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  1. #11
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Midland, MI
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    455

    Re: Great Information...

    What about using smaller barrels? Why is the traditional barrel the size it is? I think that smaller barrels would give you more filtering and more "goodies" (I like the way you put that) per gallon of bourbon, which would lead to a different character in the bourbon.

    I also wonder about the feasability of chopping up large barrels and somehow making smaller barrels out of them for home use. I'd think that it would actually be somewhat difficult, but I think they'd sell fairly well. I'd certainly like to have a half dozen myself.

    Tim



  2. #12
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Barrel hunting...

    I thought about purchasing a barrel <font color=blue>($35.00 is a deal thanks jvanwinkle)</font color=blue> but just to fill it half way with a relatively inexpensive bourbon would break my bank account - I'm searching to find a smaller cask now but I've already talked to my father-in-law about making me some - He's carpenter and said it would be no problem (The man built his own 35' boat) -
    Questions AGAIN

    Since anything I buy will already have been aged 4 years and colored;
    1. Should I char the inside again?
    if not should any "treatment" be done?

    2. If Uncle Sam should ever come to the door,
    how can I prove I'm not a "sour masher"[IMG]/wwwthreads/images/wink.gif[/IMG]
    Showing the empty bottles just proves I'm a serious
    alcoholic waiting to bottle my private brew



  3. #13
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Great Information...

    I have read somewhere (can't seem to find just where at the moment), that another contribution of the barrels is their ability to 'breathe' and allow small amounts of air, and thus oxygen, in over time. The oxygen can react with the congeners to help smooth out the taste. This is one possible explanation of why it is commonly thought that Scotch benefits from long aging (10 to 20 years) even though it is in used cooperage. I personally find bourbons aged for more than 10 years to have more smoothness (Elijah Craig for example) but have too strong of a char flavoring to be considered 'balanced' (but enjoyable, none the less).

    I would tend to agree from my tasting experience that there is more than one process underway during barrel aging: Leaching of flavors from the wood, the filtration of the char layer, and a mellowing of congeners over time (perhaps by oxidation). Throwing wood chips in a bottle would only simulate one of these processes, and certainly the leaching would be slower without the temperature cycling of the container.

    I have seen in several sources that barrels age differently in different parts of a warehouse due to differences in temperature and HUMIDITY. The difference that storage temperature (more correctly temperature swings) makes on an aging whiskey is easy to understand. Why would humidity make a difference?


    Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

  4. #14
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Midland, MI
    Posts
    455

    Re: Great Information...

    I found a place on the web that makes small barrels, although they're a little more expensive than I thought they'd be. www.whisky2000.co.uk sells 750 mL and 1 L "barrels" for about $129.00, and if I've read the website correctly, they use wood from barrels that formerly held scotch. They also sell full sized barrels (which they will re-char for you), but they're a little pricey, too.

    Tim


  5. #15
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Great Information...

    > I have seen in several sources that barrels age differently in different
    > parts of a warehouse due to differences in temperature and HUMIDITY. The
    > difference that storage temperature (more correctly temperature swings) makes
    > on an aging whiskey is easy to understand. Why would humidity make a
    > difference?

    According to The Book of Bourbon, this affects how much alcohol you have in the final product. Over the course of aging, some of the whiskey evaporates (the "angel's share"). If the humidity is low, water will be lost -- which is fine since the expensive part of the product is the alcohol (and water can always be added later of the proof remains too high). However, if the humidity is high, alcohol can be lost (e.g., in Scotland, Scotch ends up at a lower proof after aging).

    Ultimately, I guess you would not want to lose too much water OR too much alcohol because altering the product after aging (e.g., through adding water) has it's limits (adding too much water lead to watered-down whiskey). Thus keeping the right humidity (to maintain a balance) would be important.

    Later,


    DirtyCowboy

  6. #16
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,610

    Re: Great Information...

    Jerry Dalton is one of the few Master Distillers who is also a Ph.d. Chemist (Jerry was at Barton, anyone know if he still is?) and he would be the first to agree that much of bourbon making is still a mystery. He says some of the substances that give bourbon its character, and which the taste buds can perceive, are present in so few parts-per-billion that they can't be measured by the available technology. The way he puts it is that it takes a seasoned distillery hand to say something like "the bubbles aren't breaking right," then he goes in with his instruments and, sure enough, something is wrong.

