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NorCalBoozer
10-18-2005, 10:20
i know it's possible to "buy" a barrel from a distiller and then they store it and bottle it when the time comes.

my question is...is it possible to buy a barrel and age it myself?

JeffRenner
10-18-2005, 10:23
i know it's possible to "buy" a barrel from a distiller and then they store it and bottle it when the time comes.

my question is...is it possible to buy a barrel and age it myself?



I don't think so. I believe the largest container that may be sold is 1.75 liters.

Jeff

kbuzbee
10-18-2005, 11:23
I agree with Jeff. I read somewhere (maybe in Chucks book??) it is part of the three tier system implimented after prohibition that everything has to be in bottles. Of course..... You can ALSO buy the empty barrel and dump all the bottles back into it to continue aging.... Complicated but doable. Make sure you save the bottles http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif I think it was on the Buffalo Trace tour they mentioned doing this.... They said the barrel is very reasonable, $20 or so??

Ken

cowdery
10-18-2005, 11:33
The typical "buy a barrel" program is what several people here have done. The distillery selects a few mature barrels, you taste them, pick the one you like, and the distillery bottles it up for you. Several distilleries will do this.

Commercially, some distilleries do, in fact, sell new made whiskey to a customer and then age it for them, although this isn't done for consumers. Part of the issue is, why would you want to? Since you likely would only own one barrel, you would be taking a big chance in terms of how that barrel would age.

Now if you are asking, can a buy a newly-entered barrel, take it home and age it in my basement (as was common among the wealthy in the 19th century) the answer is no, it's against the law. Unless you have the appropriate license, you cannot buy alcohol in any container larger than 1.75 liters.

kbuzbee
10-18-2005, 11:41
Chuck, do you know if Wild Turkey does this??

Thanks!

Ken

NorCalBoozer
10-18-2005, 12:07
the reason for my post, was that knowing how much the aging and weather has to do with flavor, I was interesting in maybe setting up some aging in my locale. I was interesting in knowing how my local weather trends would affect the bourbon. Would it be good? bad? different?

Of course I probably wouldn't want standard size barrels. Way too much bourbon. But what if I could make 1.75 L barrels (or somewhat larger) and then fill them with a young bourbon and age it at my house? that might be cool. Has anyone done this?





The typical "buy a barrel" program is what several people here have done. The distillery selects a few mature barrels, you taste them, pick the one you like, and the distillery bottles it up for you. Several distilleries will do this.

Commercially, some distilleries do, in fact, sell new made whiskey to a customer and then age it for them, although this isn't done for consumers. Part of the issue is, why would you want to? Since you likely would only own one barrel, you would be taking a big chance in terms of how that barrel would age.

Now if you are asking, can a buy a newly-entered barrel, take it home and age it in my basement (as was common among the wealthy in the 19th century) the answer is no, it's against the law. Unless you have the appropriate license, you cannot buy alcohol in any container larger than 1.75 liters.

barturtle
10-18-2005, 13:19
A 1.75L barrel would age extremely fast and that might not be desireable--I think it would anyway, due to a high surface-to-volume ratio. Would probably be either very woody or overly charred. At least that's my guess.

NorCalBoozer
10-18-2005, 13:41
yup, i just found an article about a guy aging beer in some oak barrels. after about a week it was too woody.

it would speed up the flavoring but that would be another reason to make sure to taste test on a regular basis http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I did find several places that make oak barrels of different sizes, one gallon, 2 gallon, etc.

How many gallons in a production barrel?



A 1.75L barrel would age extremely fast and that might not be desireable--I think it would anyway, due to a high surface-to-volume ratio. Would probably be either very woody or overly charred. At least that's my guess.

TNbourbon
10-18-2005, 14:48
...How many gallons in a production barrel?..



53.
Here's a small-barrel vendor -- but I don't know how you'd go about charring (or even lightly toasting) it:
Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. (http://www.1000oaksbarrel.com/)

NorCalBoozer
10-18-2005, 15:51
whoa 53, that might take me a while to drink thru. I did find another vendor that has charred barrels specific for "spirits" and they range from 1 gallon to 30 gallons.

http://www.redhillgeneralstore.com/barrels.htm?source=overture






...How many gallons in a production barrel?..



53.
Here's a small-barrel vendor -- but I don't know how you'd go about charring (or even lightly toasting) it:
Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. (http://www.1000oaksbarrel.com/)

cowdery
10-18-2005, 21:46
I've never heard of anyone doing this but there is no reason you couldn't. Put whiskey back into a white oak barrel and it will resume the aging process. I'm not quite sure what this will really tell you about your local weather conditions, but knock yourself out. There is no magic to the standard barrel size. Whiskey will age in any size barrel. Some math wizard here might be able to develop a ratio of internal surface area to volume, allowing you to compare a 53 gallon barrel to a smaller one. Remember too that real whiskey barrels are made with no glue, no finishes, no fasteners. They're just white oak that has been air or kiln dried, steamed to soften it for forming, held together by steel hoops, then charred on the inside. Remember too that most of them leak, at least a little, so don't set up your racks over the living room carpet.

barturtle
10-18-2005, 23:05
Well after reading about both of these barrel makers, they both offer toasted or charred barrels. But on the other hand, neither of them say whether they are made without hardware/glue, like traditional barrels. Though I would stay away from the wax lined ones.

I'm still not sure if this is a real valid experiment, but I would like to try the results http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drinking.gif

lakegz
10-19-2005, 02:23
So we cant buy anything larger then a 1.75 liter? Thats not America........thats not even Mexico! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif

barturtle
10-19-2005, 06:21
I was on a tour of Beam once and was watching them bottle some huge bottles for overseas somewhere, they were 3 or 4 liter bottles. Putting on the labels was like wallpapering http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif I've never wanted a bottle of Beam white label so bad in my life. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Come to think of it, in 2001, at the Gala, they were pouring Four Roses out of the same size bottle

jvanwinkle
10-19-2005, 08:33
The reason you cannot buy a barrel of whiskey & take it home is really because the barrel must be stored on BATF Bonded property. That is so the Govt. can get the Excise Tax due when the barrrel is bottled & shipped.
Julian

NorCalBoozer
10-19-2005, 10:16
i live close to the ocean. I was thinking it would be interesting to see how the ocean air, along with the temperature changes and different humidity would affect the taste.

thanks for the info on the barrel specs. that is very helpful. The ones I saw for sale were specific to spirits like brandy and tequilla so i think i will be fine there.



I've never heard of anyone doing this but there is no reason you couldn't. Put whiskey back into a white oak barrel and it will resume the aging process. I'm not quite sure what this will really tell you about your local weather conditions, but knock yourself out. There is no magic to the standard barrel size. Whiskey will age in any size barrel. Some math wizard here might be able to develop a ratio of internal surface area to volume, allowing you to compare a 53 gallon barrel to a smaller one. Remember too that real whiskey barrels are made with no glue, no finishes, no fasteners. They're just white oak that has been air or kiln dried, steamed to soften it for forming, held together by steel hoops, then charred on the inside. Remember too that most of them leak, at least a little, so don't set up your racks over the living room carpet.

Gillman
10-19-2005, 11:07
It should be relatively easy to buy a new white oak keg that is blackened on the inside, buy a few jugs of bourbon (the 1.75 size commonly available), pour in keg, seal and wait a year or two. One would need to be sure there is no glue or other such additives in the wood but careful inquiry should be enough to confirm this.

If the oak isn't blackened, one can do this oneself provided normal precautions are taken. If it was me and I lived in a rural area, I would arrange for the keg to be charred from a straw fire, the way it was done originally (one of the ways, certainly).

I would do this with, say, Ancient Age but many other brands would be suitable. As Chuck says, you are just re-starting the aging.

I think a moist, maritime climate would be suitable, especially if the kegs were moved regularly. Bourbon and rye used to be shipped on clippers to hasten maturation.

Kegs come in all sizes and one holding, say, 20 litres or so should be ideal.

To my mind this should not be difficult to do, at least for someone in a rural area who can safely store such a container, e.g., in a shed.

The smaller the container is, the faster the maturation. In the 1930's, quarter-casks were used to mature whiskey. There was a shortage of whiskey post-Volstead and distillers needed to make a saleable product more quickly than would result from the standard barrel. It would be nice to do exact calculations but one could go by guess and go. E.g. at the end of one year, a sampling could be done to see if there was a clear improvement and a decision could be made whether to continue the process.

I am assuming there is no legal obstacle (federal, State, local), but applicable laws (ATF, environmental, safety, etc.) should be checked before proceeding.

Gary

kbuzbee
10-19-2005, 11:46
This is sounding interesting. You might come up with something that is very good. What do you think the odds are that this would be worth doing?

Ken

Gillman
10-19-2005, 11:53
Ken, I don't think there is any question that if done correctly an excellent result could be obtained. I would ensure the container had good aeration, if it was kept in a shed or maybe a garage with porous walls or windows periodically opened, that would help, to preclude the risk of mustiness. Obviously it would be important to monitor the cask and store it in a way that would remove the risk of damage from leakage or fire. But in terms of the quality, I think you'd end up with something quite good, maybe really good. I would age my own vattings, too, if I could. Fleishmann in 1885 advised that his blends should be casked and stored in the top level of the warehouse for three months. He said don't bother doing it though for spirits (GNS) because it won't mature - that guy knew his stuff. Again, see the extracts from his book at www.pre-pro.com. (http://www.pre-pro.com.)

Gary

kbuzbee
10-19-2005, 12:09
I'm getting more and more interested here.... I tried to find a link to Fleishmann's Book on pre-pro.com. I found the book listed but no online text....

I wonder how long a 6 -8 year bourbon should lay in a small (10 liter) cask?? 2 years??

And how hot does a Kentucky ware house get in summer???

Ken

Gillman
10-19-2005, 12:53
Click on "what's a shot glass", then on "what's a pre-pro shot glass", then go to page two of that page, and you will see a link called "rectifiers and blenders recipes". Follow that and it leads to the extract from the book. I have the complete text (I bought it from an antique book dealer) but the main parts that concern us here (his blending and mingling recipes) are all on the site.

