Today my wife and I were back out at antique shops and wineries.
Seeing a pattern in these posts?
While our day trip didn’t net me another vintage cocktail book, I did get a tour of Mazza Winery’s Five & 20 Spirits:
Five & 20 Spirits is located at Mazza’s Chautauqua Cellars location on Route 20 in Westfield. The site houses the company’s Christian Carl brand still (and will soon be the site of a new, larger still, we learned).
My wife’s parents met us in the tasting room where there was not only wine and liquor to sample, but also Five & 20’s brand-new beer offerings.
I’ve tasted the company’s bourbon before, so today I headed straight for their rye whiskey — followed by their bier schnapps and two of their new beers.
One of the Five & 20 guys was working in the tasting room and offered to take my father-in-law and I on a tour of their still room and storage warehouse.
Notes From The Tour:
The Christian Carl still was impressive, and is capable of both pot still distillation and column distillation. The still wasn’t in use and was being prepared for a cleaning, so our guide disassembled a “porthole” for us and let us take a look inside.
The tour was nice because we got to hear a lot about both the kinks in starting up a distillery as well as the successes. From making mash to distillation to storage and bottling, there are a ton of elements involved with producing the several spirits that Five & 20 is making — and they’re coming out ahead it seems, doing good work and building on their accomplishments.
Back to the still…. The thing’s powered by steam, and we got to see the engine room, so to speak. The temperature that thing has to reach in order to fire the still is just insane.
The secondary structure next to Chautauqua Cellars is more than just a warehouse, it’s Five & 20’s rick house — or rick room, I guess. The filled barrels are stacked in the corner of the warehouse next to the window facing the road, and our guide said the room will soon be filling up with more stacks of barrels, which is an exciting prospect.
More notes about the spirits I tasted are below, but first another photo:
What I Sampled Today:
Batch #2 was crafted to be smoother and more approachable than many rye whiskeys. The spirit was pot-distilled and was aged for 18 months in smaller barrels, all of which were new charred American Oak.
Five & 20’s website describes it as having “the spicy grain character of rye and the sweet caramel & vanilla flavors of high quality oak barrels.”
The mash bill is 80% New York-grown rye and 20% distiller’s malt.
On a side note, it’s nice to see that their tech sheet for the spirit not only has a recommended cocktail recipe, but that it’s more than just something basic — specifically, the Westfield Wallop requires both Galliano and strawberry purée.
- Afterburner Bierschnapps AB2S:
Five & 20’s Afterburner Bierschnapps are a grain-based spirit created by distilling a finished barley wine.
On their website, FIve & 20 suggest using the bierschnapps as a stand-in for gin — and now I wish I would’ve had a flask of genever for side-by-side sipping and comparison, because that spirit is so malty and intersting as well.
Medium-bodied pale ale with hops for light, fruity, citrus flavors. — 5.4% ABV
Light-bodied pale ale with spicy grain flavor from its rye malt. — 6.2% ABV
As of this visit, Five & 20’s three beers were only available from the tap. The good news though is that they refill growlers and are selling blank growlers right now, with branded growlers expected to arrive soon. Our guide told us that there isn’t any immediate plan to do 12 oz bottles, but plans for cans and 22 oz bottles are in the works.
What I Didn’t Taste Today:
There’s always next time:
- Bourbon (SB)2BW — Even though I’ve tasted their bourbon before, that bottle wasn’t mine and so I don’t know whether it’s the same stuff they’re sampling there in the tasting room now.
- Unaged Corn Whiskey
- Unaged White Rye Whiskey
- Manhattan Moonshine
- Sugarwash Moonshine
- Three Hunters Vodka
- Apple Eau de Vie
- Plum Eau de Vie
- Cherry Eau de Vie
- Pear Eau de Vie
- Pear in the Bottle (sale only)
- Grappa of Steuben
Much of the info in this post came straight from the Five & 20 website, which is online at Five & 20.com.