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jeff
04-05-2007, 16:02
In order to make good bourbon, you need to start with good ingredients. We all know that a bourbon mash consists of at least 51% corn. From there it is left to the distiller's discretion to finish the recipe. Rye or wheat are used as flavoring grains, while malted barley is added for its enzymes that convert the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars.

This month let's discuss the properties that each grain brings to the mashbill and from where these grains are sourced. We should also make note of the known mashbills for specific brands and distilleries. We can also venture into the mashing process in terms of the order, temperature and length of "cooking" time for each grain. We'll discuss yeast and fermentation next month.

So put on your thinking caps and mash on!

:Clever:Sound off:Clever:

Gillman
04-05-2007, 16:33
Good questions, Jeff.

I'd like to focus on rye. Rye grain seems to impart a certain distinctive taste to whiskey, both in new whiskey and older whiskey. This derives from its congeners which are unique to rye or associated with it in relatively high concentrations, e.g., trace amounts of methanol.

Somtimes it manifests as minty-like, sometimes spicy, sometimes earthy. In older whiskeys this trait can translate to "old flowers". Rye is a complex flavor grain and unmistakeable although sometimes you notice it simply by its absence (e.g. in modern Maker's Mark).

It adds not just its savour but a certain body or depth to whiskey. Rye, in the form of ryed bourbon or rye whiskey, is indispensable to a good whiskey cocktail.

While I respect wheated bourbon, as Chuck Cowdery has written "rye-recipe bourbons are always more interesting".

Gary

Edward_call_me_Ed
04-05-2007, 21:57
Great topic!

One thing I believe is that rye bourbons need less age. Young wheaters just aren't very interesting to me. They aren't bad, just simple and missing the spice I enjoy so much. But wheaters age gracefully. Give a wheater 12 or more years in the barrel and it becomes a fine drink with out becoming woody, at least to my taste. The same can be said for very low rye bourbons.

Ed

nor02lei
04-05-2007, 23:51
Good questions, Jeff.

Somtimes it manifests as minty-like, sometimes spicy, sometimes earthy. In older whiskeys this trait can translate to "old flowers". Rye is a complex flavor grain and unmistakeable although sometimes you notice it simply by its absence (e.g. in modern Maker's Mark).


Gary

I would definitive ad fruitiness and in some brands bitterness as well Gary. When it comes to the bitterness I experience it as very soft in comparing to for instance tannin bitterness. I do find the same kind of soft bitterness in Swedish rye bread with I eat every day.
I do also believe that the flavours from the rye grain change a lot during the maturing process. For instance it seem to me that the spiciness first increase and after a certain number years start to diminish instead.

Leif

jburlowski
04-06-2007, 09:53
Great topic!

One thing I believe is that rye bourbons need less age. Young wheaters just aren't very interesting to me. They aren't bad, just simple and missing the spice I enjoy so much. But wheaters age gracefully. Give a wheater 12 or more years in the barrel and it becomes a fine drink with out becoming woody, at least to my taste. The same can be said for very low rye bourbons.

Ed

I couldn't have said it better.... I like wheaters but only the more mature expressions. I also love rye bourbons but the older bottlings (10-12+ years) seem to run the risk of being oaky.

ratcheer
04-06-2007, 20:42
It is probably no secret that my favorite mash bill is BT #2, their higher rye recipe. Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms. With the possible exception of AA, which I haven't had in years, YUM!

Tim

ILLfarmboy
04-06-2007, 21:16
I would definitive ad fruitiness and in some brands bitterness as well Gary. When it comes to the bitterness I experience it as very soft in comparing to for instance tannin bitterness. I do find the same kind of soft bitterness in Swedish rye bread with I eat every day.
I do also believe that the flavours from the rye grain change a lot during the maturing process. For instance it seem to me that the spiciness first increase and after a certain number years start to diminish instead.

Leif

I find an unmistakable familial resemblance between Saz 18 and pumpernickel (a dark chewy rye bread) not so much with Saz Jr.

cowdery
04-07-2007, 13:13
For people who don't like bourbon, most of what they don't like about it comes from rye. That's the Maker's Mark thesis and there is a lot of truth to it. Rye is earth, spice and flowers. It is also the acidic burn in the back of the throat.

Gillman
04-07-2007, 14:30
Agreed all 'round.

