View Full Version : Old Glenmore Mashbill

09-23-2001, 14:39
O K people, I was at the United Distillers archive the other day and I copied a file from 1903 that was the grain bills for their products. I am still studying their contents but there is one thing that I would share with you now.

Tkae a look in your old liquor cabinets to see if you have any pre-prohibition Kentucky Tavern or Glenmore bourbons. If you do then you have a four grain bourbon. The bourbon mashbills (for 1903 through 1917) have corn, rye, barley and oats. Sometimes it is listed as oat malt and other times it is listed simply as oats. Any home brewers out there that can tell me if oat malt is more or less efficient than barley malt?

They also list rye malt for use in making rye whiskey, but even then they still use some barley malt. I have always heard that the reason for using barley malt is that it creates more of the enzymes needed than rye or corn malt thus giving a better yield per bushel.

Mike Veach

10-15-2001, 17:13
I don't remember who all purchased the bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle prohibition era bottles at the Master distiller's auction, but if any of you did, that whiskey is a Glenmore bourbon made in 1916. That means you have a four grain bourbon.
Mike Veach

10-15-2001, 18:34
Mike lets talk some more about Glenmore. Wasn't 'Buddy Thompson' (who appeared on this years Bourbon Heritage Panel) the General Manager/part owner of Glenmore? Wasn't Charles Wathen Medley the last master distiller at Glenmore?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-16-2001, 15:13
James Thompson (Buddy's Grandfather) was a cousin of George Garvin Brown who came to America in the 1870's and becomes a partner in Brown-Thompson and Co. in 1881. He later sells his share to Forman and forms James Thompson and Bro. with his brother. They were rectifiers when they started in 1891 but bought the Glenmore distillery in 1901 after Monarch went Bankrupt. He placed his brother in law H.S. Barton there as distiller. After James Thompson's death the company changed its name to Glenmore. They went on to buy Yellowstone in the 1940's, Old Mr. Boston in the 1970's and Medley Bros. in the 1980's. Charles Medley was never the Master Distiller at Glenmore but did work for Glenmore for a while as Master Distiller of the Medley distillery in Owensboro.

Mike Veach

10-16-2001, 18:39
Oh Momma!

How convaltulted can you get?! This is a great example of why we need a definitive book by Mike Veach! Other than Chuck Cowdery just who in the hell knows this stuf???

OK Mike just who did Charles Wathen Medley work for and just whose distillery did he buy?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-16-2001, 19:10
As Mike said, Charles Medley did work for Glenmore and was, in fact, the last Master Distiller on the Glenmore payroll when the Medley Distillery in Owensboro was the only one they had in operation. That was about the time I met him, in '90-'91, shortly before the sale to UDV.

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

10-29-2001, 08:25
Mike lets talk about four grain mashbills. The Glenmore was oated. Are there some others? Can you do us the favor of a tasting of this four grain/oated Glenmore bourbon?

I, like most forum members have no access to such vintage bourbons.Indeed we are trying very hard just to get a lot of the 'everyday' stuff that we adore.

For you folks 'out there' Mike is not being eletist when he raises such intel, it is just that he deals with this kind of stuff everyday and to him it is 'no big deal'.

Mike you might be mindfull that only about three forum members can reach into their bourbon supply houses and pluck out such and such vintage bourbon.

So tell us - 1) Why is this important? 2) What ever happened to four grain formulas? 3) What the hell does this stuff taste like?

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

10-31-2001, 16:32
The importance of this mash bill is that before prohibition there were no stract rules as to what was bourbon. Four grains was unusual to my present knowledge and was probably done to achieve a particular flavor that would make it unique from other products. I am not sure this mash bill survived prohibition but you can be assured that is going to be a question that I will ask Buddy Thompson the first chance I get. I have never tasted this whiskey but I am working on a joint fund raising event with the Getz Museum and the Filson for next spring where I will get a chance to do so. I will keep tasting notes and post them.

For the record there is still quite a bit of this whiskey still out there. It can be found at estate sales and maybe on ebay. What you need to look for is Glenmore distilled whiskey that was distilled prior to 1918. This would include Kentucky Tavern, Glenmore Bourbon and Mint Springs Bourbon but also other brands such as Rip Van Winkle that were sold by Glenmore during prohibition for medicinal use. Look for whiskey with "Distilled by H. S. Barton" on the back label.

