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  1. #1
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    Bourbons over 125 Proof

    I did a search but couldn't find an answer to my question. In my quest for a bottle of the Elijah Craig barrel proof I read somewhere that it was something like 134 proof. It got me wondering how some barrel proof bourbons can reach proofs higher than 125. I mean if legally it must be put into barrels for aging at not more than 125 proof how does the finished product have a higher alcohol content? I'm assuming it has something to do with evaporation/"angels share" etc. but I would logically think that the alcohol would evaporate before the water does which should result in a lower proof than what it was put in at. Anybody have an answer to this question?

  2. #2

    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    Water permeates through the barrel much easier than alcohol, so the liquid at the outside of the barrel is a much higher proportion of water than the liquid inside the barrel.

  3. #3
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    At most atmposheric conditions, the water seeps through the barrel faster. However, during times of extremely high humidty, I'm told this can actually go the other way. But, unless a manufacturer were specifically controlling the environment for this condition, the longer a bourbon ages, the higher the proof climbs.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    gatsby, as a general statement Bourbon aging in a traditional warehouse in the Kentucky climate will gain in proof as it ages. Those of the first floor, if it's cool enough, may stay close to the same or actually lose a few percentage points while those in the hotter, upper floors will gain in alcoholic strength as more water is evaporated.

    Which is why we can have a powerhouse 140+ proof barrel strength Stagg.
    Last edited by squire; 03-29-2013 at 12:24.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Boiler View Post
    At most atmposheric conditions, the water seeps through the barrel faster. However, during times of extremely high humidty, I'm told this can actually go the other way. But, unless a manufacturer were specifically controlling the environment for this condition, the longer a bourbon ages, the higher the proof climbs.
    Alcohol does evaporate more readily than water but a molecule of alcohol is much larger than an H2O molecule that therefore escapes from the barrel--even a "water tight" barrel. On distillery tours that include the rick house, you can easily feel the changes in humidity as you move from the outer walls to the center and from the ground floor to higher up. (This explanation was intended for Gatsby, not you BB. You already know how it works.)
    If God made anything better than bourbon he must have kept it for Hisself.

  6. #6
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    Thanks for the responses guys. I didn't realize that an alcohol molecule was that much larger than water but I guess if you look at the molecular formulas C2H6O vs. H20 it makes sense.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    Ain't science wonderful.

  8. #8
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    I thought I read somewhere (and now can't find where - err) that Scotch actually goes the other way due to the climate (less variability in temperature, more humidity?) I'll have to check some of those blocky-looking-thinly-cut-wood-product-thingys, as it may have been in one of those.
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  9. #9
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    That's true Gary but it's not just the cold climate. Scottish whisky warehouses are just one story tall so they don't get the extremes of internal temperature reached by a 5-6 story building in Kentucky.

    For the major American distillers only George Dickel uses single story warehouses.

  10. #10
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    Re: Bourbons over 125 Proof

    I thought Four Roses did as well (use single story storage)? I think the Scots just have folks sneaking drams from the barrels and replacing with water - a tradition handed down generation after generation
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

 

 

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