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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    When Tom Bulleit first developed Bulleit Bourbon, at Buffalo Trace, he touted it as "reengineered" bourbon, and what he described was heat cycling. Woodford practices it pretty religiously. Both Brown-Forman and Buffalo Trace not so much, as Fred descibes in BT's case. I think at both places they have looked at the cost of heating those spaces versus the actual benefit. I wouldn't be surprised if their commitment to heat cycling varied with the cost of energy.

    There are other factors to consider. The people with masonry warehouses heat them because they can. Keeping the temperature above 56, for example, isn't exactly duplicating summer conditions but it does promote some activity in the whiskey and makes the working environment more comfortable for the warehouse hands.

  2. #12
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I am not totally sold on the benefits of "heat cycling" warehouses ... I have been told by some that heat cycling is a was to accelerate the maturation process of whiskey ... I'm not buying it ...

    The way I see it, there are two parts to the maturation process ... extraction and reaction. Extraction is the process of the whiskey moving in and out of the wood and dragging many wood chemicals with it. Reaction is the complex series of chemical reactions that take place between the wood chemicals, the grain chemicals, water, and oxygen to develop the rich character of aged whiskey. While the extraction process does not have to be complete first, it does need to lead the reaction phase ... and it helps to consider them as separate, sequential phases.

    The only substantial way to speed up the reaction phase is to catalyze it ... eiter with natural enzymes or chemical catalysts ... no one is doing either of these ... and probably never will. Heating up the product can have a net posative effect ... but it would have to be prolonged and substantial ... also not likely to happen in any substantive way.

    Some would say that changing the char level or heat cycling a warehouse will speed up the extraction phase of the process. Extraction is essentially driven by temperature differentials ... there is a macro level and a micro level. The macro level is far more important in the aging process ... In the macro level, the driving force is the difference between the hottest temperature that the barrels see and the coldest one during a year. In uncontrolled warehouses, that would be about 100 to 120 degrees F... we call that the di-urnal temperature swing. If you cycle warehouses like B-F, you are exchanging one large di-urnal swing for a handfull of much smaller swings ... maybe one 50 to 60 degree swing and three or four 20 to 30 degree swings. If you cycle like BT, you exchange the big swing for one smaller swing ... maybe 60 degrees. The depth of penetration and extract zone is proportional to the differential as well as to the time the product sees the extremes... so I'm not buying that heat cycling speeds up maturation at all.

    However, on a micro level, heat cycling probably does cause several shallow extraction swings ... Note that the carmel is virtually all located very close to the inside surface of the barrel ... and will extract very quickly and easily. Hence, cycling will probably result in more carmel and a darker product ... but probably less complex than a non-cycled product... and the darker color can lead one to believe that maturation has been sped up.

    The only way I know to really speed up extraction is to increase the surface area to volume ratio of the barrel ... that is use smaller barrels for aging. Usually this is cost prohibitive, because a small barrel costs just about as much as a bigger one ... But Dan Garrison has it right down in TX at the Garrison Brothers Distillery ... and early evidence is that it is working.
    Dave

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

  3. #13
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I was suprised when I first learned that heating the rick houses was done.
    It seems like it is not the "natural" thing to do.
    And one of bourbon's first appeal to me was it's all natural process.
    ovh

  4. #14
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Geek View Post

    Hope this helps.
    Very helpful and comprehensive. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    I was suprised when I first learned that heating the rick houses was done.
    It seems like it is not the "natural" thing to do.
    And one of bourbon's first appeal to me was it's all natural process.
    Same here! That's why I asked.
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
    -Ernest Tubb

  5. #15
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I recently picked up the book Bourbon at its best by Ron Givens. He says Buffalo trace keeps their warehouses at 50 degrees during winter and quotes Elmer T. Lee as saying "You can achieve about a six year equivalent of aging in four years or at the end of six years you can archive the equivalent of about eight years of aging in a unheated warehouse."
    He goes on to describe Brown-Forman. "During colder weather, the distillery puts its warehouses in Louisville and Versailles through hot-and-cold cycles of about two weeks in duration. All the floors are heated to 90 degress; then the windows are opened so that the warehouse cools to about 70 degrees. "
    He goes on to quote Chris Morris as saying,"" We can get 11 or 12 cycles during the wintertime."

  6. #16
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Quote Originally Posted by independant View Post
    He goes on to describe Brown-Forman. "During colder weather, the distillery puts its warehouses in Louisville and Versailles through hot-and-cold cycles of about two weeks in duration. All the floors are heated to 90 degress; then the windows are opened so that the warehouse cools to about 70 degrees. "
    He goes on to quote Chris Morris as saying,"" We can get 11 or 12 cycles during the wintertime."
    I have often wonderwed why I don't like Brown-Forman's whiskeys.

    Could this be the answer?
    ovh

  7. #17
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Oscar's dislike not withstanding, perhaps that's why they put out whiskeys (at least from Louisville) that seem to taste older than their stated age, even (or especially) the BiB.
    Last edited by Josh; 04-15-2009 at 12:39.
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  8. #18

    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    I can offer one more hint: We've put a few barrels in the barn at 114 proof and a few more in there that were just 60% full. At just one year, the results are outstanding. Head space in the barrel has really nice effects on the levels of vanillin, furfurall and oak lactone extraction.

  9. #19
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    I have often wonderwed why I don't like Brown-Forman's whiskeys.

    Could this be the answer?
    I don't care for Old Forester. It tastes just the way bourbon should taste, but, to me, it lacks any singularity that really sets it apart from the crowd. In a sense, this is an accomplishment and I don't mean to denigrate the brand, but that style just isn't my cup of tea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Geek View Post
    The way I see it, there are two parts to the maturation process ... extraction and reaction.........

    I'm wondering, along these lines, if artificial cycling and climate controlled warehouses tend to produce whiskeys that are, as I find OF, everything it should be, but still somehow lacking. The monkey wrench in that theory is that I very much like BT products. Perhaps too much artificial cycling is a bad thing.

  10. #20
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    Re: Climate Controlled Warehouses--Who Does It?

    Bourbon Geek said, "The only way I know to really speed up extraction is to increase the surface area to volume ratio of the barrel ... that is use smaller barrels for aging."


    I was looking at some half barrels at a home improvement store to use as planters and they had some barrels from Europe somewhere that had rounded grooves in the barrel staves. Why not add groves of some sort to bourbon barrels and increase the surface area?
    Last edited by tommyboy38; 06-08-2009 at 06:04.
    "Brownest of the brown liquors..so tempting. What's that? You want me to drink you? But I'm in the middle of a trial!" L. Hutz

 

 

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