Our solera system is an evolution of flavour, showcasing the concept of continuous maturation in all its glory.
Solera, meaning on the ground in Spanish, is believed to have originated around 1760 in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain and involves a unique and complex system of maturation using a large number of casks and fractional blending. While best known in sherry production in Spain and port production in Portugal, solera systems have been used for wine, brandy, beer and even vinegar.
Early users of the solera technology would organise the barrels in tiers. The lowest layer ‘solera’ contained the oldest aged liquid. The middle tier ‘first criaderas’, or nurseries, contained the intermediate average age. The highest layer ‘second criaderas’ contained the youngest average age liquid. As you take a quantity of liquid from the bottom ‘solera’ level, the space created is filled with liquid from the level above, in a trickle-down effect. No barrel is ever fully drained, so a fraction of the earlier product always remains. In theory, traces of the very first product placed in the solera may be present even after 50 or more cycles. The process used to be one of pure manual labour, by filling a ‘jarra’, or jar, with a hose and pouring it into a cask on the next level. However, as time evolved, so too did the solera system, with the introduction of automated processes.
Diagram of traditional wine Solera System
At The Gospel, we adapted this ancient technique to age our rye spirit to achieve a reliable and consistent style, character and quality and to maintain a balance of flavour. Our five-tiered bespoke solera system uses new American oak, second-fill American oak and Australian red wine barrels. Each time we decant the solera for bottling, we leave a percentage of the rye spirit behind to continue to mature. New Make Spirit is then added to the system and the spirits are left to mellow. We’d say this is where the magic begins, if we believed in such things.
By blending small amounts of spirit from different aged barrels, each release is a step up in character and intensity from the last. As it moves through the system, the average age of the liquid increases. With every release, there are new characteristics and often some beautifully smooth nuances.
Our Solera Rye is a different approach to traditional whiskey, which is usually focused on age statements and provenance (and can sometimes overshadow the taste of the liquid itself). By adapting this unique process to our rye, we have created a distinctly flavourful spirit with a perfect balance of sweet and savoury. The result is an accessible rye with more character than you would expect, that progressively evolves over time.
Curious to try our Solera Rye? Buy here.