View Full Version : 25-30 Year Old Bourbon in Japan

08-27-2001, 11:58
Anyone have any idea of what the market for single barrel 25 to 30 year old bourbon is selling for in Japan?

08-27-2001, 12:50
By "25-30 year old", do you mean the bourbon was in the barrel for that period of time, or do you mean that the bourbon is x years old, and was bottled [25,30] - x years ago?


Jim Butler

08-27-2001, 12:56
Bourbon that was laid down 25 to 30 years ago, bottled in the past year with a proof of 107. This is a single barrel product.

Thanks for your input.

08-27-2001, 13:44
Gunner does this bourbon have a name? If this is a rye recipe bourbon it is very likely to horrid indeed.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-27-2001, 13:51
I'd say the horrid notion is open for debate. I'd certainly like to taste it before I made that judgement. Single barrel bourbon in that age range sounds intriguing in any event.

gunnerisac, where will you be come festival time?


Jim Butler

08-27-2001, 15:37
Good! Let's discuss really long in the barrel bourbons. I've tried the old 23 year old rye recipe Pappy Van Winkle. Absolutely horrible! If it were not for Maker's Mark this would easily quailfy as the worst bourbon on the planet!

18 year old Elijah Craig Single Barrel -- TTTTTTTTTTTTerrible Stuff!!!!!! I made the mistake of buying a bottle one time and I'll never do it again.

Granted there are slowly maturing barrels. In these instances age makes little difference.

When a barrel is ready it's ready and not a day longer will make any positive difference. Indeed additional aging will only be detrimental as the bourbon becomes too wooden.

This is why Jimmy Russell states that ten years in the wood is optimal for the Wild Turkey recipe. Baker Beam states that 8 years optimal for his 'Bakers' bourbon. Nine years seems to be the optimal time period for Knob Creek. 12 years tastes great to me in Heaven Hill's regular bottling of Elijah Craig, and ten years is aplenty for their Evan Williams Single Barrel.

Don't be taken in by these extra aged bottlings. You're only paying extra money for a lessor bourbon. This is my somewhat limited experience.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-27-2001, 16:47
I find your melange of syllogism and subjectivity intriguing as well, but I'm not ready to summarily dismiss you merely because I feel you've been in the barrel too long ;-)

I happen to like EC 18 quite a bit, though perhaps not as much as the 12YO; yet I don't detect the oakiness in it that I would describe as oppressive in the WT Russell's Reserve. I think Weller 19 and Hirsch 20 are both superb bourbons as well, though I'd probably like them even if they hadnt been in the wood so long.

As I said, I'd like to taste a 30 year old bourbon. Worst case scenario? I spit it out, say a few nasty words on the side, and move on to something tastier, increasing my knowledge in the process.


Jim Butler

08-27-2001, 17:14

For what it's worth from a beginner, I wonder if at greater age the characteristics of the barrel itself become increasingly dominant in the profile of the bourbon. For example, I've tasted 16 yr. old Hirsch and 17 yr. old Eagle Rare, which are both less oaky than 10 YO Russell's Reserve, and far less oaky than WT 12 YO. Probably the char level is part of this, and I have speculated in the past on the effect of location, pollution, water, soil, etc. on the taste of oak staves, not to mention the aging process of oak billets which are destined for cooperage use. We know the effect of location and soil on wine grapes, so why shouldn't stalwart old Quercus Alba, who, after all has to steep much longer in the growing environment before being harvested, also be affected by his surroundings? Therefore, I would think that a brief description of the oak itself (perhaps a rough statement of the relative intensity of tannin and sugar in the uncharred staves) could be a fascinating addition to the label information on a high-end single-barrel bottling.

Ralph Wilps

08-27-2001, 18:21
Welcome to the forum! for what its worth i have to agree with Jim, and also Ralph has hit on a very intriquing question or statement. this english/native-american wishes he could afford some of these aged preferably wheated bourbons aged in some of the finest oak barrels for however long they need to be aged to become pure ambrosia. Life is Good--Den
sorry i forgot your question, i would guess approximately 2 to 3 times as much as here in U.S. but like i said that is just a guess.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by vasshopper on Mon Aug 27 18:28:07 2001 (server time).</FONT></P>

08-27-2001, 19:29

To the best of my knowledge the oldest bourbon in Japan (and the rest of the planet) is the 23 yr. old Pappy Van Winkle. Heaven Hill Blue Label is also 23 yo.

There are several single malt scotch that surpass 23 years with ease -- but not bourbon. Blame it on Kentucky's climate and new oak barrels.

If you do find something older, let us know.


08-28-2001, 04:47
I agree 100% Jim. I've been in the barrel way way too long. I'm so tannic even the Japanese won't buy me. I've tried to chill filter my thoughts to try to get the flock out of there, but to no avail.

While this is a violation of my probation I've yet to be formally charged with possession of wisdom. In the statistically remote chance that this should occur I'll plead 'not gulity', and get Chuck to defend me in court. That would be a case he could win handily. http://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/wink.gif

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-28-2001, 05:19
"Location" is important to the character of a whiskey--especially if you're referring to the location of the barrels in the warehouse. For example, when I first tried the Eagle Rare 17, I expected it to be quite oaky. But, that was not the case. Yes, there is a good bit of oak, but it doesn't overwhelm the flavor profile. In the case of the ER17, as I understand it, the barrels are first stored on the middle floors of the warehouse, then are moved to the lower floors where it is cooler.

