Sauce Magazine – First Look: ABV Barrel Shop in Arnold
First Look: ABV Barrel Shop in Arnold
ABV Barrel Shop opens Saturday, July 9 at 6 Fox Valley Center in Arnold, selling exclusive single-barrel bourbons from distillers in Missouri and around the country. The shop and bar will host a grand opening from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, inviting members of the public to sample single-barrel choices and meet the people behind the bourbon.
The boutique is located in a strip mall in Arnold, just minutes from Highway 55. It’s an unassuming location for a project that co-owner Steve Akley says is a landmark in the bourbon industry. . “We’re going to be a place of destination,” he said. “We’re going to bring people from all over the St. Louis area who are bourbon fans because they want to experience what we’re doing here.”
Akley and co-owner Jim Fasnacht say the shop’s single-barrel bourbon program will set ABV Barrel Shop apart from other specialty whiskey stores. The couple previously collaborated on a similar program for a major liquor retailer in Missouri, and they’re sure they’re creating something special with their new venture.
The idea behind single barrel bourbon picks is simple and contrasts with how bourbons are typically produced for the mass market. When creating a large-scale batch of bourbon, distillers typically produce many barrels of bourbon, then blend those barrels before bottling. This is important because flavor profiles can vary greatly from barrel to barrel. In a batch of thousands of bottles, this method ensures flavor consistency from bottle to bottle.
With single-barrel picks, however, a barrel is selected for its quality, and the liquor from that barrel is bottled directly without further mixing. “We go in and we unroll eight or ten barrels, whatever they have in the distillery, and we taste those barrels and grade them, picking the best barrel,” Fasnacht said. “It’s amazing how different the taste can be from cask to cask.”
ABV Barrel Shop’s initial lineup will include somewhere between 12 and 15 different single-barrel bourbons. With a typical single-barrel batch ranging from 50 to 300 bottles, these are limited-edition bourbons, and Akley and Fasnacht say their goal is to keep inventory rotating so that each time a customer visits, they find something new to interest. their. “What we’re hoping to do is that when we’re up and running, we’ll do about 100 barrel draws a year,” Fasnacht said, adding that they expect to bring in one or two new barrels every week.
Early store releases will include a number of Missouri distilleries, including a 28-bottle run of a “hazmat” bourbon (a bourbon rated at over 140 proofs) from Spirits of the Wood Hat and a simple choice of barrel from Nobles. Akley and Fasnacht are particularly excited about stocking up on a bourbon from Distillery 291 in Colorado. “It may be one of the most award-winning distilleries in the country, and we’re going to be the first to sell the products [in Missouri]”said Akley. Other out-of-state bottles you may find soon at ABV will include 10th mountain whiskey from colorado, MB Roland of Kentucky and Leatherwood Distillery of Tennessee.
Akley ran a bourbon-obsessed media company, ABV network, since 2016, hosts a daily podcast, as well as creating events and a range of content. This allowed him to build an extensive network of contacts with distillers and other players in the bourbon industry. Many of those people became friends, and Akley said those relationships gave ABV Barrel Shop access to distilleries and bourbons that might not have been available otherwise.
Customers can sit at the bar to try before buying whatever is in stock, and eventually customers will be able to purchase bourbons by the glass. Fasnacht built much of the shop itself, and the design incorporates a number of references to the world of bourbon distillation, much of it donated by friends in the industry. The bar top, for example, was donated by Gary Hinegardner of Wood Hat Spirits. Akley and Fasnacht had the ABV logo etched into the wood, then filled the gap with a copper epoxy, from which most distillation stills are made. Barrel staves are repurposed as wall panels, a used barrel doubles as a corner post on the bar, and it’s still a century old. The names on the backs of the bar stools pay homage to some of Akley’s regular guests on the ABV Network podcast.
Akley and Fasnacht are also working on events and educational programming that will have something to offer bourbon aficionados as well as curious novices. “We’ll be giving classes and teaching, and you’ll get to meet more people from the bourbon industry than you’ve ever met before,” Akley said. This could include bourbon tastings, learning how to pair bourbon with different types of foods, and more. An upcoming event will bring customers together to sample different barrels and work together to select a “customer’s choice” to be sold in the store.
Akley said the boutique’s clientele will reflect the bourbon community he’s built with ABV Network. “There’s no pretension, no bourbon snobs,” he said. “It’s at all levels. There are people who are just getting started and people who have tasted everything you could ever want to taste in the world, but they are all super approachable and easy going.
ABV Barrel Shop will initially be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with occasional openings on Sundays. To receive course information, visit the store’s website and sign up for updates.