A Quest for Passion

One of things we have always admired are those people that do things with true passion. We describe it as the difference between simply doing something, and doing something exceptionally well. It is the attention to detail in every aspect.

Balsamic Barrel Charge - Modena Italy

Balsamic Barrel Charge - Modena Italy

While traveling through Italy we found ourselves in the province of Modena. Located in the Emilia-Romagna Region in the north, it is best know as the storied home of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini. Aside from these truly exceptional auto makers, this region is also known for Balsamic Vinegar production. Steeped in tradition dating back to the 11th century there is absolutely no substitute for the black gold they produce there. In the modern day tradition of wanting to duplicate, and mass produce what traditionally takes the one thing that can not be altered, time, we lose the passion. This can be truly illustrated in the ancient art of making real balsamic. 

Acetaia di Giorgio is a traditional balsamic vinegar producer in Modena. Touring through the barrel aging rooms we were told how the production is a combination of family tradition and patience. In addition to time in barrels, there is one single ingredient; white grape must. The process begins with the crushing of harvested Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The skins, seeds and stems all remain together that make up the must. This is then cooked to reduce the liquid and raise the sugars. At a predetermined glucose level, the producer will then rest the must eventually removing the solids once the desired fermentation is complete.

15L Barrel at the end of charge - Modena Italy

15L Barrel at the end of charge - Modena Italy

Next step is the patience. The aging process is involved and long. Beginning with a rack of 5 barrels ranging in size from 50L to 15L each is initially filled to capacity. The charge is then left to age. As the liquid concentrates over time it begins to develop its color and flavor. Similar to Solera aging of spirits, each preceding barrel fills the smaller one. The largest barrel is then topped off with the current year’s production. All in all it takes a minimum of 15 years to bottle from the smallest barrel to be considered True Balsamic Vinegar. Once used as a daughters dowry for marriage the tradition of this process dates back to the Romans.

The warm late summer sun made the peaceful garden area of Acetaia di Giorgio a truly relaxing stage for a private tasting of the estate’s True Balsamic Vinegars. Sampled on their own as well as with bread, cheese and even ice cream, the flavors were complex and intoxicating. The experience left us appreciative of the passion they have for keeping the tradition of production. As hard as modern day production has tried, no one has been truly able to capture the flavor, aroma, and silky black texture of True Balsamic.

Balsamic Barrel dated 1512 - Modena Italy

Balsamic Barrel dated 1512 - Modena Italy

Carrying on this tradition does take commitment and a passion for the process. On the day we visited, they had recently acquired barrels dating back to the 15th century from another producer in Modena. The family gave up the barrels as the next generation had no interest in continuing the tradition.

We encourage you to seek passion, find the exceptional, and experience the best of the best.

You're starting a what?!?!

I’m Jonathan Himmelwright, the Sandy Feet Rum Guy, and this is brief history on the creation of Sandy Feet Rum Co.

After a visit to a Bourbon distillery in Lexington KY in April of 2016, my wife (Paula - the Sandy Feet Rum Girl), and I decided we would start a Rum Company. This life changing decision was made on the beach, where all great decisions are made. It was a week after our distillery visit while lounging on our hometown beach of Lauderdale By The Sea. After, lets say “a few” rum laced drinks, the idea was hatched, and blurted out like the answer to a trivia question. It was one of those defining moments, when you have a spark of an idea, and are actually dead serious about it; albeit a bit clueless and buzzed.

Did we have any idea at the time how to do it you ask? Nope! To be honest, for those that knew us, this shouldn’t have really come as a big shock at all. Paula and I have always been risk takers, and not afraid to step outside ourselves. It’s another great adventure for us. We always say “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

Within a short period of time we procured used Bourbon barrels from the distillery in Lexington, and with some help formulated a Rum mash and ran our first 150 gallons of 130 proof Rum. Sandy Feet Rum Company became a reality in October of 2016, right after Hurricane Matthew, with the filling of 6 Bourbon barrels.

What is going to make us unique is our passion for travel, flavors, design, and exceptional quality. In addition to creative flavors we plan to offer barrel ageing projects. Stay tuned and come along on our adventure.

See you on the beach - Jonathan