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Thread: 'Tis the Season

  1. #1
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    'Tis the Season

    The subject of distilling seasons came up on another thread and I thought it worth discussing. In the days before air conditioning (which the kids date somewhere between the neolithic and bronze ages) late Summer heat had a decided effect on distilling. Yeast would grow lethargic in the mash tub, even lay down and die on the job, even the stills worked differently. So the plants simply shut down during the months of July-August which had the practical advantage of allowing time for maintenance, barrel rotation and other necessary upkeep. This broke the distilling time into 'seasons' between Sept-June then picking back up in September. This means that during a calendar year (Jan-Jan) there would be parts of two different seasons.

    Interesting that a requirement of bottled in bond was the whisky had to be produced in one season even though one season actually took place in two different years.
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  2. #2
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    I wondered about that (season stretching over a New Year) when I read the reg on BIB but didn't do any searching for Revenue Rulings or ATF releases to see what additional guidance is out there now that column stills run relatively continuously. I suppose some persons on SB have talked to, or actually are or have been, distiller attorneys or revenue agents who would know the dirty details. For example, it seems to me that, other than the trivial case of shutting down for cleaning or repair, a reasonable end of "season" might occur when the mash entering or the temp/pressure etc. of the column or proof off the still is changed sufficiently to create a head or tail between product runs. [ASIDE: Do they even do that?]

    That said, I noticed that my EWSB 2002, 2003, and 2004 were barreled in 10/02, 2/03, and 3/04, respectively, and were bottled 10/12, 8/13, and 11/13, respectively. In olden days, I guess my 2002 and 2003 would be from the same season.

  3. #3
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    That would be correct Harry, about the season.
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  4. #4
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    So it's just a matter of semantics? Who's to say then when an actual season starts and ends? Totally up to the distiller?
    Everyday my spirit seems to find its way to the bottom of a glass...... Don

  5. #5
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    Quote Originally Posted by dSculptor View Post
    So it's just a matter of semantics? Who's to say then when an actual season starts and ends? Totally up to the distiller?
    It would be based on their schedule.
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  6. #6
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    Given the long lead times from product idea to sale for any new products subject to the "season" req't, and given the long, legally required aging time for current products subject to this "season" req't, producers probably can't be too arbitrary on declaring "season over". Goodness, with all the other advertising gimmicks we are faced with nowadays (my latest obsession - that "Estate Bottled" tag at the top of the Old Bardstown label), we soon should be getting seasonal bourbons to match our seasonal beers so we can enjoy seasonal boilermakers.

  7. #7
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    Quote Originally Posted by dSculptor View Post
    Who's to say then when an actual season starts and ends? Totally up to the distiller?
    Yes, entirely up to them. It's not a secret, careful records are kept and reported, and the distiller can run year round if they want. I suppose continuous production would be an annual season from Jan-Jan but everybody shuts down for at least a couple of weeks for necessary maintenance. Not really a problem for those who produce a lot of whisky and want to keep some BIB labels in their product line up.
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  8. #8
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    Re: 'Tis the Season

    While looking for something else in the federal regs applicable to labeling and advertising of distilled spirits (27 CFR Part 5), I stumbled on a definition of "season" for purposes of the Part - "the period from January 1 through June 30, is the spring season and the period from July 1 through December 31 is the fall season." For the lawyers and others wanting to see it for themselves, the definition is under 27 CFR sec. 5.11- Meaning of terms. A perusal of Revenue Rulings etc. turned up nothing inconsistent.

 

 

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