A Tale of Two Bourbons

Treatment and handling after you are done distilling.

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A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:39 pm

Hey folks, Happy New Year. I recently unbarreled 2 bourbons, same recipe but aged differently, and the differences are striking so I thought Id share my observations.

The bourbon was my wheated bourbon recipe, same as what you see in my signature here more or less. Its a pretty standard bourbon recipe, roughly 70% corn,20% wheat malt and 10% barley malt. The barrels were both 5 gal, filled with 62%. One barrel however was new oak, from barrels online. The other was a used Balcones barrel. Which Ive also used more than once, bored the bung out larger, and dropped in a pile of charred sticks cut from an old Jack Daniels barrel. So again used wood added, but exposing some new surface, and charred all 6 sides.

The new oak barrel held the bourbon for a year. Possibly a bit long for a 5 gal fresh barrel but time and life got away from me for a spell. The used barrel + sticks held that bourbon for 2 years. Both gave up about 3 gallons. Quite a bit of loss to evaporation, the new barrel also unable to seal well and leaking very slowly in one spot causing a pretty thick build up of caramelly gobleygook over the year.

Anyway, to cut to the chase. The new barrel bourbon is in your face with fresh oak. No question it was a new barrel. Heavy on oak lactones, terpenes and whatever other fresh wood compounds are found in the wood. It is a signature flavor of bourbon after all, with the TTB rules for 'Bourbon' specifying only new American white oak barrels be used. Windy City's steamroom bourbon aged in a new Gibbs barrel had very similar fresh wood elements. Its delicious but definitely for those not afraid of oak, front and center. Words I'd use to describe this one are fresh, oaky, crisp, tea.

The used barrel bourbon (cough.... by all rights its not bourbon since the barrel was used) is very different. Color wise, its slightly darker, reflecting more caramel from the wood no doubt from the sticks I put in there (several). But with a totally different character. Smooth, sweet, caramelly and not at all 'fresh oaky'. Words for this one.... deep, rich, smooth, warm, sweet, caramel.

The longish aging in small barrels contributed so much flavor, each in their own unique way, that if I didnt already know better Id be hard pressed to tell you the base was the same bourbon recipe in both.

Anyway, for what its worth. Cheers friends, Jimbo.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby ShineRunner » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:06 pm

Thanks for sharing this Jimbo. I've been thinking about taking my 5 gallon barrel and doing the same thing. I had seen a post from you a while where you mentioned doing this. Used once for UJ, then a Bourbon County clone, and now it's sitting and getting dry... Wondering if there's any BCBS flavor left in there to add an interesting note to the next batch. Could be interesting, like dragon's milk bourbon.

How big did you make the hole in the used barrel? What did you use to plug it up?

I also did a comparison of several gallons of your wheated bourbon in jars with different wood in them. Some had new charred oak sticks, heavy and light char, used staves that were cleaned up and recharred, previously used staves with a higher surface area ratio, etc. Found that I like the medium char, new oak sticks best. Heavy heavy char is like a campfire and I'm letting that spend some time in a bottle to see if I appreciate it a little more down the road.

Thanks again.

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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby BayouShine » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:10 pm

Jimbo, what level of char did you order with the new barrel?
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Swedish Pride » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:41 am

Nice comparison, good write up lad.

How are you and windy getting on with the stilling business, hope its still the plan to go ahead with it?
Any chance of a few pics of windys creations, I believe hes building the setup?
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Thu Jan 12, 2017 5:29 am

Swedish, WIndy's setup is a work of art, stunning to behold, really. He's an artist with copper. He just finished all the clean in place piping and valves. Id share a pic but I dont want to steal his thunder. Ill ask him to post or if I can post one pic of the central tower and piping. We'll do some runs and dial in the system then discuss the lease which starts the clock on $ outlay. So when that gets signed its balls out for licensing and readiness.

Bayou, I didnt have a choice, I think it came as #4 char. I wont buy from them again. Not the greatest construction, and wondering if they really age the planks 2 years outside as they should. Any more barrels I buy are coming from Gibbs.

Shine, I used a hole saw and bought some bigass corks online.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby still_stirrin » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:28 am

Jimbo,

It sounds like the angels were a little greedy. You didn't say, but did the proof go up, down, or change at all? It seems like a lot of loss for the duration, although the Gibbs must use thicker staves.

