30 July 2016

Selective Congener Distillation

This blog has moved to : iladdie.wordpress.com

Thank you for reading this blog! All my posts have been copied to Wordpress.

The whisky industry knows a lot of distillation technology but today (30th of Juli 2016) I got introduced to a distillation technology that could change the distillation landscape forever.

The distillation technically is based on realtime identification of individual congeners during distillation and allowing them to the final product or not. 

The technology behind this has been developed by Thieu Smakman, Head Distiller of the Turv Exloo distillery in the Netherlands.

He got his idea for his distillation technique from the molecular cooking technology used by El Bulli. Identifying each flavour component and recombinating them in new ways to produce a new tasting experience.

Smakman explained how he selected congeners from a distillation run. 

First a short recap for how spirits can be distilled using "Cuts". 

Uncut (no pun intended) 
- the total Distilation is used in the final spirit. This is not normally done by whisky makers that have some understanding of production. 

One cut
The foreshore, middle cut and feints are generally identified as being three time stages in a Distilation process. When The foreshot is seperated, only one cut is made. 

Two cuts 
This is the "normal" way in which I know a distillery works. Separating the foreshot and the feints. Only the middle cut is used in the final spirit. This is an oversimplification because most distillation feeds some of the feints and foreshot back in the pot still. 

Other distillers also identify three separate sections in the middle cut, called heads, hearts and tails. 

Selecting between the cuts is made in a classic spirit save. At "the right time" the spout is swivelled, thereby altering the flow of the spirit to another receiver. At the "end" of the run the spout is moved away again.

N + 1 cuts
So in "Normal" distillation the most flavours are selected from the "middle cut" or "hearts". The other cuts are normally rejected but even these have congeners in them that are favourable for having in a final dram. These are not available for other distilleries because that would mean the distiller would need to swivel the spout multiple times during a run. This is not done, but with "Selective Congener Distilation" this is done and the favours become available.

How? In layman's terms Smakman can identify the Congener he wants, allow it to his final product or redirect it if he doesn't want it. All real time throughout the entire distillation run. In this way he both optimises the flavours but also the efficiency of the use of each mash. How many cuts can he make? As many as he wants. 2, 6, 125? (N +1) All possible.

How does he identify the Congeners? You will need to find that out for yourself by visiting his distillery because that part Smakman did not explain! (he sorta did to me but not in detail, but I think I understand how.)

What "Selective Congener Distillation" also alows is making multiple spirits from the same mash. 

All these options, combined with the pot still, followed by two colomn stills and a condenser allow Smakman a flexibility that the Scotish distillers can only dream of! He can choose to distill his spirit for at least ones, but then upto 101 times in one run if he wants to. You will figure out how when you visit his distillery but if you look at the photos you can get an idea too! 

I was given the option to taste from this still the flow of spirit at multiple times in the 2,5 hours of distillation. The result of the run changed each minute and even the foreshot tasted amazing. Even the 93% ABV (no error in typing) spirit that flowed from the still to my finger to my mouth was incredibly smooth, fruity and not at all fiery or bitter.

Conclusion? OMG!!

Is "Selective Congener Distillation" an official term? Nope, I thought it up! I just like the sound of it.

29 July 2016

Why I drink whisky and collect empty bottles

On a personal note. Why do I drink my whiskies?

I used to collect and resell Lego collectables. I still do! It's fun to buy something, put it aside for a year and then sell it for anywhere between 25 to 400% profit. After doing this for a while I notice that the only thing I got out of it was:

  • spending time hunting the web,
  • paying bills, 
  • putting boxes on shelves, 
  • advertise the boxes, 
  • getting paid for boxes,
  • taking boxes of the shelves,
  • taking boxes to the post office,
  • repeating the same steps over and over.
What I got out of it all was the gratification of seeing a number increase on my smartphone as I checked my bank account. Not to much fun I must say. I didn't learn anything and I could not play with the Legos without decreasing the value enormously. So very little fun in the here and now. All aimed at saving for later, for a future that was supposed to be good. But I realised that the future would never become the present. I would remain in the circle of buying, investing, making profits then reinvesting. 

So I thought, why not, keep the first two steps the same, but then enjoy something in the here and now. Why not learn and experience life for all its beauty.

