Last week Russ and I went down to Denver to pick up some specialty barrels from Rocky Mountain Barrel Company. Check out the story below to learn more about how we source our oak!
Rocky Mountain Barrel Company started out in a tiny warehouse in downtown Denver sourcing small amounts of barrels for local craft brewers. Now they’re a very big company that sources and ships worldwide. We’ve been getting many of our barrels from them for years. We’re very particular about our oak, so I always love the opportunity to hand select the barrels and attributes we’re looking for.
For this trip, we were searching for specialty Port and Sherry barrels from Europe. The first barrels we selected were Ruby Port, they are from the Douro Valley in Portugal, and they held liquid for anywhere from four to six years.
Next up was PX Sherry to select. This sweet wine is made in Southern Spain and produced with Pedro Ximenez grapes. The grapes are harvested at high sugar levels and left in the sun to “raisinate” for 2 weeks after harvest, concentrating the sugars. The grapes are then pressed into what is a nectar-like juice. This is very hard to ferment at this sugar content, so most of the alcohol in this liquor comes from the brandy that’s added.
Finally we selected Amontillado Sherry barrels. The process of these barrels is that the wine is aged and then fortified to 15.5% ABV with an intentional pellicle in the barrel limiting O2 exposure. This is often broken to allow the wine to oxidize more as it ages. It is then fortified to 17% ABV, slowing the oxidation process down. It begins to gain a darker color. People like this, apparently.