Still, both bourbons sound inviting. Hmmmm, I wonder what a blend of the two would taste, smell, look like....
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby The Baker » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:54 am

Jimbo, have you tried a glass of the two Bourbons blended together??
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:27 am

Thanks for posting, Jimbo, I'm very interested in direct comparisons between different aging techniques from same spirit run.
Not a whole lot of info posted comparing barrels directly to jars, much less between two barrels!
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby DFitz » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:36 am

I've found the heavier oak notes to settle out to some fine tasting bourbon after a time in the bottle. Another year and you'll see what I mean.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:21 am

Thanks Fitz. Its not going anywhere for a while, just sittin in jars now. Im currently drinking the last bottle of a 2012 Wheat Malt single malt batch. Will be a sad day when I see the bottom of this bottle. The pours are getting smaller haha

MCH, I could compare the used barrel aged to jar aged with sticks too. Similar in character but the barrel aged has something the jars dont. There's definitely something that happens in a barrel when you slowly lose 30-40% to the angels.... The appropriate adjectives arent coming to mind right now but I know you know what Im talking about ;)

Baker, Still_stirrin, I have not yet tried a blend. I'll give it a whirl tonight.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:23 pm

Update: The blend is, well, as expected, delicious :) Takes the edge off the new wood, and adds an extra dose of caramel but keeping that new wood bourbon character. Ill keep these batches seperate but blended up a bottle for ongoing sampling and evaluation....
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Worm_Drippinz » Fri Jan 13, 2017 4:37 pm

Love it :)

Nice write up.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby still_stirrin » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:27 pm

Jimbo wrote:... Ill keep these batches seperate but blend up a bottle for ongoing sampling and evaluation....

Predictable, to say the least. I wouldn't want to lose the "tale of the two bourbons" either. But, I would secretly stash a "drinking bottle" of the blend just the same. The time and attention to details through the mash, fermentation, and aging have rewarded you with a couple of tasty jugs. And everyone knows that "tasty jugs" are a prize to cherish.

Prost, Jimbo.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:37 pm

Swedish Pride wrote:Any chance of a few pics of windys creations?


The artist has agreed to a limited release photos. The size of this rig obviously violates policy here on HD so let me preface the pictures by stating this is a rig being built for a commercial operation, and has not, nor will be run with any fermented beverages before appropriate licensing is secured.

Whats shown here is one 130g tank and various towers that can be combined to make 2 to 11 plates, or 6 plate plus neutral packed column. This rig is the rum, gin, brandy and neutral machine. The part with the bulldog on top is a Carter basket for gins. The yellow handle network at the bottom is the clean in place plumbing for all the various pieces. There are 2 other 130g tanks done up as dedicated whiskey machines with 2 plates on top of each. All 3 tanks have variable frequency drive agitators. The 2 whiskey machines are jacketed and intended to be mash, ferment and distill in place, so will cycle 2x per week each. When production ramps they will become pilot rigs and we'll scale up with more traditional mashtun, ferment tanks and a larger still boiler. Basically this setup allows us to do 6 100g runs per week. Note quite enough to quit the day jobs and buy a yacht down in Barbados, but enough to burn through evenings and weekends for a spell and piss off the wives thoroughly. About 40 cases/wk of 80 proof, using a conservative yield figure. Roughly. With some changeup on the fermentation tank arrangement this setup at 15 runs/week full time (3 tanks, twice a day for 5 days) could theoretically enable us to tell the boss to pound sand and maybe even pick up a nice bass boat for the local ponds. Since Windy is his own boss, I'm looking forward to seeing him tell himself to f' off so he can play in the 'stillery.

PS: Copper not polished up pretty yet. I dont have a problem with procrastination, just you wait and see.

Cheers.

5822.jpeg
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby rad14701 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:48 pm

Nice steam calliope...!!! :thumbup:
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Fart Vader » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:48 pm

BAM. Money on the table.
I'm out.

No longer master of my domain. :oops:

What a beautiful setup. :thumbup:
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:50 pm

rad14701 wrote:Nice steam calliope...!!! :thumbup:


haha, thanks Rad. Exactly what it is until the TTB sends us papers :)
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Snackson » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:50 pm

Absolutely beautiful! Nice all in one setup! What's the packing in the third set of sightglasses? Marbles? SS bearings?
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Windy City » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:28 pm

The third column is glass marbles.
When I first started (seems like a very long time ago) on this build my plan was to use lava rocks for the third column.
The problem with that is the need to disassemble and clean the lava rocks via boiling or other methods.
Thanks very much to Rad and his glass marble thread :clap: :clap: :clap:
Thank You Rad
I now have a medium that has great performance and I can clean in place.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Swedish Pride » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:29 pm

@ Windy
That is a beautiful rig, nice going lad.

