The Lincoln County Process

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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Dan Call
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The Lincoln County Process

Post by Dan Call » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:59 pm

We've all heard for years how that Jack Daniel is "charcoal mellowed." I'm never one to actually think that JD is actually a good beverage straight up, but mixed with coke it does take on a peculiar 'sweet' flavor profile that is quite distinctive.

The 'charcoal mellowing' process was not invented by Jasper Newton Daniel, nor the slave that taught him everything he knew about distilling when Jasper was a wee sixteen years old, that man being Uncle Nearis. It was a well known process first used by slaves in the middle Tennessee, particularly Lincoln County. My own family were distillers about twenty miles away in Franklin county, around Winchester, but in that part of Tennessee....every farm of a certain size and above had a still, wasn't any big thing.

They took dried Sugar Maple and burned it to charcoal, the poured the distillate over it. This supposedly removed the "hog's breath" or hangover, the stuff that would make you sick. If necessity is the mother of invention then this surely must have took out some of the fusels and unintended by-products.

I find it ironic that JD products are anything but smooth, with the possible exception of Gentleman Jack, and has the harsh taste that apparently the drinking public feels like they need in order to feel proper whilst getting their drink on. Makes me wonder how much worse it would be if they didn't filter it through 13 feet of charcoal.......

Also too, this is the only difference between JD products and bourbon, the mash bill is the same, American oak barrels the same, aging requirements and all.

Question is.....has anyone every tried this?
Last edited by Dan Call on Tue Apr 08, 2008 5:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by rad14701 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:18 pm

For several years straight, back when I was younger, I'd drink at least a bottle of Jack Daniels every night, either by the shot or by the short-glass, and never found anything wrong with the flavor... The only reason I switched from drinking JD was to get "more bang for my buck"... JD definitely tasted better than several of the alternatives... I find JD to be much smoother than many of the supposedly "Top Shelf" whiskeys, bourbons, or scotches...

Dan Call
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Post by Dan Call » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:31 pm

Fair enough....I personally prefer the Van Winkle bourbons and ryes. They taste quite different than JD. And I'd have to agree that JD is way better than many other whiskies out there.

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Post by Uncle Jesse » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:58 am

I can't drink JD. One shot and I get a headache.
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Post by Uncle Remus » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:20 pm

I figure JD is swill. I've never really understood why it is so popular? I suppose it's the marketing. Like Coronna beer is swill it tastes like my old tom cat sprayed it, but they got a lot of great commercials, so people buy it.

I haven't drank a lot of American whiskies. Jim Beam is okay (not great), Wild Turkey I consider swill as well. I like is Knob Hill Bourbon and Old Crow.

For Canadian whiskey I like Wisers Deluxe or Oldest, another excellent one is Gibsons finest or Sterling. Crown Royal is Okay but highly over rated, to me it tastes too sweet. Canadian Club is just plain swill like JD
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Dan Call
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Beam Small Batch

Post by Dan Call » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:56 pm

Knob Creek is made by Jim Beam as part of the 'small batch' series. This includes, Basil Hayden's, Bakers, and the best....Bookers.

Bookers is very interesting product, considered the best connisseur Bourbon that you can by, with the possible exception of 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle.

But there's still a big difference, Bookers is barrel strength and averages 120-126 proof, and you have to cut it with water to appreciate the taste variations. It's an upredictable crazy pallete thing with this whiskey, but mostly very sweet and very smokey, also raisins, hard candy, just a wild thing, really rich.

In my view, it's as close as you can get to sampling master distiller's craft straight out of the bottle in commercially available Bourbon. It started with Booker Noe, grandson of Jim Beam, picking out a series of barrels from the 'sweet spot' of the derrick house (usually the middle floors) and bottling it for Christmas gifts for his friends, the response was apparently so great he decided to sell it.

Now....I'm not much on marketing hyberbole and generally not a fan of much commercially available whiskey, but Bourbon is special. I know most of you guys here drink your own, and so do I. But the Beam (originally "Boehm or Boem") family are of the gritty Dutch Pennslvania farming stock (like the Van Winkles), that early on populated Kentucky after the Jefferson Corn Patent era and it was said of the Beams even in the middle 1800's that what they "didn't know about distilling wasn't worth spit."

Old Crow is another story altogether. Dr. James Crow came to Kenticky in the 1820's apparently having worked as a physician but switched careers and applied scientific principles to distilling and is sometimes credited as the 'father of Bourbon' as opposed to Elijah Craig. Just down the road from Labrot & Graham distillery are the ruins of the final facility of Old Crow, built in 1872 (now by Beam and used for barrel houses) Dr. Crow did not own the distillery, but his name was well known. Interestingly enough....further on down the road are the ruins of "Old Taylor" distillery and it's quite a thing to see. Some guy owns it and is slowly trying to restore it, may or may not make whiskey and I have no idea how he owns it. I didn't meet him when I went through there but here's the story on both distilleries by a whiskey traveller. Apparently" onclick=";return false;" rel="nofollow

The scenery around these areas is absolutely fantastic. You've heard the term "Kentucky Blue Grass," to Labrot & Graham and you are smack in the middle of it, rolling acres of beautiful land with thoroughbreds all over the place, incredible stuff.

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