverflies (aka Billy Bees), butterflies and even hummingbirds. We’re as proud of this as we are of the corn we grow and the bourbon we make. It was always our goal to respect the land and all the beings God created that we share it with. As a farmer, if you support them, they’ll support you.

We know that in the grand scheme of things we’re just a small farm and can only make a small difference. But we believe in making a difference, nonetheless. If you can do one small thing, then why not do it? So far, anyway, we believe that our sustainable, natural approach is part of our success and we’re thankful for it.

Here’s one of the bat boxes we mounted on a tree.
One of our special rainbow beehives.

Bee photo by Dustin Humes on Unsplash
Bat photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash
Dragonfly photo by Mehdi MeSSrro on Unsplash

Why we’re nuts about pecans

pecan nuts

Down here at Doc Brown Farm we talk about our heirloom Jimmy Red Corn a lot – which is only natural, as we use it to make our bourbon. But there’s another Georgia crop we love almost as much, and that’s the pecan nut.

Our home state if famous for these buttery, flavorsome little guys and we already use them to flavor our Butter Pecan Bourbon Cream Liqueur. They’re pretty close to our hearts, so we decided to find out a bit more about them.

Six things you didn’t know about pecans

1 – Born in the USA
The pecan tree is native to America’s southern states and our country produces between 80 and 90% of the world’s pecan nuts every year.

2 – Standing proud and tall
The pecan tree is a species of hickory that can grow up to 140 feet in height, with a trunk up to six feet in diameter.

3 – Georgia is nuts about pecans
The state of Georgia produced over 125 million pounds of unshelled pecans in 2022, nearly half the national output, with 144,000 acres devoted to the crop.

4 – The story of the South
After Georgia, the leading pecan states are New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma, and the pecan is the state tree of Texas.

5 – Pecans are good for you
Pecans are full of vitamins and minerals – good for your skin, eyes, teeth, bones, muscles and nerve system. They are cholesterol- and sodium-free, and low in carbohydrates.

6 – You say pea-can, I say puh-kahn
Even in Georgia, there’s a debate over how to pronounce the name of the nut, which derives from the Algonquin word pecan, originally used to describe a variety of nuts that grow in the South.

There’s nothing like a good old Georgia pecan orchard.

Farm fresh pecans

Something you also might not know is that the Doc Brown family has a heritage growing pecan nuts that goes back a couple of generations and a few years ago we are grateful to have inherited a beautiful pecan orchard.

In fact, you could say that pecans, growing in the Georgia soil just like our Jimmy Red Corn, are part of who we are and what we do. And let’s not overlook the fact that they taste great.

This is why the humble pecan will take center stage when we launch our new Day Swigger whiskey. Coming this May, watch for our Day Swigger Butter Pecan Liqueur – the first in a series of tasty whiskeys. Coming in a 275ml bottle and at 40% ABV, it’s a blend of our Jimmy Red Corn bourbon with natural extracts of Georgia-raised pecans. It’s the perfect little treat for all you (over 21) whiskey-lovin’ rascals out there.

Our bottle, label and spirit are with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau right now for approval and, once Day Swigger has passed, we’ll start bottling and shipping. We can’t wait to share it with you, so watch this space…

Georgia pecan orchard

Introducing… Day Swigger!

First look at Day Swigger Butter Pecan by Doc Brown Farm and Distillers

We’ve been sitting on this news for a while, but we couldn’t hold it any longer. At the beginning of May, Doc Brown Farm & Distillers will be launching a new line of spirits called… Day Swigger. These flavored bourbon liqueurs are a little treat we’ve been working on and the first one you’ll see will be a delicious butter pecan in a bijou 200ml bottle.

But let’s start with the name. Day Swigger comes from way back when we were all young rascals. Back then, Ma and Pa Brown were teetotal and when they entertained, well, let’s just say someone always used to sneak a hipflask of bourbon into the party. Some of us scallywag cousins formed a little group called the Yard Swiggers and, on the signal, we’d meet out back and share that flask. A little something to take the edge off.

We’re still fun-loving rascals, but today we’re the folks who make the bourbon. So we decided to create a line of liquors a little less serious than our Effie Jewel and Uncle Bogue bourbons – something you can enjoy as a little treat, or a reward after a long day.