Mike Veach

10-26-2003, 08:05
Here is one of the older historical threads I am fast-forwarding to give some additonal information or perspective.

In a current magazine dealing with whiskey a roundtable of distillers and ex-distillers discuss using a four grain mash. Most dismiss the idea, one or two seem to imply they are looking at it as an experiment. Yet here we see via Mike Veach's research that such a mashbill was known before Prohibition. I recall in Sam Cecil's book that he mentions at least one distillery that used a four grain or more mashbill. So, the idea is not new. It is interesting how current practice becomes received knowledge until someone decides to do it differntly. But when that happens it often proves the adage, "everything old becomes new again".

I believe the idea of a four (and even three) grain mashbill derives from the influence of old Irish distilling practice on American distilling. Until the 1960's, Irish distillers used unmalted barley, malted barley and wheat, rye and/or oats in the mash. Today, only malted and raw barley are used. I am referring to traditional Irish pot still whiskey. Surely the additional grains had an impact on flavour, subtle (?) though it may have been.

Regarding adding barley malt even where malted rye is employed for rye whiskey, Mike, I think you are right that it is because of the increased and greater diastasing power of barley malt. One could make whiskey only from rye malt -apparently the Maytag ryes are made this way - but adding barley malt is felt to improve the starch conversion.

Craig Beam, whom Bettye Jo kindly introduced me to at Gazebo '03, told me barley malt is, as far as he knows, added by all rye whiskey makers to their mash of corn and malted rye (and at a different temperature).


10-27-2003, 09:11
I had the opportunity to try some whiskey made with this 4 grain mash bill. It was an Old Rip Van Winkle made in 1918 and bottled in bond in 1933. It was not good! The best description of the taste was the medicinal taste of gauze when a dentist sticks a wad of guaze in your mouth after pulling a tooth. We determined that one of two things are true with that whiskey - 1) a bourbon should not be made with oats as well as corn rye and malted barley or at least, 2) that mash bill should not be aged for 15 years.
Mike Veach

10-27-2003, 11:36
Well, that's interesting. Of course, a bottle that old could have been off, but who knows..

I don't know that I have ever sampled a whisk(e)y made with oats in the mash bill. I have had oat-mashed beers, but that would be different. If it did taste, in origin, as bad as when opened, maybe that is why the practice died out. Yet, why would they have persisted with it in Ireland? Of course, pot still and bourbon whiskey are different products. I do feel though Irish practice influenced American. For example, in Byrn's work on Practical Distilling, his recipe for malt whiskey calls for mostly unmalted barley grist and some barley malt - an Irish recipe in essence. There seemed little interest in Byrn's book in making a "peated" whisky in America. As I recall, when he referred to the Scottish peat flavour it was in negative terms.


10-27-2003, 12:12
Some of the strange mashbills one encounters may have been products of necessity, in that they represented what was available or cheap. Think about the modern moonshiner, only too happy to use table sugar because it's cheap, available and easy to work with. Oats supposedly are not easy to work with, but if that's what one has available and cheap, that's what one uses.

10-27-2003, 13:13
Well that could be, in fact I think oats gelatinizes easily when mashed, rendering mashing more difficult. (One can see this when making oatmeal - porridge, we called it in the 1950's in Montreal). Still, the Irish recipes for pot still seemed intent on using these multiple grain mashbills. The oats, wheat and/or rye were always used in very small measure, so it seems not to have been related to shortage-type cases..

10-27-2003, 15:40
I'm saying the original recipes that led to the traditional recipes may have had roots in circumstances that aren't apparent from the recipe in its final form. We are tempted to think that they had something in mind, some way this particular combination of ingredients made the product better, but there may have been other factors at work. The author of your volume, for example, may have been paid by the word, or by the recipe, and had reason to pad the volume with recipes which, while known, were not widely used.

I'm not saying there wasn't a good reason for it. I'm just saying don't assume there was.

