Atelier Vie Releases Orphan Street Brandy, First Barrel-Aged LA Grape Brandy
NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans distillery Atelier Vie has released a two year old experiment: Orphan Street Brandy, the first barrel-aged Louisiana grape brandy since at least the days of Prohibition.
“Orphan Street Brandy is the result of an experiment that began over two years ago, when we acquired an ‘orphan’ lot of wine,” Jedd Haas, President of Atelier Vie said. “We distilled the wine; the results were interesting, but it was obvious that the distillate needed to go into a barrel for years of aging to reach its full potential.”
So into the barrel it went – a small barrel that had previously been used for three different types of whiskey in succession, which had acquired a patina of different flavors, which only added to the complexity and depth of flavor in the brandy over the years, Haas said.
By Federal law, brandy distilled from grapes must be aged at least two years in oak barrels in order to be legally called “brandy.” Any less than that and it must be called “immature brandy.”
“Who wants to drink immature brandy?” Haas, who founded Atelier Vie in 2011, asked. “After two years in this small barrel, the brandy acquired a wonderful aroma and intense flavors. Following some sensory evaluation just past the two year mark, it was clearly time to bottle it.”
Haas said the Orphan Street Brandy name was inspired by short streets in New Orleans – Church St. in the Central Business District. Architect St. in the Bywater. Madison St., Wilkinson Row, and Clinton St., all in the French Quarter. He said those short streets almost seem like accidents, remnants out of place within the overall grid. Likewise, a remnant lot of wine came his way, he said, and these orphan bottles were put to good use and distilled into brandy. Haas said Orphan Street Brandy reflects this heritage; one of accidental journeys, leftover scraps of geography and fortuitous crossings. The label contains references to this origin, with typography and design inspired by the street signs of the French Quarter, antique iron work and the symbol of New Orleans, the fleur-de-lis.
Orphan Street Brandy is bottled at 80 proof (40% Alc./Vol.) in 200ml flasks. Available only at the distillery, the flasks sell for $20 each. Quantities are limited.
Atelier Vie’s distillery, 1001 S. Broad St., is open for tastings and discussion of the distillation process every weekend from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. There is no charge to visit the distillery and the company’s full line of spirits is available for retail purchase during these weekend hours.
In addition to Orphan Street Brandy, Atelier Vie distills Euphrosine Gin #9, and distills a barrel-aged version of Euphrosine, called Barrel-Finished Reserve, which is aged in American whiskey barrels. The Atelier Vie line-up also includes Toulouse Green, Absinthe Verte, a traditional-style absinthe based in part on French recipes from the 1800s and distilled with Louisiana wormwood; and Toulouse Red, Absinthe Rouge, a “new school” American absinthe colored red with hibiscus. Atelier Vie also sells Buck 25 Vodka; an overproof cane vodka.
“Liquor is art you can drink,” Haas said.