Dayton woman wins business boost for whiskey-infused mustard

Competition’s prize will help bring product from kitchen to retail shelves

A Dayton woman and self-proclaimed foodie hipster who created a recipe for a whole-grain mustard with a secret ingredient — whiskey — is about to get a big boost in getting the new product from her recently burned-out kitchen to retail stores.

Kathleen Hanover created the recipe for her Indian Creek Corn Whiskey Mustard using whiskey from Indian Creek Distillery, located in southeast Miami County near New Carlisle. Hanover submitted it to the Ohio Signature Food Contest, which is designed to showcase and help bring to market new and innovative Ohio-based food products.

The northwest Ohio-based contest, run by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, is in its eighth year, but this is only the second year it has been open to applicants statewide, according to CIFT spokesman Jim Konecny. Hanover’s mustard, along with a pesto submitted by an Akron man, were selected as winners from among nearly 100 applicants.

“This is literally a dream come true — it’s life-changing,” Hanover said. “We’re really proud to be a small part of Dayton’s history of innovation.”

The applications were judged on the viability of the product, its commercialization potential, business strategy, and overall appeal to the marketplace. The food-technology center described Hanover’s mustard as an “artisanal grainy mustard made from a blend of two different kinds of mustard seeds, apple cider vinegar, apple-smoked spices, brown sugar, pickling spices and maple syrup, flavored with small-batch, cooper-distilled corn whiskey made in Ohio’s Miami County.”

Winners receive technical assistance from CIFT ranging from business planning, product development, shelf-stability testing, nutritional analysis, labeling review, regulatory assistance, and batch preparations for product sampling. The food items will be produced at the Bowling Green-based Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen, which is designed to educate and provide technical assistance to new and growing food businesses.

“This is everything we need to turn this mustard into a commercial product,” Hanover said. “We are enormously grateful.”

It didn’t come easy.

“The irony of winning a food competition is that we don’t even have a home kitchen right now,” Hanover said. Her kitchen sustained extensive water and smoke and damage in a fire that destroyed her garage and deck on April 18. The home’s living room and Hanover’s home office also were damaged. Hanover and her husband, Kaden Harris, also lost most of their pantry items and extensive spice collection.

After Hanover learned she was a finalist, she was forced to make her next batch of mustard for the competition in the tiny kitchenette of the extended-stay hotel room the couple had used since the fire.

The whiskey used in Hanover’s mustard — Old Andy’s #5 Corn Whiskey from Indian Creek Distillery near New Carlisle — is produced in copper stills built in 1820 and restored by Indian Creek founder Missy Duer and her husband, Joe, in 2011. Indian Creek’s double-copper-pot distillation process is nearly identical to that used by Elias Staley, Missy Duer’s great-great-great grandfather and original founder of the Staleys’ Miami County homestead and distillery.

Duer encouraged Hanover to enter the CIFT food contest, and she described the mustard that uses her distillery’s whiskey as, “Superb. We cannot wait until we can offer it in our retail shop at the distillery.”

Hanover and Harris “are on their way to bigger and better culinary things in the future,” Duer said.

Hanover said she surprised her husband with a tour of Indian Creek Distillery for Valentine’s Day, “and we both fell in love with their historic distillation process and their whiskeys. We had already been making our own condiments, and we instantly realized that Indian Creek’s products would be the perfect addition to own mustards, ketchup and relishes.”

After a few weeks of kitchen experiments, the couple shared their whiskey condiment prototypes with the Duers and other friends and family, who encouraged the couple to take their products to market.

“My husband and I just love to cook together and share our flavors with friends,” Hanover said. “We never imagined that our kitchen tomfoolery was going to turn into a business.”

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