A Whiskey Crisis Looms on the Horizon
August 11, 2011 8:05 AM   Subscribe

More apocalyptic doom and gloom, but today's flavor is whiskey.
Aging bourbon is expensive—and distilleries are cutting corners to speed up the process. Will the entire industry decline?
posted by Stagger Lee (73 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is what white lightning is for.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:06 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please to put the qualifier "American" in front of the whiskey that there title, son.
posted by likeso at 8:09 AM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


All I'm gonna say about this is that the small-barrel/high surface area method that some of your craft distilleries like Tuthilltown (mentioned in the article) use does work, and it works well. It's not a shortcut, really, and this entire article kind of reads like it was written by somebody who doesn't really know a thing about distilling, and is simply taking the word of Big Liquor at face value.

There is a huge difference between aging a product in 53 gallon barrels and aging it in 7 gallon barrels -- a difference that in no way has to compromise the final result.
posted by kaseijin at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]



Please to put the qualifier "American" in front of the whiskey that there title, son.


In my world, "whisky" is Scottish, and "whiskey" is everything else. In my same well ordered and classified world, Bourbon is always American.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:14 AM on August 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


nooooooo00000000ooooooOOOOOOOOoooooo!!!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 8:15 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Put another way, I've had whiskies that were as young as 6 months that would knock the pants off of some of your big label products.
posted by kaseijin at 8:16 AM on August 11, 2011


Please to put the qualifier "American" in front of the whiskey that there title, son.

He spelled it with an "e." That's a pretty clear qualifier*, along with the mention of bourbon.

*Yes, I know that Irish whiskey is also spelled with an "e."
posted by asnider at 8:17 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most popular trick, however, is to use smaller barrels—from five to 30 gallons, instead of the standard 53—to speed the aging process.

I was hoping it involved two (four? six?) jackasses in shirts-and-ties and a magic box.

I haven't gotten drunk since later this afternoon.
posted by griphus at 8:20 AM on August 11, 2011


The article seems to paint a picture where small startups and craft distillers can begin to compete head to head in an industry traditionally dominated by an oligopoly of multinational corporations.
This is not doom and gloom. This is a good thing.
posted by rocket88 at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Will the entire industry decline?

Profits continue to increase in luxury goods. So I'm thinking: no, probably not. But they might find themselves having to sell to fewer Americans.
posted by penduluum at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whiskey preferences are highly personal. If people are enjoying these alternatively aged whiskeys then so be it.
posted by Hicksu at 8:22 AM on August 11, 2011


I am not the most discerning bourbon drinker out there - I quite partial to Jim Beam black, though.

How would this affect the big distilleries? Don't they already have a full aging pipeline? I saw a show a few months ago that toured the Jim Beam distillery - they said Jim Beam stores more than 50,000 barrels of aging whiskey at a time.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2011


Most of the price difference between whiskeys is the bottle, not what's in it. Those fancy "craft" bottles add $10 - 14 to the price.

The micros are going to shake the market out for whiskey just like beer. This article reads like the whiskey trust is cringing before they've been properly slapped.

The biggest difference in distilling is how the cuts are made. More hearts = better whiskey. More heads and tails = swill. A narrower hearts cut has more waste and costs more.

Part of the aging / charcoal filtering process is to take the edge off the heads and tails. Though to be fair, the brands that do this also age as little as they can to get the swill out the door asap.
posted by warbaby at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


over time the ethanol molecules in the whiskey "clump" together inside the water portion of the aging whiskey, subtly changing its flavor.

I only have high-school chemistry, but this sounds pretty sketchy. Usually if the author knows what they're talking about you'll see "...a process known as contraentropic isomorphic affinity," or such. Can anyone shed some light on this clumping-ethanol claim?
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 8:24 AM on August 11, 2011


like selling weed off the stalk.
posted by clavdivs at 8:25 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The alveolar frontenels of the ehanol molecules reconfigure in the presence of de-transmogrified hydrogen molecules imparted from the pure, clean Kentucky spring water. And fairy farts.
posted by kaseijin at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Hearts and tails of what, warbaby? Thanks.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2011


A distillate is separated into three main parts, Daddy-O: heads, hearts, and tails. The heads contain a greater percentage of some pretty unsavory compounds of lighter vapor weight than ethanol or water, including methanol, acetone, and formaldehyde (though most of these are discarded in the foreshots). The hearts are where your most pure ethanol will be found, and the tails are a lot of water and heavier products... though think of it like a curve, right? As you distill your wash, you get increasing tails and decreasing hearts, so the trick is knowing where to cut off your collection.

