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Sweetstuff
01-09-2007, 22:54
A friend's father, who is fragile and elderly, asked for some help in cataloguing and pricing some old Jim Beam decanters from the 1960s and the 1970s. After examining and pricing several hundred bottles I was offered the possibility of taking away with me all the lower-worth duplicates, and so ended up the proud possessor of some 47 fifths of Beam, ranging in age from 8 to about 16 years.

I soon realized that the cork and other closures were in poor condition, and getting worse, so I had perhaps 9 gallons of pretty good bourbon on my hands that would be a complete loss before very long. Having read George Saintsbury's method of 'keeping going' spirits in oak barrels, I decided that not only would a barrel be better storage, at least for a while, I also had the opportunity to change this Beam into a style a little more like what I'd want to drink.

I called up Barrel Mill in Minnesota and got lots of encouragement from Russ there, even to giving me the names of folks in the Bourbon business who'd know how to do this. I was advised that if I liked a somewhat smoother, 'sippin' ' style, I should use a heavy toast and not a char. Russ made me a very nice barrel, nominally 10 gallons, but containing by measure just a hair over 7 gallons, with both a bung on the side and an end spigot of brass.

I followed instructions about soaking the barrel for 24 hours in water but found no leaks. I then carefully transferred enough of the miscellaneous Beam spirits to the cask, tasting a tiny sip of each decanter to make sure it was sound and not affected by corking. All were in usable condition. I also took a couple of fifths' samples of the mixture to compare when I started tasting the spirits.

At the present I've been examining the spirits every week or so and topping off. The losses to the 'angel's share' are severe--approximately 0.5 percent per day. The one-week sample showed a very definite change in the style of the whiskey, and the second-week even more, both improved. The resinous nature of the Beam is now being replaced by a creamier, more vanilla-driven style, with a much smoother overall impression.

As others have experience here with rebarrelling, do you have any advice for me about how long I should continue this process before dumping? Would it be appropriate to dump the whiskey into corked carboys with siphons when it's had enough oak?

Best,

John T.

HighTower
01-10-2007, 03:31
I really think a climate change could do it some good....send it over to Australia, and I will look after it for you, and I will let you know when it's at its prime! I think part of an Australian summer will do marvellous things to your bourbon, but be aware, the Australian angels will take more than their fair share:grin:

Scott

Jake_Parrott
01-10-2007, 06:28
And welcome John T., one of the interweb's foremost experts on German wines!

kbuzbee
01-10-2007, 10:48
As others have experience here with rebarrelling, do you have any advice for me about how long I should continue this process before dumping? Would it be appropriate to dump the whiskey into corked carboys with siphons when it's had enough oak?

Best,

John T.

Hi, John, I just recently pulled mine. I'd expected to leave them 6-8 months. It was actually almost a year but I really liked the results.

Deep and full, tasted more like a 12 yo than the 6-8 yo it started at. nice.

Good luck with your Beams!

(Now you need to find some nice stoneware jugs to store your treasure in)

Ken

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 14:56
Hi, John, I just recently pulled mine. I'd expected to leave them 6-8 months. It was actually almost a year but I really liked the results.

Deep and full, tasted more like a 12 yo than the 6-8 yo it started at. nice.

Good luck with your Beams!

(Now you need to find some nice stoneware jugs to store your treasure in)

Ken

Dear Ken,

Do you think that the fact that I started with fairly old whisky might influence the amount of time needed in barrel?

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 15:06
http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q91/rieslingrat/Img_0010a.jpg

http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q91/rieslingrat/IMG_0014a.jpg

One question that might affect how I proceed with my topping up of the barrel (see image) is whether Beam uses the same quality distillate in all its "James Beam' whiskies.

I should be able to save a good bit of money if I can top up with four-year-old, and I'd get a less 'charry' result, I believe. Anyone know the answer to this?

kbuzbee
01-10-2007, 15:07
I think that would be correct. But your taste analysis is the ultimate deciding factor.

Like I said, mine went quite a bit longer than I'd expected. But it just kept getting better. I did top it off a couple times early on but, eventually, I just let it go. The end effect, IMO was 'flavor concentrating', if you take my meaning.

Enjoy!

