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  1. #1
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    Another question ...

    I have read with some interest the blending / mixing of bourbons that some here have done,,,,, I now wonder if this is done at the warehouses also , that say a barrel is 8 yrs old with a taste to it that if added to another barrel say that is 6 yrs old and the blend is aged (?) say 5 or 6 yrs more , could that barrel be called a single barrel or is it a small batch ?
    Bill G,

  2. #2
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    Re: Another question ...

    The term single barrel whiskey is understood to mean the whiskey entered in the cask when new spirit, i.e., it is when bottled years later that one whiskey only. It does not incorporate whiskey of the same brand from other barrels. Recasking for further aging is practiced by a number of Canadian and Scottish distillers but is not done in bourbon distilleries, I believe. Different ages of the same whiskey are put in the cistern and perhaps left for a time to marry before bottling but that is not recasking as such. The age of the youngest whiskey will be that shown on the label; that is very common, indeed the norm, for bourbon production. The latter whiskeys are straight whiskeys of course but in that sense they are "blended", for consistency and to get a balance of characteristics. Small batch is an indistinct term that would denote a limited release of a straight bourbon, e.g. Knob Creek, chosen with an eye to quality and traditional taste, but not necessarily (although it could be) from one barrel.

    Blending different (from different distilleries) straight whiskies used to be done years ago (mid-20th century) and no doubt the blend was often recasked and left to age for a further period, but this practice is obsolete as far as I know.

    Four Roses apparently blends bourbons made in the one plant, these being all their own whiskey but made from different mashes and/or yeast ferments. Maybe they cask and age the blend further for a time, I don't know. This of course is straight bourbon too.

    Blending got a bad name because too much neutral spirit was used in the blends and too many ingredients were added whose origin was unknown or suspect. For example, various substances (e.g. glycerine) were used to increase body, this being a suspect trade practice that brought blends into question although as Chuck Cowdery has pointed out, most whiskey sold in the era was blended. However the better-class blender (I am speaking of the late 1800's) used natural substances such as fruit juice concentrates, macerated prune and raisin mixtures, tea extracts, bread extracts and other "real" flavorings (rum from New England was used too). These additives were used to flavour plain neutral spirits (the cheapest grade), mixtures of real whiskey and neutral spirits, and in some cases, even all-straight whiskey blends. The blended whiskeys put out by modern distillers are the modern descendants of these 19th century blends. Today, there is no reason to think blended whiskey is anything other than excellent quality. One would like to know more about how these whiskeys are compounded (especially flavoured) but of this I have no doubt.

    Bartons, for example, puts out at least two grades of blended whiskey. The slightly more costly one has a "house" flavor that is unique, spicy and rich. It is not bourbon, no, but is very valid on its own terms. These whiskeys are excellent for mixed drinks but also drink very well on their own. This is why Canadian whiskey, the modern blend par excellence, is such a big seller in the U.S...

    Cy

  3. #3
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    Re: Another question ...

    Hi Bill,

    The answer to your question is small batch, but it certainly got me thinking. The Jim Beam brands, awhile back, came out with Jacob's Well and if my memory serves me right they took bourbon from one barrel with a certain profile and then bourbon from another barrel that may have been aged longer or less and married them together, then returned the marriaged bourbon into one cask for further aging and this became known as Jacob's Well. It was not very popular and they no longer make Jacob's Well.

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  4. #4
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    Re: Another question ... *DELETED*

    Post deleted by Paradox

  5. #5
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    Jacob\'s Well

    Jacob's Well disappeared from the shelves before I scored a bottle. If any of you see one, I'd sure appreciate the tip! Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Re: Another question ...

    Yes, I have a bottle of that still Marvin and that's exactly what it says. I remember when I first got the bottle a few years back that that was a strange thing. You can still find it at some stores if you look around, though many places now have raised the price to about $20. When I saw them a few years back , it was selling for about $12. It was by no means a superb bourbon, but for $12 I found it to be relatively good and it's uniqueness made for an intriguing pour. Also, for those who care about a bit more info, it was 84 months old and one of it's marketing hypes that was written on the bottle and necktag read 'The Original Micro Bourbon'.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    Re: Jacob\'s Well

    Cliff,

    I can't help you with a large bottle as it is no longer available, but I have a minature that you are welcome to. Let me know and I will mail it to you.

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  8. #8
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    Re: Jacob\'s Well

    Well, thanks Jacob--er, Marvin.

  9. #9
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    Re: Another question ...

    Let me see if I can clear up a few misconceptions.

    Most straight bourbons are "combinations" of different straight bourbons. They usually are "different" in terms of age but sometimes, as in the case of Four Roses, they represent different mash bills and different yeasts. They even can be the products of different distilleries so long as all of the distilleries were in the same state. The objective is to match a taste profile for the brand, so whiskey with different characteristics will be added to the dump vat until that profile is achieved.

    This is the norm. The exceptions are single barrel and bottled-in-bond.

    Single barrel, obviously, is the product of a single distillation because it is whatever went into that barrel. Bottled-in-bond must, by law, be the product of a single season, distillery and distiller, but barrels that meet those criteria can be mixed to achieve a profile. (For example, barrels can be placed in different warehouses or at different locations in the warehouse and they will age differently, even though they are the product of a single season, distillery and distiller.)

    I put the term "combination" in quotes before for a reason. The word "mixture" is also appropriate to describe what distillers do with "combinations" of straight whiskeys. The word "blend" is not, even though in a standard English understanding of the word it would be accurate. That's because "blend" means something particular in whiskey-land. It is a "term of art" referring to combinations of aged whiskey, unaged whiskey, neutral spirits, colorings and flavorings. These spirits are in the category "American Blended Whiskey." You really shouldn't use the term "blend" except when referring to American Blended Whiskey, even though the word "blend" does accurately describe what bourbon makers also do when they "combine" various straight bourbons to achieve a particular taste profile.

    Finally, Jacob's Well, which was simply an attempt to make a product benefit from an economical expedient. What Beam did with Jacob's Well was consolidate barrels. As you know, there is a constant process of evaporation going on in aging barrels, so that after a few years every barrel contains a lot of air. If you have two barrels that are both half-empty, you can empty one into the other, leaving you with one full barrel, one open space in your warehouse, and one empty barrel you can knock down and sell to McSomebody across the pond. There was never any reason to believe it had a beneficial effect on the whiskey, but it saved JBBCo. a couple bucks.

  10. #10
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    Re: Another question ... and Jacob\'s Well curiosity

    I find the most humorous thing about the Jacob's Well experiment the attempt to play off the cachet of the word "Micro." Some marketing whiz at Fortune Brands must have figured that the ever-growing fans of those (deservedly great) Washington, Oregon, and California microbrews and perhaps the dot-com crowd, as well, would buy a bourbon with Micro in its profile. ??? I still want one for the bunker, if I can find one.

 

 

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