Newport Distilling Company has become a player in the spirtits industry since their launch in 2006. Their Thomas Tew Rum has been a large part of their success.
Master distiller Brent Ryan has taken us through a brief history of Thomas Tew and Newport's distilling roots. Now, Brent and Pete (brewer/distiller) are taking Kettlebottom's own AJ Petrarca and you through the tasting process.
According to Brent, the distilling process is part objective science and part subjective preference. You can be careful to ensure you are using the correct amount of the various ingredients that go into your wash. You can pay careful attention and take copious readings throughout the distillation to make sure everything is on track (as well as make detailed records to refer to later as well as use to tweak the process). However, once the spirit goes into the barrel and begins the aging process, there is no scientific way to see if the product is ready for packaging. This is where tasting comes in.
AJ Petrarca Testing The Rum
A barrel is placed in the warehouse to age for approximately 3 years. At this point, a sample is taken for tasting. If it is deemed that all of the flavor and aromatic components are present and balanced, the barrel will be bottled and processed for sale. If not, the barrel is returned to the warehouse to continue aging. “Unlike in the brewery, hope springs eternal in the distillery. If it's not ready now, it could be ready next year. If it's not ready next year, it could be ready the year after that,” says Brent. “The sixth barrel that we ever made (which was made basically almost ten years ago) is still not ready. Hope stills springs eternal, it could be ready next year! But who knows.”
Check out the video to get a glimpse of the tasting process as well as the flavors and characteristics that make Thomas Tew special. Be sure to tune in this Spring for the full episode and the new season of Brand X.