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  1. #11
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by VT Mike View Post
    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.

    This may sound like I'm picking nits, but small barrels don't age bourbon faster, they impart wood character faster. Interaction between the spirit and the barrel is just one factor in aging bourbon.

    In other threads here it's been said that the new make can be tuned to properly age more quickly in smaller barrels, but I've yet to taste an impatient micro with a traditional bourbon profile.
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  2. #12
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisko View Post
    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.
    I agree - exceptions notwithstanding. Like EWBIB, for example: I would claim that as "good" at around 4ish years.
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  3. #13
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    I enjoyed Early Times 354 Bourbon aged 36 months. As for micros, I have never read a single post with positive comments about anything that came out of a small barrel. If it was such a great short cut, everybody would do it.

  4. #14
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    I reckon its also a matter of number of casks

    Having 1 million casks maturing gives you more to work with than having 50 or 100 casks

    We all know the random cask can happen to be wonderful at an age you wouldn't expect it to be

    From my tasting experience its hard to make a great whisky from a small cask,

    There is many microdistilleries out there, but their amount of casks total is not a lot. I reckon we will see some great bourbons in the future, but by statistics it will not be a lot and it might be something not gatting on the radar as few people will actually taste it

    I have part in a cask at las Vegas Distillery and I sampled that at 1yo. That was very very good and if it develops to something better its going to be real good at a relative low number of years

    Steffen

  5. #15
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    These small barrels don't work you have to age it 4 years in a 53 gallon barrel at the least.
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  6. #16
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Whisky can be made in less than four years but will be better at 6-8 years and there is no shortcut to the process.

  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by VT Mike View Post
    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.
    This is a myth. Smaller barrels do not 'age faster.' The whiskey gains more color in a certain amount of time, and some of the flavor substances come into the spirit sooner, but the blanket statement that "the whiskey ages faster" is false. This is not to say, as someone did, that small barrels make lousy whiskey, necessarily. Small barrels can be a vehicle for creating this new style. However, a small barrel does not give you a balanced bourbon character in a shorter period of time, no matter how many times the small barrel apologists say it does.

    Anything smaller than 10 gallons is a joke. Garrison Brothers gets good results from 15 gallon barrels. Thirty gallon barrels seem to function pretty close to the way 53 gallon barrels do. The problem with small barrels is that the whiskey is about as good as it's going to get in 2-3 years, at which time it might have some very good qualities but still won't taste like most people expect bourbon to taste. Then it starts to get overwooded while still having some white-dog taste in the background.
    Last edited by cowdery; 04-06-2013 at 11:27.

  8. #18
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    The Old Forester BIB I've had that was made at DSP 414 is some of the best bourbon I've ever had and the bottle said that the whiskey "at least five years old." It could be that this was glut whiskey and so quite a bit older, but it reminds me to temper my own inclination to think that whiskey has to be 6 or 8 or even 10 years old to be worthwhile.
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  9. #19
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    Re: How long does it take to make good bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by callmeox View Post
    This may sound like I'm picking nits, but small barrels don't age bourbon faster, they impart wood character faster. Interaction between the spirit and the barrel is just one factor in aging bourbon.

    In other threads here it's been said that the new make can be tuned to properly age more quickly in smaller barrels, but I've yet to taste an impatient micro with a traditional bourbon profile.
    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    This is a myth. Smaller barrels do not 'age faster.' The whiskey gains more color in a certain amount of time, and some of the flavor substances come into the spirit sooner, but the blanket statement that "the whiskey ages faster" is false. This is not to say, as someone did, that small barrels make lousy whiskey, necessarily. Small barrels can be a vehicle for creating this new style. However, a small barrel does not give you a balanced bourbon character in a shorter period of time, no matter how many times the small barrel apologists say it does.
    I guess I oversimplified a bit, but that's essentially what I was getting at - the process can be sped up to a certain extent with smaller barrels, but the results just aren't the same.

    Laphroaig Quarter Cask is aged in first-fill bourbon barrels for about 10 years, then re-racked into ex-bourbon barrels that have been re-coopered down to 13 gallons. IMHO it's the best offering in Laphroaig's standard lineup. Maybe some of the American micro-distillers will try going this route, something along the lines of 3-4 years in standard size barrels followed by a few months in smaller barrels.

  10. #20

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

    I will tell you that we started in small barrels but haven't put away one in over a year. I prefer the taste of 53 gallon barrels. I do believe there are a few guys that do small barrel aging very well.

 

 

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