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  1. #1
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    Rare Breed used to be better

    I read this in several places recently, and just now in the "Favorite Barrel Proof" thread, so I figured I would start a separate thread about this. Here's a quote:

    Quote Originally Posted by onemorepour View Post
    Give the WTRB a crack, especially if you already like the 101.
    Mind you I also agree that it used to be better, but its still very good.
    For those who say it "used to be" better, why is that? Is it because the current release (WT 03RB) is lower proof that the previous releases? Or did WT do something to the flavor? When did RB change from "better" to the current "not as good"?

    Here's the list of bottlings I collected from somewhere on this site (can't remember)...did the change from "better" to "not as good" happen all at once with a particular release? Or was it a gradual thing?

    I'm keeping an eye out for older releases...how far back do I need to look for when RB was "better"?

    1) W-T-01-91 (109.6 proof) First Issue
    2) W-T-02-91 (110 proof)
    3) W-T-01-93 (110.8 proof)
    4) W-T-03-93 (111.4 proof)
    5) W-T-03-94 (109.6 proof)
    6) W-T-01-95 (109 proof)
    7) W-T-02-95 (109 proof)
    8) W-T-01-96 (108.8 proof)
    9) W-T-01-97 (108.6 proof)
    10) W-T-01-99 (108.4 proof)
    11) WT 03RB (108.2 proof) current release

  2. #2
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    In my opinion somewhere in the middle of the 03RB release. All of the earlier ones were quite good and even quite a few 03RBs although there was a drop off from the 99s.
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    WT has raised their barrel entry proof which would explain some of the decline in quality.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    Quote Originally Posted by luther.r View Post
    WT has raised their barrel entry proof which would explain some of the decline in quality.
    Can you provide a link? I can't find anything about that on SB...TIA!

  5. #5
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    If they changed their entry, wouldn't that mean they would have to go lower in the rickhouse to get barrels to make their 108.2 proof point?

    I have only had the 03b myself, but for 12 years now they have had the same release, that's either a very large stainless steel tub vatted 12 years ago, or they deliberately add barrels based on proof to match the 108.2, which may at times get in the way of matching flavor profiles? Maybe the ratio of 6 to 8 to 12 changes things as well. I would much prefer different batch numbers when they change the mix.

    Anyone know what WT's process for vatting the RB is?

  6. #6
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    Oboe I wouldn't say the quality was better in the past, if anything it's better now in a qualitative, consistent sense. Distillers today have a greater understanding of the interplays of yeast, barrel aging and production techniques than they did 50 years ago. A computer will more accurate control a still than a stillman using feel, sound and experience but what's lost is the individuality brands once possessed.

    We now have the equivalent of Wonderbread brands that are very consistent, very high quality, yet lacking in the distinctiveness they once had. Consolidation and standardization have replaced the human touch.

    There is no single cause, rather an accumulation of incremental changes over time. I suspect the largest factor is increasing the proof off the still and into the barrel. The still at Stitzel Weller, which Pappy referred to as a marvel of "generations of Kentucky distilling ingenuity", with it's reflux system couldn't distill higher than 120 proof and was usually run lower. The still at Yellowstone, the largest selling brand in Kentucky during it's day, was constructed in a similar fashion. Modern column stills can crank it out at 190 proof or even higher. They can also make it at 100 proof at the touch of a control but don't because 160 proof (the legal max for Bourbon) is more profitable.

    Higher barrel entry proof is more profitable as well because that makes for higher alcohol yield per barrel. When Bernheim came on line in 1992 it was a state of the art place yet the Master Distiller argued against higher barrel entry proof saying there was no real difference between 110 and 112 and very little difference between 112 and 114 but there was a noticeable difference between 110 and 114.

    So there we are, pressure rather than atmospheric cooking of the mash, dry rather than fresh cultured yeast, new make whisky distilled to 160 proof and entering the barrel at 125, increased aging because higher barrel entry proof takes longer to absorb the essence from the barrel (yet still not doing as good a job in extracting flavor nuances) and no longer mixing in the honey barrels with the rest to create the brand profile.

    For me the two biggest factors are higher still/entry proof and siphoning off the best barrels for more profitable small batch and single barrel expressions.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    Quote Originally Posted by DrBob View Post
    If they changed their entry, wouldn't that mean they would have to go lower in the rickhouse to get barrels to make their 108.2 proof point?
    Maintaining the same proof point year after year certainly implies some engineering going on. Of course they can change the proof statement on the label anytime.
    Last edited by squire; 02-03-2014 at 10:08.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    For me the two biggest factors are higher still/entry proof and siphoning off the best barrels for more profitable small batch and single barrel expressions.
    Thanks squire, great perspective...so when did higher entry proof for RB happen?

  9. #9
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    Quote Originally Posted by Oboe Cadobro View Post
    Can you provide a link? I can't find anything about that on SB...TIA!
    Some good reading here:
    http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/201...on-part-3.html

    and here:
    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...e-bottle-proof

  10. #10
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    Re: Rare Breed used to be better

    During the years I've been drinking Wild Turkey (admittedly quite a few) the barrel entry proof has gone from 103 to 105 to 107 and now is 110. I don't recall when the latest change occurred but I recall posting about it.

    Go do a search on Chuck Cowdery's blog, I'm sure he covered the changes.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

 

 

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