Gary

mrt
04-08-2007, 02:29
This thread is a complete lesson for me. Now, I know more about how the mashbill affects the taste of bourbon, especially what effect rye has. However, there's sth. that's not yet clear in my mind: Since bourbon is distilled and so alcohol is seperated from the rest, and this alcohol has the same chemical formula for all bourbons (ethanol, right?), then what's the explanation for the differences in the tastes of different "white dogs"?

ILLfarmboy
04-08-2007, 02:55
This thread is a complete lesson for me. Now, I know more about how the mashbill affects the taste of bourbon, especially what effect rye has. However, there's sth. that's not yet clear in my mind: Since bourbon is distilled and so alcohol is seperated from the rest, and this alcohol has the same chemical formula for all bourbons (ethanol, right?), then what's the explanation for the differences in the tastes of different "white dogs"?

If you re-read post no. 2 by Mr. Gillman and then read last month's TOTM http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6881&highlight=pot+stills wherein is a prety good description of distilling in general I think things will be more clear.

SBOmarc
04-09-2007, 11:26
It is probably no secret that my favorite mash bill is BT #2, their higher rye recipe. Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms. With the possible exception of AA, which I haven't had in years, YUM!

Tim

Whenever I start the night off with one of these pours, I can't seem to go back to a wheater and appreciate them in the same way. I can go ahead to straight Rye and taste even more of the spice and feel more of the burn. Lately that has meant Saz and Saz Jr,, Handy. as well as WT Rye. If I do go back to say a Weller 107 or another wheat pour I always seem to be disappointed.

ratcheer
04-09-2007, 15:24
This thread is a complete lesson for me. Now, I know more about how the mashbill affects the taste of bourbon, especially what effect rye has. However, there's sth. that's not yet clear in my mind: Since bourbon is distilled and so alcohol is seperated from the rest, and this alcohol has the same chemical formula for all bourbons (ethanol, right?), then what's the explanation for the differences in the tastes of different "white dogs"?

Because, while other liquors are distilled to higher proofs, bourbon comes off the still at a maximum of 125 proof. This means that at least 37.5% of the distillate is something other than alcohol. In my opinion, this explains why bourbon has more flavor than most other spirits.

Tim

ILLfarmboy
04-09-2007, 16:12
Because, while other liquors are distilled to higher proofs, bourbon comes off the still at a maximum of 125 proof. This means that at least 37.5% of the distillate is something other than water. In my opinion, this explains why bourbon has more flavor than most other spirits.

Tim

The maximum barreling proof is 125 but it can come off the still higher. I think the fact sheets with the Antique Collection say they come off at 135 except for the WLW which has a lower distillation proof and is barreled somewhere south of 125. But in any case bourbon and rye both have relatively low distillation and barreling proofs and consequently fairly high cogener and fuisil oil content when compared other spirits.

BT is pretty open about distillation and barreling proofs but what I would really like to know is what are the numbers for WT.

TNbourbon
04-09-2007, 16:28
The maximum barreling proof is 125 but it can come off the still higher. I think the fact sheets with the Antique Collection say they come off at 135 except for the WLW which has a lower distillation proof and is barreled somewhere south of 125. But in any case bourbon and rye both have relatively low distillation and barreling proofs and consequently fairly high cogener and fuisil oil content when compared other spirits.

BT is pretty open about distillation and barreling proofs but what I would really like to know is what are the numbers for WT.

Don't know about Wild Turkey, but Woodford Reserve is pretty forthright about distilling well into the 150+-proof range, nearing the legal limit. I think most distillers today distill to higher proofs than were once common.

cowdery
04-09-2007, 17:09
I would say that the most common distillation proof for American whiskey is about 140, i.e., 70% ABV. The point is that the lower the proof, the more grain and yeast flavors are retained.

I wish there was an easy way to get everyone some distillery white dog (i.e., spirit straight from the still). Taste a little whiskey white dog against a vodka, for example, and everything will become clear to you.

nor02lei
04-10-2007, 13:01
What about the Wild Turkey mash bill? Anybody got any guesses or facts about it? I have read in a couple of books that it should be 13% rye. However concerning the taste it seem less likely and a bit low to me. The only other brands that have some similarities to me are some Forester versions. For instance I think OFBB fall 90-03 is rather taste alike KS and the 2005 and partly also the 2002 reminds me a lot of older bottlings of 101. And Turkey definitely don’t taste as rye-high to me as the brands that have around 30%. My personal guess based on taste is around 20%.
When I did visit the distillery and asked Jimmy Russell he told me WT had a “high” rye mash. The white dog sample he offered me had a real nice fruity taste. I told him I thought it tasted so good that they could as well bottle some straight from the still and he fully agreed.

