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  1. #1
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    Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Last night I noodded off in front of the TV. (It's easy to lose track of time while watching the continuous coverage of the war.) Before I zonked, glass in hand (I didn't spill a drop while I napped ), I drank about three quarters of a generous pour (2-3 ounces) of Corner Creek in an EWSB rocks glass.

    When I awoke a couple of hours later, the remaining bourbon had turned cloudy. It tasted funny, too, but that could be because of the condition of my mouth after sleeping a while.

    Does anyone know what sort of change took place? Why would this bourbon undergo a change so significant in such a short time when I've had others hold up after sitting out all night?

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  2. #2
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    It's called "flock"...

    Distilleries "Chill Filter" their bourbon before bottling to remove the flock...the general public will not drink it when flock has occured...There have been several discussions about this...I don't recall which forum that it's in...

    Heaven Hill chill filters...others who "say" that they don't...well...they add tremendous amounts of carbon to their bourbon to prevent flock...That is straight from the "Chief" (Mike Sonne) of the Lab...at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc...

    Bettye Jo

  3. #3
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Bettye Jo,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I was under the impression that the appearance of flock is triggered by cool temperature. Am I mistaken about that? I didn't have the heat on last night, but I'm pretty sure that the indoor temp didn't drop below 65 degrees F.

    I also recall that haze or flock does not occur in higher proof bourbons, those 100 proof and above, IIRC. If that is so, then perhaps the temperature at which flock occurs varies depending on how low the proof is.

    I think someone suggested that Corner Creek's tinted bottle may have been adopted to hide the haze from the customer's view (or, to put it more positively, to allow it to be bottled and sold with all its flavor still inact). I wonder whether it is more prone to haze than other bourbons of similar proof. Could it be that wheaters are flockier than rye recipes?

    I'll do a search, and maybe I'll find the answers to some of my questions.

    BTW, you mentioned adding carbon. Wouldn't that violate the law regarding the purity of bourbon?

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  4. #4
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Bettye Jo,

    You are right; this topic has been discussed before at length in at least two threads, "Charcoal Filtration" and "storage of Bourbon".

    After skimming those threads I'm still not sure whether there's something different about Corner Creek (and wheaters in general) in regard to flock.

    I didn't see anything about how cold it has to get before flock appears, either. However, you mentioned in one of the above threads that Heaven Hill filters at 17 degrees. I would guess that's the temperature at which nearly all of the amino acids that cause flock will conceal, allowing them to be filtered out. That leaves unanswered the question as to what temperature causes the onset of flock.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  5. #5
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Dave,
    I notice this every once and a while when I leave an unfinished glass of bourbon next to the computer overnight. I guess it could be "flock", but I rekoned that it was from evaporation of the water in the bourbon, leaving behind the impurities, tannins, cogeners, etc...

  6. #6
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Funny, I have never had this experience. When I leave a dram (sorry, but this Scots talk works) overnight, it never clouds although in most cases I cover the glass with a saucer, so that may explain it.

    Where I notice flocculation is when I mix whiskies, even of the same type (e.g. this occurred when I mixed George Dickel regular with the older, 10 year old). There must be something about different whiskies, or rather their combination, that causes deposits to be made that otherwise would not occur.

    I don't know why this is. I do know that volatility (e.g. of congeners) can change if whiskey is mixed with water or steam. What happens is, the temperature at which some congeners will become volatile is altered when distillate (at least) is mixed notably with water. This is the principle of extractive distillation as applied to whisky, and is a Canadian standard method (as the middle distillation of three typically done) to remove what are regarded as undesirable flavours.

    Could air getting into straight whiskey lead to congeners leaving the mixture, thus affecting its clarity? I don't know..

    Is there a chemist in the house..?

    Cy

  7. #7
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Chris (our chemist) was gone Friday...I need to get in there early...He works first and I work second...I was going to ask him about the sulfites in bourbon...I will ask at what temp. does flock occur...I don't know the answer...

    I have experienced flock in a entire (filled bottles) line of bourbon...I had to pump it all back and start another order...I wondered why it happened because the temp. in the bottlinghouse was close to the temp. in the tank room...not a great deal of difference...I did not ask why...I just fixed the problem on the line and went on...

    I asked the same question about carbon...and he told me...if they are not chill filerting they are adding extreme amounts of carbon...We chill filter...he said and I QUOTE...I would rather filter, instead of adding carbon to it--He also told me that they will do one method or the other...or run the risk of all the bourbon being returned...the average consumer will not buy, much less drink bourbon that has flocked...

    I will ask your question on Monday...

    Jeff---the white residue that is left in the bottom of the glass is flock...you cannot filter all of it out...

    Bettye Jo

  8. #8
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    Thanks, Bettye Jo, and I wonder if the chemist might have an opinion on whether it is possible to clarify whiskey that has gone cloudy but won't clear naturally (ie. by gravity). I have some bottles two or three decades old that are milky cloudy, the kind of flock you referred to. This flock holds in suspension. I wonder if it is possible to add something to precipitate down that flock? The Byrn distillation book (1875) suggests adding "alum" to spirits to clarify them. I am not sure what alum is, how to find it, or whether it would work.. This whiskey tastes okay, but as you said, it is off-putting to drink a noticeably cloudy beverage. Thanks for any suggestions he may have.

    Cy

  9. #9
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    I've read the other responses and while flock may account for the cloudy appearance, it doesn't account for the taste change. That's oxidation. (I hesitate slightly, because I'm not a chemist, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.) Also, in that situation (open glass) the alcohol should (again, chemists should feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) evaporate before the water, it being more volatile. The alcohol component of any beverage alcohol is "pure" (i.e., alcohol is alcohol) so the "other stuff" is in the water portion, which is left behind when the alcohol drifts off.

    I say all this with slightly less confidence than I usually feel, but I think I've got it more or less right.

    Plus, Dave, you probably drank more of it than you think you did. (I know I always do.)

  10. #10
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    Re: Rapid Deterioration of Poured Bourbon

    I made a print out of your post and Chuck's post...I will ask him tomorrow...

    The flock I'm talking about occurs with the temp...not time...

    Oxidation is what happens through time and not a good seal?...Shoot far, I ain't a chemist. But I know where one is and I'll fetch him for ya.

    Here in Kentucky...a lot of us would gag choke and puke before we would drink any of that stuff...

    Bettye Jo,Kentucky back room--Chemist speakin' in layman's terms

 

 

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