At its core, the aging process for alcoholic beverages is painfully simple: Just let it sit there and don't drink it! But of course, alcohol can be aged all sorts of ways, from traditional methods like aging 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 aging method that one spirits brand is billing as a "world's first": a floating aging 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-liter barrels which will hold mostly Maison Ferrand cognac and rum, but also collaborations with other spirits brands, such as their first collab with Mackmyra Swedish Whisky.
More than just a fun talking point, Ferrand says the barge will also allow them to experiment with the effects of "dynamic aging, a type of aging as old as seafaring itself that has been little analyzed until now." Beyond being water-bound for this aging process, the brand explains that the barge is "a very humid cellar with significant temperature variations," and the results "will be studied closely to analyze 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 personalize 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?