Ken

kbuzbee
01-10-2007, 15:10
I added this to my reply on your other thread. IMO you should probably not top it off. The results are less volume but better flavor.

Ken

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 15:11
http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q91/rieslingrat/Img_0014a.jpg
The original bourbon on the left is the starting whiskey, averaging about 10-12 years old.

I notice that, although it's difficult to see in this picture, the aged whiskey is a tad lighter in color. Have any previous rebarrelers noticed this?

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 15:13
I think that would be correct. But your taste analysis is the ultimate deciding factor.

Like I said, mine went quite a bit longer than I'd expected. But it just kept getting better. I did top it off a couple times early on but, eventually, I just let it go. The end effect, IMO was 'flavor concentrating', if you take my meaning.

Enjoy!

Ken

Thanks, Ken. I can see that I'm going to get a lot of encouragement here. My only problem is that it's easy to allow the spigot to dribble, and we can't have that!

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 15:15
I really think a climate change could do it some good....send it over to Australia, and I will look after it for you, and I will let you know when it's at its prime! I think part of an Australian summer will do marvellous things to your bourbon, but be aware, the Australian angels will take more than their fair share:grin:

Scott

Hi, High.

Make sure if you show up in the United States you come for a sip of the barrel contents in Piqua, OH. I can see why some other rebarrellers had a hard time keeping up with the topping up!

Sweetstuff
01-10-2007, 15:16
http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q91/rieslingrat/Img_0007a.jpg
And welcome John T., one of the interweb's foremost experts on German wines!

Can't hide out anywhere without my alter ego coming to the surface. Is it OK here to drink a little Riesling from time to time, to refresh the palate so to speak?

barturtle
01-10-2007, 15:48
Can't hide out anywhere without my alter ego coming to the surface. Is it OK here to drink a little Riesling from time to time, to refresh the palate so to speak?

Yes, it is. There is the Non-Whiskey Alcohol section for all that stuff.:grin:

Feel free to post your musings about TBA and other German wine stuff there. I just love some noble rot:lol:

kbuzbee
01-10-2007, 16:16
Mine both got darker.... interesting.

Ken

TNbourbon
01-10-2007, 21:07
...Can't hide out anywhere without my alter ego coming to the surface. Is it OK here to drink a little Riesling from time to time, to refresh the palate so to speak?

Recently, we've had quite a good wine 'cellar' regularly at Gazebo (and other) gatherings. We don't whine about wine!:toast:

Sweetstuff
01-11-2007, 11:50
Yes, it is. There is the Non-Whiskey Alcohol section for all that stuff.:grin:

Feel free to post your musings about TBA and other German wine stuff there. I just love some noble rot:lol:


Tim, I think I'll try to cross-post my tasting note on the Elisenberg pictured above for the curious here, originally sent to eRobertParker. I'll also give the URLs of the data about the rebottling here that I did at the same place, on their nonwine alcohol forum.

http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=114250 (original post with much data)

http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=114696 (some questions on the project)

http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=115761 (9-day tasting notes)

http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=116408 (15-day tasting notes)

John Trombley

Sweetstuff
01-11-2007, 12:15
Mine both got darker.... interesting.

Ken

Of course I'll have to follow this a lot longer. This lightening might just be from the topping up, and any barrel effect on color may take more time. I'd expect from experience with wine that color would darken. For example, I can often pick out Riesling that's barrel aged from a particular hue I can see in the wine.

Sweetstuff
01-11-2007, 12:35
Thanks, Ken.

I haven't yet made up my mind about this. If I follow the George Saintsbury method I would top up (advantage--a little younger flavor can add complexity, in theory, a la solera method). If I follow yours I wouldn't.

I think I might end up with a more concentrated, 'darker' flavored, whisky, not topping up, as the effects of oxygen might predominate.

Where is Mentor? Perhaps you could give me some on-the-spot advice, if it's close. I'm in Piqua (north of Dayton).

barturtle
01-11-2007, 12:41
Riesling are light colored wines that are being put into a toasted barrel, and would therefor pick up some color. I checked your other thread on this and realized you are using a toasted barrel for this and not a charred barrel, there may be a chance that the whiskey is giving up some of its color to the barrel (assuming it was lighter in color than the whiskey was when being poured in.