We know corn imparts sweetness and a certain vegetality, but not much flavor beyond that. Rye adds spice and wheat adds a nutty quality. (The rye characterization is widely recognized. The wheat characterization is my own.) Barley malt in a bourbon recipe, at least, is taste neutral. What would oats add? Not something directly analogous to its cooked flavor, necessarily.

I have been told by distillers that the gelatinous quality of cooked otas is a big reason they don't like working with that grain.

This has me thinking in other, even weirder directions. What about legume whiskey?

10-27-2003, 18:34
Well, Chuck, in Poland and other corners of Eastern Europe peas were and in some cases still are a traditional component of the mash for (beverage) beer brewing. Probably some of that mash was used, and still may be, to make a spirit.

There is a Polish spirit I want to get my hands on that is called I think Starka. It is a rye spirit traditionally long aged in oak. It generally also is aged in old sherry barrels (the young spirit is dumped on the wine lees, I recall reading somewhere).

I am getting away from peas here but this maybe is a kind of rye whiskey, distant cousin I think to aged Monongahela. As far as I know it is not currently available in the U.S.

10-28-2003, 14:06
>Barley malt in a bourbon recipe, at least, is taste neutral.

Is it really? In the past, I've speculated that it's *not*
taste-neutral, but to tell you the truth, I have no way to
decide the matter one way or another.

My original thoughts related to the huge variation in malt
usage between mashbills. I figured that since some distillers
use twice as much malt as others, and malt is much more expensive
than the other grains, then there must be a good reason to add it.
That logic may be faulty: there might not be a good reason.
Alternatively, perhaps there used to be a good reason
(e.g. malt quality was low, and so using extra was a way to insure
sufficient enzymes), but that reason is irrelevant now.
Or maybe, just maybe, the extra malt was (and still is) added for
the taste it brings to the final product. But I just don't know.

>This has me thinking in other, even weirder directions. What about
>legume whiskey?

That would be interesting and fun to try. How about adding Vidalia onions?

Tim Dellinger

10-28-2003, 14:22
I was always told that the barley added the nut flavors to a bourbon. I think that the main change in flavor to the Stitzel-Weller wheat recipe came when they decided to save money by reducing the amount of malt and adding enzyme to the mash. They did this in hopes of 1) saving money on malt and 2) trying to increase the yield of the mash. They did save money on malt but the yield remained pretty close to what they had produced before the change.

Mike Veach

10-28-2003, 15:41
Charlie Thomason, who worked at Willett's in the 1960's, wrote an article, included in the official magazine for Bourbon Festival 2002, in which he said barley malt added body and other qualities to whiskey and the reduction of barley malt by modern bourbon makers was a factor in its reduced quality. He was no more specific, perhaps because, as someone mentioned on these boards some time ago, he did not drink alcohol. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Considering the rich taste barley malt imparts to Scotch whisky, I would think it should add positive taste notes to a bourbon.

In Sam Cecil's book, he refers to a distillery (Barry, made in Poindexter) that, unusually, used only 60% corn in the mash. Mr. Cecil reports that the remainder of the "small grains" was "unmalted barley". He does not mention malted barley, and reading what he says literally, it suggests malted barley was not used, but this cannot be. I think he meant the 40% small grains was comprised of both malted and unmalted barley. The use of unmalted barley produces interesting tastes in spirits: consider the metallic hard edge of Irish pot still whiskey. So perhaps this Poindexter bourbon was like a shot of Jim Beam with a dash of Jameson 15 year old pot still added. Hmmm, doesn't sound like it would be all that good. Yet, Jameson marketed in the 1930's in the U.S. a blending of a pot still Irish whiskey and an American straight whiskey, possibly to improve the palatability of the (presumably young) American spirit. And if one can add unmalted rye or wheat to the mash for bourbon, why not unmalted barley? Yet the practice, as Mr. Cecil noted, seemed very rare.

01-29-2004, 20:28
I just stumbled upon an article mentioning some current experimentation being done at Buffalo Trace with their mashbill including oats and RICE.

By the way, anyone who has been to Maker's Mark (even if you haven't) should recognize something horribly wrong with the lead picture. The article seems adequately written-- pretty standard info on a cross-section of lots of distilleries. However, the last paragraph was the kicker:

[September, 2003]
"But Buffalo Trace is not resting on its laurels. Experimentation continues.

