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gatsby
03-29-2013, 11:41
I did a search but couldn't find an answer to my question. In my quest for a bottle of the Elijah Craig barrel proof I read somewhere that it was something like 134 proof. It got me wondering how some barrel proof bourbons can reach proofs higher than 125. I mean if legally it must be put into barrels for aging at not more than 125 proof how does the finished product have a higher alcohol content? I'm assuming it has something to do with evaporation/"angels share" etc. but I would logically think that the alcohol would evaporate before the water does which should result in a lower proof than what it was put in at. Anybody have an answer to this question?

Rutherford
03-29-2013, 11:49
Water permeates through the barrel much easier than alcohol, so the liquid at the outside of the barrel is a much higher proportion of water than the liquid inside the barrel.

Bourbon Boiler
03-29-2013, 12:18
At most atmposheric conditions, the water seeps through the barrel faster. However, during times of extremely high humidty, I'm told this can actually go the other way. But, unless a manufacturer were specifically controlling the environment for this condition, the longer a bourbon ages, the higher the proof climbs.

squire
03-29-2013, 12:33
gatsby, as a general statement Bourbon aging in a traditional warehouse in the Kentucky climate will gain in proof as it ages. Those of the first floor, if it's cool enough, may stay close to the same or actually lose a few percentage points while those in the hotter, upper floors will gain in alcoholic strength as more water is evaporated.

Which is why we can have a powerhouse 140+ proof barrel strength Stagg.

Flyfish
03-29-2013, 13:10
At most atmposheric conditions, the water seeps through the barrel faster. However, during times of extremely high humidty, I'm told this can actually go the other way. But, unless a manufacturer were specifically controlling the environment for this condition, the longer a bourbon ages, the higher the proof climbs.

Alcohol does evaporate more readily than water but a molecule of alcohol is much larger than an H2O molecule that therefore escapes from the barrel--even a "water tight" barrel. On distillery tours that include the rick house, you can easily feel the changes in humidity as you move from the outer walls to the center and from the ground floor to higher up. (This explanation was intended for Gatsby, not you BB. You already know how it works.)

gatsby
03-29-2013, 13:25
Thanks for the responses guys. I didn't realize that an alcohol molecule was that much larger than water but I guess if you look at the molecular formulas C2H6O vs. H20 it makes sense.

squire
03-29-2013, 13:44
Ain't science wonderful.

darylld911
03-29-2013, 16:21
I thought I read somewhere (and now can't find where - err) that Scotch actually goes the other way due to the climate (less variability in temperature, more humidity?) I'll have to check some of those blocky-looking-thinly-cut-wood-product-thingys, as it may have been in one of those.

squire
03-29-2013, 16:25
That's true Gary but it's not just the cold climate. Scottish whisky warehouses are just one story tall so they don't get the extremes of internal temperature reached by a 5-6 story building in Kentucky.

For the major American distillers only George Dickel uses single story warehouses.

darylld911
03-29-2013, 16:36
I thought Four Roses did as well (use single story storage)? I think the Scots just have folks sneaking drams from the barrels and replacing with water - a tradition handed down generation after generation ;)

MyOldKyDram
03-29-2013, 16:57
Yup, Four Roses does as well. Highest proof I have of theirs is 125.2.

squire
03-29-2013, 17:39
I was under the impression Four Roses also used warehouses that were multi story, particularly during the years of Seagram ownership. Jim Rutledge would know, does anybody recall him saying?

darylld911
03-29-2013, 17:49
I don't know that they use single story rickhouses exclusively, but believe they use it for at least some sizeable portion of Four Roses (at least currently - no idea what they used in the past).

straightwhiskeyruffneck
03-31-2013, 01:21
I didnt see ANY single story rickhouses owned by 4R. Only multi level. But i was heavily ''bourbon'd" at the time lol

callmeox
03-31-2013, 06:09
Every rickhouse at Cox's Creek is a single story. They are definitely not the traditional rickhouse design that you see dotting the landscape around Kentucky.

The only question is whether or not FR ages any bourbon outside of CC.

OscarV
03-31-2013, 06:17
The only question is whether or not FR ages any bourbon outside of CC.


I would say not because FR hasn't maxed out their rickhouses yet, that is maxed them out for the bourbon that they bottle.
They age bourbon to be sold to Bulleit and Rutledge said when 4R needs the space for their bourbons then the Bulleit space gets cut.

MyOldKyDram
03-31-2013, 06:28
Maybe some people were thinking of the more traditional rickhouses there in Lawrenceburg? But those are leased by WT, I think.

OscarV
03-31-2013, 06:43
Yep, you can see WT rickhouses from the grounds of the 4R distillery.

darylld911
03-31-2013, 06:45
Yup, Four Roses does as well. Highest proof I have of theirs is 125.2.

I've got a 10 yr single barrel/barrel proof that is just north of 120 as well, although I don't know what proof 4R barrels at.

bllygthrd
03-31-2013, 13:31
I thought that Michael Veach said it well in his book Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage ...

When whiskey is being aged, evaporation through the pores of the oak barrel staves changes the proof of the whiskey. The degree to which the proof of the whiskey changes depends on where the whiskey is stored in the warehouse. If it is on one of the upper floors, the proof will increase with age; if it is on one of the lower floors, the proof will decrease with age. There is a point in the middle where the proof does not change. This change in proof is driven by heat. On the upper levels of the warehouse, where the temperature can be over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, both alcohol and water vaporize, pressure builds up in the barrel, and water molecules, which are smaller than alcohol molecules, pass through the pores of the wood at a greater rate than do alcohol molecules, thus raising the proof of the whiskey. On the lower levels, where the temperature is much cooler— often in the midseventies even on a hot summer day— thanks to the updraft created by the rising hot air, more alcohol than water will vaporize, and more alcohol passes through the wood pores, thus lowering the proof of the whiskey.


Veach, Michael R. (2013-03-01). Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage (Kindle Locations 757-764). The University Press of Kentucky. Kindle Edition.

15069
Also, a picture of a FR single story rickhouse, taken last month when we made a trip to Bardstown, KY (and vicinity)

squire
03-31-2013, 13:35
Come to think of it I've seen some other Four Roses SBs clock in at less than 120 proof as well.

OscarV
03-31-2013, 15:14
I've got some 4R barrel proofs at 100.4 proof.

Yeti
04-01-2013, 14:21
My FR SB 17yr is 101.6 proof.

Richnimrod
04-19-2013, 14:18
Ain't it AMAZIN' how we can enjoy so many 'variations on a theme' from just the warehouse position and the weather!!!
I really do love all the ways Bourbon can change and still be Bourbon....
I just did a quick 'taste-off' between Pappy-23 and ECBP. . . . The Winner: ME! Jeez, l love Bourbon in all it's complexity. :rolleyes: