Oak & Sherry Finishing

Oak & Sherry Finishing

by Anaïs Brisson, U.S. Operations Manager for Saison Rum

Barrel ageing is essential in the creation of each Saison rum. The wood used to make a cask will impart about 80% of the final taste to the product. The origin, type and capacity of the casks are important elements that will give the rum its aromatic complexity, imparting characteristics of baking spice, vanilla, tannins and oakiness to the final product. As the rum sits for months or years in the cask, it will extract different elements of flavor based on the wood of the casks and the atmosphere of the storage place. The cask may come from America or France and will bring its own characteristics to the rum during the ageing process. The French European oak barrels bring subtle aromas while the American oak barrels will bring power and intensity of flavor. The SAISON Pale Rum is seasoned exclusively in ex-cognac French oak barrels for three months, which gives the rum a hint of that signature cognac noyaux and stone fruit flavor.

Some of our casks have been used to age other spirits such as bourbon, sherry or cognac, and ageing in ex-use casks will impart those characteristics into the rum, creating a complexity of flavor – Saison original rum is aged for up to five years in ex-bourbon American oak in the Caribbean and nine months in ex-cognac French oak in France, creating layers of flavor from the different climates, wood and flavors of bourbon and cognac.

These different types of wood can be used for a complete maturation, but also for double maturations as proposed by certain rums of the Saison Rum range. The purpose of finishing the rum is to finish the ageing process and to complete the aromatic palette. For example, Saison Rum Sherry Cask is a tasty rum from Trinidad and Barbados that develops a specific aromatic profile, thanks to a finishing process carried out in barrels that have contained Pedro Ximenez Sherry for 3 months. After up to five years in ex-bourbon American oak and twelve months in ex-cognac French oak, finishing the rum in ex-sherry casks gives it original aromas with an open nose of red fruit fragrances supported by delicate woody scents. On the palate it is well balanced, with notes of stewed red fruit and fresh Morello cherries that come from the sherry. Fine touches of spice complete the harmonious finish, which ends on sweet notes of candied fruit and sherry from the cask.

Tasting through the Saison rum line offers the opportunity to experience the different influences that oak can have on rum. From the simplicity of the pale rum, through the layers of the original rum and to the complexity of the sherry cask rum, there is thought and planning put into ensuring that every expression of Saison rum honors the flavors of the oak.

This letter was sent from the Fellows at Saison Rum

The house of Tessendier has been distilling eaux-de-vie for over 130 years using Charentais stills in traditional Cognac methods. They now apply their expertise in blending and ageing techniques to a different world of spirits: rum. The Tessendier brothers have created a unique blended rum in accordance with the traditional French method of cognac production -- carefully choosing distillates from different regional terroirs to blend. The four key steps defined by the Cellar Master, from the search for ideal terriors to the final touches, naturally suggest the name of the rum: Saison, the French word for season. 

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