Farm fresh flavors

In the bottle, we’ll bring you a blend of young whiskey that includes our Jimmy Red Corn bourbon flavored with all-natural ingredients from Georgia. First up is our Day Swigger Butter Pecan Liqueur made with extracts of Georgia-raised pecans.

A few months down the line, we hope to add a Hot Honey flavor, made with our own farm honey and southern spice. We might follow it with a sweet honey liqueur without the heat. It’s just perfect – the bees that pollinate our Jimmy Red Corn will also make the honey that goes into the Day Swigger bottle. As nature-loving Georgia farmers, we couldn’t be prouder.

Now, as we sign off, there’s just one thing we need to mention. We’ve called this line Day Swigger but that doesn’t mean we advocate daytime drinking, and we urge y’all to drink responsibly. For us Day Swigger is a little delight in a bottle – a gift for yourself or a friend. When a wink and a smile are what’s called for, us rascals down on the farm have got you covered.

Price and ABV to be confirmed…

First look at Day Swigger Butter Pecan by Doc Brown Farm and Distillers

First look at Day Swigger Butter Pecan by Doc Brown Farm and Distillers

DBF in the Media: Communication Arts

Doc Brown Farm & Distillers on the Communication Arts website

Here at Doc Brown we feel honored and humbled to see our brand featured in the Exhibit section of the Communication Arts website.

For decades, Communication Arts – first as a magazine and now also as a website – has been the leading authority in design and advertising in America, and they decided our branding and packaging were beautiful enough to appear on their site. A huge thank-you goes out to managing editor Michael Coyne for interviewing Tom Lane of Ginger Monkey Design, who has helped us develop the Doc Brown brand since day one. We are so, so happy with his creative work, and just as pleased that others agree!

Below you can read the full story, as it originally appeared on CommArts.com.

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Doc Brown Farm & Distillers identity & packaging

Ginger Monkey Design celebrates this distillery’s tradition, faith and women leadership through a comprehensive identity and packaging system.

Responses by Tom Lane, creative director, Ginger Monkey Design.

Background: Doc Brown Farm & Distillers is a startup based in Georgia making bourbon from heirloom Jimmy Red corn, which it farms, mills, ferments and distills. It’s a family business set up by Amy Brown, Paige Dockweiller and Daniel Williams in 2019. In 2020, the three approached us to help them create a visual identity and packaging system that reflects its unique way of doing things.

Design thinking: We spent a lot of time talking to Amy and researching everything important to the Doc Brown business, discussing how it would be positioned in the market. Strong family values, responsible agriculture, deep roots in Georgia, the founders’ faith, their use of a traditional variety of corn that has nearly died out—all these things set them apart.

We settled on the word heirloom as an organizing thought. The visual expressions and copy all stem from this. Doc Brown draws upon its past to create something for the future.

Challenges: We created the brand typography and imagery and started work on the packaging long before the bourbon itself would be ready. This meant there was a lot of time to consider and question every creative decision. We hoped to use bespoke bottle designs, but costs spiraled during the COVID-19 pandemic. While waiting for the signature bourbons Effie Jewel and Uncle Bogue to reach their peak, we helped Doc Brown launch four flavored bourbon cream liqueurs, giving them a revenue stream and warming consumers up for the main product lines.

Favorite details: The hand-drawn script on the labels is something I put a lot of time into, honing and crafting it a bit like how Doc Brown makes its bourbon. I wanted the lettering to be flowing, evocative and full of personality, as though these could be signatures. It’s playful, reflecting the values of the brand. I hope it sits well on the bourbon shelf but also steps away from some of the tropes ubiquitous in that market.

New lessons: We’ve been very lucky with this project. Amy, Daniel and Paige have shared a lot of information with us about how the business has progressed. We’ve learned a huge amount about how bourbon is made; what demands and challenges new distilleries face; and what retailers, distributors and regulators expect from a product and its packaging. Amy has included us in the product development process because Doc Brown takes its brand integrity seriously. Together, we’re shaping ideas for future products and how to market them.

