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  1. #1
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    Designating barrels for aging

    This is sort of related to my question on bourbon release intervals.

    Say a distiller makes several older products (12 yrs and older). Do they designate which barrels will provide which age bourbon? As they age, do they sometimes determine that what had originally been intended to be 12yo product, would now do better as a 15yo, for example? In other words, are barrels commonly shifted forward (or backward) in time, and if so, does that wreak havoc with intended supply inventories?

    I'm certain that a couple of distillery tours would answer this, but I haven't yet had the opportunity.

    Kevin

  2. #2
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    The answer today is different than it would have been even a decade ago, at least here in the U.S.

    The distilleries refer to it as wood management. The Scots have been doing it for years. It basically means choosing barrels for long aging and putting them in locations where the probable aging period will be most beneficial.

    It used to be a little more haphazard. The barrels used for older bottlings (and there weren't all that many) were simply the leftovers. At no point did anyone select those barrels for long aging, it just sort of happened.

    At Beam, for example, the barrels would indicate which of the three mash bills was used and which of the two distilleries made it, but there weren't barrels of Knob Creek already chosen in the warehouse. Now, in effect, there are although I don't know if they actually stencil "Knob Creek" on the barrel heads.

    I don't know all the details, but I don't think the decision is made at barreling. I think it's made as time goes on. There always has been a process by which barrels would be tasted and if deemed "not ready" they would be allowed to age out more, but now there is more of a deliberate effort to create, say, a 12-year-old whiskey with certain characteristics.

  3. #3
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    But the warehouse managers (whatever they are called) know the sweet spots for bourbon that they'd like to age don't they? I think I read that they know where to put what kind of barrel if they are looking for a certain profile.
    Tim

    I am going where streams of whiskey are flowing...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrinkyBanjo
    But the warehouse managers (whatever they are called) know the sweet spots for bourbon that they'd like to age don't they? I think I read that they know where to put what kind of barrel if they are looking for a certain profile.
    The more they can do in the barrel, the less they have to do in the tank.

    My point is that, with wood management, they might deliberately put a batch in a less desirable spot, because they know it will age more slowly there and they have designated that batch for extra aging.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    I don't know if they actually stencil "Knob Creek" on the barrel heads.
    Some day soon Chuck, and I'll furnish the drinks. Afterwards I suppose.
    We'll have to sit down at the Clermont Post Office and watch a load of Knob Creek go by. They age Knob Creek in the Limestone Springs warehouses at Chapeze.
    ___Bobby Cox___
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    May you have wonderful things thought of to do...

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbyc
    Some day soon Chuck, and I'll furnish the drinks. Afterwards I suppose.
    We'll have to sit down at the Clermont Post Office and watch a load of Knob Creek go by. They age Knob Creek in the Limestone Springs warehouses at Chapeze.
    I had heard that they now designate barrels to be Knob Creek. Ten years ago, they did not.

    I look forward to the drinks and to your company.

  7. #7
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    Are those warehouses old limestone buildings?

    Gary

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    Are those warehouses old limestone buildings?

    Gary
    No, standard steel-clads. If you look at "Made and Bottled in Kentucky," the railroad tracks scene, Chapeze is the first site in that sequence.

  9. #9
    Bourbonian of the Year 2003 and Super Moderator
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    Limestone Springs is one of the names of the Old Chapeze plant. It was owned by Schenley and had the name Geo T Stagg at one point but then it is reported they would rename a plant that and then soon shut it down. It is about 1/2 to 3/4 mile west of Clermont on the Railroad tracks. Beam bought it at some point, sometime in the 70s I believe. Most everything has been razed save a few buildings and the warehouses. Which Beam has been using. They are building a couple new ones on this site. No idea why and it may be as simple as having smaller warehouses or the location but they age Knob Creek there. Whether all Knob Creek is at this site, I cannot say. It would seem that they might have it at several locales.
    The Barracks scene in "Stripes" was filmed there also. When John Y Brown Jr was govenor of Ky they had a Ky Film commission and a few films were shot here. Maybe with the film Etown things are still going on.

    Back to Limestone Springs, I believe Old Charter was birthed there.
    ___Bobby Cox___
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    May you have wonderful things thought of to do...

 

 

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