The Dancing Goat Distillery in Cambridge, Wisconsin has begun rolling barrels of its award-winning Limousin Rye Whiskey into its new open-air rickhouse. Rickhouse #1 at the Dancing Goat Distillery, is the first non-climate controlled rickhouse built in Wisconsin. It is the first of five being planned by the craft distillery.
Rickhouses have been used for more than 140 years to age whiskey. The building is designed using floors of ricks that allow the barrels to be rolled in and stored on their sides, giving the whiskey exposure to the wood on all sides versus the more modern palletized or stacked warehouse storage systems where the barrels are stored on end and the top side charred wood does not contact the whiskey. Dancing Goat partnered with the leading rickhouse designer and builder, Buzick Construction of Bardstown, Kentucky. Its rickhouses are used by virtually every major whiskey producer.
Dancing Goat is one of only a select few craft distillers in the United States that use the time-honored, traditional methods of aging its barrels of whiskey in an open air rickhouse which also benefits from natural climate changes to move the whiskey in and out of the wood in the barrel. This creates a better natural process to age the whiskey than temperature controlled warehouses that have restricted airflow that do not allow as much interaction with the wooden staves.
“When fully exposed to the extremes of weather in Wisconsin our whiskey will move in and out of the staves as the temperature changes throughout the four seasons, making every year of age incredibly impactful,” said Tom Maas, chairman of Dancing Goat Distillery. “The mellowing and concentration of flavors occurring during this naturalprocess results in whiskey that connoisseurs will truly appreciate while those new to whiskey will be able to experience whiskey as it was meant to be.”
Dancing Goat Rickhouse #1 is five stories tall and measures 8,750 square feet. It houses up to 7,800 barrels. Every barrel will begin the aging process at approximately 125 proof. The placement and rotation of barrels in this type of rickhouse are also important during the aging process and carefully monitored to achieve consistency. While the outdoor temperature varies, the indoor temperature also varies from lower to higher floors. Temperatures naturally rise the higher the floor. All of this, in addition to differences in air flow between barrels on each floor is taken into account when deciding what final proof and flavor profile the distiller is trying to achieve.
“Marrying our recipes with open-air, rickhouse aging provides exciting opportunities to produce some of the most unique, world-class whiskeys, right here in Wisconsin, which is where my family’s distilling roots began,” said Nick Maas, VP of distilling and innovation. “Wisconsin’s seasonal temperature goes from -10° in the winter to 90° in the summer. We enjoy the fact that this natural 100° temperature swing allows us to partner with Mother Nature to assist in making our Dancing Goat whiskies special.