Starlight (Huber Distillery) Barrel Pick
On January 17th, 2022, 7 faithful Crane Whiskey Society Members made it down to Huber Farms in order to sample and select barrels of the local product. The selection team consisted of Ed Bareng, Nathan Thomas, J Fesler, Shawn Dooley, Alan Lagree, Lukasz Misiewicz, and Mark Tisher. We started the day about 10 o’clock by warming up our palates with the Starlight Bottled in Bond. As we braced the cold weather, we discussed possible options and picks. After a brief tour and a history lesson, we made it to the location by the still where all of the barrels were staged for selection. And so the fun began. At first, we tasted 6 different bourbon barrels. Most bourbons had an entry proof of 110-115. The variety was in barrel types and char levels. Out of the bourbon barrels, the three that were left/chosen for blind taste were barrel #2, barrel #3, barrel #6. Here are the notes, albeit not the best, for the barrels that made it to blind tasting.
ISE Barrel with Char Level 1. 112 entry proof. 5.5 years of age. Some comments from the group: Spice and hotness lingers on the tongue. Dry on the finish, some complexity.
Kelvin barrel with Char Level 2. 112 entry proof. 5.5 years of age. Sweet nose. Some level of spice. Too spicy for some members.
ISE Barrel with Char Level 1. 112 entry proof. Age not noted. Comments from the group: Pleasant, nice complex notes.
Following the bourbon tasting we had a chance to sample some ryes. As Nathan stated, even the rye haters in the group didn’t dislike them, and Starlight rep Andrew has admitted that they strive to make ryes for the Bourbon Drinkers. None of the 3 ryes tasted were convincing enough to make it the the next round of blind tasting.
You might think that after tasting 9 barrels we were ready to call it a day, but the fun was just starting. Next on the menu was tasting of some of the finished products. The first barrel was American Double Oak, followed by the French Cask Double Oak, French Bordeaux Double Oak, Port Finished, La Rosa Sherry Finished Bourbon. You will have to excuse the lack of details on the tasting notes for these barrels, but the quality of note taking was at a quick decline at that point. Needless to say, the 3 barrels selected for blind testing were the Double Oak Bordeaux, Port Finished, and Sherry Finished.
The members quickly convened for lunch, with the counting task of final blind selections to follow afterward. The blind selection proceeded as follows.
The bourbons were split into two groups, unfinished and finished. In each group the members voted to first eliminate one out of 3 choices and cast second vote to pick the product. The glasses were referred to as Left (L), Middle (M), Right (R), which to some proved tough to follow, but you wouldn’t expect anything else from the group of engineers.
Alas, out of the bourbons, barrels 2, 3, and 6, the first elimination was barrel # 3. The votes tally was even with barrels 2 and 6 collecting 2 votes each for elimination. In this case having an odd number of members proved helpful. Left for final showdown was barrel 2 and 6. Between these two bourbon barrels #6 was a clear winner collecting 6 votes, and number #2 coming in with one vote.
Having picked our unfinished product, it was time to move to a finished selection testing. Although suggestions floated to moving to Triangle, Square, Rectangle system of identifying samples, cooler heads prevailed and Left, Middle, Right system was upheld. In the elimination round, Port finish barrel was eliminated. Interestingly, in this elimination round, all votes were cast for either eliminating Port Finish or Sherry Finish. In the second round of voting, the results from the elimination round were confirmed and Double Oak Bordeaux barrel finish has proven to be the winner.
Lastly, all the members (but one) left with quality Starlight hats which kept their brains warm during this unusually cold day.
The predicted yield for bourbon barrel is ~200 bottles, where the finished whiskey is ~130 bottles.
Old 55 Barrel Pick
On November 16th the few of the CWS faithful set their sights on the Old 55 Distillery in Newton In, in order to pick yet another barrel for the Crane Whiskey Society. Upon tasting some fine spirits, they settled on Barrell 3, barreled at 116 proof. To Nick’s liking, it was also the ugliest barrel of the bunch. Check out the distillery website here!
1792 Barrel Pick
After countless page refreshes,multiple open browser windows, and multiple users anticipating the barrel allocation, Mr. Nicholas Amadio was lucky enough to secure CWS an 1792 barrel pick at Barton Distillery. The barrel was picked by 7 members of the CWS on August 20th, 2021. After a rigorous blind voting process, the CWS members settled on barrel D, with a vote of 5 to 2. The barrel proof was 135.2, which will be proofed down before bottling. All in all, everyone was happy.
Eagle Rare, Pick 1
It's finally time to get the first barrel. After the uncertainty whether or not we'll be stuck with enough whiskey to last us a few years, the demand from the society outgrew expectations and bottles were distributed quickly. To this day this barrel is considered by many to be the tastiest pick to date.