View Full Version : Sulphur in Bourbon

03-31-2012, 00:55
This is not that uncommon in single malts, especially ex-wine casked whiskies

I have encountered this 3 times now in a Bourbon as well. Some friends claim I am too sensitive for this, but it has happened before others have found a whisky sulphured where I didn't.

I encountered it three times and I forgot the first bottle apart from it being something bottled some years back

The other two were a ER 101 with New Orleans on the label and a Johnny Drum

I have to note its not the rubbery, stroke match or rotten egg kind of sulphur.

It's more a meaty, ashy kind of thing, that's the best association I can give, if similar to any of the above its stroke match more than the other 2

Anyone else encountered or experienced this ?

Can this has anything to do with the lack of copper parts in the stills. I got no idea how bourbon stills are copper wise


03-31-2012, 09:10
Careful. You might earn the nickname "Jim Murray" with comments like those. :grin:

03-31-2012, 12:22
ooooooooooooh no :-(

04-01-2012, 18:45
Sulphur in bourbon? Never.

04-01-2012, 19:00
Sulphur in bourbon? Never.

I suspect it is something else he is detecting.

Sulfur always smells like fireworks/ a struck match and in the case of water with hydrogen sulfide dissolved in it in it; rotten eggs.

Believe me. My well is sulfur water and nearly nine years ago I spent almost two thousand on a Culligan "Iron Cleer", an iron/hydrogen sulfide whole house filter. Works like a dream, by the way.

04-02-2012, 03:13
Sulphur can emerge in other eays than "just" the stroke match and rotten eggs variations

As I allready said this sulphur I detect in thesr bourbons were close to the stroke match type

Apary from those 2 variants sulphur can also be found giving a taste/nose of rubber, latex, plastic. Just think a new pair of rubber wellies. Other known sulphur flavours in whiskies are the cabbage variation.

The origin of the sulphur variants can differ. Distilling method is one source. Mortlach is aimed to be sulphur/meaty in character by Diageo!

In scotch the sulphur is mainly originating from sherry casks, but thats another story. The sulphur I have detected in these very few bourbons are not this kind. But maybe I am just too sensitive to Sulpur:-). I see no reason a meaty sulphur distillation shouldn't be podsible in a bourbon distillery?


04-02-2012, 16:14
Well, there's sulfur and then there's something that smells or tastes like sulfur. Sulfides do occur. That's largely why stills are copper, to control sulfides.

Back when yeast was 'made' by capturing wild yeast with a special yeast mash, some of the yeast mash recipes called for sulfur as an ingredient.

I don't think I've ever detected sulfur in bourbon but that's just me. I don't doubt that someone else might.

04-02-2012, 18:01
It might possibly be DMS. Malt barley in the US that is malted is kilned at very low temperatures in order to preserve the maximum amount of enzymes....enzymes which are needed to break down high percentages of corn and rye in the grist.

Low kilning temperatures can lead to higher amounts of DMS-P in the malt, leading to higher amounts of DMS in the distiller's beer (higher kiln temps will cook off the DMP-P). DMS doesn't adsorb to copper as well as other sulfur compounds. I've never personally detected DMS or other sulfur aromas in American whiskies. I have in fruit brandies here in the US, but never whiskey. Doesn't mean it's not there.

Just speculating. It's hard to tell what you're tasting here at the other end of a laptop.

Are you sensitive to certain lager beers high in DMS content? Does Heineken make you wretch?