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cowdery

The New Old Taylor, First Batch.

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bourbonv

Good points Chuck.

Mike Veach

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CorvallisCracker

...they even distilled it at a low proof and put it in the barrel at the lowest proof done in several decades. I am looking forward to tasting some of the whiskey. My bet is that at four years of age it will be better than many 7 or 8 years old bourbons.

Lower distillation proof will do that? Interesting.

Clear Creek's "McCarthy Single Malt" is distilled at close to 160 proof, but is a pretty good whiskey for something with only three years barrel time. I've always wondered if the high distillation proof has something to do with that. Your statement would suggest the opposite.

= Woodford comes off the still at near the maximum of 160 proof.

Huh. I wonder if a lower distillation proof would make it less "coppery".

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OscarV
Low barrel entry proof can be achieved by a low proof off the still or by adding more water. Woodford comes off the still at near the maximum of 160 proof. Wild Turkey comes off the still at 130 and goes into the barrel at 115. Beam actually has the lowest proof off the still to my knowledge, with Baker's and Booker's, which come off at 125 and go into the barrel that way, with no water added. So Turkey has a lower entry proof, but Beam has a lower proof off the still.
Good points Chuck.

Mike Veach

Yeah, like I said, the Lawrenceburg Boys rule.

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ILLfarmboy
I'm with everyone else! I can't wait for a genuine, low entry proof dammit-all delicious whiskey, and that's what I'm hoping for!

You took the words right out of my mouth.

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cowdery

Higher distillation proof generally means a cleaner, less flavorful spirit. Lower entry proof means more absorption of substances from the barrel, as water is a better solvent (at least in that application) than alcohol. Lower distillation proof and lower entry proof both mean more flavor, but flavor from different sources.

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kickert
Higher distillation proof generally means a cleaner, less flavorful spirit. Lower entry proof means more absorption of substances from the barrel, as water is a better solvent (at least in that application) than alcohol. Lower distillation proof and lower entry proof both mean more flavor, but flavor from different sources.

Lower distillation proof also makes for an "oilier" product as well as much more grain flavor.

I might disagree with you on water being a better solvent. When we first get our barrels we fill them with water and let them sit for several days (on occasion we have forgotten about them and let them sit for over a week). Even after all that time, the water picks up very little character from the barrel. What character it does have is more related to the particulate floating around than any actual change to the water. Generally the water picks up very little color and only nominal taste. On the other hand, when we take the same barrel and put 120 proof whiskey in it, after 24 hours the color is has clearly changed and the taste is noticeably different. After a week, the barrel character is obvious.

Of course my experience is only with small barrels on short timelines, but I figured it was worth throwing out.

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kickert
Lower distillation proof also makes for an "oilier" product as well as much more grain flavor.

I should also add that lower distillation proof is not always better. Without doubt, the further you go into the tails the more of a pungent "wet cardboard" smell and taste you pick up. At first, it adds a lot of body, but if you go to far you will be wishing your whiskey wasn't nearly as flavorful.

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OscarV

Jim Rutledge(I'm name dropping so early today:rolleyes: ), also said of high/low distillation/barrel entry proofs, that the bean counters up at HQ want higher proofs all the way around to have more product after cutting it down for bottling, but it takes more aging time to get the flavor at higher proofs so it's a financial wash.

Or to make it short, what Chuck said.

So back in the "olden days" they could get away with shorter aging periods because of lower proofs.

Later Edit:

Also, what Kickert said.

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tmckenzie

In my experience, lower distillation proof as well as lower barrel proof makes a better product. Water is a better solvent, and lower still proof brings more flavors of the grain over. I think the reason that all the big distilleries went to higher proofs is you get more whiskey in a barrel at 125 proof, and the higher proof requires less steam to make than lower proof, meaning less fuel usage.

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ILLfarmboy

I'm cerious, Ben, If you were deciding on the proof off the still and barreling proof, what proof points would you choose. I know that's not an easy question since many factors such as yeast, still construction and manipulation have a lot to do with the congener content of the distillate, but I'd love to hear your further thoughts on this subject?

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cowdery

Re lower proof spirits aging better, most industry folks cite the experience of rum makers who put high proof rum into barrels in their hot climate and got very little absorption after years of aging. I mention absorption because I don't believe barrel proof matters with regard to evaporation or oxidation, the other two effects of aging.

A lot of times when people cite to traditional methods they're just guessing but with this we know that the practice was to distill out and barrel enter at no more than 110. Ideally they would get exactly the proof they wanted off the still and wouldn't add any water. The purpose was to ensure that no barrel dropped below 100 proof during aging, since 100 was the target bottling proof.

