I was recently lucky enough to attend a tasting of a few new types of whiskey at Party Source. One of the nice features of the Party Source tasting classes is that in addition to educational aspect, there is the opportunity to try something new and this was a great varied tasting:
Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey (70.95) – Dry fly is a Washington distillery that is using 100% wheat aged for 2 years in a new charred barrel. This has a nice baked bread nose with straw finishing with a hint of mint and sweet. A whiskey that is 100% wheat is rare, and this long finishing whiskey is a great example of what can be done slightly differently using local ingredients.
Maker’s Mark 46 (33.99) – The “second great idea” from Maker’s Mark has an addition of toasted French oak into the final aging process. This makes a spicier version of the traditional Maker’s Mark that gives it a flavor that is closer to a Rye whiskey using wood instead of the grain to give the new flavors. A nice way to show what effect different types of wood or aging can have on a whiskey.
Party Source Buffalo Trace “Wheat on Rye” (59.99) – A collaboration between Party Source and the Buffalo Trace experimental team taking a traditional bourbon and performing a secondary aging in a used Rye barrel. This adds a spicy flavor while not overpowering the traditional softness of the wheat bourbon. The base was a barrel similar to Old Weller before the Rye aging and it did a really nice job of connecting the two different flavors into a single whiskey.
Rick Wasmund’s Kegs o’ Bourbon (Not Available) – The first of two different types of smoked bourbons. Rick smoked the grain over a nice soft wood combination (apple, cherry). This adds another level of flavor and was brought straight from the barrel to the tasting. I think this one needs a little more time to settle down and presented slightly confused on the flavors. I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to try a sweeter, fruitier whiskey.
MB Rowland Black Dog Corn Whiskey (31.99) and MB Rowland Black Dog Bourbon (Not Available) – The Black Dog is made using a “dark fire” the corn in our miniature tobacco barn, giving the product a smoky, sweet flavor. The bourbon version is then aged in the charred oak. this produces a bourbon that has distinct characteristics that are usually found in scotch. I thought this was a really interesting change and has potential for a lot of really nice applications.
Four Roses Small Batch Barrel Strength (74.99) – This is the new product replacing the Marriage line. The Marriage was limited to a combination of two of the Four Roses recipes and this allows for more options in the creation of the yearly release. This one was a nice traditional bourbon that was a great end to the tasting. A combination of 3 different recipes aged between 10 and 15 years makes this a very nice spicy bourbon. I will miss the story behind the Marriage, but this is a worthy successor.
A friend of ours beckoned us to The Party Source on Saturday with the lure of a special whiskey tasting in the aisle. He was right.
In the middle of the aisle was Rick Wasmund of Virginia's Copper Fox Distillery. Rick was offering samples of his Single Malt Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, barrel tastes of these, as well as the spirits (pre-barrel) samples. For a man with two whiskeys sold retail, he sure had a lot to offer. I've never been a fan of single malt, but I do love a nice rye.
The thing that caught my eye was the Distiller's Art Series (or as I call it, the Age Your Own Whiskey Kit). This kit comes with a small barrel and two bottles of the spirit. It retails for around $100, but was on sale for $89.99 on Saturday. Yeah, we bought one.
We got it home and dived in. The first step is to just fill the barrel with water and make sure it doesn't have any leaks. Once that is established (or you let the barrel slats expand with hot water to remove leaks), you can get started. It's easy, of course. You just pour the two bottles of spirits (rye, in our case) into the bung hole on top of the barrel. Firmly insert the bung and you're off. Within 4-7 months, you've got whiskey you aged your self.
It sounds silly, but I'm rather looking forward to the process. The barrel has a spigot. Every month of so, we can check in and try a sample. We'll be able to see just how much the barrel affects both the color and the flavor. The barrel is made from 100% American white oak without glue, nails, or paraffin wax. You can add ingredients to your whiskey if you want (at Wasmund's they're fond of apple wood chips), but we thought we'd play it straight the first time through. The bottle is reusable and the spirits are available at Party Source for when you start to get experimental.
Our plan right now is to check in every month and see how our whiskey is doing. We'll post regular updates on the blog, which you can check in the new Whiskey Watch category. In the meantime, I recommend getting over to Party Source and picking up your own kit. We can have our own whiskey aging club.
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