View Full Version : the famile tree of a given bottle of bourbon

05-22-2008, 11:59
* what's the complete taxonomy of a given bottle of bourbon - from the bottle back to the mashbill or beyond? the taxonomy seems to be something like:

bottle > ex: a random bottle of current Pappy 15
release/bottling > ex: a Fall 2006 bottling (making that up...)
expression > ex: Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yr 107proof
brand > ex: Old Rip Van Winkle
distillery > ex: Buffalo Trace
mashbill > ???

* and, for example, what would the complete family tree of a bottle of current Pappy 15/107 be, using whatever the correct taxonomy is?

* and, is there any such existing documented classification for all currently available bourbons - I'd love to see a graphic representatio of this/these tree(s)?

05-22-2008, 12:49
There is no all inclusive list of currently available bottles, attempting to make such a list would be an exercise in futility. There are any number of bottlings that are store brand/ area specific/ etc. Plus what constitutes currently available? There are many bottles still sitting on shelves that haven't been produced in years/decades...

As far as taxonomy is concerned...this is difficult, as many labels change their name slightly from time to time, often without a corresponding change in the UPC which would make it a different product.

While there as some members here who can look at a bottle and point out some speck of ink that makes one bottle an earlier or later representation of a given brand, there is no guide to this, nor are these indicators readily acknowledged by the owners of the brand; hence all of these symbols are nothing more than hearsay.

Probably the most reasonable way to list these would be
Bottling...Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 15yo 107
Bottler...Buffalo Trace

Listing a distiller on this particular bottling is speculation as it could (or could not) contain whiskey from one of three different distilleries.

05-22-2008, 13:16
sure, sure, stopping at the "bottling" level makes sense from a scope perspective. thanks for making the point.

and I like your abbreviated taxonomy of:

bottling >
bottler >
mashbill >

as far as "currently available" goes, I mean - I can buy a bottle from a store somewhere today, or something to that effect.

I've read something to the effect that there are really only 15 unique mashbills out there. is that true, or what? this is interesting...

thanks for the reply.

05-22-2008, 13:38
on second thought, I'd like to see the distillery/ies too (and simply denote whether or not it's speculation and if so - how solid or not).

bottling >
bottler >
distillery >
mashbill >

I'd like to see this mapped out for the top twenty or so choices of what's out there today. just a curiosity, no implied meaning...

05-22-2008, 14:07
I've read something to the effect that there are really only 15 unique mashbills out there. is that true, or what? this is interesting...4 Roses has 10 alone and that is unique. So no the #15 doesn't hold. We were told recently that Old Granddad has a unique yeast from National that is being used in that as well.

The mashbill is another variable just like the water supply that has effect on final product. There are lots of other things done to make a specific brand even from the same mashbill, take off proof is one that comes to mind.

05-23-2008, 07:05
I heard Beam uses only 2 recipes and if memory serves, Harlan told me BT uses 14 various recipes. Memory is a little fuzzy.

05-23-2008, 07:44
As Bobby mentioned, there are quite a variety of things that make each bourbon unique, and the mashbill is just the start. Location in warehouse, type of warehouse, aging period and barrel selection all play a part in addition to many other variables. Each still will produce different results from the same mash as well.

Looking at mashbills, lets see what is known or speculated on:

BT has mentioned in the past 5 mashbill, but one of those is their rye whiskey and one is vodka, so that leaves three: one wheater, one standard ryed and one low rye. Are there more in the works for the BTEC?

Beam has a standard rye and a high rye (the OGD mashbill), plus a rye

Four Roses has their 10

Makers Mark has their one

Old Forester would be one, I believe, Early Times actually contains bourbon mash that I believe is different than the Old Forester mash, but you can't get it by itself (that I know of, or at least in the USA)

Woodford is another one, but the Four Grain makes for another

Heaven Hill...well we don't really know...they have to have at least 5 mashbills, one rye whiskey, one corn whiskey, one wheat whiskey, and two bourbons a rye mash and a wheater...are there more? possibly

Barton...another that little is known about...there was mention that 1792 contained more malt than other bourbons...if so that means they produce at least two...do they still make the rye?

Wild Turkey would be one plus the rye

And what about bourbon that is used as blending agents for non-bourbon: is that just extra stock, or is it specifically distilled for the purpose? Seagram's used to distill a true bourbon for use in Seagram's 7 and Crown is known to use bourbon in its blend and then there are all of the other non-distillery releases, could some of those have a specific mashbill? Unknown, but for some it could be very possible. And some whiskey still on the market is known/believed to contain whiskey that is no longer in production.

This gives us at least 25 separate bourbon mashbills with the possibility of many more. Quite a few of the bottlings can be traced to one specific mashbill or another, but then again many others can't.