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  1. #1
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    TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    In order to make good bourbon, you need to start with good ingredients. We all know that a bourbon mash consists of at least 51% corn. From there it is left to the distiller's discretion to finish the recipe. Rye or wheat are used as flavoring grains, while malted barley is added for its enzymes that convert the starches in the grain into fermentable sugars.

    This month let's discuss the properties that each grain brings to the mashbill and from where these grains are sourced. We should also make note of the known mashbills for specific brands and distilleries. We can also venture into the mashing process in terms of the order, temperature and length of "cooking" time for each grain. We'll discuss yeast and fermentation next month.

    So put on your thinking caps and mash on!

    Sound off
    Last edited by jeff; 04-05-2007 at 15:40.
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  2. #2
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Good questions, Jeff.

    I'd like to focus on rye. Rye grain seems to impart a certain distinctive taste to whiskey, both in new whiskey and older whiskey. This derives from its congeners which are unique to rye or associated with it in relatively high concentrations, e.g., trace amounts of methanol.

    Somtimes it manifests as minty-like, sometimes spicy, sometimes earthy. In older whiskeys this trait can translate to "old flowers". Rye is a complex flavor grain and unmistakeable although sometimes you notice it simply by its absence (e.g. in modern Maker's Mark).

    It adds not just its savour but a certain body or depth to whiskey. Rye, in the form of ryed bourbon or rye whiskey, is indispensable to a good whiskey cocktail.

    While I respect wheated bourbon, as Chuck Cowdery has written "rye-recipe bourbons are always more interesting".

    Gary

  3. #3
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Great topic!

    One thing I believe is that rye bourbons need less age. Young wheaters just aren't very interesting to me. They aren't bad, just simple and missing the spice I enjoy so much. But wheaters age gracefully. Give a wheater 12 or more years in the barrel and it becomes a fine drink with out becoming woody, at least to my taste. The same can be said for very low rye bourbons.

    Ed
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  4. #4
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    Good questions, Jeff.

    Somtimes it manifests as minty-like, sometimes spicy, sometimes earthy. In older whiskeys this trait can translate to "old flowers". Rye is a complex flavor grain and unmistakeable although sometimes you notice it simply by its absence (e.g. in modern Maker's Mark).


    Gary
    I would definitive ad fruitiness and in some brands bitterness as well Gary. When it comes to the bitterness I experience it as very soft in comparing to for instance tannin bitterness. I do find the same kind of soft bitterness in Swedish rye bread with I eat every day.
    I do also believe that the flavours from the rye grain change a lot during the maturing process. For instance it seem to me that the spiciness first increase and after a certain number years start to diminish instead.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  5. #5
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward_call_me_Ed View Post
    Great topic!

    One thing I believe is that rye bourbons need less age. Young wheaters just aren't very interesting to me. They aren't bad, just simple and missing the spice I enjoy so much. But wheaters age gracefully. Give a wheater 12 or more years in the barrel and it becomes a fine drink with out becoming woody, at least to my taste. The same can be said for very low rye bourbons.

    Ed
    I couldn't have said it better.... I like wheaters but only the more mature expressions. I also love rye bourbons but the older bottlings (10-12+ years) seem to run the risk of being oaky.
    John B

    "Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons… that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals."

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    It is probably no secret that my favorite mash bill is BT #2, their higher rye recipe. Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms. With the possible exception of AA, which I haven't had in years, YUM!

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  7. #7
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Quote Originally Posted by nor02lei View Post
    I would definitive ad fruitiness and in some brands bitterness as well Gary. When it comes to the bitterness I experience it as very soft in comparing to for instance tannin bitterness. I do find the same kind of soft bitterness in Swedish rye bread with I eat every day.
    I do also believe that the flavours from the rye grain change a lot during the maturing process. For instance it seem to me that the spiciness first increase and after a certain number years start to diminish instead.

    Leif
    I find an unmistakable familial resemblance between Saz 18 and pumpernickel (a dark chewy rye bread) not so much with Saz Jr.

  8. #8
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    For people who don't like bourbon, most of what they don't like about it comes from rye. That's the Maker's Mark thesis and there is a lot of truth to it. Rye is earth, spice and flowers. It is also the acidic burn in the back of the throat.

  9. #9
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    Agreed all 'round.

    Gary

  10. #10
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    Re: TOTM, 4/07: Mashbills

    This thread is a complete lesson for me. Now, I know more about how the mashbill affects the taste of bourbon, especially what effect rye has. However, there's sth. that's not yet clear in my mind: Since bourbon is distilled and so alcohol is seperated from the rest, and this alcohol has the same chemical formula for all bourbons (ethanol, right?), then what's the explanation for the differences in the tastes of different "white dogs"?

 

 

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