"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."
Although they'd probably never admit this, one thing WR demonstrates is that there is very little inherent difference between a pot system and a column system in terms of the final product.
Everything I've experienced over the years convinces me that the inherent superiority of pot stills is one of the most unfounded myths in whiskeydom.
Col. Charles K. "Crotchety" Cowdery
"Whiskey Don't Keep."
I agree Chuck but as far as myths go that's one of the better ones.
I've never tasted the white dog but IMO the pot still notes are very evident in the matured Versailles make and very different from the Louisville bourbon. This is not just due to numerous direct comparisons between Old Forester (86 and 100 proof) and WR (regular and all-pot-still versions), but I can recognize pot still similarities between pot still bourbon and pot still rum or pot still Irish. Again, it is a mineral, waxy, tallow-like scent and taste. The pot still whiskey is heavier and provides good body in the mingling. If anyone has a bottle of Don Outterson's bourbon(s), compare them with WR (any iteration) side by side: there is a clear similarity in the characteristics noted (slate, oils again). I find similar ones again in Anchor Distilling's ryes, or the recently revived Lot No. 40 Canadian whisky. Obviously these drinks don't taste identical but they present, I believe to one who does a side-by-side, certain similarities attributable to the pot still.
Malts have them too but usually receive much more prolonged aging and therefore there is surely greater modification of this taste. But still the other day in a Highland Park 18 year old I noticed again the rich sheepswool-like taste of a good old-fashioned malt. I get it ditto in some good Cognac despite the different feedstock source for the spirit, and, returning to grains as the source, Irish single pot still (that "copper penny-and-oil" taste).
I believe it is not just distillation proof that does this since I understand Versailles make comes out at just under 160 proof while the Louisville does so at a rather lower number - the difference in character of the aged makes must surely then be the pot still vs. the column still. In turn this means (I believe) that pot still make and column still make at comparable proofs are not identical in composition, that the pot still one is more likely to retain certain congeners.
Based on many tastings over the years of pot-stilled American whiskeys of between 3-6 years aged, I prefer column still whiskey. It seems cleaner and more palatable. However, pot still whiskey can add complexity and interest when mingled with this latter (especially in cocktails), hence the genius of the WR formula whatever again the original intent was in setting up a pot still distillery for bourbon. I would emphasize though that few if any of these products (the pot still) have been tasted at anything comparable to a Scots single malt, even a young one. Perhaps Versailles make on its own at 10-12 years is a stupendous drink, or Don Outterson's bourbon. Hopefully these spirits or ones of their type will in the future be released at older ages so one can see if the further maturation does improve the spirit in a way that column still whiskey cannot attain.
Finally, I do not claim all pot still spirits have the characteristics mentioned above. Some Scots malts are quite light, e.g. the surviving Lowlands malts, and not just those. Much can depend on the size and shape of the stills and retorts.
But I do feel, based on a certain experience, that many pot still spirits have the similarities noted.
Last edited by Gillman; 01-04-2013 at 20:25.