I believe that most others who have done rebarreling projects have used charred barrels (I may be wrong about this) which would add color due to the black char of the wood.

Sweetstuff
01-11-2007, 12:45
Riesling are light colored wines that are being put into a toasted barrel, and would therefor pick up some color. I checked your other thread on this and realized you are using a toasted barrel for this and not a charred barrel, there may be a chance that the whiskey is giving up some of its color to the barrel (assuming it was lighter in color than the whiskey was when being poured in.

I believe that most others who have done rebarreling projects have used charred barrels (I may be wrong about this) which would add color due to the black char of the wood.

Yes, I think you're right about the char. I deliberately chose to use a heavy toast rather than a char because this might de-emphasize some of the 'Beam-ness' of the whiskey, according to one person who works in the Bourbon industry and gave me advice.

You may also be right about the color-much of which is derived from char--being somewhat lost via the wood. Good thought!

kbuzbee
01-11-2007, 13:32
Thanks, Ken.

I haven't yet made up my mind about this. If I follow the George Saintsbury method I would top up (advantage--a little younger flavor can add complexity, in theory, a la solera method). If I follow yours I wouldn't.

I think I might end up with a more concentrated, 'darker' flavored, whisky, not topping up, as the effects of oxygen might predominate.

Where is Mentor? Perhaps you could give me some on-the-spot advice, if it's close. I'm in Piqua (north of Dayton).

Spot on. Our own Mr. Gilman would certainly appreciate your observations. And you hit exactly what I like about NOT topping off. I like the heavy, dark, smooth, oaky flavory of a WT Tribute. I really got a lot of this in both my WT and MM experiments. I'm not sure it's really oxygen... maybe? Or maybe just evaporation and exposure to the oak??? Dunno, but I really like it.

Bottom line though is it really comes down to what you like most. There are many here who say there is altogether too much focus today on age, oak, smoke etc and the true nature of the Spirit is being loss in the pursuit of 'older is better' (I believe Mr Cowdry has made this point many times in various forms?). I have to confess to falling into this crowd. I like older expressions. I like DARK in almost everything, wine, coffee, chocolate etc, etc... And I make no apologies. It is the best expression of any spirit I drink (Scotch, Bourbon, Rum or Tequila)... to ME.

At any rate, I think you have a great handle on the various effects and how to attempt to achieve them.... Mentor is 25 miles NE of Cleveland. I've been to Dayton a couple times. Not the easiest drive in the state... but doable.



Ken

Sweetstuff
01-11-2007, 14:21
Spot on. Our own Mr. Gilman would certainly appreciate your observations. And you hit exactly what I like about NOT topping off. I like the heavy, dark, smooth, oaky flavory of a WT Tribute. I really got a lot of this in both my WT and MM experiments. I'm not sure it's really oxygen... maybe? Or maybe just evaporation and exposure to the oak??? Dunno, but I really like it.

Bottom line though is it really comes down to what you like most. There are many here who say there is altogether too much focus today on age, oak, smoke etc and the true nature of the Spirit is being loss in the pursuit of 'older is better' (I believe Mr Cowdry has made this point many times in various forms?). I have to confess to falling into this crowd. I like older expressions. I like DARK in almost everything, wine, coffee, chocolate etc, etc... And I make no apologies. It is the best expression of any spirit I drink (Scotch, Bourbon, Rum or Tequila)... to ME.

At any rate, I think you have a great handle on the various effects and how to attempt to achieve them.... Mentor is 25 miles NE of Cleveland. I've been to Dayton a couple times. Not the easiest drive in the state... but doable.



Ken

Let me know if you're headed this way and I'll see that you get a good sip! We can perhaps compare notes if you have a bit of some of your 'experiments' left!

Perhaps even open a bottle of good German to set up the spirits properly!

BarItemsPlus1
01-16-2007, 17:26
G'day John(Sweetstuff)...

Great to see another person trying their hand at re-barrelling!!
Just thought I would link to my recent barrel dumping...
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6305

Oh and if you ever make the trip Down Under be sure to drop us a line! :grin:

Cheers!!

