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Sober Curious meets World-Class Flavor with Jøyus Non-alcoholic wines this #SoberOctober

Jøyus non-alcoholic wines are making big moves in the beverage industry.  Not just for #SoberOctober, but its award-winning tastes help you celebrate all year-long,

Jøyus non-alcoholic wines not only taste like wine, but great wine. With the industry awards to prove it. 

Recently I sat down with Jøyus leader Jessica Selander.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  You can find the full, un-edited conversation on our YouTube page.

 

 

Can you give us a personal story, maybe that includes the celebration of wine, if you have one?

Jessica Selander: The story is very personal and the funny thing is I get so nervous before talking about things because when I started Joyus, I did not originally [think about] doing things like this, being so face forward. 

I thought I would create a product that I was really excited about.  Eventually I came to realize, how do I do that without telling the “why did I do it?”

The whole reason that Joyus exists and it influences everything I do is because I’m sober.  I quit drinking alcohol 17 years ago now, which just feels like a fantastical amount of time.

For me, it’s been very rewarding. I’m very glad about it. But it was definitely something that was really hard and very personal. It wasn’t something I shared about publicly. So that’s also why this is a journey of getting comfortable talking about my sobriety, my recovery.

I like the taste of wine. I like beautiful glasses. I like the smell of wine.  I love the community and people; and hanging out and celebrating.  It literally says ’let’s celebrate’ on our bottles.  How great sparkling is for summer, but sparkling is such a happy thing.

You know what I mean? Something good happens in your life and people are like, let’s celebrate. Let’s pop some bottles. New Year’s Eve is such a beautiful idea of let’s start over. Whatever happened last year, whatever terrible things went down, there’s a brand new year.

It’s a new idea that we can celebrate either that past year that was good or celebrate the potential of a new year. That’s going to be better and that’s sparkling. 

And for me, I didn’t have any options. 

I started Joyus nine years ago. People ask me how long the company’s been around and we launched about two years ago. So it took me a very long time to figure it out, to save up the money to do it because as you can imagine, nine years ago, people thought it was crazy.

They’re like, ‘That’s a terrible idea. Nobody wants that’. And I’m like ’I want it’.

Having quit drinking, I had a lot of friends that also didn’t drink. I had a lot of people in my life too, who were just light drinkers – could give or take alcohol.  Then I have two kids and there’s a huge percent of the population that quits drinking for nine months [because they’re pregnant], sometimes even longer.

You can get into medications, you’re not supposed to drink on it. Anxiety medication, not supposed to drink on it. Heart medication, cancer treatments. There’s a lot of medical stuff too, that you could go down the list.

So I get a lot of people now who are like, ‘Oh, it’s not alcoholic. It’s trending.’ And that’s a thing now. 

Early on in my sobriety, I actually used to drink a lot of soda pop out of glass bottles, and then eventually discovered non alcoholic beer.

Non alcoholic beer is definitely having a really cool movement right now. There’s so many different options for non alcoholic beer, but the beer has always been around. 

I was like, this exists and it tastes like beer. What’s up with non-alcoholic wine?

There was one sparkling [non-alcoholic wine] in the entire country and that’s all you could find. There was one white and there was one red and that was it.

For me these options were really sweet. They were very affordable, which is nice, but they didn’t have the complete experience that I was going for. I wanted non alcoholic wine that tastes like wine. 

I wanted something that I could bring to a gathering and bring to a get together and have it feel appropriate and look appropriate and just look like everybody else’s [alcoholic] bottles.  Smell like everyone else’s bottles that you just wouldn’t even know that it was non alcoholic until you saw it on the label. And that’s what I did.

So after trying to find it for forever, eventually I was like, I’m going to do it myself. And I had no idea that this whole sober curious, non alcoholic world would take off like it has at exactly the right time.

So part of me is very frustrated that it took so long. But part of that too, it was like saving up the money to start the company.

This is a bootstrap company.  I like making my own decisions. A side effect after getting to this point is I’m 100% in control of all the decisions, which also means that I can control the quality because [it] is incredibly expensive to make.

 

Let’s talk about your sober story.  What it means to you, how you got there, what your mission is, how that helps others.

 

Jessica Selander: So for me, I can’t drink alcohol. What happens when I put alcohol in my body is that I make decisions I don’t want to be making.  

I tried a lot of things. I tried cutting back and it didn’t work. I tried replacing [the drinks and that didn’t work].

My life became pretty chaotic. 

I stopped drinking and once I get my life in order, then everything will be fine. I can drink again. 

Then after not drinking for a period of time, I was like, Oh, you know what?  There’s actually something to this and it’s something deeper and it’s probably the best thing I ever did, honestly, in my life. 

I would not be the person I am today on the inside if I had kept drinking.

I have a wonderful spouse and I’ve got amazing kids and I’m able to be a parent and be a person and do that clear eyed and there’s a lot of my upbringing was not the most positive. 

Sober curious, it’s a hashtag now. 

I’m not saying alcohol shouldn’t exist. I’m not that kind of person whatsoever. 

On a personal level it is so exciting to see other brands pop up. The first time I tried non-alcoholic tequila, it blew my mind. It was amazing. The spirits are interesting because some people build it up from science and some people are de-alkalizing; taking the alcohol out.

So that’s the really interesting thing about this. Normally spirits are completely separate from wine, which are very separate from beer, but in non-alcoholic, we’re all in the same swimming pool and everybody’s doing it differently and everybody’s got their own take and you can try one non-alcoholic whiskey and it’s incredibly different from another one.

