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

DBF in the media: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Image of Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dining page featuring Doc Brown Farm & Distillers

A big thank-you goes out to Angela Hansberger and the editorial team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the feature article they published about Doc Brown Farm & Distillers on Sunday, January 8, 2023. It’s exciting and rewarding to see our names in print, and in the largest newspaper in the state on top of that.

Below you can read the article which provides an illuminating summary of what we’re doing here on the farm. (There’s just one update you need to be aware of – we are now working with a different distillery partner and not R.M. Rose.)

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Meet the bourbon farmers of Doc Brown’s

Georgia partners grow heirloom red corn that is turned into whiskey.

Amy Brown calls herself a bourbon farmer. For that to make sense, you only need to learn how Doc Brown’s Farm & Distillers came to produce a line of bourbon creams that local liquor stores can’t seem to keep on their shelves.

Born and raised in Buford, Brown bought a farm in Senoia in 2018 with her partner in life and business, Paige Dockweiler – the “Doc” in the company name. While Dockweiler grew up on a farm in Cordele that grew corn and soybeans, she, like Brown, never thought farming was her future. Both had been in the professional world for 30 years – Brown in banking, and Dockweiler in oncology nursing and hematology.

During a beach trip, Brown’s son, Daniel Williams, who is her other business partner, passed around an about Jimmy Red corn and Charleston’s High Wire Distilling. They all agreed it would be a fine idea to grow the rare heirloom corn, helping preserve not just the heritage of the Native Americans who first farmed it, but also of the bootleggers who made moonshine from the deep-red kernels.

Brown got in touch with Andy Sudderth, master distiller and CEO of R.M. Rose Distillery in Dillard. After a year of growing and milling, Doc Brown’s delivered heirloom gorn to Dudderth to distill. His response: “I think you’re onto something – how much can you grow?”

After extensive research, Brown discovered that there are not many people who grow corn, distill it and bottle whiskey. “Hardly any do it all in the same state,” she said. A business plan was born.

“And, here we are, going into our fourth year making whiskey, and having an absolute blast,” Brown said.

There are 13 barrels of Jimmy Red bourbon aging for release after May 2023, the four-year mark. New oak barrells are sourced from Gainesville Cooperage, the only cooperage in Georgia. While Doc Brown’s bourbon is aging, the company also makes bourbon creams. Each flavor – butter pecan, coffee and peppermint mocha – is made with bourbon that has been aged for two years.

Brown and Dockweiler grow the non-genetically modified organism corn on their 20-acre farm, as well as 100 acres they lease, using only organic methods. There are numerous bat houses around the property, both for pollination and fighting corn earworms. They also brought in beehives, and a beekeeper to manage them.

“Even though corn is wind-pollinated, we brought in bees to help with it,” Brown said. After doing that, their second crop yield increased by 30%, both in the size of the ears and the number of kernels. In addition to buying bees, they also planted pollinator shrubs to attract the bees and bats.

Once the corn matures from yellow to deep red, it is harvested and ground to a consistency somewhere between cornmeal and grits, to carry the rich, sweet flavor to the whiskey.

The corn is trucked to Dillard, to be distilled in a hand-made copper still. R.M. Rose Distitillery has “good water,” Brown said, adding that Sudderth “dug a deep well,” and the limestone-filtered water is from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and doesn’t need any treatment.

“That matters,” she said. “It’s the secret ingredient in Kentucky bourbon, the same limestone ridge.”

But, without good grains, Brown said, “you are not going to get quality bourbon.” Their bourbon’s mash bill is a secret, but it has a high mix of corn, as well as locally grown rye.

Their butter pecan bourbon cream, made with pecans grown by a local farmer, pays homage to Dockweiler’s family, who also grew the nuts, a Georgia favorite.

While you wait on Doc Brown’s straight bourbon, the three varieties of bourbon cream (39-proof, 750-millileter bottles for $34.99) are available at retailers in Georgia. Find out more at docbrownfarm.com.

DBF in the media: On Farm Monitor

Two ears of Jimmy Red corn heirloom maize on Doc Brown Farm

If you’re interested in farming in the South, then Farm Monitor is the go-to YouTube channel for what’s happening in Georgia. Produced by the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation, these folks will keep you informed of the big trends affecting the agriculture sector in our state. But they also find the time to tell interesting stories about the people who farm the land. Folks like us, here at Doc Brown Farm & Distillers.

In October 2022, Farm Monitor ran this seven-minute feature about how we’re making Jimmy Red corn bourbon and we’re over the moon with it. Thank you to Ray D’Alessio for his expert production and presentation skills on this item.

Go ahead and roll the video…

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