GET TO KNOW BRIX SELECT CASK SERIES #003 PINOT GRIS CASK
25 July 2023
GET TO KNOW THE BRIX SELECT CASK SERIES, PINOT GRIS CASK with CO-FOUNDER + RUM EXPERT JAMES CHRISTOPHER
A barrel strength release for the Rum connoisseur.
With our first Cask Strength Release, Brix Select Cask 'Pinot Gris', we thought it might be a great idea to take a moment to explain what makes this Rum different, and how to best enjoy it as a delightful sipper.
Apart from it being a labour of love and passion from the Brix distilling team (some quotes I have noted from the team below), I think there are 4 things that make this Rum extremely special.
This Rum has not been blended. It has been identified as a unique and superior barrel, as a standalone cask in our now vast & varied barrel library. Blending rum is definitely a skill which requires tremendous sensory concentration, to balance flavour profiles & also create quantity, and our Head Distiller Shane Casey does spend a lot of time creating blends to build products which can be released on a larger scale around the country. However, we have identified that this barrel of Rum had the balance, boldness and texture to release as a single cask release, without the need for blending. Select Cask Pinot Gris is extremely limited in quantity - only 350 bottles. "Let's show this Rum as an expression of quality.
1. IT'S JUST A SINGLE CASK.
This Rum has not been blended. It has been identified as a unique and superior barrel, as a standalone cask in our now vast & varied barrel library. Blending rum is a skill which requires tremendous sensory concentration, to balance flavour profiles & also create quantity. Our Head Distiller, Shane Casey, does spend a lot of time creating blends to build products which can be released on a larger scale around the country. However, we have identified that this barrel of Rum had the balance, boldness and texture to release as a single cask release, without the need for blending. Select Cask Pinot Gris is extremely limited in quantity - only 350 bottles.
"Let's show this Rum as an expression of quality."
2. IT'S BOTTLED AT CASK STRENGTH
Along with the product not being blended, it has not been diluted after being decanted. Rum goes into barrel to mature at a high ABV (for Brix it's between 58%-64%ABV). At this point, it can interact with the oak to extract colour and flavour, and also filter out unwanted esters and congeners through the oak grain. After decanting, Rum is usually diluted to achieve a more approachable drinking strength, depending on it's flavour profile & intended use. This release did not need diluting as when decanted, we found it had reached the perfect state, though high in alcohol content (60.7%ABV), it gave us delicious creamy palate notes & bright fruity aromas.
"Let's leave this as it is & showcase it untouched."
3. THE PINOT GRIS CASK ITSELF
We are very lucky to have some of Australia's (and the world's) best winemakers within striking distance of our Sydney home and it's always a pleasure to collaborate with them to source amazing quality barrels. The 225LT barrel used to mature this Rum has its own unique story to tell. Pinot Gris is not generally a wine which is matured in Australia (and fair to say that Rum is not usually matured in white wine barrels), but the team at Brokenwood Wines in the Hunter Valley, just 2 hours up the road, take pride in maturing small amounts of this varietal each year to develop texture & softness in the wine. We sourced this particular barrel after it had been used for 8 separate vintages of maturing Brokenwood Pinot Gris, usually for around 6 months at a time. The wine, matured at around 15%ABV, will interact with the French Oak to soften and develop the wine's characteristics, but after it has run its course, the barrel will eventually stop giving to the wine. When we acquire the barrel, we fill at our higher newmake spirit strength, having a much more aggressive interaction with the oak. The Rum is able to pull the flavours from the wine which has soaked into the oak, but also penetrate deeper into the staves to extract further oak characteristics, which the wine was not able to reach. The result is a delightful balance of fruit, soft oak & tannin, which when combined with the bold profile of the Brix unaged Rum over time, creates a magnificent sipping experience, an aromatic & textural delight with a rich creamy mouthfeel.
"What a cracker of a Rum!"
4. THE AGE STATEMENT
We are extremely proud to say that this is our oldest Rum to date. After opening our doors in August 2018, we slowly but surely started to fill barrels (once we had fine tuned our recipe). This cask was just the second to be filled, in September 2018. Nearly 5 years in the making, we are very proud of this Rum and excited for those casks waiting patiently in our barrel house, quietly whispering each time we check on them...... "Pick Me". The barrels are a part of our team after all.
HOW TO DRINK SELECT CASK SERIES #003 PINOT GRIS
I love to take my time with this Rum. The higher ABV obviously means we should approach with caution, but once discovered, it is a delicious Rum to sip on.
Consciously use your senses. Sight, smell, touch & taste. Even listen to it say "Drink me". Prepare yourself for the experience you are about to receive. Don't attack the Rum, the Rum will win!
Once poured into a sipping glass, hold the Rum up to the light and assess. Try not to swirl the glass too much as you will stir up the alcohol vapour & be overwhelmed once you take the next sensory step. Simply hold the glass up and tilt it from side to side, admire it's long legs which hug the side of the glass and it's deep golden colour, developed from the wine & the barrel over years of getting to know the Rum.
Next, approach gently and have a light smell of the Rum, holding your nose around 5cm from the glass. I like to breathe in through my nose with my mouth open to allow more oxygen to dilute the intensity. You will gradually be able to understand what's happening in the glass and will be able to cautiously approach a little closer, like getting to know someone you've just met, but aren't quite sure of. Don't let your guard down just yet.
After you have taken in a few gentle breaths, you will be able to go in for a deeper smell, taking in the Rum's full aromatic offering. Try to identify a few aromas... caramel, toffee, pear, melon? Are they there?
Finally, take a small sip. Now, when I say small, I mean the smallest possible amount of liquid you can possibly put into your mouth. A miniscule amount of Rum. You just met this Rum... remember? It's polite to shake hands to begin. Allow the Rum to coat your taste buds, rub your tongue on the roof of your mouth & lick your lips to adjust them for the sensation that's about to come. This sip is not about flavour. It's about seasoning your palate, allowing your taste buds to adjust and your sallivary glands to start our body's automatic dilution method.
When ready, take your second sip, a little more this time. You're slowly getting to befriend the Rum now. Your palate should be prepared to accept the Rum's personality & be adjusted to pinpoint initial flavours. Vanilla, stonefruit, soft oak... maybe some toasted marshmallow if you think deeper. Your second sip should be a much more pleasant experience and moreso, your third & fourth. Now you are mates and can hang out a little more. Is it too early to swap numbers? Get to know each other & hang out, maybe sit on the balcony together after dinner, or by a campfire with a few other friends.
If you'd like to see the rum open up a little and soften down the intensity, now is the time to think about a small amount of water or a single ice cube. A few drops of water will not only dilute the alcohol content and take the intensity off the Rum, it will open up the Rum's profile, allowing different aromatics to be released and a lighter palate to be explored. Ice will also change the temperature of the Rum, allowing your palate to receive it in a different light. A great tip I learnt from our Head Distiller Shane Casey; add your ice and slowly, but surely allow the ice to melt & slightly dilute the Rum, smelling & sipping along the way. When you have reached your perfect point, remove the ice and enjoy the rest of the sipping experience at your pace. "Choose your own adventure!" he says.
You will become great mates with this Rum over the course of your friendship. It will give you great pleasure and you will share some great moments. Until of course, one day, it disappears and you need to find a new Rum to befriend.