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All About Bourbon Whiskey


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What a great thread!

I'm afraid I've been tied to heavily to the Jim Beam faimly of bourbons and it's time for me to spread my wings a little. Unfortunately in Maine it can often be difficult to find what I'd like to.

That said, I've been a big fan of Knob Creek for going on five years now. It's also my bourbon of choice when I want to knock someone's socks off with a Manhattan. There's just something about the spice in that bourbon combined with the sweetness of the vermouth and the the complexity of the dash of bitters that really turns my crank.

When I'm mixing for myself i usualy go equal portions Knob Creek with Jim Beam white. What the heck! They're from the same family.

I've also noticed many people mentioning how hot Bookers is. Well, it IS that. Perhaps I'm blasphemous for suggesting this, but I've often enjoyed glasses of Bookers on the rocks and I really enjoy how the taste changes and I can detect different flavor notes as the water increases in proportion to the bourbon. By the end, I feel like I'm drinking nothing but an alcoholic caramel drink. YUM.

Basil Hayden's I wasn't particulary fond of. Enjoyed the couple of bottles of Woodford's I've had.

But to me, the best borubon I've yet to taste was the bottle of Blanton's I got as a Christmas gift from my wife two years ago. Wonderful and varied spice notes.

Alas, it was gone far too soon.

But enough of that...time for me to find a source for some Eagle Rare.

Oh, and for the record, though I know many people here put it in their top 5, I've never been a big fan of Makers Mark. A bit cloying for my taste.

"Democracy is that system of government under which the people…pick out a Coolidge to be head of the State. It is as if a hungry man, set before a banquet prepared by master cooks and covering a table an acre in area, should turn his back upon the feast and stay his stomach by catching and eating flies." H. L. Mencken

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  • 3 months later...

I don't think they can call it bourbon. The Beam products mentioned in the article and the Buffalo Trace products in their "experimental collection" are not allowed to be labeled as bourbon. Note the use of the word "whiskey" instead of bourbon in several places where the latter would make sense in the article. I'd be very surprised if this (and a bit put off) if this were labeled bourbon when it's released.

Also, as far as favorite bourbons, I'm on the non-fan side regarding Maker's. The Weller products are far superior wheaters IMO.

Additionally, the Binny's Buffalo Trace differs significantly from the regular release, which is much earthier and has a wonderfully long, bittersweet chocolate finish. I like the Binny's release, but prefer the standard bottling.

That said, the earthiness of BT's rye-based bourbons (including Blanton's) is not for everyone. I agree that Knob Creek is a great choice, as are the Wellers and Old Charter 12 (still a bargain IMO even after the recent price bump). Eagle Rare (the least earthy BT whiskey I've had) is good, but not like any other bourbon I've had in its intense fruitiness and brandy-like finish.

Edited by TBoner (log)

Tim

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Why wouldn't they be able to label it "bourbon"?

As far as I can tell, the relevant law says:

27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i) "Bourbon whisky","‘rye whisky", "wheat whisky", "malt whisky", or "rye malt whisky" is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.

Subparagraph (iii) says: Whiskies conforming to the standards prescribed in paragraphs (b)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section, which have been stored in the type of oak containers prescribed, for a period of 2 years or more shall be further designated as "straight"; for example, "straight bourbon whisky", "straight corn whisky", and whisky conforming to the standards prescribed in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section, except that it was produced from a fermented mash of less than 51 percent of any one type of grain, and stored for a period of 2 years or more in charred new oak containers shall be designated merely as "straight whisky". No other whiskies may be designated "straight". "Straight whisky" includes mixtures of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same State.

There's nothing I see in there that says an otherwise normal bourbon can't spend a few years (or, indeed, all years after the second year in new charred oak) in a used wine barrel and still be called "straight bourbon whiskey."

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slkinsey,

You may be right. But it seems odd to me, then, that Jim Beam, which has made its name with bourbon, would have gone out of its way to label their bottles of Distiller's Masterpiece as a "spirit" rather than a bourbon or a straight whiskey. There may be an implied exclusion of the process of finishing in non-new or non-charred oak in the statement that bourbon must be aged in new charred oak. In other words, the word "only" may be implied.

I'm not a legal expert, but as I said, multiple distillers with more venerable names and/or greater standing amongst bourbon drinkers (Beam and Buffalo Trace) have produced similar products and not labeled them bourbon. Given the market for the product, I don't understand this decision if it isn't purely a legal one.

