Innovation In A Brand V.02 – Age Your Own Whiskey Kit
Back in the old days, we had to rely on distilleries aging their whisk(e)y for us, where then we’d take that aged whisk(e)y and combine it with other ingredients in order to make a delicious cocktail. For instance, some of the classics – the Manhattan, an Old Fashioned or Sazerac? Those drinks are made with aged whisk(e)y, where the vanilla and oak of the barrels comes through to create just the right mix of flavors to make a great liquor treat, and its the effect of the time that the whisk(e)y stays the barrels that makes those drinks so perfect.
In earlier blogs, I described innovation in brands where they take what they are and what they have always been and change it up to good and ill effect. Knob Creek has a Single Barrel coming out, Beam has turned industry innovation on its end by releasing the Devil’s Cut, and now Seattle’s own Woodenville Whiskey Co. has done something special.
Some background. This blog really should be about aging cocktails because that’s what we’ll be discussing in a moment. What’s best about this innovation is that it came from the bottom up. The first time that I heard of barrel aging cocktails was by Portland’s Jeffrey Morganthaler, who then made this process famous a’la The New York Times, taking after London’s Tony Conigliaro, who had been playing with aging cocktails one way or another for years.
The Next Step
And, this is where Woodinville Whiskey Co. comes in. Woodinville Whiskey Co. is a pretty much brand-spanking new distillery just outside of Seattle, and they have enlisted Maker Mark‘s ex-Master Distiller Dave Pickerell to help them develop their first mashbill and brand, to great effect.
What does Woodinville do? In a genius move, they market and sell a kit with two bottles of 110-proof white dog whiskey and a two liter barrel which allows YOU to age your own whiskey. “The idea stemmed from talking with hundreds of people in our tasting room about whiskey and the barrel aging process. It’s an incredible process that so few whiskey drinkers really know anything about let alone get to experience. We wanted to let them experience it firsthand just as we are currently doing.“, says Orlin Sorensen, co-owner of the distillery.
So, where their kit calls for aging their white dog into bourbon – I saw just enough room left in that 2 liter barrel (500 milliliters) to create and age a cocktail. But, what kind of cocktail? Should a classic be aged? My first experiment in aging spirits was with separately aging Campari, Sweet Vermouth and Liberty’s house orange bitters – the idea being that what would a cocktail be like with aged components instead of a whole aged cocktail? Where it gets fun though is when civilians get into the action. With the help of Woodinville Whisky Co. and their easy access to inexpensive and plentiful barrels, we are offering the opportunity for our customers to age their own cocktails, and each customer gets to pick what cocktail they’ll be aging, and into the barrel it goes and a month to two later? Voilà! One aged cocktail, please!
This grand experiment is innovation. Back in the day, an aged cocktail was one which sat around after the ice melted, but now, we can purposefully wait months, and you’ll be glad that you did.