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jimbo
01-12-2004, 17:09
I have been musing about the huge differences between Elijah Craig 12 yr, W.L. Weller 12 yr and Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 yr. All are bourbon, all are aged for 12 years in new charred oak barrels and the alcohol content ranges from 90 to 94 proof.

So that leads to my question.

What are the most important factors that determine the taste and character of bourbon? I have seen some references to this question in other threads, but I haven't found a thread dedicated to the question.

I would suggest that mash bill and distillation account for well over 90 % of the flavor and character of bourbon. Mash bill is more than just the proportion of the various grains that are used. It would also include the degree to which the grains are roasted prior to their inclusion in the mash bill. I know from my beer making days that flavor can be vastly different depending on how much the barley was roasted. Flavor and texture could range from stout like Guinness to lager like Heinekin even though the same yeast and hops and nothing but malted barley was used. And there is a foreign whisky that uses nothing but malted barley, but still has a wide range of flavor and character. I wonder how much variation there is in the roasting of the various grains used in making bourbon? Or if anything but the malted barley is even roasted? Even though the typical bourbon mash bill has only about 15 % malted barley, the flavor could be impacted by different degrees of roasting.

The effects of distillation on bourbon flavor and character may be the easiest to understand. The "beer" that exists just prior to distillation contains all of the flavor except what can be derived from the wood and through aging. And we know that high proof distillate has no taste. (Or almost no taste as in vodka.) So the distillation must have a large impact on the final flavor and character of the bourbon.

And another factor that gets a lot of attention is the location of the barrel in the warehouse. I have no idea how much this factor really impacts the flavor and character of the bourbon. My only insight here is the difference between Evan Williams 7 yr and the Single Barrel and the difference between various Wild Turkey expressions. To my taste, there are only very subtle differences. The flavor and character of the different expressions are basically the same, but there are minor differences between expressions, I suppose as the result of finding those "exceptional" barrels from that "secret" location in the warehouse.

Anyway, enough said. Any other thoughts would be welcome.

Regards, jimbo

ratcheer
01-12-2004, 17:50
I think that the barrels, the char, the aging, and the warehouse type and location (both of the warehouse and within the warehouse) have a great deal to do with the taste and character of bourbon. But, I agree that the mashbill is also a big influence. I have no idea how to ascribe relative magnitude of influence, though.

Tim

TNbourbon
01-12-2004, 19:43
Between you and Tim, you've just about got it nailed down -- the mashbill imparts the bourbon's character, while the barrel (and its subsequent handling after fill) imparts most of the taste. Surprising to many, I'd guess, is that the barrel probably has the more variables -- the exact character of the wood (old or young white oak, etc.), the level of char (and the caramelized layer that leaves between char and wood), the barrel location in the warehouse, and the warehouse location in the countryside (valley or hilltop, brick or metal-sided), even the randomness of the weather during the barrel stay. It's one of those "Is-it-art-or-is-it-science?" scenarios -- and with 'painters' like the the Beams, Noes, Elmer T. Lee, Jimmy Russell, et al, the end results can give as different impressions as Monet and Manet.

Nightcap
01-12-2004, 21:17
Any good books been written on this subject?

tdelling
01-13-2004, 12:34
> What are the most important factors that determine the taste and character of
> bourbon? I have seen some references to this question in other threads, but I
> haven't found a thread dedicated to the question.

This is one of my favorite topics of... speculation.

One of the main problems is that it's hard to find two bourbons where they
have only changed one part of the process and left the others the same,
so that you can definitely say what the effect of a certain variable is.

This doesn't stop us from speculating, though!

> I would suggest that mash bill and distillation account for well over 90 % of
> the flavor and character of bourbon.

Well, that's certainly a good conversation starter, because most people are
going to disagree with you on that one!

I've seen a couple of interviews with Master Distillers that talk about
the issue, and most will put the barrel at over 50%. There was some discussion
of this topic in the "group interview" that was printed in the most recent
issue of the Malt Advocate. If I recall correctly, they speculated that
putting vodka into a bourbon barrel and putting in the warehouse would
give you something that is somewhat approximates bourbon to a certain extent.