Community not competition is one of our core values.  Normalizing non drinking is a big one. It’s not necessarily replacing alcohol either. I’ve talked to people in the wine industry who are very offended by the idea of non alcoholic wine.  I’m like no, it’s backwards. You’ve got it backwards. Non-alcoholic wine is a love letter to wine. You love wine so much that you still want to have it. You just can’t have this one piece that’s in it [the alcohol], but I want everything else. 

I want to cheers that glass with other people. I want to drink that red with a really strong stinky cheese. I want to pop that celebratory cork. I want to Rose all day. I just can’t.

I think that wine is very important culturally. It’s so interesting historically. The process is this fascinating mix of art and science.  I love everything about it. Getting deeper and deeper into it too, because I want Joyus to be around for forever and I want to make the best possible non-alcoholic wine.

There’s so much stuff to perfect that I could spend the next 50 years just working on non-alcoholic red – period.

 

You mentioned you’re seeing other competitors in the marketplace. How many different ways are there to make non-alcoholic wine?  Are some ways higher quality than others?

 

Jessica Selander: I can give tips. Our wine is a dealcoholized or alcohol removed wine, which means it’s gone through the whole winemaking process.

It’s aged, it’s fermented, and then we have removed the alcohol from it. Our bottles also say it’s non alcoholic. Sometimes you’ll see a bottle in the store and it just says non alcoholic on it. It doesn’t say dealcoholized or alcohol removed. They’re interchangeable. That means it wasn’t fermented.

So if you’re looking for a wine that is really going to taste like wine or have that fermented taste, look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed.

[Look at the label on the bottle] look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed, because it could say that it’s a non alcoholic red or a non-alcoholic grape [varietal] and it might just be a juice, that hasn’t been fermented or ages but comes in a wine bottle.

 

What are your goals in the present moment and in the near future to help your company continue to be a leader in the industry?

 

Jessica Selander: I think goals are accessibility. Normalizing sober drinking.  Making [non-alcoholic bottles] easy to find.  We do ship off our website, which is great. We’re shipping from Seattle. We ship everything ourselves.  If you’re out East, it’s going to take four or five days to get to you. 

Also starting to talk to restaurants, getting into more restaurants is a big one.  I’ve had anniversary dinners with my spouse and I’m drinking an Arnold Palmer.

I’m calling restaurants and I’m calling grocery stores and they’re still really skeptical that it can be good and that people want it.

 

Do you think it’s just audience reaching out? Is there a tipping point?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes, that really helps having people being in a restaurant and saying, “Hey, what do you have that’s an alcoholic?” Because restaurants are saying nobody’s asking for it. 

Here I am double digit sober and I had never gone into a restaurant and asked for it.

I would look at the [menu’s] non alcoholic section, which is always juice, soda pop, iced tea and stuff. If it’s not on the menu, I would never ask them for anything. Here I am for over a decade, not telling them that I want this thing. So we started doing more education on social media and online.

If you walk into a restaurant, ask them “What do you have that’s not alcoholic?”

Just pregnant people alone. There’s a large percentage of the population.

Is there science that says a pregnant woman can drink this and have zero concerns?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes. So this is super interesting. In the United States we’re the most strict in terms of alcohol. If you go to the UK, they have different, actually higher limits for how much alcohol can be in something. The US’s rules come from prohibition when you can’t sell, make, transport alcohol.

The government said once it gets under 0.5%, it’s not alcohol anymore. So that’s where that number comes from and sometimes people see it and say, “Oh, there’s a little bit of alcohol in this.” 

There was a study done in Germany where they tested a lot of grocery store items.  What they found was there’s a lot of stuff in our grocery stores that had a little bit of alcohol in it. Very ripe bananas, which we feed to toddlers have some alcohol in them. Orange juice is another one.

American hamburger buns. But it also makes sense, bread, yeast and we have more sugar in our products, right? Bread actually has more alcohol than people realize. 

Let’s talk about your wine’s flavors and aromas and the winemaking process to get there.

Jessica Selander: I knew what I wanted and I was incredibly picky about it. 

We launched with the sparkling white and the sparkling Rose’ and people were asking for a Rose’ with no bubbles.

I thought it would be easy.  It was not easy. 

Stills are very different from sparkling. I’m a balance of “I know what I want. I’m going for this thing and very focused”, but then I’m also balanced with listening. So we do a lot of focus groups. I do want feedback.  I do want opinions. 

We were working on it.  Everyone’s saying it’s good, it’s great.  But I didn’t think it was good enough. We were supposed to launch it in summer and I pushed everything back.  Back to the drawing board. 

What if we did this? What if that?  Talking to people, reading science and chemistry books

Was it like working for the right blend?

Jessica Selander: It’s tweaking so many different things and pieces in the blend. But it doesn’t always work out.  If you tweak a blend, sometimes other notes will come forward that you’re not expecting, or sometimes you’ve diminished things that you didn’t intend to diminish.

The still Rose is a great example, it didn’t have that click and so I just kept working on it. And that’s the one that won Double Gold and Best in Class in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, which is one of the biggest and oldest blind tastings in the world and the biggest and oldest blind tasting in the U.S.

 

Can you share any details and lessons you learned taking on the world of winemaking?

 

Jessica Selander: There’s so many things.  We’re not just making wine.  We’re wholesale, we’re distributing, we’re direct to consumer. We have so many different facets. 

I could talk for hours about how our wines are very low in sugar and they don’t have the alcohol in them. So our [bottles] probably freeze easier than anything else on the market. So shipping during the winter.

