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mbroo5880i

Barrel Selection to Meet Brand Profiles

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mbroo5880i   
mbroo5880i

I am hoping forum members with a bit more experience and knowledge of the major distillers can shed some light on how barrels are selected to meet brand profiles. I have always assumed it is based on age and sampling to match the flavor profile.  Of course, there are some brands produced by barrels stored in specified locations (e.g., Blanton's).  

 

Using Blanton's, as an example, what happens to barrels in Warehouse H that do not match the Blanton SB profile?  Do they get used for ETL, RHF?  Are they blended with other BT products with which their characteristics are more closely matched?  What happens to the BT MB #2 barrels that don't match any of the MB #2 product profiles?  A few in the forums have speculated that some of the BT MB #1 products might possibly contain some BT MB #2 (high rye), if the whiskey more closely matches the desired profile of a "mashbill #1" product (or maybe vice versa?).  

 

What about BT's #1 (low rye) MB products?  How does BT determine which barrels will be used to produce BT or will be aged further to produce ER.  At what point is the "profile" match determined?  Similarly, how do they determine what matches the CEHT profile vs. the GTS profile?   I read a post just today comparing CEHT BP and GTS Jr.  I can see the similarities. I always assumed CEHT is slightly older, although there is no specified age for either. For example, is GTS Jr. really product designated for GTS or is it really BT BP?

 

I have similar questions about Heaven Hill.  How do they determine what will go into EW vs. what goes into mid- and upper-shelf products?  How do they determine what becomes EC vs. Mck10?  I recognize there are profile differences so the profile match is key.  Do they sample a barrel and then just say "this one is ready to go as EC" or do they let go a little while longer and then say "ok, its good to go" or "oops, something is off, so we will hold this one to see if it might be a good candidate for EC18?"  

 

 

 

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Richnimrod   
Richnimrod

These are very interesting questions.    I hope someone with "insider" info is able (& allowed) to speak to these issues.     I've always wondered about this stuff.

It is really just curiosity for me; but some may wanna make other inferences, and start some 'war of words' about some of it.    Thus my fear that we may not get anyone with the actual knowledge to jump in here.

Thanx for putting the questions out there, mbroo5880i.

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mbroo5880i   
mbroo5880i
1 hour ago, Richnimrod said:

These are very interesting questions.    I hope someone with "insider" info is able (& allowed) to speak to these issues.     I've always wondered about this stuff.

It is really just curiosity for me; but some may wanna make other inferences, and start some 'war of words' about some of it.    Thus my fear that we may not get anyone with the actual knowledge to jump in here.

Thanx for putting the questions out there, mbroo5880i.

 

I am glad that I am not the only one with these questions.  I feel silly for not knowing but I don't know.  I am appreciative of any thoughts or insight.  

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Swamp55   
Swamp55

Great job of laying out a set of questions that I imagine many here at SB would be interested in hearing the answers to!  It is amazing to me how the big distilleries produce such a wide variety of end products from a relatively limited set of raw materials.

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Bourbonmakesmepoop   
Bourbonmakesmepoop

The bigger question to me is.... Do they really test EVERY barrel? Cause that's a lot of drinkin'!

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CardsandBourbon   
CardsandBourbon

I asked a similar question at BT recently when we did our tour.  Our tour guide said that there is a small group that meets and tastes different barrels.  I would assume that barrels from specific areas of the warehouse that have historically been used for a specific bourbon (e.g. Blanton's) are tasted and it's determined by this group that the profile is correct for that particular bottle.  

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kevinbrink   
kevinbrink
5 hours ago, Bourbonmakesmepoop said:

The bigger question to me is.... Do they really test EVERY barrel? Cause that's a lot of drinkin'!

In the last Bourbon Pursuit podcast with Brent Elliott about the Al Young bottling, he basically said they don't taste them all the make some assumptions based on location, distillation date and time in the barrel, and this was to create an LE, I would imagine for a broader release the process might be a bit more lax.

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lcpfratn   
lcpfratn

The questions that all inquiring minds want to know!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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HoustonNit   
HoustonNit
In the last Bourbon Pursuit podcast with Brent Elliott about the Al Young bottling, he basically said they don't taste them all the make some assumptions based on location, distillation date and time in the barrel, and this was to create an LE, I would imagine for a broader release the process might be a bit more lax.


I was going to make a posting essentially asking and assuming this. I would assume most regular products are based mostly on rickhouse location and age? Product X in rickhouse A lower levels and ~4yrs, product Y middle levels middle racks 8+ yrs, Etc. Now for some of the single barrel and LE offerings I'm guessing there's more tasting involved?

Based on some recent readings it seems like Beam predetermines and labels Barrel heads with brands based on where they place barrels in the warehouse and aging. Don't think HH and BT do this?

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flahute   
flahute
11 hours ago, mbroo5880i said:

I am hoping forum members with a bit more experience and knowledge of the major distillers can shed some light on how barrels are selected to meet brand profiles. I have always assumed it is based on age and sampling to match the flavor profile.  Of course, there are some brands produced by barrels stored in specified locations (e.g., Blanton's).  