So I swapped from Lego to
Whisky! Now I still sell my Lego with 400% profit, buy a beautiful dram, an educational dram, a sentimental dram  and learn about what makes a good whisky good. But most of all I enjoy the flying fuck out of it before I die! 

I do this because I lost my younger sister and realised it only takes one moment of shear dumb luck to end a life. Only then did I truly understood "Carpe Diem" for the first time and now I choose not to wait for life, to save money for future life, but to live now! While I can! 

That is why I don't collect full bottles, I collect empty bottles and I collect moments I spend with friends enjoying life while drinking a fine dram! 

27 July 2016

Wine tasting blog entree

At my vacation location I had the option of doing a wine tasting. Fun! 

The guy talking us thrue the 6 wines we were going to taste had set up 2 glasses for white wine, 2 for rose and 2 for red. One glass for cleaning the palate. 

First up were two white wines. 

First was a 2014, Sauvignon Blanc, gros manseng, Côtes du Gascogne.

Second was a Allram, Grüner Veltliner, kamptal. 

After nosing and tasting the question was which one would go best with smoked salmon. My thought at first were the first white wine because of the lemon nose of the first wine. After tasting i decided the second one was the better match. The guy explained how the first white wine was a stand alone drinking wine. The second was for combining with fish. The two compliment each other. 

Then two rose wines. The guy explained how rose it not a watered down red, nor a mix of white and red, but a gentler more subtle pressing of a blue grape so it only gets a hint of red.

The photo above is made after the tasting and I'm sorry for the quality. Guess 6 glasses of wine get the better of me, or my iPhone takes crapp photos. 

Again the first was a "chill sit on a terras" one , while the second was the "culinary" version. Only after nosing all wines side by side did I spot the pear on the nose of the first. 

I know, this blog is useless for the rose wines! Sorry ;) 

First red wine is from chily, Maipo valley, 2013, Cabernet Sauvignon. Fruity, tannins not to complicated.

The second one is a 2012, languedoc, Mad la Chevaliere. The man said it was a Shiraz grape. This one is more wood influenced with light spice note on the palette. 

With these reds was served some salted Ham. This did marvels for the second red.

My conclusion? The intercity of noses on wine are far less the on whisky. Because of the lack of strong alcohol there is the opportunity to smell longer. Eventually I spotted smoke, spice, pear, Apple, lemon. The palette is less intense too. Oak yes, fruit, tannins. Something buttery. It's fun taking the whisky experience to wine. Educational in a sense. 

What I learned the most is the obvious nose of pear that I spotted in one rose, that I only spotted after nosing the others. Only then did the pear jump at me. Would that work on whiskies too? Let's try! 

25 July 2016

"Prime", by Dutch "Turv Exloo" Distillery

During my vacation in the province of Drenthe right here in the Netherlands I was talking to a liquor store owner in Assen. I was asking him if he still had some bottles of "Den Hool" left. The answer was no, but he would be able to get something new from Drenthe rather soon, if I was interested?

Off course I was and he informed me there is a new distillery from the village of Exloo called "Turv" which had matured some excellent dram for, wait for it ...... three months and that the result was surprisingly mature! "Turv" he said was local tongue for "turf" which translated from Dutch to English means "Peat".

So there is a new spirit out:
  • called Prime,
  • bottled from single american oak casks,
  • matured for only 3 months,
  • bottled at 43%.

My first response to the owner of the liqour store was that these guys must have use new heavily charred small American oak barrels for it to aged this fast with any kind of result. He did not know at that moment in time, so I decided to find out myself.

I spend one minute finding the website: http://www.turv.nl and it, for now, links to the Facebook page of the distillery 

Here I spend a happy couple of hours browsing the timeline of this distilleries creation. Starting at the first entree I read forward in time, seeing how the distillery was created.

First thing you need to know is the name of (one) of the owner(s) and head distiller. Meet Thieu Smakman. From what I read on Facebook, and having bugged him in a chat, this man doesn't do low quality. He doesn't do average quality either. 

Second thing you need to know is the terroir. The distillery is located in Exloo. Exloo is part of the UNESCO world heritage area called Hondsrug. The water the distillery uses comes from deep in the ground. The distillery drilled it's own well thrue a sandlayer left by the last ice age. Then a "keileem" layer that works like a impregnable stopper ending up in a layer of sand that was bare during, not the last but the ice age before that. The water from this sand layer is supposed to be very rich in minerals and hasn't been toughed for over one million years. This results in an exceptional source of water, that lacks only one thing. Oxygen. So after pumping it up its oxygenated at the distillery. 