Sloppy cuts make for bad hangovers and harsh products. Too-tight cuts make for flavorless product. It's more art at this point than science. Cooking, as opposed to baking, if you will.
posted by kaseijin at 8:31 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


...and oak+time helps round these harsh edges out some.
posted by kaseijin at 8:33 AM on August 11, 2011


Whisk(e)y is also spelled with an "e" in Ireland and Canada. Just FYI...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:34 AM on August 11, 2011


I could care less about the entire whiskey industry, as long as my hometown's own* Maker's Mark doesn't sell out and shift that way.

*(20 miles away is close enough to be hometown, right? It was just on the other side of a county known for nothing else at all)
posted by deezil at 8:38 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a Kentuckian (Why do I always start my replies like that?) I have to say Bourbon and Whiskey are not the same. Also, I used to work with Chuck Cowdery and he knows what he's talking about.
posted by Mcable at 8:47 AM on August 11, 2011


Remember, kids -- if you can't wait for your whiskey to age, there's always Georgia Moon. Less than 30 days old!

Huge intimidation factor, but surprisingly easy to drink, almost pleasant, even, just don't tell anyone.

[On preview, beaten in the very first comment. Drat.]

posted by Capt. Renault at 9:04 AM on August 11, 2011


I don't think that Chuck Cowdery, in his blog link from the FPP, is making any particularly egregious, or even debatable, claims. He's dead-on. Small barrel aging *is* different, and does not yield the exact same results. That much is certainly true. It's worth it to note, though, that he remains (at least in that post) impartial about the quality of the results.

The issue, where I stand, is with certain vested interests claiming small barrel aging to be either improper, shady, or cheap, claiming that it inherently results in an inferior product, claiming it to be a blight on the good name of American spirits, or maligning it in any other of the number of ways that they do. The motive here is simple: protect the profits.

Small barrel aging can produce some exquisite whisk(e)ys. As I noted above - "a difference that in no way has to compromise the final result." We're getting into some murky territory, here, though -- minutiae that most people probably could care less about. The more you hang out with/work with/talk to distillers, the more you realize that there are a million different opinions on the aging process - many of them directly conflicting - and that it sometimes feels like it has more in common with voodoo than with science.

This particular FPP, though? It totally reads like "omg, these shiesty craft distillers are putting out crap product, and are going to ruin whiskey as we know it because they don't want to age properly"...which is, of course, unmitigated bullshit.
posted by kaseijin at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2011


I wonder, if this trend grows large enough, the effect will be on the whisky (the Scottish one) industry, because they use bourbon barrels in large quantities for aging their products. If you go to the Laphroaig distillery, most of the barrels have bourbon brands on them (the remainder seem to be various kinds of Spanish sherry or port).
posted by rtha at 9:12 AM on August 11, 2011


I didn't understand heads tails and hearts until I read this blog post which I found mightily informative.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:12 AM on August 11, 2011


Capt. Renault: Georgia Moon [...] surprisingly easy to drink, almost pleasant, even

That, uh,... is a bit of a stretch. We have been running a tasting society at work for quite a few years and we started rating whiskies for the last 3 years or so. Georgia Moon has a solid and well deserved grip on the bottom spot out of ~120 or so rated bottles (out of a total of ~450 rated whiskies). Even one of the horrific products of my home country, Germany, the abominable Gruel Tecker, beat it by 4.5 points out of a possible 40 max (Georgia Moon has been rated at 6.2, with comments like "smells like incense and farts" and "better than being punched in the nuts but worse than almost everything else").

We may have had something worse in the past but that was before we started rating stuff. I have a feeling the plastic-bottled Amrut Prestige (a whisky like substance produced in India for the domestic market and NOT to be confused with the absolutely stunning and fantastic Amrut single malts released internationally) may have had the potential to fall below even the abomination that is Georgia Moon.

