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  1. #1

    Best Bourbon making videos?

    Several of the scotch distillery websites have very good videos for describing how scotch is made. Three of the best were Laphroaig, Bowmore and Ardmore (Teacher's). I'm wanting to study how bourbon making differs from scotch making. In scotch distilling, a "middle cut" is taken from the low wines (first distillation) for placing in barrels to age. The "foreshots" and "feints" that occur before and after the middle cut are set back into the low wines for redistilling in the second distillation. There is no mash that is set back into a new mash as far as I know, so scotch differs from bourbon in that regard, but both have a setback component. Some scotch has a very narrow middle cut, such as Laphroaig, so most spirit is set back and most of what you get has been through the spirit still several times in spite of the fact it is called "double distilled". Almost all scotch production uses a wash still and then a spirit still. Only lowland scotches were typically triple distilled, being the most similar to Irish whisky. The wash and spirit stills are usually different in design and are always copper pot stills. Column stills are only used for grain scotch used for blending purposes. Scotch grain whisky is rather sickening to me unless strong malts can knock out the sweet bland flavor in the final blend. Clan MacGregor and Dewar's White Label are examples of blends I find sickening in taste. Hence, my favorite scotch blends have high malt content and are based on Islay and Island malts: Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Talisker and Highland Park.

    Are column stills allowed in bourbon production? Do any bourbon makers take out a center cut of the last distillation as all malt scotch makers do, in addition to the setback of mash? Must bourbon stills be made of pure copper as scotch malt stills are, or do they just need copper in the upper arms where the spirit condenses? Are particular heating methods preferred? Copper stills have a limited lifespan and are expensive, and pot stills have low production rates, and then only a middle cut is allowed to pass from the spirit still into storage. Hence, there is no such thing as cheap malt scotch that is any good.

    OK, we know that bourbon production MUST use new oak barrels, but scotch production almost always uses secondhand or thirdhand barrels, and usually barrels that held bourbon, but sometimes sherry barrels are used. Some use bourbon AND sherry barrels to get a mix of flavors. The Scots are more experimentive in their use of barrels, and as long as bourbon has to be placed in new oak barrels, bourbon will have less range of flavor from barrel effects on aging of spirit. The Scots can also use new oak barrels if they want to, and they can be American, French, Spanish or whatever. I have heard of them using chestnut and mahogany barrels as well. However, the Scottish climate with low summer/winter temperature gradients slows down aging and drives up prices....again.

    Also, the grist that is produced from barley malt for mashing will be produced in several degrees of texture from coarser to finer and according to the distillery recipe as each type of grist, with its own particular name, will produce a certain quality of mash. Does bourbon follow this pattern of milling grist for the mash?

    So, without spending a lot of time going through all the bourbon websites, is there a really good bourbon website with videos that explains the bourbon making process as well as those scotch distillery websites I mentioned?

    BTW, Highland Park flat out states that the "medicinal" nature of scotch is mostly contained in the peat. Since bourbon is not peated, this means it is far less valuable for "medicinal purposes" than highly peated scotch, unless merely used as a sterilant and solvent. I have allergic reactions to mold, and if I drink some Laphroaig when I start to get the itching and burning in my ears, it will go away in about 15 minutes. Amazing! No bourbon can do this for me, and the low peated scotches also do not do that for me. Of course, Laphroaig "tastes like medicine" according to most who try it, and it continued to be imported into the USA as medicine even though the American bourbon distillers had to shut down. Laphroaig was widely prescribed as a medicine back in those days, and after one whiff, I suspect U.S. authorities were not about to contest the claim. Anyway, Laphroaig sailed right through prohibition making its malt scotch and legally exporting it to the USA, and that's another way it differs from bourbon, or most other scotches for that matter. Many of the other scotch manufacturers had to sell to smugglers outside the country if they got product into the USA. I wonder if anybody tried to label their stuff as Laphroaig and get around restrictions? Probably not many, as the mere mention of Laphroaig would probably scare away most drinkers. To this day, the vast majority of Laphroaig is used in blending, which also makes it different from most bourbon. In spite of the surge in single malt scotch sales, something like 95% of all single malt scotch produced still goes into blends, to make that cheap bland grain scotch somehow palatable.

    The fact that you can't get a very good blended scotch for drinking straight until you step up to Johnnie Walker Black at around $40/750ml sort of blows the argument that blending allows good scotch to be sold cheaper. Aberlour 10 y.o. single malt at the same price drinks just as well and many would prefer it over JWB. The lower priced scotch blends is mainly a way to get rid of whisky that would be unmarketable otherwise, and the result is very rarely better than mediocre....and they are best used for mixing or a cheap drunk when you don't want to waste the good stuff.

    So, another way that bourbon differs from scotch is that if you only can spend about $15 or less for a bottle, you are going to do a LOT better sticking with bourbon....and this advice is coming from a scotch lover. There are VERY FEW blended scotches in the $20 to $30 range that I would give a second glance to.....and I really like GOOD scotch. White Horse and Teacher's at around $20/liter are as far down the blended scotch ladder as you can go without wallowing in muck. WT101 or JB Black will walk all over most $20-$30 scotch blends and they are sold everywhere. The worm turns somewhere around JWB, but that's too much $$$$ for an everyday pour....although it is also sold everywhere....but very good bourbons are sold in that price range (or lower) as well.

