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  1. #101
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    >> "The annual cycle of heating and cooling gives subtle effects that are
    >> only marginally different than, say, 4 straight years of steady summer
    >> temperature followed by 4 straight years of winter temperature."

    > Tim, if this was true, why do distillers (some of them) make such a big
    > thing about artificial cycling?

    Why do distillers make such a big thing about only the finest ingredients,
    traditional methods, and etc. when we all know they used commodity grains,
    the distilleries are giant modern factories, etc.? It makes a good story.

    If it's the cycling (i.e. expansion and contraction, soaking into the wood
    and receding) that's so important, then why don't they build the warehouses
    to be as cold as possible, and cycle the heat on and off as much as possible?
    According to the cycling theory, that would result in the fastest maturation.
    Maturation would go faster in the winter than in the summer!

    My view is that chemical reactions happen faster at higher temperature. In
    relatively-cold Scotland, you hardly see anything aged less than ten years.
    In the relatively-hot Caribbean, four years is well-aged. I peg
    bourbon at sixish to sevenish, with obvious notable exceptions. One might
    argue that these aging times are a matter of style, but I would respond
    that the sytle reflect the "terroir"... it is dictated by the weather and
    the raw materials. But mostly the weather!

    Tim Dellinger

  2. #102
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Hear's a picture that Randy is talking about.
    The kegs were three sizes, 1,2,3 gallons, and priced from $45~$75.
    I buy the T-shirts every year and yes they are 10$ and the pins are $2
    They sell good stuff at probably the lowest price around the ground.

    Koji
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #103
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    > You refer to rum, but rum isn't really sweet and when it is, I suspect the
    > sweet comes from added caramel or sugar, not lignin and other wood sugars.

    We tend to speak of aging as if it were just one process, one thing that is
    happening. That's a terrible oversimplification! The spirit is losing it's
    firey edge, it's picking up color, tannins, sugars, etc. etc. etc... all
    happening at different rates that depend on all kinds of different variables
    in complex non-linear ways.

    To pick the aspects that are easier to notice: rum certainly picks up color!
    And tannins! The only source of these is the barrel. (Well, as long as
    they're not using caramel color or "flavorings"... I'm not the world's
    expert on rum regulations when it comes to rum additive rules.)


    Tim Dellinger

  4. #104
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    While chill-filtering has a noticable effect on the relatively delicate
    flavor of Scotch whisky (and also can have a big effect on the peat
    montsters, too), most bourbons are so big and robust that the chill
    filtering doesn't really knock back the taste all that much.

    Most of the bourbon we know and love has had a lot of those fatty acid
    esters knocked out by chill filtering. Do I disagree with chill filtering?
    Yes. Do I see, from a business perspective, why they do it? Reluctantly,
    I admit I do.

    So my conclusion is that you won't miss 'em. The fatty acids mostly come
    from fermentation, and although they are changed duing aging, they don't
    really interact with the barrel or the barrel components to a huge degree...
    there are other (smaller molecular weight) things in there that aren't
    knocked out by chill filtering that do similar things.

    Are you missing out if you age chill-filtered whiskey? Well, a little
    bit, but not so much that you'd really notice it.

    I think Julian has done some chill-filtered vs. not chill filtered
    side by sides, but I don't recall that he ever made a specific post
    to SB.com about it. Maybe someone could ask him.

    Tim Dellinger

  5. #105
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    Re-Barreling - Talked to Bob

    In this thread, I don't think there's been any knowledge from people who have actually done re-barelling. Today, I talked with Bob, an aquaintance who has been re-barelling in a 3-gallon, charred white American oak barrel (like they use in Kentucky, except for size). Following is his experience.

    Methodology:
    - Has only used commonly available proofs of whiskey (80-86 proof)
    - Has used (if I remember rightly) Forester, Grand Dad, Beam White, and mixed in a little Maker's at times.

    Results:
    - First batch gets to unpleasant amounts of woodiness at about 3 months and needs to be removed,
    - Second at 6-7 months
    - Third batch needn't be removed until ready (presumably years); behaves like one would expect of a full-sized barrel
    - First 2 batches primarily aquire wood-imparted taste changes (vanillins, tannins), after that the more complex factors come more into play (oxidation, evaporation, char)
    - Says that even small amounts of time will have positive effects and will start to "smooth out" the flavor almost immediately. I would guess the char contact and/or aeration during racking (being a brewer, I doubt he dumps) is the primary reason for this quick improvement.

    Based on listening to his experience, I personally wouldn't use my most expensive stock on the first 2 batches cycled through a virgin barrel, and surely wouldn't put in a limited availability product until the third batch.

    Speculation about higher vs. lower proof and filtered vs. non-filtered remains untested, and will no doubt continue to be richly debated.

    Roger

    PS I got a 5 gallon charred barrel today, and it has the sweet vanilla and oak scent so familiar in those great ol'rickhouses of Kentucky. The smell of a fresh charred barrel is definitely more robust, sweet and smoky than the more delicate, more grassy sweetness in the aroma of a lightly toasted virgin barrel awaiting wine.