Stoked for you two, looking hear from your distillery once it opens
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby bitter » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:00 pm

Very nice Jimbo. I like used wood better also.

Few things to try...

Mix both say 50/50 see if you get the best of both worlds.

You can try mixing in some all grain wheat vodka for a lighter whiskey if the oak is totally over powering. It will openthings up and let some of the other more suttle notes not be totally over powered byt he oak. The UJSSM I did with Yak and pythonshine at the meeting (At the camp int he spring) was cut about 1/4 Wheat Vodka and 3/4 Whiskey.. at 50/50 was more like a Canadian whiskey so a bit light in flavor.

I'm not say mix them for bottling but helps to see what flavors are in there. I actually bottled a few bottled of UJSSM with 2/5 Vodka and 3/5 Whiskey and it makes a nice drink.

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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby varocketry » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:34 pm

Thanks Jimbo and Windy City for the updates. I hope this gets far enough along that we can have another get together with your clan this summer.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Windy City » Wed Jan 18, 2017 2:37 pm

Had a visit from Jimbo last night.
He came bearing gifts of motivation & inspiration aka Tale of Two Bourbons :D

IMG_20170117_57613.jpg


We filled two Glencarin glasses so we could do a side by side comparison.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to drink Jimbo's bourbon (and other tasty beverages) on a fairly regular basis for a few years now. :thumbup:
The first bourbon being from the new barrel did not disappoint. It tasted just as I would expect from Jim. It was very clean, good depth of flavor, great cuts and very smooth.
You could taste the new barrel with a crisp oak flavor. It was definitely not over oaked but the oak was much fresher and more pronounced than bottle two.
It was a very good bourbon but maybe a little young, again that is comparing it to bottle two.

Bottle Two was the old oak barrel & one word could describe it.
WOW
I don't know if it was the mixture of old & new oak in the barrel, leftover flavors from the used oak, the extra year or maybe a little bit of all.
The flavor was just wonderful with a heavy rich carmel, very smooth, as always great cuts. The oak was subdued, the color was a little darker than the first bottle.
This was really a knock your socks off bourbon. And did I mention the rich carmel :lol:

The only thing I could say bad about either of these bottles is that they are not destined to last long in my household :lol:
They will keep me inspired & motivated, even after they are gone, to get our equipment done and pursue our dream.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby bitter » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:35 pm

Windy City you lucky dog!

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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:42 pm

Thanks Windy, appreciate the compliments.

Just to be clear, there was no new oak in barrel 2. It was a well used Balcones barrel, that I bored out a bigger bung and put several sticks cut from a Jack Daniels barrel. Sticks were 1x1x5 and charred all around, Dont remember how many but close to 1 per quart, my usual aging regime in glass. So maybe 20 sticks. Used wood in a used barrel. Loads of caramel, but light on the crisp new wood thing. Very interesting, I thought.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby bitter » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:54 pm

I find that for the 6 sticks in a gallon jug the t-pee way, the second use is the best and 3rd is nice for a bourbon/oaked Scottish beer or a Russian stout.

This might be why Scotch, Canadian whiskey etc use used bourbon barrels as it means a less oaky more sweet drink once the harder tannins are removed? Either that or they are being cheap?

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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:48 am

bitter wrote:less oaky more sweet drink once the harder tannins are removed?


Yup thats exactly it, you nailed it. The sweet caramelly flavor is hard not to like, if youre a whiskey drinker. There's a couple out there like this, between the gamut of lighter Canadian to Peaty Scotish types. Irish comes to mind, Jameson certainly is known for its sweetness. All 3 examples above utilize used wood. I dont think its about being cheap, I think its about achieving a certain character. Not everyone strives to make oak tea.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:37 pm

Great info guys, comparisons between aging techniques is great.
I do like the idea of being able to use my barrels many times and not feel like the quality of the spirits will diminish.
Different but not necessarily less delicious.

I'm gonna make a few big fat fresh barrel bourbons then start refilling, looking forward to the journey.
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby Jimbo » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:19 pm

'big fat' ? Sounds good. What kind of groceries you usin to make em big and fat?
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Re: A Tale of Two Bourbons

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:28 pm

Well I figured the barrel would be doing the work of big and fat by giving them all the new barrel oakiness.
I'm running one wheated 50/25/12 Corn/Wheat/Barley, and another with Rye instead of the wheat.

I'll make sure I keep a couple bottles from this run to compare to the same recipe run through the once-used barrels down the road.

EDIT: Btw, damn fine shed you and Windy got going on there! Hand crafted spirits from a hand crafted 'stillery, now that is putting art into the craft.
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