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  1. #1
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    is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    I have not had the PHC 2011, however, I have had Angel's Envy and Maker's 46. With scotch, the barrel finish of a cognac barrel (or just french oak) and sherry butt or port pipe often delivers a lot of flavor to the base spirit because it seems scotch is just a bit more delicate to begin with. With bourbon it just seems like barrel finishing just produces an off-tasting flavor that never really integrates with the spirit. Anyone other thoughts on this? I think the bourbon just overpowers the sherry or french oak influence and it just tastes off, instead of adding something to the product. I love Glendronach 12 and Compass Box Oak Cross, but I just can't get into the "finished" bourbons.
    -SOB-

  2. #2
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Quote Originally Posted by sob0728 View Post
    I have not had the PHC 2011, however, I have had Angel's Envy and Maker's 46. With scotch, the barrel finish of a cognac barrel (or just french oak) and sherry butt or port pipe often delivers a lot of flavor to the base spirit because it seems scotch is just a bit more delicate to begin with. With bourbon it just seems like barrel finishing just produces an off-tasting flavor that never really integrates with the spirit. Anyone other thoughts on this? I think the bourbon just overpowers the sherry or french oak influence and it just tastes off, instead of adding something to the product. I love Glendronach 12 and Compass Box Oak Cross, but I just can't get into the "finished" bourbons.
    While working in Australia a few years back there were few bourbon choices. One of them was the Port-finished Beam. I bought a bottle out of curiosity. It was actually pretty tasty stuff. Surprising.

  3. #3
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    I think I am more the exception here but I really enjoy the PHC 2011 and Angel's Envy. I find it to be something a little different that is nice to turn to sometimes.

    Best regards, Tony

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Maybe what you had was a different product, Weller Tex, but Beam was at one time selling a bourbon and port in Australia, which actually contained a little port wine, as opposed to being finished in port barrels. Canadian whiskey often contains port and other wines.

    Rather than call them a 'mistake,' I'd like to give barrel-finished bourbons a chance. You're right about the difference between barrel-finished scotch and barrel-finished bourbon, but I'm not prepared to conclude it can't be done. I thought the Chardonnay-finished WR was successful, but many did not. I like Maker's 46 and PHC 2011 very much. The Cognac-finished Parker's is probably the best barrel-finished bourbon I've had. I didn't care for Angel's Envy at first but it has grown on me. New Holland's Beer Barrel Bourbon is very successful. Filibuster Rye, which is MGPI Indiana Rye finished in French Oak wine barrels, tastes odd and fails. It's a good example of the problem with two strong flavors competing.

    One problem is that some people (you know who you are) are using finishes as a panacea, to mask a too-young or otherwise flawed bourbon. If you've tasted any MGPI Indiana bourbon that has not been finished, you know why so much of it is. Maker's, on the other hand, was careful to use fully-aged, first rate Maker's for 46. They weren't trying to fix anything, just trying to make something a little different.
    Last edited by cowdery; 02-26-2013 at 12:51.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Angel's Envy tastes a little young to me and I believe the finishing was to try to cover that a bit. In my experience, finishing doesn't really work with younger spirits. It can work if you blend them, but that is different and many involve adding other spirits and the wine proper.

    For old bourbons, I guess the question is, can it help? I think it can partly cover over bourbons that are considered quite old and I understand that this was the logic of finishing the first Distiller's Masterpiece in port barrels, to soften some of that age and tannin. So palliative again or sort of.

    For mid-aged products, say in the sweet spot of 6-12 years, hard to say. I am not sure the finishing really adds much and it may take away, but I am open to trying further products before calling it a day.

    Gary

  6. #6

    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    I really enjoyed the Abraham Bowman Port Finished. It was a 7 year old bourbon. The barrel used was a Bowman bourbon barrel that was sent to a wine company who aged their port in it, then sent it back to Bowman to finish the bourbon. It really softened the taste at the edges and added a hint of sweetness.

  7. #7
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    Maybe what you had was a different product, Weller Tex, but Beam was at one time selling a bourbon and port in Australia, which actually contained a little port wine, as opposed to being finished in port barrels. Canadian whiskey often contains port and other wines.
    Yep you are right Chuck, my mistake. Thanks for setting me straight. It was pretty good though.

  8. #8
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    Maybe what you had was a different product, Weller Tex, but Beam was at one time selling a bourbon and port in Australia, which actually contained a little port wine, as opposed to being finished in port barrels.
    I had a bottle on the table at the Gazebo during the 2008 Sampler but it remained unopened. It ended up going to Cliff's house and being opened for a side-by-side comparison with a duty free Wild Turkey Sherry finish. It's nearly 5 years ago now, so my only recolection was that I thought the Beam product was better, which is not saying much as I'm generally not a fan. Having said that, I have sampled and think highly of Makers 46, Woodford Seasoned Oak, Angles Envy and PHC Congac Finish. Are they every day bourbon pours (for me)... No. But they are interesting diversions from the norm when the mood takes me in that direction.

  9. #9
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    I've really liked Makers 46 so far. I think the extra time with the wood staves gives it something that MM is lacking.

  10. #10
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    Re: is barrel-finished bourbon a mistake?

    Never had a bad one to my recollection, luckily. Like the 46, PHC, Angels Envy, and Beer Barrel. Would kill to try the Bowman. Never had any of the Woodford. So far finished bourbon is just fine by me.

 

 

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