View Full Version : Single-Use of Barrels for Bourbon
I was at a whisk(e)y tasting last night and it was suggested that the origin of the single - one-time-only - use of the barrel with respect to bourbon aging was brought about as a result of a strong government lobby by cooperage owners and the large timber/lumber industry at that time. This would mean of course that flavor (or colour, etc.) really had nothing to do with the resulting decision and subsequent laws. It's not the first time I've heard/read this but I'm interested if anyone here has evidential proof that this theory is true, oversimplified, or nonsense?
Why would you assume that the two things are incompatible and not a convergence of interests? Certain whiskey makers felt bourbon should only be made in new, charred cooperage because they felt that was what produced the characteristics (taste, aroma, appearance) they considered necessary for the whiskey to be called bourbon. There were other producers who disagreed. In their own self interest, the cooperage owners sided with the former group and that alliance carried the day.
I had not intended that the two positions were "incompatible", rather, I was thinking more "unrelated". Today, we appreciate a charred, one-time-use barrel, as the reason why we like bourbon, which is completely unrelated to people keeping their jobs or companies (timber, cooperage) making a profit.
When the regulations were made, I'm assuming that most "bourbon" whiskey drinkers may not have appreciated the elements of MODERN bourbon that we have come to appreciate since the passing of the regulation. What I'm really wondering... is there documented evidence of a either a lobby on behalf of corporations attempting to preserve their business or from the drinking public, and which came first? Heck, I guess it's irrelevant. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drinking.gif
Although I have heard about the supposed involvement of the cooperage industry (which, when you think about it, how powerful could the cooperage industry be, even in Arkansas?) but haven't seen any documentation. I do know that the debate about what products should be entitled to call themselves "whiskey" and the variations thereof, dates back to the late 19th century, when most whiskey sold was some kind of compound whiskey, but some distillers, such as E. H. Taylor, were lobbying for recognition of what we would probably acknowledge today as bourbon.
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