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  1. #1
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    When does whiskey become whiskey?

    We were at the Michigan Brewing Co in Webberville, MI yesterday.
    Had a couple of flights that were the most enjoyable beer flights I think I ever had.
    Two stood out remarkable well,...
    (I'm getting to the whiskey question )
    Russian Imperial Stout awesome chocolate and coffee flavors. Also the Celis White, it reminded me Aase Christmas beer. Both of these beers had a strange effect on me, I had this kind of sad feeling to see Winter go away, I chalk it up to temporary insanity, I've having a lot of this lately.

    OK, the whiskey question.
    This brewery also produces spirits, vodka, gin and something called Corn Whiskey.
    I asked if this whiskey was aged and for how long, they said it wasn't aged.
    I saw it in the gift shop on the way out and it looked just like their vodka and gin.
    Hence my question in the thread title.
    Shouldn't this stuff be called White Dog?
    There has to more to it than that, I should have asked more about it but I could tell what little I did ask was sort of confusing to the person.
    ovh

  2. #2
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    According to the TTB it is whiskey as soon as it comes off the still, but it stops being whiskey if you add too much water to it before bottling. No aging is required:

    Corn Whisky

    Whisky produced at not exceeding 80% alcohol by volume (160 proof) from a fermented mash of not less than 80 percent corn and if stored in oak containers stored at not more than 62.5% alcohol by volume (125 proof) in used or uncharred new oak containers and not subjected in any manner to treatment with charred wood.

    I placed the emphasis on "if".

    The general definition of "whisky" is

    Spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)

    So whiskey in general can come off the still at 190 proof, but it can't then be bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, wheat whiskey, malt whiskey, rye malt whiskey, or corn whiskey, since none of those can be distilled to more than 160 proof.
    Last edited by craigthom; 04-11-2010 at 10:33.

  3. #3
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Excellent question. I don't know if there are any industry standards or regulatory guidance to determine that. I'll take a wild uneducated guess and say as soon as it makes it into the spirit tank, it's whiskey. It's called "white dog" or other names to indicate it's newborn whiskey.

    I think it would be less confusing if unprocessed spirit was called X-whiskey, where X is the descriptive name that lets you know where the spirit is in the generally accepted process of producing a finished product. For example; New make whiskey, one-year old whiskey (one year in a cask). After proper aging according to law its now bourbon or rye or whatever. When it reaches perfection it should be called, "Succubus straight bourbon whiskey/Rye/whatever. (I stole Succubus from Josh. I firmly believe this word has a valid place in the bourbon industry)
    Often I am forced to deal with the fact that I prefer bourbon over dealing with facts.

  4. #4
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    I got my information from the TTB Web site and this handy chart, which shows the legal definitions of all kinds of spirits.

    My favorite is still vodka:

    Neutral spirits distilled or treated
    after distillation with charcoal or
    other materials so as to be without
    distinctive character, aroma, taste
    or color

    So if you can taste the difference, it can't be sold as vodka in the U.S.

  5. #5
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Excellent reference chart for a beginner in this world; thanks for posting it and facilitating at least my education.

    Never have liked vodka much myself due to its lack of taste. Hmmm . . . that must be why I prefer whisky!
    Sandy

    "Always carry a large flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake." W. C. Fields

  6. #6
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Only corn whiskey can be whiskey once it comes off the still. All other whiskey must be stored in oak to be whiskey. However, there is no minimum amount of time for oak storage, so as soon as you pour it into the barrel, it is whiskey.

  7. #7
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by sku View Post
    Only corn whiskey can be whiskey once it comes off the still. All other whiskey must be stored in oak to be whiskey. However, there is no minimum amount of time for oak storage, so as soon as you pour it into the barrel, it is whiskey.
    That's not true, according to the TTB document I quoted in message #2. You may want to reread the part I quoted and follow the link to the document itself.

    It paraphrase the regulation, if you ferment any grain or combination of grains and distill it to no more than 190 proof, the result is whiskey.

    This means you can make a mash of 51% corn, 30% rye, and 19% malted barley, ferment it, distill it, and get whiskey right off the still. It won't be bourbon whiskey unless it is distilled at no more than 160 proof and put in new charred white oak barrels at no more than 125 proof, but it will still be whiskey.

  8. #8
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    OK, the whiskey question.
    This brewery also produces spirits, vodka, gin and something called Corn Whiskey.
    I asked if this whiskey was aged and for how long, they said it wasn't aged.
    I saw it in the gift shop on the way out and it looked just like their vodka and gin.
    Hence my question in the thread title.
    Shouldn't this stuff be called White Dog?
    There has to more to it than that, I should have asked more about it but I could tell what little I did ask was sort of confusing to the person.
    So they're making Corn Whiskey now, eh? Did you try any? Virgina Lightning, my favorite unaged corn whiskey has, unfortunately, been taken off the state list now. Luckily I got some at Binny's.

    I'll bring some over sometime if you ever wanna taste.
    bibamus, moriendum est
    Sipology Blog

  9. #9
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by craigthom View Post
    That's not true, according to the TTB document I quoted in message #2. You may want to reread the part I quoted and follow the link to the document itself.

    It paraphrase the regulation, if you ferment any grain or combination of grains and distill it to no more than 190 proof, the result is whiskey.

    This means you can make a mash of 51% corn, 30% rye, and 19% malted barley, ferment it, distill it, and get whiskey right off the still. It won't be bourbon whiskey unless it is distilled at no more than 160 proof and put in new charred white oak barrels at no more than 125 proof, but it will still be whiskey.
    I think they used a paraphrase on the chart. The federal regulations define whiskey as follows:

    "Whisky" is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190[degrees] proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers (except that corn whisky need not be so stored), and bottled at not less than 80[degrees] proof, and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.

    27 CFR 5.22(b), so oak storage is a part of the definition.

  10. #10
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    Re: When does whiskey become whiskey?

    Quote Originally Posted by sku View Post
    Only corn whiskey can be whiskey once it comes off the still. All other whiskey must be stored in oak to be whiskey. However, there is no minimum amount of time for oak storage, so as soon as you pour it into the barrel, it is whiskey.
    Steve is exactly right. Additionally, for 'whiskey' it does not have to be a new charred barrel, it can be used and the aging can be very brief. For bourbon whiskey, rye whiskey, malt whiskey, etc., it has to be new and charred. The aging can be brief, but brief aging in a new barrel is expensive.

    If people want to use the title "white whiskey," it actually has to touch the inside of a barrel, but it can be aged for a day. That's what people are doing, a very short aging in a used barrel that doesn't change the color significantly but entitles you to call it whiskey.

    Some people are making and selling grain spirits that have not touched wood at all but they can't call them Whiskey. They're labeled Grain Spirits, not Whiskey.

    Some of the micro-distilleries don't understand the law while others don't understand why the government should be able to tell them what they can call something, so some of them are sowing disinformation.
    Last edited by cowdery; 04-11-2010 at 20:57.

 

 

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