Leif

OscarV
04-10-2007, 13:31
When I did visit the distillery and asked Jimmy Russell he told me WT had a ďhighĒ rye mash. The white dog sample he offered me had a real nice fruity taste. I told him I thought it tasted so good that they could as well bottle some straight from the still and he fully agreed.

Leif

Leif,

How cool was that?
Wow, drinking White Dog with Jimmy Russell!
That's one tour you'll never forget.

Oscar

nor02lei
04-10-2007, 13:56
Leif,

How cool was that?
Wow, drinking White Dog with Jimmy Russell!
That's one tour you'll never forget.

Oscar

Thatís right Oscar I wonít ever forget that!

Leif

mrt
04-14-2007, 12:04
Lesson is enhancing...That's good :)

TBoner
04-15-2007, 08:01
Good questions, Jeff.

I'd like to focus on rye. Rye grain seems to impart a certain distinctive taste to whiskey, both in new whiskey and older whiskey. This derives from its congeners which are unique to rye or associated with it in relatively high concentrations, e.g., trace amounts of methanol.

Somtimes it manifests as minty-like, sometimes spicy, sometimes earthy. In older whiskeys this trait can translate to "old flowers". Rye is a complex flavor grain and unmistakeable although sometimes you notice it simply by its absence (e.g. in modern Maker's Mark).

It adds not just its savour but a certain body or depth to whiskey. Rye, in the form of ryed bourbon or rye whiskey, is indispensable to a good whiskey cocktail.

While I respect wheated bourbon, as Chuck Cowdery has written "rye-recipe bourbons are always more interesting".

Gary

I would add anise/licorice as a specific variation on spicy that comes through very frequently, especially in younger whiskeys. But I wonder what other factors cause rye to manifest itself in particular ways. For instance, I have speculated previously that perhaps it's the Beam yeast interacting with rye that produces a signature foxy/funky/anise flavor which seems to age out over time (or change with time). A similar, though not identical, character comes through in Heaven Hill (which Chuck and others have speculated may use the same yeast). In no WT product, though, regardless of age, do I detect this much anise character. I guess what I'm getting at is that flowers, red hots, licorice, pepper, and earth are variations of rye that occur for a reason, a relatively reproducible reason, given consistency across product lines. Thoughts?

All in all, I do tend to find rye-recipe bourbons more interesting. It seems we attribute most (though not all) of the intrigue and spice in bourbon to the rye . Interesting that corn is the defining grain in terms of the legal definition of bourbon, but rye perhaps provides the signature flavors that to many define bourbon.

Gillman
04-15-2007, 10:16
Wheat recipe bourbons can achieve complexity too, in younger ages from grain fusels and other congeners not fully altered by aging (e.g., Old Weller 107 proof), in older ages from multiform barrel effects (the excellent Van Winkle products show the latter quality).

But none of these are really spicy in the way rye spirit is. And that spice manifests in the ways discussed, yet it is quite singular too (even apparent in some Canadian ryes, e.g., the CC 20 year old discussed recently, also CR, they have a light floral tone that surely comes from the low proof rye element).

I don't think on reflection that anise/licorice is due to rye in the mash. JD has that taste but e.g. OF doesn't, yet both use rye in the mashbill. I think the yeast used must impart this characteristic.

Rye is quite evident when you compare, say, WT rye with WT 80 proof. That extra taste of "roses" or "floral" seems to come from the rye, it adds an extra layer of flavor to whisky, basically. In older ryes the rye component seems to age ("old books", "old roses/damask") and the complexity factor can increase.

Yet sometimes there is no floral but rather mint, or grassy-like tastes, or earthy ones. Rye indeed is a mystery except probably to distillation chemists.

Gary

nor02lei
04-15-2007, 13:11
Isnít there anybody interested in discussing mash recipes? Some are official and some not. Bartonís is one of the secret ones. I know they have at least 2 different rye recipe bourbon mashes and one rye. I havenít tasted much Bartonís but it seems to me that as least Ridgemont reserve comes from a high rye bourbon mash.