    Bourbon is for the working stiff that wants value for money, it would seem. Wanna drink lots of good scotch? Either make lots of money or get used to living "in a small trailer down by the river". Hence, I am looking hard into bourbon right now....but failing that, there is this place across the state line that sells trailers cheap.

  2. #2
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    Re: Best Bourbon making videos?

    I think you will find the sources listed here to be of value.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield
    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

    Dog Lover, Euphonium Player, Campfire Guitarist, Marksman,

  3. #3

    Re: Best Bourbon making videos?

    Thanks, Dave. I'm trying to make my bourbon education a lot quicker than my scotch education. I spent a lot of time going through scotch distillery websites because I was looking for natural medicines to address my illness. I know that scotch was originally invented as a medicine by monks, and was an offshoot of early Irish whisky. The Islay area was the first place scotch was distilled by the monks. The early scotch was pretty rough tasting as aging to improve taste was discovered by accident when illicit producers had to leave kegs in storage for extended periods of time due to hide it from government revenuers. My illness is toxic mold related, and I got hit by some of the bad toxins like aflatoxin and tricothecene. Many afflictions of the scots were obviously mold related, due to the damp climate. I suspect that traditional scotch addresses those issues. A peat bog will be a cesspool of mold, but green plants living there will produce antitoxins to protect themselves. Eventually they die and become peat. It could be that sprouting barley produces antitoxins to mold toxins that are in peated water. Barley is the most mold resistant of all grains. If you were making a whisky to fight mold related illnesses, it would make sense to pick the one that resisted mold best.

    All I know is that Laphroaig works for me where most other scotches do not. None of the scotch blends work very well for me, as they are mainly unpeated grain whisky. Laphroaig is one of only 5 distilleries in Scotland that still have their traditional floor maltings. They are about as true to the origins of scotch as you are going to get, and their whisky packs a whallop. Prince Charles gives out only one royal warrant to a scotch distillery, and Laphroaig gets that warrant. He is known as a guy who knows his scotch. The queen mother also hands out a royal warrant to scotch, and hers goes to Bowmore, also an Islay malt and also one of the 5 distilleries that has their own floor maltings. Traditional floor maltings are labor intensive work, and most scotch distilleries have abandoned them. The Islay and Island whisky is definitely the best in my book. "Islay, Talisker, and Glenlivet, the king of drinks as I conceive it" wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. If Laphroaig has that "something" in it that your body craves, as mine does, then it will quickly become a favorite and nothing can probably take its place....except the neighboring Islay distilleries like Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Caol Ila or Bowmore. Or Talisker or Springbank from a neighboring island.

    Jack Daniels ruined my appreciation of American whiskey back in my military days, as I was ignorant enough to think that it spoke for bourbon. I would just buy cheap blended Kessler (actually much preferred it to Jack Daniels) when I wanted whiskey. I bought a bottle of JD #7, and when I couldn't stand to drink it straight, I gave the bottle still 3/4 full to a friend and went to midnight chow. When I returned he had already gotten drunk, got in a bad fight, and was laying in a pool of blood with the busted JD bottle nearby. I called the MP's and they got him to the hospital, and he was cussing and swearing and making a general ass of himself the whole time. He was such an obstinate jerk at the hospital that the First Sergeant got called into the mess. The First Sergeant made it a point at the next commander's call to let people know he wanted no more such altercations. My friend got that way on Jack Daniels, and was fairly mellow when he was drunk on other booze. I decided to avoid JD and haven't bought another bottle since.

    While I love REAL malt scotch (and that AIN'T Glenmorangie made in a gin still and stuffed in a sherry cask in order to appeal to some whisky snob that reads too many articles by "experts" and wants a taste that is borderline scotch to begin with), their modern scotch grain whisky is some of the worst puking garbage ever foisted on mankind. Buy one of the cheapest scotch blends to see what I mean, as they have very low malt percentages due to their price. They are all bad....bland, Bland, BLAND. I'd rather drink Jack Daniels. Good bourbon is many steps on the ladder above that crap. HOWEVER, the top rung is single malt scotches from distilleries like Laphoaig, who, bless their stubborn Scottish souls, refuse to budge one step from an ancient formula that is pure freaking magic. Real scotch whisky knocks down the door and rattles the shudders and makes you laugh and feel good about it. Those who don't like it should drink gin or vodka and lay off the blends that are sick jokes. I predict the "designer malts" will get ignored by the real hardcore scotch drinkers. A bourbon drinker will most likely like the REAL scotch single malts, as flavor is what bourbon or scotch malt is all about, and not mass appeal to the uninitiated. Blended scotch was an appeal to mass taste, and that's why most blends have been garbage in my experience. Blends like White Horse or Teacher's were aimed at single malt lovers who wanted lots of flavor and an affordable everyday dram that tasted a lot like the core malts they were made from. Either one will probably initially turn off a newbie as they are stronger flavored than the blends whose first priority is to not offend the person who samples them. I was initially a bit turned off by White Horse (being used to Teacher's), but halfway through a bottle a change came over me and I then preferred it to Teacher's. Blends that initially pleased could often have me hating them at the end of a bottle or two due to their blandness. People who order a shot at the bar every now and then probably drink those blends that are initially pleasing. I drank Teacher's by the case, and now I have a case of White Horse and liking it better all the time. Probably because of the Lagavulin and Talisker in it. WAY above JW Red, and cheaper to boot.

 

 

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