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  1. #1
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    Maker\'s Mark-eting

    I (Dave) recently viewed a dvd given to me by my dad, who belongs to the MM Ambassadors. In the presentation, a couple of things caught my interest:

    1) MM claims to have stringent rules about their cooperage, specifically:

    -the wood must season at least 9 months to reduce tannins and break down lignins (sp?) for increased vanilla flavoring;

    -MM barrels have fewer staves than the average barrel.

    2) After three years, upon approval by a tasting panel, barrels are rotated for further aging in a cooler area.

    My question is whether these practices are unique to MM (as is implied in the video), or if other distillers essentially do the same thing. I know that rotation used to be more common, although I have no idea who still does it and how much. I had never heard the statements about cooperage selection before.

  2. #2
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    Dave, my understanding is MM is one of the few if not the only distiller still to practise such rotation. In addition to the traditional-sounding techniques you described, apparently MM distills and enters at fairly low proofs, and uses a traditional type of mill for the grain.

    So, why does it not taste like Old Fitzgerald and Old Weller in their prime, or even like many say MM tasted in the 70's and earlier?

    This is something that puzzles me. Possibly it is being sold younger than in its salad days.

    Gary

  3. #3
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    I had never heard the statements about cooperage selection before.

    So then I was trying to find out a little more about This stuff. In talking to someone who works at Bluegrass Cooperage, owned by Brown-Forman,We were talking about one of the pieces that I have,and yet to photograph and include on the thread. It turns out to be a Double-End Power Windlass for Tight Barrels. The guy tells me about it's use and how the staves are steamed and drawn up with that machine, I made the offhand comment about the wood seasoning requirements made by Makers being a little silly at that point.Maker's as far as I know are the only ones to include this info and draw from it the inference of a superior product by the practice. My reasoning had to do with the length of time to air dry and season the wood, only to have the moisture reintroduced at the drawing up of the barrel. He went straight into that it may be seasoned so long to reduce those tannins and lignins.Also mentioned was the practice of leaving the wood "In the weather" to produce a leaching out effect.Unknown largely to us, it seems it is something the "Barrel Guys" deal with daily. Funny, the barrel notes are important and yet there are ways to tweak even that.

  4. #4
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    That's true about the cooperage being cured...

    I have talked to the owner's of one of the local barrel making companies. He confirmed the seasoned staves tale. I asked him who was the "pickiest"? He said, Jim Beam. He noted that they require each stave to be a specified width...or they just won't take the barrels.

    I asked, about the barrel char...He just looked at me with the "deer with a light in their eyes" kinda glare Couldn't cypher if I hit on a sour note or if he didn't want me to know.

    He was "politely" upset with me. Ya see, I just walked thur his "entire plant" without as much as a "hey" what are you doing here, kinda response. Being female (at times) will let you do alot of stuff

    He was not a "Happy Camper" but he sure was a "Gentleman Unhappy Camper"

    Bettye Jo

  5. #5
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    I can't imagine any other distiller rotating their barrels, the differences that occur would help to widen the flavor profile and provide for brand profiles.

    On a side note: Buffalo Trace, on my last tour, claimed to be the only distillery that still sends out "leak chasers" to seal up leaky barrels...I'm so happy that they save my whiskey for me

    As for it not tasting like Weller/Fitz, the barrels could be part of it, or that tiny little still(or stills, since there are now two), or the recipe(I have it at 70C/14W/16B, anybody know the Weller?), or the backset(about a third, the legal min. is 25%),water, youth, filtering (charcoal, before barreling), etc.

    I'd like to try the Black Label, but they consider it to be too dear for the U.S.

  6. #6

    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    ...or the backset(about a third, the legal min. is 25%)...
    There's a legal minimum for backset? I don't find it in the federal regulations (the only reference to mash is minimum grain content for the various whiskeys), which imply by omission that an authentic 'sweet mash' would be legal, though not currently used by anyone.

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    ...or the backset(about a third, the legal min. is 25%)...





    There's a legal minimum for backset? I don't find it in the federal regulations (the only reference to mash is minimum grain content for the various whiskeys), which imply by omission that an authentic 'sweet mash' would be legal, though not currently used by anyone.
    Hmm, I can't find it either. I didn't double-check my source: The World Whiskey Guide, Jim Murray 2000 p.260. First published as "The Complete Guide to Whiskey" 1997

    Anybody know for sure?

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    Maker's uses HH backset, to start up. This has been their practice for years and years.

    I've been told that the term "sour mash" is used because they use backset (worker's slang--->slop<----) spent mash from the previous batch...

    I've always heard that whenever they don't use backset at start up...it's called "sweet mash".

    Bettye Jo

  9. #9
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    That's precisely my understanding, too, Bettye Jo.

    Tim

  10. #10
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    Re: Maker\'s Mark-eting

    That's true about the cooperage being cured...
    Just to make sure we're on the same page with you, Betty Jo - it's true that MM is the only distillery that demands curing? Or do others demand it for different lengths of time than MM?

    I asked him who was the "pickiest"? He said, Jim Beam. He noted that they require each stave to be a specified width...or they just won't take the barrels.
    Interesting...even in the MM dvd, the impression I got was that stave width was more about potential leaking than about quality. Did he comment on whether JB had curing requirements, too?

    He was "politely" upset with me. Ya see, I just walked thur his "entire plant" without as much as a "hey" what are you doing here, kinda response.
    That's HILARIOUS! Kudos to you for going straight to the source to get your info!

 

 

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