View Full Version : Kicking it Gillman Style
After successfully vatting Lot 40 and Beam rye last week to great effect, I thought further experimentation was in order. I recently found a Gooderham & Worts on clearance and picked it up. I find it...okay. Some good rye around the edges, clearly aged in used barrels, allowing the spirit to come through fully. I figured I might as well blend it with Lot 40 and wind up with something more characterful. But then I thought, why stop there?
So, I had two Corby whiskeys. I had Beam rye on hand, and decided to throw in a second Beam whiskey: Knob Creek. The age and extra proof would be welcome, I thought, and I figured it might round out the spirity components of the Canadians. I used equal parts of all four whiskeys.
The resulting blend is heavily floral on the nose, plus some citrus (and salt?). Both lemon and orange come through. The palate is full and lively, with a pleasantly oily component. It is spiced but not heavy on cinnamon or pepper as many straight bourbons or ryes are. The small grain component is clear in that intermittent spice and in the dry, snappy finish. A bit of vanilla and gingerbread try to linger, but to no avail. A very good drink, though I think it would be improved with a higher percentage of the two more characterful whiskeys: KC and Lot 40. Or maybe I just need to lower the ratio of G&W. A successful experiment, if I may say so.
Interesting work there! The thing a bourbon can add is a pleasant vanillin character. Most ryes don't really have that (not sure why, maybe not enough years in the barrel, and of course Lot 40 would not have too much since it is likely aged in reused bourbon wood). The G&W would display the blend due to its lightness and relatively neutral taste. The ryes would add power and a good grainy taste. Kind of like increasing the corn and vanillin in the ryes (the three on their own might be good, maybe where the bourbon is 50% of the total) - making them into a quasi-bourbon, with the Corby's to display and lighten. The perms and combs are almost endless and in my own time of doing this, I will adjust one drink in the glass to get it right.
In late 1800's manuals on the wholesaling of various kinds of whiskey, one can see that straight whiskeys, including rye whiskeys, were used in some typical ways.
First, they were added to neutral spirits or aged neutral spirits to make light blends. This still occurs of course, e.g., with Canadian and American blended whiskey. So one thing you can do with Lot 40 is add it to, say, the G&W to hike its percentage of (speaking broadly) straight whiskeys. In the 1800's, the additions of straight to non-straight whiskeys frequently exceeded 20 or 30% and went all the way up to 90%, in fact, with price following in proportion to the quantity of straight whiskeys.
E.g. pour the G&W in a glass, and add a dash each of Lot 40 (or the Beam rye) and Knob Creek.
I've come up with some excellent, "improved" Canadian whiskeys this way which may resemble the ones first issued some 100 years ago.
Also, rye was added in a small amount (about 5%) to a mingling of two types of bourbon whiskey. While the manuals I've read do not suggest the reverse procedure, you can try it, e.g., mingle the ryes and add 5% (maybe more) of Knob Creek to improve the vanillin base and sweetness.
Or, more in the vein of what I have read from back then, mingle two bourbons 50/50 and add 5% of a hearty rye whiskey. You don't need a lot to make it show its stuff. Essentially it converts those bourbons in higher-rye-recipe bourbons. E.g., 47% KC, ditto of a wheated bourbon perhaps, and 5% or so Lot 40. It is remarkable how Lot 40 can improve the taste of mingled whiskies yet on its own be (for some anyway, I included) daunting to drink on its own. I have done this successfully too with ORVW ryes, its age blends in well in small amount to whiskies of about half its age or less.
Beyond that, the old practices show a range of procedures, each dealer had his own approach but within an overall context. The highest grade was minglings of straight whiskeys: e.g., it might be interesting to mingle just Lot 40 and JB rye and try to come up with the optimum combination (maybe Lot 40 would work better with another kind of rye, though, or maybe it would blend perfectly with a certain bourbon - the Grandad bourbons come to mind, its particular rye flavour might marry well with Lot 40's).
What is interesting (I find) is the range of options granted to the consumer in the 1800's. There was a range of qualities and prices and people could decide what specific blend or mingling suited them if they didn't want to drink bourbon or rye straight (some did evidently but cost played more of a factor then than now). The only thing that matters today is palate, and the only reason to do this (essentially) is to broaden the palate range from materials already in your bunker. In this sense, you can save money, but that is more a bonus for most than anything else I think.
Good info, Gary. I like the 47/47/5 idea. Perhaps KC, Weller 12, and Lot 40. I'll get into some more vatting over the weekend. I have a Scotch vatting and a bourbon vatting bottled going right now. I decided to let them sit a few days to allow the oils in the whiskeys to mingle and become more unified before trying them. I'll post back with results on those.
