Last month, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of the brand new Oak & Eden whiskey, and had a few minutes to sit down with the CEO and one of the founders, Joe Giildenzopf.
The event was held at The Hall Bar & Grill in Dallas, Texas, where the bartenders were serving up the new whiskeys in cocktails or alone, as well as a wide variety of hors d'oeuvres. As far as the whiskeys go the 2 offerings now available to the public, Oak & Eden Bourbon and Rye were both available, as was an additional variant, a blended whiskey aged in Cabernet barrels. Overall, I was impressed with all of the whiskeys, most of all the Cabernet-aged variant. Near the end of the evening, I sat down with Joe to discuss what makes Oak & Eden a little different than the other whiskeys on the market.
Cigar Federation: Lets go through the different whiskeys that you have
Joe Giildenzopf: We are launching a bourbon and a rye, both are 2 years old, fully aged, and they’re in bottle finished. We use a spiral cut piece of American oak that is 5 inches long, and has 422mm of surface area that we place in the bottle to finish it. We do that because the flavors in the wood that we’re trying to extract and place into the whiskey is best done in bottle.
CF: Why did you choose spiral cut oak instead of aging in the barrel like everybody else?
JG: Because we wanted to produce a product that was not only exceptional, but was repeatable. Being a small startup, gaining access to barrels isn’t hard, but gaining access to the same [quality of] barrels is hard. We could singularly produce an exception batch, but we couldn’t do it over and over again because we couldn’t get the same barrel from the same source at any scale. So, what we decided is if I can’t put my whiskey into a secondary cask, I need to put the cask into the bottle. So how do you do that? Well, that’s when we innovated and developed and found this wood that is made from the same American oak that the barrels are, and placed it in the bottle. It took us a while to figure out how much air we needed to volume, and once we figured that out, it produced what we wanted. An exceptional product that is repeatable.
CF: How long do you expect the whiskey to age further in the bottle with the oak spire?
JG: It takes about 6 weeks for the spiral inside the bottle to do it’s work. It’s important to point out, putting a spiral in a closed glass container that is fully submerged in an aseptic liquid is not the same as putting whiskey in a barrel. So putting whiskey in a barrel would continue to age, but because the spiral is in the liquid and the liquid is in glass, and it does not breathe, it pretty much is exhausted after 6 weeks. So all the work that it’s going to do is done after six weeks. We leave the spire in the bottle because it is emblematic of our brand, and it looks really cool, but it doesn’t do any more work after that.
CF: can the spire be used to “barrel age” something like a home-brewed beer?
JG: When the wood goes into the bottle, it’s virgin, which means it’s never been exposed to a spirit, so the first exposure it has to the spirit is when it’s resting in our bottle. When that bottle is empty, now that’s not a virgin spire anymore, that’s a bourbon infused spire that you can use to impart bourbon flavor into other things. You’re not going to get much oak out of it because the oak is already exhausted, but the bourbon element that’s inside the spire is still there. At home I put it in my rum, I put it in my simple syrup, and it does amazing things.
CF: For anyone wondering when they can get their hands on Oak and Eden, when is it going to start hitting shelves around the country?
JG: The first orders shipped today(April 11, 2018), so within Texas you will see it at all the major chains; Twin Liquor, Goodie Goodie, Fossil Creek, and Segals. Specs is coming, and all of the independents should follow. Other states do not have firm dates, but we have high hopes.
Thanks again to Joe and the rest of the Oak and Eden team for inviting Cigar Federation to attend the event and taking the time to sit down for the interview. For more information on Oak & Eden, head to www.oakandeden.com