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The New Old Taylor, First Batch.


cowdery
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One of the most unusual things I was told when working on the documentary in 1991-92 was said by a man who identified himself as the last master distiller at Old Crow and who was by then a Beam employee working at the Forks of Elkorn (Old Grand-Dad) plant, which is where Beam stuck all of the National production people it retained.

He told me that in the 1960s, National enlarged the Old Crow plant and accidentally altered the percentage of setback they were using. He said this completely screwed up the flavor and everyone, including he and the distillery tasting panel, told management it was screwed up, but at that point they were selling all they could make, so nothing was done to fix it. A few years later, when the bottom fell out, it was worse for Crow than just about any other major brand. He said they finally figured it out and fixed it a couple of years before Beam bought the place, so for the last few years of production from that plant the whiskey was good.

I've never found another source that could either confirm or deny that story.

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That's quite interesting. Have you or anyone ever tasted the difference in, say, an '80s-era Old Crow vertical? When you say this man told you the change was a couple years before the buyout, I'm wondering when this juice was bottled--up to four years after 1987?

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#2 dent corn now, and #2 dent corn then are 2 different animals. I do not know when all of the hybrids started coming along, but it was probably after ww2, but this has had a serious impact on the flavor of corn. Now, corn is bred to have way more starch in it than it used to have. To have more starch, it has to have less germ, and that is where the flavor comes from. I had this very conversation with 2 corn genetic folks last week. 1 from cornell and the other from some school in missouri. I do know that we have had to try several different farmers corn around here until we found a corn that balanced flavor and alcohol yeild. There was one we tried that had a hell of a lot more corn flavor, but the yeild was half of what it is with the corn we use now. We have played around with open pollinated corn and use a small amount of it, just because the taste is so distinctive.

I know that Steve Nally has had to do the same thing out where he is at.

I wonder if the amount of backset used back when the nd plants were operating is one of the causes of the huge change. Maybe they used a lot more backset than beam does. More backset means lower ph and therfore makes a yeast act totally different and produces different flavors. We also had to experiment to find just the right amount.

One of the most unusual things I was told when working on the documentary in 1991-92 was said by a man who identified himself as the last master distiller at Old Crow and who was by then a Beam employee working at the Forks of Elkorn (Old Grand-Dad) plant, which is where Beam stuck all of the National production people it retained.

He told me that in the 1960s, National enlarged the Old Crow plant and accidentally altered the percentage of setback they were using. He said this completely screwed up the flavor and everyone, including he and the distillery tasting panel, told management it was screwed up, but at that point they were selling all they could make, so nothing was done to fix it. A few years later, when the bottom fell out, it was worse for Crow than just about any other major brand. He said they finally figured it out and fixed it a couple of years before Beam bought the place, so for the last few years of production from that plant the whiskey was good.

I've never found another source that could either confirm or deny that story.

These are the nuggets of information that come out of the dialog here that makes me damn proud to be a member of SB. Great stuff!

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If they screwed it up on account of say installing bigger fermenters, all they would have had to do was pump more backset in. From what I have been told, most distilleries did not even check the ph, they just knew how long to run the pump to put the backset in. And the screwup may not have shown up in the new make as much as it did in the barrel and it was not caught until it was time to bottle. They must have just decided to live with it. Looks like the yeild would have been off and they would have caught it that way though. If everything is working right, the mash will yeld a certain amount of whiskey, and if something like the amount of backset is wrong the yeild will be off.

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  • 4 months later...

With the upcoming release of the second edition of E H Taylor Jr I thought it'd be a good time to bump this thread.

Anyone new to this thread check out the original post and see why.

Also below are pics of the first release Sour Mash and the second Single Barrel.

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post-1534-14489817481456_thumb.jpg

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post-1534-14489817481456_thumb.jpg

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I also enjoyed this thread and learned a lot. It made me wonder about this effort compared to the BTAC line. This one seems like it is more purist - trying to recreate, or at least follow, an original recipe. The BTAC appears to me, a newbie, as an homage. Is that an accurate assessment?

Are there other "original recipe" offerings out there, or offerings that aim to copy pre-prohibition formulas? I realize with GMO a lot has changed, but still wonder if this is an isolated effort.

Marna

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

So I pick this as my first post. Go figure.

As a long time all grain home brewer, it seems like yeast gets short shrift in the distilled spirit world. When brewing beer for style, grain is important, but yeast strain is key. If you use the wrong yeast, your end result will be way off the mark. Yeast brings so much flavor to the party. Another variable is fermentation temperature. It contributes to the quantity and type of fusil oils produced.