Gary

kbuzbee
10-19-2005, 13:14
Ah got it... Thanks. Don't know how I missed that the first time.... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif

That is interesting stuff...

Ken

cowdery
10-19-2005, 14:05
Kentucky warehouses get as hot as Kentucky gets. I'm sure that data is readily available from any number of weather sites. Warehouses typically are located on hilltops to maximize air circulation and exposure to the sun. How long? You should do what the distillers do, periodically open the barrel, withdraw some spirit, and check its progress. How often? That depends on how thirsty you are. Really, it probably depends on how much change you notice. If it seems to be aging quickly, you might want to check it more frequently. It's all part of the adventure.

cowdery
10-19-2005, 14:09
There shouldn't be any legal obstacles. If you buy the whiskey at retail it is your property. You can't resell it or serve it to minors, but those are the only restrictions on your use of it. There is certainly nothing to prevent you from decanting it into a wooden container.

Gillman
10-19-2005, 14:17
It would be a kick to see someone walk into a Gazebo with his personal keg for our delectation. The closest we've come is at KBF Gazebo just passed when I saw Randy walking with his glassy keg of Belmont 1919 bourbon. When I asked for a taste he said, "Are you kidding"? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

P.S. Randy's done me some trading favours so I hesitate to ask again but Randy, you said you had an open one at home and if you can bring me two ounces next time I'll pay for 'em "pro rata", it's only fair, but I've got to try this!

P.P.S. I asked Randy what the Belmont tasted like and he said, "bourbon". A response both elliptical and insouciant, as we've come to expect from Van Blankle. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

TNbourbon
10-19-2005, 14:56
I'm with you, Ken. I've got some of the white-doggish Isaiah Morgan young rye from West Virginia, and I might just get around to playing with this. If I can get it done before the first of the year, it'll cycle through most of a winter and summer prior to next fall's Festival.
Hmmm...

barturtle
10-19-2005, 15:59
He said don't bother doing it though for spirits (GNS) because it won't mature



I'm not quite sure if it's the same but the grain whisky that they cut scotch with is aged to match the age of the bottling; eg. if it says 12yo whisky then all of the whisky including grain must be that age. Also Compass Box is selling some aged grain whisky. I've had it once, not bad. It's one of those experiences, much like Potrero, not quite what you were expecting, but not bad either.

bluesbassdad
10-19-2005, 16:08
I would ensure the container had good aeration, if it was kept in a shed or maybe a garage with porous walls or windows periodically opened, that would help, to preclude the risk of mustiness.



Gary,

How careful should one be regarding possible airborne contaminants? Both my garage and my shed contain gasoline, dry mortar patch, paint cans, etc.

I doubt that I'll ever try this, but among those who do I'd hate for the result to be ruined by some environmental factor.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

barturtle
10-19-2005, 16:17
I'm pretty sure that I don't wanna drink anything stored in a wooden container that was stored anywhere near gasoline.

Gillman
10-19-2005, 18:00
True, Tim, but he meant that apart from gaining barrel (wood) flavour, aging won't improve grain spirits in the way it does straight whiskey, there are in other words no secondary constituents in the GNS to convert by long aging.

Gary

doubleblank
10-19-2005, 18:55
Gary....Flatery will get you everything......those were flatering comments, weren't they? Of course, a Belmont will make an appearance for tasting at the next gathering of SB'ers.

Randy

Gillman
10-19-2005, 19:34
Thanks Randy, I'm shameless, I know. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

They were flattering comments, indeed. Because, brevity is the soul of wit and insouciance, a charming quality. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

dougdog
10-19-2005, 20:35
Gary, this is a very interesting post and I’m learning a lot!

The information here is timed quite well with similar thoughts and ambitions of my own, as I’d like to try further aging whisky in my own barrel(s) to experiment with taste and time.

I’ll post a couple of thoughts that will pose as questions. Please, correct or refine as needed. (4years old is an arbitrary number hereafter)

I suppose:

A new barrel will take elements from and give elements to the whiskey inside. When barrel is young this process is probably more active or speedy. As the barrel gets older the processes slows. I can see how putting a 4 year old whiskey in a new barrel would likely need only a short stay in the new barrel to “finish” the maturation process. But, at some point in time the barrel will be of optimum age/progression to be able to accept a 4 year old whiskey for an extended time, let’s say 15-20 years more. During this time of youth or newness the whiskey should probably be sampled frequently, if heading toward too much woodiness a certain amount could/should be drawn off and replaced with “newer’ whisky until at a certain point in time, all the existing whiskey could be left for the long haul.

For the short term this would be kind of like a “Living Barrel or pseudo Solera System”…certainly interesting for, let’s say, a study group sampling situation? A small sample could also be archived for a tell-tale or history at each point of tasting or content exchange. In the future, this would allow for a look back in time as the barrel progresses.

My thoughts move toward the products used for the contents of the new barrel. This is where input from others could help me out. I’m currently considering whiskies that are reasonably priced and have a flavor profile that would lend to the belief that further maturation would likely be beneficial to that particular whisky. I’m open to using more than one “brand” in this mixture. People with mixing and blending experience could probably help out a whole bunch here. But, this quest is going to be slightly different in the sense that “older” whiskies are not likely to be going in the barrel…they are already aged and usually higher priced. The twist would be that the choice of any whiskey would be complimentary to the others used in the vatting. Not all whiskies would have to be perfect, defects in one could be overcome with strong points in the other.

My current candidates for young whiskies that might be better with time would be my “vintage” bottles of Yellowstone, Grand-Dad and Old Crow, 80-86 proofers. (Not the BIB”s that I have), the current edition of Ancient Age seems to be a good candidate along with BT and Barton’s. Something from Heaven Hill?... I wouldn’t leave out the possibility of adding a bit of Wild Turkey 101 to the barrel either! (This would help to “up the proof” as well)

Help!…What else could be added to the list? (Remember, economy, compatibility and long range maturation potential…then mention the attributes of the whiskey you selected!

Best regards, Doug http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

TNbourbon
10-19-2005, 20:56
...Of course, a Belmont will make an appearance for tasting at the next gathering of SB'ers.
Randy



I think you just guaranteed a high number of SB'ers will make an appearance at the next showing of Belmont. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Gillman
10-19-2005, 21:12
Very good thoughts. E.g. it is true putting a four year old whiskey in a new barrel is different from the commercial norm of entering new whiskey in a new barrel where the two change together at a constant rate. Still, I don't think it would matter too much to alter the traditional practice. Probably at most the effect of using a new barrel for an already aged whiskey would be as you suggest to accelerate the further aging, so careful monitoring would be necessary to ensure the whiskey does not get overaged or unbalanced from such treatment.

I agree also that it would make sense to use young whiskeys for this, i.e., those 4 years old or so. No sense in further aging, say, an Elmer T. Lee, it is already well-matured. Although possibly a year in a small keg could "finish" even a WT 101, this is possible. But my sense is to stick with 4 year old whiskeys, and Ancient Age seems ideal in that it is available in jugs, not expensive and has a good basic flavour that seems capable of evolution. There are many other regular brands that might quality, e.g. some of the Heaven Hill-branded whiskeys as you said, Beam White, Maker's Mark, the lesser labels of Barton's, some of the young ryes in the market (especially Potrero or Overholt, and so forth - although those don't come in jugs!).

I should say too that used bourbon barrels are quite readily available, so one could continue aging at the same rate (more or less) as the commercial norm. However, used barrels would likely be too large. Maybe though they could be broken down or refashioned in some way to be a smaller container.

I think the logic of the exercise is there, and numerous variations are possible including aging a blending of whiskeys. The latter practice in fact is quite common today, where a blend of aged whiskeys is "married" in oak vats or barrels for a further period of months or even years. Some Canadian whiskies, and many scotches, are processed in this way. There is a "double-casked" Canadian whisky which follows precisely this mode, for ewxample.

Gary

CrispyCritter
10-19-2005, 22:09
In the 1930's, quarter-casks were used to mature whiskey. There was a shortage of whiskey post-Volstead and distillers needed to make a saleable product more quickly than would result from the standard barrel.



This technique has been resurrected in Scotland lately (e.g. Laphroaig Quarter Cask). Scottish distillers were caught flat-footed by the relatively sudden popularity of single malts after some very lean years in the 1980s and early 90s, and now the supply of 10+ year old single malt has been squeezed.

This (along with the sinking dollar) has helped make bourbon a much better deal, at least in the USA. I've seen nasty price jumps (50% or more) on several of my favorite single malts. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Still, if you like Islay SMSW, Laphroaig Quarter Cask is outstanding. Word on the street is that it's about six years old; it was first matured in standard casks, then reracked into the quarters. I've heard that some other quarter cask "experiments" haven't turned out so well, though.

cowdery
10-20-2005, 01:17
Scottish grain whisky, while higher proof than malt whisky (or bourbon) is not GNS. The corn whisky component of Canadian whisky has much the same issue. It's nearly neutral but not, in fact, neutral. For that matter, put GNS into a new, charred oak barrel and something will happen. The wood sugars and other barrel goodies will still come out of the wood and go into the spirit, just as they would if you filled the barrel with water. What you would get wouldn't be whiskey, either de facto or de jure, but it wouldn't be vodka (or plain water) either.

Gillman
10-20-2005, 04:02
I agree and have made similar points in posts some years ago. Fleischman was aware that the barrel would impart some effect to "spirit" (as he called it) aged in wood, and I believe too his "spirit" was probably not the most refined kind of grain spirit but probably similar to Scotch or Canadian grain spirit today (although I note the latter is generally distilled very high, usually at 194-196 proof, but I accept the point made). He knew of course of this kind of grain spirit because when he wrote (1885) blended Canadian and Scotch whisky was emerging and the column still had existed for many years.

He was simply cautioning his readers that by aging such a product they should not expect it to have the character a bourbon or rye whiskey would have after aging. The book was addressed to the licensed, and people thinking of entering the blending and rectification, trades.