Sweetstuff
01-26-2007, 10:34
Here's the latest tasting note (28 days) together with the collected notes:

http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q91/rieslingrat/Img_0154a.gif

TN:Jim Beam Rebarrelling Experiment:28 days

Color continues to be lighter than unaged control (left, above). Sheeting/tearing is equivalent for both.

Nose gives impressions of bakeshop, sawdust, linseed oil, a rancio sensation, dried apricot; in an envelope of sweet vanillin.

Equivalent alcohol heat on entry or perhaps a touch less; shows vanillin, candied chestnut, walnut; a sweet, creamy, 20-30 second finish. As the evening goes on, this gets more creamy, more 'sippy', and more integrated; becoming positively delicious.

Conclusion: spirit continues to positively evolve; 91/100.

Since Barbara and I are going on a 7-day cruise starting in 2 days, the next tasting will not be until we get back. However, I've been told that the most change takes place in this whiskey when the weather gets hot outside, so this may not be a loss. I may begin to taste at two-week or one-month intervals until spring for that reason.

Previous notes:

TN:Jim Beam Rebarrelling Experiment: 21 days



Sample taken on Saturday, January 13, 2007, using a thief. It has not been topped up since after the last sample was taken. By the way, my avatar is a picture of the barrel in which the aging is taking place.

The glass on the left contains the original mixture of straight bourbons, and the one on the right the barrel-aged mixture of the same.

The barrel-aged sample appears leggy and bright and refractive and noticeably lighter in color when compared with the control (original unbarrelled) mixture, more so than the last time. The nose has taken on a very noticeably vanilla-laden envelope, with the resin still there but layered under. This is accompanied by the same caramel note, and the spicy, woody scent that sawn and kilned oak gives off. Still some heat on entry but seems quite simple now, with flavors rather overlaying each other. Sweet vanilla, of course, and perhaps a baked whole wheat or grain note, and again a certain spiciness; the finish is still clean and nutty and of a nice length. On the whole, for some reason this spirit seems backward and brooding compared with the 15-day, and less complex, but sound. 88/100.


This spirit is changing rapidly, and it's also giving up quite a bit of 'angel's share' from this very small barrel. In 15 days it's lost 1,325 ml, or about 88 ml per day. Them angels is a bit thirsty! Since we started with 26.731 liters, I've lost 4.96 percent in 10 days, or about 0.5 percent per day. A very high loss rate, but does the cellar smell good! As I had no more old Beam to top up with, the sample for this note was taken AFTER topping up with 12-year-old 80-proof Anniversary and 8-year-old 86-proof JW Dant. Thereís more Dant and some Old Boston on standby if necessary, and if I can find out whether Beamís distillate hasnít changed appreciably in the last 30 years, I may use some younger JB whisky.

Original mixture, sampled at bottling. Liberal sheeting and medium viscosity; color a rich brown with a touch of orange. Very resinous over some caramel with lots of vanilla and a bit of oak-sawdust scent, and what I'd call a sweet cookie-dough note. Gentle on entry with a sweet mid-palate showing a touch of burn, but not much, and a caressing, if persistent finish. Not as integrated or creamy in texture as some better bourbons, but not bad either. 89/100. Retasted today with essentially identical results.

Test sample (15-day): The color is a somewhat lighter deep, warm, straw. Persistent sheeting, and of course highly refractive. On the nose: the high-toned part of the resinous note is nearly immersed in vanilla, dried peach or apricot, and old leather, with some cotton candy.

Quite sweet and vanilla-laden on entry with the merest hint of American oak pepper, with a gentle burn, leading to what is now a bit shorter, or to be more accurate, more neutral, but sweet, finish.

As far as I can tell, heading in the right direction, according to my druthers. 88-90/100.

Just for reference, hereís the 9-day note: Today, January 1, at 9 days approximately. Sheeting and texture similar. Color looks perhaps just a touch lighter, but it's hard to call. Nose is prominent but more pulled-back, with that resinous/caramel note and even more sweet cookie-dough. There's more of a dried-fruit or bakeshop note on the palate; theres a sweet impression still but accompanied by additional complexity. I'd say there is some apple-cider and a touch of smoke. The burn is gentled. The complexity carries over onto the finish. I'd say that there is some promise here already as stuff is going in the right direction. 89-90/100.