I’ve had conversations with other non alcoholic people too.  Everybody’s doing it differently and that’s the hard part too, where I feel like there’s a solution for every problem.

We’ve gotten better and better at winter shipping, but it’s not quite there yet.  Figuring out what can we ship in that’s going to have thermal protection, but isn’t going to contribute a ton of garbage. We’ve got the most eco-friendly, innovative winter shippers.  They’re made of corn. 

They’re expensive as hell, but it’s better than styrofoam. We have to keep everything under 50 pounds for UPS and 12 bottles of sparkling is 51 pounds in these corn shippers.

That thermal protection is still not enough, so we added heat packs. 

Let’s talk about your wines.

 

Jessica Selander: We have four varietals.  We’ve got our sparkling white, a sparkling Rosé. Still Rosé, a Cabernet Sauvignon. I love our red a lot. The reds are hard. They’re the most complicated; red wine has the highest alcohol content to begin with.

What flavor notes should we be looking for?

 

Jessica Selander: It’s definitely an American Cab. More fruit forward. It’s not grape juice. It’s fermented, it’s aged in American oak so you’ll get some green-ness to, like forest floor.  The longer it’s been open the more tasting notes you’ll get. I like it more and more throughout the week because the fruit notes settle down. Black currant, cherry, some leather 

The still rosé, watermelon, a nice floral to it. 

Sparkling rosé. Slightly floral.  Some orange blossom to it.  Blackberry, but some people say raspberry. Some people say strawberry.  They’re very summery

I think sometimes tasting notes feel in excess because we all taste things very differently. 

Our audience is foodies. Let’s talk a little bit about some of your favorite meals that you think would pair that your favorite pairings with your wines

 

Jessica Selander: I bake. I come from a big family, so I can pretty much cook anything. 

I heard someone say one time that baking was more science. And cooking was more art and I do agree with that. 

Let’s talk about the wine competitions. How you see them, what the experience has been like, and of course, what their results have been.

Jessica Selander: I did not know that competition was as big of a deal as it is [which was a blessing].  So what happened was I was beating my head against the wall being like, “They taste like wine!”  And my brother said, nobody believes you. You have to enter them into wine competitions. You need to prove to them in their own landscape that you belong there. 

So, here’s this competition. The first one, the sparkling rosé won gold and sparkling white won bronze.

Then I looked deeper into what the competition was [and realized it was the acclaimed San Francisco International Wine Competition & World Spirits Competition ]. It was a blessing because I think I would have been scared to do it. Then [next year] I do it with the Still Rose and the Cab.  Then hearing back, you’ve got the highest a non-alcoholic has ever gotten and you’re Still Rose is the best non-alcoholic wine of any varietal entered from all over the world. 

I was only wondering if it was even going to place, and here it ends up winning the best.

I was at a grocery store [today] I’ve been trying to get into for two years where the head buyer won’t even try it. So it’s [frustrating] but the more of these awards that we stack up, at some point in time they have to not ignore it. They’ll be like, Oh, this is a real thing.

We haven’t [hit that goal], it’s not normalized yet. We’re in over 300 stores and in almost in every state.

 

If you want more non-alcoholic near you at a restaurant and grocery store, what are the step-by-step, simple direction

Jessica Selander: This is super easy for people.

So if there’s a grocery store or a local market that you shop at already, you just go into the wine department and say, “Hey, what non-alcoholic wine do you have?”  And let them know you want it.  Verbally say it

It’s the same thing in restaurants. I do it myself now too, where I get the menu and I’m not seeing what the stuff on it. And I just ask and say, Hey, what non alcoholic stuff do you have?” 

 

Tell us how we can learn more about Joyus.  Shopping and following on social media.

 

Jessica Selander: So all of our social media stuff, our website is DrinkJoyus.com. Our Facebook, our Instagram, our TikTok are all DrinkJoyus

And on the website, there is this Find Joyus store finder map. So you can look on there and find us closest to you and working hard to add new stores pretty much weekly and email, email us. There’s a contact form on the website. Email. If you’re like, Hey, there’s a store by me. I want them to carry you. Email us. And we will call them and we will try, we’ll do our best and we’ll call them again three months later and we’ll call them again.

 

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NYC take a Weekend trip Tasting Bourbons? This Fredericksburg Virginia Bed & Breakfast Might Be Your Dream Visit, Owen King from Ironclad Distillery shares Delicious Details

NYC take a Weekend trip Tasting Bourbons?This Fredericksburg Virgina Bed & Breakfast Might Be Your Dream Visit, Owen King from Ironclad Distillery shares Delicious Details

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room.

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room

Today’s conversation with Distiller Owen King from Ironclad Distillery has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

 

Owen King, Ironclad Distillery

Owen King, Ironclad Distillery

Joe Winger: 

A lot of really cool things are happening right now. I want to jump into your tasting room, the distillery, we’ll get into bourbon tastings in a few minutes.

But first and foremost, what’s the most important thing with Ironclad right now for you?

Owen King: 

The most important thing about Ironclad for me right now is the same thing it’s always been, trying to make the best bourbon we can

The other thing is spreading the word about our bed and breakfast; and bourbon. It’s a bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg that when you’re there, you can drink bourbon.

Ironclad's famous Old Fashioned cocktail

Ironclad’s famous Old Fashioned cocktail

We make a lot of old fashions there and we always have all these leftover oranges. Now the perfect thing is in the morning you have fresh squeezed orange juice from our [leftover] old fashions.

It’s really working double duty now.

Besides that I just love the fact that we can now expand our distillery up to Fredericksburg. So we can have more people try our bourbon and enjoy our bourbon, which is the goal.