Regardless, Woodford's pot-stilled experimentation with the standard WR and their 4-grain bourbon, while admirable for being unique and for advancing the cause of wider experimentation in American whiskey-making, have not impressed me. I doubt I'll pay a premium for this.

Tim

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I don't really buy it.

At least, in good faith to bourbon whiskey traditions if nothing else, Bourbon should go from the charred new oak barrels to the bottles without any additions other than water.

Anything else is a flavoring step, and should be noted as such.

Also, not quite sure why they are charging 3x the price for a whiskey aged for 2 less years.

Can't be the cost of the wine barrels, as they practically give them away in Sonoma.

Morris said he tinkered extensively before finding the right mix and settled on bourbon aged for five years instead of the usual seven-plus years. The fully mature Woodford “was too robust to get the nuances of the contribution of the Sonoma-Cutrer to shine through,” he said.

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Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I don't really buy it.

At least, in good faith to bourbon whiskey traditions if nothing else, Bourbon should go from the charred new oak barrels to the bottles without any additions other than water.

Anything else is a flavoring step, and should be noted as such.

Also, not quite sure why they are charging 3x the price for a whiskey aged for 2 less years.

Can't be the cost of the wine barrels, as they practically give them away in Sonoma.

Morris said he tinkered extensively before finding the right mix and settled on bourbon aged for five years instead of the usual seven-plus years. The fully mature Woodford “was too robust to get the nuances of the contribution of the Sonoma-Cutrer to shine through,” he said.

add quote

Agreed on all points. The whole thing smacks of gimmick to me.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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slkinsey:

The reason why is the segment of the law you posted that states "charred new oak barrels". I believe you may be misreading this as "newly charred oak barrels". Bourbon cannot be aged in oak that has held anything prior to bourbon.

As an aside, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with Ken Weber of Buffalo Trace and Julian Van Winkle a couple weeks back and was invited to the "organoleptic lab" where we tasted through 25 barrels of Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr 107 proof and several of the new experimental collection. The Zinfandel barrel was okay, the Chard was great and the other (Mouvedre I think) was phenomenal.

Brent

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As an aside, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with Ken Weber of Buffalo Trace and Julian Van Winkle a couple weeks back and was invited to the "organoleptic lab" where we tasted through 25 barrels of Pappy Van Winkle 15 yr 107 proof and several of the new experimental collection. The Zinfandel barrel was okay, the Chard was great and the other (Mouvedre I think) was phenomenal.

<sniff> I guess my invitation to this tasting got lost in the mail... :raz:

Sounds great, though. And of course I'm pea green with envy that you had this opportunity. The Van Winkle stuff is some of my very favorite. :smile:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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On the Woodford note, Woodford has always been a gimmick. It isn't bad whiskey, but from the beginning it has always pulled the wool over the public's eyes, even if just a smidge.

Woodford comes from the Early Times distillery where Old Forrester comes from. Now, I am a fan of Old Forester (especially the "signature" 100 proof and the Birthday Bourbons). Lincoln Henderson started selecting "honey barrels" those with a softer profile than the normally masculine (leather, earth, tobacco) Old Forester that were bottled as Woodford Reserve. Of course, no one was told openly that Woodford Reserve was Old Forrester.

Then there are those gorgeous pot stills. If you take a tour of Woodford, you see the three, shiny and beautiful pot stills at the Woodford Distillery, but they never tell you that the whiskey coming off the stills isn't Woodford, yet. This is an instance of a brand that was created before the whiskey was created. The intent was always to shift to a 100% pot stilled whiskey, but by the time it started to get ready, the demand had increased so much that they would have had enough pot stilled whiskey for Liquor Barn in KY and that is about it.

When I talked with Lincoln Henderson about it around 4-5 years ago, he informed me that the plan was to start integrating the pot still whiskey slowly into the current release Woodford until eventually the entire Woodford recipe was pot stilled.

Shortly after that there was the sneaky little line in a Bourbon Roundtable interview with Malt Advocate when (I believe) Bill Samuels said "No one has a 4 grain recipe", to which LH replied "I wouldn't say that" (Paraphrased). Then the pot stilled 4 grain was released around 2 years ago to a rousing flop among critics.

