29 February 2012

Barrel Aged Salts & Sauces

We live in a time when ANY kind of waste is frowned upon, and rightly so. The drinks industry has always been quite good about recycling and turnover, whether it be a leftover neutral spirit, barrels used for aging or simply glass.

A small company has recently come up with a new use for re-purposed bourbon barrels. The barrels are used to infuse distinct notes to small batch sauces and spices rather than other spirits.

Based out of Louisville Kentucky Matt Jamie is using a novel method to re-purpose his borboun barrels. Named Bourboun Barrel Foods. They have started producing micro-brewed and barrel aged soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, marinades and forghum salad dressing as well as barrel smoked salt, sugar pepper and paprika.

Typically the barrels would be used once to make bourbon after which they would be exported to be used in making scotch, irish whiskey, rum or tequila.

Process differs for each product. For instance each batch of soy is aged for 12 months in whiskey casks, which infuse a smokey flavour not usually found in the original Japanese product.

The reason I mention this apart from it being quite interesting, is the current trend in "Bar Aged" products. Bars are striving more and more to create a product available in one place and one place only. This in itself is an immediate draw, a point of conversation and intriguing angle for any customer to be wrapped up in.

This maybe well be the next step in the trend. Though we are still in the relative early days or the "Bar Aged" movement when compared to the rich history or barrel aging in Louisville, you would imagine there are already a few barrels sitting by the wayside waiting to be pointed toward their next purpose,

This has potential to go in a few directions. If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen as part of your establishment, why not bump heads with the chef and get him working on home made barrel aged sauces and infusions.

The idea could be embraced on a simpler and more local level by creating barrel infused sea salt or peppercorn to add to some bar snacks or if you are feeling adventurous create a cocktail with a bourbon salt rim.

However they might be used, we seem to be at a point where this kind of bespoke and original creativity can start to become the norm and what may seem to be leftover waste can be re-purposed and used to build an even more unique personality of a bar.

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