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Hassouni

Aging Wray & Nephew Overproof in Oak

39 posts in this topic

Righto, so I think devotees of W&N would agree with me that an aged version would just be staggering - along the lines of a Smith & Cross or something but even more so.

How might something like this work for a trial run? http://tuthilltown.gostorego.com/barrels/barrel-aged-cocktail-kit.html

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Looks like a pretty low-risk investment.

We found a small cask at a junk shop. From the amount of woodiness it's imparted to our aged Negroni experiments I strongly suspect it had never had anything in it before (I gave it a good dose or two of boiling water to hopefully annoy any bugs).

The cask is possibly aesthetically superior to the Tuthilltown bottle, but cost considerably more. Give it a try.


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I'm going to be buying a 3 Litre cask from a chap in Mexico on eBay. I think it's about $75. Not cheap, but it will look fun.


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Rather than paying Tuthilltown for a piece of their wood, why not just use toasted oak chips as in winemaking? You don't need the fancy bottle, and I'm guessing it would work out cheaper, especially if you wanted to do more than 375ml of rum at some point.


Matthew Kayahara

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OK, so I'm revisiting this idea with oak chips. I realize there is no standard for rum aging, and my options are raw oak chips, charred oak chips, or chips from used bourbon barrels (which started as charred). I know WN currently uses Jack Daniel's barrels for Appleton Estate, and a few other rum producers use old bourbon barrels, while others use who knows what.

Never having done something like this, what will the flavor differences be between raw oak, charred but unused oak, and old bourbon-soaked charred oak?

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First-filled charred oak will give you a lot of intense bourbon-y flavor: caramels from the charring, spices (cinnamon, etc), vanilins, wood flavor. Subsequent fills will be less intense. A lot of the effects of aging (especially 17 years' worth of aging) can't be accelerated or faked, so what you'll get is a woodier, hopefully more complex W&N with some of the characteristics that the 17 year Dagger probably had. It could still be good on its own terms; I know Hale Pele in Portland house ages WN in a small barrel.

Someone with actual first hand cooper experience (my wood chipping doesn't count) could answer about the effects of wood with more detail and authority :) .


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”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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Apart from Appleton, it'd be interesting to know which of the other mega-aged rums (ED12 or 15, Seale's 10, etc) use already-used bourbon casks.

Also, something I hadn't considered until just now - when rum, whisky, or whatever, is aged in a charred barrel, it is ONLY exposed to the charred side (duh!). But the used whisky barrel chips I've seen for sale have one charred side and one raw (if that's the right word) side, so using those wouldn't be quite the same as exposure to only the charred side of a barrel.

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There are some pretty accessible research papers that cover the effect of wood on spirits. I can dig some up if people are really interested. Besides tannin and all that, one of the most significant aspects of aging that I'd say is taken for granted is pH and total acidity. I think the big thing that defines sipping spirits that you can enjoy at room temp is their acidity. Many whiskeys considered mature have a pH of 4 while things like gin that we don't sip, typically have a pH much closer to 7.

Don't forget my fake aging technique. Dehydrate a few ounces of bourbon, then reconstitute it with wray and nephews to give you a good educated guess of what the true barrel aged version would be like when it sucks up all that non-volatile stuff. The change in pH will eventually shift all sorts of strange equilibriums so it might even make sense to allow the W&N to sit around for a month or so.

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abstract expressionist beverage compounder

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How does one dehydrate bourbon?

I use my excalibur food dehydrator or you can use an oven on its lowest heat. You just want to save the non-volatile fraction which is arguably the most significant product of barrel aging. The non-volatile fraction is the perfect soup of acids and tannins that will lead to the change in equilibrium, deep end of chemistry, blah blah blah, that is a significant portion of the magic of aging. Granted there is a lot more to it, but dehydrating a masterfully barreled spirit is better than messing with wood chips and you can experiment two ounces at a time.

