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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Nor Cal

    Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    While hanging and drinking with the East Bay Bourbon Boys, Roger remarked in passing how BT uses artificial, climate control in their warehouses. I was only aware of Maker's Mark and Old Forester doing this.

    I wanted to bring this up to possibly gather this information in one thread (I did a search and didn't find any consolidated listing of distilleries that use this practice).

    Can anyone tell me who (distillery), what (labels), and when (it begun with the distillery)?

    Also, how would it typically work? In other words, excluding natural summer, how many warm/hot cycles would they add to a given year?
    Last edited by camduncan; 04-11-2009 at 15:00.
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
    -Ernest Tubb

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I might be wrong, but I was under the impression that Four Roses had the only climate controlled warehouses. I've been to BT and MM, and theirs aren't. MM rotates their barrels, but the warehouses are normal. Joe
    " I never met a Weller I didn't like"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Virginia Gentlemen also controls the environment...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Lynchburg, Va

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    How much climate control are we talking here. BT does use steam running threw their warehouses to keep the temperatures at a certain point in the winter. Are you talking about that or artificial seasons.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I recall reading that Old Forester can add a season or so of apparent age to their whiskey by heating in the summer.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  6. #6
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Mt. Washington, KY

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Climate control can be a touchy thing. There are at least two different ways of "controlling" climate in a warehouse:

    1. Temperature control: This involves some sort of heating regime in the colder months ... as it is cost prohibitive to cool in the warmer months. There are at least two methods currently in use to accomplish this ...

    a. I am pretty sure BT uses steam heat to keep the warehouses at a consistant temperature that is warmer than the outside temp during certain cooler months.

    b. I am pretty sure that Brown-Forman uses steam heat to cycle their Louisville warehouse temps during colder months ... meaning they let the temp drop to some pre-set level, then hit the steam to raise the temp to another level ... hold it for some time, then open the windows and let it drop again to the lower limit ... then do it all again... I think 3 or 4 cycles per winter.

    I am fairly certain that 4 Roses also temperature controls their warehouses. I am also pretty sure that no one else in Kentucky does.

    Some say that temperature control speeds up the aging of a bourbon ... I am certainly not sold on that for a number of complex reasons ... However, I am certain that it does change the character of the product ... and as such, it would be difficult to stop doing the process without changing the very nature of the product.

    2. Humidity control: This process involves using some sort of ventilation pattern and air circulation to cause the humidity in all or a portion of the warehouse to drop during the more humid months of the year. Again, there are at least two types of employing this control ...

    a. At Maker's Mark, when climate conditions dictate in the spring, they open windows on certain floors ... (never the top floors) ... and different for differently situated warehouses ... to take advantage of the natural air currents to cause the humidity to be swept from the lower floors ... it then sinks from the upper floors ... thus allowing the upper floors to retain their summer heat without retaining their summer humidity. When the climate again dictates in the fall, the windows are closed for the cooler, less humid months.

    b. At some warehouses at JB, they have large ventilation fans in the ceiling to move air and vents along the ground to let the moist air escape.
    I think this is mostly done in their palletized warehouses... because of naturally poor air circulation due to the barrel stacks.

    I don't know of anyone else that uses humidity control in KY production.

    Of course, Maker's also rotates barrels from upper floors to lower ones about half way through their maturation to account for local variations in the micro-climate within each warehouse. Woodford has also claimed to rotate barrels ... but I think they may be referring to the moving of barrels from their Louisville location to the Woodford County location as rotation.

    Hope this helps.

    "Remember, the BEST bourbon is FREE bourbon ..."

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Adding to what Dave said, Woodford Reserve heat cycles assiduously in a warehouse designed for that purpose more than a century ago. The theory with heat cycling is that the whiskey is essentially dormant during the winter. It never gets warm enough for any expansion into the wood to occur. Woodford slowly brings the temp up to 80-something degrees F, holds it there for a time, then lets it go back to ambient, then repeats it.

    Anyone with masonry warehouses can heat cycle, but not all of them do. It's very difficult to do with steel clad warehouses as you are essentially heating the outdoors, those skins have so little insulation value.

    The ventilated warehouses at Beam are also palletized and windowless, so the fans are the only way to get any air circulation. The big-ass fans they use are manufactured by a company called Big Ass Fans.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Northwest of Peoria

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    ...The big-ass fans they use are manufactured by a company called Big Ass Fans.
    I went to their web site. Somehow I had a different Idea of the fans used to move air in the warehouses. I was imagining duct work and centrifugal high static pressure fans.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    As far as I can remember from my Kentuckytrip 2006 it was only B-F, BT and Woodford that did use heat in there warhouses.

    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Frankfort, KY

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    At about 40 - 45 degrees fahrenheit, the bourbon sits stagnant in the barrels, so to continue the aging process BT runs steam through pipes in the warehouse to increase the temp to about 56 degrees. The last couple of days the windows in warehouse C have been open to provide natural climate control.



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