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  1. #1
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    Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    Some barrel history I did not know...if true:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddr...f-bourbon.html

    Whiskey: The art of bourbon
    Still standing: The Maker's Mark bourbon distillery in Kentucky

    Jonathan Ray

    12:01AM GMT 16 Nov 2007

    "The barrels had to be charred, following a practice attributed to Elijah Craig, an 18th-century preacher and distiller,
    who found the best way to prepare an old fish barrel for storing whiskey was to set fire to its inside."

    Hmm, used an old fish barrel?

  2. #2
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jono View Post
    Hmm, used an old fish barrel?
    Booker Noe was skeptical...

    "...who the hell gonna put good liquor in a fish barrel?"

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-12-22/entertainment/9412220327_1_high-end-bourbons-elijah-craig-native-spirit

    Bonus - A mention of one Julian Van Winkle, who "buys his spirits already distilled but controls the aging, holding some of them for as long as 15 years."
    Last edited by Tucker; 07-09-2012 at 20:28.

  3. #3
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tucker View Post


    Booker Noe was skeptical...

    "...who the hell gonna put good liquor in a fish barrel?"

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-12-22/entertainment/9412220327_1_high-end-bourbons-elijah-craig-native-spirit

    Bonus - A mention of one Julian Van Winkle, who "buys his spirits already distilled but controls the aging, holding some of them for as long as 15 years."
    Black font on a black background it pretty hard to read.

  4. #4
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    Aging whisky in old fish barrels has always been part of the whisky folkklore. A german shop or bottler deliberately repeated the experiment a few years ago. I didnt sample it as I am allergic to fish but reports said it had a fishy taste....

    Steffen

  5. #5
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    I wonder if the barrel had been refired to supposedly burn off the fish oils etc. It seems like a bad idea.

    http://www.hal.state.mi.us/mhc/museu...els_w_fish.jpg

    "A few barrels held well preserved fish remains."

    http://www.hal.state.mi.us/mhc/museu...artifacts.html

    http://fishingheritage.org/testbed1/items/show/129

  6. #6
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    If fish were stored in a barrel back then, they were more than likely salted for preservation. And no amount of charring would remove the saltiness from the woood and sure as hell not the smell. I agrre with what booker said.

  7. #7
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    It's one of those stories that got out of control. The point is that barrels used to be used for storing and shipping many different things and charring was common as a way to sanitize the barrel so it could be reused, for whiskey or some other purpose. Fish would sometimes be mentioned, just as a way to illustrate the strong flavors that might be left in a barrel, making a scraping or re-charring necessary. There may have been times in the distant past when people were sloppy about their reused barrels and whiskey wound up in a fish barrel, but it's a mistake that wouldn't happen twice.

    Milk is sometimes mentioned as a better example of a product whose residue might be challenging to banish for whiskey reuse, but it could be done. For American whiskey, of course, used barrels of any kind would have only been used in the very early days. When deliberate aging in earnest began, sometime in the mid-19th century, they were doing it in new barrels, and in Scotland and Ireland I suspect they only re-used barrels that previously held whiskey or wine, or perhaps something like milk, or something else relatively benign, but not fish or pickles or crackers or nails or anything like that. So it's not like you can say a fish barrel never got reused, but you can safely assume it wasn't routine.

    Another thing. Scotland would never have been importing fish. Scotland exports fish. Preserved fish, e.g., salted cod preserved and shipped in barrels, was primarily slave food and food for the very poor in large cities.

    Kelvin is a cooperage on the south side of Louisville that refurbishes bourbon barrels for Scottish distilleries. They refurbish or rejuvenate the barrels to their customers specifications. Some are simply rinsed, inspected, and repaired as necessary. Some get scraped out, some get recharred, and some get both. It's interesting to see. Very labor intensive and very hot, physical work.
    Last edited by cowdery; 07-10-2012 at 14:46.

  8. #8
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    I'm surprised no one has pulled this quote from the article:

    "...Maker's Mark, my new favourite whisky, which I like on the rocks rather than drowned in Coke..."

  9. #9
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    I'd also heard the story that the charring was originally accidental, and that Rev. Craig was merely salvaging barrels that had been exposed to a barn fire.

  10. #10
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    Re: Charred barrel historical factoid or myth?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Boiler View Post
    I'd also heard the story that the charring was originally accidental, and that Rev. Craig was merely salvaging barrels that had been exposed to a barn fire.
    Yeah, let's call BS on that one too.
    bibamus, moriendum est
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