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JRomain
01-12-2007, 23:26
What elements do corn exactly impart in bourbon, in all departments (texture, aroma, flavor)? Sweetness, I know. But what type of sweetness?

And where does leather come from? A by-product of fermentation, largely derived from the yeast I presume?

kbuzbee
01-13-2007, 08:33
That is a great question!

I can give you my completely uneducated opinion but there are folks here to have actual knowledge.:grin: I'm looking forward to their replies!

To me, corn does add sweetness as you say, if you taste a drop of corn syrup, you'll get the taste. And some of the oily mouthfeel.

I would think the "leather" may come in part from the yeast but perhaps in combination with the barrel effects as I've not noticed it in any of the green spirits i've tried.

Thanks for raising the thought!

Ken

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-14-2007, 01:39
I am pretty sure that leather notes come from the oak. Remember that leather was traditionally tanned with oak bark. (I can't say what they do now. ) So I have always assumed that leather is getting its distinctive smell from the same place as bourbon does.

Ed

ILLfarmboy
01-23-2007, 21:13
Some time ago I bought a jar of Georgia Moon in part to satisfy my own curiosity regarding just this very question. After going back to it several times I've pretty much come to terms with the "funk" that overlays it's main flavor. It tastes best if I refrain from nosing the glass!:rolleyes: You would think it would be easy enough to suss out the flavor of a straight unaged corn whiskey but I have failed. The best descriptor I can come up with is: It tastes the way a tassel smells (the green part) when you pull it from the stalk, overlayed by a brief slightly sour taste not unlike the smell of damp slightly moldy corn dust followed by a brief corn sweetness/oiliness due partly, I think, to the lack of tannins.

I'm not going to buy another jar anytime soon but I would rather drink this than the fake/adulterated whiskeys talked about in the old time saloon thread.

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-23-2007, 23:19
I'm not going to buy another jar anytime soon but I would rather drink this than the fake/adulterated whiskeys talked about in the old time saloon thread.


You and me both!

Have you had any of the aged corn whiskies, like Platte Valley or Mellow Corn BIB.

I get a orange pop flavor in that last that I also find in bourbon from time to time. I think that is the corn and barrel interacting.

Ed

ILLfarmboy
01-23-2007, 23:31
You and me both!

Have you had any of the aged corn whiskies, like Platte Valley or Mellow Corn BIB.

I get a orange pop flavor in that last that I also find in bourbon from time to time. I think that is the corn and barrel interacting.

Ed

No. But its on my list of things to try. I to sometimes get an orange flavor (orange zest) from OGD. I just figured it was that orange cap messin' with my head.

gluce
01-24-2007, 06:36
You guys should try Tito's Vodka, it is made from 100% corn and distilled 6 times. It is 100% American too, made in Texas. It is sweet and not bad.

That would qualify as corn whiskey!!!!! ( I think).......

Later,

George

cowdery
01-24-2007, 10:58
Nope. If it's vodka, it's not whiskey, by definition, due to its distillation proof. Also, most vodka is 100% corn, so nothing special about that.

Gee, maybe they should distill it 100 times. Then it would really be great, wouldn't it?

Corn mostly gives bourbon its sweetness, body and in younger whiskeys, a little grassiness. (Probably not a word, but you know what I mean.)

Ken Weber
01-24-2007, 11:19
I believe you guys have nailed the corn attributes: sweetness and oily mouth feel. You should see the fatty acids we filter out via our chill filtration system. We have a bottle of "clean" looking whiskey - until you look at it bottom-lighted (a light table able to project a beam of light up through the bottom of the bottle). There are globs of fatty acids just floating around. The less of these you remove the greater the oily mouth-feel you get.

Also, when you speak of Georgia Moon as a corn whiskey, it may have the same recipe as many of the other products from HH (I think they make it?). It can be classified as such because it is "aged" in used cooperage.

Ken

BobA
01-24-2007, 11:52
I believe you guys have nailed the corn attributes: sweetness and oily mouth feel.

Ken

This is exactly what I get from Mellow Corn - and about all I get. Still, nothing wrong with it, it's just a simple drink. And other than calling its sweetness a "corn sweetness," I can't describe it.

