BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
Matt Colglazier’s curiosity and powers of observation have led to the creation of a new Indiana-made spirit launched in Bloomington this spring—Sorgrhum, America’s first sorghum spirit.
“I had an interest in handcrafted spirits and had homebrewed beer,” explains Indiana native Colglazier, 31. “I noticed that the concentrated malt from that process resembled the sweet sorghum syrup sold at roadside stands in southern Indiana. When I was driving the back roads of Orange County, I saw sorghum fields and thought maybe something more could be done with this homegrown sugar source.”
Colglazier, whose day job is director of media and promotions for Big Red Liquors, shared his thoughts with Stuart Hobson, 45, owner of Heartland Distillers in Indianapolis. Hobson enthusiastically agreed to use his still, which had produced Indiana’s first vodka, to brew up an experimental batch of spirit from eight gallons of sweet sorghum syrup that Colglazier had purchased from an Amish farmer in Bromer, Indiana.
“I had actually played around with sorghum, so I immediately knew what Matt was thinking about doing,” says Hobson. “I guess two great minds came up with a better idea and product—it tasted great!”
So in 2011, Colglazier & Hobson Distilling Company was born. The fledgling business contracted with an Amish-farming family to supply the raw sorghum in large quantities and completed the complicated process
of securing the necessary government approval to produce the new liquor.
Sorgrhum comes in white and dark varieties and is 43 percent alcohol by volume. Tasting notes indicate that the white variety is similar to a young tequila, and the dark variety has hints of vanilla and caramel akin to dark rum or bourbon and is aged in charred oak barrels for five months.
Sorgrhum’s seed-to-bottle process can be seen through several videos on the company’s website, which also features cocktail recipes. The libation is currently available at Big Red stores and a few drinking establishments, including The Rail in Bloomington.
“People interested in handcrafted spirits don’t want to be told what to drink; they want to be aware of the process,” says Colglazier. “We are producing very limited quantities of a totally original American spirit. That’s very exciting for us.”