Oro: Single Cask Batch 1
Batch 1 of Oro is a single cask release that has matured for 6 months to a year in a 115-litre American oak barrel that previously held bourbon in it.
So, what does this mean? First, as a single cask release, only one barrel has been selected and decanted into a larger stainless steel tank. Slowly, the high proof spirit was reduced from cask strength to 40% ABV, rested for a time and finally bottled.
The original barrel was a 220-litre American oak barrique. Ex-bourbon barrels are commonly used to age rum as they impart notes of vanilla and caramel, which compliments natural rum flavours, especially molasses-based rums. (Learn more about the chemical compounds that give rum it's flavour here.)
Cutting a barrel down from 220 litres to 115 litres increases the surface area of wood to spirit, which is said to increase the rate of maturation. (Learn more about the magic of maturation here.) When a barrel is cut down it receives new oak heads at each end, and this presents the spirit with virgin wood to interact with.
But perhaps the most interesting point -- to this distiller at least -- is the impact a barrel's medium char has on the spirit. This particular barrel had its interior scraped and then given a 30 second flame burn. The char provides a distinct caramel profile and it also filters and cleans the spirit, much like bench-top water filters use carbon cartridges. It turns out charring also imparts colour more quickly, note Oro's dark golden aspect has developed in less than a year in the barrel. As for flavour creation, Batch 1 features notes of toffee, caramel and toasted coconut. Yet Oro remains a fresh and lively spirit.
Another noteworthy point for this first limited release is the Angels' Share. The Angels' Share is the amount of booze that is lost to evaporation through the porous oak over time. It can be anywhere between 2-7% per year depending on ambient temperature and humidity. Often this tends to increase the ABV of the spirit as water evaporates. With Batch 1 though, the opposite happened and the strength of the spirit actually decreased. Thanks to a tip from The Lone Caner, I looked into this and learned that the molecular differences between alcohol and water mean one will evaporate more or less depending on these environmental factors. Low humidity results in water evaporating faster than alcohol – raising the strength of the spirit. This is common with scotch, for example. Here in the Northern Rivers of NSW Australia the opposite is true: unlike Scotland, here it's hot and humid. Given Cabarita Beach has experienced the wettest year in decades, it stands to reason this humidity and warmth is what caused more booze than water to evaporate.
In the end, Oro is an authentic expression of a pot still spirit made from molasses and aged in an ex-bourbon barrel. It is completely unadulterated with no additives -- no sugar, colouring, or flavouring.
Shop now while this limited release is still available.