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This barge is the ‘world’s first’ floating ageing cellar for Cognac and other spirits

At its core, the ageing process for alcoholic beverages is painfully simple: Just let it sit there and don’t drink it! But of course, alcohol can be aged in all sorts of ways, from traditional methods like ageing wine and whiskey in oak barrels to more far-out experiments.

We’ve seen wine aged in the ocean, beer aged in tequila barrels, and whiskey aged to Metallica music. However, here’s an ageing method that one spirits brand is billing as a “world’s first”: a floating ageing cellar on a river barge.

Maison Ferrand — a Cognac specialist that also produces other spirits — says getting their new Barge 166 up and running on the banks of the Seine at Issy-les-Moulineaux has been a two-year process. They selected a Freycinet barge originally constructed in 1948 and then rebuilt the entire inner structure, including completely removing the engine. Those changes allow for the barge to hold about 1,500 custom 30-litre barrels which will hold mostly Maison Ferrand Cognac and rum, but also collaborations with other spirit brands, such as their first collab with Mackmyra Swedish Whisky.

Floating ageing cellar
Image: Courtesy Maison Ferrand

More than just a fun talking point, Ferrand says the barge will also allow them to experiment with the effects of “dynamic ageing, a type of ageing as old as seafaring itself that has been little analysed until now.” Beyond being water-bound for this ageing process, the brand explains that the barge is “a very humid cellar with significant temperature variations,” and the results “will be studied closely to analyse the impact.”

That said, this world’s first cellar barge also does make for a fun talking point, and Maison Ferrand says that not only will guests be invited on, but “lovers of fine and original spirits can acquire a barrel and personalise it as they wish.” I’m assuming this also means you can drink on the barge, because what’s the point of a cognac boat if you can’t drink on it?

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Maison Ferrand)

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