As far as aging and age goes:

We have found that age and quality aren't by necessity related. In fact our highest rated whisky is a single malt that's only 5 years old (the Port Charlotte PC5). We like the Laphroaig Quarter Cask that's not that old either and has been aged in fairly small casks with a high surface to volume ratio. That said, most whiskies we've come across that have been force aged with wood chips etc like, let's say, some of the American single malts such as Wasmunds and others, seem to be failures. I think forced aging and fast aging probably works best with used casks otherwise you inevitable end up with flavors that taste like you're sucking on some freshly cut lumber.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:19 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this the place where I should mention that last week a bartender decided she liked me and gave me a double Lagavulin 16 on the house.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2011 [7 favorites]



I wonder, if this trend grows large enough, the effect will be on the whisky (the Scottish one) industry, because they use bourbon barrels in large quantities for aging their products. If you go to the Laphroaig distillery, most of the barrels have bourbon brands on them (the remainder seem to be various kinds of Spanish sherry or port).


My understand was that whatever union handles bourbon/whiskey barrels in America insisted that barrels can only be used once for their products - so after a single use they're busted down and sold overseas, in no small part to whisky producers in Scotland. Barrels are rebuilt in Scotland and used for whisky.

If that's the case... then yeah, if a significant portion of the American distillers switched cask size, it could be an issue to whisky production. But I also understand the Scottish whisky industry to be very small compared to the world whiskey market. So I'd imagine that it would need to be a very comprehensive switch to smaller barrels before they were obligated to change as well.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2011


Stagger Lee: after a single use they're busted down and sold overseas, in no small part to whisky producers in Scotland

Dunno about the unions role in this but as far as the quoted part is concerned you are correct. Due to the availability of used Bourbon casks Scotch makers are using them almost exclusively. It's the basic cask for aging Scotch. Sherry, port and wine casks are mostly used to finish the product (the whisky isn't usually aged in those from start to finish but placed in these casks for a relatively short time after first being aged in Bourbon casks). That said, every once in a while you'll come across some bottlings that were fully aged in specialty casks, just not very often. Look out for what it says on the bottle: "finished" vs "matured" vs "aged" in XYZ casks.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:25 AM on August 11, 2011


Aging bourbon is expensive

It doesn't have to be, they could just give it to my parents as a Christmas gift and it will sit in a dark cupboard for years and years undisturbed. Until I come over to visit.
posted by Hoopo at 9:28 AM on August 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


A spent barrel is going to age differently than a fresh barrel. Standardizing to "only new barrels" allows distillers to standardize their aging process accordingly.
posted by kaseijin at 9:28 AM on August 11, 2011


Whisk(e)y is also spelled with an "e" in ... Canada.

Not to derail this into a spelling bee but, well, no. Generally Canadian whisky is spelled without the "e". It's not a hard and fast rule, but there is usually no "e" on Canadian whisky labels.
posted by asnider at 9:29 AM on August 11, 2011


Can anyone shed some light on this clumping-ethanol claim?

I have no idea what he's trying to say. Ethanol doesn't "clump" in water (form micelles). Whisk(e)y may straify by density over time though, I don't know. If so, the top of the cask would be ethanol rich, the bottom, ethanol poor. Ethanol is so solubile with water though, I'd be surprised if that was a large effect.

That looks like something lost in translation there.
posted by bonehead at 9:30 AM on August 11, 2011


It would be nice if bourbon actually tasted of anything other than harsh.
posted by scruss at 9:30 AM on August 11, 2011


asnider: Not to derail this into a spelling bee but, well, no. Generally Canadian whisky is spelled without the "e".

I stand corrected. It's only Ireland and the US.

*tears up whisky expert certification, hides in corner and cries*

*remembers bottle of 20 year old Aberlour in desk drawer*

*stops crying*
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:35 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if bourbon actually tasted of anything other than harsh.