Bob

cowdery
01-24-2007, 20:27
Although other distillers make corn whiskey for blending purposes, only Heaven Hill makes it for sale, so any corn whiskey you see on the market is a HH product, including Georgia Moon (which was started by a distillery in Georgia) and Mellow Corn (which was an old Medley product). Platte Valley is a McCormick product but if they still make it, they're buying the whiskey from HH.

Georgia Moon and Mellow Corn are very different but I don't find either very palatable. I have both and probably will have those two bottles (well, a bottle and a jar) for a long time.

All of the HH corn whiskeys come out of the still the same. Georgia Moon never touches wood and Mellow Corn spends a little time in used cooperage. Since the used cooperage is undoubtedly first refill used bourbon barrels, it's actually sucking a little of that leftover bourbon out of the barrel.

straightwhiskeyruffneck
01-24-2007, 20:39
although most often thought of as an inferior product, i dont believe this to be true. i just think there's a lack of motivation to make a good corn whiskey

cowdery
01-24-2007, 21:01
I disagree. I don't think there is any way to make corn whiskey better than Heaven Hill is making it. A "better" corn whiskey is, well, bourbon, or taken in the other direction, vodka.

Corn whiskey is what it is. That doesn't make it inferior, but it is a taste not many people prefer over bourbon.

barturtle
01-24-2007, 21:30
I disagree. I don't think there is any way to make corn whiskey better than Heaven Hill is making it. A "better" corn whiskey is, well, bourbon, or taken in the other direction, vodka.

Corn whiskey is what it is. That doesn't make it inferior, but it is a taste not many people prefer over bourbon.

I mostly agree with this, however having recently tasted some old AMS corn, it was better. It wasn't worlds apart from the recent stuff from HH, but better is better.

Could it have just been in used wood for a while longer? Likely. Or maybe that barrel wasn't quite as used up (or maybe even more used up?) than the barrels HH is using. Might have even been aged during more favorable seasons than the recent bottle I tried.

None of this changes the fact that it's highly unlikely that corn is ever gonna replace bourbon and rye as my daily pour, but the AMS was good enough that it could be put in rotation right beside Bernhiem Wheat.

ILLfarmboy
01-24-2007, 22:24
I disagree. I don't think there is any way to make corn whiskey better than Heaven Hill is making it. A "better" corn whiskey is, well, bourbon, or taken in the other direction, vodka.

Corn whiskey is what it is. That doesn't make it inferior, but it is a taste not many people prefer over bourbon.

Perhaps having never tasted the aged product I'm not qualified to comment on this. But I concur. Further exploration might change my mind but I imagine even straight corn aged in new cooperage would be lacking in zing sort of like salt without the pepper. the unaged product most definitely lacks spice. An aged version while easer to drink would still lack either the spice from the rye or that indefinable nutty quality from the wheat. I suspect it would be monotonously one dimensional. Out of curiosity I'd still like to try it but I don't imagine even aged in new wood it would have wide appeal.

barturtle
01-25-2007, 06:02
Perhaps having never tasted the aged product I'm not qualified to comment on this. But I concur. Further exploration might change my mind but I imagine even straight corn aged in new cooperage would be lacking in zing sort of like salt without the pepper. the unaged product most definitely lacks spice. An aged version while easer to drink would still lack either the spice from the rye or that indefinable nutty quality from the wheat. I suspect it would be monotonously one dimensional. Out of curiosity I'd still like to try it but I don't imagine even aged in new wood it would have wide appeal.

If you age corn in new cooperage that has been charred, you have bourbon. Corn can only be aged in new uncharred or used cooperage. I doubt anyone is using new uncharred wood...the used barrels are already paid for.

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-25-2007, 06:27
Perhaps having never tasted the aged product I'm not qualified to comment on this. But I concur. Further exploration might change my mind but I imagine even straight corn aged in new cooperage would be lacking in zing sort of like salt without the pepper. the unaged product most definitely lacks spice. An aged version while easer to drink would still lack either the spice from the rye or that indefinable nutty quality from the wheat. I suspect it would be monotonously one dimensional. Out of curiosity I'd still like to try it but I don't imagine even aged in new wood it would have wide appeal.

Timothy is right. Aged in new charred barrels distillate that would qualify as straight corn (80% corn or more in the mashbill) is bourbon. The Old Charters are all 80% or more corn. Several other Buffalo Trace bourbons share this mashbill. One of which is George T Stagg.:bigeyes: Not the sort of bourbon that one would call one dimentional or lacking in zing.