One suggestion in your quest is that you pick up Regan & Regan's "The Bourbon
Companion", which has (in the back) some data about each distillery,
including mashbill, degree ofbarrel char, etc. This will help you figure
out what goes into the making of each bourbon. Some people have commented that
Regan & Regan might not be 100% accurate, but I have no way of knowing,
and in any case it's a good start.

Tim Dellinger

Gillman
01-13-2004, 13:09
One reads about barrels in the "old days" that apart from the wood being well-seasoned and non-sappy, as it should be today as well, it had to be from trees that were 40-70 years old. I have read this a number of times with mention of prime states of origin such as Arkansas. One has to wonder, especially with modern environmental concerns, whether there will be enough good new wood for future barrels and if so, whether it will be from old enough trees. Since the barrel (all are agreed) has a powerful influence on whiskey flavour, and the charring level is only one factor, what about the type and especially the age of the wood now used to mature whiskey? Will whiskey taste different if, say, it is aged in barrels cut from trees that are half as old or less than the trees used until (I would think) about the 1970's?

Gary

jimbo
01-13-2004, 15:52
I have a hard time believing that the barrel, the warehouse location or the barrel location within the warehouse can have much impact on the taste and character.

I have only a limited experience to draw from, but for example, Evan Williams 7 yr and Evan Williams Single Barrel taste almost the same to me. Just a very slight, subtle difference. Yet, the SB is supposed to be from those "special" barrels in those "special" locations in the warehouse. And the various Wild Turkey expressions are all taste very similar to me. Yet, each expression is supposed to be selected from those "special" barrels from those "special" locations in the various warehouses. And finally, from my foreign whisky drinking days, I visited the Laphroaig distillery. On the tour, we were allowed to dip our fingers into a just filled barrel for a taste. The liquid in the barrel was as clear as vodka, but it was unmistakably Laphroaig. I had to conclude that the barrel provided very little but color. (Yes, I know that once used bourbon barrels are used for aging that foreign whisky.)

It just seems to me that almost all of the whiskey's flavor and character have been determined by the time it is placed in the barrel, and that only subtle changes occur afterwards.

I am going to try and find the Regan and Regan book, thanks for the tip.

Regards, jimbo

Paradox
01-13-2004, 16:29
I have a hard time believing that the barrel, the warehouse location or the barrel location within the warehouse can have much impact on the taste and character.



Find and try this year's Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, both Fall and Spring editions. They were both aged in completely different environments within the warehouse and each does have totally different flavor profiles.

Anyways, without a doubt barrel location within a warehouse plays a very important role in the final product.

Gillman
01-13-2004, 17:47
Jimbo, your opinion goes against all the received wisdom. That doesn't mean you are wrong, but you may be tilting at windmills. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

New Laphroig tasted similar to the 10 year old version because both were very peated. But surely the 10 year old has a quality imparted by long aging. Why wouldn't the distillers sell new whiskey for the price of ten year old whiskey if aging only improved the product marginally or not at all?

I can't see that the WT products are very similar. E.g. Kentucky Spirit has a richness and "purity" that regular WT and 101 don't have. Russell's Reserve has a notable charred barrel flavor the other WT's don't have. Are you sampling them neat, I wonder?

Anyway, I give you points for chutzpah. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

jbutler
01-13-2004, 17:58
Evan Williams 7 yr and Evan Williams Single Barrel taste almost the same to me



And yet they taste as different as night and day to me. I do taste the family resemblance in EC 12 YO and EWSB, but that might be my taste buds. After all, I taste camphor in WT KY Spirit.

I've tasted WT's white dog, and I assure you that the product in the bottle is wildly different from what came out of that tap.

My point? I don't think it's reasonable to arrive at an authoritative conclusion based on information gathered by your body parts.

