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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    OH
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    261

    Looking Back - Looking Forward

    There have been some very interesting subjects discussed on the forum lately and this has caused me to do a great deal of thinking . Now, I want everyone to know this is just my opinion but in years gone by they distilled at lower proofs which has lead many to believe "put it in the barrel at lower proof you get more flavor". I have tasted a few bourbons from the past and you would swear that the statement is true as they were really good, but, unfortunately it cannot be said for every bottling. I have also tasted bourbon from the same era that was awful . So, it seems to me it was a "hit and miss" proposition. Today, however, it is not "hit and miss". Everyone knows the flavors come from the conigers-good and bad. If you get too many bad you wake up with a "grand-daddy" of them all headaches. Too few and you do not get much taste. The way our master distillers are making it now is absolutely an art, along with a lot of other help, of course. For example, you can take some of the bourbon today (and I don't necessarly mean the high dollar end) for instance WT, Buffalo Trace,AAA 10 YO, VOB or HH just to name a few and put up against any bourbon of the past. Agreed, sometimes, the old bottlings will out-point the new, but rarely. I believe it was not such an art back then as it was just plain luck as they did not have the consistency as we enjoy today. For me, I will take the new!! And here's to you

    Cheers,
    Marvin

  2. #2
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    495

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Hi Marvin,

    I am totally unfamiliar with the old Bourbons. All I can say is that over the last year, I have encountered more and more very fine Bourbons. I don't know how they stack up against the Bourbons of yester-year, but I do know that I'm pretty darn satisfied with the way things look goin forward! I just hope that the trend continues, then lookin forward will be very good indeed!

    Bob

  3. #3

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    I think in general the lower the proof, the more flavor. Look at it this way. If you start with a wort that is about 10% alcohol, you have all of the flavor that exists. (Except for what can be obtained from the wood.) And if you take a 180 proof distillate from that wort, you have flavorless vodka.

    But as you say, the flavors you end up with may not be pleasant flavors. That is where the art of the distiller comes in and where the mash bill plays a part.

    Regards, jimbo

    <font color="blue"> There have been some very interesting subjects discussed on the forum lately and this has caused me to do a great deal of thinking . Now, I want everyone to know this is just my opinion but in years gone by they distilled at lower proofs which has lead many to believe "put it in the barrel at lower proof you get more flavor". I have tasted a few bourbons from the past and you would swear that the statement is true as they were really good, but, unfortunately it cannot be said for every bottling. I have also tasted </font>

  4. #4
    The Boss
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    2,664

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Jim,

    Please read your private messages.

  5. #5
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,237

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    I'll apply a term here that is used in financial circles - survivorship bias. This is the concept that what is left today of the past may be only what was strong enough to have survived, or in our case, been worth keeping. Perhaps none or little of the bad stuff was kept. Therefore, what we have today of the past is not a representative sample of what the past was.

    However, we have enough historians here to let me know if this concept has any application to bourbon!

  6. #6
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Bryan, Ohio
    Posts
    1,907

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Perhaps none or little of the bad stuff was kept. Therefore, what we have today of the past is not a representative sample of what the past was.


    Which is what I have always wondered tasting and talking about old time bourbon. I was not alive back then. Thusly I could not have bought bourbon nack then and found what I liked and disliked on my own. Many people (Mike Veach &amp; Omar included) have been nice enough to let me sample some sublime historiuc bottlings and they were excellent. I jyst have this sinking feeling that there was plenty of bottom shelf tripe out there at the time as well. I just dont think I will ever try that because who saves the s**t bottlings, why waste the time and space. So I know I personally cannot weigh in fairly on the argument being that I havent tried the full range of "old-time bourbons", unlike what I think is a better understanding of the range of whiskey today.

    TomC

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Louisville, Ky.
    Posts
    722

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Marvin,
    I agree with you that there were some pretty gawd-awfull bourbons back then as well as some very great ones. At the same time consider this - Have you ever drank a bourbon from Stitzel-Weller Van Winkle era that you consider bad? Makers Mark from as short of time as 1980 (less than 25 years ago) was way superior to what is being made today. This proves in my mind that a good product could be made on a regular basis and it was not just hit and miss. Most of the things I find depressing about today's distillers are things caused by the bean counters - higher distillation and barrel proof, lower bottle proof, more corn and less other grains because corn is cheapest, and the use of enzymes and lactic acids because they are cheaper than malt or backset. If the bean counters have their way brands will not matter because they will all be made the same way (as cheap as possible) and taste the same.
    On the other hand Marvin - imagine this scenario - old fashioned methods with low proof for distilling and the barrel, with todays controls and knowledge. I don't think you would have as many bad products as 50 years ago and the good products may be even better.
    Mike Veach

  8. #8
    Taster
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    95

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Good post BourbonNV. Very insightful. I agree that to many corporate ties inhibit the production of good whiskies.

  9. #9

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    Most of the things I find depressing about today's distillers are things caused by the bean counters - higher distillation and barrel proof, lower bottle proof, more corn and less other grains because corn is cheapest, and the use of enzymes and lactic acids because they are cheaper than malt or backset. If the bean counters have their way brands will not matter because they will all be made the same way (as cheap as possible) and taste the same.
    Very true. Just look at Budmillours beer. But, micro brewers stepped in and started taking markets away. And guess what, all of the major brewers are now producing some really great beer. Whiskey distillers haven't gotten to the point where beer brewers were 20 years ago and as long as they produce the small batch and single barrel bourbon, they (and we) should be OK.

    Regards, jimbo

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Rockland County, NY
    Posts
    1,937

    Re: Looking Back - Looking Forward

    This discussion begs the question.
    What about microdistilleries?
    Would it be possible/profitable for entrepeneurs to create a niche product with small production at a premium price?
    If the price of small batch and superpremiums keeps going up, I bet there will be a point where someone goes for it.
    It should be US. Straighbourbon.com Bourbon.


 

 

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