HERETIC!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:37 AM on August 11, 2011


I sometimes feel like I'm missing out, as a man, by not being at all interested in the brown liquors (and also related: cigars). I see my friends and co-workers having their whisk(e)y and cigar nights, and I think "Damn, I'm missing out". The difference, of course, between 33 year old me and 15 year old me is that I'm not going to bother changing my own preferences just to be able to enjoy some activity that many of my friends enjoy. We have plenty of other interests in common :)
posted by antifuse at 9:49 AM on August 11, 2011


and also related: cigars

yeah, cigars are cruel. How can something that smells so good taste so awful? And I say this as someone who has smoked more than his share of...um... plant material.
posted by Hoopo at 9:53 AM on August 11, 2011


I sometimes feel like I'm missing out, as a man, by not being at all interested in the brown liquors (and also related: cigars).

To be honest, a taste in scotch and whiskey is acquired more than it is inherent. It took a while to develop a taste for such things, and I found the best way to start was to take the tiniest sips possible so I could enjoy the flavour. If after that you're still really disinterested and don't like the taste, to hell with it. But try it. Scotch is delicious.
posted by dustpatterns at 9:56 AM on August 11, 2011


To be honest, a taste in scotch and whiskey is acquired more than it is inherent.

Oh yeah, I know. I guess I should have said "I'm far too lazy to put in the effort to acquire a taste for it" :)
posted by antifuse at 10:00 AM on August 11, 2011


Upon taking my first sip of a really good whisky, my first thought was: Damn me, I shall be forever in its thrall.

In other words, antifuse, I envy you.
posted by whuppy at 10:10 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


New barrels are specified by the Federal standards of identity for distilled spirits.

More than you probably want to know about distilling.
posted by warbaby at 10:19 AM on August 11, 2011


One thing the article seems to overlook is that most smaller distillers work in such a way that the spirit needs much less time in a barrel. Most microdistilleries use German column stills, resulting in usually a much cleaner spirit than you'd get from a pot still - it essentially goes through a few different distillation cycles, and is usually monitored pretty carefully, start to finish. And since part of the function of aging liquor in barrels to let the carbon of the charred barrel purify the spirit, you just don't need as much time.

And at the end of the day, the barreling process is by no means sacrosanct. Many brown liquors are given their color by caramel, not oak. I don't think any of the shortcuts the author discusses are exactly new.

As to the author's main contention, there are huge, massive economies of scale involved in liquor production, just as much to do with producing spirit as with barreling. Not to mention the unbelievably byzantine laws from Prohibition concerning labeling and production. Distillers are subject to random visits, wherein they have to immediately tell the inspector EXACTLY how much spirit they have on-site - which is kind of difficult, considering how slippery alcohol can be. You could spend a lifetime learning all the regulations.

The microdistilling movement is great, and has largely brought white whiskey back to America - a wonderful development. But chances are you'll be hard-pressed to find a microdistilled whiskey ever drop below $30. I don't think you'll see them topple the big boys anytime soon.
posted by Vhanudux at 10:35 AM on August 11, 2011


I bought a jar of "Georgia Moon" brand "Corn Whiskey" at Spec's on Westheimer here in Houston last weekend, and it proudly proclaims on the label, "Less Than 30 Days Old".

As far as I can tell, it's just as alcoholic as the finely aged and colored stuff. I've been debating what kind of fruit I want to dump in it and let sit for a couple of months.
posted by mrbill at 10:51 AM on August 11, 2011


Oh yeah, I know. I guess I should have said "I'm far too lazy to put in the effort to acquire a taste for it" :)

Bahaha, fair enough. :P
posted by dustpatterns at 10:53 AM on August 11, 2011


Vhanudux : And at the end of the day, the barreling process is by no means sacrosanct.

To quote Purposeful Grimace - "Heretic!"

The particulars of a barreling process defines a whisk(e)y/Bourbon/Scotch. And without it, you have "white" whisk(e)y - Which as some have pointed out, can have an appeal all its own (taken from near the end of the heart, it actually has a pretty smooth sweetness to it).

That said, if microdistilleries want to experiment, I say good for them, and perhaps they'll make something entirely new and wonderful. But I wouldn't call it one of the region-specific varieties of whisk(e)y - So not Scotch, not Bourbon, not Irish, and not Tennessee regardless of geography.
posted by pla at 11:01 AM on August 11, 2011


I bought a bottle of Stranahan's (not bourbon, but whiskey from an American microdistillery just the same) from '09 -- think they usually age it for two to five years before bottling, so that bottle is reasonably young. It's wonderful nonetheless. I'm no expert, but it compares pretty favorably with Redbreast, which is my go-to whiskey (I prefer Irish).