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Some would argue flavoured more than aged (which is I guess true) - but my experiments into 'Nuclear' aging techniques have been fun.

I set up up 150 cc of Wray and Nephew over proof into 3 bottles each with 15 grams of Jack Daniels chips, 1/3 vanilla bean and 1 gram of nutmeg.

The first got 3 cycles of heating to about 60º C in the microwave, followed by sealing with with the mason jar lid while hot to draw a bit of a vacuum.

The second was put in the ultrasonic cleaner (still in the jar) at 40 Hz in a water bath and the temperature set to 50º C for about 25 minutes - 3 cycles.

The third was put in the chamber vac - brought to a 'cold boil' then turned off - drew a vacuum. Of course it boiled over two out of the three times!

Results - the microwave provided the nicest oak/vanilla flavours with the least burn. The ultrasonic also has good oak and vanilla flavour but more burn - wonder what would happen if I'd removed the lid while processing. The chamber vac - least flavour, but minimal burn.

I suspect repeated vacuum treatments might do more - it was certainly the clearest of the 3.

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Some brief notes:

 

1.  Don't expect to get an aged rum from any of these techniques.   Do expect to get some color, and LOTs of wood - real wood - effects.

 

2.  The notion of  toasting is to create flavor, ie carmelization.   The notion of charring is filtration which will NOT occur when using chips (unless a barrel is used).    Charcoal requires the notion of breathing and micro-barrels, micro-time will not accomplish this.

 

3.  The idea that "dehydrated/reconstituted bourbon" plus W&N to simulate an aged W&N?    No way.   This will only simulate - yup - "dehydrated/reconstituted bourbon" plus W&N, lol.     Want to know what aged W&N would taste like?   Try Appleton's.   Seriously.   

 

4.  Forcing out extractives using vacumn or temp treatments may gain some easy color, but in NO way will mimic or predict the effects of actual aging.   

 

Since W&N and Appleton are the same entity, save yourself the trouble and taste an Appleton V/X for starters.   It'll be closer than any of these will ever be.

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Cap'n, I disagree. While I love Appleton 12, to my palate, the Appleton branded rums have nowhere near the level of funk and hogo and pot stilled estery awesomeness that I find in WN OP. My purely speculative theory is that a different blend, or stills, are used for the Appleton Estate rums, or perhaps less dunder is added to the mash (is it called a mash in rum making?)

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Cap'n, I disagree. While I love Appleton 12, to my palate, the Appleton branded rums have nowhere near the level of funk and hogo and pot stilled estery awesomeness that I find in WN OP. My purely speculative theory is that a different blend, or stills, are used for the Appleton Estate rums, or perhaps less dunder is added to the mash (is it called a mash in rum making?)

 

Quick answer:  no. 

 

 

Two points:

 

1.   Again, my primary point was that Appleton - the V/X for example - would be a lot closer to the truth than the reconstituted bourbon, or vacumn induced notions.   That's a given.

 

2.   The effects of aging cannot be underestimated.   If you don't believe me - and you should, lol - try Dave Broom, who found the following tones:

 

W&N:  banana, grass, nuts and sweetness

V/X:  banana, grassy, and a touch of pecan

 

Naturally he found more complexity and other flavors (eg balanced oak) in the V/X, yes increased complexity due solely to age (not your speculations).   Keep in mind too that W&N is an overproof, as reflected in your experience of it.   Dilute it to around 40% and you'll have a very different experience.  The similarity of W&N to the slowly developing aged line of Appleton White - V/X - and Extra rums is remarkable.  

 

Let me quote Broom:

 

"Today these pot-stilled rums (Appleton) are only among the many styles and ages that Joy Spence crafts into the Wray and Nephew range".   

 

Feel free to disagree and in the spirit of this once British colony:  keep calm and carry on...

