When Nikhil and I decided to start Echo Spirits, it was largely out of a need to find a better balance between our creative and analytical sides. Both of us were in highly-analytical jobs (IT and engineering) and working on creative projects like homebrewing in our free time. We liked the experimental nature of making beer at home and were always hunting for new recipes to try something new. We realized that if we could blend our interests together, we might be able to build something worthwhile.
But reality sinks in, as it always does. The fact is that no matter how cool our jobs are, there are only so many times you can make a certain spirit before that creative itch starts to surface again. Don't get us wrong - we absolutely love our spirits and we are incredibly prideful in them. Still, once you have a recipe down and you're in the tweaking stage, you long for a greater variety.
But breweries make new stuff all the time...
Unlike the beer world, though, a rotating list of spirits doesn't really work. Most breweries have a core lineup and a list of experiments and seasonals outside of that. But some release mostly experiments and shy away from focusing on a core set of beers.
In the distilling world, accomplishing either one of those is challenging at best. Beer can get away with it because they're selling a self-contained product. Bars, restaurants, and consumers don't need to DO anything other than pour the beer to serve it. Distilleries, however, are often making a component of a beverage; just a single ingredient in a cocktail. Couple this with extended barrel aging times and extreme government oversight and we've created a scenario where most distilleries rarely release truly new products. A new product for a distillery often means taking an existing product and finishing it in a different type of barrel, or releasing a barrel-proof version of a whiskey.
We've said it before: we aren't most distilleries
We got into this business to scratch a creative itch, and itch it we shall. Though we do have to rely on our core lineup to stay in business, we place a lot of importance on doing fun things. This is where our Copper Label Series and upcoming Bourbon Series (but more on that later...) come in.
Our Copper Label Series is our creative sandbox. It's where we try completely new things without the idea that we will ever make them again. Sometimes we make those things on our own, and sometimes they're a collaboration with another local business.
The Forgotten Brandies was our first special release. We teamed up with 451 Spirits to blend barrels of brandy that each respective distillery had, honestly, forgotten about. Blending spirits is most often done in the whiskey world. We went into the project not even sure if it would work out or not. Much to our delight, it did. We've all downed our fair share of glasses of it.
Not directly a part of our Copper Label Series, but still in the spirit of it, we worked with our friends in the Ohio Distillers Guild to create a collaborative whiskey blend for the inaugural Central Ohio Whiskey Festival. All four distilleries brought a different product to the table - High Bank's Whiskey War, Middle West Spirits' Wheat Whiskey, Watershed's Bourbon, and our Straight Rye Whiskey.
It's like springtime in Munich
And later this week (Friday, March 25 at 4PM), we're bringing our newest release to the table - Bavarian Rhapsody. When our friends at North High Brewing decided to close down their brew-on-premise during the pandemic, they offered us their remaining malt supply. We figured that, as a mishmash of many different types of malts, it was likely destined to become hand sanitizer. To our surprise, as we distilled it, it tasted unique. It was worthy of saving. We put it in one of our used barrels from our very first batch of rye whiskey.
Distillers are always tasting their barrels to see how things are coming along. Imagine not knowing for years what your creation tastes like! And this barrel... we liked it. A lot. Very quickly, we started to find that the chocolate malt and wheat malts were creating a unique whiskey. It began to taste a little bit like a cross between a hefeweizen and a Tootsie Roll. We started to think about making it a part of our regular lineup.
And that's when we realized we lost the recipe.
Yep, that's right. We can't make it again. We wish we could... over and over again. But this is it. Once these bottles are gone, they're gone. We're sad about that, but sometimes what makes something extra special is how fleeting it is. It's hard to let go of that special thing that you managed to create, but we'll be on to the next thing soon enough.
And that's what makes the Copper Label Series special.