I mentioned on the other board that the 1911 Brittanica Encyclopaedia is available free online. This is the classic edition said at the time to represent the sum of the world's knowledge. The entry on whiskey is very interesting. It tends to focus mostly on Scotch and Irish whiskey but there is some emphasis on American whiskey. The chemical discussion is quite sophisticated, and this is only some 25 years after Fleischman was writing (less if one allows for usual publication lags). The Brittanica notes that grain whisky has measureable levels of congeners and is different from pure alcohol. The spirit Fleischman was working with would have been similar to this in my view. He was working in the daily alcohol trade in the Northeast and I doubt the spirits he was encountering were as pure as the best vodka is today, for example, not so much because the market demanded it but because redistillation at the time likely could not produce very pure spirit with any regularity. But in comparison to whiskey - and Brittanica noted American whiskey had twice (!) the congener levels of malt whisky - such grain whisky was bland and again Fleischman was concerned simply that people not think aging grain spirit was a cheap way of producing genuine, aged whiskey. But he was well aware that GNS would acquire what he called "the barrel taste", and in fact he warned that shady merchants would add alcohol to a barrel of whiskey to increase their profit. Fleischman was simply saying, that is not the real thing.

By the way, searching the web the other day I came across a discussion, on a board which discusses the Civil War, of contemporary American drinking habits, the purpose was to illustrate what the soldiery would have consumed. One of the quotations is from a book by George Sala, a Briton who wrote a book about his travels in America during the war years. I don't know how to transfer this quote here. If someone searches under "Sala + Civil War + cocktails" or similar terminology it will come up quickly and maybe someone can reproduce the quote here. It is very interesting because one thing he says is Americans of the time had the habit to take, early in the morning (!), a "cocktail" of "alcohol, sugar and bitters". Later during the day, and at nightime, they drank "bourbon" which he says was cut with a little "iced water". He is quite specific too on the names of contemporary cocktails some of which are quite amusing, and this leads me to think that originally, cocktails were made with cheap whiskey (GNS or young barrel aged spirit or cheap blended whiskey), not with bourbon or rye. Why else would he specify that "alcohol" (not bourbon) was used to make what today is the Old-Fashioned and is related clearly to the Sour and other familiar whisky cocktails? Probably this was done because people wanted to imitate the taste of true whiskey. He also notes that in "country towns" drinking (and smoking and chewing) was strongly disapproved by respectable people. In some ways the rural and regional attitude to drinking has not changed very much (I refer to the recent discussion about dry counties in Tennessee and other States).

Gary

Quaere: why would people drink a cheaper confection earlier in the day than later...? Or was it cheaper...? Maybe they wanted the sugar hit to get them going.

kbuzbee
10-20-2005, 06:39
I'm with you, Ken. I've got some of the white-doggish Isaiah Morgan young rye from West Virginia, and I might just get around to playing with this. If I can get it done before the first of the year, it'll cycle through most of a winter and summer prior to next fall's Festival.
Hmmm...



I'm targeting the first of the year as well. As for the raw material, since Wild Turkey is my favorite flavor profile, I'm going that way. Hopefully others here will try other Bourbons or vattings and we can compare the results.

Thanks to everyone for your input here. The points about environmental chemicals were well made. My original thought was to place this in the attic but per Chuck, sounds like it will need to be more closely monitored than that would allow (easily). The next two choices would be the garage or the shed but there are yard and petro chemicals in both. Looks like my best choice will be the 3 season porch.... Any thoughts or caveats there??

Let the adventure begin.

Ken

Gillman
10-20-2005, 07:26
Well done, sounds like the porch might work, or the garage. Remember there will be evaporation so you want to ensure good aeration and safety in general.

Let us know how it goes, sounds fascinating.

Gary

barturtle
10-20-2005, 07:35
Have you considered getting a doghouse and putting it in a nice sunny spot in the yard?

kbuzbee
10-20-2005, 07:59
Timothy, if you only knew my yard you would understand how funny that suggestion is. We're talking a 120' x 215' lot with 100+ trees, most over 150' tall. The lots South, East and West are identical. The sunniest place in the yard is out by the street, it gets maybe 4 hours a day. I can't even get grass to grow over most of it. Temperature was why I was thinking of the attic but I wouldn't want to go up there more than once or twice during the process.

Ken

kbuzbee
10-20-2005, 08:02
Well done, sounds like the porch maight work, or the garage. Remember there will be evaporation so you want to ensure good aeration and safety in general.

Let us know how it goes, sounds fascinating.

Gary



Will do. Definately looking forward to it.

Thought occures about pests/bugs. Do rickhouses have any problems with this?? Or are bugs not drawn to Bourbon??

Ken

barturtle
10-20-2005, 10:34
Gary,

Since this project would involve lower-end, filtered whiskies, do you think this would be a good place to try your corn oil trick? I think that the filtration process could strip some of these remaining oils and readding them and letting them age might be benefitial.

cowdery
10-20-2005, 10:39
An attic would be an ideal location for aging. In Cognac, the oldest and most precious barrels are often stored in the attics of homes.

Another factor to consider in this experiment is the reduced proof of the spirit going back into the barrel. Alcohol is a better solvent than water, in terms of dissolving the wood goodies. For this reason, I recommend using the highest proof young whiskey available, likely a 100 proof BIB.

Gillman
10-20-2005, 12:16
Well, I think I would not do this when barreling a whiskey. True, it has been filtered, but it seems too far a departure from tradition. I think it could be added (if at all) to some of the bottles when dumping is done. That way, if the effect is not liked it does not hurt the whole batch.

Gary

Gillman
10-20-2005, 12:18
VERY good point. There are some lower end BIB's available in jug format, I think, but even if not, it is best (once one is going to the trouble) to secure 100 proof whiskey, even if a couple of cases of fifths need to be bought.

Gary

NorCalBoozer
10-20-2005, 12:49
Doug,

great thoughts. I had the similar idea to take a sample at different times in the aging and these could be used to compare.

I think the "living process" idea is interesting..but might make it hard to recreate if you find an outstanding mix.

Starting off there is bound be be a big learning curve and documentation of the process will be key.

here are my current questions....

what is the typical loss (angels share)?

is a small barrel (1-5) gallons going to be big enough? once loss occurs will there be a reasonable amount left to bottle?

weight factor.....a 5 gallon barrel wieghs 30 lbs. I don't know exactly how much bourbon weighs but somewhere around 7 lbs/gallon as a rough estimate. thats 65 lbs total.

go to a 10 gallon and .......37 lbs barrel and 70 lbs booze and you have 107 lbs.

at some point these have to be stored (rick structure) and moved periodically.

Rughi
10-20-2005, 13:05
I agree that 100 proof would be the nice way to go for rebarreling. There are other issues that will come into play with small barrels that shouldn't be neglected.

My experience as a home winemaker has shown me that the small size of barrels being considered here, 1 to 5 gallons, gives so much oak contact that a virgin barrel can only hold wine for 2-3 weeks before the wine will become unpleasantly overoaked. The second batch of wine can sit in the barrel for 4-9 weeks, and the third batch will age in a way similar to a 55+/- gallon barrel, (6+ months). Wine is only 10-12% alcohol and extracts oakiness that quickly, so it seems unreasonable that the relatively minor difference between 40% and 50% alcohol could be a deal breaker.

The thing to keep in mind with the first 2 batches having to come out of the barrel so quickly is that there isn't time for the subtle interplay of oxygen in the barrel over time.

I don't know if bourbon will behave in a similar way to wine, but the trick seems to be finding ways to let the spirit stay in the barrel for as long as possible, not have it scour the barrel as quickly as possible. I need to talk with an acquaintance whose been doing rebarreling of bourbon in 5 gallon barrels for a while to find what his experience is.

I think probably the best reasons to go with 100 proof whiskey is that it is the closest strength to the traditional barrel proofs of great bourbons that I understand to be 110-115.

People laughed their asses off when I asked about rebarreling during the HH tour, but I think it's one of the few ways(other than Gillmanizing http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif) that enthusiasts can be participants, not just customers, in bourbon.

Roger - DIY - Hodges

NorCalBoozer
10-20-2005, 13:36
welcome to the newest frontier....microbourboning&#153

I agree, i think its a great way for us to get an even better understanding of bourbon.




People laughed their asses off when I asked about rebarreling during the HH tour, but I think it's one of the few ways(other than Gillmanizing http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif) that enthusiasts can be participants, not just customers, in bourbon.

Roger - DIY - Hodges

Gillman
10-20-2005, 15:48
Roger, I've had similar experience with beer stored for a short time in small oak kegs. However, these kegs, including I assume yours for wine, were not charred. At most they were toasted, or possibly essentially plain wood. That meant a lot of raw oak flavor would leach into the liquors, quickly. However a charred cask means a layer of char is interposed between the liquor and the red layer that forms from the charring. This is not to say the smaller ratio of interior cask surface to liquid, as compared to what happens in a standard bourbon barrel, is not relevant. But again we have a barrier, the char layer, that dictates a certain relationship of barrel to spirit that does not operate with toasted or plain wood barrels. In such circumstances, it is important I think to ensure at least 100 proof, not just out of deference to tradition, but to ensure the proper amount of extractive from a charred barrel.

Gary

cowdery
10-20-2005, 18:24
"A pint is a pound the whole world round."

Evaporation is about 5 percent per year.

kbuzbee
10-21-2005, 08:21
Kentucky warehouses get as hot as Kentucky gets. I'm sure that data is readily available from any number of weather sites. Warehouses typically are located on hilltops to maximize air circulation and exposure to the sun. How long? You should do what the distillers do, periodically open the barrel, withdraw some spirit, and check its progress. How often? That depends on how thirsty you are. Really, it probably depends on how much change you notice. If it seems to be aging quickly, you might want to check it more frequently. It's all part of the adventure.