The truth of the matter is that I believe Mark Brown (Buffalo Trace) had a great plan with the distillery. When I spoke with him around 5 years ago he basically said that the train of thought in bourbon country is straight forward, if you want to compete you do plastic half gallons or single high-end products. His idea was to create a portfolio of medium-to-high end value whiskies (AA, Weller, Charter, Eagle Rare 101, Benchmark, VA Gent, etc) and a range of premium bourbons without ever delving into the Heaven Hill or Barton mentality. I think it has served him well.

The problem is that BT is so competitive now with award winning whiskies coming out their ears, in large part to their willingness to constantly experiment and create new whiskies that all the other producers realize their market share is getting devestated. Compare the demand for George T. Stagg to Bookers; it is incomparable. BT has done what it takes to build a solid portfolio that will stand the test of time, where other brands have rested on the laurels of support provided to them from their volume/value brands and heavy marketing.

The intent with BT Experiemental collection is not to sell a pile of "flavored bourbon", IMO. I think it is to allow us a glimpse into the head of the master distiller. We get to try whiskies that never make it out of the distillery. Distiller's are always tweaking the process and trying new things; they are the creative side of the business of distillation. Most of what they create is rejected. How would you like to take a glimpse at everything Leonardo da Vinci threw away? We are now given that opportunity. And because it is such a minor amount of whiskey, it has to be hand bottled (at the weller bottling hall) and hand labeled. Given the fact that BT is unionized (and I can verifiy lots of "inefficiency" in some of the processes), I can understand why that is pricey.

That being said, BT is always leading the forefront and I think that many others will begin to attempt follow. I see what Woodford is doing as just such an attempt. Since the loss of LH to Suntory and the relatively minor consequence the 4 grain played on the market (I sat on a half dozen bottles for a loooooong time vs. I can't keep the Antique collection in stock, ever), I think that Woodford needs reinvigoration. But like the others on this thread, I think that the best thing for them to do is make a new, solid great tasting bourbon (maybe one with a 15 yr age statement?) to pick up sales, not a whiskey that tries way too hard to play on the success of a major wine brand or steal a relatively successful "experiment" from another distiller.

JMHO.

Edited by mickblueeyes (log)
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The reason why is the segment of the law you posted that states "charred new oak barrels". I believe you may be misreading this as "newly charred oak barrels". Bourbon cannot be aged in oak that has held anything prior to bourbon.

No, I understand what "new oak barrels" means. The "new" means, as you say, that nothing has previously been aged in the barrels.

What I see here in the law is that, in order for the spirit to be called "bourbon" it has to be aged in charred new oak barrels. In actuality, it could literally be poured into charred new oak barrels, aged for one minute, poured back out and still labeled as "bourbon." There is a two year minimum aging time only if the product is going to be labeled "straight whiskey."

So, this establishes the fact that a mash bill of >51% corn, distilled to <160 proof and aged in charred new oak barrels at <125 proof for 1 minute or more can be called "bourbon" (provided it is bottled at >80 proof). Understanding that, I don't see anything in the law saying that if you take this bourbon and dump it into a used wine barrel for a period of time it is somehow transformed into "not bourbon." Now, if the law said, "stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers and in no other kind of wood container" that would be different (I assume it's okay for the aged spirit to spend some time in stainless steel tanks before bottling).

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The reason why is the segment of the law you posted that states "charred new oak barrels". I believe you may be misreading this as "newly charred oak barrels". Bourbon cannot be aged in oak that has held anything prior to bourbon.

No, I understand what "new oak barrels" means. The "new" means, as you say, that nothing has previously been aged in the barrels.

What I see here in the law is that, in order for the spirit to be called "bourbon" it has to be aged in charred new oak barrels. In actuality, it could literally be poured into charred new oak barrels, aged for one minute, poured back out and still labeled as "bourbon." There is a two year minimum aging time only if the product is going to be labeled "straight whiskey."

So, this establishes the fact that a mash bill of >51% corn, distilled to <160 proof and aged in charred new oak barrels at <125 proof for 1 minute or more can be called "bourbon" (provided it is bottled at >80 proof). Understanding that, I don't see anything in the law saying that if you take this bourbon and dump it into a used wine barrel for a period of time it is somehow transformed into "not bourbon." Now, if the law said, "stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers and in no other kind of wood container" that would be different (I assume it's okay for the aged spirit to spend some time in stainless steel tanks before bottling).

slkinsey:

You are correct. I had this discussion with Jimmy Russell a couple years back when he stopped by the shop. If you age bourbon for less than thirty days, it must state on the label "Bourbon aged less than thirty days". Any bourbon aged less than 4 years must carry an age statement on the label.

