Craft work: A profile of Ralph Erenzo

Until, at least, a fire swept through the distillery in September 2012. According to Erenzo 100 newly filled barrels were among the victims, but improbably, the spirit didn’t ignite. “We were filling the barrels at the time and had lots of different types of whiskey but the labels were burned off. I said ‘put them away – we’ll have Double Charred Whiskey in 2014’.”

He laughs but he’s not joking. While Erenzo’s Double Charred Whiskey was busy maturing, the team – headed up by the more technically-aligned Lee – went about restoring the distillery. Within three months it was up and running and probably within a year from now, we can expect to see the Double Charred Whiskey, once it has had a decent bout of Sonic Maturation, naturally. 

According to Erenzo, the term Sonic Maturation was coined by his son and involved Lee hooking up the rickhouse with a series of speakers pointed at the barrels. The base produced a rippling effect on the whiskey, he says, akin to a drop of water on to a liquid surface. 

“It increases the colour and the aroma but it doesn’t affect the vanilla extraction from the wood – you have to go deeper for that,” says Erenzo. Apparently the idea prompted a sound engineer to visit and carry out a study on the effect of sound frequency on whiskey. Tests showed a tonal loop works best, but Erenzo prefers to play his music.