Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Cask: Part 1
Behold. Wasmund's 2-liter aging barrel: one of the many exciting products being produced at Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville, Virginia. Copper Fox sells at-home aging barrels of various sizes which tailor to different budgets, time constraints, and expertise.
What you see here is Copper Fox's smallest barrel. An average aging in this bad boy should take about only 4 months, and can be re-used several times (something of which I plan to take full advantage). One need only pour in about 2 bottles of (preferably barrel proof) spirit and let the aging begin.
Incidentally, my tastes mostly lean towards rum, and this barrel has the rum fan inside me going absolutely insane thinking about the possibilities. However, Copper Fox is best known not for their barrels, but for their whisk(e)y (Hereafter "whisky". Copper Fox prefers it). Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky (review coming soon) calls Copper Fox home and, along with their aged single malt and rye products, they also provide unaged whisky for the very purpose of at-home aging. How many (good) unaged whiskies do you know of? Exactly. This opportunity leaves me little choice but to christen my barrel with Wasmund's crystal-clear, overproof, Appalachian spirit.
Another consideration is that many rums are aged in barrels previously used for bourbon, and so, especially taking note of Wasmund's fruitwood smoke-drying process used for their single malt, I believe that it's completely appropriate to warm up the barrel with Wasmund's before the rum joins the party.
Wasmund's Rye Spirit, less than 30 days old
This endeavor begins with Wasmund's Rye Spirit, unaged. This product is quite interesting in and of itself. Each rye batch produced is truly a small one, with about only one barrel produced on each run. Their rye spirit mash consists of 2/3 rye straight from a local source, and 1/3 hand-malted barley that's been fruitwood-smoked. This is all offered at 124 proof for your aging convenience. I thought I would taste the spirit before I aged it.
It's hard to navigate though the evaporated alcohol as you inhale this one. After I began to concentrate, the most noticeable aroma is pungent, full-bodied, and grassy. It's not unpleasant, however. A further effort finally revealed a bit of smoke, as expected.
Damn, this stuff is strong. Ok... the smoke comes through much more here, which is quite nice. The sips are dry and short, no aftertaste. Finally come the first hints of rye, a bit spicy and warming. A few sips later, I begin to taste the malt. Even unaged, this is much more interesting than I anticipated. But really, this stuff needs some ice.
Just a wee bit of ice and its character changes ever so slightly. Much more of the spiciness rises up and lasts longer. I even taste some floral hints as I breathe out. And finally, about a minute after each sip, I can taste apples, likely from the apple wood used to smoke the malted portion of spirit's source barley.
A ridiculously interesting spirit for something so young. I can see why Copper Fox claims that many customers enjoy replacing various spirits in classic cocktails with this stuff, something I also plan to try. The spiciness and grassy character of this spirit beg to be played with. The only hurdle I can foresee is the proof, but if you're like me, you just don't care.
The Aging Begins
The spirit is poured and now time is my friend. I will drop quick samples of my aging product about every two weeks, and will post about any tastings of note or process revelations.
Questions and comments about my endeavor are welcome. Aloha.