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Postby Ed » Tue Dec 26, 2006 3:58 pm

Hello All,

What do Single Malt producers want in a bourbon barrel? A barrel that was dumped at a fairly young age or a barrel that held bourbon for as long as possible? Does a barrel pick up flavor from the bourbon or is a barrel that aged bourbon for a long time like a used tea bag, having had most of the flavor leached out of it?

What do you know and what do you think?


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Postby Di Blasi » Tue Dec 26, 2006 4:31 pm

I would think if it's held bourbon for just the 2 required years, or not too long at all, it would have more to offer the single malt. They may use these still young casks for whisky they plan to age for many years. And maybe use the ex bourbon casks that have aged the bourbon for many years for the younger, standard expressions, like the 10 or 12 year olds.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Dec 26, 2006 5:43 pm

A barrel supposedly has a useful life of about fifty years. One that has held bourbon for only two years will have more "wood" still in it for the whisky, that is to say more influence in a shorter time. Scotch producers will fill a barrel three, four, possibly five times, depending on how long they are used each time. I saw at the Balvenie cooperage how barrels were scraped out and recharred after the third of fourth filling, to get one more use out of them. Later fillings will not be the best whisky, probably meant for blending--I'm quite sure I've had some IB whiskies from such tired casks, which should never have been used for a single malt.

To answer the question, I imagine they'll take whatever they can, and that the majority will have been used two or three years, since that's what the majority of bourbon produced is. Whether older barrels are more or less desirable is a good question. I would infer that they will have a shorter life in Scotland, and less and slower influence, and thus in theory would be less valuable. But I'm guessing, and don't really know what the difference in terms of bourbon influence would be. I think the bourbon itself is supposed to take the edge off the wood, but be fairly neutral in terms of its own influence. Too much may not be a good thing.

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Postby Admiral » Mon Jan 01, 2007 12:39 pm

I wonder if the bourbon distilleries even make the distinction when they on-sell their casks to Scotland?

I imagine that they simply supply 100 casks and attach an invoice for 100 casks. I'd be surprised to learn that they categorise or break the order down by outlining how long the casks have held bourbon for.


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Postby Mustardhead » Mon Jan 01, 2007 1:41 pm

I assume some distilleries are very fussy about their casks. Not all go to the same extremes as Glenmorangie, buying whole hillsides in the USA and owning the wood from standing trees through to cask, in the bourbon warehouse and then across the sea to Scotland.

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