Thanks Chuck. I would have expected them to get warmer, being in the sun and all. Our temps go from 30 to 90. I would expect the attic temps to go 40 to 140. The porch to go 40 to 85. I would think a full barrel would age better in the attic but maybe a small barrel will age too fast in that temp range??? Opinions??

Ken

dougdog
10-21-2005, 09:49
Greg,



I think the "living process" idea is interesting..but might make it hard to recreate if you find an outstanding mix.



If a real good mix were "found", that would be the best possible outcome, I'd bottle it up in a hurry, commence with consuming the harvest, and start again. My mind races with thoughts about "what if..." as I consider different approaches and "recipes".

So at this point in time, I'm considering starting two 5 gallon barrels and doing something different in each one.

The information currently being posted is of great value, Rogers post about new barrels and the effect on wine and the counter post by Gary Gillman regarding the effects of heavy char are very informative....certainly interested in additional information from Rogers friend that has re-barreled bourbon to get his view and experience on his past projects.

Reading these posts creates more questions....this one to be aimed at Chuck or Gary (or who ever else have recommendation...Gary wrote:



In such circumstances, it is important I think to ensure at least 100 proof, not just out of deference to tradition, but to ensure the proper amount of extractive from a charred barrel.




If 100 proof is more desirable, how do I get my barrel proof up if I'm intending to use bulk stock of 80-86 proof bourbons?

Would adding small amounts of GNS be a bad thing to consider here? The GNS could age in the barrel along with all the other ingredients?

What say ye?

Best regards, dog

kbuzbee
10-21-2005, 10:13
If 100 proof is more desirable, how do I get my barrel proof up if I'm intending to use bulk stock of 80-86 proof bourbons?



I think their point was to not start with a lower proof Bourbon. Not to take a lower proof expression and find a way to increase it's proof. I think what you suggest would work but it would not have the flavor profile I would be looking for. I want the basic flavor components to be in the barrel.

Ken

Gillman
10-21-2005, 10:20
Doug, obviously there are some unanswered questions here, and only empirical practice will ascertain the optimum way to do it. If you do two 5 gallon batches, maybe go with one that is 86 or 80 proof whiskey, and Roger's caution that small barrels extract enough even from low-proof ethanol mixtures may prove correct (which, if so, means you will want to tap that one sooner). The other batch can use 100 proof. I would buy a case or two of BIB fifths for that one. Yes, you could add GNS, say Everclear, to get the proof up. But this is departing from an all-straight whiskey blend. Although, as you will see below, Fleiscman advised to age both mixtures of GNS and straight whiskey, and all-straight whiskey mixtures, so you would not be out of line doing this in that sense.

You might take a selection of the many older bottles you have (this is more the living cask idea) and use those, maybe for the first batch mentioned above because your average proof won't likely exceed 90.

I have often referred to Fleischman but now want to quote from this 1885 blending book:

"Grade no. 11

McBrayer Whiskey, 20 gallons
Mattingly ditto 20 ditto
Monticello (Rye) 5 ditto
Prune Juice 1/2 ditto

This is considered the finest of all grades, as it contains no spirits, but an excellent blend of genuine whiskeys. It will cost $1.90 per gallon. [!!]. The first five of the foregoing grades [the cheapest grades in his book] are simply spirits, and will remain so; it is therefore unnecessary to attempt to improve them by age; but all the other grades should, after mixing, be tiered away in barrels on the highest floor, and allowed to remain three months before using".

This 3 months was obviously a minimum, a commercial imperative in his view but no more.

I'd be guided by this approach but you can dispense with the "prune juice" (which is not our modern prune juice but a complex fruit mixture macerated in GNS and sugar - the recipe for prune juice is in his book and I can reproduce it here if wished). I.e., use the percentage of bourbons he stipulates adjusted for your smaller quantity, and ditto of the rye. You can use 3 whiskeys like he did or 10 or 20 (or 1 of course); it is the system that counts. He himself says his approach can be varied and "endless" combinations are possible.

Gary

barturtle
10-21-2005, 10:40
While I had thought of using GNS to up the proof, my other thought is to start with a "base layer" of 100+ proof whiskies. Several are available in 1.75L bottles: VOB, Fighting Cock, Weller 107, Tom Moore, Wild Turkey, JTS Brown.

I'm not opposed to the idea of using GNS, but it will "dilute" the flavor profile that you start with.

Also, just a thought, but I'd try to get together a bunch of pint bottles and take a sample right after blending(possibly in a seperate, sterile container) then one after day one, week one, week two, etc. Thought you might only want to do 1/2 pints depending on the volume of the batch and the speed of maturation. Taking out whiskey will also change the surface/volume ratio. You might actually want to make a larger batch than it will hold and store the extra in bottles and see how the same batch goes through the second time in a slightly used barrel. Also hold onto plenty of the original blend to show off your prowess in aging spirits.

I really can't wait to hear of the results. Pretty soon there's going to be a run on 100proof 1.75L's and we're all going to be comparing our own aged blends at the Gazebo. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

NorCalBoozer
10-21-2005, 11:49
wow 5% is considerable.

isn't a pint a measure of volume, not weight?

a pint of alcohol would have a different weight than a pint of water?





"A pint is a pound the whole world round."

Evaporation is about 5 percent per year.

pepcycle
10-21-2005, 11:50
Question:
Would it be most expedient to buy empty whiskey barrels from four year product and add your whiskey to them. If you're going to put up Five gallon batches, does it matter whether your using a 53 gallon barrel or a five gallon barrel. I contend that 18 year old whiskey only has 8-15 gallons left and its aging along without any negative effect of low volume. (Assumes you have the space for a couple of full barrels)
I measured the hatch into my attic and a barrel will fit. Break out the block and Tackle!!!
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

Gillman
10-21-2005, 11:52
That's a good point, Ed.

For that matter, half of a barrel (I saw half-sawn barrels outside Keene's when in B'town) may work if you can fashion a tight cover.

Gary

gr8erdane
10-21-2005, 13:04
Wouldn't the loss of the angel's share in your experiment increase the alcohol content on its own without adding the GNS?

barturtle
10-21-2005, 13:18
I think you have a point here Dane. However, the loss would be greater with the lower alcohol content(water molecule is smaller than alcohol and passes throught the wood easier) This could concentrate the flavors. But this concentration could be a positive also.

Only one way to find out.

kbuzbee
10-21-2005, 14:16
I think you are right about that, Dane. It happens to the big boys, why not to us??

Ken

JeffRenner
10-21-2005, 14:35
isn't a pint a measure of volume, not weight?



Yes, but since a US gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs, Chuck's aphorism:



"A pint is a pound the whole world round."



is pretty accurate.

Of course, the metric system avoids these problems. Even a kid knows that a liter of water weighs 1000 grams, or a kilogram.



a pint of alcohol would have a different weight than a pint of water?



Ethanol is about 89% as dense as water, so a gallon of whiskey would weigh pretty close to 8 lbs, depending on proof. A gallon of barrel strength whiskey would weigh a bit less.

Jeff

cowdery
10-21-2005, 15:06
A lot of the questions people are asking are the reason we play the game...i.e., conduct the experiment.

Since it's impossible to get "barrel proof" whiskey except in the form of something like Booker's or Stagg, which would be pretty expensive for this experiment, a cheap BIB is probably the best compromise. Booker's and Stagg are already pretty well aged too and you probably want to start the experiment with something young.

Does it make sense to increase the proof with high proof GNS? Maybe. The higher proof spirit will be more effective as a solvent for dissolving barrel "goodies," but you'll be diluting the non-barrel whiskey flavors, which may be a negative as far as your final product. It also will no longer be straight whiskey, not that it matters from a legal standpoint, but in any experiment you want to limit your variables and aging a whiskey/GNS mixture is certainly a significant additional variable.

Worried about it aging "too fast"? How fast is "too fast" and why is "fast" "too fast," as in something negative? Wouldn't you want to get some identifiable changes as quickly as possible? I can't see any benefit in retarding the aging. Pick a location where you are going to get the greatest temperature extremes and let 'er rip. Remember, though, that it's the cycle of heating and cooling that changes the spirit. Getting it hot and keeping it hot doesn't get you anywhere.

Gillman
10-21-2005, 16:04
As a footnote to my own post, it occurs to me there are one or two people on this board or the other one who have Mattingly bourbon (still available after a fashion I believe in the form of Mattingly and Moore, or not long unavailable), McBrayer bourbon and Monticello rye. He could make a real 1885 blend, or at least, cocktail. Wow. But we have whiskeys today no doubt as good or better than those 3. I am sure the ones Fleischman used would not have been more than 3 or 4 years old, maybe one of them was 6-7. Certainly I'd go with young BIB whiskey as I said earlier and Chuck too, but a cask made up of Doug's many older bottles sounds fascinating to me, too. Just follow the percentages in the recipe I quoted (about 45% each bourbons and the rest, ryes) and let 'er rip. Don't worry about aging, based on this book, even 3 months gets improvement, eerything after that is gravy. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

kbuzbee
10-21-2005, 16:09
A lot of the questions people are asking are the reason we play the game...i.e., conduct the experiment.



You're right, there, Chuck but my questions (and I assume those of other's) are just banging around ideas to give us some basis from where to start.

Your input is (as always) very valuable. From your last post, I'm thinking the porch may not be the best area for me as it doesn't get much temp variation. Surely not as much as the attic. I'll just have to deal with the inaccessabilty issue.

Ken

tdelling
10-21-2005, 18:49
> Wouldn't the loss of the angel's share in your experiment increase
> the alcohol content on its own without adding the GNS?

Maybe, maybe not... recall that in humid Scotland, proof goes *down*
with age. In the relatively dry US, proof goes up.

We can run some quick numbers... let's say we start at 90 proof,
and just for fun the 5% loss is 4 parts water loss for every 1
part ethanol loss. (45*0.99)/((45*0.99)+(55*0.96)) = 0.4576,
i.e. you've made it up to 91.5 proof in a year.

So you're better off starting at high proof if you want to age there.