Leif

cowdery
04-15-2007, 13:34
Actually, the unique feature of the Ridgemont 1792 mash bill is that it is higher in malt. American distillers, for the most part, have used malt for its essential enzymes but have ignored its potential contribution to flavor. We're proudly contrarian in that regard, but it is interesting to taste a "malt-heavy" bourbon, which is one way of describing Ridgemont 1792.

At WhiskeyFest Friday night, Heaven's Hill booth seemed to be emphasizing three products: EW Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 12 and Bernheim wheat. Keeping Bernheim wheat in front of enthusiasts is a good idea, because I think people need to be reminded that this unique mash bill is available.

ratcheer
04-15-2007, 15:05
Isnít there anybody interested in discussing mash recipes? Some are official and some not. Bartonís is one of the secret ones. I know they have at least 2 different rye recipe bourbon mashes and one rye. I havenít tasted much Bartonís but it seems to me that as least Ridgemont reserve comes from a high rye bourbon mash.

Leif

Sorry, Leif, but I don't know any actual mash recipes, so I would have a difficult time discussing them with you. About all I know is that some are flavored with wheat, some are flavored with rye, and others are flavored with more rye. I generally prefer rye to wheat, and more rye to less rye. That's about the extent of my knowledge. :blush:

Tim

nor02lei
04-16-2007, 01:36
Actually, the unique feature of the Ridgemont 1792 mash bill is that it is higher in malt. American distillers, for the most part, have used malt for its essential enzymes but have ignored its potential contribution to flavor. We're proudly contrarian in that regard, but it is interesting to taste a "malt-heavy" bourbon, which is one way of describing Ridgemont 1792.



I never could have guessed that Chuck.

Leif

OscarV
04-16-2007, 16:11
This is interesting, I never could make up my mind if I liked 1792 or not, the high malt makes it different that's for sure.

OscarV
04-20-2007, 18:18
Jimmy Russell . The white dog sample he offered me had a real nice fruity taste. I told him I thought it tasted so good that they could as well bottle some straight from the still and he fully agreed.

Leif

As everyone knows we, the SB.com members, are getting a special bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23yo that Julian Van Winkle III is putting together for us.
With the above post in mind I wonder if we could get Wild Turkey to bottle some "White Dog" for us?
I have tasted some once at the Buffalo Trace distillery, I for one would love to have a bottle, and the Wild Turkey version would be a great score.
What does everyone else think?
Maybe we should talk it up a bit.
Next week at the Sampler maybe someone can bring it up to some of the distillery reps.

Rughi
04-20-2007, 18:59
With the above post in mind I wonder if we could get Wild Turkey to bottle some "White Dog" for us?

I'd like that a lot. It's something I think about often.

The stumbling block one hears about special requests is that they need to have an approved label for whatever is being bottled. None of the information can be "wrong", but it doesn't need to be completely accurate, either.

For instance, iirc the "Barrel C" of SW that Cliff organized a couple of years ago was labelled as Weller 12/90. It was indeed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, (at least) 12 years old, it was 90 proof, and it was _sort of_ "Distilled by WL Weller and Sons, Frankfort, Kentucky."

White dog is so young and untouched by wood that it wouldn't be Bourbon, it wouldn't be Straight, and I don't think it could even be called Whiskey. Assuming WT doesn't have a label like that on hand, WT would have to certify a new label for one barrel's worth of "Distilled Spirits, aged less than 90 days" or somesuch. If you look up the definition of whiskeys, bourbons and straights in the archives, it'll tell you the requirements. If you followed Lenell's story of getting her label certified, you'll see it can be time consuming and a headache.

Now HH could probably put their white dog directly into Georgia Moon, if the label doesn't specify too much (is it "corn liquor," for instance?).

The other thing is that WT would have to want to release some white dog to the public. Not all distilleries are keen on letting oddball expressions loose (as witnessed by Ken Weber's discussion about a year ago of tightening up the variation in the barrel programs they offer).

Roger

Zero
04-27-2007, 12:51
I thought I'd touch one of the subjects that was mentioned in the first post in this thread, specifically that, "[w]e should ... make note of the known mashbills for specific brands and distilleries."

