VAG has raised a good point. It makes sense to me that a spirit stripped partially of its oils and other fusels will take up more barrel character than a heavier, oily spirit. True, a heavy sooty quality is not really apparent in George Dickel. However, its maple leaching process seems less intense from everything I've read and of course its barrels may not undergo a preliminary toasting. The Jack palate, which is quite distinctive, may result from a combination of factors including its yeast; toasting of barrels before charring; and the fact of being a lighter spirit, all things being equal, than bourbon. And it is lighter, while I haven't done the white dog comparison in a long time, sometimes I'll drink Jack for a while - any iteration - and when going back to a Kentucky straight am always struck by the heavier body in relation to JD.
VA I don't think you're you completely wrong, quite the opposite. I have long suspected the treatment of Jack prior to barreling lends the whisky to picking up more char elements than it would otherwise.
Recall the Lincoln County process. You're turning sugar maple wood into char, and then soaking alcohol in it after the fire has been doused. In my experience, you may be absorbing some congeners with that char, but you are most certainly also adding phenols and other flavors to the unaged spirit. One of those flavors is charred wood... a different kind of wood, and at a much, much higher concentration than you see on the surface of a 53 gallon barrel. Have a look at those leeching vats at Jack Daniels and think about how much charred surface there is in those vats versus what that whiskey sees in a single barrel. Add in the movement of that whiskey as opposed to the Dickel steeping method, and there's your likely answer as to where that flavor you're perceiving comes from....
Leopold, I agree that you think it would pull in some of those flavors but tasting the white dog after going through the Lincoln County Process leaves only a very faint flavor of charcoal, so I think a little of the taste comes from it but not the majority
Another point I forgot, my white dog bottles are 86 proof so most likely were watered down to that proof. So its more than likely it has more char flavor at distilling proof. So its most likely a combination of the LCP and taking more falvor due to whats removed in the process.
Last edited by VAGentleman; 01-08-2013 at 10:45.
Speaking strictly as a consumer Todd, I don't think so because the 'sooty' note in the finished whisky is not present in the white dog.
I think too it would depend on how carbonized that maple charcoal is.
I was thinking that as well Gary, the sooty notes we associate with Jack Daniels and George Dickel are not present in Clontarf Irish whisky which undergoes a similar charcoal vat filtration prior to being aged in barrels. I'm not qualified to say charcoal is charcoal is charcoal but the sugar in a sugar maple tree is in the sap, not the wood, and if new make George or Jack were run through a vat of white oak charcoal I question whether it would make much difference.
In the end, I can only speak from experience. We charred our sugar maple on site, and then steeped the undiluted new make in the char for several weeks before "filtering" the spirit with a wool blanket. The phenol levels are quite elevated before barreling , and you can already perceive quite a bit of char/wood flavors before it goes into a barrel.
Obviously I can't tell you JD's specific MO when it comes to using the char.... e.g, how many Kg of char per liter of whiskey, etc.
Last edited by Leopold; 01-08-2013 at 12:21.
Couldn't say Todd, I'm not in the orbit of JD's inner circle. Is maple filtering a regular step for your Batch whisky? Have you experimented with the charcoal from other hardwoods?
Last edited by squire; 01-08-2013 at 12:09.