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Maison Ferrand to mature spirits on river barge in “dynamic ageing” project.

French spirits group Maison Ferrand has unveiled a “floating cellar” that will age rum and Cognac on water.

Maison Ferrand said today the cellar is a 1940s barge refitted to hold 1,500 30-litre barrels. The boat will dock in France’s River Seine and age Maison Ferrand rum and Cognac to the motion of the waves.

Maison Ferrand said the venture is the first of its kind, but admitted that the process of ageing at sea has a long precedence in spirits. Called “dynamic ageing”, the process was discovered when rum barrels were transported by sea in the 18th Century from the Caribbean to European ports. The rum had a different taste profile to liquid aged on land.

Modern companies have infrequently revived the process. Lysholm Linie, made by Norwegian firm ArcusGruppen, is an aquavit that is part-matured as it sails around the world on a boat. Kentucky Bourbon maker Jefferson’s Liquor Co makes Jefferson’s Ocean, which is also matured as it sails the globe. In 2018, Camus Cognac transported ten of its casks across the Atlantic on a classic tall ship in an effort to recapture the taste profile of dynamic ageing. Camus said the constant motion and the changes in atmospheric pressure speed up the maturation process.

In October this year, a Nashville distillery released what it claims was the first US whiskey to be aged in a floating rickhouse. O.H. Ingram River Aged Straight Whiskey, from Brown Water Spirits, is matured in barrels for three years in a warehouse moored on the Mississippi in Kentucky.