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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
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    Who rotates barrels?

    Which distilleries rotate their barrels throughout the aging process? I took a tour of Maker's Mark not too long ago, and the guide explained that MM has to keep one-third of each rack house (?) open in order to shift the stock around over time. My understainding is that some distilleries, like Jim Beam, take stock from several parts of the warehouse in order to achieve the same effect as rotation in each batch.

    Tommy

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    It used to be that all barrels were rotated. Now it's a rare occurrence at all distilleries. The need to rotate is primarily determined by the size of your production. A smaller producer (like Maker's or Labrot and Graham) has to do some rotation, because they don't have enough stock to always "fix it in the mix." A company like Beam or Heaven Hill can make good use of whiskey that has aged too quickly or too slowly and still hit their flavor profiles. Rotation, as you can imagine, is very labor intensive, hence costly.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Rotation...Long gone at Heaven Hill...

    Another "Long gone" duty that was someone's job...Leak hunter...that's all the guy did was look for leaks...That job no longer exists...Now, it's the duty of everyone who loads in the warehouse to watch and report leaks...If they find one the cooper takes care of it...

    Bettye Jo

  4. #4
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Bettye Jo,

    Does a leak ever stop on its own, or do they always get worse? Are leaks a safety concern, or is the loss of product the main issue? (I would think that a few leaks might add to the enjoyment of a tour of the facility. )

    This reminds me of my Titan II days. The fuel and oxidizer were both highly corrosive. Every missile developed tiny leaks, which we monitored at least daily until they reached a critical level.

    (Let's see ... Where's my copy of BobbyC's checklist? Oh yeah, ...)

    Do longer aged products, such as an Elijah Craig 18 year-old or a George T. Stagg become more prone to leaks during their later years in the barrel? Or do leaks tend to develop in the early years, if at all?

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  5. #5
    Virtuoso
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Are leaks the "worm's share" ?

  6. #6
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    Midland, MI
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    >Are leaks the "worm's share" ?

    Now *that* is comedy.

    HUZZAH!


    Tim

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    I don't have anything to back it up but there is an effect in those warehouses whereby the evaporation rate of some barrels of Bourbon vary by a wide divergence. Those poor distilleries, talk about getting hosed! And from Angels no less!
    That reminds me of V1, the point on a runway that after you pass that you don't have enough road to stop, so crossing it makes takeoff mandatory.
    Speaking of planes , you know it's a damn shame they didn't save a barrel or 2 of Stagg for airline bottles!

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Well Hello Dave

    I tell ya...Nope... I won't tell cause I ain't got a clue...but I will get the answer for ya ...I'm just a mechanic...I don't know a incredible amout of warehouse stuff but I'm always up for the learning...

    I was on the barrel rolling team...They trained me to handle those 500 pound barrels...You would have laughed your ass off (if you were watching) the first time a rolling barrel was commin at me...Hell far ,I jumped in the rick...I wasn't about ta let that barrel run over me It flew clear down to the end of the warehouse and hit the wall so hard I thought it was gonna go right through it ...

    Then, after ya few of em are rollin right at you...The training that they taught you falls right in...You will kick the barrel behind ya (to slow it) all the while, rolling and turning the corner with the barrel in front of you...making sure not to back it up onl your setter... ...I'm really proud to know that I am capable of doing that...It's just something that I wanted to do...

    Bettye Jo

    CL... Worm share?...Now let me tell ya...I can really burn it up with that one But I won't

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Dave,

    I just got off the phone with Larry Wimpsett...He is a supervisor at the warehouse...He has worked for Heaven Hill for 26 years...

    Some leaks will fix themselves...If you look at a barrels in the dump room you will see that there is a syrup looking stuff on a lot of em...This will seal a small leak over time...It's in the "Magic"- of makin bourbon that this syrup is created ...I know you understand the process of what goes on in the barrel...So I ain't gonna go there

    The Cooper fixes the leaks...If one is leaking in the rick...He has to get it out to repair it...That's a lot of work...very hard work...It's not bad loadin em in there...but when you have to single out a particualar barrel (to repair) in the middle of the rick...and you have to get it out---by yourself---...Well, I know what my response would be ...

    Larry said that they try really hard to make sure that there are no leaks before they are ricked...He said, only on a rare occasion has a older barrel such as the 18 year stock needed a plug...The leaks "usually" happen early...I also asked how many empty barrels does he get a year?...He said, "About 1% are empty...

    Straight from "The Man" Larry Wimpsett

    Bettye Jo

  10. #10
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    Re: Who rotates barrels?

    Bettye Jo,

    That's fascinating stuff; thank you very much.

    However, I don't quite get the part about the 1% empty barrels. Did you mean 1% leaking barrels? Or was he referring to the repair of barrels that haven't been filled yet? Or do some filled barrels leak out the entire contents without anyone noticing? (That surely seems unlikely.)

    Now that my brain is whirring, I have another question (as though you have nothing better to do than indulge my idle curiousity ). How do they leak test the new barrels to determine which ones need the "magic" syrup (I'd bet a quarter that it's Karo dark corn syrup ) and where? (Again, there's an analogy to liquid-fueled missile tanks. For a fuel leak that measured only a few PPM the propellent guys dabbed some silica gel on it.)

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

 

 

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