Monday, April 28, 2008

Barrel Aged Orange Bitters

So I was talking to my good friend, Jeff Morgenthaler, and we were discussing variations on bitters that we've been making. I was telling him how well my Blood Orange Saffron bitters came out, and Jeff told me that he was going to do a barrel aged orange bitters, after he was done curing his cask with sherry (A great idea, I might point out). Well, long story short, both Jeff and I decided to make a batch of barrel aged orange bitters, and to see who had the better product. Since Jeff was going to cure his barrel with sherry, I had to choose another route, and I decided to cure my barrel with some vintage Madeira that I've been keeping in the cellar, waiting to use. I think about a month should provide the flavor and cure to the barrel that I am hoping to achieve, so I uncorked several bottles of Madeira, and poured them in, being careful not to add any sediment that the Madeira had thrown while it was in the bottle. Next, I took it outside and placed it on the back patio to let it get some great Oregon weather for the next month, before I drain it and replace the Madeira with orange bitters for a month. I'm going to start the bitters tomorrow, and let them steep for a month before adding them to the barrel. I think a month in oak should be enough to add some real complexity and interest to these bitters. Hopefully, Jeff's will be done around the same time and we can get together for a head to head tasting of Sherry Cask Aged Orange Bitters vs Vintage Madeira Cask Orange Bitters. It should be an interesting comparison, and I'll keep you up to date on my progress.


Sylvan said...

It's not as cool as an actual barrel, but what I do to impart an oak flavor is to soak pieces of charred oak in whatever you are 'aging' in glass. It's much cheaper than a barrel, and when the oak is exhausted, it is easier to dispose of. It's also easier to do small batches and control your oak level. I do want to get a barrel someday, though, just for the coolness.

Lance J. Mayhew said...

I agree completely with you Sylvan, it may be less sexy, but oak chips are a very effective and economical way to impart oak into bitters.

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