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Brewvine: St. Ambrose Cellars in Benzie County

When you come to St. Ambrose Cellars in Benzie County, you can take your pick of wine mead or beer from their taps, bottles and cans, but if you are looking for something truly unique to bring back to your hive try the Royal Reserve.

“We’ve been making this for quite a while now. It’s the Royal Reserve,” St. Ambrose Cellars mead maker Scott Cramton said. “It’s a two year barrel aged, mead, that we also add wine spirits to it’s the highest alcohol content beverage we produce here at St. Ambrose. It’s got some bourbon notes to it because those are the barrels we use to age in so it’s a number two charred barrel. And, yeah, it’s been two years and they’re just aging and ferments in the barrels, as well as ages for two years. And then we do the blending with some honey on the back end, and it ages actually with alcohol added into it.”

This memorable mead is aged in American oak for two years in barrels made specifically for St. Ambrose which gives the beverage its unique taste.

The mead goes through a few stages where it’s taken out of the barrels so the yeast can be removed and the barrels can be rinsed. After all of that, it’s just a matter of time under Cramton’s watchful eye.

“Over time it will evaporate and you’ll get a big air gap in there, so we have to make sure it’s topped up all the time and then just monitoring sulfur levels,” he said. “That’s all we have to do, let time do the rest.”

Two yeas may seem like a long time to spend in a barrel but you’d better believe that this regal nectar is worth the wait.