PaLCB Okays Barrel Swap
Jameson Irish Whiskey’s Caskmates series is an interesting example of how brewers and distillers are helping each other get creative and push their respective recipes to new grounds. The Caskmates whiskey line is the result of Jameson sending some of its aging barrels to the Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork, Ireland. Franciscan Well then brewed an Irish Stout and aged it in the Jameson barrels. After the stout had aged appropriately, it was removed and the barrels were sent back to Jameson to be filled with whiskey. The stout-seasoned barrels imparted some new flavors to the standard whiskey and, from what I can recall, has been well-received (the flavor profile is a little brighter than I expected, but it is very enjoyable). A recent Liquor Control Board Advisory Opinion hints that a Pennsylvania limited distillery may be partnering with a PA brewery to work on a similar project. See the Advisory Opinion here.
So why couldn’t a distillery give its barrels to a brewery and vice versa? It seems innocent enough, right? Well, the Liquor Code places strict limits on what licensees can give to each other. Specifically, the PaLCB’s regulations prevent licensees of one class from providing anything of value to licensees of another class. And, if you haven’t noticed, the demand for barrels has skyrocketed recently, so they are certainly valuable.
Fortunately, distilleries and breweries are both considered the same class of licensee because they are both manufacturers, as opposed to distributors or retailers. Therefore, the prohibition does not apply and the Advisory Opinion concludes that this type of barrel swap is allowed. And, personally, I can’t wait to see the results!