Joe Winger: 

Getting to know you before you jump into Ironclad, I want to use the word “were”, you were a football player and cooking changed your life.

Tell us more about your cooking. Was there a special dish that enhanced your life?

Owen King: 

I’m Italian. So obviously with the Italian genes, we share our love through food. Growing up I cooked a lot.

When I went to college [I cooked] for my teammates.  I’d make dinner for everyone. So when we decided to open the bourbon distillery, I figured, I know how to cook. I think I could probably figure out how to make bourbon. 

I know flavors. I know how things go well together. I think I have a pretty decent palette. 

So putting all those things together to make a great bourbon was the goal. 

Food is one of those things where you never stop improving. I feel the same about bourbon.


FlavRReport.com on YouTube

FlavRReport.com on YouTube


 

Joe Winger: 

Is there a favorite dish?

Owen King: 

Breaded chicken cutlets and spaghetti.

That is how it started. Then I was like “I really like cheese.”  Maybe I could put cheese in with the breadcrumbs and then do that. Then I started expanding.  Chicken Parm.  Making my own sauce.  Thinking I could add something here to make that better.

It’s the same way I look at bourbon.

Thinking, “I like what this person’s doing. Let me see what they’re doing. I can build off that to make it work on my own.”

Creating my own recipes, going from there, just continually tweaking little things here and there.

We’ll make a 5% difference, maybe a 10% difference.

Joe Winger: 

Ironclad Distillery is in Newport News, Virginia. The bed and breakfast Ironclad Inn is in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

For most people when we think of bourbon, we don’t always think of Virginia as the first choice. What would surprise us most about coming down to Virginia for a bourbon tasting and staying the night?

Ironclad Distillery

Ironclad Distillery

Owen King: 

If you’re coming down to Virginia, you have to remember Virginia is the birthplace of American spirits. The first place spirits were made in the new colonies, in the new world, was here in Virginia. 

The first corn liquor which would eventually become bourbon, was made in Virginia.

You can also talk about Elijah Craig, who was from Fairfax County, Virginia, before he moved out to Kentucky. 

On top of that, Kentucky wasn’t a state until 1793. Evan Williams was doing distillation in 1783, and at that point Kentucky was still Virginia. 

The birthplace of bourbon is right here in Virginia.

I’ve been to Kentucky a lot. They talk about the birthplace of bourbon being there in Kentucky.

Maybe the territory it’s in was Kentucky, but it was still Virginia at the time.

Whenever someone comes by, I can tell them the history of actual bourbon, where you’re gonna get the whole story, not just the fantasized story that you get in Kentucky.

Joe Winger: 

I’m incredibly glad you just shared that.

Let’s talk about The Ironclad Bed and Breakfast now. The bourbon tasting room, the event space.

Owen King: 

We wanted to spread our bourbon out around the state. We’ve always really liked Fredericksburg. It’s a beautiful town. It’s got a ton of history to it.

Nothing goes better with bourbon than a good story.

So we can always tell our history while drinking. So with our bed and breakfast, we looked at what the bigger guys were doing. A lot of them were starting to have these places where you could stay [the night] and get an experience to go along with it.

We really wanted to spread our Ironclad experience. 

We have a tasting room. It’s beautifully decorated by my sister. We’ve got a bottle shop where you can pick up pretty much every one of our bourbons that are available. We’ve got a bar so you can try it from our seasonal cocktail menus where we change it five times a year.

We have a winter, a fall, a spring, summer [menu].Then a holiday menu as well. 

No matter what time of year you’re there, you’re trying something that’s going to go well seasonally.  

Everyone likes seasonal drinks.  You don’t want to drink in the fall, what you’d drink in the summer.

We always have an old fashioned and it’s a damn good old fashioned. 

Then we also have an event space. We have weddings. We’ve had 50th birthday parties. 

Ironclad Inn wedding and special events

Ironclad Inn wedding and special events

We’ve had any event that you want to tie into with our bourbon or just if you want a beautiful event space in a building that was built in 1793 we have that as a great option. 

It’s a really cool spot that you can go and see and experience.

It’s something we want to share, our love for bourbon with everyone.

Whether you’re here in Newport News or in Fredericksburg, you’ll get a King family member there to tell you our story and tell you all about our bourbon and show you around.

Ironclad Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Ironclad Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Joe Winger: 

Outstanding.  Let’s get to the tasty part now.  You have several amazing bottles.  When someone comes to your tasting room this weekend, what should they be looking forward to? 

Owen King: 

We do a few bottle releases that are once a year for us. One of my favorites. 

A five year, three barrel blend of three 30 gallon barrels. Bottle of Bond.

The history alone is one of my favorite things to talk about.  In 1897 the federal government stepped in because there was people dying from drinking bad whiskey.

They stepped in to “certify” everything in there.

“If you bottle it at four years old and at 100 proof, we will claim that this is a bottle and bond bourbon certified” by the federal government that it is safe to drink.

That story alone is one of my favorites of bourbon lore. 

We just want to make sure that we do that every year that we can.

It’s absolutely one of my favorite bourbons. It’s our four grain mash bill. 70% corn 10% wheat, 10% rye, 10% malted barley. 

So with the corn and the wheat, it adds a nice sweetness to it. But then the rye is there to kind of balance that whole thing out.  Before it gets [to be] a very sweet bourbon, it balances out, a little baking spice, maybe even some clove, maybe a little black pepper.

It balances it out to be a nice, rounded bourbon.