    - chuck

    --Chuck Cowdery

  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,610

    Barrels and home aging

    Re the revenoors, they're looking for stills. If you aren't operating a still, they won't come looking for you and there is nothing they can do if they stumble upon you. There is no law that says you can't store whiskey in a barrel or a plastic bag or a Samsonite suitcase or anything else. If you want to buy some bourbon and extra-age it at home, that is perfectly legal (assuming you are of legal drinking age).

    Re barrels, a proper barrel for aging whiskey, regardless of its size, must be made without any nails, glue or anything else, just wood (preferably white oak) held together with metal hoops. And the wood needs to be properly dried, either air or kiln. Knocking down an existing bourbon barrel would be a good way to get the right kind of lumber, although it would take a lot of reworking to get it down to a smaller size, the shapes of the staves being rather specific to the standard barrel size.

    Like bourbon-making, modern barrel making is an interesting combination of machine and handwork. The skilled artisan is still essential and even in a commercial cooperage, you will find a wide range in barrel making skills. Some guys will be able to make twice as many barrels per hour as others (and twice as much money, as a result).

    Another source for small barrels might be the commercial cooperages, Bluegrass Cooperage in Louisville (owned by Brown-Forman) and Independent Stave in Lebanon, Kentucky. Those are the two companies that make barrels for all of the distilleries. They might not be able to do it, though, because all of their equipment is set up for the standard size barrels.

    Why a standard size? Remember that in the 18th-19th century, a lot more than whiskey was stored and shipped in barrels. Everything from fish to nails. In fact, it is believed that charring started as a way to rid a used barrel (used for fish, for example) of the evidence of its former contents, both for aesthetic and health reasons. Then people discovered that whiskey stored for a time in charred barrels tasted better than whiskey stored in un-charred barrels.

    So why a standard size? So warehouses can have standard size ricks, so cooperages can have standard size equipment, so railroad cars and steamship cargo holds can have standard dimensions. Why this particular 55 gallon size for whiskey? My guess is that it was the largest size (when full, it weighs about 500 pounds) that one or two men could realistically handle, moving them (by rolling) into and out of the warehouse, etc.

    For a good book about cooperage, look for The Cooper and his Trade by Kenneth Kilby.

    Finally, about re-charring, it might be desirable but not possible. A barrel with a #4 char is at the maximum the wood can sustain. Char it any deeper and the barrel won't have enough strength to hold together. Most distilleries specify #3, #3.5 or #4, so in most cases, there isn't much left. Remember too that a used barrel will still have some of the characteristics of the whiskey stored in it originally. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. It might be a very good thing, but it's another factor to the experiment.

    As for used barrels, Julian wasn't kidding. They are cheap, especially right at the distillery. Remember that a barrel can only be used once for bourbon, so all the distilleries have tons of barrels they need to get rid of. People in Kentucky make furniture out of them and it seems that just about everybody in Kentucky has a half-barrel planter (I did when I lived there). Barrels cost about $100 new and if the distilleries can get $30 for them used, they're grateful. Most of them are knocked down and shipped to Canada, Ireland or Scotland, where they are reassembled. The used cooperage those countries use for their native whiskeys is almost always used bourbon barrels.

    --Chuck Cowdery

  8. #18
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Great Information...

    Chuck, Just found out last week that Jerry Dalton is now at the Beam facility in Clermont.
    (since John has gotten me into Collecting American Whiskey with him I figured that I might as well join the forum!) I'll mostly be lurking and enjoying the discussions!

    Linda
    http://w3.one.net/jeffelle/whiskey

  9. #19
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Great Information...


    > Jerry Dalton is one of the few Master Distillers who is also a Ph.d. Chemist (Jerry was at Barton, anyone know if he still is?)

    Would you believe?... Jerry is now the master distiller at Jim Beam's Clermont plant.

    -John Lipman-
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

  10. #20
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Great Information...

    Whoops! Guess that'll teach me to read the forum messages before answering directly from my email :-)

    Hi honey! (psst! we're gonna have to stop meeting like this; I think your husband is starting to suspect something)

    -John Lipman-
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

 

 

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