TNbourbon
01-13-2004, 18:30
I really don't know the physics, the theory or even the practice of it, literally speaking -- but if Jimmy Russell, Elmer Lee, et al, say (and they universally do) that the barrel gives the largest part of the finished taste, I believe 'em. After all, they've spent decades tasting the pre-barrel stuff as well as the end product. I'm no fool -- I'm siding with the experts.

pepcycle
01-13-2004, 20:42
No Barrel: Corn Liquor
Barrel: Bourbon
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/soapbox.gif

gr8erdane
01-13-2004, 21:28
Speaking as one who has spent most of his life in the Ozark regions of Missouri and Arkansas, I can tell you that there is still a lot of old growth forest out there with plenty of mature oak for quite a while. The problem is getting to it. Forestry is still profitable in my hometown area, but there are getting to be fewer and fewer people interested in the hard work involved in working with timber. At least in our generation, clearcutting has been replaced by selective cutting which allows some regeneration, but the older oaks that are the backbone of our forests will take a long time to replace. This selective cutting means that it takes longer for a logger to create a full truckload and costs him more in time and materials (gas, equipment maintenance, etc) to make his living. Plus the fact that they have to keep moving farther and farther back into the forest away from the market. All this is obvious, but I thought it worth pointing out.

jimbo
01-14-2004, 06:31
Jimbo, your opinion goes against all the received wisdom. That doesn't mean you are wrong, but you may be tilting at windmills.

New Laphroig tasted similar to the 10 year old version because both were very peated. But surely the 10 year old has a quality imparted by long aging. Why wouldn't the distillers sell new whiskey for the price of ten year old whiskey if aging only improved the product marginally or not at all?

I can't see that the WT products are very similar. E.g. Kentucky Spirit has a richness and "purity" that regular WT and 101 don't have. Russell's Reserve has a notable charred barrel flavor the other WT's don't have. Are you sampling them neat, I wonder?

Anyway, I give you points for chutzpah.

Gary



I don't mean to say that aging has no benifits. Aging certainly smooths out the rough edges, mellows any harsh flavors, adds some subtle flavors, changes the color, etc. so that the aged whiskey is much better than when first placed in the barrel. But the main flavor and character is not changed. Laphroaig at 0 years is recognizable as Laphroaig. And from my limited experience, I would bet that anyone would recognize Wild Turkey 0 yr as Wild Turkey.

And another point, what would you expect Jimmy Russell to say about barrels and aging? "Gosh we just put the distillate into any old barrel we can find and throw it into the warehouse." And maybe "We just pick any old barrel from a convenient place in the warehouse and bottle it as single barrel." There must be at least some hype going on. Differences? Yes certainly, but completely changing the flavor and character? Nah.

Regards, jimbo

bobbyc
01-14-2004, 08:15
what would you expect Jimmy Russell to say about barrels and aging?



Jimbo , you need to come to Kentucky and meet Mr. Russell face to face. He is one of the nicest men in the business( I mean that in a Booker, Parker and Craig Beam, Sam Cecil, Elmer Lee way). When he signed a 12 year and a Russells Reserve for me, we had an admitedly brief discussion about yeast and sugar content of a fermented mash. No hype, no smoke and mirrors. He answered and told me what he could, sincerely and generously, without giving away those distillers secrets, or being rude in any way. That's not his style, he truly is a wonderful person.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

tdelling
01-14-2004, 08:25
> Aging certainly smooths out the rough edges, mellows any harsh flavors, adds
> some subtle flavors, changes the color, etc.

For the mouth-puckering tannins in particular, "subtle" is a real
understatement. I can recall being at a wine tasting where a winemaker had
taken the same wine and aged half in oak barrels, while the other half was
stored and processed entirely in stainless steel. (Apparently this is
somewhat common.) Well, the oak half was over-aged to say the least, and
people were spitting it out sooner than they had planned to! Perhaps
a similar lesson in tannins would help you understand their power and
taste.

> There must be at least some hype going on. Differences? Yes certainly, but
> completely changing the flavor and character? Nah.

None of us are claiming that the barrel magically transforms whiskey
from sewer water into a beautiful elixir of life. It is acknowledged
that non-barrel parts of the process contribute major components of
the taste. These components aren't "completely changed". They're
still there. What happens is that new things are added.


> And another point, what would you expect Jimmy Russell to say about barrels
> and aging? "Gosh we just put the distillate into any old barrel we can find
> and throw it into the warehouse." And maybe "We just pick any old barrel from
> a convenient place in the warehouse and bottle it as single barrel." There
> must be at least some hype going on.

If aging is just a bunch of hype, then it's really really really expensive
hype. If aging is just hype, then how come bourbons with no age statement
aren't bottled at three years old? Why bother using older whiskey?

