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cowdery
09-23-2008, 14:34
I toured Jim Beam, Clermont, on Friday and learned something interesting. They are now bringing the different expressions off the still at slightly different proofs.

Originally, they made two bourbons, regular Jim Beam and high-rye Old Grand-Dad. The Old Grand-Dad juice was used for OGD and Basil Hayden and the JB juice was used for everything else. For the small batchers, except BH, a barrel didn't become Baker's, or Booker's, or Knob Creek until it was dumped.

Then they started to do wood management. It was the same juice off the still, but they barreled and put away according to brand, so the whiskey was Knob Creek (for example) as soon as it went into the barrel, and it was put away according to where it would age best in nine years, into a whiskey with the Knob Creek profile. Ditto for the other expressions.

Now, not long ago, they have started to actually bring the spirit off the still at different proofs, according to what brand it's going to be. Bookers and Baker's come off at 125 proof, Knob comes off at 130, and Jim Beam white and black come off at 135. Booker's and Baker's have no water added and go into the barrel at 125. Knob and Jim have water added so they too can go into the barrel at 125.

Ditto OGD/BH, which comes off at 127 and gets diluted slightly to 125 for entry.

So what? Lower distillation proof means more flavor.

MJL
09-23-2008, 15:02
Very interesting information. In particular I like the bottom line. So lower barrel fill proof means more taste. So why barrel at a higher proof to begin with?

OscarV
09-23-2008, 15:06
So why barrel at a higher proof to begin with?


To make more money, if you water down a 140 proof out of the barrel, down to 80 proof that will fill a heck of a lot of bottles.

jeff
09-23-2008, 16:09
Chuck,

Thanks for the info. Approximately how long have they been doing this? What's in the bottles now, and how long before this "custom distilled" product hits the shelves?

ILLfarmboy
09-23-2008, 17:09
Jeff, you took the words right out of my mouth.

cowdery
09-23-2008, 19:58
Very interesting information. In particular I like the bottom line. So lower barrel fill proof means more taste. So why barrel at a higher proof to begin with?

Or because that's the flavor profile you want. Beam is designed to be a very mild whiskey, what the boobs call "smooth." Mild or gentle would be the nice words, bland would be the not-so-nice word, but that's the Beam profile. Inoffensive. They decided to make the small-batchers a little more flavorful. Good for them.

cowdery
09-23-2008, 20:09
Chuck,

Thanks for the info. Approximately how long have they been doing this? What's in the bottles now, and how long before this "custom distilled" product hits the shelves?

They started the wood management maybe ten years ago, maybe a little longer. Since this is the first I've heard of the proof management, my guess would be that it hasn't been going on for very long, a couple of years at the most.

And you probably won't be able to tell. The point of both changes is to allow them to arrive at the desired taste profile in the most efficient way possible. If they do it right, every barrel they designate as Knob Creek will become ready to be bottled as Knob Creek on its ninth birthday and a day. No barrels will be rejected. None will have to age a little longer, or get dumped into Old Bourbon Hollow. They're not changing the taste. They're trying to achieve the desired taste more expediously.

This is just another aspect of the fact that bourbon whiskey suddenly matters again, so that it's worth the company's investment to improve processes and get the most bang for the buck, as in return-on-investment.

mozilla
09-23-2008, 20:59
So, how much more can someone expect to pay for this new proof managment?

cowdery
09-24-2008, 09:27
So, how much more can someone expect to pay for this new proof managment?

Not sure I understand the question. For the producer, there is a little more management cost, but it's completely offset by the efficiency gain, or they wouldn't do it. In other words, it's a net plus.

Which, theoretically would mean the price to consumers should be less, but fat chance. As I have tried to explain to people for many years, selling price has very little to do with cost and everything to do with what the market will bear.