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View Full Version : Do Tennessee Whiskies reuse barrels?



sku
05-19-2009, 12:55
I had thought the answer was no, and that the Tennesseans used new, charred oak just like Bourbon, but someone in the know told me that JD has started to refill old barrels.

Can anyone verify or disprove this?

Any idea on what Dickel does?

OscarV
05-19-2009, 13:02
I'm quite sure that neither George or Jack reuses barrels.
They sell them to foreign whiskey makers and Jack sends some up to Louisville for their sister whiskey Early Times.

sku
05-19-2009, 13:21
I'm quite sure that neither George or Jack reuses barrels.
They sell them to foreign whiskey makers and Jack sends some up to Louisville for their sister whiskey Early Times.

Oh right, I bet the person was referring to the reuse by Early Times. Thanks.

OscarV
05-19-2009, 13:36
If Early Times doesn't get them from Jack, Old Forester is in the same house.

cowdery
05-19-2009, 16:05
Just to confirm, no, Jack Daniel's and George Dickel use new charred oak barrels exclusively. Brown-Forman's Cooperage has a branch operation in Lynchburg strictly for the purpose of knocking down the used barrels for shipment to other places. They go to Scotland but also to California (for brandy) Mexico (for tequila), Jamaica (for rum), and Canada (for Canadian whiskey). They probably don't go back to Louisville since Brown-Forman's operations there produce more than enough used barrels for Early Times. When you consider that only 20% of Early Times is aged in used barrels, and Early Times is sold as a bourbon outside the USA, Early Times itself probably produces more than enough used barrels for its needs.

One interesting thing Jack Daniel's does that no one else does is that after a barrel is dumped it gets some water put into it and then sits in a special warehouse for a couple of weeks. When they dump those barrels out, they recover a fair amount of whiskey. That water is used to dilute the barrel proof whiskey down to bottling proof. Other distillers rinse out their used barrels but no one else 'ages' them this way.

callmeox
05-19-2009, 19:28
Other distillers rinse out their used barrels but no one else 'ages' them this way.

According to the tour at the Four Roses warehousing/bottling, the rinse after dumping is required by law.

cowdery
05-19-2009, 20:10
According to the tour at the Four Roses warehousing/bottling, the rinse after dumping is required by law.

That makes sense. If they didn't rinse, you could probably sweat a pint or two out of every barrel. I know everybody rinses, which amounts to sticking a hose with a spray nozzle into the bung hole, spraying it around for a few seconds, then rolling it over to drain. Only JD partially fills each barrel with water then lets it soak for a couple weeks before dumping it. Obviously, the amount of whiskey they recover is significant.

callmeox
05-19-2009, 20:19
Beyond wringing a bit more product out of the barrel, I believe that the secondary goal is to remove as much flammable vapor producing residue before the barrels are re-bunged and shipped around the globe.

ThomasH
05-19-2009, 22:39
When I took the JD tour a few years back, the guide said that the JD barrels were filled with 10 gallons of water and were left for about 4 weeks before being dumped again. The 2nd dumping yielded whiskey of about 60 proof that was mixed in with a newly dumped batch of whiskey!

Thomas

cowdery
05-20-2009, 15:29
Beyond wringing a bit more product out of the barrel, I believe that the secondary goal is to remove as much flammable vapor producing residue before the barrels are re-bunged and shipped around the globe.

That may be a consideration although in most cases, especially when the barrels are being shipped overseas, they are knocked down for shipment and re-coopered there. Part of this is because at least some Scottish distillers add staves to make the barrels slightly larger.

Bourbon Geek
05-20-2009, 16:19
That may be a consideration although in most cases, especially when the barrels are being shipped overseas, they are knocked down for shipment and re-coopered there. Part of this is because at least some Scottish distillers add staves to make the barrels slightly larger.

Shooking barrels (knocking them down before overseas shipment) is not nearly as big a deal as it used to be. The labor costs got to be too high to offset the shipping savings. Most barels shipped out of the US are shipped intact. Some are selected before shipment (ie the non-refillable ones are set aside) and recoopered ... other times, the whole lot is sent overseas and selected at the other end and recoopered at places like Speyside Cooperage. I personally think recoopering them in KY and then shipping refillables only is the most cost advantageous method because you don't pay to ship a non-refillable barrel... the worst of which might just get knocked down and used for spare staves anyway.