Friday, 15 June 2012

The Age of Spirits

During one of life's interludes when, as any good child would do, I moved back in with my parents in my early 30s, I stumbled upon an open bottle of rye in my dad's cabinet. Rich, wam, and smooth, I complimented my dad on his choice of rye. To my surprise, he had no idea what I was refering to until I showed him the bottle. Turns out, it was a gift bottle from 1978 that he had completely forgotten about (even with a move from Toronto to BC!).

What strikes me about this incident was how well-balanced the spirit was despite having been originally opened so many years ago. While spirits in my cabinet don't seem to stay quite that long, something can be said about the gift of an aged spirit; a gift that can keep giving, if you will.

Premium spirits are libations that are intended to be enjoyed in small amounts without the added benefit of a soft drink. The added advantage of a premium spirit is that most are exposed to oxygen during their aging process. As with a tawny port, madeira, or oloroso sherry, an aged spirit will be virtually indestrucable once open because of this early oxygen exposure.

Different spirits have different aging requirements as set out by local legislation. Here are some examples of classic aged spirits - and of course, great ideas for Father's Day!

COGNAC/ARMAGNAC: VS - 2 years (1 year for Armagnac); VSOP - 4 years; XO - 6 years

SINGLE MALT WHISKY: Minimum 3 years (but 8 is common). An age on the bottle indicates the minimum time spent aging in barrels.

RUM: No minimum, but as with Single Malts, the age on the bottle represents the minimum. 1 Year aging in tropical heat, however, is equivalent to 3 years in cool-climate Scotland.

TEQUILA: Reposado - 3 to 6 months; Anejo - 1 year minimum

No comments:

Post a Comment