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  1. #1
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    Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    The distilling technology post made me curious. In the old days when distillers did barrel entry at much lower proofs there wasn't much in the way of really old bourbon. Back then the age stated stuff ended around 10-12 years, correct?

    Does the lower entry proof let the bourbon pick up barrel flavors and age quicker or was the longer aged stuff just something the market wasn't interested in?

    Are any of the craft(y) distillers looking at going back to lower entry or are the economics unlikely for that to work for the small time any more than the big time?

  2. #2
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
    The distilling technology post made me curious. In the old days when distillers did barrel entry at much lower proofs there wasn't much in the way of really old bourbon. Back then the age stated stuff ended around 10-12 years, correct?

    Does the lower entry proof let the bourbon pick up barrel flavors and age quicker or was the longer aged stuff just something the market wasn't interested in?

    Are any of the craft(y) distillers looking at going back to lower entry or are the economics unlikely for that to work for the small time any more than the big time?
    From what I gather, it's a little of both. A higher percentage of water in the distillate will pull different flavors from the barrel than alcohol. Some components are more soluble in water than alcohol and vice-versa. Additionally, our collective tastes have changed. People are more interested in the flavor of extra-aged American whiskey than they used to be. The Japanese, however, have long enjoyed extra-aged whiskey and the distillers were happy to send whiskey considered past its prime here over there where people enjoyed more barrel influence.
    Some craft distillers are working with lower entry proofs and are producing whiskies that sound promising and should be very tasty when they mature.
    Last edited by mosugoji64; 02-04-2014 at 12:02.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post

    Does the lower entry proof let the bourbon pick up barrel flavors and age quicker or was the longer aged stuff just something the market wasn't interested in?

    Are any of the craft(y) distillers looking at going back to lower entry or are the economics unlikely for that to work for the small time any more than the big time?
    Correct on both counts. Bourbon back then was fully aged between 4-6 years as a number of tastings conducted by members here have shown. Todd Leupold at Leupold Bros and Tom McKenzie at Finger Lakes are making low proof off the still and into the barrel whiskys in the traditional style and I am patiently awaiting the results.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  4. #4
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
    The distilling technology post made me curious. In the old days when distillers did barrel entry at much lower proofs there wasn't much in the way of really old bourbon. Back then the age stated stuff ended around 10-12 years, correct?

    Does the lower entry proof let the bourbon pick up barrel flavors and age quicker or was the longer aged stuff just something the market wasn't interested in?

    Are any of the craft(y) distillers looking at going back to lower entry or are the economics unlikely for that to work for the small time any more than the big time?
    Assuming the whiskey coming out of the barrel is "cut-back" to 80-100 proof with water before bottling, I speculate that more molecules of barrel flavor make into the final bottle if you have a lower entry-proof. So for a given aging period, lower entry-proof distillate would give more barrel flavor than a higher entry spirit. Higher-proof going in would need longer to achieve similar barrel taste. It's a theory at least, I've no specific experience to point to.

    I recall reading that the higher entry proofs were a question of both simple economics (fewer barrels needed for a given output of 80 proof final product) and posibly some more arcane tax logic as well.

  5. #5

    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    Correct on both counts. Bourbon back then was fully aged between 4-6 years as a number of tastings conducted by members here have shown. Todd Leupold at Leupold Bros and Tom McKenzie at Finger Lakes are making low proof off the still and into the barrel whiskys in the traditional style and I am patiently awaiting the results.
    MB Roland is also doing this. Distilling to 105 and then putting it directly into the barrel and bottling at barrel proof. The stuff I've tried has still been too young and in smaller barrels (they are now using full size barrels)but you can taste some promise of things to come

  6. #6
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    The proof off the still was much lower as was the barrel entry proof. One would expect the white dog had more grain flavors because of the lower proof. If some of the numbers I have read are correct it's not likely much water at all was added at barrel entry.
    Is the ratio of water to spirit going into the barrel higher today? Probably.

  7. #7
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Yes, there are others, Cheryl at Delaware Phoenix is doing some interesting hand crafted 1830s style stuff but she ages it less than a year. Todd and Tom both post here and they're aging some whisky more to my interest.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  8. #8
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pikesville View Post
    Assuming the whiskey coming out of the barrel is "cut-back" to 80-100 proof with water before bottling, I speculate that more molecules of barrel flavor make into the final bottle if you have a lower entry-proof. So for a given aging period, lower entry-proof distillate would give more barrel flavor than a higher entry spirit. Higher-proof going in would need longer to achieve similar barrel taste. It's a theory at least, I've no specific experience to point to.
    You can though point to guys like Jim Rutledge who do have the experience and agree with you.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    I think of it as the alcohol is more impervious to change. So the lower the entry proof into the barrel makes the whiskey more changeable by the barrel through time, and the lower the proof out of the barrel means less water has to be added to reach bottle proof, leaving a higher percentage of changed/improved whiskey to water. Both increase flavor.

  10. #10
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    Re: Effects of Lower Barrel Proof On Aging?

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    Bourbon back then was fully aged between 4-6 years...
    Note that Very Old Barton was only six years old. At that age it was 50% older than "the good stuff" (BIB) that came in at 4YO
    If God made anything better than bourbon he must have kept it for Hisself.

 

 

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