Ed

Rughi
01-25-2007, 07:50
TI believe you guys have nailed the corn attributes: sweetness and oily mouth feel. You should see the fatty acids we filter out via our chill filtration system.... The less of these you remove the greater the oily mouth-feel you get.
Ken

Ken,
My love for and search for that oily mouth-feel has led me to very, very many run-down liquor stores in search of bottles old enough to be from an era when this character wasn't routinely stripped away. Perhaps 80% of my purchases are directly attributable to this desire.

Now that the extra-aged revolution has been established, I think the new frontier is to regain in bourbon the big mouth-feel and complexity of those particles that now are trapped in the filter screens.

The three most desired BT products on this board this year seem to be LaRue, Handy and Stagg - which are unfiltered/uncut products. I suggest their desirability only partially comes from being marketed as a scarce commodity, and primarily because their big mouth-feel and complexity make them damn good to drink.

Roger "Don't Hide the Corn" Hodges

jburlowski
01-25-2007, 10:22
Not to hijack this thread or anything, but I wonder what will the expected 62% increase in the price of corn over the next year (largely due to the increased demand for ethanol) will do to the bourbon market. Raise prices (I expect some modest impact but imagine that the price of corn is a relatively small component of the overall price)? Or impact quality (as corn availability diminishes? Or nothing?

oldironstomach
01-25-2007, 11:11
Although other distillers make corn whiskey for blending purposes, only Heaven Hill makes it for sale, so any corn whiskey you see on the market is a HH product ...
Is Virginia Lightning no longer being made, or is it technically not a corn whiskey?

Str8RYE
01-25-2007, 13:38
Is Virginia Lightning no longer being made, or is it technically not a corn whiskey?


There's Old Gristmill as well. I believe thats a 100% corn whiskey.

ILLfarmboy
01-25-2007, 14:35
Old Charter, Eagle Rare, and George T. Stagg use BT low rye mashbill. But how low? Indead an all corn 80/20 unmalted/malted or 90% corn 10% barley malt aged in new charred barrels would meet the legal defiinition of bourbon; forgot about that earlier. But how would it compare to even a low rye mash? Elswhere on this board Wild Turkey has been peged at 75% corn 13% rye and 12% barley malt and it's considered semi-high rye. So it seems it dosn't take much rye to impart that "rye spice" but how low can you go and not suffer in the taste department?

If Mellow Corn contains no rye an interesting comparison might be Mellow Corn and Early Times Kentucky Whiskey; both aged in used cooperage. assuming Early Times a rye bourbon/whiskey?

cowdery
01-25-2007, 17:05
I believe Heaven Hill makes only one corn whiskey mashbill and it contains a little bit of rye and a little bit of malted barley. The only 100% corn products are being made by micro-distillers. They need to get amylase from somewhere and while they may get it by malting corn, they probably get it in bags from enzyme manufacturers.

JeffRenner
01-25-2007, 20:41
Mellow Corn spends a little time in used cooperage.

As a bottled in bond whiskey, I believe it spends at least four years in used wood. Very likely no more, though.

Jeff

cowdery
01-25-2007, 20:59
As a bottled in bond whiskey, I believe it spends at least four years in used wood. Very likely no more, though.

Jeff


Exactly right. I had forgotten that Mellow Corn is a BIB. Legally, it could be aged in new uncharred wood, but that seems very unlikely. That is a variation we are unlikely to experience.

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-25-2007, 21:36
Old Charter, Eagle Rare, and George T. Stagg use BT low rye mashbill. But how low? Indead an all corn 80/20 unmalted/malted or 90% corn 10% barley malt aged in new charred barrels would meet the legal defiinition of bourbon; forgot about that earlier. But how would it compare to even a low rye mash? Elswhere on this board Wild Turkey has been peged at 75% corn 13% rye and 12% barley malt and it's considered semi-high rye. So it seems it dosn't take much rye to impart that "rye spice" but how low can you go and not suffer in the taste department?

If Mellow Corn contains no rye an interesting comparison might be Mellow Corn and Early Times Kentucky Whiskey; both aged in used cooperage. assuming Early Times a rye bourbon/whiskey?

