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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    Todd, another solution was/is adding older whiskey (than what was generally dumped), certainly where 80 proof was being bottled. I recall someone from Jack Daniels stating, when the drop occurred in the U.S., that if the color was too light they could adjust it by adding a little older stock. Of course that could increase the cost noticeably if too much was needed for the purpose, which makes me wonder again if they took a closer look at the barrel at this time. Interesting that the char numbers are a relative thing, and this may explain too the different maturation results you get even from barrels next to each other.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 01-06-2013 at 03:49.

  2. #12
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    That makes a lot of sense. We go in at 100 and you do draw a lot of color, almost a different color. The folks we buy from are pretty good about getting different char level. We use a lighter char on rye than we do bourbon.

  3. #13
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    I just sent an email off to a man I know who can answer it, and if he says it is true, then it is true. We shall see.

  4. #14
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    I'd be very interested in what he has to say Tom.

  5. #15
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    Todd brings up a salient point because wood from different trees will vary slightly, even from a stand on the same hillside, and add that to a slight susceptibility to the impact of a direct flame, may well explain why barrels next to each other in the warehouse will age the whisky differently.

  6. #16
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    One well known cooper told me years ago that (paraphrasing) "distillers like to talk about number char this and number char that. There's no uniformity in these barrels because you're using an open flame on wood that isn't identical, and doesn't react to the flames the same way every time. But that's what they ask for, so that's what I get 'em".
    I always wondered about that. I've been a Cabinetmaker for 34 years. I know how wood behaves. wood is different even in the same species. I have no doubt that it takes a char differently on every barrel; even differently within the same barrel.

  7. #17
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    I saw one of those "Julian P. Van Winkle Fireside-Chats The Consumer" type Old Fitzgerald magazine ads in "But Always Fine Bourbon", in which he goes on about how Stitzel-Weller barrels are held together with eight hoops rather than the standard six. The reason he gives is that the barrel staves at S-W were thicker so they could hold a deeper char. But this would have been in the 1950s or early 1960s, and it's not only possible but probable that standards for char have changed in 50-60 years just as everything else has in distilleries.

  8. #18
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    I would love to get a bound copy of those fireside chats.

  9. #19
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    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    According to Larry Ebersold who retired from what was LDI, he does not think char levels changed at least where he was employed.

  10. #20

    Re: Has char levels in the barrels increased along with barrel proof?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    B-F does the toasting part too, at least for JD. IIRC, the reason asserted for the practice by JD is that it heightens the richness and caramel qualities of the spirit. I like many others get a sooty quality too in Jack, but perhaps this comes from the maple charcoal, not the way the barrel is toasted and charred.

    I wonder if the idea was adopted when JD's domestic Black Label dropped to 80 from 86 proof...

    Gary
    First of all this is a fascinating topic. Thanks everyone for enlightening me on something I never gave much thought to regarding the differences between individual barrels etc.

    I wanted to chime in on the JD taste thing Gillman mentioned. I have a couple of bottles of JD white Dog, one before charcoal mellowing and one after. The after has just a hint of the charcoal but not very prevalent. I was always under the impression that the char taste was a result of the white dog being able to pick up more of the char flavoring from the barrel because of what was stripped out because of the charcoal. Of course I could be completely wrong.

 

 

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