I was just now reading for the seventy-leventh time about the interaction between the bourbon and the inner surface of the barrel. Something about the wording of this particular description caused me to picture that process as it might appear in real time, if only one could peek inside the barrel. ("We all live in a bourbon submarine, a bourbon submarine, a bourbon submarine...")
I visualized the process moving more slowly than the speed of growing grass, as the bourbon oozes, ever so slowly, into the porous charcoal, then even more slowly (I suppose) into the red layer, and slowest of all into the uncharred oak. As temperature changes occur, they too would propagate slowly because of the thermal mass of the barrel and its contents.
Then when tiny amounts of bourbon, carrying the flavor components from the barrel, return with equal slowness to the main body of bourbon in the barrel, the mixing process would be incredibly slow. I doubt that there are temperature variations at different points within the barrel that are sufficient to cause internal currents to form. That would mean that only the random movement of molecules causes mixing to occur.
Then I recalled that some makers move the barrels from one part of the warehouse to another, ostensibly for the purpose of exposing all barrels more or less equally to the external temperature changes. That prompted the following question.
Is the mixing effect of rolling the barrels a significant factor in the progression of the maturation/aging process? If so, would there be any benefit to rotating the barrels in place from time to time? Do any makers employ this practice?
BTW, as I write this, I am sipping WT101. (It reminds me that in its own way it's as good as Russell's Reserve, just different.) It's a little early (noon-thirty) for me, but my self-birthday present of Wild Turkey goods arrived today, and I couldn't wait to try out my WT shot glasses. I suppose I'll review them, along with the shirt, cap, and gourmet sauce, in a later post in the Paraphernalia (I'm still trying to learn how to spell that) forum.
Dave "Turkey-Lover, and Proud of It" Morefield