After the final distillation the spirit is brought to 110 proof (55% abv) by adding very soft pure water. Soft water allows us to retain the delicate aromatics in the spirit. We wanted to rethink standard barrel proof and be sure that we were selecting the process that was right for our spirit, not just the fastest or easiest. Barrel proof refers to the concentration of alcohol in the spirit you are placing in barrel. Spirit contains alcohol which is a solvent, it actually dissolves the barrel color and flavor into the spirit. The concentration of the alcohol can help you control the speed, flavors and concentration at which this happens. We found at 110 proof we get a nice gentle influence of oak without overpowering the rich flavors we worked so hard to capture in fermentation and distillation. It takes longer but the flavors are less astringent, and more supple.
The character of the spirit off of the still determines what barrel it will be aged in. A rich, highly structured, angular spirit has the body and character to stand up to new american oak and extended aging. A more aromatic, vibrant, or delicate spirit will be aged in a used bourbon or brandy cask. Used oak imparts less up front oakiness, but contributes to the slow and layered complexity of oxidative aging. As the spirit sits in a 53 gallon barrel, the barrel actually respirates and introduces oxygen that allows long chain flavor molecules to form.
Our distillery has a terroir you can taste in the spirit. It is situated on a salt marsh off the ocean, and on the finish of the Amber, you may taste a tangy mineral note from the briny air. In the summer we have hot and humid weather that allows the grain of the wood to soak up much of the rum in cask creating rich oaky flavors. In November when the temperature drops the oak grain squeezes the rum back out. We can watch the casks drop two shades of color and two layers of richness as the rum is pushed back into the rest of the spirit. This unique push and pull on the spirit contributes to it’s layers of flavor.