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Thread: Barrel Select

  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Toronto, Canada

    Barrel Select

    I was trying a recent bottle and was struck by how good this is.

    I compared it to small amounts of Early Times (when it was a bourbon) and a couple of my own blends.

    The Barrel Select has a good oak taste which avoids tannic excess, also, there is a mild sherry-like background, reflecting the use of sherry casks to age some of the component whiskies. There is a kind of steely centre which characterises the whisky. This must be the rye since we know that the brand combines corn, rye and barley "varietal" whiskies. (Yet the rye comes out differently than in a U.S. straight whiskey). The taste is well-knitted together, it is a good blend.

    In contrast, my own blends were a little ragged. I need to get them more concentrated yet keep the balance the Barrel Select has. The Early Times also seemed a little rough and aimless, with lingering barrel decay notes. But this sometimes happens (when you follow one kind of drink with another).

    Next time I'll reverse the order of the tasting (first the Early Times, then my own blends, then the Barrel Select). My conclusions might be different...

    Last edited by Gillman; 08-18-2006 at 23:51.

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    One drawback of your blends, Gary, is that you don't have the opportunity to allow them to "marry" in wood. Professionally-made blends are typically returned to wood for at least 30 days. I'm not sure why it makes a difference, but it does.

    When we were making the American Whiskey blend at Mount Vernon, Joe Dangler would from time to time vigorously stir the mixture. I asked him why. He started to go into some nonsense about separation but Dave Pickerell gave him a look and he admitted he just wanted something to do.

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Toronto, Canada
    I agree, Chuck. The reason barrel storage would help the blend is not additional marrying time (since keeping the blend in a bottle does that too), it is the fact that the blend ages in the barrel and does of course in a way different than if the separate whiskies had continued to age in wood. This is the one thing I can't duplicate at home unless I obtain a charred new keg as some SB-ers have for their experiments. Still, sometimes I just get a particularly good mix that tastes integrated and "smooth" (I hate that term) from the get-go.

    In Jos. Fleishman's 1885 blending book, he advises to put his blends into wood and age them for at least "three months" in the "top tier" of the warehouse. The blend of course interacted with the wood via the porosity and heat etc. and this helped marry the blend. This used to be called vatting in Scotland and the term "vatted" or "vatting" to mean a mix of malts clearly at one time (and still often in Scotland) meant not only that the whiskies were mixed but married and improved by continued active aging in barrels or open vats.

    These vats may originally have been disused fermentation vessels. These vessels may have been charred repeatedly (for sterilisation) until retired for use as marrying or storage vats. The latter practices many have given rise to bourbon whiskey!

    Last edited by Gillman; 08-19-2006 at 05:46.



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