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  1. #31
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    I'm pretty sure Joshua was kidding.

    Maybe we've just muddied the water with all this. Maybe I can obscure it even more.

    First, Jack Daniel's defined Tennessee whiskey. Dickel just follows Daniel's lead.

    Second, Tennessee whiskey is bourbon, but Daniel's preferred to call it Tennessee whiskey to be distinctive and to highlight what they do differently, which is the charcoal mellowing, but the charcoal mellowing does not disqualify it from being called bourbon.

    Third, virtually all American whiskey distillers use setback, which is the sour mash process.

    Fourth, when the sour mash process was introduced was right about the time whiskeys started to be branded and widely distributed (before then, they were strictly locally-made). Sour mash was a point of difference and came to be considered "the good stuff," so even long after everyone adopted the technique, some brands continued to call it out.

    Fifth, as Smokinjoe wrote, I too have always considered charcoal mellowing to jump start the aging process. It doesn't do anything aging in charred barrels doesn't do, it just gives the whiskey a head start.

    Sixth, it's not specific to bourbon. It's used straight rye production too.

    As for micro-distillers, I don't know any who use sour mash. They all use sweet mash, which is not so much a technique as it is simply the absence of sour mash.
    Chuck

    Your contradicting your own book page 16. "Two of the most popular products in the bourbon category-Jack Daniels and George Dickel-are not bourbons at all. They are Tennessee whiskey." also the entire chapter 15.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  2. #32
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    George and Jack even burn their maple wood differently to produce the charcoal.
    Jack burns it under a hood, George burns it open air, they say the open air method releases impurities.
    I visited the JD distillery in 2007 and was told that
    they had to install the hoods over the burning charcoal
    at the request of EPA (?? - I can't recall the specific
    agency mentioned.) Wouldn't Dickel be subject to
    similar regulations?

  3. #33
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    It's on the site some where the TTB issued a letter to JD saying they had reviewed his product and procedure and his product could not be listed as a bourbon..... I'm paraphrasing the actual quote is on here some place. It in an " discussion" between Bourbonv and Cowdery.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  4. #34
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    I believe JD initiated the request. They were quite happy with the response.
    Dave G.

  5. #35
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by silverfish View Post
    I visited the JD distillery in 2007 and was told that
    they had to install the hoods over the burning charcoal
    at the request of EPA (?? - I can't recall the specific
    agency mentioned.) Wouldn't Dickel be subject to
    similar regulations?
    Dickel probably burns one tree for every hundred thousand that Daniel's does.
    ovh

  6. #36
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    Allow me to futher confuse the issue.
    Fact: No kind of flavoring can be added to boubon.
    Jack claims that the maple charcoal adds flavor.
    Forgot about that. Soo, no? Since it's maple and not oak?

  7. #37
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by ODaniel View Post
    Forgot about that. Soo, no? Since it's maple and not oak?
    Both Jack and George claim they use Sugar Maple and the trees are cut at a certain time of year for the maximum sweetness and thats why it adds flavor.

    But if you are saying/asking that if it was oak charcoal would that be OK?
    I dunno, but I would think that it would kill the purpose since the White Dog is going into oak barrels anyway, so why bother.

    OK guys, both of dem thar guys down yonder in TN don't want to be called bourbon.
    I say good, cuz to me they don't taste like bourbon.
    Jack is odd, George is different, at least that is my humble opinion.
    ovh

  8. #38
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Bourbon Geek's understanding of the matter is the same as mine.

    Some of this is splitting hairs, but often in legal cases, millions of dollars hinge on splitting hairs. In the book I went with the official line, that Jack is not a bourbon, even though it dominates the bourbon category. It's a neat irony and also forces people to come to grips with ambiguity. We talk about bourbon as synonymous with American Whiskey, yet the world's favorite bourbon eschews the term. That's pretty neat.

    I can find nothing in the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits Products that would prevent Jack Daniel's or George Dickel from being called bourbon. For all intents and purposes, Jack Daniel's is bourbon. The only reason it doesn't say "bourbon" on the label is because its makers thought there were advantages to not calling it bourbon, and they turned out to be right.

    A lesson, perhaps, for fledgling micro-distillers.

    The problem is, people see that Jack Daniel's isn't a bourbon and assume there must be some reason that it can't be called bourbon. It never occurs to them that the producer sees an advantage in not calling it bourbon.

    The only statement on the matter by the Treasury Department, that letter to Reagor Motlow (sought by him), does not say Jack Daniel's cannot be called bourbon. It says Jack Daniel's is different enough that it doesn't have to be called bourbon. It give Daniel's permission to just use the more general category designation of "whisky."

    As for the StraightBourbon FAQ, I'm not responsible for that (I'm a guest here like everybody else), and it's wrong.
    Last edited by cowdery; 10-15-2009 at 16:58.

  9. #39
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by p_elliott View Post
    It's on the site some where the TTB issued a letter to JD saying they had reviewed his product and procedure and his product could not be listed as a bourbon..... I'm paraphrasing the actual quote is on here some place. It in an " discussion" between Bourbonv and Cowdery.
    Your paraphrase changes the meaning in a small but very significant way. The pertinent part of the letter is: "it has been concluded that the whiskey in question has neither the characteristics of bourbon or rye whiskey but rather is a distinctive product which may be labeled whiskey."

    (emphasis mine)

    In other words, you may use the classification "whiskey" without using a regulated modifier such as bourbon. It says "may," not "must," which makes all the difference in the world.
    Last edited by cowdery; 10-16-2009 at 02:43.

  10. #40
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    Re: Is sour mash a bourbon?

    IMO, Charcoal filtering can produce SOME similar results as aging in a char barrel depending on the charcoal. One function of any charcoal/charred-wood is to remove certain types of chemical compounds that can impart negative (or sometimes positive) flavors. For more info, google "activated charcoal" where you will find charcoal acts as a "decolorizing" agent. Chemically, for products like we're discussing, it removes more complex compounds with "electron conjugation" and many of these compounds are what impart color. I think it does NOT remove fusels. As with any process through which the product is subjected, charcoal filtering and charcoal aging can impart their own flavors to the finished goods.

    There are some people that insist "bourbon" should be from certain counties in Kentucky though I do not see this in the Fed code for drink labels listed below (27 CFR chap 1, part 5, subpart C sec. 5.22).

    Hopefully this link works. For the current definition as of Jan. 1, 2008 under BATF, see: http://frwebgate6.access.gpo.gov/cgi...ction=retrieve

 

 

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