Part 1 of 4
The plan was complex in its simplicity: Create a high-malt peated rum-finished blended whisky. Sounds fun, right? It would be a big ol' batch of something fun to drink, at a lower expense than my previous experiments.
The first whisk(e)y thing that I had aged in my 2 liter barrel was The Rye Storm.
Too young to call a straight rye, and possibly too toxic to share, The Rye Storm was invaluable as an educational experience. It also seasoned the hell out of the barrel, which led to...
...Whisky Two, The Eagle Morning Single Malt, a Highland single malt finished in my small ex-rye barrel. Much more successful than The Rye Storm, The Eagle Morning was actually drinkable and utilizable during last year's hot weather spell in November.
After emptying the barrel of The Eagle Morning, I gave the barrel a good washout and then filled it with water to keep the insides moist. The next whisky-thing had to be cheaper than the previous two, and very different. I started considering a multi-step maturation, or at least a re-seasoning.
Around that time, I tried the Angel's Envy rum-finished rye. It was like rye candy, too sweet for me, but intriguing nonetheless. Replicating it seemed very easy to screw up. For moment I considered a rum-finished Rittenhouse, but then I concluded I didn't want to directly copy anything.
With rum on the mind, I realized that I had enjoyed every rum-finished whisky I'd tried. Though perhaps not mindblowing, they were always fun to drink. And I'm always on the search for an inexpensive peated Scotch. I had considered using either Bowmore Legend and McClelland's Islay, but Morrison Bowmore's young Bowmores can be questionable at best.
Standing in Total Wine & More, I stared at the shelves until it (figuratively) hit me. Bank Note. I like Bank Note. I've had two good bottles and one not good bottle. And the problems with that bad bottle were likely due to storage issues rather than the stuff itself. It's lightly peated, a 40% malt blend, and is bottled at 43% ABV. And I could get a handle (1.75L) of it for $36.99.
There would still be 250mL of whisky room left in the cask, and I needed more peat. Luckily I had three heavily-peated cask strength single malts to fill out the rest of the room, raising the ppms and ABV a little bit. But first, the rum!
I had a mostly full bottle of the very sweet and silky Ron Matusalem 15 year old. Unlike aged whisky, aged rum is often very affordable; this 15yo had been only $19.99. Though it filled less than 1/3 of the barrel, its brown sugariness would be just enough to season the staves. I rotated the barrel every other day for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, I decanted it back into its original bottle. While the barrel was still very wet and oozed candied scents, I first filled it with the Bank Note, then with my secret combo of peated single malts.
But wait, that's not all.
Several months had been spent maturing my previous two whiskies and there was one thing that became painfully obvious with each week's measurements......the angels take their share. I had lost an outrageous amount of product to those drunkass angels, no matter what the storage location or temperature had been. I wanted a lot of whisky at the end of this extended maturation experiment.
So I wrapped it.
I tried the plastic and hair dryer technique but that didn't do a thing. So instead I bundled it up tightly, Cling Wrap and lots of packing tape, maltblocking those damned angels.
Then it was time to wait.
Tomorrow, we do the numbers and we do the tasting......