And couldn't people come up with some less expensive hype? What
manufacturer in their right mind would make a product knowing that
it would sit around for 5 to 7+ years before he could sell it? Sell
it immediately and put that money in the bank to earn interest for
7 years!


And, by the way, what are you doing drinking 12 year old whiskey?
You mention EC 12, Weller 12, etc. If it's just hype, then drink
the younger stuff!

Tim Dellinger

Gillman
01-14-2004, 09:00
Jimbo, these are valid points and I would add, now that you clarified your meaning, that the benfits of aging can be exaggerated and probably are by producers to tout the product and ask as high a price as possible. For example, speaking (as some are on these boards) of micro-distilling, some of their products are very good despite being sold quite "young". McCarthy of Oregon, associated I believe to Widmer brewing, issued a three year old peated malt whiskey which was very good and hard to differentiate from many Islay whiskies I know twice as old or more. And some have talked here, quite properly, of whiskey that is over-aged, too woody and tannic. The whole question is where the right balance lies.

Gary

jimbo
01-14-2004, 12:25
If aging is just a bunch of hype, then it's really really really expensive
hype. If aging is just hype, then how come bourbons with no age statement
aren't bottled at three years old? Why bother using older whiskey?

And couldn't people come up with some less expensive hype? What
manufacturer in their right mind would make a product knowing that
it would sit around for 5 to 7+ years before he could sell it? Sell
it immediately and put that money in the bank to earn interest for
7 years!


And, by the way, what are you doing drinking 12 year old whiskey?
You mention EC 12, Weller 12, etc. If it's just hype, then drink
the younger stuff!

Tim Dellinger



Hey Tim, I didn't say aging was all hype. I thought I made it clear that aging does vastly improve the whiskey. But aging, or selecting from that special place in the warehouse doesn't change the basic flavor and character of the whiskey. As I said, I think you would know that Wild Turkey 0 yr was Wild Turkey.

And I don't think that Jimmy Russell or any other of the gurus are trying to mislead anyone. But I do think there is a whiskey mystic that leads to some exaggeration and hype.

Regards, jimbo

cowdery
01-14-2004, 13:13
Not sure where to drop this note in, but having read everything in this thread, there are really two different discussions underway.

Although Jimbo's original subject line asks "What determine taste and character?" that isn't really the question he asks or speculates about, although that is the question most replies have responded to. The question he is really asking is what causes one bourbon's taste and character to be significantly different from that of another.

In other words, one can agree with the "received wisdom," as Gary says, that aging is a major factor in determining the taste and character of a bourbon, while also maintaining that it impacts all bourbons in more-or-less the same way and, therefore, has little effect on what distinguishes bourbons one from another.

My answer to the original question? Ranking the factors in order of importance, with the most important being first:

1. The distiller's creation and matching of a particular profile for a particular brand.
2. Maturity (mostly raw age, but also aging conditions)
3. Mashbill
4. Yeast
5. Distillation proof

Other possible factors, such as water characteristics and wood characteristics, are of minimal significance.

SSBourbon1
01-14-2004, 13:24
Aging certainly smooths out the rough edges, mellows any harsh flavors, adds some subtle flavors, changes the color, etc. so that the aged whiskey is much better than when first placed in the barrel





I didn't say aging was all hype. I thought I made it clear that aging does <font color="brown"> VASTLY </font> improve the whiskey





But the main flavor and character is not changed.



Jimbo,

It appears as if you are making several statements but your central theme is that the main flavor does not change. I am not a true expert, nor am I from Kentucky, nor do I have any experience in the areas of sc***h or in the liquor industry. I have seen the “experts” on this board offer opinions on just how the aging process, location, barrel, etc have a great effect on bourbons. I think that their opinions are sinking in with you as parts of your statements have changed, you have states that aging vastly improves the bourbon recently.

I have to say that I think the aging process is it (barrel, location, weather, etc). I can tell a huge difference Even Williams and the Single Barrel. As my years of experience in tasting have continued I have been able to tell the differences between the years of ESWB (although not blind folded) and there are noticeable differences. I notice that you like bourbons with gusto, these types, to me are ones that have fewer subtleties in them and strong basic flavor – mostly the less aged bourbons I think no matter the proof. The older ones in my collection (18 years plus) all have differences in them and have a lot of strength in basic character to them but clearly have different overtones and undertones, some sweet, some more oaky, some smoke, some fruit. In my opinion these things are identified as we get more into the bourbon we are drinking and begin to understand the drink better through our experiencing them. I like to call this the Zen of bourbon.