However, the statement "charred new oak containers" disallows any other alterations. This regulation emerged out of "bathtub whiskey" that was being labeled as bourbon prior to the passing of these laws and tainting the name of bourbon. Since bourbon was associated with the American name and due to pressure from distillers, Congress enacted these laws.

The statement is worded to exclude any other type of aging outside of "charred new oak containers" by specifying exactly what bourbon can be aged in. Anything outside of new oak (read: anything that has previously held anything) is disallowed. We can play semantics all day, but the law means what I have just stated.

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There does seem to be a lot of wiggle room for semantics, but I do recall that AH Hirsch 16 yr was stored in stainless steel from 1990 til up to 2003. On a side note, I was recently told that very fine, delicate spirits should not be measured with a stainless steel jigger (the spirit in question was a high-dollar scotch). This made no sense to me, since stainless steel is, for all intents and purposes, inert, certainly for the purposes of a few seconds contact. Like I said, AH Hirsch was in stainless for over 10 yrs and it's wonderful. As long as the jigger was clean, I don't see what the deal is.

Kind of interesting that whiskey makers are able to follow the letter and not the spirit (hah) of the bourbon laws and get away with it. But I guess law is all about technicalities, even when making booze. Or maybe I inferred a different intent to the law than was meant.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Not sure I understand your post regarding letter vs. spirit. It appears to me that they are following both the spirt and the letter of the law.

Stainless steel is inert, thus has no influence on aging. Hirsch was stored in that manner to prevent it from further aging, evaporation and oxidation. It had no effect on their labeling it bourbon. I wonder if they had to submit the "change" in storage to the TTB to get it reapproved? I am guessing that allowing it to sit in stainless would be considered "storage" and not "manufacture"? Whereas, aging in any type of wood would be considered part of the manufacture process.

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Amusing idea:

Buy some of the barrels from Fee's after they are done aging their whiskey barrel bitters in them, and age the whiskey in them for a period.

Hey, an instant cocktail!

Or maybe the barrels that Tabasco ages its pepper sauce in.

Mmmmm... Bourbon Picante.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The statement is worded to exclude any other type of aging outside of "charred new oak containers" by specifying exactly what bourbon can be aged in. Anything outside of new oak (read: anything that has previously held anything) is disallowed. We can play semantics all day, but the law means what I have just stated.

Well, says you.

I'm not saying you're wrong or you're right. But I am saying that you're not an expert in this kind of law. I'd like to see the case law on this before I'm willing to believe that interpretation is 100% correct. I've got some friends who practice in this area. Maybe they can offer an opinion.

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Update: I just rechecked the code and see the following. Apparently 27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i) is not sufficient to disallow whiskies stored in used barrels, as mickblueeyes suggests. However, there is an additional provision which covers just that:

27 CFR 5.22(b)(2) says: "Whisky distilled from bourbon (rye, wheat, malt, or rye malt) mash" is whisky produced in the United States at not exceeding 160 deg. proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored in used oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.

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Update:  I just rechecked the code and see the following.  Apparently 27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i) is not sufficient to disallow whiskies stored in used barrels, as mickblueeyes suggests.  However, there is an additional provision which covers just that:

27 CFR 5.22(b)(2) says: "Whisky distilled from bourbon (rye, wheat, malt, or rye malt) mash" is whisky produced in the United States at not exceeding 160 deg. proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively, and stored in used oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskies of the same type.

Could you please direct me to the link where you picked up that info? It seem that you are saying that the law states Bourbon can be aged in used barrels? The whiskey world needs to hear about this!

The adding of any flavoring agents whatsoever precludes a bourbon from being called "Straight Bourbon Whiskey".

Examples:

When the Motlows applied to the TTB to get approval for Jack Daniel's, it was not allowed to be called "Bourbon" due to the filtering through sugar maple charcoal.

Beam Masterpiece was not allowed to be called Straight Bourbon Whiskey, but instead had to be called "Bourbon aged in Port wine casks".

Buffalo Trace Collection states "Bourbon Whiskey. . . Aged in Chardonnay, etc"

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Slkinsey:

I went to check out the code. If you look at how that page is set up you have:

(2) Whiskey

(1) Bourbon Whiskey

(2) "Whiskey distilled from Bourbon mash"

(3) Light Whiskey

The paragraph you refrenced is not referring to bourbon, but a different subclass of "class 2" whiskey.