So, factoring in the other conditions Ralph mentioned, and by storing the barrels on the lower floors, would it not seem at least possible to produce a 25-30 bourbon that would not be too woody?


Ken Weber
08-28-2001, 06:19
Just wanted to throw my two cents in concerning older bourbons. I just finished taste testing our new release of Eagle Rare 17, Sazerac Rye 18, and Weller 19. We had to disgard a few barrels because they were terrible. As you know, to be a bourbon, barrel entry proof can not exceed 125 proof. One of the barrels we tasted came out of the barrel at 162 proof! I know that as bourbon ages, both water and alcohol are lost, the result being an increase in the proofage. But this much of an increase far exceeds anything any of our warehousemen have ever seen. Even Gary is stumped by this. Anyway, the bottom line is that some whiskies start acquiring a woody taste before they are ten years old, others age better. Warehouse location, barrel selection, entry proof(?), and who knows what other factors conspire to help some whiskies age gracefully.


08-28-2001, 09:12
Good point Speedy. Yet one of the things that Stagg/Ancient Age/Leestown/cum Buffalo Trace is not known for is intensive barrel rotation. That's why they had bad barrels that they had to dump and chase with Draino. Unless of course, they sold them to Gunner. In which case he should realize a small fortune in Japan!

Many thanks to Ken Weber for his honesty on this issue. You wouldn't find any other distillery admitting that they produced any bad barrels. Ever. You're a good man, my friend!

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-28-2001, 10:59
Well, Gunner, apparently no one knows the answer to your question. Sorry.

If there is a 25-30 year old single barrel bourbon being sold anywhere in the world, it would be in Japan, where the industry has long known that extra age sells, regardless of the taste of the product.

A few years ago, I had an opportunity to taste some Heaven Hill bourbon they were preparing for sale in Japan. The barrels had been misplaced. When they were discovered, by accident, they were 25 years old. The whiskey was black and it was like taking a bite out of a charred log. To my taste, it was horrible, but they were planning to sell it in Japan and had every expectation that it would be very popular.

I'm not sure what the point is of a whiskey that has aged slowly and, therefore, only matures at an advanced age. It is theoretically possible that such a whiskey might display some nuances characteristic of that aging profile, that would not be present in an equally mature but younger whiskey. I don't know. I think many people, raised on the appreciation of wine, scotch or cognac, are accustomed to believing that "older is better," despite evidence to the contrary. But even those products can suffer from too much age.

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

08-28-2001, 14:06
Two things:
1.Linn-You be sure and look me up at the Bourbon Festival-I've got something for you to try that MAY change your mind about 23-year old rye based bourbon.

2. It just so happens that I spoke with Buddy Thompson (who owned Glenmore) a few weeks ago. He has been talking with me for awhile about bottling the last of some whiskey he made. I think now it may be 30 years, old. So maybe we'll get to try some 30 year old bourbon pretty soon if he'll get off his rear end and get a package designed. I think he wants to bottle most (or all) of the whiskey for his family's use.

08-28-2001, 17:02
I sure would like to try that 30yr bourbon! Hope he gets it together for some of us common folk to try, but i would understand if he wants to keep it in the family. life is good--den

08-28-2001, 17:08
Does Buddy want to adopt a son?

<A target="_blank" HREF=http://home.kc.rr.com/mashbill/>http://home.kc.rr.com/mashbill/</A>

08-28-2001, 22:45
Hi Chuck,

There is a label in the label room that is Heaven Hill 28 yr. I have not seen it bottled myself but I have seen the 23 year Evan Williams (blue wax) bottled on several occasions. I had a sample in our booth last year.


08-29-2001, 04:08
Thanks Julian! I'll be sure to do that. I'd also like to taste your 20 year old wheated Pappy if that's not too much to ask. Oh what the heck just fix me up a free 'press pack' with a bottle of everything you sell. That ought to do it! http://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/wink.gif

Oh and Ken I think it would be very smart if Buffalo Trace did likewise.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-29-2001, 06:40
You've struck a brilliant chord Dr. Whilps! Just as each tree is an individual member of it's species so is each barrel. When filled with American corn whiskey and laid to rest for years as the whiskey becomes bourbon things do change, albeit slowly. The mashbill; the yeast, the barrel, and the rickhouse all start off as more or less equal partners in a mystical process.

At what time does the barrel become the over-riding factor? This varies of course, but how old is too old? Older may be better for some barrels or some mashbills. You've all seen the commerical with the 50-something woman saying "I'm not getting older. I'm getting better!" Oh yeah well prove it granny!

Whenever I see pricey bourbons older than 15 years I am always leary that it's just another wrinkled up old lady that used to be a looker.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

08-29-2001, 08:36
I just had the Elijah Craig 18 YO single barrel last night, and I must say that
I find it very enjoyable. A true gentleman's drink. The oaky-woody
undertones were marvelous. It's not a bourbon that beats you over
the head... much more mellow (but still falvorful). Personally, I like a
bourbon with the balance shifted a little more towards the woody side
than most of what's on the market today.

I reckon that puts me completely on the other side of the spectrum from Linn,
and most bourbon drinkers in general.

(I almost never drink bourbon with ice, but I suspect that the EC 18 wouldn't
really hold up to ice too well. Perhaps I'll try it tonight.)