 

Using Blanton's, as an example, what happens to barrels in Warehouse H that do not match the Blanton SB profile?  Do they get used for ETL, RHF?  Are they blended with other BT products with which their characteristics are more closely matched?  What happens to the BT MB #2 barrels that don't match any of the MB #2 product profiles?  A few in the forums have speculated that some of the BT MB #1 products might possibly contain some BT MB #2 (high rye), if the whiskey more closely matches the desired profile of a "mashbill #1" product (or maybe vice versa?).  

 

What about BT's #1 (low rye) MB products?  How does BT determine which barrels will be used to produce BT or will be aged further to produce ER.  At what point is the "profile" match determined?  Similarly, how do they determine what matches the CEHT profile vs. the GTS profile?   I read a post just today comparing CEHT BP and GTS Jr.  I can see the similarities. I always assumed CEHT is slightly older, although there is no specified age for either. For example, is GTS Jr. really product designated for GTS or is it really BT BP?

 

I have similar questions about Heaven Hill.  How do they determine what will go into EW vs. what goes into mid- and upper-shelf products?  How do they determine what becomes EC vs. Mck10?  I recognize there are profile differences so the profile match is key.  Do they sample a barrel and then just say "this one is ready to go as EC" or do they let go a little while longer and then say "ok, its good to go" or "oops, something is off, so we will hold this one to see if it might be a good candidate for EC18?"  

 

 

 

You basically answered all of your questions.

 

All of the distilleries, more or less, know which warehouses, and which parts of which warehouses, result in the various brands they produce. They place barrels in those spots expecting them to turn out a certain way. 

Barrels get tested along the way and if they shift in expected profile they'll get re-designated if they fit another profile. Or, they get blended out in a batch. Or, if they are really off profile, they may save and monitor them for a special project (if really good), or they will sell it to an NDP because they have no use for it. The latter probably happens less now that everyone is so desperate for whiskey. There are also those weird off brands like Two Star and similar. Off brand whiskey may go into these weird brands. (This is speculation.)

 

Wild Turkey only has one bourbon mash bill. They will test barrels at a certain age and based on profile will designate the best ones as either Russell's Reserve or Kentucky Spirit (their single barrels). Others get blended into 81, 101, and Rare Breed.

Of the Russell's barrels, certain ones get earmarked for the Private Barrel program and get moved into the first floor of Warehouse A (I think that's the one - it's the one the tours go through. It's great fun to be in there doing a barrel pick when a tour comes through and hear the tour attendees ask why the other group gets to drink out of the barrels). WTKS barrels get moved here too, but the program is less popular I believe. Probably because everyone wants the extra 9 proof points with Russel's.

 

At Beam, similar to above is the process. The barrels that become KCSB get monitored regularly because they sometimes drop below 120 proof. If that happens they get re-designated and can end up anywhere, not just in Knob Creek Small Batch. Booker's, as the story goes, comes from the center cut - the middle of the middle floors of the rick houses. (The story checks out as reasonable given that the proof on Booker's is always in the mid 120's).

 

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Mako254   
Mako254

From my understanding, Blantons is always from H which is metal siding as opposed to masonry. I watched an interview w/  Elmer Lee last night. His favorite warhouses were C K I. 

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kevinbrink   
kevinbrink

I suspect the stuff that ends up with NDP's or "Store Brand" bottlings were batches of core brands that may have had barrels tasted, but once the blending was done, didn't match profile. Of course this is a suspicion with no real evidence. 

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Theiano   
Theiano

The majority of barrels stored in warehouses are used in the bottom shelfers, or name brands like Jim Beam, Evan WIlliams. They probably just do a quick taste check after they have passed the minimum age requirement, if at all. You would imagine that once everything is used up for the premium brands, anything left over is dumped into the bottom shelfers. When they find a barrel that was assigned to a more premium brand that tastes awful they are probably not going to throw it out (unless it has a major health concern), they will just add it to the thousands of others that go into their bottom shelfers and the bad taste is mostly diluted away. This is partly why the lowest price whiskies can taste bad. Also they have the option to put them into flavored whiskey brands like fireball, southern comfort etc. If it is an older barrel that that tastes bad, but not terrible, they could also mix it into one of their less premium brands, not a bottom shelfer as it is worth more to them that way. They could put a Stagg Sr. bad barrel into a Stagg Jr batch as it doesn't have a good enough flavor for the senior, but there is no limitation on adding older barrels to younger batches (except for BIB).

 

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Paddy   
Paddy

^^^^It's not so much that the lowest priced whiskey tastes bad, it's just usually less refined.  I've rarely had a drink of bourbon that offended me!:lol:

 

  Another point to keep in mind is that most of the 'bottom shelfer' brands you are referring to are going to take a lot more water to be proofed down/further diluted to their bottling proof point.   

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