Edited by mickblueeyes (log)
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Slkinsey:

I went to check out the code. If you look at how that page is set up you have:

(2) Whiskey

     (1) Bourbon Whiskey

     (2) "Whiskey distilled from Bourbon mash"

     (3) Light Whiskey

The paragraph you refrenced is not referring to bourbon, but a different subclass of "class 2" whiskey.

The 1, 2, and 3, should be indented under the original 2.

Anyhow, I am not looking to argue, but I do enjoy these types of discussion; it is how good information is really hashed out. Anyone can post long lists of information, but debate spurs interesting facets, IMO.

Just like when we hashed out that "colorless and odorless" only applied to vodka manufactured in the US so long ago. I doubt either of us would have figured that out had we not gone back and forth on it on that monstrous thread. :biggrin:

Edited by mickblueeyes (log)
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The language in 27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i) does not, by itself, appear sufficient to say that something aged in charred new oak barrels and then transferred to used oak barrels is not "bourbon." It only specifies that bourbon is aged in charred new oak barrels for some period of time. I don't see anything in the code that specifically says that bourbon is aged only in charred new oak barrels.

27 CFR 5.22(b)(2) says anything that would ordinarily be considered bourbon (i.e., >51% corn, distilled to <160 proof, etc.) that is aged in used barrels is not bourbon but, instead, is called "whisky distilled from bourbon mash."

So far, so good. I'm with the program insofar as a spirit aged in used barrels instead of charred new oak barrels is not bourbon. There is still an problem, as I see it, in that the code seems to assume that each of the two kinds of spirit are aged exclusively in one kind of barrel: bourbon being aged in charred new oak and "whisky distilled from bourbon mash" being aged in used wood. The code does not seem to consider whiskies that are aged in one kind of barrel and then further aged in a different kind of barrel.

You are suggesting that a bourbon aged, say, 8 years in charred new oak and then 6 months in a used wine barrel is, by definition, no longer "bourbon" but must now be considered "whisky distilled from bourbon mash." I assume, for the sake of furthering the discussion, that you would also argue that a spirit that is aged 8 years in used barrels and 6 months in charred new oak would not be considered "bourbon." So, you're suggesting that it's an entirely one-way proposition: anything that deviates from 100% charred new oak is not bourbon. I'm saying that there is nothing in the code, as I read it, suggesting that such an automatic one-way exclusion exists. If "finishing with used wood" makes a spirit that was previously "bourbon" into "whisky distilled from bourbon mash," then the opposite should also be true and "finishing with charred new oak" should make a spirit that was previously "whisky distilled from bourbon mash" into "bourbon." Unless I'm missing something and there's something explicit in the code that says this isn't so.

Most likely, this is simply a situation that is not contemplated by the code. It strikes me that there could/should be reasonable modifications or additions to the code to provide for reasonable "finishing" of bourbon (etc.) in used barrels, provided it falls within certain ratios of aging (e.g., 10:1 new oak to used oak).

Question: rye whiskey is subject to the same code. Do you think that a rye finished in a used wine barrel should not be called "rye whiskey"?

Second question: Isn't Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey aged in toasted new oak barrels as opposed to charred new oak barrels? And this is why they call it "Single Malt 18th Century Style Whiskey" (leaving out the "rye" part) as opposed to "rye whiskey" as they do Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey 19th Century Style?

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[...]

Second question:  Isn't Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey aged in toasted new oak barrels as opposed to charred new oak barrels?  And this is why they call it "Single Malt 18th Century Style Whiskey" (leaving out the "rye" part) as opposed to "rye whiskey" as they do Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey 19th Century Style?

They age the 18th Century in a mix of toasted used and new oak barrels. So, really, they are breaking two rules, which prevents them from calling the 18th Century "straight rye whiskey".

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The language in 27 CFR 5.22(b)(1)(i) does not, by itself, appear sufficient to say that something aged in charred new oak barrels and then transferred to used oak barrels is not "bourbon."  It only specifies that bourbon is aged in charred new oak barrels for some period of time.  I don't see anything in the code that specifically says that bourbon is aged only in charred new oak barrels.

27 CFR 5.22(b)(2) says anything that would ordinarily be considered bourbon (i.e., >51% corn, distilled to <160 proof, etc.) that is aged in used barrels is not bourbon but, instead, is called "whisky distilled from bourbon mash."

