Wines That Rock, in partnership with the Star Trek franchise, has been hard at work re-imagining a new line of high-end spirits.
Where’s the Romulan Ale?
Since Wine That Rocks launched Star Trek Wines in 2018, and as they unveiled new bottles from across the Star Trek universe, that question had been constantly asked among their customers. And their response had always been automatic — It’s illegal in the Federation.
Until now. The Wines That Rock team behind Star Trek Wines are now back with the launch of Star Trek Spirits, and StarTrek.com had the opportunity to learn all about the depth of details that went into the release of two bespoke spirits — ROMULAN ALE VODKA and ROMULAN ALE RYE WHISKEY.
The Romulan Ale Vodka and Romulan Ale Rye Whiskey are by far the most technically challenging projects Wine That Rocks has done to date for Star Trek. The road from whiteboard to the final product had taken them several years; from the design of three separate prototype bottles to discovering a 13th Generation Master Distiller as well as flavor masters who helped them put the project together.
When they started the design and development of the Romulan Ale bottles, they were confronted with a unique challenge. The classic ridges of the bottle had always been formed using multi-part acrylic plastic for show props. The classic Romulan Ale bottles we were all familiar with were never designed with the intent to hold drinkable products. But they needed to produce a glass bottle. Quality spirits are almost always housed in glass.
With their initial sketches and designs presented to the glass production team, they were told that pulling glass out of the molds with such extreme levels of detail was going to be challenging. With that in mind, they embarked on three separate bottle designs, studying which rendering would ultimately be both producible and would match the classic Romulan Ale look and feel desired. After a lot of molten glass, specially designed glass molds, and months of trial and error, they were able to produce a single bottle of the Production Option 1, seen above. From there, they finalized tooling and began the process of crafting these unique vessels.
Working together with Star Trek: Picard prop masters and the team at the Star Trek Archive, they finalized the original designs for the front artwork application. Using a process of metallic gold hot stamping, the Romulan logo is adhered directly to the glass. For the topper, a futuristic and functional Vino Seal glass topper is utilized. Years in the making, they now had their bottle.
Next came the question — What is Romulan Ale?
Not a commonly known commodity, Romulan Ale, with its distinctly intriguing crystal blue hue, originated as a highly intoxicating (and illegal) alcoholic beverage of Romulan origin. An infamous beverage with a powerful kick has been banned in the United Federation of Planets since 2285. It has become a libation of legend throughout the galaxy.
First debuting in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, that was far from its last appearance. Romulan Ale has become as much a part of the Star Trek DNA as tricorders, Tribbles and communicators.
Several years ago, Wines That Rock started asking fans, "What is Romulan Ale?" at Star Trek conventions, along with an online poll. They received a lot of different answers, but ultimately, they knew it wasn't going to be a beer or wine. They began their search for the proper spirit to fill the legendary Romulan Ale bottle. This trek allowed them to assemble a world-class team, including some of the spirit industry's top experts, distillers, and flavor masters.
Partnering with a 13th generation Master Distiller allowed them to take Romulan Ale from a concept to a reality. The process allowed the team to opt for two separate paths — ROMULAN ALE RYE (Rye Whisky) and ROMULAN ALE VODKA (Vodka). Created in small-lot batches, these spirits are crafted utilizing the most premium ingredients possible; the focus was putting the absolute best, quality spirits in the bottle.
Jeffrey Lombardi, property master for Star Trek: Picard, praised the team's attention to detail, stating it's the “best Romulan Ale bottle I've ever seen.”
Romulan Ale Vodka
Produced in the Napa area, Romulan Ale Vodka is distilled four times, from premium Midwest grain, in a stainless steel still. The 192 proof ensures a clean distillation of the heart of the vodka, and is then cut to 80 proof for bottling.
Carefully put together by a family of 13th generation distillers, there are no trace of off notes or the smell of rubbing alcohol that many vodkas suffer from. The Romulan Ale Vodka has a ouch of corn sweetness with the higher notes from a plump smell of good wheat grain.
Romulan Ale Vodka features an electric blue appearance, with no sediment whatsoever. On swirling, it leaves a phenomenal blue coat on the inside of the glass with long thin legs. Unlike several other vodkas, this one isn't highly filtered, allowing for a great body and mouthfeel that would otherwise be lost.
Romulan Ale Rye Whiskey
The ultra-premium rye whiskey, "a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley," used in the Romulan Ale Rye Whiskey was designed from start to finish to be exceptional, with its sweetness and flavor complexity after it was aged in newly-charred white oak barrels. Its roots are deep in history and technology; utilizing a 150-year-old yeast strain, used in extraordinary and well-known rye whiskeys. After aging for two-plus years just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, the Romulan Ale Rye ready for bottling.
Wines That Rock took it a step further with a second distilling process, creating an ultra-smooth finish, even at a very high bottle proof. In collaboration with a world-renowned food scientist, they opted for a rare and technologically-advanced vacuum distillation process. Distillation under vacuum creates lower temperatures, enhancing both flavor and aromatics. We'd like to think that distillation in the future would also be done in similar low-pressure environments, and as it turns out, distillation in a vacuum happens to make great whiskey.
The Rye graininess is apparent in the nose and initial taste on the tongue, which is then followed by a sweet brown note of vanilla creaminess and sweetness. It has the spicy peppery notes that all high rye whiskeys are known for in the finish, but the Romulan Ale Rye Whiskey is muted with dried fig, raisin, and cherry fruitiness.
From concept to cork, Wines That Rock has brought this classic part of Star Trek history alive.
Romulan Ale is now available for purchase. Shipping begins in December 2022!
Star Trek: Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. and is distributed concurrently by Paramount Global Content Distribution on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories, and in Canada it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
Stay tuned to StarTrek.com for more details! And be sure to follow @StarTrek on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.