I think that your opinions are changing as you read the comments in this thread and take others thoughts into your knowledge of you new found hobby. Keep on enjoying it.

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Nightcap
01-14-2004, 14:15
... Ranking the factors in order of importance, with the most important being first:

1. The distiller's creation and matching of a particular profile for a particular brand.
...



Could you please elaborate on this point, Chuck? (Et al.) What do you mean by matching a profile for a brand? And how is this done, if not by points 2,3,4, and 5, which follow?

tommy
01-14-2004, 14:26
I'm guessing that Chuck is talking about the "marrying" process, at least in part.

Tommy

jimbo
01-14-2004, 16:01
I have to say that I think the aging process is it (barrel, location, weather, etc). I can tell a huge difference Even Williams and the Single Barrel. As my years of experience in tasting have continued I have been able to tell the differences between the years of ESWB (although not blind folded)



Well, you have vastly superior taste buds to mine. I find almost no difference. But, that is not my point. Barrel type, warehouse location, location in the warehouse and age cannot possible explain the difference between Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve and Evan Williams Single Barrel. The basic flavor and character of each of those bourbons is determined before they are placed in the barrel. And after they are placed in the barrel, other differences occur, I say slight and you say huge. Probably a matter of the relative sophistication of our taste buds and tasting experience.

But, Jimmy Russell can not take 100 barrels of Evan Williams distillate and make Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve by selecting barrels, warehouses, locations in the warehouse or aging.

Regards, jimbo

jimbo
01-14-2004, 16:13
In other words, one can agree with the "received wisdom," as Gary says, that aging is a major factor in determining the taste and character of a bourbon, while also maintaining that it impacts all bourbons in more-or-less the same way and, therefore, has little effect on what distinguishes bourbons one from another.

My answer to the original question? Ranking the factors in order of importance, with the most important being first:

1. The distiller's creation and matching of a particular profile for a particular brand.
2. Maturity (mostly raw age, but also aging conditions)
3. Mashbill
4. Yeast
5. Distillation proof

Other possible factors, such as water characteristics and wood characteristics, are of minimal significance.



Thanks for divining the intent of my question. But please explain what you mean by "The distiller's creation...". And please explain how aging can have more impact than mash bill.

Regards, jimbo

Gillman
01-14-2004, 16:55
Okay but many distillers will tell us that two barrels of the same whiskey, even standing side by side, will taste noticeably different. The reason must be differences in the wood. Maybe one barrel was made from 20 year old oak from Michigan, maybe another from 50 year old oak from Arkansas. Or the age may be similar but the origin different, or the origin and age the same but the porosity different, and so it goes..

In terms of the Bourbon of one house differing from that of another, we see the phenomenon in brewing too. Each house has its own type of equipment, mashbill, yeast (very important), water (although I'm with Chuck that this is a lesser factor), and "microbrial" environment. Yeasts for example become habituated in a particular environment to act a certain way.

And so, although (as I did recently) one can sample whiskey from three different bottles of Woodford Reserve and find them quite different although clearly of the same family, one can identify kinship between bourbons of different houses but (due to the factors listed) it is a relationship of greater degree. And the reasons essentially relate to the white dog and how it is made, I agree with Chuck again that aging in charred barrels will be the most common, or uniform, link amongst the distillers. The differences must be found in the sequence of processes that produce the new make spirit. Thus, it is good to hear that Laphroig new make tastes a lot like Laph that is 10 years old. The imporant thing is why both differ greatly from a Macallan. Although, anyone who has tasted Macallan from a merchant that was not aged in a sherry cask (e.g. Hart's) will see it is a different article from The Macallan which famously is aged in 100% sherry wood. This proves Chuck's point in a different way because the Scots age whisky, even the same kind, differently: some in ex-American bourbon wood, some in first-fill sherry wood, some in second fill sherry, new oak, etc. In America, it is charred new oak all the way for Bourbon - and glory be..

