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pepcycle
01-04-2010, 14:50
In order to keep proofs moderated in aging whiskey, would it make sense to replace the angel's share with water?
Would this prevent really old barrels from getting dry, leaking and ending up empty?
Is there anything that prohibits this?
Is there a financial incentive to the distillery not to?
Does anyone think that a distillery might be doing this to get/keep low barrel proof and being able to sell them as such, like a barrel proof at 100?

TNbourbon
01-04-2010, 22:59
Ed, I don't know the answers to your questions -- but I have a definite sense that cheating the angels on their next drink just ain't right!

kickert
01-05-2010, 06:51
I have thought about this before too, but perhaps not in the same terms.

If the barrel is not full, then you are not taking advantage of the whole aging effect. If I remember correctly, after 10-12 years up to 50% of a barrel can evaporate. That means the bottom half has contributed flavor the whole time while the top is still relatively fresh. Adding liquid back in would bring the distillate back in contact with that fresher char.

Of course proofs don't always go up. In Scotland they usually go down. Likewise barrels on the lower racks often drop in proof while the upper racks gain proof. So you wouldn't want to add water to those lower barrels.

The only thing the TTB regs say about putting stuff in barrels is that it must be put in at lower than 125 proof and must go into new charred oak (to be a bourbon). Technically the oak wouldn't be new (so you couldn't add more white dog and still call it bourbon) but at the same time if you did as you suggest, you would be putting water and not spirits and thus would be within the regs.

I have often wondered why spirit makers who can use used casks (i.e. rum, scotch, etc.) and who blend large quantities of spirits, don't just replace the angel's share with more raw spirits.

Bourbon Geek
01-05-2010, 07:30
I have thought about this before too, but perhaps not in the same terms.

If the barrel is not full, then you are not taking advantage of the whole aging effect. If I remember correctly, after 10-12 years up to 50% of a barrel can evaporate. That means the bottom half has contributed flavor the whole time while the top is still relatively fresh. Adding liquid back in would bring the distillate back in contact with that fresher char.

Of course proofs don't always go up. In Scotland they usually go down. Likewise barrels on the lower racks often drop in proof while the upper racks gain proof. So you wouldn't want to add water to those lower barrels.

The only thing the TTB regs say about putting stuff in barrels is that it must be put in at lower than 125 proof and must go into new charred oak (to be a bourbon). Technically the oak wouldn't be new (so you couldn't add more white dog and still call it bourbon) but at the same time if you did as you suggest, you would be putting water and not spirits and thus would be within the regs.

I have often wondered why spirit makers who can use used casks (i.e. rum, scotch, etc.) and who blend large quantities of spirits, don't just replace the angel's share with more raw spirits.


Have you ever heard of the solera process? There are a number of types of spirit that use this process ... notably Sherry, Maderia, Spanish brandy ... essentially, it is a cascading process of maturation that keeps all of the barrels full ... To simplify, barrel 1 is filled ... then 2 and so on. They are aged for some time ... 1/2 of barrel 1 is emptied and bottled ... 1/2 of #2 is put into #1 and so on ... the last barrel is topped off with new make.

kickert
01-05-2010, 09:56
I was not familiar with that, but it makes sense.