'We’ve got a bunch of little surprises for this coming fall,' adds Weber. “For bourbon to be bourbon, you have to make it with a mash bill containing at least 51 percent corn. Usually the other grains used are either rye or wheat. It doesn’t have to be those grains, however. We have special barrels out there that contain bourbon made with oats, rice and other things. We’re looking forward to tasting these in a few years.'
http://www.kybiz.com/lanereport/issues/september03/stillthebest.html The Lane Report--Industry--September 2003 (http://www.kybiz.com/lanereport/issues/september03/stillthebest.html)

01-29-2004, 20:34
Welcome Bill, good to see a fellow promised-land resident here!
I guess a few whiffs of the still and those cypress fermenters have their effect, huh?
I thought I felt rather light on my feet over there! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif

01-30-2004, 07:24
The most interesting thing about that article is how completely wrong it is. There is a major mistake in virtually every paragraph. In that context, the photograph is perfectly appropriate and should tip off the reader to the cluelessness of the entire piece. I've never been particularly impressed by The Lane Report, but this takes the cake. I half expected to see an "April 1" dateline, it's so bad. Amazing.

01-30-2004, 08:18
Given the drunken Webmaster's topsy-turvy view of Maker's Mark, and those factual errors you mention, Chuck, can we trust what they say about oats and rice in future Buffalo Trace offerings?

Coming from a very generic industry report (fraught with mistakes), it seems unlikely they'd be bringing the folks here breaking news. However, I haven't seen that BT news elsewhere on the site.

Thanks for the welcome, Bobby. I'm pretty new to the Commonwealth, having emigrated from Missouri last May. I can't say I miss paying sales tax on liquor like we did in MO.

01-30-2004, 09:51
In this old thread (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&amp;Board=General&amp;Number=1084&amp;Fo rum=All_Forums&amp;Words=oats%20rice&amp;Match=And&amp;Searchp age=0&amp;Limit=25&amp;Old=allposts&amp;Main=812&amp;Search=true#P ost1084) Ken Weber, who works for Buffalo Trace, mentions that they were planning on distilling 2 new bourbons using oats and rice... He posted that about 3 years ago and said we'd have to wait 8 or 10 years to see them though.

01-30-2004, 10:08
Actually I think the oats and rice bit is correct, If I recall correctly from our pilgrimage to BT during Bourbon Festival 2002. They have a number of experimental barrels, and a invitation was extended to this group, to taste samples at times in the future! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif
One glaring mistake is saying Bourbon faced a downturn in the 50s and 60s, Just add 20 years to arrive at the real date. The period after WWII 50s-60s were boom years for bourbon and the distilliers that made them.The time was marked by running at full capacity, expansion,and acquisitions.The full recovery from prohibition was realized at this time.(WWII interrupted it at first) The mid to late 70s and 80s were the period when the move to light Whiskies, white spirits and wines cut into Bourbons' market share. That period is over now and Bourbon is on solid footing in the world market place.


01-30-2004, 10:11
You're absolutely right, Bobby, but only scratching the surface of things this article got wrong. I was struck by all the stuff about Jim Rutledge, who has only been in that job for a few years. Before him it was Ova Haney and, before that, Charlie Beam.

01-30-2004, 10:29
The Four Roses part is overblow in other ways too. A 40 year stretch where it was unavailable in the US, I remember it being readily available in the late 70s . I am rereading my Bourbon Books between the ice and snows this winter. F.Paul Pacult identifies Beams standing in the Market, There's no mention of Four Roses, John Ed Pearce tells of Brown Formans game, no mention that Four Roses is a brand to surpass or compete with. Then they have the President of Seagrams look at it and it's " The best selling brand in America " So they stop selling it here and send it all overseas. I have to wonder what day at Harvard Business School, that they go over that concept! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

At least they do mention some of the help that Maker's Mark got from the VanWinkles, That doesn't get much airtime.

01-30-2004, 20:30
That's easy, Bobby -- as the Lane Report shows, they must cover it the same day they teach the secrets of ceiling mounted, reverse gravity distillation!