Olivins ages Rosie Parks Balsamic Vinegar aboard skipjack at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

In cooperation with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Olivins Fine Olive Oils and Vinegars is producing its 2015 reserve cast of balsamic vinegar that will age at an accelerated rate aboard its namesake, the skipjack Rosie Parks. With limited bottles of the specialty vinegar available by Thanksgiving, a portion of each sale will benefit the children and adults served by the CBMM’s education, boat restoration, and exhibition programs.

On June 18, 2015, six small barrels of the specially blended balsamic vinegar were placed in the hull of the 1955 skipjack Rosie Parks, where it will remain over the next five months. During that time, the vinegar’s aging process will be accelerated by the gentle motion of the boat, which is seen dockside at CBMM, and under sail at the annual Choptank River and Deal Island skipjack races.

In November, Olivins will remove the barrels from aboard the skipjack and package the reserve balsamic vinegar in six-ounce bottles, which will be available for purchase at Olivins and the museum’s store.

According to Olivins owner Bill Acosta, the oak barrels used for the vinegar are made specifically to expand and contract as the temperatures rise and fall during the aging process, infusing the specialty vinegar with undertones of toasted oak.

“Aging barrels aboard boats started out in history as a necessity, as most trade occurred over waterways,” explains CBMM’s Chief Curator, Pete Lesher. “A boat’s movement can speed up the process of aging, whether it’s spirits, vinegar, or another liquid.”

“Last year’s cast of Rosie Parks vinegar was our first, and several of our regular customers—including myself—commented that it tastes more like a balsamic aged over 35 years,” said Acosta. “Last year’s cast sold out very quickly, so we’ve increased the reserve from two to six barrels this year.

“The skipjack Rosie Parks has such rich history on the Chesapeake,” continued Acosta. “We not only wanted to create a special balsamic vinegar that gives people a real sense of place—with an exceptional taste—but also to support the museum in a meaningful way.”

The Rosie Parks, built in 1955 by legendary boat builder Bronza Parks for his brother, Captain Orville Parks, was named for their mother. CBMM purchased the Rosie Parks in 1975 from Captain Orville. Only 20 years old at the time, Rosie had a reputation as both the best maintained skipjack in the oyster dredging fleet and as a champion sailor at the annual skipjack races at Deal Island and Chesapeake Appreciation Days at Sandy Point. Now fully restored after a recent three-year restoration, the Rosie Parks serves as an ambassador for the museum, and the dwindling skipjack fleet, with the museum racing her in the annual Deal Island and Choptank River skipjack races.

For more information, visit www.cbmm.org