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View Full Version : Entry Proof - Surprise?!?



nblair
12-27-2010, 13:43
My father-in-law cut out an article in the Courier-Journal the other day and gave it to me on Christmas. It was an interview with Bobby Joe Corbett who works at Maker's Mark. In the article he mentions, "I usually get here around 5:30 in the morning, usually start the filter up, reduce it down to 110 proof - it goes into the barrel at 110 proof." :shocked:

I've always heard that Wild Turkey entered the barrel at the lowest proof in the industry, around 110. Four Roses is 120. BT is 125. I believe Beam is 125, but I think that can vary depending on the label it's destined for. I had no idea that MM had one of the lowest barrel entry proofs. Does this surprise anyone else or is it common knowledge around these parts?

cowdery
12-27-2010, 16:25
I thought it was a little higher than that, maybe 115, but 110 doesn't surprise me.

The Beam products vary in terms of proof off the still and whether or not they have to be diluted for entry, but they all go into the barrel at 125.

It's an interesting article for more than that. Thanks for sharing it. For instance, there has been some debate about whether or not MM really rotates. What Bobby Joe describes sounds about right. They don't rotate every barrel, just the ones that need it.

I'm more surprised that he routinely uses a thief rather than a power drill like everybody else.

nblair
12-27-2010, 17:51
Glad you enjoyed the read, Chuck. I guess I thought that since Fortune Brands owns Beam & Maker's both, that the barrel entry proof would be similar. Since they aren't, I assume they let Maker's operate pretty independently.

If everyone is using power drills instead of thiefs nowadays, are they all using wooden pegs as well? If so, isn't there a chance the barrel would leak, or is the time savings from not having to hammer out bungs just worth the risk?

squire
12-27-2010, 20:01
Interesting observation Chuck, good question Nathaniel. I would think a widespread practice is grounded on good reasons. Does the use of a drill allow for less moving around of the barrel?

ILLfarmboy
12-27-2010, 20:18
Thanks a bunch for posting that. That's the kind of tidbit one could spend a lot of time looking for and never find.

I'm surprised. I figured since Makers doesn't have a lot of wood in the finish their entry proof was the 125 max.

cowdery
12-28-2010, 09:03
Drills are pretty commonly used. Advantage is that you don't have to remove the barrel from the rack. Leaks aren't a problem. Yes, they plug the hole with a wooden peg.

Bobby Joe spoke of using the thief on a barrel removed from the rack, one that was being rotated. I guess if you have easy access to the bung hole that makes sense. On the other hand, removing the bung almost always means replacing it.

Of course the whiskey thief is more romantic than the power drill.

squire
12-28-2010, 10:29
I like the idea of a thief but that's the Romantic in me.

Leopold
12-28-2010, 12:12
The other difference between using a drill and using a thief is that if you use a drill, the contents are kept under constant positive pressure. Especially so if you're in a hot rickhouse.

OscarV
12-28-2010, 13:29
reduce it down to 110 proof - it goes into the barrel at 110 proof." :shocked:




I'll bet it doesn't today. People that have had MM back then and now all say it isn't as good today.
BTW, when was that article printed?

nblair
12-28-2010, 13:41
I happened to crop out the date when I scanned it, the article was printed Tuesday, December 21, 2010. I'd say it's definitely a recent interview, I don't see any other dates on the clipping I have.

I was kind of thinking the same thing as you, Oscar. I've always heard that MM was different a few decades back (some people would argue it was much better back then, but I don't want to start that debate). My understanding is that many distilleries increased the entry proof in that time frame and I thought that explained the change with MM. Apparently not, though.

BluesDaddy
12-28-2010, 13:52
Great article, thanks for sharing.

squire
12-28-2010, 14:24
My introduction to Makers was back when the family still owned the business, then on up through about 1984, and only intermittently since. I will say I liked the original stuff better than what is available now.

ebo
12-28-2010, 14:27
Does drilling holes in the barrels devalue them for re-sale to the scotch whisky makers?

OscarV
12-28-2010, 14:31
I happened to crop out the date when I scanned it, the article was printed Tuesday, December 21, 2010.



I'm suprised, the font and the boldness of the print look like it's from the 1960's.

nblair
12-28-2010, 14:38
I'm suprised, the font and the boldness of the print look like it's from the 1960's.

