It was shortly after releasing the first original Five Pawns flavor blends in 2012 when I started experimenting with the barrel aging of e-liquid. I believe we were the first company to do it, and we couldn’t have imagined the popularity that would result.
The initial ideology behind the Five Pawns brand was to emulate the finer tastes associated with food, wine, and spirits. Complex liquids that played on the five tastes known to the human palate; sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory. It only seemed natural to mimic what the wine and spirits industry had done with barrel aging.
At first, the challenge was to determine the best blend of flavors and ingredients that would work with barrel aging. It had to be something sweet, savory, include roasted and toasted notes and have a familiar distinction associated with barrel aging that’s where the hint of Kentucky bourbon played a role. The tasting notes of Castle Long Reserve include; roasted almonds, brown sugar, Madagascar vanilla, French vanilla, toasted coconut, and Kentucky bourbon.
The next challenge was to find the correct barrels in which to age in and enhance the liquid with oaky characteristics. The aging process is somewhat different from wine and spirits because it doesn’t spend the same amount of time in the barrel. I discovered that if the liquid spends months in the barrel, I would start to see degradation of the vegetable glycerin.
We had to find the correct amount of time where this wouldn’t occur, but the propylene glycol could still absorb the oaky flavors from the barrel itself. All while allowing the liquid to really come together and meld. I chose American oak barrels because of the properties associated with American white oak. Different types of wood used to make various barrels produce different flavors. American oak is known for mellow vanilla, caramel, and coconut without the spiciness. This was what I chose for Castle Long Reserve.
I also didn’t wish to take chances with potential carcinogens that might leech from the use of toasted (or burnt) oak barrels known for bourbon spirit production. Therefore, I reached out to a barrel company in northern California that works predominately with the wine industry. We chose Radoux because of their expert cooperage and reputation for making the finest barrels. Castle Long Reserve is aged for exactly three weeks to the day.
I remember the first production vividly. We only made 24 two-liter barrels and without even being tasted, it sold out within an hour. It was probably the novelty at that point in time that sparked all the interest and the production from those first barrels only produced around 3,900 30ml bottles.
As people started tasting the actual finished product, it became a cult-like hit. It’s been named “e-liquid of the year” for many years running and we’re humbled by all of those that appreciate our efforts in making Castle Long Reserve.
We only make it once a year and yes, it’s slightly more expensive than our normal offerings, but it’s a laborious process that costs us significantly more to produce. The final stage of the Castle Long Reserve process involves filtration. We have to ensure that any wood particulates that might live within the barrel itself are filtered prior to bottling.
Needless to say, we long ago bid farewell to the small two-liter barrels and we’ve been using 55-gallon barrels for many years now. The popularity of Castle Long Reserve is something that we could have never imagined. It is our crown jewel and probably the single most recognized flavor blend amongst our entire lineup.
Again, we’re humbled by your support and we are thankful for those that appreciate our efforts…