White Widow Notes

At both Windsor Run and Shadow Springs Winery we like to play. Yes, we have all the respectable expected standards for which many people are seeking, but, we also have several other “offerings” for those adventurous souls who just can’t help wandering off the beaten path in search of the unknown and exciting. And from those “offerings” we’ve gained a loyal following of adventurers, prince and rogue alike, who appreciate our endeavors in the creative beverage arts field.

Having both excellent quality, as well as interesting varieties of grapes with which to work makes a winemaker’s job a joy. When the old alarm clock goes off each morning, it’s more like having to head off to the playground as opposed to down to the factory.

At harvest we encounter lots of grapes. Lot’s of grapes. The white grapes come in first, and are pressed in our winepress to extract the juice, which in turn is fermented to make white wine. The remaining grape skins are then deposited outside of the winery in large bins, to be removed for composting. As harvest is an incredibly busy time for both those in the vineyard and in the winery, sometimes the bins of skins are not always picked up immediately.

Early on in our distilled spirits voyage, we noticed when arriving at work early in the morning, that the Traminette grape skins from the previous day’s pressing still smelled very, very good. For the uninitiated, Traminette is a hybrid grape from German parentage, which is much easier to grow, and easier from which to make a great wine than some of its German cousins like Riesling and Gerwertztraminer, who like it a bit cooler and dryer than our corner of the South affords.

Two days later, upon arrival, it was noticed that those Traminette skins still retained all that great character we had come to expect from the wine pressed from them. This did not escape notice. If the aroma lingered, than perhaps the flavor did too.

The following harvest, a new paradigm was in effect. Rather than compost the Traminette skins, we kept them, rehydrated them with water, and added some sugar to compensate that was depleted from that which was extracted from their previous pressing. We added yeast, then stood back and watched with eager anticipation. Upon the completion of fermentation, we found what resulted compared favorably to our actual Traminette wine.

You know what’s coming next…it was off to the still! From the first few drops out of the condenser, we knew we were onto something special. People entering the building on distilling day, complemented us on how nice it smelled, but it wasn’t because we had hung a zillion little rearview mirror, pine tree air fresheners all over the building. It was the Traminette!

While the liquor distilled from the Traminette was (in our humble opinion) quite exquisite, preliminary tastings included favorable comparisons to…get this…good Tequila. Subsequent to that, we have made a Margarita wine from a Traminette base, which when poured from a frozen slushy machine into a salt rimmed glass, makes one think they’re hearing Mariachi music when there is none until one sojourns about a thousand miles south of here, and across the Rio Grande.

Because our processing methods were as unique and unorthodox as many of our wine products, we found that we weren’t permitted to classify our flavorful spirit as either a brandy or a grappa. It was mandated from the great halls of power above us that we give our product a fanciful name, and, that we be assigned to the little known category of “Distilled Spirits Specialty….”

…which we took to mean, our White Widow is in a class by itself. Well, almost by itself, its other siblings, our Killer Bee and Shadow Hawk reside at the same address. Not saying anything, but just saying, “unique” and “unorthodox” in a world over crowded with same old-same old, sounds kind of refreshing doesn’t it?

Whether sipped straight, like a good blanco Tequila, or mixed into one’s favorite cocktail, our White Widow aims to please and always hits its mark.

 
 

Killer Bee Notes

Being mead makers here at Windsor Run, it’s just reasonable that our Killer Bee would be the next logical step. As our meads found a welcome home with the Viking, Renaissance, and ye olde Pirate loving crowd, it also appealed to beer drinkers, thus opening up our market to new audiences normally not that exposed to the world of wine. Our wine tasting visitors likewise reacted favorably to Mead’s favorable qualities, and as such, our Meads have been a critical part of our unique beverage portfolio.

While tasting the fruits of our labor one day, the question was put forth, “I wonder what it would be like if this mead were to be distilled?” Well, the proverbial gauntlet had been thrown down…and the challenge was accepted. The results were promising—something akin to wading in a stream and upon looking down, and discovering a gold nugget.

During a research and development session, the idea of making the mead to be distilled from genuine Africanized “Killer Bee” honey, and calling it Killer Bee seemed a no brainer, and once the idea was crystalized, it very soon became the proverbial snowball rolling downhill. The search was exciting as the find. Yes, Killer Bee honey could be obtained, so it most certainly was, and one of the perks was we didn’t have to harvest it ourselves. To our understanding, Killer Bees are still rather deficient in the sense of humor department.

Many distillation experiments were undertaken to get the liquor “just right.” Our intent was to craft a straight, sipping spirit with pleasant honey characteristics, while purposely avoiding making a sweet liqueur, like many of our brothers in the whiskey trade offer—not that there is anything wrong with them; there are several of which we enjoy. But being who we are, we just had to be different!

What finally emerged was a quite smooth liquor, bearing a distinct honey aroma, and a subtle honey flavor, which is altogether pleasant by itself in a glass or snifter, while remaining an interesting and highly flexible mixing option. Like we say, “Don’t fear the sting.” 

 
 

Shadow Hawk Notes

In our fast food, instantaneous results, and lightning quick internet world, it’s a virtue to appreciate that some things do not profit by being rushed. There’s a saying, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill….” Leaving the treachery part behind for now, let us focus on the old age part of the idea. Some things, and spirituous liquor being one of them, do, as they say, “get better with age.”

Employing the identical techniques of production as described in our White Widow, so our Shadow Hawk undergoes the same, but with another of our favorite white grapes, Seyval Blanc. Our Seyval wine has become a customer favorite because of its crisp acidity, and delightful, aromatic and fruit forward flavors.

Believing (correctly) that such a pleasant wine coming from such pleasant grapes would yield a very distinct and interestingly flavored spirit, we very quickly purposed to get it into the still. Our beliefs were not in vain.

It was quickly determined that the positive qualities in our new found spirit would only get better if we let it age…and where better to age quality liquor than in time-honored, venerable wooden barrels. Beginning with previously used toasted, white oak wine barrels, and soon including fully charred oak whiskey barrels, showed that we were on the right trail. The older the spirit got, and the more influence it drew from the caramelized naturalized sugars in the burnt and charred oak, the happier the boys in the distillery got, and the more eager we became to share this with our many discriminating patrons.

Our Shadow Hawk, while technically a “Distilled Spirits Specialty,” is quite unashamed to be considered in a class by itself, and doesn’t feel the least bit presumptuous to stand next to some of its finest barrel aged counterparts. Those who appreciate high quality aged Cognacs, Tequilas, Whiskies, and Rums are likely to find themselves pleasantly surprised when contemplating the beautiful dark amber color, catching the classic sweet smoky, caramel aroma, and then savoring that first smooth sip of Shadow Hawk from a proper snifter, or specialty glass. At 90 proof we believe we’ve found that “just right” blend of warm, flavorful muscularity, and surprising smoothness, making this a “neat” drinker’s potential new favorite.

That said, those who enjoy their aged drinks over ice, and those who love to add their favorite mixing agents will not suffer disappointment. At WRC it is our mission to blend equal parts quality and versatility into all of our products, so as to appeal to all who find responsible enjoyment in excellent liquid refreshment. This bold raptor is definitely out of the cage.