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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Honeycomb Staves

    Came across this ad for used barrels from the Tuthilltown Distillery.

    Their aged products are stored in small barrels with higher surface area to volume ratio to accelerate aging.

    Now, I see that they also use honeycomb staves to further increase that surface area.

    Wondering if the staves are honeycombed before or after charring. (I'm assuming before) and if all the staves are honeycombed and to what extent.

    It makes sense.

    I can see other distilleries jumping on this bandwagon. Does anyone know if these are in use and if only certain cooperages specialize in their construction?

    http://stores.intuitwebsites.com/Tut...C-5/Detail.bok
    Colonel Ed
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  2. #2
    Trippah and Admin
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    I don't mean to be pedantic, but shouldn't "to accelerate aging " actually be "to increase barrel influence"?

    There's no substitute for time in the barrel, IMO.
    My name is Joel Goodson. I deal in human fulfillment.
    I grossed over eight thousand dollars in one night. Time of your life, huh kid?

  3. #3
    Virtuoso
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeox View Post
    I don't mean to be pedantic, but shouldn't "to accelerate aging " actually be "to increase barrel influence"?

    There's no substitute for time in the barrel, IMO.
    I completely agree with this. Everyone is just trying to cut corners so they can get more product out the door, and faster, to elevate their profits.

    With time comes age, but not always with maturity.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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

    I'm no Pappyophile

  5. #5
    Disciple
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    I have seen this feature marketed toward home-agers of wines, beers, and spirits. I have not played with it, but I imagine it does help in adding color and some flavors sooner, but does not help with the complexity we all seek.

  6. #6

    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Boiler View Post
    I have seen this feature marketed toward home-agers of wines, beers, and spirits. I have not played with it, but I imagine it does help in adding color and some flavors sooner, but does not help with the complexity we all seek.
    Color, yes. Flavor, yes, but only if you're looking for something that tastes young and woody!

    As pointed out, its really being used as a shortcut to maturity, which isnt really possible. Time is necessary to break down the wood sugars and other goodies most look for in a whiskey that extra surface area just cannot provide.

    There are was to "accelerate" maturation, such as cycling and controlling temp/humidity but even then, years of work is put into it, and most established distillers expect to wait.


    That all being said, there are some younger whiskies out on the market that aren't bad. Personally I do not think that they can stand-up to a well made and typically matured product, but you can't blame people for trying.

  7. #7
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    I have had Tuthilltown Baby bourbon I don't care what they say about small barrels aging it faster. It didn't taste a day older than what it was and I wouldn't have paid $5 for that $40 375 ml bottle.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  8. #8
    Connoisseur
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    Additional contact with the wood does not mean a thing if the red layer of sugars is still the same size. The wood surface gives off a lot of tannins and color, but not the caramel and vanilla flavors that are found in the red layer of carmalized wood sugars and the heat degraded lignins just beyond the red layer. In my opinion, that is why small barrels do not make better bourbon - they have a red layer that is in portion to their size. If you are using small barrels, then your best bet is to use a very low entry proof so that the water can dissolve more of the available sugars in the wood. Put you whiskey in the small barrel at 90 proof.

    Mike Veach

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    'Accelerated aging' schemes--with the exception of warehouse temperature cycling--are nothing but scams. They may have an effect but they don't accelerate aging. At best they increase one aspect of aging, which is wood extraction, but as Mike points out, they don't necessarily extract the right things. They get a lot of tannin, which gives you color but also sharpness and astringency. They don't give you very much vanilla, caramel, fruit, spice, etc. And, of course, they have no effect on oxidation and other chemical changes, which simple take time.

    Routine aging of American whiskey in new, charred, 53 gallon (or thereabouts) white oak barrels has more than 100 years of history behind it. All of these tricks have been tried before and nothing has improved on that existing formula.

    If you want to make something that tastes different then, by all means, change the formula, but if you want something that tastes like good, well-made and well-aged bourbon or rye, then there seems to be only one good way to get there.
    Last edited by cowdery; 10-29-2011 at 14:51.

  10. #10
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    Re: Honeycomb Staves

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    'Accelerated aging' schemes--with the exception of warehouse temperature cycling--are nothing but scams. They may have an effect but they don't accelerate aging. At best they increase one aspect of aging, which is wood extraction, but as Mike points out, they don't necessarily extract the right things. They get a lot of tannin, which gives you color but also sharpness and astringency. They don't give you very much vanilla, caramel, fruit, spice, etc. And, of course, they have no effect on oxidation and other chemical changes, which simple take time.

    Routine aging of American whiskey in new, charred, 53 gallon (or thereabouts) white oak barrels has more than 100 years of history behind it. All of these tricks have been tried before and nothing has improved on that existing formula.

    If you want to make something that tastes different then, by all means, change the formula, but if you want something that tastes like good, well-made and well-aged bourbon or rye, then there seems to be only one good way to get there.
    To that point, how effective is even the temperature cycling? I can see it helping because the liquid would go into and out of the wood more frequently, but I still wouldn't imagine two year bourbon tasting like ten year, even in laboratory conditions. I would guess it's more of a small advantage than a game changer.

 

 

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