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  1. #1

    How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Ok there are a few smaller craft distilleries in Michigan and even more coming soon. Most if not all of them either have or are planning on making some kind of Whisky or Bourbon. Here's the deal though how much time should people give it before they actually have good stuff? I figured it needs time in the barrel and things like that and how long does it need to be called straight bourbon? 2 years? Add to the fact that most of these are on at the higher price range due to their small batch mature and I hesitate to take a shot on them unless I know what I'm getting. How long does it really take to make good bourbon, I would imagine time in the barrel has to be a big factor right? I guess though thats where going to tastings come into play.

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    If there is no age statement, straight bourbon has to be at least four years old. There are a small portion of bourbons that have age statements above twelve years. So, I would say four to twelve years, with much more being sold on the younger end. Also, we have to consider differences in climate. A cooler climate like MI may take more time.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    This is a subject of much discussion, a lot of which is bullshit. Most micro-distillers are faced with a dilemma. They rarely have enough capital, or patience, to put their product away for four years or more, so they try to come up with ways to make it drinkable at a younger age. At this, some have been more successful than others, but no product has been completely satisfying. The wisdom of the families and companies who have been doing this for a long time--several centuries in some cases--is that in a climate similar to Kentucky, it takes four years in new charred wood to make something you would like to drink. That, in itself, is a short cut compared to the minimum ten to twelve years it takes in chilly Scotland or Ireland. The short cut Americans came up with is new, charred oak. That made a different style of whiskey, of course, as did our use of corn and rye instead of barley malt. Looked at in that context, you can say today's micro-distillers are working on their own new style of whiskey, but it's a work in progress. Some are also trying to do it the old-fashioned way, although few have anything on the market that's more than two years old. Eventually, though, they will.

    In Kentucky and Tennessee, the consensus is that four years is the minimum, five to six is better, eight to ten is optimum, and beyond ten you're again getting into a different, wood-heavy style, which is risky but can be superb.

  4. #4
    Enthusiast
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Round Barn, down in Baroda, MI, has a bourbon they call Divine, and the most recent release was three years old. I haven't had any of that. The upcoming release will be six years old, and I want to try some.

    Go here if you want little or no info: http://www.roundbarnwinery.com/distillery.php
    The current MI liquor list has it as 90 proof, and 200mL is $5.58

    Edit: the mashbill is 70% corn for sure, and I think 15% rye and 15% malted barley.
    Last edited by TheNovaMan; 04-05-2013 at 17:12.
    Pete

    I hate scotch.

  5. #5
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Barrel size plays an important factor as well. With smaller barrels there is more surface area (of the wood) relative to the volume of liquid inside, so the whiskey ages faster. I think some of the micro-distillers have taken this too far with unimpressive results, using 5 to 10 gallon barrels, maybe even smaller (the standard size is 53 gallons) and aging for very short time periods, I've heard some are down in the 3 month range.

  6. #6
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    That sounds like trying to break in a corncob pipe with a blowtorch.
    Pete

    I hate scotch.

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheNovaMan View Post
    That sounds like trying to break in a corncob pipe with a blowtorch.
    You made me laugh Pete. I have not tried all available micros but all of the ones I have sampled not a one has been able to compare to the quality of the big boys. The micros I have tried have used various barrel sizes in an attempt to hasten the aging process. My opinion is that at least 4 years in a 53 gallon barrel is required to make a drinkable bourbon.
    Jim

  8. #8
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    I think you're probably right, or very close to right. I mean, there's gotta be a little wiggle room, like 3.5 years in a 49 gallon barrel or something like that, but trying to do in three months what normally takes more than three years is more than an order of magnitude off.
    Pete

    I hate scotch.

  9. #9
    Virtuoso
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    I have had bourbon that was "fully aged for thirty-six months" that was drinkable. Good would be a stretch. Realistically "decent" would be for years and "good" would be more like six to ten years old.
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  10. #10
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Too long......................

 

 

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