New Booze: Seven New Spirits and Wines from Charbay

by Camper English

CHARBAY is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with the release of seven (7) new spirits and wines produced over the past 30 years using the family’s classic copper Alambic Charentais pot stills. The collection was produced by Charbay’s Founder and Grand Master Distiller/Winemaker Miles Karakasevic and Charbay’s current Master Distiller, Marko Karakasevic.

Charbay Brandy No. 89 (24 years old; $93/750ml; 46% abv.)

Charbay Brandy No. 89 was distilled by Miles in 1989 from Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc and aged in new French oak (Limousin and Never). This is only the second release of brandy in Charbay’s 30 years of distilling brandy.

Charbay Whiskey III (14 years old; $410/750ml; 66.2% abv - barrel strength)

Distilled from 20,000 gallons of Lager-style Pilsner beer. The double-distillation took 3½ weeks of distilling 24/7 in shifts. 22 barrels of Whiskey resulted in the first distillation of professional, bottle-ready beer into whiskey. Charbay Whiskey III is the third release from the 1999 batch. It was aged 8 years in new American White Oak (charred to #3 ‘Gator Skin’) and an additional 8 years in neutral vessels so that it could continue evolving without additional oak extraction. Bottled uncut (cask strength) and unfiltered.

Charbay Barrel-Aged Rum (10 years old; $TBD/750ml; barrel-strength)

Charbay’s Barrel-Aged Rum was double-distilled in 2003 from Hawaiian sugar cane syrup sourced from Maui. It was the most expensive product Miles and Marko ever distilled (15:1 reduction) - and that was before factoring-in the angel's share (2-3% annual loss due to evaporation) over 10 years of barrel aging. Miles and Marko chose sugar cane syrup because they wanted to capture the sugar cane's fragrance and flavor - a very different profile than molasses.   Now bottled but awaiting the final ‘Distiller’s Nod’... Anticipated release date: Early Spring 2014

Charbay R5 Whiskey Lot 511A (Aged 29 months; $79/750ml; 49.5% abv.)

Inspired by the results of using bottle-ready beer to make whiskey, Marko decided in 2010 to distill his favorite beer: Racer 5 IPA (Bear Republic Brewery).  Aged in French oak for 29 months.

Charbay Whiskey ‘S’ (Aged 29 months; $140/750ml; 49.5% abv.)

Distilled in 2010 from Bear Republic Brewery’s Black Stout beer. Marko distilled 6000 gallons into 590 gallons (10:1 reduction) of Whiskey S for aging in aged French oak barrels. 

Still House Port (7 years old; 20.9% abv; $50/375ml) 

Still House Port was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah that were whole-berry fermented in 1-ton fermenting bins - punched-down four (4) times a day by Miles or Marko. To arrest the fermentation, Miles and Marko chose their own 4-year-old Syrah Alambic Charentais brandy. The port was aged 7 years in old oak barrels.

Distillers’ Port (7 years old; 18.7% abv; $75/375ml) 

2006 Late-picked Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were whole-berry fermented in 1-ton fermenting bins and punched-down four (4) times a day by hand. To arrest the fermentation, Miles and Marko chose a 6-year old barrel-aged Charbay Cabernet Franc Alambic Charentais brandy. The port was barrel-aged for 7 years in old French oak barrels.

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