Ironclad Sweeter Creations Maple Syrup Cask

Ironclad Sweeter Creations Maple Syrup Cask

Joe Winger:

Let’s move on to your Maple Syrup Cask

Owen King: 

Absolutely delicious. But this is a cast finish, not a flavored bourbon.  So we’re not adding maple syrup to it. People who drink it might think it’s going to be super sweet and not going to like it. Because they don’t like maple syrup.

This is my version of drinking maple syrup responsibly and not getting diabetes. 

After we empty our barrels, we give them to a maple syrup producer in upstate New York.  He’ll age his maple syrup using our bourbon barrels. 

By doing that through transference, there’s about a gallon of bourbon stuck in the staves of the wood. So when he puts a new liquid in there, that maple syrup is going to absorb into the wood and that bourbon is going to come back out.

Now his maple syrup is picking up that beautiful bourbon flavor and we are picking up all that maple syrup flavor into the wood. 

When he brings those barrels back down to us, we put our aged bourbon back in there and we let him finish in there for about three to six months. 

After we take the bourbon out, it’s now got this beautiful, mild sweetness, but it’s got that hint of maple syrup at the end.

I always say, I don’t want it to be maple syrup with a hint of bourbon. I want it to be bourbon with a hint of maple syrup, which I think it absolutely is.

Ironclad Missouri Toasted Oak Cask

Ironclad Missouri Toasted Oak Cask

Joe Winger: 

The maple syrup is so subtle, almost a tertiary flavor to it. 

Moving on to the Missouri Toasted Oak Cask.

Owen King: 

This is a double oak bourbon.  With double oaking, what you’re going to do is exactly how it sounds. 

You’re going to go from one new charred oak barrel. But instead of a second new charred oak barrel, we’re going to go to a lightly toasted barrel.

So my analogy for this is you’re sitting at a campfire and you’ve got a marshmallow. You’re roasting your marshmallow over the flame and it gets burnt. It catches on fire. So now you’ve got that roasted marshmallow where you’re still gonna eat it because it’s a roasted marshmallow.

So you eat it and it’s still sweet. But it’s got that sort of maybe a bitter acrid note just cause you burnt those sugars. You haven’t toasted them. 

Now you take another marshmallow.  You’re a little more patient this time.  You’re going to stick it down in the coals and you’ll slowly rotate it until you’ve got that perfectly golden brown marshmallow. 

When you taste it, it’s now twice as sweet because you just caramelize those sugars as opposed to burning them. 

It’s the same with a charred oak barrel to a toasted oak barrel.  With that charring of those oaks, you’re gonna you’re still gonna have that sweetness.  We’re amplifying that sweetness with the toasting of the oak. 

With this one you get those softer vanilla flavors like toasted marshmallow. You get a cookie dough flavor,  maybe it’s raw cookie dough without the chocolate chips.

Joe Winger: 

That’s amazing. mmIs there an extra bottle when I come down there, I’m in the tasting room, another good bottle we should ask for?

Owen King: 

Another one that we have right now that is a very limited run.   Very small release is our blueberry mead cask finish

We give our barrels to a meadery in Williamsburg, Virginia and they make this blueberry honey mead.  So now they have this bourbon barrel aged blueberry mead. And when they’re done with them, they give them back to us. 

You’re not necessarily overwhelmed with [a] heavy blueberry flavor but it opens up to this really nice fruitiness and then like a fermented honey flavor on the front end. 

It’s so unique, but it’s great neat on the rocks.

Joe Winger: 

If we come down for the weekend, we visit the distillery in Newport News. What’s a tour like? 

Owen King: 

If people aren’t the biggest bourbon drinker, I want you to walk away saying, “Okay, I found something that is made with bourbon that I like.”

We are a distillery that only makes bourbon. 

I want to make sure that everyone who comes here has something they can enjoy.  This isn’t an uppity bourbon bar.

I want someone to come and be able to say,  I’m not the biggest bourbon fan. What kind of cocktails do you have?” We always have a cocktail on every single menu that’s open for everyone. 

Everyone’s going to love it and whether you’re a big bourbon fan or not.  We just really want to be accommodating. We want to be a fun place for everyone to hang out. 

We want to tell our story, the history of the Ironclad ships.  Go through our distillery tour, we’ll show you that. If you want to know the history of Fredericksburg, or the history of What the bed and breakfast is we’ll tell you that.

Nothing pairs better with bourbon than a good story. And we really care about spreading that word.

Joe Winger: 

Whether it’s a romantic getaway, a weekend getaway, why choose your bed and breakfast instead of a hotel?

Owen King: 

While we’ve only had it a short time.  But we’ve been adding things here and there. You’re going to get a fresh orange juice in the morning, made with the oranges that we used for our old fashions [last night]. 

We have our barrel aged maple syrup for your pancakes.  So you’re going to have that maple syrup with a hint of bourbon. 

Ironclad Inn

Ironclad Inn

We really drive home that it’s a bed breakfast and bourbon experience. Get immersed in the bourbon culture.  That’s our goal.

Joe Winger: 

Any favorite bourbon and food pairings?

Owen King: 

Bourbon’s wonderful for food pairings.  

We’ve gone from pasta pairings to pizza pairings.  Anything that’s fatty is a perfect pairing.  Pork belly with a cherry reduction over top of it with one of our bourbons straight 

We have this bourbon cream, Buzz’s Bourbon Cream, where it’s made with our small batch bourbon that’s infused with coffee beans, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans. That one over vanilla ice cream is perfection. 

You’re adding a little booze, some coffee, a little bit of chocolate.

