• Reservoir's Bottled in Bond Wheat: History in the Making

    Last week we introduced you to our Grey Ghost Bottled in Bond Bourbon, and I gave you the bare basics on what qualifications a whiskey must possess to be labeled as “Bottled in Bond” according to the stiff guidelines within US legislation.
    Today, as we announce the release of our Grey Ghost Bottled in Bond Wheat on September 16th, it might be nice if I fleshed out the primer on the history of BIB spirits. Think of it like being schooled in the past, while sipping on it as well.
    Well over one hundred years ago, the Federal Government spotted a giant pothole in the area of Consumer Protectionism. Least worrisome, people were being swindled, most worrisome, folks were kicking the bucket.
    During these unregulated times, a battle arose between distillers who made legitimate whiskey and “non-distilling producers,” or rectifiers, who bought whiskey (or neutral grain spirit) and tinkered with it.
    The problem stemmed from the specific rectifiers who did not simply blend their purchased whiskies to create a unique flavor profile for their customers, but who tampered with the legitimacy of the spirit altogether.
    These rectifiers fluffed up their purchased spirits with products that at best could be deemed deceitful, but in many cases were poisonous. Ingredients such as artificial coloring and flavorings, prune juice, glycerin, gasoline, and formaldehyde were added to stretch the spirit out. As whiskey was sold in barrels, it was much easier to adulterate the contents than whiskey already bottled.
    Now as any great government would see as something of supreme importance, protecting its people was paramount.
    Enter the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897.
    These new strict guidelines created a secure mark of authenticity and provenance for the consumer where they now could enjoy the highest level of confidence with their newly purchased bottle of whiskey as it had passed the benchmarks that stated it was made by one distiller at only one distillery and during one season, then bottled at 100 proof (unadulterated with anything other than pure water for dilution), and aged in a bonded warehouse for at least 4 years.
    If a whiskey met these standards, the government adorned that bottle with a lovely green stamp of approval rather than the awful green stamp of a Mr. Yuck face.
    Reservoir’s Bottled in Bond Wheat has not only met those rigorous government requirements, but this spirit has surpassed our own meticulous and uncompromising levels of excellence. With a mash bill of 100% wheat, aged for nearly 5 1/2 years in our one-of-a-kind alligator char 10-gallon casks, this heavenly whiskey invites you to sample and savor a bit of the past. We may not be able to transport your whole body to a less turbulent time, but we can certainly make that magically happen to your taste buds.
    ~Shelley Sackier, Director of Distillery Education
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  • Our "Blink and it's Gone" Bourbon

    September’s National Bourbon Spirit month has been bountiful for Reservoir—in as far as we have found so much we want to share with our family and friends, our customers and clan.
    Thus far, we’ve churned out our Grey Ghost Wheated Rye (sold out), a Bottled in Bond Bourbon (8 left!), and a Bottled in Bond Wheat whiskey (only 32 more).
    This week we’ve put together a special little treat for bourbon month—and by little we mean so few bottles. The reason so few? We’re allowing ourselves a teeny bit of fun—and don’t we all just need a dose of that right now?
    We’ve hunted through the warehouse and found three perfect small barrels:
    · One 10-gallon wheat barrel nearly three years old
    · One 5-gallon corn barrel at 2 ½ years old
    · One 10-gallon rye barrel, also nearly three years old
    At 65% corn, 25% wheat, and 10% rye, we’ve swirled together a sumptuous blend—a luscious bourbon that is “Distillery Release Only.”
    This means, as we have less than 30 bottles for sale, that snagging one of these beauties will happen either at Reservoir’s distillery itself, or online through our Virginia-only bottle shop.
    The best part of this announcement? We’re putting it on sale! $39.99 for a 375ml bottle with just $5 shipping starting Wednesday, the 23rd.
    Yeah, Bourbon month has us totally jazzed, and we’re hoping you’ll have a chance to enjoy one of these exceptional whiskies on offer before they’re gone for good. With our three founding bottles (100% wheat, corn, and rye whiskies), our warehouse holds a playground of remarkable combinations.
    Come taste this one!
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  • "Hazard" a Guess at What's on Offer...

