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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
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    Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Case in point: Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

    The story of this delicious whisky is well known. I've just read that Quarter Cask now accounts for 25% of all of Laphroaig's sales.

    So here's my question: Where is Beam (now Suntory) getting all of those small barrels? Chuck has said in his blog that all of the major American distilleries are using standard 53 gallon barrels (apart from the Buffalo Trace experiment). Presumably Laphroaig would need a steady supply of small ex-bourbon barrels in order to keep up with demand. Surely none of the micros have enough volume to supply a brand the size of Laphroaig. On top of this, their sister distillery Ardmore also uses a quarter cask process. Are they just re-using them over and over again?

    I'm not trying to start a conspiracy theory or anything like that. But I feel like I might not be understanding a key part of this story. Does anyone know?
    trying to walk a straight line,
    on sour mash and cheap wine

  2. #2
    Guru
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    Jackson, MS
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    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Once the barrels are used here they are dismantled for shipment (saves space) and reassembled by coopers in Scotland. It's easy enough to cut some down to a smaller size.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  3. #3
    Connoisseur
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    Jan 2012
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    519

    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Looks like they are made for Laphroaig at Speyside Cooperage. This website talks about a visit to Speyside Cooperage, where the quarter casks were being made. http://mixwithmike.tumblr.com/post/1...o-the-speyside

    I don't think they are using small ex-bourbon barrels. I think they are aging it in regular size ex-bourbon barrels and then finishing in these quarter casks specially made for them that never held bourbon.
    Epicurean in the ATL - Atlanta-Based Food, Whiskey & Cocktail Blog

  4. #4
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    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Or, as Squire says, maybe Speyside Cooperage is cutting bourbon barrels down to the 40 gallon size.
    Epicurean in the ATL - Atlanta-Based Food, Whiskey & Cocktail Blog

  5. #5
    Advanced Taster
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    Toronto
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    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Interesting. I wouldn't have thought that possible. So they re-build them at 1/4 size. On the surface the process seems inefficient, but it also seems like it has worked for them.
    trying to walk a straight line,
    on sour mash and cheap wine

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
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    Jan 2012
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    519

    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    The Laphroaig website does note that using the small barrels is more expensive for them.
    Epicurean in the ATL - Atlanta-Based Food, Whiskey & Cocktail Blog

  7. #7
    Guru
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    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    It's both, aging in regular barrels and finishing in the quarter casks for seven months. Of course the quarter cask used is not 1/4 of the standard 53 gallon barrel, rather it's a quarter of a hogshead (145 gal capacity) which comes out to be about 36 gal. Cutting a 53 gal barrel down to 36 gal is not as difficult as it might seem.

    Now lengthening a 36 to a 53 would prove problematic.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  8. #8
    Enthusiast
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    Dec 2012
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    310

    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Whatever they are doing, they are doing a fantastic job!

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
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    Feb 2012
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    Suburbs of Houston, Texas
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    503

    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    This would be heresy in the bourbon part of the forum, I know, but IF you like peaty single malts then with the price of bourbon continually going up and a lot of ages going down then I would say that Laph QC is approaching the best quality and complexity to price ratio at around $50 +/ $10.

    As zillah said.."Whatever they are doing, they are doing a fantastic job!"

    I haven't had QC in a couple of years. Maybe time to lay off the bourbon for a while and get a bottle.

  10. #10
    Enthusiast
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    Jan 2014
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    MD
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    459

    Re: Small Barrels Don't Always Produce Lousy Whisky

    Laphroaig QC is an outstanding dram. The peat blast is there, but the bottle I had really served as an exemplar of what people were talking about when they mentioned "briny" and "medicinal" in their tasting notes. I like my whisky tasty and educational.
    Eric

 

 

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