Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    Over the years I have heard the opinion expressed that some aged bourbons are not as good as they could be because they weren't made to age well, and of course, the vice versa.

    E.g. recently I heard someone say that Prohibition-era bourbons are often not that good because when released they were much older than was intended by the makers (often 15-17 years old).

    In thinking about this, I am wondering though, how does one make a bourbon intended for long - or short - aging?

    Is there something in the mashbill that would be different? We have today older wheat-recipe and rye-recipe bourbons. We have lots of old ryes. So I don't think there is anything there that impacts on this question.

    I can understand up to a point the issue of warehouse location. You might intend a quicker-aged product if you put the barrels in the part of the warehouse that matured them most quickly (often at the top), and again the vice versa.

    But can that explain why so much Prohibition whiskey tastes woody, because it was placed on the upper portions and intended for sale, say, in 1922 (if made say in 1918) but was only finally sold years later? Considering that the aging whiskey was moved around (a lot of it) and probably vatted with other whiskeys, I am not sure that makes sense either.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Gary

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Kentucky!
    Posts
    4,745

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    How 'bout we take at look at what current whiskies we have that we know age well. #1) S-W wheat recipe ages very well, #2) WT does quite well up to the ages we can get it at, #3) BT#1 (OC, Stagg, ER) also ages extremely well.

    What are the common threads?
    A) 1&3 both have little or no rye
    B) 1&2 both are entered into the barrel at lower proofs

    What we don't know (or I don't) is what the mashbill of WT is, but I'm guessing it's not a rye heavy product.

    So my guess is go light on the rye and low on the entry proof.

    This is basically reverse engineering my "design your bourbon" argument about making a mashbill to age quick because I'm impatient...though I think then I wanted to enter it at a low proof
    Last edited by barturtle; 11-21-2006 at 13:21.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  3. #3
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Eastern MA
    Posts
    406

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    I think it was Ken Weber at Buffalo Trace (my appologies if I remember incorrectly) who told me that when they distill a batch of bourbon, they do not know exactly what product it will end up as. Obviously a wheat recipe can't end up as Stagg, but his point was that many of their brands start by the same recipe and process, and then warehouse location and age cause different flavor profiles to emerge. Hence they toss a lot of barrels out in the warehouses and then by periodic tasting determine what label it will actually end up as.

    I think the concept is (within reason) "we have no idea what this particular batch/barrel will end up tasting like, or how long it will take, we'll just let nature run its course and bottle it up when it can be married into one of our standard profiles".

    On the prohibition question, my naive first answer is there was a normal amount of bourbon in barrels at the beginning of prohibition, then the amount allowed to be sold was greatly restricted, so it piled up and ended up aging much longer than intended. I find that 1960's vintage bourbon peaks by 10 years in wood at most, anything more is too woody for me. I have never tried some of these much older prohibition era bottles, but they scare me.
    Mike

    "You're the best bourbon drinkers ever!" - Margo (waitress at Bourbon's Bistro in Louisville)

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,375

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    The main reason so much of the Prohibition-era whiskey is so bad is because it wasn't tended. Whiskey is ready when it's ready. To determine if it's ready or not, you have to taste it. If it's maturing faster or more slowly than you want, you have to move it. If it's had all the age it can take and you aren't ready to sell it, you have to tank it.

    Instead of TLC, the aging whiskey during Prohibition received pretty rough handling. I doubt it was even legal to care for it properly, and it certainly wasn't profitable. All the Prohibition experience proves is that what the Scots call "wood management" is important.

    But that doesn't really answer your question. Will some distiallates age better than others? I certainly don't know of anyone making a special we're-gonna-age-this-a-long-time recipe so on that basis, I have to say probably not.

    I think it's like anything else. Make the best product you know how to make at every stage in the process and good things will happen.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    Good thoughts (not to preclude others), thanks.

    Gary

  6. #6
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Chicago SW 'burbs
    Posts
    1,178

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    I would doubt that the mashbill has a whole lot to do with it, as there are extra-aged ryes out there (like VWFRR 13 and Saz 18) that are quite good.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    867

    Re: How do you make a bourbon that will age well?

    Could different levels of barrel toasting play a part in this?
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. How does bourbon make you feel?
    By jeff in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-19-2005, 09:18
  2. Does SB.com make you drink more bourbon?
    By Dave_in_Canada in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 02-27-2005, 08:24
  3. How to make Bourbon?
    By **DONOTDELETE** in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 06-25-2001, 08:26

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top