Here’s me and Devin Cain of the American Craft Whiskey Distillery tasting various experimental blends for our recently-released Fluid Dynamics aged cocktails. The 10-liter barrel on the counter behind my glass in the foto holds the first experimental batch of a Sazerac cocktail (we had to call it the 1850 – the year the Sazerac bar opened in New Orleans – because "Sazerac" is a trademark). You've probably noticed that a lot of good bartenders are blending cocktails in tiny barrels and aging them for a couple of weeks. It’s what gave us the idea for Fluid Dynamics. We are able to assemble our cocktails in 55 gallon oak barrels. We age them for about six weeks. It helps a lot that the blending is done by the same people that distilled the spirits we're using, because they have a good idea of what’s going to happen in the barrel. When we experimented with the 1850, we learned that it is very different to age a product with absinthe in it than it is to simply mix a drink containing absinthe: the interaction of the components over time is a powerful factor. We decided not to include bitters, because no matter how little we used, after six weeks, the bitters taste was too strong. Because we age Germain-Robin varietal brandies for quite a while before starting to blend them, we were able to experiment with brandies distilled from different grapes. Brandies from aromatic grapes (like Riesling and Muscat) performed the best. A good drink that is mixed and handed to you is composed of complex and distinctive ingredients. If you take the time to age those ingredients together in barrel, they merge into a richer and more harmonious whole. To our palate, the aged version is about four times as good as a drink that has been freshly assembled. Similar things happen to our whiskies and brandies in the cellar (when we prepare a blend, it takes at least two years, sometimes five, for the components to fully “marry”).
July 08, 2011
Germain-Robin Viognier Grappa
Recently I was out in the market with stick-on labeled bottle of G_R Viognier grappa, stick-on because they had just bottled it and hadn't gotten around to the hand labeling. I received some pleasant words about its quality. Here's why.
June 10, 2011
The Germain-Robin distillery, which moved to Redwood Valley in 1999, just installed four vertical stainless steel tanks aggregating 11,000 gallons.