Kevin's Cocktail Corner - Barrel aged Cocktails!
This has been a long time coming, over the past few months we have been talking about the idea of barrel aging some cocktails, creating our own signature bitters and bottling our one off editions for you to enjoy. Myself, Chris, Will and Mike hit the streets of London a few weeks back and needless to say we arrived at the same conversation. We were in a very swanky London based speak easy being dazzled by the array of choice that we do not necessarily see on a daily basis here in Jersey. The point remained the same! Get on with it 'Kevin' in both ears from the hard to please crowd... so I have! I ordered my French oak barrels along with bottles for bottling, with Mike's wizardry like skills on the computer and Chris' investment we are going to launch our very own barrel aged cocktails which will be available to try in-store and also to take home. Should you need that special tipple for the end of the night these little beauties will certainly provide you with a uniquely tailored experience.
What does barrel aging bring to the table?
The aesthetics of barrel aging looks cool on the eye but there are indeed benefits to adding alcoholic substances to oak and leaving it to rest. The most important fact about barrel aging is that you have three profound changes within the original spirit you have selected to age, the colour, flavour & integration of softness & sweetness. To start off you will have a slight colour change from the original spirits as oak will impart its colour through time, softening of the alcohol will occur due to molasses sugars building up on the bottom of the barrel barrel allowing for a slightly sweeter and mellower finished product, then you have the flavour of the oak which imparts vanilla, tobacco, and honeyed complexities. "The barrel will take away acidity, alcohol and ethanol heat and a little of that harshness. You can’t make a bad cocktail good, but you can make a good cocktail great through barrel-aging."
Get to know your wood
"Each barrel is 100% unique, but sometimes you can tell by the wood-grain: some of them are going to be a really dense wood, which you’ll get more batches out of. The denser the wood of the barrel looks, generally, you’ll have a more high-quality wood and get a better aging out of it. If it’s lower, like a more porous wood, you might get a batch or two. Five-litre batches, the little guys, are generally good for one or two batches, maybe three, but that’s a rarity. Ten-litres, you’re looking at two to three batches, and twenty litres, three to four. You can age past that but you will find that they really start to lack the oak presence it once had, and when you’re aging a cocktail versus aging spirits, generally you’re adding liqueurs, vermouths, all that jazz — a lot of sugar content. So the inside of the barrel quickly becomes seasoned because the sugars are settling in the bottom and create a thick molasses. That’s why barrel-aged cocktails tend to be a bit more mellow and sweeter, because the sugars have settled and created this heavy, thick molasses that permeates the whole thing when you pour out of the barrel."
Stick with high-proof
"No matter what spirit you’re using, gin, vodka, bourbon, moonshine or cognac, the best success is generally 100 proof or higher. If you put a soft spirit in the barrel, it’ll soften it to the point where a lot of people say barrel-aged cocktails are too sweet, and that’s because they’re not using a high-enough proof. Doing a barrel-aged Vesper, for example, I would suggest using Aviation as the base but improving the ABV by cutting in navy-strength Plymouth gin, you will find that the cocktail will have more of a backbone. Having that high proof spirit somewhere in there, as at least a third of the cocktail, is very important. Otherwise you’ll end up with a very sweet, soft, not as enjoyable cocktail."
What is the aim??
We are aiming to have our first two batches ready before the end of November in time for you to sample at Christmas! To start with we are going to age 5 litres of the typical lip smacking Negroni with an unusual twist. Cocktail number two is a complete surprise however it will be festive! The idea of selling these in 500ml and 750ml bottles means that they are all going to be completely unique & very rare. We are only producing 10 litres and we have to allow room for the angels share so roughly about 8/9 litres yield per batch, the idea of selling these in doses such as 'bring your own hip-flask' for a cheeky top up is something that appeals at the moment...This will help us to spread the enjoyment around as many dedicated folk as possible. The longer time goes on the more creative we will become, within the next 6 to 9 months we envisage having a decent range of barrel aged cocktails & spirits for you to enjoy.
Dates for the diary
- Barrels arrive on the 25th of October 2017
- Barrel 1 will be prepped and nurtured for 48 hours.
- Barrel 1 will commence aging on the 28th of October 2017
- Barrel 2 will be prepped and nurtured for 48 hours.
- Barrel 2 will commence aging on the 1st of November
- Barrel one will be released in store on Saturday 2nd of December.
- Barrel two will be released in store during our late night opening on Thursday 14th of December!
For your chance to have your say, I would genuinely like to hear your ideas regarding the next batch after December's release, the barrels will be steeped into tailored water for a further 48 hours before we commence the next batch to neutralize the 'seasoned insides' of the barrel.
So come into store this Christmas and sample our creations!