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  1. #1
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    Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    So i've read that there isn't much variation between proof going into the barrel- most distilleries are around 125 proof. But, i was wondering if there was a lot of variation between the distilleries as far as proof coming off the still.

  2. #2
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    Just working from memory I think JD comes off at 140, BT at 135 and we know recently Beam started distilling all future Booker's to 125.

  3. #3
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    It depends what you mean by 'much.' The range is from about 57.5% ABV (115 proof) to the legal maximum of 80% ABV (160 proof). Most are in about the middle of that range. Within that range there is quite a bit of variety. Some distillers even use different distillation proofs as a way of distinguishing different brands.

  4. #4
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    So which ones are on the low end and high end?

  5. #5
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    Wild Turkey is the lowest. Brown-Forman/Woodford Reserve is the highest. I don't think anyone else is as low as WT, at 57.5%, but there probably are others at the top end for at least some of their products.

  6. #6
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    There's a thread somewhere in which Maker's Mark was also revealed to be on the low end.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    As much as I love whisk(e)y, I'm not real educated on the process of making it. What does proof off of the still mean to the finished product?

  8. #8
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    Quote Originally Posted by ebo View Post
    As much as I love whisk(e)y, I'm not real educated on the process of making it. What does proof off of the still mean to the finished product?

    I'll see if I can give this a go and not mess it up too bad. Bourbon by law CAN be distilled to 160 proof but can not go into the barrel any higher than 125 proof. The higher the whiskey is coming off the still the more water you can to add to it to bring it to 125 proof or lower. Then when it comes out of the barrel you add more water to bring it to the proof you want. More water more dilution of your flavors/ more profits. WT comes of the still at 115 proof barrels at 115 and bottles at 108.4 and 101 makes good bourbon. That is the simple answer.

    The more complicated answer that I can't answer is the higher the distilling proof and barreling proof the longer the aging process to get the results the MD wants per Jim R of FR. The Bean counters think they are making more money because they get more bottles from higher proof whiskey that they can water down to 86 or 80 proof but if you have to age it longer no you don't. (again per Jim R)

    So now that I have muddled this up whiskey distilled at a lower proof and barrel at a lower proof and bottled at a higher proof taste better. One of the reasons why dusties taste better.
    Last edited by p_elliott; 12-05-2011 at 09:38.
    Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.

  9. #9
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    Generally speaking, the higher the proof (to the max of 160 Paul mentioned), the less whiskey taste in the final result. Why? Whiskey taste partly comes from the barrel, partly from co-products of fermentation that come over with the alcohol. In the fermented mash, you have ethyl alcohol and other things, and water. The other things are esters, acids, aldehydes, higher alcohols. These have a taste, usually, but not always a good one. (Aging in wood if long enough will fix that).

    The mix of tastes from these co-products in bourbon distilled out at 155 proof, say, is different than the mix of tastes when the make is distilled out 20 points less. There are fewer congeners, to use a term commonly used for the co-products, in the make distilled out at the higher number, that's why. Alcohol itself (ethyl) doesn't have any taste. Distill out at 190 and you've got even less taste from the mash, distill at 196 or so and you have virtually none - you have made vodka, basically.

    The reason there are fewer co-products in the higher distillation ranges is, they stay back with the water (water boils at a higher temperature than ethyl alcohol). It is the low boiling ones that come along with the alcohol, but less of them as the proof off the still rises.

    It is more complicated than that because sometimes you can have a distillate that is more congeneric than one at a lower proof, this generally results with use of a true pot still. WR's make at Versaille comes off I understand at just under 160 but it is fairly congeneric judging by the aged result 5-6 years down the pike. This is because a pot still separates the co-products less efficiently and "cleanly" than a column still. But generally column stills are used to make bourbon.

    Gary

  10. #10
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    Re: Does proof off the still vary much between distilleries

    When I said, "stay back with the water", some may wonder at that since of course a distillate has some water too. This is because some water molecules always "stick" to ethyl alcohol and other components of a mash that are made volatile by heat. Each element has a volatility temperature but it varies in practice and therefore some water will come over with the alcohol when you heat the mash in the still to alcohol's boiling point not water's. But generally speaking again, the more you heat the mash and re-distill it, the more you will isolate the alcohol from its co-products which when aged out in barrel give the whiskey (or brandy, tequila, etc.) their flavour.

    Gary

 

 

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