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cowdery
09-07-2006, 12:31
The threads here about rum and tequila got me thinking about something.

I wonder how many of the people who favor well-aged rums and tequilas, as well as whiskies from Canada, Ireland and Scotland, and even some brandies and other spirits, realize that a big part of the flavor richness they enjoy comes from the fact that those spirits are aged in used bourbon barrels.

As we all know, the longer a spirit ages, the more its flavor is attributable to the barrel, i.e., the bourbon it once held. Although I don't believe bourbon barrels are much used in Cognac, most of the rest of the world's fine aged spirits, and their enthusiasts, owe a big debt to bourbon whiskey.

MikeK
09-07-2006, 12:39
There is company on Nantucket Island, Cisco Brewers, that has a number of interesting products. They are distilling on their own "Scotch" product for instance. They also have a Bourbon that is distilled in KY (HH?), partially aged there I suspect, and then shipped to MA for further aging. I haven't had the chance to try it yet, but I am curious to see if it picks up any maritime influences. I also need to take a tour out there and see what it says on the barrels since the proprietor wouldn't tell me where he is sourcing it.

Anyway, to the point. They market a Rum that is aged in used Bourbon barrels. I had a glass at a tasting and it was quite good. The bourbon barrel really worked well.

cas
09-08-2006, 07:16
Are any spirits aged in used TN whiskey barrels? Or are they just lumped in with bourbon barrels? I wonder if there would be any discernible difference in the character of the final product?

Craig

Gillman
09-08-2006, 07:20
Typically in Scotland for its part the barrels are broken down and rebuilt from staves up into "hoggies" (hogsheads) which are bigger than U.S. barrels, so new ends are given too. This would mean staves from different barrels are are used to make a hoggie and likely are from different brands unless one distiller specifies TN barrels (unlikely).

Second, Chuck Cowdery has pointed out that first-fill U.S. barrels are used for grain whisky not malt whisky.

These factors would lead me to think it is not likely character from TN whiskey (JD, basically) could be identified in any given scotch whisky product.

Gary

chasking
09-08-2006, 08:36
When I was at Ardbeg in 2003, the yard was full of Jack Daniel's barrels waiting to be filled.

There are plenty of first-fill bourbon casks used for malt whiskey; by no means do they all get grain whiskey first.

Gillman
09-08-2006, 08:46
Okay that's fine and is what I always thought but I thought Chuck said something different earlier, clearly not.

I don't think specific bourbon or JD character could be detected in Ardbeg. Those casks will be cleaned up, maybe recharred, maybe put together from staves from varying sources and in any case (at Ardbeg) used to store a rather phenolic whisky. JD is pungent but not THAT much.

Gary

cowdery
09-08-2006, 09:28
The master distiller at Talisker is the one who told me that first refill bourbon casks are used for grain whiskey only. It is possible he meant to convey that as their practice specifically and I misinterpreted it as being industry-wide. I can certainly imagine some makers who would want the strong bourbon character that a first refill cask would impart.

Brown-Forman tries to keep its barrels in the family. I know, for example, that Appleton rums are aged in used Jack Daniel's barrels. Since BF no long has US distribution of Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, perhaps those barrels will now go elsewhere, possibly to Herradura.

Although I don't know this for a fact, I have to believe that BF's Canadian Mist is aged in used Jack Daniel's barrels.

Gillman
09-08-2006, 09:34
I plan to try some Canadian Mist soon. To see:

i) if I can detect any low-proof spirit; and

ii) if I can detect any JD influence.

E.g., in Canadian Club, the low-distilled element is there, it is not strong, but it is there, ditto Limited Edition of Crown Royal and most other Canadian whiskies I've tried.

I wonder though whether Mist may be using, in whole or in part, new charred casks. If no flavoring whiskey is added, they may want a filip from new charred wood.

Gary

CrispyCritter
09-08-2006, 20:00
I'm well aware that used bourbon barrels are reused for aging other spirits - why waste good wood? Of course, they aren't the only example of barrel reuse (for instance, sherry and port casks used for aging Scotch).

Even so, a whisky as phenolic as Ardbeg isn't likely to pick up much of a bourbon (or Tennessee) character. It seems to me that sherry casks have a stronger influence on Islays (Lagavulin, Ardbeg Uigeadail for instance) than bourbon casks (Ardbeg 10yo) - the peat tends to dominate any bourbon influence, but sherry will make itself known.

Frodo
09-08-2006, 20:12
Even so, a whisky as phenolic as Ardbeg isn't likely to pick up much of a bourbon (or Tennessee) character.

Interesting thought occured to me. Ardbeg 10 is one of my favourite whiskies, and I know they used second-fill bourbon casks. Ardbeg 10 is whisky distilled from the time when Allied (I think) owned the distillery.

I got a chance to try some Still Young Ardbeg (8yr old) from the new(er) Glenmorangie PLC owners, and they use 1st fill bourbon casks to age the whisky. There is a vanilla note that I can clearly detect from this bottling that wasn't there in the older 10yr bottlings.

CrispyCritter
09-08-2006, 20:17
I got a chance to try some Still Young Ardbeg (8yr old) from the new(er) Glenmorangie PLC owners, and they use 1st fill bourbon casks to age the whisky. There is a vanilla note that I can clearly detect from this bottling that wasn't there in the older 10yr bottlings.

Oooooooo! That sounds very interesting... too bad I haven't seen any in this neck of the woods.

cowdery
09-08-2006, 21:10
Unfortunately, several Ardbeg expressions, including the 8-year-old, are not sold in the US. However, now that Ardbeg, like Glenmorangie, is owned by LVMH, maybe that will change.

My assumption is that when a scotch calls out the fact that it was aged or finished in bourbon casks, those are first refills and they are trying to get some bourbon character into the spirit, in the same way that port and sherry casks are used. I further assume that second and subsequent refill bourbon casks are just wood. In other words, used American whiskey casks are simply the cheapest suitable wood you can obtain and, therefore, they are used universally.