  6. #106
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    Re: Re-Barreling - Talked to Bob

    Roger, that is interesting data. This suggests to me that if given a choice people using small kegs for re-barreling should require a light char only and use as large a keg as possible. It is evident to me the fast maturation results from the relatively small liquid volume in relation to a larger vessel, hence also the high evaporation rate noted by some (Koji mentioned this). This assumes that a light char imparts less flavor than a heavy one, which is another point perhaps not accepted by all, but I think probably correct when one thinks too that only toasted casks are used for wine. Your observations also makes me wonder whether Heaven Hill uses only a light char for its barrels because its whiskies are known for a grassy taste, one that is familiar to wine drinkers and evidently comes from the tones of lightly flamed barrels. Of course HH uses charred barrels, not toasted barrels, but I am wndering if it is a light char and may impart some of the characteristics that toasted barrels do to the wines they hold.

    In any case, the idea of reusing a small new charred barrel to further age bourbon or rye seems a good one in that the reuse would off-set the heavy aging characteristic of the new barrel, one that results solely from its small size. This may argue for using used charred barrels for such experiments. An advantage of same is their low cost. Someone who can work with wood can I am sure make those containers smaller. Even if quarter-sized that should work well if a close-fitting top can be fashioned. There are many ways to go about this but your friend's experience of obtaining a smoother (and no doubt higher proof) whiskey suggests it is worth trying.

    Gary

  7. #107
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Tim, I've had a number of non-chill filtered scotch whiskies and am not convinced they are more flavorful than filtered ones. I've done side by sides of two whiskies of the same brand, one filtered, one not, and they seemed identical virtually in taste allowing for proof differences and so forth. I am not saying filtration has no effect on flavor but I think any changes are very small.

    Gary

  8. #108
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    Re: Re-Barreling - Talked to Bob

    Your observations also makes me wonder whether Heaven Hill uses only a light char for its barrels
    Books can be notoriously inaccurate on subjects like this since there are reasons that some distillers like to play it close to the vest, but according to p. 252 in Regan and Regan's The Book of Bourbon (the big brown book, 1995), they use #3. Same info in their 1998 Bourbon Companion (p. 156).

    Waymack and Harris concur on p. 104 of their 1995 Book of Classic American Whiskeys. They write, "Unlike many distilleries that use the deepest char, a #4, Heaven Hill makes use of a #3 char. [QC Michael] Sonne's argument, affirmed with a nod from Craig Beam, is that a #4 char would be something of an overkill, that Heaven Hill is looking for a balance of components in its Bourbon products, and that the #3 char just works better for them."

    Despite Waymack and Harris' first sentence above, #3 is most typical. The Regans give these barrel chars in Bourbon Companion:

    Ancient Age #3
    Smith Bowman #2
    Barton 3#
    Bernheim 3#
    Medley #3
    Early Times #3
    Four Roses #3.5
    Dickel #3
    Heaven Hill #3
    Jack Daniel 3#
    Jim Beam #4
    Maker's Mark #3
    Wild Turkey #4

    Jeff

  9. #109
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    Re: Re-Barreling - Talked to Bob

    Thanks, Jeff (and for your earlier notes on WT rye and Old Forester 100 proof). This makes me think the grassiness in HH bourbon - kind of a house taste up to about 12 years of aging - may not be due to the degree of barrel charring. Although, one never knows and each company may use a proprietary version of the barrels which lends particular notes. Maybe the HH yeast is the explanation. I like that grassy taste when the bourbon is high proof and sweet, e.g., as tasted from the barrel during the recent SB tour. The flavor may derive from the amount and type of rye used, as well. Guess I'm not being much help here.

    Of one thing I am sure, the grassy flavour is a traditional bourbon taste. Remember the Gillman theory of the mint julep: mint was added to chilled, sweetened bourbon drinks where they lacked enough rye to impart a sufficiently minty taste. This was done I think to recall in Kentucky the minty quality of Pennsylvania rye whiskey and the drinks made from that base in the "old country". A traditional bourbon maker, though, ensured his bourbon had an undertone of rye flavor. Which did not stop people ultimately from adding mint even to rye-recipe bourbons, but that kind of thing will happen, as a natural evolution. It's like the old French dish haricot of mutton, which meant a mutton or lamb stew. Originally the term haricot, which means bean in modern French, meant something different as used in the name of this dish or possibly it was a corruption of some other word. The original dish, that is, had no beans. Modern versions of the dish call for beans. Closer example, maybe: the original version of a Louisville Hot Brown did not (I recall reading) use brown gravy, but rather a white sauce called Mornay sauce (flour, butter, Parmesan, egg). More recent versions (some, at any rate) use a brown gravy, or a white sauce but advise to brown the dish under the broiler. The term "Brown" in the dish refers to the Brown Hotel of Louisville, KY where the dish was invented (at a society party) in 1923, to be exact. With time, some people forgot where the term Brown came from and decided the dish needed a brown gravy or a heavy browning to be authentic.

    Gary

  10. #110
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    The Laphroaig (distillery bottling, chill filtered) vs. MurrayMcDavid "Leapfrog"
    (independent bottling, not chill filtered) is a popular side by side to
    demonstrate the effect of chill filtering. It made a believer outta me!

    Tim Dellinger

 

 

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