Not all Early Times is aged in used cooperage. It is a blend of straight bourbon aged in the normal way and whiskey aged in used cooperage. IIRC it is an 80/20 ratio. It would still be an interesting head to head. Especially if you could get a sample of the non bourbon Early Times.

Ed

Edward_call_me_Ed
01-25-2007, 21:40
I believe Heaven Hill makes only one corn whiskey mashbill and it contains a little bit of rye and a little bit of malted barley. The only 100% corn products are being made by micro-distillers. They need to get amylase from somewhere and while they may get it by malting corn, they probably get it in bags from enzyme manufacturers.

Any idea how little rye? Is it less than BT mashbill 1?
Does Heaven Hill use any enzymes to suppliment the barley malt in there corn whiskey mashbill?
Ed

cowdery
01-26-2007, 10:50
Here in the USA, the trick is getting a sample of the Early Times Bourbon. All that is sold here is the Kentucky Whisky. You're right that the Kentucky Whisky is about 80 percent bourbon, but I believe it's all only three years old too, so pretty different even from most inexpensive bourbons.

I don't really know how HH makes its corn whiskey, except that Parker and Beam will always stick to what they know, so I suspect it's probably an 80/10/10 mix, or something close to that, with some supplemental enzymes. As for BT 1, I don't think it's actually as high as 80 percent, although that's what Charter was when it was made at Old Bernheim.

chasking
02-01-2007, 13:55
although most often thought of as an inferior product, i dont believe this to be true. i just think there's a lack of motivation to make a good corn whiskey

I think this is correct. I will respectfully disagree with Chuck C's assessment that it can't be made better than Heaven Hill is making it. Georgia Moon is a gimmick spirit that's intended to be nasty, and Mellow Corn is a legacy brand that I'm sure gets little if any thought. I don't think Heaven Hill is setting out to make a really great corn whiskey. No doubt it would not be worth the effort economically, but I think straightwhiskeyruffneck is correct in his assesment.

Making a really great corn whiskey would require a lot of attention to distilling practice, getting the right cut, and might require a narrower cut than a whiskey that's going to be aged. There are no doubt other variables in the distilling process that could be manipulated. But having read a number of books about moonshining, back in the old days there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that the good shine was really good---people drank it because they actually liked it. So I think a good corn whiskey is possible. If it tasted anything like the Beam white dog that Fred Noe had at Whiskeyfest Chicago a couple years ago, I'd buy it, and not for the novelty jar.

If I had the cash and leisure to get into craft distilling, corn whiskey would be high on my list of things to try.

cowdery
02-01-2007, 15:44
I think what Ruff and Chas are saying is reasonable, even if I don't totally agree. Just the fact that Heaven Hill's corn whiskey has no competition entitles us to believe they probably are not driven to make it as good as it can be. Another issue: what's good? If there was a larger market for corn whiskey and multiple, different producers, the marketplace would tell us which one consumers prefer. As it is, it's just a small number of people at Heaven Hill deciding, "this is how corn whiskey should taste."

You are right that Georgia Moon is a novelty and no one at HH is especially proud of it. As for Mellow Corn, they do, in their own evaluation, consider it a quality corn whiskey. Don't take too much from the fact that they didn't originate it. There are only three whiskey brands that Heaven Hill did originate: Heaven Hill, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. Everything else is "legacy" in the same sense as Mellow Corn.

Finally, I completely agree that making a good corn whiskey is a worthy goal for a craft distiller. If we could just get them to quit kidding themselves about the merits of hand-crafted vodka.

dougdog
02-01-2007, 16:16
If we could just get them to quit kidding themselves about the merits of hand-crafted vodka.

You nailed it again Chuck!

:bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:

bobbyc
02-01-2007, 20:04
There are only three whiskey brands that Heaven Hill did originate: Heaven Hill, Evan Williams and Elijah Craig.Bluegrass, Belles, and Bourbon P.79
"Our labels, in addition to T.W. Samuels are Elijah Craig and Jim Porter."

I'd like to know the particuliars of who had it first and the transference to Heaven Hill/T.W. Samuels.

cowdery
02-02-2007, 10:25
Bluegrass, Belles, and Bourbon P.79
"Our labels, in addition to T.W. Samuels are Elijah Craig and Jim Porter."

