Saturday, August 23, 2014

Barrel Experiment #3: Barrel-Aged Manhattans

Having turned a couple of fifths of new make malt into a little more than a fifth of campfire ash water -- and not the good kind -- and having turned some unaged corn whiskey into aged corn whiskey -- which might actually be usable for mixing -- I figured 6 months of aging spirits had tamed my 2-liter barrel enough to try a barrel-aged Manhattans.

Not, you know, ultra-premium barrel-aged Manhattans. More of a barrel-aged Lower East Side, with my cheap rye of choice, Pikesville Supreme.

Two fifths of Pikesville Supreme, about 250 ml of Martini Rosso vermouth, and a couple dozen dashes of Fee Brothers old-fashioned aromatic bitters were put to rest in the barrel.

Just filled.
After 40 days, I had a little taste and figured it was time to dump.Having never had a barrel-aged Manhattan, I didn't (and still don't) really know what to look for that means "done," but the taste was tasty and my major concern with this barrel is over-aging.

So, out came the Manhattan.

Anybody have a grapefruit-sized cherry?
Some cheesecloth to filter out the floaty char bits, and I had just enough left over from refilling the two rye bottles for a celebratory drink. (At around 72 proof for only 40 days, the angels didn't get much of a share.)

Barrel-Aged Manhattan on the Rock.
There is definitely a tang of oak in the result, which wasn't added with the rye, and I could convince myself there's also a touch of the corn whiskey that sat in the barrel for four months previously. If I were to do this again, I might make a control sample that goes straight into the bottle, to find out what the barrel adds that simple time marrying doesn't.

Another variable is the bitters. I didn't use Angostura because my bottle didn't have twelve Manhattans worth of dashes left in it. The Fee Brothers bitters, which I don't think I've used before, has quite a different flavor than Angostura. There's a lot of cinnamon, in particular, that would make a spicier and sweeter Manhattan than I'm used to.

Heck, while I'm at it, why insist on low-proof rye? I could do a [bourbon/rye] X [80 proof/high proof] X [Fee Brothers/Angostura] X [Fresh Made/Bottle Married/Barrel Aged] = 24-way taste test. Not all in one day, but maybe between Christmas and New Years or something.

As for the barrel, I've refilled it with 1.75 l of Castillo Silver rum, mostly to keep the barrel from drying out while I do something with the 4 liters of liquor I've already aged in it. I'm more interested in what the rum will do for the barrel than what the barrel will do for the rum, but maybe both will still be usable when I'm done.