I'm feeling like today but I'm going to get this written up, dammit.
On Saturday, Jun 19, 2011 Amy and I and our spouses and my baby visited Black Star Farms Old Mission tasting room in Traverse City, Michigan. Black Star Farms is one of the best (if not the best) wineries in Michigan. They are well known for their exceptional late-harvest Rieslings, sur lie Chards and many other excellent wines and even cider. Their website is http://www.blackstarfarms.com/
What we were most interested in then was their spirits program. They produce a number of them.
Red Grape Grappa
White Grape Grappa (I had this and it was excellent)
Spirit of...(eaux de vie)
Plum (also very good)
Pear (also a version with the pear inside the bottle)
Spirit of Apple (NAS but about 12 mos. old)
10 y/o Apple Brandy (spectacular)
For the sake of full discosure, I had been communicating with their Twitterer Coryn and she waived the tasting fees for my party and me, a $25 value.
She also showed Amy and I around behind the scenes. Here are some photos she took:
According to Coryn:
The still is run 3-4 times a week
The carboys- The clear fruit eau de vie brandies come off the still at approx. 75-80% (150-160 proof). They rest in the glass carboys and are then blended in the stainless steel tanks where they sit for approx. a month. They cut the brandy to be 40% (80 proof) and then bottle it.
- The apple brandy comes off the still at 75% (150 proof) and goes into the barrel at 65% (130 proof) where it ages for approx 12 months. When it is bottled it is cut down to 40% (80 proof).
Their Barrels with aging Apple Brandy
Again, from Coryn:
Finally, their bottler:The barrels are a combination of French and American Oak. They were new when we purchased them and they are used for one rotation of aging for the apple brandy and then they get used to age the Sirius Maple Dessert wine. They are relatively low toasted oak barrels this style was chosen b/c the idea is to accentuate the fruit of the apple.
Bstar bottling machine.jpg
The apple brandy is a very different beast from Laird's which has so many fans here. It is a much more delicate and less bourbonesque spirit than that or even Tom's Foolery. When I first opened the NAS brandy I got a weird celery aroma in the nose, but that has calmed down now.
The 10 y/o is just great, great stuff. So complex and elegant, I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it. You all know what a cheap bastard I am, but I have not regreted paying $75 for it yet.
Anyway, it's definately worth the trip if you ever make it "Up North".