Gary

tdelling
01-14-2004, 17:40
> But, Jimmy Russell can not take 100 barrels of Evan Williams distillate and make
> Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve by selecting barrels, warehouses, locations in the
> warehouse or aging.

The mashbills for the two bourbons you mention are (according to Regan&amp;Regan)
identical. WT is aged in barrels with a #4 char. EW is aged in barrels with
a #3 char.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you couldn't tell the real Russell's
Reserve from a simulated Russell's Reserve made by taking 100 barrels'
worth of EW distillate, aging them in #4 char barrels, and allowing me
to choose the 3 out of 100 that I want.

Tim Dellinger

cowdery
01-14-2004, 18:12
First question: bourbons taste different, and have particular taste profiles, because the distillers want them to. They identify the profile they want and then combine barrels with different characteristics to achieve it, comparing the result to reference samples from previous batches.

Second question: Did I say "aging"? No, I said "maturity." Would you deny that Jim Beam white and Knob Creek, which use the same yeast and mashbill, taste significantly different? The difference is four years in wood versus nine years in wood.

cowdery
01-14-2004, 18:15
It's selection first and, if necessary, marrying. If they select successfully, they don't have to do any fiddling to match the reference sample. If the result isn't quite there, they add more of whatever quality the batch needs.

jimbo
01-15-2004, 06:08
I'll bet you dollars to donuts that you couldn't tell the real Russell's Reserve from a simulated Russell's Reserve made by taking 100 barrels'
worth of EW distillate, aging them in #4 char barrels, and allowing me to choose the 3 out of 100 that I want.

Tim Dellinger



I don't think you could. I think the Evan Williams distillate is so different from Wild Turkey that anyone would be able to tell that the barrels you selected were Evan Williams, not Wild Turkey.



Second question: Did I say "aging"? No, I said "maturity." Would you deny that Jim Beam white and Knob Creek, which use the same yeast and mashbill, taste significantly different? The difference is four years in wood versus nine years in wood.



I have never tasted Jim Beam White, but I have tasted Jim Beam Black, Knob Creek, Booker's and Basil Hayden's. Yes, they are all different, but not as different as Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve and Knob Creek. There is a family resemblance among the Jim Beam expressions. I just finished a side by side with Booker's and Jim Beam Black. The flavors are similar, but the overall character is very different. I think mostly because of the difference in alcohol content.

Regards, jimbo

jimbo
01-16-2004, 05:58
Okay but many distillers will tell us that two barrels of the same whiskey, even standing side by side, will taste noticeably different. The reason must be differences in the wood. Maybe one barrel was made from 20 year old oak from Michigan, maybe another from 50 year old oak from Arkansas. Or the age may be similar but the origin different, or the origin and age the same but the porosity different, and so it goes..

In terms of the Bourbon of one house differing from that of another, we see the phenomenon in brewing too. Each house has its own type of equipment, mashbill, yeast (very important), water (although I'm with Chuck that this is a lesser factor), and "microbrial" environment. Yeasts for example become habituated in a particular environment to act a certain way.

And so, although (as I did recently) one can sample whiskey from three different bottles of Woodford Reserve and find them quite different although clearly of the same family, one can identify kinship between bourbons of different houses but (due to the factors listed) it is a relationship of greater degree. And the reasons essentially relate to the white dog and how it is made, I agree with Chuck again that aging in charred barrels will be the most common, or uniform, link amongst the distillers. The differences must be found in the sequence of processes that produce the new make spirit. Thus, it is good to hear that Laphroig new make tastes a lot like Laph that is 10 years old. The imporant thing is why both differ greatly from a Macallan. Although, anyone who has tasted Macallan from a merchant that was not aged in a sherry cask (e.g. Hart's) will see it is a different article from The Macallan which famously is aged in 100% sherry wood. This proves Chuck's point in a different way because the Scots age whisky, even the same kind, differently: some in ex-American bourbon wood, some in first-fill sherry wood, some in second fill sherry, new oak, etc. In America, it is charred new oak all the way for Bourbon - and glory be..

Gary



Gary, I think you and I are on the same page. Wood selection, location and age all have an impact on flavor and result in differences between family members. But wood selection, location and age can't transform distillate from family into another family.

