Our production philosophy blends a deep respect for time-honored, traditional production techniques with New World creativity, ingenuity and innovation. We distill our spirits on a vintage, direct-fire, 2,500-liter Charentais-style alembic still – one of only a few operating in the United States. The process is laborious and slow and requires significant patience, skill and attention-to-detail. The results, however, are spirits and liqueurs of uncompromising quality, balance and depth of flavor.
- Direct-fire adds layers of depth and complexity of flavor – much as with grilled food.
- Distilling “Low and Slow,” where a single distillation can take upward of 12 hours, maximizes the ability to separate out the crude portions of the distillate and to concentrate flavor.
- Glycol-chilled water cooling allows for precise control over the temperature of the final distillate, providing for a smoother, more aromatic product.
Distillation is truly transformational. Through a carefully orchestrated chemistry experiment, distillers are able to utilize stills to concentrate the true essences of fruit, herbs, spices. However, the young spirit is often raw and unrepentant. Fortunately, distillers have learned that time and environment offer young spirits the opportunity to mellow and round out their rougher edges. Months or even years of time resting can transform a spirit into something remarkable. Three critical processes occur during aging, enhancing the quality of the spirit:
- Extraction- Aging spirits extract fatty acids and phenols from the barrel, with different compounds being extracted over time as the cellular structure of the wood breaks down. The humidity and temperature of the storage area and the type of wood, its terroir and its char play defining roles in determining the character that the barrel imparts upon the sprit.
- Esterification- Over time, acids and phenols bond to alcohol, forming highly desirable fruity, aromatic esters. Longer aging creates longer ester chains that produce the sweet honey, floral and tobacco flavors often present in the highest quality spirits.
- Concentration- As a barrel breathes over time, a portion of its contents evaporates (the “Angel’s Share”). What remains in the barrel benefits from concentration of flavor.
"Months or even years of time resting can transform a spirit into something remarkable."
Following aging, distillers have an additional arrow in their quiver. Spirits can receive a final dose of flavor from a brief rest in yet another barrel. Long-term aging is intended to provide a transformational impact upon a developing spirit. However, brief storage in finishing barrels offers subtle flavor flourishes just prior to blending and bottling. We will utilize a variety of barrels, such as port, Tokai, and red wine, to finish our products.
Blending (Four-Port Rum)
As rum is a hand-crafted, agricultural product, distilleries with established brands must contend with the fact that, even with a consistent recipe, flavor profiles will vary from season to season, batch to batch, barrel to barrel. In order to achieve consistency out of inconsistency, producers blend their final product from selected individual barrels, taking what they need from each in order to achieve a desired flavor. Product that is not used in the final blend often finds its way onto the secondary market – a market into which unused product is sold and out of which unique releases and creative new blends can be imagined. It is thanks to this market that we were able to begin with a blank canvas and handcraft a world-class, aged rum that transcends traditional definitions and classifications: Virago Four-Port Rum.