So far, so good.  I'm with the program insofar as a spirit aged in used barrels instead of charred new oak barrels is not bourbon.  There is still an problem, as I see it, in that the code seems to assume that each of the two kinds of spirit are aged exclusively in one kind of barrel: bourbon being aged in charred new oak and "whisky distilled from bourbon mash" being aged in used wood.  The code does not seem to consider whiskies that are aged in one kind of barrel and then further aged in a different kind of barrel.

You are suggesting that a bourbon aged, say, 8 years in charred new oak and then 6 months in a used wine barrel is, by definition, no longer "bourbon" but must now be considered "whisky distilled from bourbon mash."  I assume, for the sake of furthering the discussion, that you would also argue that a spirit that is aged 8 years in used barrels and 6 months in charred new oak would not be considered "bourbon."  So, you're suggesting that it's an entirely one-way proposition:  anything that deviates from 100% charred new oak is not bourbon.  I'm saying that there is nothing in the code, as I read it, suggesting that such an automatic one-way exclusion exists.  If "finishing with used wood" makes a spirit that was previously "bourbon" into "whisky distilled from bourbon mash," then the opposite should also be true and "finishing with charred new oak" should make a spirit that was previously "whisky distilled from bourbon mash" into "bourbon."  Unless I'm missing something and there's something explicit in the code that says this isn't so. 

Most likely, this is simply a situation that is not contemplated by the code.  It strikes me that there could/should be reasonable modifications or additions to the code to provide for reasonable "finishing" of bourbon (etc.) in used barrels, provided it falls within certain ratios of aging (e.g., 10:1 new oak to used oak).

Question:  rye whiskey is subject to the same code.  Do you think that a rye finished in a used wine barrel should not be called "rye whiskey"?

Second question:  Isn't Old Potrero 18th Century Style Whiskey aged in toasted new oak barrels as opposed to charred new oak barrels?  And this is why they call it "Single Malt 18th Century Style Whiskey" (leaving out the "rye" part) as opposed to "rye whiskey" as they do Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye Whiskey 19th Century Style?

Let me clarify what I am trying to say.

Bourbon is a generic term, to some degree. Just to make sure we are starting from the same place, let's recap:

The term Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a set of four distinct legal terms.

"Kentucky" means it is from KY.

"Straight" is a qualifier stated by Section 5.22 (b) (1) (iii) which means that it has been aged for more than two years in the "prescribed containers" and conforming to the standards in sections 1(i) or 1(ii) under 5.22 (b).

"Bourbon" means 51% corn, charred new oak barrels and not more than 125 barreling proof.

"Whiskey" means distilled to no greater than 190 proof, stored in oak and not bottled less than 80 proof.

These terms are in inverse order from broadest to most specific. We move from a "class" of spirit, to a style, to an age, to a geography.

However, this is what I think will clear this up for us. If you look at the way the code is written, it seems that we should replace the broad term "whiskey" with "whiskey distilled from bourbon mash" as a qualifier for our term, since that is what puts the well known constraint of distillation to no greater than 160 proof on "boubon".

If we then have "Kentucky" "Straight" "Bourbon" "Whiskey distilled from Bourbon mash" all under the broad subclass "Whiskey", we have the following possible qualifications in total:

From KY

Aged for 2 years

Minimum 51% corn

Barreling proof 125 or less

new charred oak barrels

distillation to no greater than 190 proof

distillation to no greater than 160 proof

used oak barrels

bottled no less than 80 proof

Made in the US

Clearly, the above list, taken from the 5 terms that affect "KSBW" have two distinct traits that countermand each other. Specifically, the term "Whiskey" means that it cannot be distilled to greater than 190 proof and the term "Whiskey distilled from bourbon mash" means it cannot be distileld to greater than 160 proof. So, it becomes clear that we must defer to the qualifier "Whiskey distilled from bourbon mash", as it contains the superior trait, making, of course, the logical assumption that Bourbon, being an "appellation" makes deference to the more quality trait. The other traits in conflict are "new charred oak barrels" and "used oak barrels". If we use the same assumption and defer to the higher quality process over the lower quality option, then we must choose "new charred oak barrels".

So, I think that evaluation of the 5 terms would lead us to conclude that "Whiskey distilled from bourbon mash" in conformation to the appellation "bourbon" would preclude the use of "used barrels" in deference to the higher standard of "new charred oak."

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