I'm no expert on the subject--far from it, in fact--but I've been curious about how mashbills translate to flavor, and have collected a few claims around the web. To wit, http://groups.msn.com/DrinkBoy/spirits.msnw?action=get_message&mview=1&ID_Message=13645
which reads in part:


[c= corn | r= rye | w= wheat | b= barley]
Jack daniels 80 c 12 r 8 b
George dickel 80 c 12 r 8 b
Evan williams 75 c 13 r 12 b
Wild turkey 75 c 13 r 12 b
Woodford 72 c 18 r 10 b
Makers mark 70c 16w 14b
Old forester 79 c 11 rye 10 b
pappy van winkle 73 corn 18 wheat, 9 malted barley
rittenhouse 65% r 23%c 12%b

Elsewhere (http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/spawn.php?qv=1&fn=6&tid=57477) (http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/spawn.php?qv=1&fn=6&tid=57477%29), another claim:


Old Fitzgerald, for example, uses 75% corn, 20% wheat, and 5% barley malt.
And, finally (http://grayfoxonline.mywowbb.com/forum8/1437-1.html): (http://grayfoxonline.mywowbb.com/forum8/1437-1.html%29:)
A typical amount of corn is 75%. I believe the standard Heaven Hill mashbill (which includes Evan Williams, Fighting Cock, and a billion other HH bottlings) is around 13% rye. Old Grand Dad is probably the most rye-heavy bourbon you'll come across, at around 27% rye. Chuck Cowdry (Author of 'Bourbon, Straight', a GREAT book on bourbon that includes specific info on Fighting Cock) gives a fairly "standard" bourbon mashbill as 75% corn / 13 % rye. Old Forester is often considered a very benchmark bourbon at 72% corn / 18% rye. Old Charter is an example of a very corn-heavy bourbon.. it has relatively little rye. Makers Mark, Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell, and the Van Winkle bourbons have wheat instead of rye in their mashbill, and are typically sweeter.
(the first and third quotes disagree on the composition of Old Forester).

I, for one, would be interested to learn what the Basil Hayden's mashbill is. I tasted it alongside the 6yo Sazerac rye and there are some real similarities. Also, I'm skeptical of the claim that Woodford is 18% rye--I just don't taste it.

No whisky in hand, 'cuz it's only 11:45 am ...

Zero

Zero
04-27-2007, 13:31
Quoting Cowdery (http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=45920&postcount=7) regarding mashbills, and Basil Hayden's in particular:

Booker Noe once told me that the mashbill for Beam is 76 percent corn, 13 percent rye and 10 percent malt, while the mashbill for Old Grand-Dad (and Basil Hayden's) is 63 percent corn, 27 percent rye and 10 percent malt.
I reckon that answers my question about BH. 27% rye seems quite plausible to me. I'll have to pick up some OGD!

OscarV
04-27-2007, 14:22
George dickel 80 c 12 r 8 bZero

I just got back from Tennessee, been home a few hours and have a No.12 on the rocks in hand, I went to the Dickel distillery.
According to them Dickel uses 86% corn, 8% rye and 8% barley for all their brands.

barturtle
04-27-2007, 15:57
I just got back from Tennessee, been home a few hours and have a No.12 on the rocks in hand, I went to the Dickel distillery.
According to them Dickel uses 86% corn, 8% rye and 8% barley for all their brands.

Husks and all:lol:

nor02lei
04-28-2007, 09:09
Jack daniels 80 c 12 r 8 b





Evan williams 75 c 13 r 12 b



A typical amount of corn is 75%. I believe the standard Heaven Hill mashbill (which includes Evan Williams, Fighting Cock, and a billion other HH bottlings) is around 13% rye. Chuck Cowdry (Author of 'Bourbon, Straight', a GREAT book on bourbon that includes specific info on Fighting Cock) gives a fairly "standard" bourbon mashbill as 75% corn / 13 % rye.
Zero

When I did visit the HH distillery in Louisville Charles Downs told me the rye recipe mash bill was 78, 10,12 (c,r,b). The white dog he offered me was very sweet tasting. I asked him if this was due to the high corn content but he said that the sweetness came from all the grains.
The JD mash bill is 80,8,12 according to official signs at the visitor centre.

Leif

JeffRenner
05-07-2007, 11:49
At some point a year or two ago, I went through the bourbon books I have that address mash bills, Waymack and Harris's Classic American Whiskeys, the two by Gary and Mardee Regan, and Jim Murray's Classic Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye Whiskey, and posted the mash bills as reported, including conflicting ones. I think it was pretty complete.

A search of the archives should pull this up.

Jeff