Visual influences: Sometimes the simplest things are the most inspiring. Images Amy sent us of the sun rising over a cornfield chimed with the radiance pattern in the background on an old silver dollar that has become a Doc Brown family heirloom. This conjured images of Lady Liberty and what she represents—equality, freedom, tolerance and opportunity. She appears in the brand’s pictorial mark surrounded by farm items, in high heels. Two of Doc Brown’s founders are women, and “high heels and cornfields” is part of the company ethos—honoring and celebrating women in the bourbon industry. All these different images and ideas are connected.

gingermonkeydesign.com
alexmachin.com

DBF in the Media: Winters Media online

Doc Brown Farm & Distillers featured on the Winters Media website

Today we’re a-whoopin’ and a-hollerin’ with joy thanks to the fine folks at Winters Media, publishers of the The Paper and The Weekly, two local journals right here in Coweta County, Georgia. Last week, they featured Doc Brown Farm & Distillers in the News section of their site, with an article all about how we founded the distillery and the faith, family and fortitude principles that guide us.

A special thank-you to Katie Anderson who wrote the piece, which catches our vibe perfectly in a Georgia pecan shell. (Watch this space for more about nut-inspired spirits!) We’ve included the article below, as it appears on the Winters Media website.

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Faith, Family and Fortitude: Senoia’s Doc Brown Farm and Distillers

February 28, 2024

By KATIE ANDERSON, Out and About

It all started with a magazine on a beach.

Amy Brown, Paige Dockweiler, and Amy’s son Daniel Williams had just bought their Senoia farm. They were sitting on a beach at 30A, reading a Garden and Gun article about an heirloom grain, Jimmy Red Corn.

They decided to give growing the corn a try. Initially, they distilled two barrels of bourbon to share with family and friends. It was so good that they started Doc Brown Farm and Distillers in 2019. Fast forward to October 1, 2023, and their first bourbons were released: Effie Jewel and Uncle Bogue (now sold out.) They also created four flavors of bourbon creams: Butter Pecan, Salted Caramel, Coffee, and Peppermint Mocha. 

The founders all come from farming families. Brown has a background in banking and now manages the farm full-time. Dockweiler and Williams have other jobs in healthcare and aviation respectively, but cherish their time spent playing in the dirt.

The farm operates from three foundation blocks – faith, family, and fortitude. Their love of family transferred to their labels, as well. Uncle Bogue was a great, great uncle, and Effie Jewel was a great aunt. Both stood out as examples of their family’s fortitude and tenacity. Effie Jewel Bourbon is dedicated to all women in the distilling industry. “Our desire and hope is that Effie Jewel inspires women to act on their dreams and find courage to sit at tables that maybe have been off limits in the past.

“I will say that we’ve had nothing but kindness and support from men and women alike and even though we are small and just a dot on the map of the bourbon world, we are thankful for those who have helped us get this far,” said Brown.

Their land has proven to be a good match with Jimmy Red Corn. It is non-gmo, produced without chemicals of any kind. This special variety of corn is making a comeback after almost becoming extinct, and is known for its sweet, rich, buttery flavor. 

To control pests, the Doc Brown team built houses to attract bats, which help fight the ear worm and other damaging insects. They’ve also brought in bees, which made a difference in their yield and ear size. The farmers use old style methods like cover crops and rotation to take care of their soil. 

This approach has brought them full circle with Garden and Gunmagazine, by winning a 2023 Garden and Gun Made in the South Award for their Butter Pecan Bourbon Cream.

“We have subscribed to Garden and Gun now for years and the inspiration for growing the Jimmy Red Corn came from an article published in G&G, so our goal was to ‘make it into G&G’ one day.

“When it was time to enter the ‘Best of the South’ we had the amazing support of Heather Daniel, who recommended us so off we go submitting the 1st round of paperwork … a nd then we waited…and waited…then another email came in that stated we ‘made it into Best of the South’ but we had to keep our mouths closed – that was the longest month of my life sitting on a dream that had come true,” Brown stated.

“We are so grateful for everyone’s support and kindness. Our goal is always to produce products that everyone can enjoy knowing that good old fashioned farming techniques were used and that it’s made with a lot of love for this golden land we all share,” said Brown. 

To purchase the award-winning, local bourbon, visit their website at docbrownfarm.com to order, or to find locations where their products are sold.