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  1. #31
    Bourbonian of the Year 2009 and Virtuoso
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Gary....Flatery will get you everything......those were flatering comments, weren't they? Of course, a Belmont will make an appearance for tasting at the next gathering of SB'ers.

    Randy

  2. #32
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Thanks Randy, I'm shameless, I know.

    They were flattering comments, indeed. Because, brevity is the soul of wit and insouciance, a charming quality.

    Gary

  3. #33
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own barrel?

    Gary, this is a very interesting post and I’m learning a lot!

    The information here is timed quite well with similar thoughts and ambitions of my own, as I’d like to try further aging whisky in my own barrel(s) to experiment with taste and time.

    I’ll post a couple of thoughts that will pose as questions. Please, correct or refine as needed. (4years old is an arbitrary number hereafter)

    I suppose:

    A new barrel will take elements from and give elements to the whiskey inside. When barrel is young this process is probably more active or speedy. As the barrel gets older the processes slows. I can see how putting a 4 year old whiskey in a new barrel would likely need only a short stay in the new barrel to “finish” the maturation process. But, at some point in time the barrel will be of optimum age/progression to be able to accept a 4 year old whiskey for an extended time, let’s say 15-20 years more. During this time of youth or newness the whiskey should probably be sampled frequently, if heading toward too much woodiness a certain amount could/should be drawn off and replaced with “newer’ whisky until at a certain point in time, all the existing whiskey could be left for the long haul.

    For the short term this would be kind of like a “Living Barrel or pseudo Solera System”…certainly interesting for, let’s say, a study group sampling situation? A small sample could also be archived for a tell-tale or history at each point of tasting or content exchange. In the future, this would allow for a look back in time as the barrel progresses.

    My thoughts move toward the products used for the contents of the new barrel. This is where input from others could help me out. I’m currently considering whiskies that are reasonably priced and have a flavor profile that would lend to the belief that further maturation would likely be beneficial to that particular whisky. I’m open to using more than one “brand” in this mixture. People with mixing and blending experience could probably help out a whole bunch here. But, this quest is going to be slightly different in the sense that “older” whiskies are not likely to be going in the barrel…they are already aged and usually higher priced. The twist would be that the choice of any whiskey would be complimentary to the others used in the vatting. Not all whiskies would have to be perfect, defects in one could be overcome with strong points in the other.

    My current candidates for young whiskies that might be better with time would be my “vintage” bottles of Yellowstone, Grand-Dad and Old Crow, 80-86 proofers. (Not the BIB”s that I have), the current edition of Ancient Age seems to be a good candidate along with BT and Barton’s. Something from Heaven Hill?... I wouldn’t leave out the possibility of adding a bit of Wild Turkey 101 to the barrel either! (This would help to “up the proof” as well)

    Help!…What else could be added to the list? (Remember, economy, compatibility and long range maturation potential…then mention the attributes of the whiskey you selected!

    Best regards, Doug

  4. #34

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

    ...Of course, a Belmont will make an appearance for tasting at the next gathering of SB'ers.
    Randy
    I think you just guaranteed a high number of SB'ers will make an appearance at the next showing of Belmont.

  5. #35
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own barrel?

    Very good thoughts. E.g. it is true putting a four year old whiskey in a new barrel is different from the commercial norm of entering new whiskey in a new barrel where the two change together at a constant rate. Still, I don't think it would matter too much to alter the traditional practice. Probably at most the effect of using a new barrel for an already aged whiskey would be as you suggest to accelerate the further aging, so careful monitoring would be necessary to ensure the whiskey does not get overaged or unbalanced from such treatment.

    I agree also that it would make sense to use young whiskeys for this, i.e., those 4 years old or so. No sense in further aging, say, an Elmer T. Lee, it is already well-matured. Although possibly a year in a small keg could "finish" even a WT 101, this is possible. But my sense is to stick with 4 year old whiskeys, and Ancient Age seems ideal in that it is available in jugs, not expensive and has a good basic flavour that seems capable of evolution. There are many other regular brands that might quality, e.g. some of the Heaven Hill-branded whiskeys as you said, Beam White, Maker's Mark, the lesser labels of Barton's, some of the young ryes in the market (especially Potrero or Overholt, and so forth - although those don't come in jugs!).

    I should say too that used bourbon barrels are quite readily available, so one could continue aging at the same rate (more or less) as the commercial norm. However, used barrels would likely be too large. Maybe though they could be broken down or refashioned in some way to be a smaller container.

    I think the logic of the exercise is there, and numerous variations are possible including aging a blending of whiskeys. The latter practice in fact is quite common today, where a blend of aged whiskeys is "married" in oak vats or barrels for a further period of months or even years. Some Canadian whiskies, and many scotches, are processed in this way. There is a "double-casked" Canadian whisky which follows precisely this mode, for ewxample.

    Gary

  6. #36
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    In the 1930's, quarter-casks were used to mature whiskey. There was a shortage of whiskey post-Volstead and distillers needed to make a saleable product more quickly than would result from the standard barrel.
    This technique has been resurrected in Scotland lately (e.g. Laphroaig Quarter Cask). Scottish distillers were caught flat-footed by the relatively sudden popularity of single malts after some very lean years in the 1980s and early 90s, and now the supply of 10+ year old single malt has been squeezed.