    Hazmat—short for hazardous material.
    This is a term we have heard with such great repetition in 2020, it no longer sends a shiver down most people’s spine.
    Typically, it refers to the kit one must wear when handling said hazardous matter—the gloves, rubber boots, overalls, respirator, and facial protection. Armor made to shield us from pernicious danger. It’s our modern-day chainmail, if you will.
    This week—to lift our spirits—we here at Reservoir suggest tossing this typically baneful word over to the side of the ledger that holds words and phrases inviting people to rub their hands together with glee, rather than hand sanitizer.
    On September 30th, we’re introducing one more beautiful whiskey from our Grey Ghost series. We’ve scoured the warehouse in search of old barrels with the highest proof spirit and have scored bigtime.
    If you’re new to the term “hazmat” in the whiskey world, here’s some key clarification.
    An American distillery of whiskey, by law, must fill their casks with new make spirit no higher than 125 proof. What happens after that, during the time of aging and maturation, is often dictated by warehouse conditions and Mother Nature’s fickle ways.
    The spirit may rise or lower in proof depending upon factors such as temperature and humidity.
    When the conditions in the warehouse allow water to evaporate at a higher rate than the alcohol within the cask, the proof of that spirit rises. And if it rises higher than 140 proof, it then falls under the term “hazmat,” coined by great whiskey geeks who discovered they could not bring their bottles onto an airplane.
    We understand the rush of excitement with locating such a bottle, and we understand the pure delight in making one too.
    Therefore, with so few bottles available, and no great desire for airplane travel currently, we’re encouraging you to pop on down to the distillery (no hazmat suit needed—just a mask), or let us ship you one of these beauties right to your front door (if you live in Virginia).
    This particular Hazmat has been bottled from 3 ½ year old Hunter & Scott 5-gallon barrels. With a mashbill of 75% corn, 20% wheat, and 5% rye, the nose lifts notes of sweet dough, vanilla and cinnamon into the air, the body is coating and warm, syrupy with cotton candy, and the finish brings with it a blushing maple syrup and molasses rush of heat.
    At 141.5 proof, our Grey Ghost Hazmat bottle will transform your idea of words that can be thrilling and chilling at the same time.
    Join us in raising a glass to combat the shiver of autumn with the heat of our Hazmat.
    ~Shelley Sackier: Director of Distillery Education
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  • Belly up to the Bar - Part 4: The Finishing Touch

    If you had to decide on anything you’d want to come to an end, one might volunteer such things like world hunger, or strip searches at the airport, possibly even the life of anyone who writes another vampire book.

    Certainly, one thing no one looks forward to seeing is the bottom of an empty whiskey glass.
    Thankfully, this is not what is meant when referring to the word finish in the world of nosing and tasting. The “finish” alludes to those flavors and aromas that still linger after the alcohol has been swallowed. Personally, I think the whiskey’s job isn’t over until it’s established a small furnace in your stomach—a potbellied stove for some.
    But as you note, or even record your observations on the different whiskies you try, you’ll find some finishes stick around longer than others. A little bit like the bloom of youth on Dick Clark.
    Terms to express a whiskey’s finish are oftentimes paired with language that describes its texture—words like long, dry, chewy, clean, fresh or lingering, but you can come up with your own text—declarations that are meaningful to you.
    I’d hope you’d stay away from language like yuck, horrid and awful. In these cases, switch your glass or change your whiskey.
    There’s also the hope that the whiskey in your glass will be one of those that reveal new flavors before its initial flavor profile times out. It’s like having a second blossoming of aromas and flavors that linger on your tongue, but also change as the environment in your mouth alters.
    This experience is brought to you by your olfactory epithelium—a postage stamp-sized patch of tissue at the back of your nose and tongue that recognizes millions (yes, millions) of aromas noticeable to the human nose and helps enhance your flavor observations as well.
    If given a few extra seconds of serious consideration, there’s a very good chance its efforts to augment your enjoyment will push you to leave money to it in your will as an act of appreciation.
    Like many distilleries around the world, we here at Reservoir feel our whiskies offer you three distinct experiences to observe the aroma and flavor analysis of our spirits: the nose, the palate, and the finish—each worth savoring. So our advice to you is to stretch out that sip. We know how hard it is to keep from reaching for that Glencairn glass and the next nip, but we promise, it’s worth the wait.
    Now that you’ve had an opportunity to learn the gratifying lessons of nosing and tasting, you can walk your guests and friends through the fun, coming off as the erudite individual we all know you are (if for no other reason than the fact that you drink Reservoir whiskey).
    Keeping a notebook with the observations you collect not only helps you become a more learned and discerning connoisseur of this beautiful spirit, but will also allow you to help others decide what they’d like to drink when on the town in your company or in your home (and hopefully invited).
    People often have no idea what flavors they’d like and will shy away from making a costly mistake or taking a chance on something they’d find off-putting. You can come to their aid by describing some of the drams you’ve already tried, putting your companions at ease, and in your debt.
    So to recap these last four lessons that fall under our Reservoir’s Quartern on Whiskey Tasting 101:
    - Blow your nose, clean your glass, pour your dram, and note the color, viscosity, and clarity. (Part 1)
    - Swirl, or not. Dab a drop on the back of your hand. Sniff both hand and glass. Identify. (Part 2)
    - Note the strength. Add H2O (or not). Take a sip. Breathe. Try not to choke. (Part 3)
    - Classify the finish. Select a notebook. Decorate with stickers. Consider yourself profoundly cultured. (Part 4)
    School is out.
    You may leave your teacher assessments on my desk, but remember I know your handwriting.
    Now go forth and multiply … your experiences with whiskey more confidently.
    ~Shelley Sackier—Director of Distillery Education
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  • Bottle it up!

    There is nothing more satisfying than a rollicking good debate, in my opinion. Preferably fact based, and on a topic I’m hungering to know more about.
    And since we are up to our earballs in “debate land” territory, and our country seems more divisive than ever, I figure we should take advantage of the heightened state of information gathering our brains are working to maintain and toss yet another subject of controversy at it.

