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View Full Version : A. H. Hirsch Mash-Bill Technicality



Marina Blue
01-31-2007, 08:35
I added two bottles of gold foil Hirsch 16 to my stock. The labels on the recent addition are much different than on my blue wax bottles. I prefer the elegant look of the original labels to the more rustic look of the gold foils but the newer labels are much more informative. Both the new and old labels declare that bourbon is in the bottle. According to Gary Gillman’s post #3 in this thread, http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4173 (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4173) , Michter’s Original Sour Mash Whiskey consisited of 50% corn, 38% rye, and 12% barley malt, which is close but does not qualify to be called bourbon. Today, I attempted to read the background of the front label on one of my new bottles and noticed the mash-bill was made up of 37% rye and 12% malt. From that we can assume a 51% corn ingredient. Hmmm, does that mean this does meet the criteria to be called bourbon or was it a slight-of-hand when this label was drawn up. I have a feeling very few or perhaps no one ever tried reading the background on that label and perhaps it doesn’t even qualify as ingredients that the producer could be held accountable for. I wish I knew the origin of that background writing.

I suppose we will never know for sure what was in those 1974 barrels as the contents of that great whiskey, rescued by Adolph Hirsch, most likely will never be verified. My present stock of Hirsch has the same aroma and taste, albeit more aged, as an original bottle of Michter's that I still have, but I'm sure a 1% difference in corn would not make a difference in taste.

Phil

Gillman
01-31-2007, 08:44
Phil, I've noticed that writing too.

Pennco Distillers/Michter's made different types of straight whiskey. The classic Michter's Original Sour Mash you have been speaking of was 50% corn with a strong rye element in the small grains. It was, therefore, a proprietary form of straight whiskey, neither a bourbon or rye, but with elements of both (as Michael Jackson explained in his 1987 World Guide To Whisky).

Thinking all this through again, I think the 1974 distillation in the Hirsch 16 must be true bourbon, though. The mash would have been adjusted to ensure it was 51% corn. Chuck Cowdery has explained in his newsletter (a must-have in my view for any true bourbon fan) the history of that bottling and the Michter's name and from that it seems undoubted to me it was a bourbon. Therefore, I rule out the possibility that original sour mash whiskey is in the Hirsch 16 bottles and some tolerance or other rule allows it be called bourbon.

That said, and having tasted Hirsch 16 (the different forms) many times and original sour mash too a number of times, I can say the whiskeys are related closely. And why would they not be, they were made at the same plant, same yeast, similar mash bill. They have a family resemblance, close in this case.

Remember that Pennco supplied rye, bourbon and other whiskeys for years to the bulk market, so it would have been experienced at making small adjustments to ensure that the whiskey was correctly identified.

Gary

jvanwinkle
01-31-2007, 10:04
Having bottled alot of the Hirsch bourbons, I can assure you they are all bourbon as the barrels were marked "Bourbon".
Julian

Marina Blue
01-31-2007, 10:24
Having bottled alot of the Hirsch bourbons, I can assure you they are all bourbon as the barrels were marked "Bourbon".
Julian
Now that's an authoritative answer and what I was looking for. Thanks for the response Julian.

Phil