Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Underwater Aging Comes Under Fire from FDA

US federal authorities have taken a dim view of ageing wine underwater, warning it may be illegal to sell wine that have been aged that way.

     In 2013 Napa producer Mira placed 48 bottles of its 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon in the waters of Charleston Harbor to see what effect underwater ageing would have.   In November last year the bottles were salvaged, tasted and the process declared a success. The winery’s president, Jim Dyke, announced they would age twice as much for twice as long beginning next month alongside several other cases which are currently underwater in the harbor. 
     However, Dyke may have to shelve his plans as the practice has caught the attention of the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau who warned that potential contact with ocean water would render the wines “adulterated” and thus illegal to sell.   The bureau, which oversees alcohol labelling, can prohibit wineries, breweries and distilleries from selling or shipping their products if they are judged to have been “adulterated” in some way.   The bureau referred to the US Food and Drug Administration which said that wine aged underwater “may” render than adulterated under federal law because they have been stored in “unsanitary” conditions.
     The bureau continued that degradation of the seal – wax and cork – while underwater could lead to the wine being exposed to: “Gasoline, oil, heavy metals, plastics, drug residues, pesticides, as well as various types of filth, including waste materials from biological sources, sludge, decaying organic matter, runoff from farms, effluents from sewage treatment plants, and bilge waters from vessels.”  
     Dyke said he was disappointed with the news but pointed out that all of the bottles he’d aged underwater and then tasted, none showed any hint of contamination with seawater.
     For years now the Cayman Spirits Company has been producing Seven Fathoms Rum, a really fine rum that is aged underwater in special barrels in the ocean just off of Grand Cayman.  This is a very fine rum, one that I find to be very flavorful and clean.   I r
eally have to question the FDA on this one, because if the aging barrels are properly sealed and protected from the encroachment of sea water the end product is greatly enhanced by the constant movement of the sea and the very consistent temperatures.    The process needs to be looked at on an individual bassis and not just a "blanket" rule.