I'd like to know the particuliars of who had it first and the transference to Heaven Hill/T.W. Samuels.

To whom does the "our" refer?

I will say that the book you are quoting contains a lot of mistakes, to the point where I have pretty much disregarded it in my research.

I have a very vague memory of seeing once a reference to someone having used the Elijah Craig name prior to Heaven Hill, but Heaven Hill has always claimed that they originated it (as a whiskey brand obviously, since the Rev. Craig himself used it first) and I have never been able to find solid evidence to the contrary.

Father&Son
02-02-2007, 11:18
If I had the cash and leisure to get into craft distilling, corn whiskey would be high on my list of things to try.

Now there's a fun idea! I realize a lengthy discussion would be off-topic, but is it possible for one to become a craft distiller these days? I assume this requires licensing by ATF. Readers can PM me if they'd rather not hijack the thread.

cowdery
02-02-2007, 15:06
Now there's a fun idea! I realize a lengthy discussion would be off-topic, but is it possible for one to become a craft distiller these days? I assume this requires licensing by ATF. Readers can PM me if they'd rather not hijack the thread.

Yes it is, and getting easier all the time. I used to tell people that it was nearly impossible, but times have changed.

The place to start is the American Distilling Institute (http://www.distilling.com/) web site.

bobbyc
02-02-2007, 18:10
To whom does the "our" refer?

T W Samuels

cowdery
02-02-2007, 19:09
There, again, I think the problem is that book.

Bluegrass, Belles and Bourbon, by Harry Harrison Kroll, was published in 1967 and, presumably, written that year or maybe the year before. T. W. Samuels last produced whiskey in 1952, so by the time Kroll came around, the T. W. Samuels brand was already at Heaven Hill and the T. W. Samuels company no longer existed.

Bill Samuels Senior was active in that company, but was a minority stockholder and had sold out his interest in 1943, going on to found Maker's Mark a few years later. The new owners kind of ran the place into the ground. Two guys who worked there with Samuels and left, I think, when he did, were Sam Cecil and Charlie DeSpain, both of whom went to Heaven Hill. Charlie DeSpain was plant manager at Heaven Hill from 1945 until 1972, so my guess would be that Kroll was talking to Charlie and got the company name screwed up.

Sam's book, as you know, as some accuracy problems, but it's a lot more useful than Kroll's. Sam says HH "acquired" the Williams and Craig brands. I don't think so. If someone used the names before Heaven Hill did, the evidence is very elusive.

FlashPuppy
02-02-2007, 20:04
Now there's a fun idea! I realize a lengthy discussion would be off-topic, but is it possible for one to become a craft distiller these days? I assume this requires licensing by ATF. Readers can PM me if they'd rather not hijack the thread.


Also, a fuel alcohol distilling permit is easily obtained and makes it completely legal to own and operate a still. As long as it is for fuel ethanol only. ;)

I obtained a permit for California for a minamal fee (I believe around $25 in processing fees), which allows me to distill up to 10,000 gallons annually.

Now you can't drink it, but if you just want to fire up a still and run some off, this is the way to go and beat gas prices to boot!! :grin:

bobbyc
02-06-2007, 19:33
T. W. Samuels last produced whiskey in 1952, so by the time Kroll came around, the T. W. Samuels brand was already at Heaven Hill and the T. W. Samuels company no longer existed.

Chuck I'll have to get back with you on that, there are still some people that had relatives that worked there that can give me the actual dates they stopped. I know for a fact my Grandfathers older brother worked there until he retired and that was at least the mid 60s.
There's a retired schoolteacher that lives close to 4 Roses in Bullitt County and her father worked there, I'll give her a call.

cowdery
02-07-2007, 16:32
The 1952 date is from Sam Cecil, who worked there as you know. It's likely they stopped distilling in 1952 but continued to operate as long as they had their whiskey in the warehouses. Also, as you know, the site was briefly operated by a bottled water concern that used the name (I think) "Samuels Springs."

Today the warehouses are all in use by Heaven Hill and Maker's Mark, but I don't think anyone is using the other buildings.

Bobby, for those who don't know, lives a hop, skip and a jump from the Samuels site and knows a lot of current and former employees of all of the distilleries down there.