All of today's distillers say they would prefer to distill and especially to enter at a lower proof but the bean counters won't let them.

These practices preserve more of the flavor that is in the beer, but you don't necessarily always want that. I recently visited a boutique distillery that is making grain spirits in the eau de vie style. By distilling off the grain in a pot still and distilling to 92% (184 proof), they get a very clean and focused grain flavor.

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tmckenzie

The lower still proof brings over more esters in my opinion.

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sailor22

Don't most Brandy, particularly Cognac and Armagnac makers go into the barrel at lower proof, right around 100? Not exactly apples to apples but their product has a lot of the flavors of the fruit they started with. Seems like I taste more flavors of the source materials in their product than I do in whiskey.

BTW in a recent conversation with Ansley Coale of Germain-Robin Brandy he mentioned they were about to do some experimental distilling with wheat as opposed to their typical grape or fruit. They don't use the same barrels typically used in Bourbon production so I would anticipate a hybrid product. I'm interested in what they come up with.

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cowdery

Cognac brandy typically comes off the still at 70% ABV. I don't know if it's reduced before barreling. I believe California bradies, at least the mass-produced ones, come off even higher. The legal maximum distillation proof for brandy is the same as for whiskey, less than 95% ABV, but for whiskey there are the named types such as bourbon, where the legal max is 80% ABV. There are no equivalent "types" for U.S.-made brandy. U.S.-made brandy has to be distilled at less than 95% ABV and aged at least two years.

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craigthom

Lower proof going into the barrel would also mean more barrel contribution in the finished product because less water is added between the barrel and the bottle.

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kickert
I'm cerious, Ben, If you were deciding on the proof off the still and barreling proof, what proof points would you choose. I know that's not an easy question since many factors such as yeast, still construction and manipulation have a lot to do with the congener content of the distillate, but I'd love to hear your further thoughts on this subject?

Hey Brad... you are right, there are no easy answers. The more experimental batches we run through the still, the less confident I am of anything :-). Each recipe has its own character. Some have more heads, some have more tails, some have more of both.

For us, since most of what we are doing is experimental or small production batches, our target is a flavor, more than it is a distillation proof. Final distillation proof isn't determined until we do the final blending of fractions off the still. Even if we would prefer a lower proof off the still, we are not going to add more lower proof fractions if that means it negatively affects the flavor of the whiskey. Once the run starts dropping, the flavor can get very pungent (smells like wet cardboard). We have cut to tails as high as 135 and as low as 100, it all depends on the flavor coming off the still.

As for barreling proof, we have generally barrelled around 120. We have experimented higher and lower, but for us, that proof tends to work best.

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bourbonv

Josh,

According to Chris Morris, the Woodford Reserve being made at the Brown-Forman distillery is going into the barrel at 110 proof.

Mike Veach

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Josh
Josh,

According to Chris Morris, the Woodford Reserve being made at the Brown-Forman distillery is going into the barrel at 110 proof.

Mike Veach

Interesting. Thanks for the info, Mike!

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nblair
Each recipe has its own character. Some have more heads, some have more tails, some have more of both.

Do major distillers also use this technique to achieve differences between labels? Maybe if they have several bourbons of the same mash bill they adjust the heads/tails content of each?

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cowdery

The concept of "heads and tails" doesn't really apply in a column distillation system.

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bourbonv

The whole point of Heads and Tails is the beginning and ending of the distillation and the whole point of a column still is to allow the mash to run through the still in a continual flow. With that said, if the distiller is using a pot still doubler and not a thumper, then you can have some heads and tails involved.

MIke Veach

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kickert
The whole point of Heads and Tails is the beginning and ending of the distillation and the whole point of a column still is to allow the mash to run through the still in a continual flow. With that said, if the distiller is using a pot still doubler and not a thumper, then you can have some heads and tails involved.

MIke Veach

Plus, if we are talking about BT's experimental still, it is a hybrid pot still and thus would have heads and tails.

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nblair
Plus, if we are talking about BT's experimental still, it is a hybrid pot still and thus would have heads and tails.

True, but Chuck was right to correct me because I was mistakenly referring to the usual mass produced bourbons made in a column still. I didn't think about my question before I asked it... :confused:

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cowdery

There are no heads and tails as such in a second distillation. There is a residue somewhat like tales left in the bottom of the doubler, but heads would be impossible since the methanol and other heads cogeners were removed in the first distillation. They can't magically reappear.

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