What cuts to put in a barrel

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What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby KCbrew » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:30 pm

Hello distillers,

I've just distilled my first bourbon and done only my third distillation, so I have a few newbie questions about barrel aging, specifically what cuts to put in the barrel and what to save for the next batch. I would also welcome some feedback on my process, since I'm a noob. I made a four gallon mash of corn, barley, rye, and wheat, and I got three gallons of wash at 5% alcohol. I did a stripping run (I'm using a 5 gallon clawhammer still, photo attached of my setup) and got three quarts. I cut that with RO water down to 42% ABV and ran a spirit run, ending up with 38 ounces of liquor. I made seven cuts, including the first two ounces that I threw away, so I have six cuts totaling 36 ounces. I have a .8 gallon charred barrel, so I'm a little disappointed I can't fill it. Nevertheless, this being my first time around, I would like to get what's good aging. I would really like to get some suggestions on what cuts I might want to include and what I should hold back for the next run. All of these six cuts are six ounces each and the proof is the "starting proof" of the parrot when I put the empty jar under it, meaning that that jar contains six ounces from the starting proof down to the next starting proof.

#1 - thrown out (I don't think this was foreshots since I did a stripping run, but I thought this might be hangover stuff)
#2 - 164 proof
#3 - 156 proof
#4 - 140 proof
#5 - 120 proof
#6 - 78 proof
#7 - 40 proof (the parrot read 20 proof at the end)

I know the proof alone isn't a good indicator of what's going to taste good. I think most of you are going to suggest holding back #7. Cut #6 has some sweetness to it, so I think it maybe worth aging. Cut #2 has some nice sweetness and corn flavor but has some bite to it too.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby thecroweater » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:41 pm

Tricky question but for sure you cut different for long term barrel aging than you would for white dog or short term sticks/chips flavouring. The big question is what sort of whiskey do you like and only you can answer that. A good rule of thumb with pot stilled is go back into the headish hearts until the burn moves from the mid of ya tongue to the tip, burn on the tip and lips mainly is not going to age out. Then with tails end you got a little more leeway but the deeper you go the longer you'll wait. Grain spirit has a lot of nice flavours in early tails and late backins but it has some manky crap flavours to so if you are putting it down for a good while you could go back in to where the bitter taste in tails starts and stop there. That is as far into tails as ya really want to be and I don't go that far but if you kept you strip going (more so than a spirit run) you could go down to 10 or less proof and collect a little sweetwater or backins and this sweetish grainy flavour might compliment your barrel aged whiskey. It all depends on if you like lighter or heavier whiskeys.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby Plc Ryan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:45 am

+1

Cuts are on you man, you need to decide what flavours you like and what you don't. Make sure to water down your tasting samples to 80 proof when making cuts so the spirit is open and you get all the flavours. Just like crow said if you like light whisky you want mainly hearts if you want more flavour you can go a little into the heads and a bit deeper into the tails. Plus it all depends on how long you want to let it sit. Being your first batch you are probably going to want to get into it fairly soon so I would recommend tighter cuts so it smoother early on. Then once you have some runs and cuts under your belt you can play around with blending for long term aging.

Also it would be good to mention the max abv you want to start a spirit run with is 40. You don't want to end up in the news.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby OtisT » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:00 am

Hi KC. +1 to the comments above. I'll add that IMHO, take more conservative (smaller) cuts until you get more experience. Being your first Bourbon, you will not want to F it up. More conservative may not have as much character, but at least it will be drinkable at some point. It's not worth the few extra ounces to take such a chance on something you want to share with friends. ;-)

Just a suggestion, but maybe use a few more jars next time. You will get the keep more and have less impulse to add a jar just to increase yield. The smells/tastes can have noticeable change from jar to jar, and you'll get to know more about the smells/tasts you like/hate with practice. When you have more experience, you can use larger jars in the Hearts while still using small jars for heads/tails collection. Eventually, you'll be cuttin right off the still ( I'm not there yet myself)

Good luck.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby OtisT » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:20 am

KC. Part 2. I ran out of battery and was not quite done. ;-)

Don't use the parrot for such small runs. Parrots "smear" the contents of one jar to the next, and you can't get clean cuts that way. Maybe on a larger run, and then maybe only during the hearts collection. Just my opinion.

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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby thecroweater » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:06 am

You getting more smearing in ya parrot than in ya condenser , really, how much that parrot ya got hold with an alcometer floating in there? Now I don't use one for heads coz I plum don't need to know what proof they are hearts I do find it handy to know.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby Pikey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:58 am

I just proof each jar as it is completed, if I'm that interested - Ok I'm only getting averages; but that is fine. :)
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby NZChris » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:19 pm

Pikey wrote:I just proof each jar as it is completed, if I'm that interested - Ok I'm only getting averages; but that is fine. :)

How does that work? The late jars that make it into my blends are always below my target barrel strength.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby Pikey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:29 pm

NZChris wrote:
Pikey wrote:I just proof each jar as it is completed, if I'm that interested - Ok I'm only getting averages; but that is fine. :)

How does that work? The late jars that make it into my blends are always below my target barrel strength.


Simple enough - run a jar, pour some into hydrometer jar, insert alcoholometer, read abv, check temperature is "there or thereabouts 60F", return sample to jar, write abv on side of jar with jar number, move to next sample. The average abv of each jar is recorded on the side of the jar.

What's the problem ?
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby NZChris » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:05 pm

Gotcha. The confusion was because I assumed you meant adjusting the proof, when you meant recording the proof, which is not a use of the word I've come across before.
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby Pikey » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:49 pm

NZChris wrote:Gotcha. The confusion was because I assumed you meant adjusting the proof, when you meant recording the proof, which is not a use of the word I've come across before.


Ok :) - A little surprised that "proofing" the jar - meant "Adusting the proof" to you - but hey we got there eventually 8)
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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby KCbrew » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:05 pm

Thanks everyone. I put all but #7 in the barrel. We'll see how it turns out. My next batch will be better after the feedback I got here. I got the feeling that the parrot wasn't the best tool for the job when I saw those proofs drop a lot in six ounces. Definitely going with smaller cuts next time.


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Re: What cuts to put in a barrel

Postby NZChris » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:05 pm

I usually aim for a minimum of 12 jars. More than 20 is a PITA for little gain.
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