You take a bite and all of a sudden you had three scoops and it’s gone 30 seconds later.

Joe Winger: 

What’s the best way to learn more about Ironclad Distillery and Ironclad Inn?

Owen King: 

We have our website at ironcladdistillery.com. All of our social media Facebook and Instagram

NYC is looking for Sipping Tequila: Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila Infused with Roasted Agave & Agave Miel

Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila Infused with Roasted Agave & Agave Miel

Mayenda, the sipping tequila that goes two steps above, today introduces its newest offering, Mayenda Tequila Reposado Double Cask.

Mayenda Reposado is a sophisticated evolution of Mayenda Blanco

Mayenda Reposado is a sophisticated evolution of Mayenda Blanco — the first tequila made using the brand’s signature process of infusing the finest tequila with both roasted agave and agave miel (honey) before the final distillation step.

Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila

Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila

This naturally deepens the notes of fresh roasted agave and adds herbal complexity with only three ingredients: Blue Weber agave, yeast, and water.


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FlavRReport.com on YouTube

FlavRReport.com on YouTube


For Mayenda Reposado Double Cask, the tequila is then aged for six months in a mix of American and European Oak, showcasing Mayenda’s continued commitment to developing innovative tequilas that stand apart from others on the market today.

This elegant sipping tequila will be available in the U.S. and Mexico beginning June 2024.

“With Mayenda Blanco, we knew we had unlocked new possibilities for expressing deeper flavors of the agave, thanks to the two extra steps in our signature process; yet it still felt like we had only scratched the surface of what was possible,” said Jesus Susunaga, Maestro Tequilero at Casa San Nicolás. “When developing our Reposado, we decided to employ a double cask maturation and longer aging process. This resulted in an exceptionally smooth and balanced, aged tequila that maintains the soul of our beloved Blanco.”

Mayenda’s Signature Process: Every Mayenda Tequila is made at Casa San Nicolás (NOM: 1440) in the highlands of Jalisco, using only mature 100% blue weber agave. Mayenda starts the same way as other premium tequilas, but the magic is in the two extra steps. Maestro Tequilero Susunaga and his team steep (or infuse) roasted agave and then agave miel from the cooking process just before the last distillation step. This naturally captures fresh roasted agave notes and herbal complexity that are typically lost in the tequila-making process, creating a soulful sipping tequila with a honeyed and multi-dimensional flavor profile.

 Double Cask Aging in American & European Oak: For Mayenda Reposado Double Cask, Mayenda Blanco is then aged in the finest American and European Oak barrels. Each barrel type enhances the opposing characteristics of the other — one barrel adds impact while the other softens. The dry, spicy and earthy profile of cinnamon, chamomile and red apple in the European Oak is expertly balanced with the rich, fresh, sweeter notes of butterscotch, honeycomb and vanilla in the American Oak.

A Longer (6 Month) Aging Process: While most Reposado Tequilas are aged two to three months, the aging for Mayenda Reposado Double Cask is extended to a minimum of six months to impart the optimal amount of flavor from each cask. A longer aging time brings a more sophisticated, multi-layered and refined flavor profile.

Artful Master Blending: Careful to keep the essence of Mayenda Blanco in every sip, Maestro Tequilero Jesus Susunaga and his team of experts at Casa San Nicolás carefully blend every drop of Mayenda Tequila to ensure the highest quality of consistency, flavor, texture and refinement. Jesus’s extensive experience blending some of the finest aged spirits around the globe has helped him master this delicate craft and pioneer a new type of tequila in Mayenda.

Mayenda Reposado Double Cask may be enjoyed neat or in elevated cocktails such as a Morita Martini or Elevated Paloma. For recipes, visit mayendatequila.com.

Mayenda Reposado Double Cask will be available at select retailers in the United States for SRP $75USD per 750 mL bottle and in Mexico for $1,445 Pesos. Please sip responsibly.

Follow them on social media @mayendatequila and visit their website Mayendatequila.com

NYC Discovers Aphrodise Sparkling Wine, Taste Before Your next Party, Frank Schilling Reveals

NYC Discover Aphrodise Sparkling Wine, You should taste Before Your next Party, Frank Schilling Reveals

Whether it’s a wedding, party, or just drinks with dinner.  We want taste.  Maybe we want a few drinks.  We also want to protect ourselves from tomorrow’s hangover.

It’s hard to find a drink that can take day to night quite like a Greek rosé and Aphrodise wants to prove it to you.

Frank Schilling, Co-Founder of Aphrodise

Frank Schilling, Co-Founder of Aphrodise

Today’s conversation with Frank Schilling from Aphrodise has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

Joe Winger: 

Our audience is foodies. We’re wine lovers. What’s the most important message today you want to share with an audience of foodies and wine lovers?

Frank Schilling: 

I’m an Epicurean myself. I don’t have a lot of pretense around my love of food and wine, I just love great food and wine and I’ve tasted so many great things. 

I’m a character who hasn’t had a meal at home in 22 years. As an internet entrepreneur, I used to work, literally seven days a week for many years and eating out was my escape from my work because it’s the one place my laptop and phone couldn’t rule the day, or the moment.

For me, eating out was that escape and that vacation of the moment. 

I created a life around dining out probably like many of your listeners or viewers. And I have a deep well of respect for great food and wine and also for the people who admire it and chase it, it’s a, it’s one of the great things in life.

I’m always stunned by people who don’t truly love food. I feel like they’re missing something and leaving part of life on the table.

Discovering Aphrodise sparkling wine

Joe Winger: 

You have this new discovery. Let’s talk a little bit about Aphrodise. Tell me about how you discovered the grape varietal?