That is my fault. I didn't think that many people would find the article interesting or I would have scanned it with an actual scanner. I used an app on my iphone to scan it and that's why the print is a little different, and you can see the creases, etc.

SMOWK
12-28-2010, 18:50
All of the MM that I've tried from the early 80s into the early 90s has been MUCH better than the current stuff that was tasted right next to it.

Especially the 101 stuff.....YUM!

squire
12-28-2010, 19:03
I had forgotten about that, we always chose the 50.5% when we had a choice.

cowdery
12-29-2010, 11:07
Although Maker's wasn't as badly affected as many, Maker's was a victim of the great whiskey glut of the 1980s and probably was selling product that was a little older than their standard profile. That said, as much as every distiller tries for consistency, products do change over time for a variety of reasons and not necessarily because they have been deliberately 'cheapened' in some way.

I'm not prepared to confirm the impression of some that "Maker's used to be better," but I'm not in a position to refute it either. That said, I think changes attributed to ownership or distiller changes mostly reflect prejudices on the part of the person making the attribution.

Regarding drilling, only barrel heads are drilled and, no, a plug or two in a barrel head does not affect the barrel's resale value. In most cases, especially when they are shipped long distances, the barrels are knocked down and reassembled and any wood that shows damage for any reason is replaced. I've drilled and plugged a few barrels myself. Never had a leaker and I'm a rank amateur at it.

squire
12-29-2010, 15:37
Relying on my faulty memory alone is a poor way of making comparisons so I try to be specific before posting something was 'better' in the day.

I do feel confident in saying Dant, Crow, Charter and Taylor were better 40 years ago.

trumpstylz
12-30-2010, 02:15
That is a low entry proof. However, I'm pretty sure WT still has it beat- I'm pretty sure WT goes in around 105 if i'm not mistaken.

cowdery
12-30-2010, 20:35
Even if something was certifiably better 40 years ago, that doesn't prove the decline occurred due to something nefarious.

squire
12-31-2010, 16:28
Nor do I suggest any such thing Chuck. If a provider buys an established brand name and chooses to fill the bottles with a lesser whisky that's their business, literally. As a consumer I have the choice of buying or leaving it alone.

cowdery
01-01-2011, 11:14
Nor do I suggest any such thing Chuck. If a provider buys an established brand name and chooses to fill the bottles with a lesser whisky that's their business, literally. As a consumer I have the choice of buying or leaving it alone.

You are suggesting exactly what I meant by 'nefarious.' You apparently believe a provider has bought an established brand name and chosen to fill the bottles with lesser whiskey. You're entitled to reach that conclusion but my analysis of the evidence does not lead me to that conclusion.

squire
01-01-2011, 16:44
Chuck you are reading something into my post that isn't there. What I said, and what I believe, is that when a provider buys a brand it's theirs to do with as they wish which is a perfectly acceptable business decision. Whether I buy the brand or not is my decision.

cowdery
01-01-2011, 22:06
Chuck you are reading something into my post that isn't there. What I said, and what I believe, is that when a provider buys a brand it's theirs to do with as they wish which is a perfectly acceptable business decision. Whether I buy the brand or not is my decision.

"...and chooses to fill the bottles with a lesser whisky"

But you just mean it hypothetically, I suppose.

squire
01-02-2011, 01:33
It's their brand, they can do with it as they like.

squire
01-02-2011, 01:37
Are you saying filling a purchased brand with a lesser whisky hasn't happened?

cowdery
01-02-2011, 11:48
Are you saying filling a purchased brand with a lesser whisky hasn't happened?

Why are you being so coy? You pointed that particular finger at Maker's Mark and while certainly brands have been debased after acquisition -- Old Crow is a prime example -- I don't believe it's a fair charge against Maker's Mark, which is the sole point of contention here.

squire
01-02-2011, 12:36
Not being coy, I speak succinctly out of habit because I learned long ago that short sentences help keep the jury awake.