Tim Dellinger

tdelling
10-21-2005, 18:56
> water molecule is smaller than alcohol and passes throught the wood easier

A popular misconception, but at least you're thinkin'! If that's the case
then how come proof goes down over time in Scotland? My understanding is
that the size of the molecule isn't really what's important here.

Yoahizawa et. at (J Agric Chem Soc Jpn 55: 1063-8, 1981) studied "Subastances
Evaporated Through Barrel of Whisky", and found the following losses over
a given time:

acetaldehyde 32%
ethanol 12.7 %
acetic acid 1.0%

These molecules are very close in size, but very different in barrel
permeability!


Tim Dellinger

tdelling
10-21-2005, 19:05
Just a little nit picking concerning your numbers:

> Yes, but since a US gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs...

I seem to recall 8.63 pounds per gallon, putting you closer to 9 pounds
per gallon.

> Ethanol is about 89% as dense as water, so a gallon of whiskey would
> weigh pretty close to 8 lbs

I'm thinking ethanol is more like 79% of the density of water.
And don't forget that crazy "electrostriction"... mix 50 mL of ethanol
and 50 mL of water, and you'll end up not with 100 mL, but rather something
like 98 mL! The demonstration often really surprises people!

Your rough estimate still holds, though... you'll end up with about 8 pounds
per gallon for whiskey.


Tim Dellinger

tdelling
10-21-2005, 19:23
> Does it make sense to increase the proof with high proof GNS? Maybe.
> The higher proof spirit will be more effective as a solvent for dissolving
> barrel "goodies,"

Well, that much is true, but it's not the whole story!
The hydrolysis of hemicellulose and other things in wood is accelerated by
increasing water content, so if your proof is really high, then you have
the ability to solubilize the goodies, you're just not producing them!

Piggott's book mentions a bourbon study showing that production
of color, volatile acids, and tannins all decrease as you increase
the proof at which you age.

So it's a trade-off. I think roughly 60% (120 proof) comes out to
be fairly optimal all things considered... but it really depends
on what you're after! If you're starting with pre-aged bourbon and
you just want mellowing, not extra sweetness and tannins, then higher
proof might be your friend.

Oh, and while I'm at it: smaller casks will give you more loss per year
than large casks. So the 5% figure might not hold. I have some numbers
somewhere comparing cask volume to percentage loss in Scotland... you
can triple your annual losses by using smaller casks. And by "smaller",
they mean the ~250 L (60 - 80 gallon) hogsheads (vs. the butts that
hold twice as much).

Prepare to pay the angels a fair bit if you're using ~10 gallon casks!

Tim Dellinger

tdelling
10-21-2005, 19:53
> Worried about it aging "too fast"? How fast is "too fast" and why is "fast"
> "too fast," as in something negative? Wouldn't you want to get some
> identifiable changes as quickly as possible? I can't see any benefit in
> retarding the aging.

What if it gets really woody really fast, but still has the "hot" flavor
of younger whiskey? Aging is many many things all going on at once...
ethanolysis, hydrolysis, dissolution, oxidation... lots of things are
interacting in complex ways.

> Remember, though, that it's the cycle of heating and cooling that
> changes the spirit. Getting it hot and keeping it hot doesn't get
> you anywhere.

Perhaps you've never had rum?

Getting it hot and keeping it hot will definitely give you lots of
aging! The annual cycle of heating and cooling gives subtle effects that
are only marginally different than, say, 4 straight years of steady
summer temperature followed by 4 straight years of winter temperature.

Not to be rude, but "Getting it hot and keeping it hot doesn't get you
anywhere" is just plain 100% false. Dunno how else to put it!

Tim Dellinger

JeffRenner
10-21-2005, 19:55
Just a little nit picking concerning your numbers:



Yes, but since a US gallon of water weighs 8.33 lbs...



I seem to recall 8.63 pounds per gallon, putting you closer to 9 pounds
per gallon.



[/QUOTE]

I was right about this part - 8.33 lbs./gallon of water - see this page (http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/waterproperties.html).

As I said earlier, the metric (S.I.) system would eliminate these problems.





Ethanol is about 89% as dense as water, so a gallon of whiskey would weigh pretty close to 8 lbs



I'm thinking ethanol is more like 79% of the density of water.



You are right on this - it was a typo on my part - the actual value is actually 78.920% (http://www.simetric.co.uk/si_liquids.htm)

All of this is, as you said, close enough for the argument.

Jeff

barturtle
10-21-2005, 20:12
I hate to ask but which one is it; in this post you say that the proof goes up, and in the previous you say it goes down.

Also does Yoahizawa's study say whether these are the new oak barrels that are used in bourbon or the used barrels used for scotch. In my experience, porous substances tend to "clog" as more fluids flow through them. While I'm not sure what this would do to the permeability, it seems that since it makes no difference as to the size of the molecule, the used barrel might allow the different molecules to pass at rates other than what a new barrel would.

Also wouldn't those fluids flow differently based on the diffence between the sides of the "membrane". In a humid environment, water would flow slower, while alcohol would flow at the same rate (this is assuming a normal Earth environment containing very little alcohol vapors in the air-at least proportionate to that in the barrel).

One last thing I wonder about: the rate of evaporation of water compared to alcohol based on temp. It seems that alcohol, based on its lower freezing point, would continue to evaporate at an accelerated rate compared to water at the lower temps in Scotland.

I don't know the answers to any of these, just asking. I basing my thoughts on my own experiences. If you know the answers, please let me know.

tdelling
10-21-2005, 21:38
> I hate to ask but which one is it; in this post you say that the proof
> goes up, and in the previous you say it goes down.

Oops! Sorry about that. I went ahead and edited my post... proof goes
down over time in Scotland, i.e. the ethanol leaves the barrel faster
than the water.

> In my experience, porous substances tend to "clog" as more fluids flow
> through them. While I'm not sure what this would do to the permeability,
> it seems that since it makes no difference as to the size of the molecule,
> the used barrel might allow the different molecules to pass at rates other
> than what a new barrel would.

It's entirely possible that the apparent porousity of the barrel changes over
time... luthiers can tell you that wood, even just sitting there in open air,
will lose weight over time. I can imagine that exposure to whiskey changes
the structure of the wood in interesting ways. I vaguely seem to recall that
the rate of loss and the rate of aging isn't enitrely constant, but does
change in small ways over the time that the whiskey is in the barrel. It's
more of a subtle thing, though, and I can't remember off hand whether it
speeds up or slows down over time. I would guess that the wood would tend
to open up and become more porous, since parts of the barrel are literally
decomposing and dissolving.

Also, recall whiskey that is in it's third year of aging is sitting in a
"used" barrel (it's been used for two years by the whiskey that's sitting in
it)... so even a new barrel is a used barrel.

> Also wouldn't those fluids flow differently based on the diffence between the
> sides of the "membrane". In a humid environment, water would flow slower,
> while alcohol would flow at the same rate (this is assuming a normal Earth
> environment containing very little alcohol vapors in the air-at least
> proportionate to that in the barrel).

Exactly! You've summarized nicely what they like to call Fick's First Law
of Diffusion: J = -D dc/dx. It's the best way to explain the Scotland vs.
America effect.

> One last thing I wonder about: the rate of evaporation of water compared to
> alcohol based on temp. It seems that alcohol, based on its lower freezing
> point, would continue to evaporate at an accelerated rate compared to water
> at the lower temps in Scotland.

You're right. (The term you're looking for is "vapor pressure".) It makes
for a very complex scenario indeed! I think you've hit most of the major
points with respect to aging. The only other thing worth mentioning is that
oxygen is continually diffusing into the barrel, so that the contents are
slowly oxidizing over time.


A lot of the questions about the microstructure of wood and how it relates
to permeability and how it changes over time really are a mystery... most of
the distilleries, wineries, etc. just know what seems to work for them.
They're still very interesting questions, though!

There are a lot of variables with temperature, humidity, temperature changes
over time, species of oak, tightness of grain in the oak, proof of the whiskey
inside... I have a feeling that no one has explored all of these, they just
find what works for them and stick with it. Even sticking to what would seem
like the same formula, there's still variation in taste between two
seemingly identical barrels that sit right next to each other in the warehouse!

For those of you who are a little shy when it comes to buying and filling
and storing a barrel, there is a smaller way to participate... although
it's not quite the same, and some would call it "cheating". Wineries often
put oak chips or sticks into the barrels to add more wood to the aging process.
I've seen quite a few reports of home distillers aging their whiskey in
glass bottles with such oak chips. It's not barrel aging, but it definitely
is wood aging!

Tim Dellinger

Gillman
10-21-2005, 22:15
"The annual cycle of heating and cooling gives subtle effects that are only marginally different than, say, 4 straight years of steady summer temperature followed by 4 straight years of winter temperature."


Tim, if this was true, why do distillers (some of them) make such a big thing about artificial cycling? Doesn't the practice result in red layer sugars entering the spirit faster than if natural seasonal variations (much less a constant multi-year temperature) occur? You refer to rum, but rum isn't really sweet and when it is, I suspect the sweet comes from added caramel or sugar, not lignin and other wood sugars.

Gary

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 07:45
For those of you who are a little shy when it comes to buying and filling
and storing a barrel, there is a smaller way to participate... although
it's not quite the same, and some would call it "cheating". Wineries often
put oak chips or sticks into the barrels to add more wood to the aging process.
I've seen quite a few reports of home distillers aging their whiskey in
glass bottles with such oak chips. It's not barrel aging, but it definitely
is wood aging!



I'd often wondered about doing that, even within a barrel. Something similar in concept to the Lincoln County Process but with an added time component. Great info, thanks Tim (and fun discussion too, takes me back to college p-Chem lectures!)

Ken

AVB
10-22-2005, 07:47
You can find some of the 4 liter bottles in duty free sometimes. I bought a 4 liter JB White 7-8 years ago in a duty free. Same with Johnnie Walker Black, they had a 4 liter at the Niagara Falls duty free just last month.