At any rate, I very seriously doubt that microdistilling will hurt American whiskey in general, or bourbon in particular. The existence of tons of pretty crappy craft beers doesn't change the fact that microbrewing has been a spectacular thing for beer in this country; likewise, the occasional bad whiskey will be more than made up for by the rest.
posted by vorfeed at 11:07 AM on August 11, 2011


This is a lot of emotion over something invented by a little old lady in Leningrad.
posted by happyroach at 11:09 AM on August 11, 2011


pla - I was thinking more along the lines of cheap whiskies, rums, and aquavits which often come with caramel coloring to mimic longer barreling.

I agree on the second point - and frankly, things are much more interesting that way.
posted by Vhanudux at 11:10 AM on August 11, 2011


Oh, yeah, and I was given a damn good bottle of rye from Finger Lakes Distilling, also. If this is the "decline" of American whiskey, I'm all for it.
posted by vorfeed at 11:13 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a lot of emotion over something invented by a little old lady in Leningrad.

Mendelev was not an old lady!
posted by kenko at 11:22 AM on August 11, 2011


vorfeed: I bought a bottle of Stranahan's (not bourbon, but whiskey from an American microdistillery just the same) from '09 -- think they usually age it for two to five years before bottling, so that bottle is reasonably young. It's wonderful nonetheless.

Yeah, Stranahan's in Colorado is doing it right. We had a port finished single malt of theirs and it was great. Not sure what their process is but it works. Wasmunds on the other hand tastes like what it is. Spirit aged for a couple of months with a bunch wood chips in it. Nasty. I've come to the conclusion that 2-3 years of aging is an absolute necessity. Below that it just doesn't hit that turning point from raw harsh newishness to becoming somewhat integrated and rounded off. Even the 3 year old releases by Kilchoman (a recently established new Islay distillery) don't have much more than the promise of greatness. At 3 - 31/2 years old they're still quite rough around the edges.

Vhanudux: Most microdistilleries use German column stills, resulting in usually a much cleaner spirit than you'd get from a pot still

Cleaner... and less tasty. The stuff generated in column stills is mostly only good for blends since it tends to be bland.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:24 AM on August 11, 2011


*pours a dram for pla, in honor of the only thing we may agree on!*

Although I will quibble just a teeny bit re the regionalism - while bourbon may be culturally and historically bound to its place of origin, a bourbon may be called a bourbon even if it is not distilled and bottled in Bourbon County, though it must be made in the U.S. In any case, I am also in favor of small-barrel experimentation, and look forward to testing the delicious results, should they become available.
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


A quick google brought up another explanation of heads, tails and hearts. It's a page for grappa making but the general idea applies.
posted by damo at 11:33 AM on August 11, 2011


I prefer a good oude jenver.
posted by Pendragon at 11:44 AM on August 11, 2011


It would be nice if bourbon actually tasted of anything other than harsh.

I believe you've landed in the wrong thread, scruss. Allow me to point you at a news item concerning a beverage that I think will be more to your liking.
posted by Mayor West at 11:59 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pot still

Column still - this is what most micro distillers are using

Coffey Patent Continuous Still (usually what people mean when they say column still) - one example DRInc - the folks behind all those new brands of vodka.
posted by warbaby at 12:12 PM on August 11, 2011


Here in Washington State, our laws changed recently to legalize small distilleries for the first time since Prohibition. You could immediately buy craft vodka and gin, but, of course, there has been a delay in the release of whiskey. One craft distillery came up with an ingenious solution to the problem: they sell unaged whiskey along with a barrel for you to age it yourself.
posted by bokinney at 12:14 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stranahan's is doing it right, but my understanding is that they're doing it by ignoring American conventions. Which is fine with me, and I'm a big fan of their work.

By law, Bourbon has to be produced in new, charred barrels instead of aged barrels. Ireland buys most of our Bourbon barrels to make their better whiskeys.

Charring is a way to cheaply get the same character as aging. By 'inventing' a new type (by using a sour mash and a scotch hood, I think, though I may be wrong) they were able to skirt that requirement and use aged barrels.

