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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    12,375

    What is Old Charter?

    In BOURBON, STRAIGHT I make the following statement:

    Old Charter bourbon, which is more than 80 percent corn, can call itself either straight bourbon or straight corn.
    Well, it turns out, I was wrong, and I mention it because it is kind of interesting. Straight Corn Whiskey must, indeed, be "not less than 80 percent corn," but Old Charter cannot be called corn whiskey because it, as a bourbon, is aged in new, charred oak barrels. A close reading of the regulations reveals that straight corn whiskey may be aged in "used or uncharred new oak barrels" but it cannot be "subjected in any manner to treatment with charred wood."

    I am assuming, and I believe this intent is obvious, that aging in a used barrel that was charred prior to its first use is not considered "treatment with charred wood."

    Interesting.

  2. #2
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Maple Valley, WA
    Posts
    158

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    I bought a bottle of the Old Charter 12 YO quite a while ago, back before I was recording my tasting impressions. IIRC, It was quite good - lots of vanilla and caramel followed by rye. I may have to revisit it again when it is available around here again.

    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Frankfort, KY
    Posts
    499

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    When the Buffalo Trace Distillery purchased Old Charter back in 1999, the brand came full circle. Several decades ago it was made by Schenely, the outfit that once owned Buffalo Trace. Our current Master Distiller, Gary Gayheart worked for them and distilled Charter over 30 years ago. When we acquired the brand, many of our sales reps and Division Managers from the southern states, who were aware of the quality of the brand, immediately adopted both the Charter 10 and 12 as their drink of choice. I had to beat them with a bat to encourage them to switch to Buffalo Trace! Bottom line, Old Charter is one of the better bourbons you will find. The 8 year old, 80 proof is okay, but the 10, 12, and Proprietor's Reserve are really nice.

    Ken

  4. #4
    Guru
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    May 2003
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    Moscow Mills, MO
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    2,507

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    They are indeed quite nice and recently I picked up the 12yo that came with a nice little bag. Let's see, that makes a Red Pappy 20 bag, a black Old Charter bag, a brown Blantons bag, and a maroon Weller Antique bag. A few more different bags and I can make myself a shirt out of them. Keep em coming BT! How bout a yellow AAA 10 yr, a gold Benchmark, and a green Buffalo Trace bag?

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    867

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    The 15yo Johnny Drum sometimes comes with a bag (mine didnīt, though). It is red but lighter in colour than Pappy.

    If you are desperate to expand your collection then let me suggest Crown Royal special reserve. At least mine came with a violet bag.

    Apart from that I really agree about the Classic 90. It is indeed a tasty whiskey!

  6. #6
    Guru
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Moscow Mills, MO
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    2,507

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    I've got a bunch of the Crown Royal bags (used for various items such as fishing reels and poker change) but the shirt would be worn only at the KBF so I have to restrict it to bourbons only. So any of you who don't have any use for your bags, bring em with you to the Sampler or to KBF and help me build my shirt. All donations would be appreciated.

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
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    Oct 1999
    Location
    Sweden
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    867

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    Aah! Didnīt realize you were a CR aficionado.

    Anyway, had I only been in possession of a Johnny Drum bag, I wouldīve been glad to send it to you. Maybe next yearīs KBF?

  8. #8
    Guru
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Moscow Mills, MO
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    2,507

    Re: What is Old Charter?

    I wouldn't call it an afficionado, but growing up in rural Missouri it was usually the best whiskey any local liquor store carried (according to the locals there). Needless to say, to keep myself high on the social register I drank it quite a bit at social functions and had quite a few bags at one time. Most now are old and faded from use as I haven't purchased a bottle in as much as 15 years. I found something I like MUCH better.

  9. #9
    Enthusiast
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    Jun 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
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    479
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Weber
    When the Buffalo Trace Distillery purchased Old Charter back in 1999 ...
    What puzzles me is that BT has only two rye bourbon mash bills - one with low rye, and the other with high. But how can Old Charter and Buffalo Trace, both apparently made from the same low-rye mash bill, taste so different? Not just different in ways that I can see could come from handling differences, but OC seems devoid of rye bite or backbone, as least the 13 yo I have, whereas BT seems to have plenty of character or bite, which I think comes from the rye.

    BT apparently has only two rye-bourbon mash bills. When they acquired OC, did they just start making it with the pre-existing low-rye mash bill? Or did the OC mash bill just happen to be the same as the BT mash bill?

    This lineup has been almost been confirmed by Ken in this thread:

    Mash Bill 1 (low rye) - Old Charter, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, Buffalo Trace
    Mash Bill 2 (high rye) - Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms, Hancock Reserve, Blantons

    What Ken actually wrote was not quite a full confirmation:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Weber
    Nearly every comment made in this thread is accurate.
    But I think that both Ken and Etohchem (Truman Cox, BT chemist) have said that there are only these two rye-bourbon mash bills.

    So what accounts for the differences? Ken also eliminated one other possibility:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Weber
    As far as I know, and I will confirm this with Harlen, all BT Mash bill #1 is entered into the barrel at the same proof (likewise for the other Mash bills).
    So I can think of four other possibilites, and I am sure there are more.

    1) Different yeasts

    2) Different distillation - maybe higher proof for OC than BT and others, or perhaps different cuts, even if the proof came out the same (I think that column stills can be manipulated in this manner).

    3) Different barrel chars.

    4) Different warehouse conditions. (I know this can make a big difference).

    Any ideas? Ken and Etohchem especially?

    Of course, we may never know, as Etohchem wrote

    Quote Originally Posted by etohchem
    Recipe's are secret even within the company. Most Masterdistiller's won't even tell people in the same company the exact recipe's used. There are generality's made like "70-10-15" or "approximately 60% Corn, 20%wheat, and 20% malt". But the true masterdistiller's know down to the ounce what the true proportions are and they don't tell.
    But that doesn't keep me from asking.
    Jeff
    "One never knows, do one?" Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943

  10. #10
    Taster
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    89
    I may have said this before but when I started I was told by Harlen Wheatley:
    5-15% of the flavor comes from the mash
    5-15% of the flavor comes from the yeast
    5-15% of the flavor comes from the distillation
    60-75% of the flavor comes from the barrel.

    To your points
    1) we have one yeast
    2) sorry didn't hear the question
    3)Our barrels aren't seperated. They all come in the same and are filled.
    4) now you are on to something!
    Our Wharehouse Manager has been working here for something like over 43 years. He knows where the sweet floors are and where the slow aging floors are. On most floors he can tell which ricks are going to taste different by the airflow they get. He decides which BT barrels are pulled from specific floors of specific warehouses and we taste and test from there. BT and OC are different because we want them to be.

    Etohchem
    Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Who brought the chips?

 

 

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