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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    What happens to bad barrels?

    If a barrel is aged and then opened and the whiskey inside is not up to standards when it is ready to be dumped, what happens to the substandard whiskey? I know Jack Daniels often markets some of the less-good barrels as the green label stuff, but what do other distilleries do? And what happens if they open a barrel and the contents somehow really went bad that it's not even drinkable? I would imaging dumping ~53gal of whiskey would cut into profits a bit.
    If you have anything Michter's or Pennco and would like to sell it or share it with me, please let me know.

  2. #2
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    It's $$$. It goes in a bottle. A lot of the labels we like are blends of barrels and they often hope to blend to get a consistent flavor from year to year. That blend includes barrels some may not like as well as others. Keep in mind, different people have different tastes. A barrel I love, you may not like at all.

  3. #3
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    Quote Originally Posted by loose proton View Post
    It's $$$. It goes in a bottle. A lot of the labels we like are blends of barrels and they often hope to blend to get a consistent flavor from year to year. That blend includes barrels some may not like as well as others. Keep in mind, different people have different tastes. A barrel I love, you may not like at all.
    I think he means about whiskey that didn't "mature" or "age," but whiskey that rotted in the barrel. I don't think that's really possible, but like what was said, the 'less quality' stuff is saved and blended with a different label or saved for blending with the original label in mind.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    In general it all gets rationed away in various bottlings. JD Green is actually whiskey from the lowest floors, an area of the rickhouse that they don't use for JD Black, SB or Gentleman. In a worst case scenario, it would be sent to be redistilled for industrial alcohol (or maybe vodka, not much difference) and the empty barrel sold off just like any other. The losses would be minimal. Remember the biggest cost of selling whiskey (after taxes) is packaging (or maybe marketing or shipping, but it's not the raw materials, that's for certain)
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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

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  5. #5
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    Interesting. I know that most places blend several barrels to hide the abnormalities, but I was unsure what happend to the real bad stuff (went bad in the barrel, didn't mature, some type of contamination, etc.). How often do barrels spring a leak before they are mature and what happens to that whiskey? I know that some seepage, Angel's share, is normal, but what happens when they begin to drip?
    If you have anything Michter's or Pennco and would like to sell it or share it with me, please let me know.

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    Barrels are extremely well made these days. Only Buffalo Trace still claims to have people chase after leaks, and IIRC they only do that annually.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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

    I'm no Pappyophile

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    Barrels are extremely well made these days. Only Buffalo Trace still claims to have people chase after leaks, and IIRC they only do that annually.
    Maker's Mark also has a very aggressive leak hunting program.

    Whether you do or don't depends on how you look at things ... if you make gobs and keep a looser control on inventory, you look at it from a lost cost of production ... and it is not cost appropriate to leak hunt because it generally costs more to leak hunt than to make replacement whiskey.

    If, on the other hand, you manage inventories tightly, you tend to look at the lost product as a lost opportunity cost ... and the lost profit potential dwarfs the cost of leak hunting ... so you hunt and repair till the cows come home.
    Dave

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

  8. #8
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    There seem to be a couple of answers to "what happens to bourbon gone bad?"

    Many of today's distilleries have quite a line-up of products ... some top shelf, and some bottom shelf. Frequently, off spec whiskey (for the top shelf products) is used for the bottom shelf products ... which have a much looser specification.

    For companies without a long product line, the issue becomes one of integrity and economics. Sometimes, if it isn't too bad ... and the product is not a single barrel product ... the offending stuff is mixed in to the good stuff at a very low rate ... say 5% or less per bottling batch.... hoping the consumer will not notice. Other times, the offending product is disposed of either by sending it to a waste water plant, or by sending it to a reprocessing facility that processes it for other uses.

    If my count is correct, I have personally sent off about 175 barrels of maturing spirit for reprocessing ... and about another 80 to 100 of off spec new make whiskey ... before it even hit the barrel.
    Dave

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

  9. #9
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    Very interesting info. I wondered what exactly made it into bottles and what didn't.
    If you have anything Michter's or Pennco and would like to sell it or share it with me, please let me know.

  10. #10
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    Re: What happens to bad barrels?

    I was talking to a farmer who sold corn to one of the distilleries (can't remember which one) and he said that if the distillery rejected the corn because it was low quality then they would just take it down the street to the Corn Flakes factory. Could be rumor, but I would imagine Kellogg would have a lower standard for corn than a bourbon distillery.
    Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better.

 

 

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