I was on a tour of Beam once and was watching them bottle some huge bottles for overseas somewhere, they were 3 or 4 liter bottles. Putting on the labels was like wallpapering http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif I've never wanted a bottle of Beam white label so bad in my life. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Come to think of it, in 2001, at the Gala, they were pouring Four Roses out of the same size bottle

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 08:13
To hijack a couple different threads from this and the other forum, perhaps this would be a great experiment for:

Old Potrero - I've thought this one needs more time in the barrel.

Woodford Reserve 4 grain - That is also something folk seem to be thinking here. Unfortunately this would be a VERY expensive experiment.

Maker's Mark - I wonder how MM would taste at say 12 years (equivalent aging)

As I said, I plan to do Wild Turkey 101 and I'm hoping for Tribute (yeah, right!) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Cheers,

Ken

AVB
10-22-2005, 09:10
For a long term , 4-8 years or so, wouldn't putting Vodka in a charred barrel be the truer test of what your area can do to the flavor?

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 09:15
I don't think so. My understanding is the really good stuff is due to a reaction between the char zone in the wood and the flavor components of the grains, particularly the rye and the corn. Vodka would change, to be sure, and you may be right that the amount of change would reflect your particular circumstance but it would not yield aged whisky, let alone Bourbon (which is MY goal).

Ken

barturtle
10-22-2005, 09:30
I don't think so, as vodka is distilled to a higher proof to make it taste neutral. Whiskey still has many more compounds left in it that add flavor. These compounds seem to interact with the barrel over time.

Now if you could make identical mixes and ship them to different areas of the country...Hmm, one in the swamps of Louisiana, one in the deserts of Arizona, the great white north, California coast, and so on...that would test the area.

I think this is more to see what can be done, by making a blend and reintroducing the spirit to a barrel.

I think this is more supposed to be a fun exercise with a little science(Black Arts?) thrown in, than an imperical experiment.

barturtle
10-22-2005, 10:01
Seems there is(was?) a whiskey that did something similar. They added Mesquite to either the barrel or to a vatting later. I remember having it, you could really taste the new flavor. I can't say it was a flavor I liked, but I also can't say that with some work, that it couldn't be made to be palatable.

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 10:04
Seems there is(was?) a whiskey that did something similar. They added Mesquite to either the barrel or to a vatting later. I remember having it, you could really taste the new flavor. I can't say it was a flavor I liked, but I also can't say that with some work, that it couldn't be made to be palatable.



Cool, Tim. If you recall what is was, post it. I'd love to give it a go.

Ken

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 10:09
I think this is more supposed to be a fun exercise with a little science(Black Arts?) thrown in, than an imperical experiment.



Gillmanizing II Return to the Wood http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Seriously, someone could do the Woodford thing. Take a High Wheat and a High Rye and mix them. You'd have a non coppery 4 grain..... hmmmmm How about Maker's Mark and Old Overholt???

Ken

barturtle
10-22-2005, 10:22
I looked it up.

There are two now, the one I had was McKendric Western Style, it has a leather label. The other one is McKendric Longhorn Creek.

kbuzbee
10-22-2005, 13:52
Thanks Tim, never heard them but they sound very interesting. Not sure Mesquite is the flavor profile I'm looking at (but I'll remain open until I eventually try it).

Ken

gr8erdane
10-22-2005, 20:42
Not meaning to hijack the thread but I've seen both at local stores but the word "mesquite" on the label just didn't push any buttons for me. My first thought was "sales gimmick" when I saw it and was never really tempted to purchase it. When I think of mesquite, I think smoke. Maybe this was an Americanized attempt to bridge Bourbon and Scotch?

I had thought that someone could get some barrel char like BT sells and add it to a container and pour some young whiskey in to try to age it further but most of the best taste comes from the wood UNDER the char in the barrel so I think this would add char taste but not necessarily anything else.

kbuzbee
10-23-2005, 08:01
I see your point, Dane... Perhaps larger pieces could be "charred" to leave the wood inside intact?? The process would be the same.

Ken

barturtle
10-23-2005, 09:41
Independent Stave sells "tank staves" that are essentially that. Used for wine aging, and normally only toasted, but I think that these would work if you could find a way to get that precise char level that barrel makers get, and get it on all four sides.

The problems with doing this way seem to be all of the effects discussed earlier that also affect the flavor profile; evaporation (and the differing rates between water and alcohol) and oxidation

kbuzbee
10-23-2005, 11:58
True but... since we are just finishing the bourbon, stability in most areas may be a plus.... Dunno?

Ken

barturtle
10-23-2005, 13:41
Very true. I only thought that since the whiskey we would be using here is diluted, it would be nice to slowly try to recondense it. Though in my mind, using anything other than a wooden barrel would be taking it into the realm of the newer "experimental" Canadians, with their rules allowing additions to the final product. Not that some of these aren't fine whiskies in their own right, but definitely not a straight whiskey.

BTW, make sure to post pics, I gotta see this.

kbuzbee
10-24-2005, 06:15
BTW, make sure to post pics, I gotta see this.



Absolutely.

Ken

JeffRenner
10-24-2005, 13:50
Here's a small-barrel vendor -- but I don't know how you'd go about charring (or even lightly toasting) it:
Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. (http://www.1000oaksbarrel.com/)



There is an auction (http://cgi.ebay.com/3-Liter-Whiskey-Aging-Barrel-NEW-Homebrew-Keg_W0QQitemZ4412617756QQ) for a 3-4 liter medium char oak cask by Thousand Oaks Barrel Co. on eBay now. $29.95/Buy it Now $34.95, plus $12.95 shipping. Comes with a stand and spigot.

I think a small keg like this is going to be more of a conversation piece than anything. As has been discussed here, it will probably contribute a lot of barrel character very quickly.

After all, in one way of looking at it, all bourbon undergoes most of its aging in a used barrel. They are only new at the beginning.

I suspect that even very young bourbon rebarreled in a new barrel will have an awfully lot of barrel character - maybe too much. I think it is possible that with enough throughput, as the barrel becomes "used," additional refills might not be too bad.

A friend of mine has an old family recipe for making "bourbon." They don't know much about the mashing and fermentation part (malt extract, sugar and charred corn), but they manipulated the still (converted 10 gallon milk canister) skillfully, and then age it in a new five gallon charred oak barrel. One secret is that they put a bottle of port in the barrel first. (Don't know what quality.)

I had a few nips back a few years ago before I was really into bourbon and I thought it was mighty tasty. I can only imagine what it might be like with a decent sour mash.

Jeff

koji
10-26-2005, 09:55
Hi guys
Heres my own barrel at my bar, it is an Independent Stave Company made
new charred barrel 18 liter size, originally with Willet 104proof Bourbon.

I think I had this for 3 or 4 years and I filled it up twice or more, drinking alot
but evaporation is more than 5% a year! I dont know about the math but it
does evaporate pretty fast.

And the taste really changes day to day, http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif
It tends to taste a litte better in the winter, but again day to day change.

Haven't any of you bought barrels at the Festival ground at the ISC booth ?
They sell two sizes every year there. Buy em ! I always take mine on the plane
home to Japan. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/drink.gif

Koji

kbuzbee
10-26-2005, 11:01
Hey Koji... Cool! Do you recall how much the ISC barrels sell for??

Ken

doubleblank
10-26-2005, 11:28
I looked at them at this years booth. They had several sizes....ranged from $30 to $100 as I recall.....didn't buy one though but they were very cool. They also sell a cool tee-shirt for $10. The full size barrels run approx $175 or less ...... but hold 53 gallons.

Randy

dougdog
10-26-2005, 12:26
I have a couple other thoughts and questions.

I believe that most bourbons are chill-filtered, am I right or wrong?

Does rebarreling a chill-filtered whiskey, even at higher proof, make any sense?

Are there brands that chill-filter less or not at all?

And, would the wood influence from re-barreling add back any fats or items that would traditionall be removed in the cold filtration process? (or do all the fats come from the raw spirit?)

HELP! Chuck, Gary, Julian, Roger, ken...anybody...

Thanks in advance for any input...

dougdog

kbuzbee
10-26-2005, 12:49
There are brands that are unfiltered (Bookers for example). Wild Turkey says they are 'lightly filtered'. I would think having some unfiltered in the mix would be a plus. Personally, I'm not a big fan of chill filtering anyway. It looks pretty when cold, but I drink it at room temp so even if I cared about that, I wouldn't care about that (which I don't) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif My understanding is the flavor oils come from the distillate, not the wood.

Ken

Gillman
10-26-2005, 14:55
Doug, I am not sure whether filtered solids all come from the barrel (some surely do), but I don't think it matters if whiskey rebarreled or double-casked is filtered first. I base this on the evident similarity of filtered and unfiltered whiskey. Filtration is done mainly to avoid a chill haze. Most bourbons are filtered today, Booker's is a well-known exception. Van Winkle used not to filter his higher proof products but now all are filtered (I believe). I don't see this as an issue in terms of rebarreling.

Gary

tdelling
10-26-2005, 20:23
>> "The annual cycle of heating and cooling gives subtle effects that are
>> only marginally different than, say, 4 straight years of steady summer
>> temperature followed by 4 straight years of winter temperature."

> Tim, if this was true, why do distillers (some of them) make such a big
> thing about artificial cycling?

Why do distillers make such a big thing about only the finest ingredients,
traditional methods, and etc. when we all know they used commodity grains,
the distilleries are giant modern factories, etc.? It makes a good story.

If it's the cycling (i.e. expansion and contraction, soaking into the wood
and receding) that's so important, then why don't they build the warehouses
to be as cold as possible, and cycle the heat on and off as much as possible?
According to the cycling theory, that would result in the fastest maturation.
Maturation would go faster in the winter than in the summer!

My view is that chemical reactions happen faster at higher temperature. In
relatively-cold Scotland, you hardly see anything aged less than ten years.
In the relatively-hot Caribbean, four years is well-aged. I peg
bourbon at sixish to sevenish, with obvious notable exceptions. One might
argue that these aging times are a matter of style, but I would respond
that the sytle reflect the "terroir"... it is dictated by the weather and
the raw materials. But mostly the weather!