Apparently we agree on Crow and I suspect Taylor and Yellowstone as well so I'll skip to Makers. I liked Makers more when the family owned/operated the place, my sentiment. Of course I'm not without curiosity about brands generally, that's part of why I read your blog.

henrihenrynl
01-02-2011, 19:29
well, hello, this topic is interesting.

the old versus new discussion has its basis in the proof, older versions like the black blotte and the early VIP's where higher proof, so thats why more ppl liked them, nowadays all bottlings are the same content only the waxing can be different, thats a real shame. MM says its because the small factory line-up, (they did expand to provide more 2 the world) its just down to dollars folks, thats the business sense of an acquisition. if they dont higher proof (age statement) their whiskies, i fear they are going 2 lose it from elijah. all that said, MM is not a bad whisky, in my book its the best vanilla soft clean bourbon for the money (in Europe around 25 euros a liter).

nblair
01-29-2011, 07:25
So I picked up The Book of Classic American Whiskeys by Mark H. Waymack & James Harris from the Amazon Marketplace the other day and found some more interesting tidbits related to Maker's. All of this information is found on pages 137 and 138. (Link to these pages on Google Books (http://books.google.com/books?id=93geJgMWt0IC&pg=PA137&dq=maker%27s+mark+charcoal&hl=en&ei=JCZETezzDYT7lwfBvODrDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=maker%27s%20mark%20charcoal&f=false))


A) The entry proof around 110 was confirmed.

"...the white dog comes out of the doubler at around 65 percent, or 130 proof. It then goes into the barrel at 109-110 proof."


B) Chuck was a little surprised that the gentleman in the article I attached in the first page of this thread, actually hammered out the bung instead of using a drill like everyone else. The following could just be some BS the distillery told the authors (you know, the "we're the best because we do it 'this way' stuff). Granted, this book was written about 16 years ago...but if they still take these extra steps and use different wood for the bungs, then maybe it really is easier for them to get the bung out...?

"...the barrel bungs are walnut, whereas everywhere else they use poplar for the bung. The argument is that at Maker's Mark they do a lot of taste-testing of the spirit as it ages. So to maintain accessibility as well as a good sealing, they lay a small square of burlap over the bung hole and then hammer in the walnut bung. The burlap provides the repeated access and the walnut, a denser, strong wood than poplar, provides the durability and sealing strength."


C) Lastly...

"As we walked from the still to the cistern room, we noticed a couple of metal pails, each nearly full of what looks like a gritty black powder with a small handful of white power thrown on top. Though we have visited many distilleries, this is something we had never seen before, or since. We asked one of the workmen and we got the beginning of an answer:
'Oh, those? Yeah, they go in the dog before it goes in the barrels'
We started to develop a hunch, that we later tested over lunch with Bill Samuels. Samuels straightforwardly explained that the stuff is mostly carbon, ground pure charcoal, that is stirred into the spirit as it collects in the cistern. Its purpose is to act as a kind of filter, like an activated charcoal filter. The carbon absorbs some of the more volatile and (at least in the Maker's Mark philosophy) undesirable congeners. One can certain notice a remarkable difference between the white dog as it comes straight off the still, and the spirit after the carbon treatment, just prior to being barrelled. Many of the coarser grain notes and highlights are subdued or entirely gone, and a mellowness, with rounded edges, is already present-effects that are in keeping with Maker's Mark intentions.


I could not believe they did this. Does this describe the "charcoal filtered" process I see on some Heaven Hill bottles? I always assume that since "filtered" was in the phrase, it was done at the end of the aging process, but I guess this makes more sense. Either way, I had no idea that Maker's utilized this process!?!? Any thoughts?

cowdery
01-29-2011, 11:54
The process Maker's uses is more like what Daniel's and Dickel do, in it's effect if not in the process itself. Producers such as Beam and Heaven Hill that put "charcoal filtered" on the labels of some products are mostly trying to confuse the consumer into thinking it's the same as the Daniel's process. In fact what they're referring to is the chill-filtering step that takes place right before bottling, which does involve activated charcoal. The amount of charcoal involved is very small, but charcoal is involved.

nblair
01-29-2011, 14:18
So usually when chill filtering, charcoal is used. Gotcha. So is what Maker's does unique as far as bourbon goes? It seems so odd to just dump ground charcoal into it right off the still.

cowdery
01-29-2011, 17:38
I've never heard of it before, including at Maker's, but it makes sense. Plenty of loose charcoal gets into the spirit in the barrel, all of which is filtered out before bottling.