Currently I'm trying to figure a way I can get a bottle of their latest in the Snoflake Series into the state of Washington.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:38 PM on August 11, 2011


Stranahan's is doing it right, but my understanding is that they're doing it by ignoring American conventions. Which is fine with me, and I'm a big fan of their work.

Yeah, they're not making a bourbon. Then again, they're not trying to hide that -- when I visited they were very up-front about the fact that Stranahan's is closer to an Irish-style whiskey than an American one.
posted by vorfeed at 12:58 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was deciding between noose, poison or jumping when I read this: "We make Fine Bourbon. At a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always Fine Bourbon." Perhaps all is not lost.
posted by Splunge at 1:04 PM on August 11, 2011


bokinney: "Here in Washington State, our laws changed recently to legalize small distilleries for the first time since Prohibition. You could immediately buy craft vodka and gin, but, of course, there has been a delay in the release of whiskey. One craft distillery came up with an ingenious solution to the problem: they sell unaged whiskey along with a barrel for you to age it yourself."

In fact, I have that kit barrel from them that's about a week away from being fully aged. I can independently verify that it works and is a w e s o m e.

I even have two more unaged bottles to go in when I pull out the current batch.
posted by narwhal bacon at 1:05 PM on August 11, 2011


I've been seeing a lot of this Portland recently. Distillers like McMenamins among many others have started marketing "unaged whiskey" or "corn whiskey" as if they are something sheik or hip, charging the same for a shot as any other mid-shelf decent whiskey. It's ridiculous. I can't believe anyone is actually like, "oooh. that's COOL."
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:12 PM on August 11, 2011


Whiskey In The Raw.

TRADEMARKED!
posted by logicpunk at 2:24 PM on August 11, 2011


"something sheik or hip"

I don't think the Middle East generally encourages whiskey of any kind.
posted by jaduncan at 2:54 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]



I don't think the Middle East generally encourages whiskey of any kind.


"Sharia don't like it... ♪♫"
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:57 PM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this the place where I should mention that last week a bartender decided she liked me and gave me a double Lagavulin 16 on the house.

Dear Metafilter, I never thought this would happen to me...
posted by small_ruminant at 3:24 PM on August 11, 2011


Is this the place where I should mention that last week a bartender decided she liked me and gave me a double Lagavulin 16 on the house.

Dear Metafilter, I never thought this would happen to me...


I would totally read that magazine.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:14 PM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


All I have to add is that stranahan's is, in fact delicious.

Though my go-to is basil hayden's these days. It's REALLY hard to beat for the price.
posted by flaterik at 10:47 PM on August 11, 2011


while over time the ethanol molecules in the whiskey "clump" together inside the water portion of the aging whiskey, subtly changing its flavor.

To be fair, I'm no chemist,


I am and what you just said is horseshit. It reeks of Penta water, homeopathy, and this absolute idiot.

While it is possible to get ordered structures in a liquid, the strength of a hydrogen bond in ethanol/water (whiskey) is such that it wouldn't exist for any appreciable length of time.

I've uhh ahem researched this at home and found that you can indeed get a really complex whiskey from simply charring some dred wood and putting it into a mason jar with some hearts from a distillation. Vanilla comes on quickly, but the cherry flavors take a bit more time. I bet I could design a barrel that could produce an incredibly complex whiskey in a year (hint it would be made mostly of glass) I would even challenge this guy to pick out the one aged for one year instead of being aged for 6. I doubt he could do it.

If it wasnt so illegal I would have already set up a microdistillery at home, my stuff is better than most and thanks to a GCMS I know there isn't any appreciable methanol or isopropanol in it.
posted by koolkat at 5:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even the 3 year old releases by Kilchoman (a recently established new Islay distillery) don't have much more than the promise of greatness. At 3 - 31/2 years old they're still quite rough around the edges.

Under 3 years and they wouldn't be able to call is Scotch, legally, anyway.
posted by Cuppatea at 8:07 AM on August 12, 2011


In the latest James May / Oz Clark series (shown in the US as "James May Drinks To Britain"), there was an interesting Beer Fact which I had never considered before....

Whiskey : Beer :: Brandy : Wine

Literally something I'd never really thought about, but it seems to be true, the more I consider it.
posted by hippybear at 10:51 AM on August 12, 2011


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