Tim Dellinger

koji
10-26-2005, 20:32
Hear's a picture that Randy is talking about.
The kegs were three sizes, 1,2,3 gallons, and priced from $45~$75.
I buy the T-shirts every year and yes they are 10$ and the pins are $2
They sell good stuff at probably the lowest price around the ground.

Koji http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

tdelling
10-26-2005, 20:33
> You refer to rum, but rum isn't really sweet and when it is, I suspect the
> sweet comes from added caramel or sugar, not lignin and other wood sugars.

We tend to speak of aging as if it were just one process, one thing that is
happening. That's a terrible oversimplification! The spirit is losing it's
firey edge, it's picking up color, tannins, sugars, etc. etc. etc... all
happening at different rates that depend on all kinds of different variables
in complex non-linear ways.

To pick the aspects that are easier to notice: rum certainly picks up color!
And tannins! The only source of these is the barrel. (Well, as long as
they're not using caramel color or "flavorings"... I'm not the world's
expert on rum regulations when it comes to rum additive rules.)


Tim Dellinger

tdelling
10-26-2005, 20:45
While chill-filtering has a noticable effect on the relatively delicate
flavor of Scotch whisky (and also can have a big effect on the peat
montsters, too), most bourbons are so big and robust that the chill
filtering doesn't really knock back the taste all that much.

Most of the bourbon we know and love has had a lot of those fatty acid
esters knocked out by chill filtering. Do I disagree with chill filtering?
Yes. Do I see, from a business perspective, why they do it? Reluctantly,
I admit I do.

So my conclusion is that you won't miss 'em. The fatty acids mostly come
from fermentation, and although they are changed duing aging, they don't
really interact with the barrel or the barrel components to a huge degree...
there are other (smaller molecular weight) things in there that aren't
knocked out by chill filtering that do similar things.

Are you missing out if you age chill-filtered whiskey? Well, a little
bit, but not so much that you'd really notice it.

I think Julian has done some chill-filtered vs. not chill filtered
side by sides, but I don't recall that he ever made a specific post
to SB.com about it. Maybe someone could ask him.

Tim Dellinger

Rughi
10-26-2005, 22:13
In this thread, I don't think there's been any knowledge from people who have actually done re-barelling. Today, I talked with Bob, an aquaintance who has been re-barelling in a 3-gallon, charred white American oak barrel (like they use in Kentucky, except for size). Following is his experience.

Methodology:
- Has only used commonly available proofs of whiskey (80-86 proof)
- Has used (if I remember rightly) Forester, Grand Dad, Beam White, and mixed in a little Maker's at times.

Results:
- First batch gets to unpleasant amounts of woodiness at about 3 months and needs to be removed,
- Second at 6-7 months
- Third batch needn't be removed until ready (presumably years); behaves like one would expect of a full-sized barrel
- First 2 batches primarily aquire wood-imparted taste changes (vanillins, tannins), after that the more complex factors come more into play (oxidation, evaporation, char)
- Says that even small amounts of time will have positive effects and will start to "smooth out" the flavor almost immediately. I would guess the char contact and/or aeration during racking (being a brewer, I doubt he dumps) is the primary reason for this quick improvement.

Based on listening to his experience, I personally wouldn't use my most expensive stock on the first 2 batches cycled through a virgin barrel, and surely wouldn't put in a limited availability product until the third batch.

Speculation about higher vs. lower proof and filtered vs. non-filtered remains untested, and will no doubt continue to be richly debated.

Roger

PS I got a 5 gallon charred barrel today, and it has the sweet vanilla and oak scent so familiar in those great ol'rickhouses of Kentucky. The smell of a fresh charred barrel is definitely more robust, sweet and smoky than the more delicate, more grassy sweetness in the aroma of a lightly toasted virgin barrel awaiting wine.

Gillman
10-27-2005, 02:22
Roger, that is interesting data. This suggests to me that if given a choice people using small kegs for re-barreling should require a light char only and use as large a keg as possible. It is evident to me the fast maturation results from the relatively small liquid volume in relation to a larger vessel, hence also the high evaporation rate noted by some (Koji mentioned this). This assumes that a light char imparts less flavor than a heavy one, which is another point perhaps not accepted by all, but I think probably correct when one thinks too that only toasted casks are used for wine. Your observations also makes me wonder whether Heaven Hill uses only a light char for its barrels because its whiskies are known for a grassy taste, one that is familiar to wine drinkers and evidently comes from the tones of lightly flamed barrels. Of course HH uses charred barrels, not toasted barrels, but I am wndering if it is a light char and may impart some of the characteristics that toasted barrels do to the wines they hold.

In any case, the idea of reusing a small new charred barrel to further age bourbon or rye seems a good one in that the reuse would off-set the heavy aging characteristic of the new barrel, one that results solely from its small size. This may argue for using used charred barrels for such experiments. An advantage of same is their low cost. Someone who can work with wood can I am sure make those containers smaller. Even if quarter-sized that should work well if a close-fitting top can be fashioned. There are many ways to go about this but your friend's experience of obtaining a smoother (and no doubt higher proof) whiskey suggests it is worth trying.

Gary

Gillman
10-27-2005, 02:27
Tim, I've had a number of non-chill filtered scotch whiskies and am not convinced they are more flavorful than filtered ones. I've done side by sides of two whiskies of the same brand, one filtered, one not, and they seemed identical virtually in taste allowing for proof differences and so forth. I am not saying filtration has no effect on flavor but I think any changes are very small.

Gary

JeffRenner
10-27-2005, 07:41
Your observations also makes me wonder whether Heaven Hill uses only a light char for its barrels



Books can be notoriously inaccurate on subjects like this since there are reasons that some distillers like to play it close to the vest, but according to p. 252 in Regan and Regan's The Book of Bourbon (the big brown book, 1995), they use #3. Same info in their 1998 Bourbon Companion (p. 156).

Waymack and Harris concur on p. 104 of their 1995 Book of Classic American Whiskeys. They write, "Unlike many distilleries that use the deepest char, a #4, Heaven Hill makes use of a #3 char. [QC Michael] Sonne's argument, affirmed with a nod from Craig Beam, is that a #4 char would be something of an overkill, that Heaven Hill is looking for a balance of components in its Bourbon products, and that the #3 char just works better for them."

Despite Waymack and Harris' first sentence above, #3 is most typical. The Regans give these barrel chars in Bourbon Companion:

Ancient Age #3
Smith Bowman #2
Barton 3#
Bernheim 3#
Medley #3
Early Times #3
Four Roses #3.5
Dickel #3
Heaven Hill #3
Jack Daniel 3#
Jim Beam #4
Maker's Mark #3
Wild Turkey #4

Jeff

Gillman
10-27-2005, 08:31
Thanks, Jeff (and for your earlier notes on WT rye and Old Forester 100 proof). This makes me think the grassiness in HH bourbon - kind of a house taste up to about 12 years of aging - may not be due to the degree of barrel charring. Although, one never knows and each company may use a proprietary version of the barrels which lends particular notes. Maybe the HH yeast is the explanation. I like that grassy taste when the bourbon is high proof and sweet, e.g., as tasted from the barrel during the recent SB tour. The flavor may derive from the amount and type of rye used, as well. Guess I'm not being much help here. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Of one thing I am sure, the grassy flavour is a traditional bourbon taste. Remember the Gillman theory of the mint julep: mint was added to chilled, sweetened bourbon drinks where they lacked enough rye to impart a sufficiently minty taste. This was done I think to recall in Kentucky the minty quality of Pennsylvania rye whiskey and the drinks made from that base in the "old country". A traditional bourbon maker, though, ensured his bourbon had an undertone of rye flavor. Which did not stop people ultimately from adding mint even to rye-recipe bourbons, but that kind of thing will happen, as a natural evolution. It's like the old French dish haricot of mutton, which meant a mutton or lamb stew. Originally the term haricot, which means bean in modern French, meant something different as used in the name of this dish or possibly it was a corruption of some other word. The original dish, that is, had no beans. Modern versions of the dish call for beans. Closer example, maybe: the original version of a Louisville Hot Brown did not (I recall reading) use brown gravy, but rather a white sauce called Mornay sauce (flour, butter, Parmesan, egg). More recent versions (some, at any rate) use a brown gravy, or a white sauce but advise to brown the dish under the broiler. The term "Brown" in the dish refers to the Brown Hotel of Louisville, KY where the dish was invented (at a society party) in 1923, to be exact. With time, some people forgot where the term Brown came from and decided the dish needed a brown gravy or a heavy browning to be authentic. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Gary

tdelling
10-27-2005, 14:20
The Laphroaig (distillery bottling, chill filtered) vs. MurrayMcDavid "Leapfrog"
(independent bottling, not chill filtered) is a popular side by side to
demonstrate the effect of chill filtering. It made a believer outta me!

Tim Dellinger

kbuzbee
10-27-2005, 14:28
Closer example, maybe: the original version of a Louisville Hot Brown did not (I recall reading) use brown gravy, but rather a white sauce called Mornay sauce (flour, butter, Parmesan, egg). More recent versions (some, at any rate) use a brown gravy, or a white sauce but advise to brown the dish under the broiler. The term "Brown" in the dish refers to the Brown Hotel of Louisville, KY where the dish was invented (at a society party) in 1923, to be exact. With time, some people forgot where the term Brown came from and decided the dish needed a brown gravy or a heavy browning to be authentic. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif



Gary, you are an endless source of interesting trivia http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

I was born in Kentucky (where my parents purchased me at the local Sears http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif). Mom always made hot Brown sandwichs. She made them in the oven with a white/cheese kind of sauce. I never knew anything about them other than I managed to eat a whole lot of them (usually 3-4) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/yum.gif Thanks for the story.

Ken

Gillman
10-27-2005, 15:17
That's not trivia, Ken, but rather important social data. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif Thanks for the information on your family's recipe, sounds like they made the dish in the authentic fashion.