Frank Schilling: 

I’m a wine lover. I tasted my way through Bordeaux and Burgundy.

All the way through, I could never really tell a Merlot from a Cab.  I’d be lying to you if I said I knew what a Nebbiolo or a Valpolicella was and how all those grapes differed from each other.

I do enjoy great brands of wine. I do understand the difference between years and what impacts a year. 

But when I was building [my restaurant] it was COVID. I was doing some fingertip math and I realized we’re gonna have to start bringing over a lot of sparkling [wine] for mimosas and for brunch. It was 300 seat restaurant, two seatings, 600 seats on a brunch [shift].

You start to do the math and you realize, “Wow, 52 weekends a year, bottomless mimosas. I’m going to need about 3,000 bottles of wine per quarter of champagne. So let’s go out and get some.  We live on an island and supply chain management wasn’t really an option.

So we started to taste through different varieties of champagne

I came to discover what Tom Cruise did in [the movie] “Cocktail”, which is, champagne is like perfume going down, but like sewage on the way back.

It comes from a well meant place, not mean spirited towards the great region of Champagne.

Joining the Aphrodise sparkling wine party

Joining the Aphrodise sparkling wine party

It’s just the nature of Champenois produced wine and that Chardonnay grape that makes a beautiful champagne is such that you just can’t consume a lot of it in the heat or humidity in the sun.

Traditional Champagne vs Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

It just isn’t the type of forgiving libation that lets you function afterwards and you don’t feel good. 

The yeast isn’t good for a lot of people. Not everybody’s impacted the same way but, a large portion of the population doesn’t do well with champagne and heat in sunlight  as a day drink.

The recovery profile isn’t something that people look forward to.

Aphrodise from the grape varietal called Xenomavro

Aphrodise from the grape varietal called Xenomavro

I discovered that I’d had that problem myself for years. The yeast wasn’t working for me. 

So when I discovered Aphrodise, it was a grape varietal called Xenomavro. 

A high altitude grape, Greece’s most noble grape.

It’s a very forgiving drink.  In a sparkling format, it’s something you can drink in the heat, it’s something you can drink in larger quantities, I can tell you that the recovery profile, for me and for many others, is exceptionally good.

Meaning you can drink a lot of it and bounce back and go again. 

As a wine producer, that’s music to your ears. But it’s also nice knowing I’m making people feel better. I’m not putting something in the market that’s going to make you feel sick after overconsumption.

At a party enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

At a party enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Joe Winger: 

Just to give a little backstory.  Frank, I hope you’ll talk to us a little bit about one of your first adventures.  You mentioned you’re an internet entrepreneur, you had some success with website domains. 

Can you explain a little bit about that and maybe a lesson you learned from that journey?

Frank Schilling: 

It’s a lesson that some of your listeners and viewers probably have some experience with.

I registered a domain name back in the dot com era. Then I registered 2 [dot com names], then 10 and I got some generic names like wine.com , cars.com.  Names like those.

I started to realize, wow, these names have value.

I wound up registering a lot of generic names and then I had difficulty managing them because in those early days of the Internet, it was all very unwieldy. The infrastructure for managing those names. 

So I created a lot of that management infrastructure.  Then in the process, grew that business over a 20 year horizon and wound up selling the 3 companies that comprised that enterprise to a company called GoDaddy, which we’ve probably all heard of.

So some of their infrastructure was my infrastructure and is now their infrastructure. 

To the extent you like the new GoDaddy offering for managing domain names, you’re welcome, for the small part I played in helping that become a reality.

In the old days, I was traveling a lot. I had an office in Manchester in the United Kingdom, one in Newport beach in California and my main office here in the Cayman Islands.  I would travel between the offices, New York, Miami and many other cities, just for work all around the world. 

Enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

At the beginning of COVID that all came to a grinding halt.  I sold those businesses and decided that with my love of food, if I was going to stay in the Cayman Islands, I realized I’m gonna have to eat at home more and I realized, the offerings of restaurants wasn’t the depth was hoping for.

So I built the restaurant, as a result of that that then led to Aphrodise.

Joe Winger: 

I love the full circle of it. 

Since we’ve mentioned the restaurant once or twice. Can we hear more about your restaurant Mykonos Cayman?

Frank Schilling: 

Sure.  During COVID lockdowns, there was a new plaza going in on the beach and I had mentally designed a restaurant years ago, but sold the real estate for it.

So when I saw the plaza going up, I was crestfallen. These guys built my dream on their land.  My fantasy of what a place would look like. But then I was happy to learn that the plaza was a strata titled affair. It wasn’t owned by one conglomerate.

So I bought into that plaza so I could control the real estate. Then once I had the real estate I did a sort of “money no object” fit out that left a very residential-looking restaurant really quite beautiful. 

I love the culture of Greece and I love the idea of the long lunch and the lack of pretense in the party and [being] all welcoming, with children, grownups will dance on the table and get really carried away.

The kids are running around. It’s all very loving and family oriented.

Whereas, Ibiza is a little more drug fueled and party, ragey and a little more intense.

I loved the soulful day party of Greece. We’re on an island and the Greeks are on islands. So I thought how nice it would be to bring some of that to my reserved island here in Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is more of a place you quietly go to escape and enjoy the beach and family.

It’s not really a St. Bart’s where you go to seek out a great party. I always hoped that there’d be room for at least one place like they have in St. Bart’s here. 

So I built a really big place, 320 seats, super residential, relaxed, welcoming, But completely devoid of pretense.  You can come in, flip flops and shorts, or you can come in a beautiful gown as we’d hope in the evening. 

