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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Traditional Bourbon Bouquet?

    At the recent Festival, a slim magazine called "Spirit of Kentucky" was handed out. Amongst the articles is one reprinted from the 1960's in which a distiller, Thomason, was recalling old-fashioned bourbon such as his company, Willett, still made.

    This article is full of interesting information. One detail given is that traditional whiskey had a typical bouquet, which the writer describes as like a "ripe apple" or other fruits, although he says it is unique.

    He was bemoaning that modern production methods were rubbing out this feature.

    Years ago in the 70's, I recall some bourbons still having a bouquet like that: Yellowstone did, so did the bonded Jim Beams sold in those decanters.

    Does anyone think:

    1) That this characteristic still exists in some bourbons, and if so, which ones?

    2) What might explain that rich fragrant nose he is talking about? He seemed to ascribe it to a high malt content in the mash, but this seems unlikely to me. Those who know beer know that top-fermented mashes produce estery, fruity tastes. Could it be that modern distillers all use bottom yeasts or hybrids at cold temperatures that result in a grainy but un-estery mash and therefore spirit? What else, if not the barley malt or yeast and fermentation type, could explain that savour?


  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Traditional Bourbon Bouquet?

    I don't have much to offer here, except that the author was presumably Thompson Willett, who owned the Willett Distillery.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Traditional Bourbon Bouquet?

    Hello Chuck, kudos on a great article on bottled in bond in the recenf Malt Magazine.

    Finally, I understand what the term means, especially the single season component.

    The person who wrote the article was Charles Thomason, by then in his late 60's/early 70's.
    He had started as a young man before the First War, out of Grade 8. The person you
    mentioned would have been his boss. Willett Distilling was set up in the 1930's I believe,
    and Thomason had worked in the business for years before that.

    Other points mentioned by Thomason relative to fine bourbon:

    The importance of fresh air circulation around the ricks.

    Importance (in his view) of not aging past about 8 years.

    The necessity of keeping yield low, ie. not to take too much finished spirit from the mash, for good body.
    He said big plant whiskey in the 19 60's was too light in body and lacked the characteristic bouquet.

    The need to use a certain amount of barley malt in the mash, also increasingly
    dispensed with by big companie due to cost, he said.

    The importance of using sound wood in cooperage, eg. not from dead or dying trees
    which could give an off- flavour.

    The importance of using lime, not chemicals, to reduce acid levels in the mash tubs.

    . . .

    He said he had no chemistry training except to do a few simple tests, and his father and
    grandfather in the business didn't even know how to do those, they worked by taste and smell,
    and the quality of what they did was matchless. I believe him.




 

 

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