    This (along with the sinking dollar) has helped make bourbon a much better deal, at least in the USA. I've seen nasty price jumps (50% or more) on several of my favorite single malts.

    Still, if you like Islay SMSW, Laphroaig Quarter Cask is outstanding. Word on the street is that it's about six years old; it was first matured in standard casks, then reracked into the quarters. I've heard that some other quarter cask "experiments" haven't turned out so well, though.

  7. #37
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Scottish grain whisky, while higher proof than malt whisky (or bourbon) is not GNS. The corn whisky component of Canadian whisky has much the same issue. It's nearly neutral but not, in fact, neutral. For that matter, put GNS into a new, charred oak barrel and something will happen. The wood sugars and other barrel goodies will still come out of the wood and go into the spirit, just as they would if you filled the barrel with water. What you would get wouldn't be whiskey, either de facto or de jure, but it wouldn't be vodka (or plain water) either.

  8. #38
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    I agree and have made similar points in posts some years ago. Fleischman was aware that the barrel would impart some effect to "spirit" (as he called it) aged in wood, and I believe too his "spirit" was probably not the most refined kind of grain spirit but probably similar to Scotch or Canadian grain spirit today (although I note the latter is generally distilled very high, usually at 194-196 proof, but I accept the point made). He knew of course of this kind of grain spirit because when he wrote (1885) blended Canadian and Scotch whisky was emerging and the column still had existed for many years.

    He was simply cautioning his readers that by aging such a product they should not expect it to have the character a bourbon or rye whiskey would have after aging. The book was addressed to the licensed, and people thinking of entering the blending and rectification, trades.

    I mentioned on the other board that the 1911 Brittanica Encyclopaedia is available free online. This is the classic edition said at the time to represent the sum of the world's knowledge. The entry on whiskey is very interesting. It tends to focus mostly on Scotch and Irish whiskey but there is some emphasis on American whiskey. The chemical discussion is quite sophisticated, and this is only some 25 years after Fleischman was writing (less if one allows for usual publication lags). The Brittanica notes that grain whisky has measureable levels of congeners and is different from pure alcohol. The spirit Fleischman was working with would have been similar to this in my view. He was working in the daily alcohol trade in the Northeast and I doubt the spirits he was encountering were as pure as the best vodka is today, for example, not so much because the market demanded it but because redistillation at the time likely could not produce very pure spirit with any regularity. But in comparison to whiskey - and Brittanica noted American whiskey had twice (!) the congener levels of malt whisky - such grain whisky was bland and again Fleischman was concerned simply that people not think aging grain spirit was a cheap way of producing genuine, aged whiskey. But he was well aware that GNS would acquire what he called "the barrel taste", and in fact he warned that shady merchants would add alcohol to a barrel of whiskey to increase their profit. Fleischman was simply saying, that is not the real thing.

    By the way, searching the web the other day I came across a discussion, on a board which discusses the Civil War, of contemporary American drinking habits, the purpose was to illustrate what the soldiery would have consumed. One of the quotations is from a book by George Sala, a Briton who wrote a book about his travels in America during the war years. I don't know how to transfer this quote here. If someone searches under "Sala + Civil War + cocktails" or similar terminology it will come up quickly and maybe someone can reproduce the quote here. It is very interesting because one thing he says is Americans of the time had the habit to take, early in the morning (!), a "cocktail" of "alcohol, sugar and bitters". Later during the day, and at nightime, they drank "bourbon" which he says was cut with a little "iced water". He is quite specific too on the names of contemporary cocktails some of which are quite amusing, and this leads me to think that originally, cocktails were made with cheap whiskey (GNS or young barrel aged spirit or cheap blended whiskey), not with bourbon or rye. Why else would he specify that "alcohol" (not bourbon) was used to make what today is the Old-Fashioned and is related clearly to the Sour and other familiar whisky cocktails? Probably this was done because people wanted to imitate the taste of true whiskey. He also notes that in "country towns" drinking (and smoking and chewing) was strongly disapproved by respectable people. In some ways the rural and regional attitude to drinking has not changed very much (I refer to the recent discussion about dry counties in Tennessee and other States).

    Gary

    Quaere: why would people drink a cheaper confection earlier in the day than later...? Or was it cheaper...? Maybe they wanted the sugar hit to get them going.

  9. #39
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    I'm with you, Ken. I've got some of the white-doggish Isaiah Morgan young rye from West Virginia, and I might just get around to playing with this. If I can get it done before the first of the year, it'll cycle through most of a winter and summer prior to next fall's Festival.
    Hmmm...
    I'm targeting the first of the year as well. As for the raw material, since Wild Turkey is my favorite flavor profile, I'm going that way. Hopefully others here will try other Bourbons or vattings and we can compare the results.

    Thanks to everyone for your input here. The points about environmental chemicals were well made. My original thought was to place this in the attic but per Chuck, sounds like it will need to be more closely monitored than that would allow (easily). The next two choices would be the garage or the shed but there are yard and petro chemicals in both. Looks like my best choice will be the 3 season porch.... Any thoughts or caveats there??

    Let the adventure begin.

    Ken

  10. #40
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: barrel programs...can I buy and age my own bar

    Well done, sounds like the porch might work, or the garage. Remember there will be evaporation so you want to ensure good aeration and safety in general.

    Let us know how it goes, sounds fascinating.

    Gary

 

 

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