How do bourbon distillers controll these variables?

My real question is, does the type of corn affect flavor more than the yeast or fermentation temps? My gut tells me that corn is corn on the whole.

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Yeast is important because, as distillers will tell you, all of the flavor is produced in the fermentation. The still just concentrates flavors, and discards some unpleasant ones, but it doesn't create any new ones. The major distillers know yeast is important.

Brewers use different yeasts to create different styles whereas, generally, a distiller will use one yeast because they're really only making one style, which is bourbon. So when they've found a yeast they like, they don't have much reason to talk about yeast.

An exception is Four Roses, which uses five different yeast strains and uses them for the flavor properties they produce. One is considered spicy, one is considered floral, etc.

In the micro-distillery world there are some people who give fermentation short shrift because they have confused the roles of distiller and still operator. Bill Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, recommends that micro-distillers contract out their fermentation to a micro-brewer and just concentrate on distilling, which I think is very bad advice.

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Bill Owens, president of the American Distilling Institute, recommends that micro-distillers contract out their fermentation to a micro-brewer and just concentrate on distilling, which I think is very bad advice.

Agreed. My brewing experience would drive me to believe that distilling would concentrate the flavours generated by fermentation. For example the yeast from a Belgian beer would creat vasty different flavours from a czech pils. The temps required to use these yeasts are at the oposite ends of the spectrum.

Slightly off topic. Are the yeasts used by bourbon distillers more ale like vice lager? I assume so, since lager takes too long to ferment for liquor.

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I know a typical fermentation takes four to seven days, depending on how they set it. Does that tell you anything?

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They are more ale like in nature. However I have played around with lager yeast at higher temps for bourbon and it make for intereting esters.

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I know a typical fermentation takes four to seven days, depending on how they set it. Does that tell you anything?

That tells me they are more like Ale yeast. Lagers take longer to ferment. They also require temperatures well below room temperature.

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They are more ale like in nature. However I have played around with lager yeast at higher temps for bourbon and it make for intereting esters.

Fascinating. I bet you got some strong fusils. A higher ferm temp would stress the yeast, wich usually results in off flavours.

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That is the point, to stress the yeast to make those flavors. Off flavors in beer, means good flavors in bourbon. We ferment in the 90's.

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That is the point, to stress the yeast to make those flavors. Off flavors in beer, means good flavors in bourbon. We ferment in the 90's.

Man booze is so cool! I lern something new every day.

If you want funky flavours, try some Belgian farmhouse ale yeast.

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I have used some in the past you are right. Basically when you hear about all of the old distillers who captured a wild yeast and kept it alive, it is about the same yeast as a belgian farmhouse ale yeast.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 6 months later...

Bumping this thread for some old and new information.

First the old, below is the original post and photo submitted by Chuck Cowdery in August 2009.

Below the photo is the new info from Cowdery's comments in another thread a couple of months ago.

As archivist at the Filson Historical Society for the papers of E. H. Taylor, Jr., Mike Veach discovered that Taylor favored white corn, not yellow, and used 2 1/2 times the normal amount of barley malt -- about 25% malt. With 10% rye and the rest white corn, that was Taylor's mash bill. He distilled it to about 107 proof and put it in the barrel that way, aging it for about 8 years.

The picture below, courtesy of Mark Brown, is that recipe, last week, in the micro-distillery fermenters at Buffalo Trace. The first batch of the new Old Taylor has started its journey.

Taylor20recipe202.jpg

Some people seem to assume that the white corn bourbon BT put down for Taylor a couple of years ago will be Taylor when it comes of age. The evidence suggests otherwise. That was a one-off. They haven't made any more of it. It was, I think I heard, three barrels worth. It will be like the old fashioned sour mash, an authentic historic artifact but a one-off, not a regular product.

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Do we know if this batch was indeed sour mash? I do not see how it could have been, since they were starting up and ran only one batch. I would not think I or they would use backset from a regular yello corn bourbon bourbon run. Maybe they did it right after doing a batch of the rain vodka, which is white corn and used some of it for backset.

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I know they said they did for the first release of the eh taylor, but I do not know about this batch. Maybe I missed it.

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I'm pretty sure nothing was ever said about that, whether or not it was sour mash and, if so, where they got the slop. BT certainly has plenty and since spent mash is, by definition, spent, there would be nothing wrong with using yellow corn slop for backset.

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