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  1. #1
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    Blending before barreling...Is it bourbon?

    OK...so I was having this thought, and I realized I don't know the answer:

    If you distill a hypothetical 60-40 corn/rye mash and age it in new oak, you have bourbon. Check.

    If you take a very low-rye (no-rye?) bourbon, and blend it with a 100% rye whiskey in, say a 60-40 ratio, what you have, legally, is a "blend of straight whiskies". Check.

    But if you take a corn mash off the still @ say, 125pf, and then take a 100% rye mash off the still at the same proof, and blend them in a 60-40 ratio, and then put them in new oak and age them, what do you have? Is it bourbon?

    This comes from the discussion of the new Abraham Bowman high-rye release. Some discussions revolve around whether this was a custom mashbill, but I was wondering if they could have just blended BT#1 white dog and Taylor Rye white dog in an appropriate ratio and aged it? Does that make it bourbon?

    Thanks in advance for the replies...

  2. #2
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    Re: Blending before barreling...Is it bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrPeMi View Post
    OK...so I was having this thought, and I realized I don't know the answer:

    If you distill a hypothetical 60-40 corn/rye mash and age it in new oak, you have bourbon. Check.

    If you take a very low-rye (no-rye?) bourbon, and blend it with a 100% rye whiskey in, say a 60-40 ratio, what you have, legally, is a "blend of straight whiskies". Check.

    But if you take a corn mash off the still @ say, 125pf, and then take a 100% rye mash off the still at the same proof, and blend them in a 60-40 ratio, and then put them in new oak and age them, what do you have? Is it bourbon?

    This comes from the discussion of the new Abraham Bowman high-rye release. Some discussions revolve around whether this was a custom mashbill, but I was wondering if they could have just blended BT#1 white dog and Taylor Rye white dog in an appropriate ratio and aged it? Does that make it bourbon?

    Thanks in advance for the replies...
    What you've got there is called "whisky." For a technical answer, you will have to consult the regulations (27 CFR 5.22).

    In your hypothetical, a whisky produced from a 100% corn mashbill and a whisky produced from a 100% rye mashbill would be blended and aged in new charred oak barrels. Note that making whisky without malt is only possible if enzymes normally contributed by the malt are separately added.

    Before mixing, you would have would could become "bourbon whisky" and "rye whisky." The regulations below define the different styles by reference to the fermented mash. Therefore, the 100% corn whisky would be "bourbon whisky" (it could also be characterized as corn whisky) and the 100% rye whisky would be "rye whisky."

    (1)
    (i) “Bourbon whisky”, “rye whisky”, “wheat whisky”, “malt whisky”, or “rye malt whisky” is whisky produced . . . from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively . . . and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.
    If you mix the two of them together before aging, however, all you've got is "whisky."

    First, the regulations above only allow the blending of "whiskies of the same type." In this example, you are blending two different types of whisky and so the resulting mixture cannot be called either "bourbon" or "rye" whisky.

    Further, it can't even be called "blended whisky" or "a blend of straight whiskies" because it hasn't been aged before mixing. Neither the bourbon or rye had been aged two years before blending and so could not be called "straight bourbon whisky" or "straight rye whisky," respectively. Because the elements of the blend were not "straight," the blend doesn't fulfill the requirements of either "blended whisky" or "a blend of straight whiskies."

    (iii) Whiskies conforming to the standards prescribed in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section, which have been stored in the type of oak containers prescribed, for a period of 2 years or more shall be further designated as “straight”; for example, “straight bourbon whisky”, “straight corn whisky” . . .

    (4) “Blended whisky” (whisky—a blend) is a mixture which contains straight whisky or a blend of straight whiskies at not less than 20 percent on a proof gallon basis . . . and, separately, or in combination, whisky or neutral spirits.

    (5)
    (i) “A blend of straight whiskies” (blended straight whiskies) is a mixture of straight whiskies which does not conform to the standard of identify for “straight whisky.”
    The catch-all category for liquor distilled from grain at less than 190 proof is "whisky," which is the only available category. You can see that it even allows for "mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed."

    (b) Class 2; whisky. “Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190 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 proof, and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.
    Last edited by jsrudd; 08-10-2015 at 23:26.

  3. #3
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    Re: Blending before barreling...Is it bourbon?

    The short answer is no, with deference to jsrudd who explained it very thoroughly above. The reason being is the proscriptive words "produced from" in the defining legislation.

    It's a distinction lawyers draw between words of limitation (no more than 160 proof off the still though it can be less), and, words of proscription (51% rye in the mashbill means it's a rye, period).

    In short, it is what it is based on the mashbill at time of distillation and no subsequent blending will change that. Is a blending of diverse mashbills prior to aging a good idea? Of course it is, the results can be very good and the product is in no way diminished by being simply called whisky.

    If I were a producer using sourced product I would certainly consider blending different ones together and labeling them Kentucky Style Whisky or Maryland Style or Pennsylvania Style depending on which grain percentage was prominent overall. I believe we're past the time when customers would be overly concerned with the fact the label doesn't specify Bourbon or Rye.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  4. #4
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    Re: Blending before barreling...Is it bourbon?

    Great...thanks to jsrudd and squire for the clarification...

 

 

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