Great post Chuck. Many thanks for sharing the information with us. It is pretty amazing to think how many of today's bourbons have some sort of Beam yeast in it. And yes, while I know it isn't all the same, it sure sounds like there is at least some sort of similarity between them all.
As you mention in your blog post, it seems like the sctoch guys have even less variation. I wonder why this is. In the beer world, yeast is a HUGE part of the "formula." While 4 Roses talks about their 5 different strains, it doesn't seem like many bourbon producers experiment with this much. Maybe an area for innovation?
Speaking of 4 Roses, your post mentions that the Beams were involved there as well. Do you know if their current 5 yeast strains are mutations of the original Beam yeast? Or maybe this was something they developed during the Seagram's years?
"Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry. If a tree don't fall on me, I'll live till I die" - Tex Ritter
Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider, is chaos for the fly.
Four Roses has something like 300 proprietary yeasts. I'm sure Beams were involved with some, but not all, of them.
Thanks for the great blog and post here Chuck - very interesting, and very informative! A question though.... how do you propogate yeast from a wild source?
Yeast is everywhere. Old time distillers all had their own recipe for a yeast mash that they believed would capture the right kind of yeast. They would mix it up in a bucket and set it outside or, as in Jim Beam's case, inside a screened porch. Some would choose a particular spot, under an apple tree, for example. Then they waited. When a yeast took hold it would begin to ferment. If the fermentation looked right (seemed robust enough) and smelled right, a portion of it would be transferred to a fresh bucket of yeast mash. If it continued, then it would be used to make a batch of whiskey. Think of it as sourdough starter. The principle is the same. "Jug yeast" is preserved in this way, transferring it to a fresh medium before the fermentation completes.
Last edited by HighInTheMtns; 08-28-2012 at 12:16.