A bottle that has been a long time coming! After the success of Seelbach's Private Reserve 001 & 002 I started brainstorming about what should be next. Today, we release Batch 003. A Kentucky Bourbon finished in Triple Sec and Champagne barrels. I Can't think of a better way to kick off Bourbon Heritage Month than with our Seelbach's label. There was a small delay in bottling so these will start shipping the week of the 12th at the latest.
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Short Story: Seelbach’s Private Reserve Batch 3 pays tribute to the cocktail our name draws inspiration from. The cocktail is a mix of Kentucky Bourbon, Triple Sec, bitters and topped with champagne. Batch 3 starts with a blend of 84% 4-year 9-month and 16% 15-year Kentucky Bourbon. This blend finished in Triple Sec and Champagne barrels independently . The Triple Sec lends an incredible orange peel and baking spice on the nose. The Pinot Meunier champagne barrels add depth and dried fruit notes on the palate. Both barrels amplify the fruity and spicy profile of the Kentucky Bourbon base blend.
Tasting Notes: The nose is initially dried fruit. Lots of dried mango and apricot. It moves toward clove, cinnamon and a touch of black pepper. The palate is a mix of sweet and spice. It initially has notes of candied orange peel and tobacco. That turns to black pepper and almond skins. There's some dry cocoa as it move to a long finish of peach tea and dried cherry.
Long Story: For Seelbach’s Batch 3 I worked backwards. That’s why it’s taken an entire year to complete this project. That’s the beauty of these blends. We’re not in a rush and can make sure they meet the original vision. The Seelbach cocktail is Kentucky bourbon mixed with Triple Sec, bitters and topped with Champagne. One day in late January it hit me. We could recreate the cocktail our name takes inspiration from. But, as a finished bourbon! Seelbach’s Private Select is to explore the unexplored. We experiment with blends and finishes that no one else has tried. A Kentucky bourbon finished in Triple Sec and Champagne barrels only made sense under the Seelbach’s name.
This is where the worked started. I wasn’t even sure if Triple Sec used barrels for aging. I assumed Champagne did use barrels. But, I didn’t know of any producers. Our barrel supplier was able to track down a Triple Sec from Corsica barrel first. The Champagne barrel was a different story. This was a full-on manhunt. Finally, we tracked down a Champagne producer willing to sell their barrels. These barrels aged Pinot Meunier grapes as still wine before the second fermentation.
The bourbon blend started with four barrels from Bardstown, KY. These barrels had a unique, malt heavy mash bill. They were 78/10/12 Corn/rye/malted barley. This created a sweeter/softer profile. I knew the finishing barrels would add a lot of flavor. The blend was missing too much on the palate. It was a blank canvas that I thought would get overpowered by the finish. The search continued. In June, I tracked down some 15-year bourbon from another distillery in Bardstown. The bourbon was high proof and full of tannic structure. The perfect backbone to this blend. The final makeup of the blend was 84% 4-year 9-month and 16% 15-year Kentucky Bourbon.
Barrel finishing is a meticulous art. I knew we were dealing with some heavy flavors. I chose to dump all residual liquid from the finishing barrels. The blended needed the addition of flavor from the barrel. I didn’t want the sweetness of the Triple Sec to overpower. The blend finished in two 228 L Triple Cask barrels for two months. Thanks to the Florida heat this was enough time for flavor addition and oak interaction. While the Triple Sec barrels finished we double oaked some of the blend in ex-bourbon barrels. Finally, in July the Champagne barrel arrived. Again, these barrels were dry as possible. We only finished in the Champagne barrel for a month because of how fast the blend was taking on flavor. With all the components complete we started to build the final blend.
The finished blend came together quickly. The ratio of 2-1 Triple Sec finished to Champagne finished worked well. I like finished whiskey’s that are subtle. There’s influence from the secondary barrel. I don’t want it to compete or over power. We had a hint of that with our first try at this one. We started to add some of the reserved double oaked blend. This was what I was looking for! Great sweetness on the nose. A spiced fruit bomb on the palate. Finished by long dried spice notes.
While the finished blend is the final step it’s important to mention the “p.s.”. We allowed the finished blend to sit in a steel tote for a little over three weeks. This is important. It allows all flavors to marry and become more cohesive. This also allows the proof to lose a bit of its edge. In the end, I’m extremely excited for this release and I hope you enjoy it.
Stellum Single Barrel Rye Rigel H8 116.82 proof - Selected by Fred Minnick