Gary

cowdery
10-27-2005, 17:53
If it's the cycling (i.e. expansion and contraction, soaking into the wood
and receding) that's so important, then why don't they build the warehouses
to be as cold as possible, and cycle the heat on and off as much as possible?
According to the cycling theory, that would result in the fastest maturation.
Maturation would go faster in the winter than in the summer!




They do. At least, some do. Woodford Reserve practices artificial cycling as a major part of their production methodology. Both Brown Forman (Shively) and Buffalo Trace are equipped to do it and have on occasion. The prerequisite is masonry warehouses, as it's not practical to heat steel ones.

The other thing about artificial cycling, of course, is that the faster aging has to produce an economic benefit sufficient to justify the energy cost.

Many people argue that in the Scottish winters, the whiskey is essentially dormant. Even in the much hotter Caribbean, the nights are cooler than the days. "Cycling" refers to those daily changes in temperature, more so than to seasonal changes.

There are other variations. Seagrams, for example, decided that single story "flathouses" provide the most uniform aging.

My point is that if your theory is that the best result can be achieved by heating a warehouse to, say, 85 degrees and holding it at that temperature, go ahead and try it, but that would be contrary to most of the received wisdom.

JeffRenner
10-27-2005, 18:13
"Cycling" refers to those daily changes in temperature, more so than to seasonal changes.



It's hard to imagine that there would be much daily variation in the temperature of a liquid in one of thousands of ~50+ gallon barrels in a warehouse. The thermal mass would be enormous. Even if the daily temperature variation is, say, 50 degrees F in a tropical country where rum is aged, I would think that the temperature in a barrel would hardly vary during a 24 hour cycle.

Jeff

Gillman
10-27-2005, 20:02
I think the reason people don't cycle too often, i.e., articifically, is the whiskey wouldn't taste right. You can only duplicate nature up to a point, in other words. My '2004 Birthday Bourbon makes a point in the leaflet about the artificial cycling used to age this product. Well, I am not sure the results justify the effort and energy expense, the product is just not good enough (in my opinion) to fetch the price it does. Maybe artificial cycling isn't the only reason 2004 was not a great year for BB, but I don't think it helped. True, Old Forester is (I assume) likewise a product of such cycling, but perhaps not to the same degree and in any case it receives the benefit of large batch production where the flavour is being matched to a long-tested standard. Birthday 2004 is a different kettle of fish..

Gary

NorCalBoozer
11-02-2005, 17:10
here is an interesting article I found about bourbon oak barrels. Well researched (which is lacking by most reporters these days). Long but very good read IMO.

http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2002/05/01/tem_bourbons_secret_is.html

monte
11-03-2005, 02:46
Thanks for the link! Definitely a well researched article. Not that I'm an expert, but what little I do know didn't cross what was stated in the article.

Thanks!

-monte-

tdelling
11-03-2005, 17:56
> My point is that if your theory is that the best result can be achieved by
> heating a warehouse to, say, 85 degrees and holding it at that temperature,
> go ahead and try it, but that would be contrary to most of the received
> wisdom.

I never claimed that holding at 85 gives the best result! I claimed that
4 years at 85 followed by four years at 45 is going to be approximately
the same as cycling regularly (or irregularly!) between the two temperatures.

I'm mostly aiming to refute your claim that holding the temperature steady
at 85 degrees gives absolutely no aging whatsoever (none at all!) since
there is no temperature cycling. This is absolutely untrue. If you hold
a barrel at 85, you will get color development, tannin extraction, etc. etc.
If you want, I can dig up studies showing the effect of different (constant)
temperatures on whiskey aging.

You might argue that there is an aesthetic that is satisfied by spending
some time aging at higher temperatures and some time aging at lower
temperatures, but that's a very different claim.


Tim Dellinger

cowdery
11-04-2005, 00:13
I only know what I hear. The received wisdom is that hot whiskey expands into the wood, then when it cools it contracts, coming back into the barrel with lots of wood goodies for all the little whiskeys that didn't get to go into the wood.

Is what you're saying that the whiskey isn't going to get any further into the wood no matter how hot it gets and it isn't withdrawing from the wood no matter how cold it gets. The variables are time in wood and average temperature, as the solvents become more effective the hotter it gets. But the daily temperature range is irrelevant. As is the seasonal temperature change.

kbuzbee
11-04-2005, 05:54
I only know what I hear. The received wisdom is that hot whiskey expands into the wood, then when it cools it contracts, coming back into the barrel with lots of wood goodies for all the little whiskeys that didn't get to go into the wood.

Is what you're saying that the whiskey isn't going to get any further into the wood no matter how hot it gets and it isn't withdrawing from the wood no matter how cold it gets. The variables are time in wood and average temperature, as the solvents become more effective the hotter it gets. But the daily temperature range is irrelevant. As is the seasonal temperature change.



Chuck, did you mean to put a "?" at the end of that???

tdelling
11-05-2005, 20:56
> The received wisdom is that hot whiskey expands into the wood, then when
> it cools it contracts, coming back into the barrel with lots of wood goodies
> for all the little whiskeys that didn't get to go into the wood.

I've heard that story, too, but I've seen absolutely nothing in the
technical literature to support it.

Studies of whiskey aged at constant temperature show that all the same
processes are happening, and all the same goodies turn up, just like in
"real", warehouse aged, variable temperature whiskey.

Piggott's book cites a Scotch study (Duncan and Philip J. Sci. Food
and Agric. 1966 17:208-214) showing that barrels that in a room with
fluctuating temperature and humidity were no different than barrels
at constant temperature and humidity, other than a small change
in proof. Storage temperature (fluctuating or not) had a huge effect
on all the non-volatile components of the whisky.

George Reazin of Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Louisville, KY, published
a paper called "Chemical mechanisms of whiskey maturation" (Am. J. Enol.
Vitic. 1981 32:4 283-289) that doesn't even mention temperature variation!
Toward the end, he says "...it appears that temperature merely determines
the rate at which the various physical and chemical reactions proceed. It
should be pointed out that, although the various reactions occurring
during maturation can be increased with temperature, there does exist
an optimum temperature to produce the desired product quality. This is
because the organoleptic impact differs for each of the congeners. Thus,
as the temperature increases, the relative amounts of congeners present
change causing differences in the product quality."

> Is what you're saying that the whiskey isn't going to get any further
> into the wood no matter how hot it gets and it isn't withdrawing from
> the wood no matter how cold it gets.

Wood might be able to soak up more whiskey at higher temperature. I dunno.
You're still losing the angel's share at lower temperatures, so the whiskey
hasn't left the wood entirely! It's still going into the wood from the
inside of the barrel and exiting the wood on the outside! I guess the
rate will really slow down at really low temperatures, but I'd say the
wood never truly dries out.

I can accept that wood has more whiskey in it when it's hot and
less in it when it's cold, but the whole pulls-the-sugars-out-as-it-recedes
thing just doesn't jive with me. And the data don't support it at all.

> The variables are time in wood and average temperature, as the solvents
> become more effective the hotter it gets.

Time, temperature, and proof are the big variables. And the condition of
the barrel, of course (i.e. level of char, seasoning of the wood, &c.).
The chemistry of aging is much more complex and exciting than just being
a better solvent at higher temperature... the whiskey is acutally undergoing
chemical reactions with the wood. The wood is degrading... large, insoluble
molecules are broken down into smaller, soluble molecules. All kinds of
other stuff, too.

A lot of people say "average temperature", but I'd like to stay away from
that term... if you burn the turkey, you can stick it in the freezer for a
week in order to lower the "average temperature", but you've still burned
the turkey! There's not really a great term for it other than "time at
temperature", i.e. some time at high temperature and some time at low
temperature.

I've noticed that the recieved wisdom is that, with heated warehouses,
you can get "an extra season" by heating during the winter. Why just
one? Why not heat up for the first two weeks of December and the last
two weeks of January? Wouldn't that give you two summers worth of cycling?
Why not go to three or four? You could age twelve years worth in three
calendar years!



I think that if cycling has any effect, the real effect is in oxidation...
if you take a barrel and bring it up to the top of the warehouse, it'll
hiss and whease... the air inside has heated up, therefore built up
pressure. Daily and/or seasonal variation might create pressure/vacuum
in the barrel that might puch out or draw in air. Or maybe not... maybe
the barrels are tight enough that water/ethanol/etc will evaporate to make
up the pressure difference.


If you talk to the beekeepers, they put the hives in the sun. That way,
the bees wake up earlier in the morning, and get more warm time to get
things done. Whiskey's probably the same way. Put it in an iron-clad
warehouse so it can warm up and wake up in the morning, and it'll get more
done that day.

Tim Dellinger

Gillman
11-06-2005, 06:17
Tim, there is no question that increased heat accelerates whiskey maturation. E.g. it is known and accepted by all (I think) that American whiskey matures faster than Scotch because the U.S. climate is warmer where whiskey is matured than in Scotland. In the 1885 Fleischman book the author states that warehouses generally were heated to a uniform 90% F. for the 3 year bonding period. He does not refer to cycling, which would tend to support what you are saying. But you also said there is likely more whiskey in the wood in warm temperatures than cold. This must mean does it not that in a naturally aged product, some of the whiskey in the wood that does not evaporate re-enters the barrel, or rather, more of it than would occur with a uniform-heated product? And if that is so, do you not have more "sweet" whisky continually over the years being affected by the wood gums? And if so, would this not tend to increase product quality? Think of dipping an apple in caramel, or perhaps the basting process in roasting is a better example. This might be a slower maturation process than where the product is held at a uniform temperature but I suspect a better one. Some whiskey aged in cycled warehouses has a "hot wood" taste, e.g., the 2004 Birthday Bourbon does, to my palate anyway. I am not saying batching large amounts of whiskey does not do away with any such effects but in a single barrel you can see it. In fact I wonder if this artificial cycling is not cycling at all but close to what Fleischman describes, i.e., simply keeping the warehouse as hot in the cooler seasons as it is in the hotter seasons, keeping it uniform that is.

Gary