The black fungus Baudoinia is a common sight on the outsides of whiskey warehouses in Kentucky. Turns out the way the fungus grows also has an interesting connection with another well known phenomenon, Angel's Share.
An innocuous looking document sent out by the TTB on the 27th of April 1962 would change the way American whiskey had been barreled since before Prohibition. Was the science it was based on any good or was the outcome predetermined?
Last week I went on about all the qualities American white oak brings to the maturation of Bourbon. But that's not the end of the story. Seasoning, kilning, charring and toasting are all types of wood degradation performed as part of 'raising' barrels. Each makes its own unique contribution to the whiskey maturation process.
Seeing the list of America's best Bourbon bars for 2022 it was hard for me to note that Hard Water was missing. It was one of many bars that didn't survive the COVID shutdowns.
A week or so ago I attended an ‘experience’ at one of the many distilleries in Kentucky now offering tours and tastings. Like many similar offerings, it included a recap of various important milestones in American whiskey history. And as happens all too often, one or more of these milestones was attributed to the wrong event and date. I guess this isn’t the biggest deal but when those of us who represent the distilling industry are asked to tell the story of Bourbon to the general public I think it’s important to get these details right.
There are two common schools of belief (or perhaps ‘churches’ is a better term) on chill filtering. One school declares that chill filtering is a harmless process and that what’s removed has no impact on flavor, only color and possibly the texture (mouthfeel) of the whiskey is affected. The other school strongly believes that chill filtering is destructive and results in an unavoidable attenuation of aroma and flavor in the whiskey. It seemed unlikely that both of these assertions could be true so I decided to look further into the matter.
The Taft Decision in 1906 and then the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1909 both used the term ‘straight’ to define the manner in which a whiskey had been made, e.g. if it had been made solely from distilled grain and aged in wood, without any additives other than water, then it was ‘straight.’ But then in 1938, the definition gets modified to include a minimum term of aging (two years). What were the people who wrote this thinking? Or was it just poorly written?
The federal government has never defined a standard for what sour or sweet mashing means when it appears on a whiskey bottle label. But it has had a number of things to say about these techniques in publications intended for IRS employees. These may provide some insight into how these techniques evolved over time.