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  1. #1

    Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    A friend's father, who is fragile and elderly, asked for some help in cataloguing and pricing some old Jim Beam decanters from the 1960s and the 1970s. After examining and pricing several hundred bottles I was offered the possibility of taking away with me all the lower-worth duplicates, and so ended up the proud possessor of some 47 fifths of Beam, ranging in age from 8 to about 16 years.

    I soon realized that the cork and other closures were in poor condition, and getting worse, so I had perhaps 9 gallons of pretty good bourbon on my hands that would be a complete loss before very long. Having read George Saintsbury's method of 'keeping going' spirits in oak barrels, I decided that not only would a barrel be better storage, at least for a while, I also had the opportunity to change this Beam into a style a little more like what I'd want to drink.

    I called up Barrel Mill in Minnesota and got lots of encouragement from Russ there, even to giving me the names of folks in the Bourbon business who'd know how to do this. I was advised that if I liked a somewhat smoother, 'sippin' ' style, I should use a heavy toast and not a char. Russ made me a very nice barrel, nominally 10 gallons, but containing by measure just a hair over 7 gallons, with both a bung on the side and an end spigot of brass.

    I followed instructions about soaking the barrel for 24 hours in water but found no leaks. I then carefully transferred enough of the miscellaneous Beam spirits to the cask, tasting a tiny sip of each decanter to make sure it was sound and not affected by corking. All were in usable condition. I also took a couple of fifths' samples of the mixture to compare when I started tasting the spirits.

    At the present I've been examining the spirits every week or so and topping off. The losses to the 'angel's share' are severe--approximately 0.5 percent per day. The one-week sample showed a very definite change in the style of the whiskey, and the second-week even more, both improved. The resinous nature of the Beam is now being replaced by a creamier, more vanilla-driven style, with a much smoother overall impression.

    As others have experience here with rebarrelling, do you have any advice for me about how long I should continue this process before dumping? Would it be appropriate to dump the whiskey into corked carboys with siphons when it's had enough oak?

    Best,

    John T.

  2. #2
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    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    I really think a climate change could do it some good....send it over to Australia, and I will look after it for you, and I will let you know when it's at its prime! I think part of an Australian summer will do marvellous things to your bourbon, but be aware, the Australian angels will take more than their fair share

    Scott
    "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day" - Frank Sinatra

  3. #3
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    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    And welcome John T., one of the interweb's foremost experts on German wines!
    Jake Parrott
    Ledroit Brands, LLC

  4. #4
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    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetstuff View Post
    As others have experience here with rebarrelling, do you have any advice for me about how long I should continue this process before dumping? Would it be appropriate to dump the whiskey into corked carboys with siphons when it's had enough oak?

    Best,

    John T.
    Hi, John, I just recently pulled mine. I'd expected to leave them 6-8 months. It was actually almost a year but I really liked the results.

    Deep and full, tasted more like a 12 yo than the 6-8 yo it started at. nice.

    Good luck with your Beams!

    (Now you need to find some nice stoneware jugs to store your treasure in)

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

  5. #5

    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    Quote Originally Posted by kbuzbee View Post
    Hi, John, I just recently pulled mine. I'd expected to leave them 6-8 months. It was actually almost a year but I really liked the results.

    Deep and full, tasted more like a 12 yo than the 6-8 yo it started at. nice.

    Good luck with your Beams!

    (Now you need to find some nice stoneware jugs to store your treasure in)

    Ken
    Dear Ken,

    Do you think that the fact that I started with fairly old whisky might influence the amount of time needed in barrel?

  6. #6

    Beam Rebarrelling and Beam 'White Dog'





    One question that might affect how I proceed with my topping up of the barrel (see image) is whether Beam uses the same quality distillate in all its "James Beam' whiskies.

    I should be able to save a good bit of money if I can top up with four-year-old, and I'd get a less 'charry' result, I believe. Anyone know the answer to this?

  7. #7
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    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    I think that would be correct. But your taste analysis is the ultimate deciding factor.

    Like I said, mine went quite a bit longer than I'd expected. But it just kept getting better. I did top it off a couple times early on but, eventually, I just let it go. The end effect, IMO was 'flavor concentrating', if you take my meaning.

    Enjoy!

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

  8. #8
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    Re: Beam Rebarrelling and Beam 'White Dog'

    I added this to my reply on your other thread. IMO you should probably not top it off. The results are less volume but better flavor.

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

  9. #9

    Appearance of Rebarreled Beam


    The original bourbon on the left is the starting whiskey, averaging about 10-12 years old.

    I notice that, although it's difficult to see in this picture, the aged whiskey is a tad lighter in color. Have any previous rebarrelers noticed this?

  10. #10

    Re: Rebarreling Old Jim Beam

    Quote Originally Posted by kbuzbee View Post
    I think that would be correct. But your taste analysis is the ultimate deciding factor.

    Like I said, mine went quite a bit longer than I'd expected. But it just kept getting better. I did top it off a couple times early on but, eventually, I just let it go. The end effect, IMO was 'flavor concentrating', if you take my meaning.

    Enjoy!

    Ken
    Thanks, Ken. I can see that I'm going to get a lot of encouragement here. My only problem is that it's easy to allow the spigot to dribble, and we can't have that!

 

 

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