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  1. #1
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    Sweetness in Bourbon?

    I am wondering, not being a distiller, where "sweetness" comes from. Does "sugar" in the typical sense come off the still typically? I would think not but don't really know. Esters, and other congeners do but they aren't or at least don't start out as sugars. And yet some new make can seem to have sweeter taste than others. Do congeners convert to sugar or just stimulate the "sweet" taste buds the same as sugars?

    I have presumed most sugar comes from the sugars in the barrel of the wood that are acquired over time by expansion and contraction of the distillate through the wood, which with most things is charred in part to help pull the sugars to the surface and caramelize them.

    So if you examined new make whiskey in a lab would you find "sugar"? Or would you have to know to look for different types of sugar like xylose, glucose, lactose, etc and depending on what types of sugar you find can you speculate what their source is? Presuming they don't get broken down over time!
    Last edited by tanstaafl2; 02-22-2014 at 09:31.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

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  2. #2
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by tanstaafl2 View Post
    I have presumed most sugar comes from the sugars in the barrel of the wood that are acquired over time by expansion and contraction of the distillate through the wood, which with most things is charred in part to help pull the sugars to the surface and caramelize them.
    The sweetness comes what you stated above and the corn.
    I have heard bourbon being referred to as corn congac.
    Wheated bourbons are espicially sweet because unlike rye the wheat grains are mild and allow the corn sweetness to come thru.
    ovh

  3. #3
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by OscarV View Post
    The sweetness comes what you stated above and the corn.
    I have heard bourbon being referred to as corn congac.
    Wheated bourbons are espicially sweet because unlike rye the wheat grains are mild and allow the corn sweetness to come thru.
    Thanks. I guess what I am most curious about is how does the sweetness of the corn carry past distillation? Obviously you are not making 100% alcohol with bourbon and most other brown spirits like cognac/brandy. So does sugar get carried over from the still with the alcohol or is it something in the esters/congeners that provide the corn sweetness (or grape sweetness in cognac or cane sweetness in rum)?

    Does new make white dog actually have identifiable sugar, whether it be lactose, fructose, galactose or whatever, that one can identify chemically? Or do sugars not show up until time in the barrel? Has always confused me a bit and my 30+ year old and rarely used chemistry degree isn't proving any use to me!
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  4. #4
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Good questions. I'm sure they are some variables with the different mash bills and yeasts but I'd like to hear the group thoughts.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  5. #5

    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    You should try some of the buffalo trace white dog, and I think it should mentally clarify things a bit, at least from a palate standpoint . As far as from a chemistry standpoint, I have not a clue, I assume there are some sugars in any distillate. This may also be the reason some cars don't do well with ethanol?

  6. #6
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Quote Originally Posted by benpearson View Post
    You should try some of the buffalo trace white dog, and I think it should mentally clarify things a bit, at least from a palate standpoint . As far as from a chemistry standpoint, I have not a clue, I assume there are some sugars in any distillate. This may also be the reason some cars don't do well with ethanol?
    I've had the white dog at BT, both in the bottle and off the still. Also tried it a few times at other places. Kick ass stuff and yet still some sense of corn sweetness in there. Just don't know if that is perception from congeners or actual sugar or both. Or just my imagination!

    I am guessing ethanol for cars is further refined to pretty high proof and doesn't have much resemblance to white dog! More like Golden Grain/Everclear.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  7. #7
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Whiskey is distilled from a type of beer. Yeasts typically stop working when ethanol gets up around 10%. There is probably at least some sugar left in the mash that gets distilled. I don't know how much would make it into the spirit.

  8. #8
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    I've presumed, well, for as long as I've thought about such things, that the sweetness comes mostly from the charred barrel vanillin and wood sugars. I would like to see someone age new make Bourbon mash whisky in a toasted rather than charred barrel. It wouldn't qualify as Bourbon of course but would be unique and something distillers like Leupold or Finger Lakes could produce.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  9. #9
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    In beer making, corn will add a unique sweetness. Depending on the mash temps, grist percentage, and yeast used would determine residual sweetness. I'd assume that would translate to the whiskey. Also the barrels. I would think the mash recipe would also either enhance or balance that sweetness on all levels.

  10. #10
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    Re: Sweetness in Bourbon?

    Sweetness is the term I would use to describe my first pour of SB blend last night. Thank goodness I didn't try it on Fri or Sat might because there would have been a big dent in my W12 & OWA.

 

 

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