Our third and strongest Premium Moonshine, "Belle Isle 100”, launched this week to rave reviews from our fans and favorite local bartenders. In this week’s blog, Jay Bayer, owner and cocktail connoisseur of Richmond's Saison, gave us his two-cents on how he’ll be using the 100 proof spirit. If you would like to pick up a bottle and try some of Jay's techniques for yourself, a list of Virginia ABC locations who carry Belle Isle 100 can be found here. Cheers!
The cocktail renaissance has seen bartenders and cocktail fans clamoring for high proof spirits. We at Saison are right there with you. Whether overproof rum, barrel proof whisk(e)y, high proof liqueurs, Bonded Proof spirits, or the new 100 proof Belle Isle Moonshine, we love them all. The simplest reason for this is almost always the same, more booze is better!
Alcohol is a fantastic solvent. It is alcohol’s solvency power that eats away at the char of new oak in making your favorite Bourbon taste Bourbon-y. Taste some unaged-corn liquor and bourbon side by side.Both can make for a fantastic spirit, but it is alcohol’s solvency that dissolves the char and oak and keeps the flavors and aromas in solution. Reposado Tequila spends no more than a year in barrel, but the barrel’s impact is indisputable. As the alcohol’s proof goes up, as does that solvency power. More booze equals better solvent equals more flavor.
Most of the bitters and bitter liqueurs we see on the market today have their roots in the apothecaries of old. The booze, herbs, and roots were known to aid many ailments. Many Amari (bitter Italian liqueurs) are below the common 40% when they hit the shelves, but most all would have been well above that while infusing the herbs to become the tonic we so thankfully enjoy post meal. They end up with the lower alcohol percentage because as the old saying goes, ”A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”Most of them have sugar added to make them more palatable for a wider market, though still decidedly bitter and delicious. Absinthe and Chartreuse among others are examples of infused high proof liqueurs that retain the high proof along with the high amount of dissolved botanicals. High proof helps infused liqueurs with clarity, mouthfeel, and stability. So what does all this yammering have to do with Belle Isle, Jay?
Solvency, mouthfeel, and impact on palate of high proof is what has me excited for the Belle Isle 100 as a tool for creativity.
We have messed about with high proof elements in the past in attempt to get what we want out of a house amaro and other tinctures and have seen some success, but never right where we want it. The 100 proves a wonderful tool at just the right time as cocktail hits greater ascendancy and hand made goods are on the list of most everyone’s hobbies.On its own, 100 can beef up a riff on the Vodka Martini. Like the classic Belle Isle Shine, it can play well with others too. The added booziness will make all the other elements more alive as it makes the palate more open.
That said, what gets me most excited is the high proof and neutral profile which allows the bartender or aficionado to tinker endlessly with one’s own bitters, Amari, or fortified wines. You’d better believe a Saison house Fernet with Belle Isle 100 Moonshine is on the way now! For our friends who enjoy experimenting with homemade bitters, you now have as good a tool as there is on the market to extract then dilute and sweeten as you see fit. Any element can be a tool for creativity, and now there’s something wonderfully suited available for you to go out and express your own.