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So is Appleton White nothing but diluted WN OP? I have not tried the former. (And the only Appleton I've had in my collection is the 12, I've tried the V/X at a bar once or twice, but not under careful scrutiny)

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So is Appleton White nothing but diluted WN OP?

 

Only Joy Spence knows.    What we know is that the lines are related in terms of general profile, methods, and materials which is answer enough to your wondering what an aged W&N might taste like.   Spence gets a lot of credit as master blender (which would apply more to the aged rums).    

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OK, another question. Does long oak aging remove the hogo and funk for which WNOP is known for? I did a 2:1 rum:water dilution of the Whites, and then a sampling of Appleton 12, and I understand that a lot of the flavors in the 12 are from the oak, but there seems to be a distinct LACK of the defining flavor of the overproof - a fruity, molasses, even vegetal intensity, even when diluted. I taste it in extremely reduced form on the finish of the 12, but it whacks me in the face of even the diluted overproof. Could that just be a result of 12 tropical years in a barrel?

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Righto, so I think devotees of W&N would agree with me that an aged version would just be staggering - along the lines of a Smith & Cross or something but even more so.

How might something like this work for a trial run? http://tuthilltown.gostorego.com/barrels/barrel-aged-cocktail-kit.html

 

Why not just buy a bottle of Appleton Extra or 21? Same company.


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Why not just buy a bottle of Appleton Extra or 21? Same company.

 

I always have a bottle of the Extra on hand, and the 21 is too damn expensive. The post immediately before yours basically describes my issue - I'm wondering if, and hoping that, "cask conditioning" the overproof will keep the same in-your-face profile, independent of proof, of the white spirit, or if that's something that wood filters out.

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Hass, I know this has been discussed to death over at The Rum Project (one of my very favorite sites, lol) - but once again.   There are three co-existing, general classes of what real time in wood accomplishes:

 

1.   additive:   the wood gives up certain components, eg vanillan or carmelized components from the toasting or charring, to the spirit.

 

2.  subtractive:   the wood removes certain components of the spirit.   This is facilitated by the charcoal layer as the spirit slowly passes through both into and out of the wood.

 

3.  Interactive:   any of the above components of either the spirit or wood may interact with other components, forming yet other new components, which themselves interact with others, ad infinitum.    To a much larger degree than the first two process categories, the interactive processes are chemical reactions that have little relationship to wood area, and can only occur over time.     Some of the earlier reactions form precursors which - over time - interact repeatedly to produce ever more complex compounds.

 

The number of variables is further confounded by different species of wood, differing preparation, different coopering techniques, grains, number of previous uses, prior contents, etc.    New wood or first fill can be dangerous as too much exposure can ruin the product.    Soon, the rum needs to be transferred to less active, older barrels to be able to be aged for very long periods (think of a 15 or 20 year old rum).    Reactions continue but at a more diminished, more subtle pace.     

 

Bottom line:  what aging can achieve is dramatic.    Honestly, if you told me that the same distillate used for the OP was used to create a significant blend element of the Appleton's, I'd believe it.    The entire line is clearly related, dunder based (real dunder, not the misinterpretations above), and pot-stilled;  they all share key profile aromas and tastes, but obviously differ in age, compexity and sophistication.   The Extra is fine; the 21 is designed for provide a handy exchange for large amounts of cash.

 

If I were you I'd quit the fruitless search for the answer you want,  either buy a micro-barrel or acceptable pieces of a used bourbon barrel, and try your hand at aging in a closed stainless container.   Oak chips can also work in a jug of W&N at about $25.      Go forth, taste it daily and give up when you've had enough fun.    Less chit chat, more chip chap....

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Last call for (aged) alcohol!

 

Quit fussing and buy a bag of Jack Daniel's wood chips sold for barbequing, or you can try places like Hillbilly Stills, who sells oak chips at varying stages of toasting:  light, medium, etc.    You're talking $5.   I'm done, you're it.   Try it, report it but fer gawd's sake enough chip chap...

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