    Whiskey closures.

    Recently, we’ve had a couple of questions from Facebook and Instagram on the subject, and you might be surprised to discover that the “best sealing practices” debate is more complex than one would think.
    It’s true, this may not be an issue keeping many of you up at night, but it’s a genuine concern within the wine and spirits industry.
    The choices used most widely now are:
    1. Natural cork
    2. Synthetic cork
    3. Screw caps
    Ultimately, the right “fit” comes down to science, cost, sustainability, and sensibility.
    We know that both industries must consider OTRs—oxygen transmission rates.
    For cellar-worthy wines, the slow interaction with air is beneficial, so using natural cork, which can allow volatile gasses to pass through the plant-based material, will help with the desirable aging process. Wines meant to be enjoyed young, fresh, and immediately are often capped with a screw top closure, as it’s a secure sealant and is less expensive than cork.
    Whiskey, on the other hand, has a different outlook.
    Barrels are for maturation, bottles are for preservation.
    Choosing natural cork to seal a bottle of whiskey has both benefits and risks.
    1. Cork is expensive—if chosen, it may add a few precious pennies to the overall cost.
    2. There exists a firm debate over whether the cork bark harvesting industry is as carefully regulated as it once was. We add to this list the effects of climate change, making quality a growing concern.
    3. TCA—2,4,6-Trichloroanisole—is a chemical compound found in contaminated wood products responsible for “cork taint” in wines and spirits. If discovered to have infected the product, it creates a musty, wet cardboard type of aroma and flavor.
    4. Natural cork, when used for high-proof spirits, can disintegrate, crumble, and lose its sealing power.
    5. Natural cork is recyclable.
    6. Natural cork is visually appealing and contributes an authentic historical feel to the bottle which can enhance the perceived quality of the wine or whiskey.
    The decision to use synthetic cork has pros and cons as well.
    1. It’s said to provide a tighter seal, thereby ensuring less evaporation and less chemical interaction with any volatile gasses permeating through the closure.
    2. Synthetic cork—although not typically biodegradable—may be recycled if they are manufactured from plant-based materials (but even many of the plastic-based corks are recycled into shoes, bags, and flooring.)
    3. They do not break, disintegrate, mold, or crumble.
    4. Studies are ongoing as to whether polyethylene—the plastic-based cork—can deliver off notes to wine or spirits, although the companies that manufacture these corks state there is no data to show this as true.
    5. They may create the perception of “lower-quality” product because they do not fit the marketed mindset of tradition and historical worth.
    6. Synthetic cork is less expensive.
    And lastly, screw caps.
    Growing in popularity, they share many of the same clear benefits as synthetic cork but suffer from a larger carbon footprint than their counterparts, despite the rosy glow of their aluminum recyclability.
    There are copious examples of highly respected whiskies that use screw caps (Nikka, Suntory, Old Weller Antique, and Old Granddad), those that use synthetic (Defiant, Joseph Magnus, Baker’s Single Barrel, and Reservoir!), and plenty that stick with natural cork (a great number of single malt Scotch whiskies—Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, and Laphroaig).
    Our goal here at Reservoir is to provide you with an unparalleled experience from grain to glass, product to packaging. Our choice to use synthetic cork has been one carefully reviewed for 11 years running.
    But despite our best efforts, once you bring our spirits home, storage is something worth a moment of thought. We offer you a few sage tips to keep your whiskies in their best condition:
    - Store your bottles upright—especially if they have natural cork as their enclosure.
    - Keep your spirits out of direct sunlight, and preferably in a dark, cool area.
    - Once there is more space than spirit in the bottle, consider transferring the whiskey to a smaller glass bottle, or fill the original bottle with marbles, or utilize preserving sprays. We suggest having a few friends over and finishing those last lovely drops.
    So, there we have it, ladies and gents. I hope I’ve been able to highlight many of the myriad elements we take into consideration when making the choice on this consequential decision.
    It may not be as monumental as the outcomes on healthcare, but we take great pains to create a whiskey we think you’re going to love and one that’s going to last.
    You can even call your high-quality whiskey needs medicinal.
    We promise not to argue on that one.
    ~Shelley Sackier—Director of Distillery Education
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  • Reservoir's Year in Review

    As with any business, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the importance of forward focusing. We set new goals, light the fires of creativity, and generally keep our calendars jam-packed with work we know will churn out great whiskies and activities that will excite our patrons.
    But we paused this week to glance behind us. A long look back over 2019 made us realize just how busy we’ve been, and just how excited we are with how much we’ve accomplished.
    We wanted to share those accomplishments with you—because you were there for much of it and helped to make it happen.
    We’ve put together an infographic—a buffet of all the buzz from our last year working to bring you exceptional products and memorable experiences.
    Scroll below for a tiny trip through time.
    We can’t wait to help fill your 2020 with another series of amazing snapshot moments.
    Hope to see you soon!
    ~The Reservoir Team
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