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  1. #11
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    I wouldn't have thought a genetically modified tomato qualifies for organic production (under the various voluntary associations' codes which establish rules for these things). That said, I don't know for sure and am willing to learn more. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

    But naive? I don't think so. I am talking about BT which unusually for a distillery gives a lot of production information to consumers. The labels on the new experimental bourbon series is an example, so is the fact BT has said it has two rye-recipe bourbon mashbills and which product falls within each, and so on. If BT suggests organic corn makes a difference I'll take it at face value unless I form my own opinion that it is just "advertising". We get Rain in our market and I'll try it soon and say.
    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 06-24-2006 at 17:19.

  2. #12
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    Isn't this all conjecture anyway? The corn we know today is nothing like the corn that was here when the first Europeans arrived. Whether or not the changes came from a lab or from selecting by hand the better plants to save for next year's planting, the fact is that we can yank back the husk and see nice rows of kernals instead of gaps like a pair of truck stop bought "Bubba Teeth".
    Dane
    I don't drink to excess. But I'll drink to most anything else.

  3. #13
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Organic, schmorganic. It's pure ethanol. You can run your car on it. As Sidney Frank taught us, it's about the story, not the product. The product is an afterthought.

    The primary supermarket in my neighborhood recently did a major reset and converted the first two aisles to nothing but imported, organic, natural or specialty foods and other products, such as paper products, health and beauty aids, and cleaning supplies. People sell that stuff because people buy it. The customer wants it and will pay a premium for it, so the producers produce it and the retailers retail it.

    That is the free market system and I am all for it, but anyone who thinks anyone in that chain of profit-making knows or cares if there is any provable difference or benefit is, yes I'll say it, naïve, credulous, and gullible.

    I'll see you at the séance, right after I refill my Enzyte supply.
    Last edited by cowdery; 06-24-2006 at 19:25.

  4. #14
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    Organic, schmorganic. It's pure ethanol.

    Right on brother!

  5. #15
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    I will buy Rain and state my opinion. It's a tougher case with a product distilled to 194-196 proof, obviously. But I am willing to see if I can sense any quality difference that might be attributable to the use of an organic corn mash. The original question was about an organic bourbon mash. That mash would be distilled at less than 160 proof and the chance of enhanced flavor retention is greater than with vodka but I don't rule it out even with vodka (since vodka does not all taste the same to me and the human senses are capable of detecting even very small characteristics in products, e.g., fusel oils at very low concentrations). I have been following in wine circles a debate about wines made from organic materials (there are different terms to describe "organic" in this context). There is a spirited debate and difference of opinion amongst winemakers and wine writers whether organic methods make a difference. Many people think they do, and distillation is another remove but logically the same questions can apply to it IMO. Anyway I need to lay in some vodka and I'll do a taste test and tell people what I think.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 06-24-2006 at 21:54.

  6. #16
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Even if you do taste a "difference," how can you be confident in attributing it to organic-ness which means, ultimately, what? "Produced without the use of drugs, hormones, or synthetic chemicals," is what one dictionary says, but in reality what is a "synthetic" chemical? There may, in very specific cases, be advantages to using one technique over another and, again in some very specific cases, the superior technique may be something which can be labelled "organic," but most of this mania for organic, natural, etc. is a fetish produced by something like pastoral romanticism or what I might call "technology guilt." I'm willing to consider anything that has been rigorously and scientifically tested, but I am very skeptical of most of these claims, especially the notion that you can taste the absence of "synthetic chemicals" in a product as heavily processed as a distilled spirit. I do not wish to cause offense, but it strikes me as frankly ridiculous.

  7. #17
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    My original point was simply that one producer makes note of the use of organic corn in its process. Therefore, I'm prepared to consider that this may enhance the overall quality of its product. The same may be even more true of a bourbon mash: bourbon is distilled at a notably lower proof than vodka.

    It's all chemicals ultimately, yes. But different chemicals can result in different tastes.

    I'm planning to taste blind three vodkas: one made from corn, Rain; a Polish rye vodka; and a potato vodka. Maybe I can see at least which is the Rain. If I can, that leaves open the possibility I could differentiate Rain from other corn spirits. If the Rain stands out maybe the organic corn mash used played a role. (Materials can make a difference to vodka, e.g., a grape-derived vodka I once tasted had a faint but noticeable vinous hint). Its distinctiveness if any is unlikely to be attributable to the ethanol or only the water.

    But even if I don't get any of the vodkas right, that doesn't mean I am wrong in thinking organic corn may make a better vodka than the usual intensively raised corn. BT may have a way of measuring overall characteristics or quality which it knows consumers respond to (at least those who drink the product neat). I may throw in another corn vodka to the test. I think the experiment is worth doing.

    As with all my thoughts and ideas, they may be of interest to some more than others.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 06-25-2006 at 07:11.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    I must say (and sure canned juice isn't distilled spirit) that I had some "organic" tomato juice the other day and was stunned at how much better it was than the regular thing.
    Gary, we've found the same thing at the roastery.... Organic coffee is, generally speaking, WAY better than the non-organic alternative.... Now as to where this falls in the cause-effect cycle, I can't say.... Maybe the grower gets more for their organic product so they care for it better or choose a better area of the farm??? I could easily see it being unrelated to it being "organic" per se. But it is better.

    As to whether any GM, herbacides, pestacides or fertilizer would make it into the distillate, i have no idea. But as you indicate, total quality does place importance on the quality of the individual processes and components and improving any of those is designed to improve the whole. I would support movement in this direction even if the results could not, initially, be directly correlated to the material used. At least something to investigate.

    I'm surprized distillers want this issue to disappear. Most industries welcome anything that allows them to differentiate their product (and of course, raise the cost ;-)

    Ken
    "Wealth can be wonderful, but you know, success can test one's mettle as surely as the strongest adversary. "

  9. #19
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    It's not just total quality- for many people organic is an ethical choice, too. I'm not necessarily one of them, but I am picky about what meat I'll buy, for instance. An animal that enjoyed a higher quality of life and ate better food yields better tasting meat with fewer artificially added hormones in it. I like organic vegetables because they often taste better, but am not always willing to pay a premium for them. For some, eating organic is like eating vegetarian, in that it's an ethical matter of minimizing their impact on the environment, avoiding eating pesticides or hormones, or supporting more sustainable practices (which is not exactly synonomous with organic, but the two often go hand in hand), and it would be useful information for them. Out here in organic central (Bay Area), there are readily available wines and beers made with organic ingredients, and I'm sure they're available elsewhere, too. Applying the same to whiskey is a natural jump from those two. It's fair to ask.

    As for GM, it's obviously a tricky issue, and long-term results can't yet be known. I'm not sure what I think about it, but I'm interested to know more.

    I think it's easy to be dismissive of this question, but I think it's a good question to ask.
    Last edited by elkdoggydog; 06-25-2006 at 10:30.
    -Sam

  10. #20
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    Besides the ethics of the issue and there is more than what meets the eye, ethanol is a product of the produce.

    The ethanol produced from "organically" raised corn, wheat, rye, and malt is chemically the same as the ethanol from "non-organically" raised corn, wheat, rye, or malt.

    I'm not an alcohol chemist, I'm a chemist that has drunk alcohol.

 

 

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