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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Sep 2007
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    Lansing, MI
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    My Beam Rye Experiment

    As I posted on another thread, I recently purchased a bottle of Jim Beam Rye. To save you the trouble of having to read my other posts, I will reiterate here that I was less than impressed. I was, for the first time since starting whiskey, very deeply disappointed. Beam Rye is a great whiskey to mess up on: it is only 15 bucks here in Michigan. I learned my lesson…don’t take advice on American whiskey from exclusive scotch drinkers.

    ACDetroit and I had been discussing the possibility of re-barreling widely available, low proof, immature whiskeys to produce a more refined and more complex spirit. ACDetroit was thinking about buying a new oak barrel for the experiment. Having visited several wineries, I was aware of a technique wherein the winemaker uses oak chips instead of expensive oak barrels to quickly mature wine. The technique relies on the fact that barrels produce relatively little surface to mass ratios. Wood chunks, with over double the exposed surface area compared to barrels, cause rapid maturation. Winemakers can, therefore, “oak up” a mid-range chardonnay or cabernet faster and cheaper than 18 months in a new oak barrel. I was not enamored with the idea of waiting three to five years for a well-aged rye whiskey. I wondered if I could decrease the cost and speed up the results for this experiment.

    So, I found myself with the opportunity to turn mild misfortune into an experiment. First, I had to collect my materials. When was the last time your love of whiskey and hardware stores converged?

    I determined that I needed the following:
    2 one-pint mason jars
    1 piece of oak (I used red, since white is difficult to find)
    1 hacksaw
    1 culinary torch (for crème brûlée)



    First, I cut one-inch chunks from the piece of oak. I figured I would use one chunk per mason jar. Regardless of how small a piece I used, the surface/mass ratio would be greater in a 16 oz jar than in a 31 gallon barrel. I settled on chunks that were approximately 1.5X1X0.5 inches each.

    Second, I had to put some char on the wood. I used my trusty culinary torch, though any extreme heat source would work. I went beyond simply burning the exterior and charred the wood until it glowed orange inside. It takes a lot of heat to char the oak to the center; a cross section of heavily charred wood still revealed an un-charred center.

    Third, I measured the whiskey into the mason jars and added the oak chunks. I had to wait for the oak chunks to cool…even 80 proof whiskey is flammable.

    In under a week the color had deepened and the nose had improved. It has been about a month now, and the color as deepened significantly and the nose has become much more char-heavy.

    For anyone interested, I will bring the resulting spirit to the Sampler in a few weeks. I am not sure if the result will be good, but at least it will be unique and interesting!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Jeremy
    www.awksome.com

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”
    --Kurt Vonnegut


  2. #2
    Apprentice
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    Jun 2007
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    Northwest
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    40

    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Nice work!

    This is another source:

    http://morewinemaking.com/search/103252

    or try your local wine making store.

    I haven't used them that much, but my conclusion so far is that this treatment may improve bad bourbon a little, but is unlikely to help much with stuff you actually like.

    I am very interested in what you find. Keep us posted.
    Cornman

  3. #3
    Connoisseur
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    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas
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    988

    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Sounds like a neat and ingenious experiment. Look forward to tasting the results at the Sampler. Did you save a little of the untreated rye for comparison?

    Stu

  4. #4
    Irreverent One
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    Feb 2008
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    Heart of the Beaver State
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    2,395

    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    If you were to go with a barrel for this or some future project, you could equip it with one of these:

    http://www.infusionspiral.com/
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  5. #5
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    May 2006
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    Nor Cal
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    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Jeremy,

    I had very similar thoughts about an improvement on the taste of Beam rye. You might want to check out my rebarreling experiment here:
    http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...ead.php?t=6732

    (I'm not sure how to do hyperlinks if the above didn't work. Just look for "Beam Rye Rebarreling under the Rye topic threads.)
    "It hasn't cured my broken heart, but it sure helps a lot."
    -Ernest Tubb

  6. #6
    Guru
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    May 2006
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    Napoleon, MI
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    7,449

    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Hey Doc.
    Bring some over tomorrow. Just a little.
    ovh

  7. #7
    Disciple
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    Aug 2004
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    Arlington, VA
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    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Cool experiment!

    "even 80 proof whiskey is flammable."

    Is it? I guess I'm not sure on the precise definition of "flammable" but I would assume it means that it catches fire when exposed to an open flame. I just now put some 80 proof whiskey in a pyrex container and tried to light it with a grilling lighter. I was unsuccessful after several sustained attempts. 86 proof didn't light up either. 90 and 100 proof did. Quite a pleasant smell

    I had thought the reason 86 proof was a common proof for whiskey (at least scotch whiskey) was the flammability factor.
    Last edited by Sijan; 04-04-2008 at 22:25.
    -Dan

    Who stole the cork from my breakfast?

  8. #8
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    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by Sijan View Post
    Cool experiment!

    "even 80 proof whiskey is flammable."
    If you heat it yes, because you are baking off the volitiles.

    In general, 100 proof is what will burn at room temp.. it is actually where proof comes from.

    100% proof you have a certain level of alcohol is that it will burn...

  9. #9
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    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    Quote Originally Posted by spun_cookie View Post
    If you heat it yes, because you are baking off the volitiles....
    Well, that's true of Sherry too and it's hard for me to say that Sherry is really flammable. I'm talking about flammability under normal circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by spun_cookie View Post
    In general, 100 proof is what will burn at room temp.. it is actually where proof comes from.
    Yes, I've heard that too, but it had to do with somehow mixing rum with gunpowder and seeing if it would ignite. I don't think the 100 proof figure is really very precise. As I mentioned, I can light 90 proof whiskey at room temperature. But not 86 proof whiskey. So I think room temperature flammability must really be somewhere between 86-90 proof.
    -Dan

    Who stole the cork from my breakfast?

  10. #10
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    Re: My Beam Rye Experiment

    You can get 80 proof to burn if you allow it to breath long enough. That is the minimum I beleive you can go down to. Ideally yo uwant 100 for easy burn...

    I think you can even burn 100 proof down completly leaving nothing left... below that I think you burn the alcohol off and leave liquid....

    At least that is what I remember.

 

 

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