I ran across Gary Gillman early in my whiskey explorations, and one might say he 'acquired' me as an acolyte early. I believe I created the term, "Gillmanization", during a chatroom session but, if my memory is inaccurate, nonetheless I have been a primary proponent. When I couldn't enjoy, for example, the much-anticipated, barrel-proof 2005 William Larue Weller, I used Gary's example to create a 1:1:1 Weller:Stagg:water vatting that was nothing less than excellent -- and allowed me to finish a not-inexpensive bottle.
Many bourbons/whiskeys are perfect matches for particular situtations/pairings, but on odd occasions, nothing matches -- thus, Gary's philosophy and practice of combining whiskeys/spirits provide the missing element. It also encourages, thankfully, a broad knowledge of all kinds of whisk(e)ys.
Thanks, Tim, and I in turn have learned a lot from you about bourbon. The process of mingling is one that goes on all the time intramurally in distilleries and perhaps more so (e.g., using different source materials) amongst some of the whiskey merchants, i.e., those who obtain supply on the bulk market. There is nothing new in it, nothing novel in it. But it is nice to see people associate me with the practice, which has become a SB custom for some, so thanks again. :) I go through periods with this, but essentially I get tired of the same tastes, and mingling and blending are ways to come up with new ones all the time.
I wouldn't be embarrassed or fain to defend the practice if it was completely original but it isn't, as it happens.
By the way the missing 1% in my Fleischmann 1885 3 whiskey mingling was not an error, in the original the 1% is made up by a sweet binder of some kind, he used various apricot and other fruit-based syrups for which he gave recipes (once again, substantial extracts from the book are reproduced at www.pre-pro.com, look in the site index section under "whiskey recipes"). However this can be replaced by a cube of ice or dispensed with. I generally do not use the sweeteners (for this kind of blend) but there is nothing wrong with using them. It is possible the trade (1880's) used them for colour consistency, too.
Tim, if you want to try the mingling with the sweetener, try using Southern Comfort. In adapting Fleischmann's proportions, it amounts to putting a thin layer in a 26 ounce bottle (barely covering the base) and filling it to the top with the 3-whiskey mingling. In other words, very little of the blending agent is used. You can use more, because in part its effect depends on how sweet it is to begin with, or dispense with it entirely. I find I don't need to add a sweetness element simply because if the mingling is good enough to begin with the whiskey should be sweet enough naturally. But you can try it of occasion, and it provides too a glimpse or window into some whiskey products of the 1800's. Southern Comfort, even though part of it is now bourbon again, works very well for this purpose and is probably made up - apart again from the bourbon addition - in a way similar to what Fleischmann advises for his fruit-derived additions.
I like the idea of SoCo as a sweetening agent in a blend. If I use a sweetening agent, that is.
I wanted to post about the bourbon vatting. By far my best experiment yet.
100 mL 1980s Old Forester BIB - I was nearing the end of this bottle with more in reserve. I like its floral tones, its muscular nature, and the power of the rye/wood combo in peppering the tongue. As a base for a vatting, it makes sense, given the history associated with the brand and the complexity it carries. I'm a big fan of its cherry and orange undertones, too. Which led me to combine it with...
25 mL Knob Creek - Recent editions have had loads of orange tea character, and the consistent proof held some appeal. Also, I thought the chocolate tones this brought to the table might round out the OF, while OF would hold back the barrel notes (not as mellow as some) in this bottle of KC. But once I added the KC, I thought this could use a deeper, more honeyed note than either whiskey could provide, which led me to...
25 mL WTRB - This bottle has honey and leather in spades, while holding on to some orange undertones. More cinnamon and spice than either of the other two whiskeys. And speaking of spice, this needed some, as I thought we might be headed in the direction of a dessert bourbon, so I threw in...
25 mL OGD 114 - Wow! spice attack, some caramel and fruit notes to back it up, and a good, long finish.
All of these whiskeys overlap at the point where deep vanilla, caramel, orange, and spice meet, but they go in different directions, whether floral, peppery, chocolatey, honeyed, etc. The vatting sat for 7 days, but I could wait no longer. I think the oils and other components have melded well, and despite the high proof and spice notes, it strikes a good balance. The nose is still largely floral (owing to the high percentage of OF and the high rye across the board, especially OGD), the palate a balance in keeping with ND OGD (though this is not as deep or rich), and the finish a long, sweet-and-spicy fade (again, not as moving as ND products, but in that vein). I'm not the master of this that Gary is, but I'm enjoying the construction of different taste profiles. Fun and delicious. How can you go wrong?
Tim, if you want to try the mingling with the sweetener, try using Southern Comfort. In adapting Fleischmann's proportions, it amounts to putting a thin layer in a 26 ounce bottle (barely covering the base) and filling it to the top with the 3-whiskey mingling.
If you want to do this on a drink by drink basis, you might want to try an atomizer. Sometimes you can find them in the martini making gadgets section.
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