Solera (Spanish)—bottom, foundation, on the ground.

We're kicking off something very exciting at Blackwater Distilling—one of the first American solera-aged craft rums! But we need your help. There's a reason no few are doing this yet: it's expensive, and it takes time. We've been putting in the time in the barrel, and with your help we can release a truly amazing solera aged rum to rival the best in the world.

This isn't Kickstarter where you help fund someone's craft distillery and get a Thank You postcard and a t-shirt in the mail. We're offering never-to-be-released-again bottles, an exclusive taste of Picaroon Maryland Rum before it goes into the solera, an opportunity to taste from the barrels and learn more about solera aging, and the chance to say you helped create one of America's first solera aged craft rums. If you're already familiar with solera aging, skip down to THE PROPOSAL below.

what is solera aging?

Solera aging is both an aging method and a blending method. In the diagram to the left, rather than taking a barrel from the bottom row and bottling it, as is the usual method, we would bottle only a certain percentage of each barrel on the bottom row. The empty space in each row would be filled with rum from barrels in the row above. Empty space in the top row would be replaced with new make rum from the still. Most soleras are five or more levels high, with each level comprised of dozens or hundreds of barrels.

Why use solera aging?

The advantage of solera aging lies in consistency. Bottling to bottling, the differences are subtle if not unnoticeable, whereas in traditional bottling a master blender is employed to identify the specific aromas and flavors in dozens of barrels that will combine together to create a spirit of the expected overall character.

We've been filling barrels with rum for the past year and a half, and our Picaroon rum is almost ready to release. In the meantime, we've come across a delicious blend of six-to-eight-year old rum from Jamaica that we have the opportunity to purchase. Rum has a long and storied tradition of blending, and we've been trying different blends of this Jamaican rum, which is aged in used bourbon barrels, and our younger rum, which is aged in new charred white oak. We've found that the two blend together nicely indeed, with the banana and bubblegum notes of the Jamaican rum falling in easily among the cream and vanilla notes of Picaroon.

While we will be releasing aged Picaroon Maryland Rum separately by itself, the blend of Jamaican rums provides us the opportunity to jumpstart our solera with an older rum and gradually transition the solera system over the years to a rum that is older, more mature and complex, and made up almost entirely of Picaroon Maryland Rum. What we plan to do is blend together our own rum and the blend of Jamaican rums and use that to "seed" a five-level solera. The rum during the first bottling available to the public will then be a blend of five-year and two-year rums. Over subsequent bottlings, the average age of the rum being bottled will gradually creep upward, with the actual average age determined by the volume and frequency of the rum being pulled from the bottom barrels each time. We expect the average age of each bottling to eventually settle at around seven years.

The proposal

Blackwater Distilling will acquire a blend of Jamaican rums aged between six and eight years and blend this rum with its own Picaroon rum that has been aged for at least eighteen months. The blend of rums will be used to create a five-level solera.

Membership in the "Seed the Solera" program is being offered at a price of $300. Membership includes the following:

  • Two cask strength (approximately 120 proof) bottles of the blend of six-to-eight-year Jamaican rums
  • Two cask strength (approximately 120 proof) bottles of Picaroon Rum aged at least 18 months
  • Two cask strength (approximately 120 proof) bottles of the blend of Jamaican rum and Picaroon rum

Once the solera is filled and the first bottling has been made, members will have the opportunity to come to the distillery for a workshop with distiller Andy Keller for a more in-depth explanation of solera aging, during which members will get to taste from barrels on different levels of the solera.

In addition, we are offering two "add-on" pairs of bottles, each pair at a price of $100.

  • Two cask strength (approximately 120 proof) bottles of the blend of six-to-eight-year Jamaican rums finished for 6-12 months in specialty casks. Purchasers will have the opportunity to vote on the type of specialty barrel to be used (ex. cognac, madeira, port, wine), subject to availability.
  • Two cask strength (approximately 120 proof) bottles of the first bottling from the solera (approximately 6 months after the blending of the rums and filling of barrels

All bottles will be 750 ml in volume, numbered, and signed by the distiller. Most of these bottles will not be offered to anyone else. If a larger bottling is made for the general public (such as in the case of the remainder of the specialty barrel and the first bottling of the solera aged rum), participants in the Seed the Solera program will have the only access to cask strength versions of those rums.

Only fifty spots are available, but we need to fill all fifty to be able to kick off the Seed the Solera Program. If we fail to find those members within four months of the offer on October 1, 2016, your payment will be refunded in full.

Thank you for supporting local businesses and innovation in craft distilling!