The Scottish practice of using sherry barrels and now other "flavored" barrels adds a whole other dimension. I am suspicious about the practice. I suspect that they select very "juicy" barrels. As in a few gallons of liquid still in the barrels.

Regards, jimbo

SteveZZZ
01-16-2004, 10:40
Jimbo, I don't think anyone disagrees with you that aging is not going to change scotch into cognac, a rye into a wheater, or even Beam whiskey into Wild Turkey. On the other hand, there is no doubt whatsoever that aging a spirit can still make a significant difference in its final taste. Anyone who has ever compared Wild Turkey 12 with Russel's Reserve would be absolutely sure of it, within one taste. It's not subtle. Yes, you can tell they're both Wild Turkey. But while one is good, the other is truly exceptional. Two years in a barrel alone cannot sufficiently explain the differences in taste. The only logical conclusion is that some barrels do age better than others.

I've always felt that the specific whiskey, the specific wood, The climate and location the barrel is stored in, and the time the whiskey is aged all interact to determine the final product. Sometimes, just by dumb luck, part of a batch of white dog goes into barrels that are just right for it. And, by luck again, one or two of those barrels are put in just the right location in the warehouse to complement their characteristics. Some of the whiskey that gets barrelled will age fast, or have less potential to improve with age. Some of them, due to perfect conditions, have the potential to improve vastly over the years. In the hands of a good master distiller, these barrels of bourbon will be put to their best use, from the majority of average barrels that go into Ancient Age, to the precious few that become Stagg.

Steve

jimbo
01-16-2004, 11:03
Jimbo, I don't think anyone disagrees with you that aging is not going to change scotch into cognac, a rye into a wheater, or even Beam whiskey into Wild Turkey. On the other hand, there is no doubt whatsoever that aging a spirit can still make a significant difference in its final taste. Anyone who has ever compared Wild Turkey 12 with Russel's Reserve would be absolutely sure of it, within one taste. It's not subtle. Yes, you can tell they're both Wild Turkey. But while one is good, the other is truly exceptional. Two years in a barrel alone cannot sufficiently explain the differences in taste. The only logical conclusion is that some barrels do age better than others.



Well, it seems to me that some here think any distillate can be turned into any expression just by wood selection, location and aging. I maintain that Wild Turkey distillate can end as 101 or Russell's Reserve through wood selection, location, age and luck, but that Evan Williams distillate can never become any Wild Turkey expression.



I've always felt that the specific whiskey, the specific wood, The climate and location the barrel is stored in, and the time the whiskey is aged all interact to determine the final product. Sometimes, just by dumb luck, part of a batch of white dog goes into barrels that are just right for it. And, by luck again, one or two of those barrels are put in just the right location in the warehouse to complement their characteristics. Some of the whiskey that gets barrelled will age fast, or have less potential to improve with age. Some of them, due to perfect conditions, have the potential to improve vastly over the years. In the hands of a good master distiller, these barrels of bourbon will be put to their best use, from the majority of average barrels that go into Ancient Age, to the precious few that become Stagg.

Steve



I agree. I imagine that someone like Jimmy Russell who has tasted thousands of barrels of all ages from all warehouse locations could sample a dram and tell you where it came from, how old it was and even who the stillman was that distilled it.

Regards, jimbo

jimbo
01-16-2004, 14:45
The terms "bourbon" and "Tennessee Whiskey" describe a whiskey made primarily from corn, but not exclusively. A small amount of barley malt is used (about 10% of the mash) to aid the conversion of starch into sugar, and either rye or wheat is added for flavor.

The ratio of this flavor grain to the corn, and the type of flavor grain used, accounts for most of the taste variation among the different bourbon brands. Wild Turkey, Old Grand-Dad, Old Forester, most United brands, and all of the Heaven Hill brands have a distinctive rye flavor that indicates rye may be as much as 25% of the mash. Jim Beam is an example of a bourbon that uses rye, but not very much (only about 13% of the mash). Maker's Mark and the remaining United brands (Old Fitzgerald, Old Weller and Rebel Yell) use wheat instead of rye.



I wonder who said that?

Regards, jimbo

Paradox
01-16-2004, 15:23
This thread has outlived its original intent and gone way too astray. For this reason, and the fact that this board is an inappropriate venue for a pissing contest, this thread has been locked.