But we don’t have a lot of structure and posture around it. We want you to feel free when you come. So that, I built that venue here, and you can see it online.

It’s called Mykonos Cayman. We have an Instagram where people can learn about the restaurant.

When you come, please come for a glass of Aphrodise on me. Mention Frank said I could have a glass of Aphrodise

Joe Winger: 

You introduced Aphrodise at the Las Vegas Wedding Show.  How did it go?   Why do you think Aphrodise is the best drink to have at a wedding?

Frank Schilling:

It’s the color of love. It’s a beautiful color of red. 

We took it to the wedding show because I thought that wedding planners would share the same pain point that I discovered as a restaurateur.  Which is, if you want to buy a bottle of great champagne, easy, you go to the liquor store.

But when you start getting up there and you need 100 cases for an event or a series of events, getting that quantity consistently and getting a good product is actually quite difficult. And expensive.

So we thought we’d introduce Aphrodise.

Knowing that we could go directly to the wedding planners and help their fulfillment and execution and deliver a better product.  

Something that people could really lavish in the heat or at an after party where you’re really enjoying the bubbly and then feel better in the morning.  That was really the goal. 

My first champagne experience was at a wedding and I drank a little too much.  For the next day or two, I was laid up.

So we try to bring something to market that is good for people or at least makes them feel good in the moment and helps them recover.

We had a line all day.  I poured a 5,000 servings of Aphrodise that day. People loved it.

Let me tell you, that’s a lot of work, opening bottles. It looks very glamorous. But when you’re really going at velocity, my hands hurt at the end of the day.

We got a lot of upstart business out of that. People were like, “Wow, this stuff is actually quite good.’ 

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about flavor profile.

Pouring out 5,000 samples, what’s the most common feedback we get about the flavor, aroma, the mouthfeel, what are we experiencing?

Frank Schilling: 

So when you sip a drink and you talk about mouthfeel or we have a glass of wine or champagne and you have a sip and there’s a little bit of a yeasty, gamey after taste.

For some people in red wine, it can be somewhat desirable. 

In champagne, unfortunately it stays with it as well. 

When you’re having champagne, which is more of a celebratory libation, that’s not a desirable quality. You want to have something that finishes clean in your mouth. 

If you have lots of sips, you’re going to get a good buzz. You want to be able to recover quickly and elegantly without that headache that comes from the yeast and all those elements that bring its flavor.

So the taste of Aphrodise is a very clean mouthfeel and it finishes with a light crisp apple or cherry. Some people taste strawberry. 

It’s a small bubble. Very light charmat, produced in small vats, a naturally produced bubbly effect. It lives in tanks for 3 months and it gains its bubbly in a natural way. 

A little more expensive to produce that way.  Prosecco, for example, will carbonate.  They’ll add carbonation just like you would to a can of soda.

We don’t carbonate. We allow the bubbly to form naturally through the fermentation process, which is how it should be. 

Co-Founders of Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Co-Founders of Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Joe Winger:

When it comes to food and wine pairing.  What would be your favorite dish to pair with a glass of Aphrodise?

Frank Schilling: 

Aphrodise is literally the only thing that I drink, and I’m crestfallen when I can’t find it. 

It’s a dark rosé so it goes nicely with meat – a burger or a steak.  Chicken or fish. It’s also a great dessert drink.

I like Aphrodise as a warmup libation and as an after dinner, like celebratory drink if you’re having a party, there’s an after party.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve done a lot in your life. You’ve had a lot of adventures, a lot of successes.

Any inspiration or lessons you can share with the audience?

Frank Schilling: 

The answer is love for people and love for living your best life, love for conviviality. I have a lot of love for the people that I encountered that have helped me in my journey. Those who’ve just been a part of my life, there for a season or there for a reason, as the saying goes, I try to embrace everybody.

See the good in everybody. There are people you click with more than other people. I say yes to everything unless it hurts me. I have a real lust for life and a good energy level.

Joe Winger: 

If you’re loving Frank’s energy and his positivity, you wrote an amazing book. Would you mind giving us a summary of the book and what it was like writing it?

Frank Schilling: 

It’s called Omnia Vincent: the universe wants you to win. 

I wrote the book as I’d sold my businesses. It was during COVID lockdowns and everybody was [going through a] “The end of the world” mood type thing at that time.

You write a book like this for your grandchildren. If one day they want to know more about grandpa and did our success come from or where did our financial wealth come from?

It’s nice for them to know a little about the person who tried hard and maybe you can see something in yourself.  So I really wrote it for my future ancestors.

I want to be the guy who left something for the grandkids and great grandkids to understand a little about my brain. And it’s really just written in short micro chapters. 

Joe Winger:

Because you’re an epicurean, if you’re going to have any plate for dinner tonight, what would it be and why? 

Frank Schilling: 

Tonight I’m actually feeling a Pittsburgh style steak, seared on the outside. I haven’t had good red meat in about a week, and we just got some A5 Wagyu at the restaurant Our chef is a butcher and he’s also a certified Angus ambassador. So he gets great cuts. 

We do a beautiful short rib burger, which is really lean short rib again on the outside with a bit of a char finish.  We have a charcoal grill inside the restaurant, which is beautiful. 

Joe Winger: 

Thank you so much for your time.  If someone wants to learn more, what are the best ways to find and follow websites, social media for Aphrodise?

Frank Schilling: 

DrinkAphrodise on Instagram and the website DrinkAphrodise.com

 

About the Author
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to: Joe@FlavRReport.com

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