Third thing is that they mash at the distillery. Fourth thing is that fermentation is done at the distillery too. I will add more info about this later.

Then distillation is done in what I thought was a Kothe still. I asked and was informed that Kothe could not meet the specifications of this still. The head distiller put some very hefty design and quality specs on the still that Kothe could not meet. The Christian CARL artisan distilleries and brewing systems company could meet the specifications.

I need to check but Turv uses a pot still followed by two column stills and a condenser. The pot still is steam powered. The fun stuff is they have added a real type alcohol diagnosis system that can monitor, real time, which kinds of lighter and heavier alcohols are produced. I have to figure it out but what it looks like is that there is more than normal controle over the distillation process and products.

Note: 1-aug-2016: I did, sorta, figured out the distilation process and it is absoluly a revolution in the whisky industry. Read more on this blog entry about, what I call, "Selective Congener Distillation".

The barrels Turv uses are from http://www.worldcooperage.com/main/connect, probably made at the French location, with a level 3 char, as far as i can see on the photos. This cooper sells American, French, European oak but also hybrid types of barrels. Which one Turv used became clear after talking to the head distiller. They use American oak with a char that is custom for Turv. The Oak's was hand selected by the head distiller. 

The amount of time spent in the barrel was about 3 months. Then it was bottled to honour the start of production. This three months is naturally very short maturation which will show in the dram.

Via Twitter I came into contact with a store close by my vacation location and I was able to go to the store outside normal opening hours. Please check out http://www.dramtime.nl 

I bought 2 bottles and a bottle of the gin. 

Tasting notes after I first opened the bottle.


The nose is familiar. It reminds me of the artisan distillers of the USA. Pungent, drying. "Bourbon like" in the sense that single malt drams from the USA matured in American White Oak smell simular, but not equal.
  • Some oak, 
  • Some vanilla, 
  • The main nose is obvious spices, mainly clove, 
  • Light banana,
  • Slight melon,
  • Orange, 
  • Slight leather,
  • Oddly enough a hint of young cheese,
  • After a while some mint,  
  • The nose of something Solventy is gone after you let it breath for a while before nosing it.
Note: 01-Aug-2016:
After opening the bottle and nosing it for a 4th time, the solventy note is gone.

  • Soft, 
  • Creamy, 
  • Nice clear alcohol, 
  • warming,
  • I feel it going down in my body, which I like. 
  • I'm having some trouble spotting the main taste. That is mainly because I think the main tastes will be strait from the malt. But since I have not tasted mash, I would not really know. 
I am pleasantly surprised by the total effect of this young spirit. My advice would be is to let it breath for a bit to get rid of the "spiritus" nose, which quickly goes away. The wood influence is clearly mainly spice. The vanilla sweetness is there, but only more maturation time will give it more of the vanillin. There is lightly fruitiness, mainly banana and slight orange.

What I learn from this is that active wood is a main driver is adding flavour to a dram. This was not unknown to me, but this is the first three months maturated dram I tasted. I plan to go to the distillery and hopefully I can take some new make with me. Just to compare flavour notes.

There is a risk to using these kinds of active casks. I personally like the "bourbon" tastes that I associate with this kind of spirit. Spices, Clove, nutmeg, sweet, vanilla, caramel. Buying new casks is an investment, but also a risk. The only way of consistently reproducing the taste of "prime" is by using virgin oak. After using the casks that made this dram again, the result will never be the same, but at most "simular".  This also gives options, meaning there could be consistent drams from the Turv distillery based on virgin, refill, second fill etc maturations. 

The 10 litre barrels that are available for liquor stores are active little barrels. Depending on how much time they spend on the counters they will mature very fast and drift away from the tasteprofile  that is present in the bottles of prime! Any whisky enthusiast will know this and use it to their advantage!

16 July 2016

Koval Bourbon Whiskey / Koval Four Grain

Koval Bourbon Whiskey

I smelled and tasted the Koval Bourbon Whiskey. I have tasted the millet whisky of Koval and you may find the blog entry Here.

Koval Bourbon Whiskey

Short information list about the Bourbon Whisky:
  • It's organic.
  • It's kosher.
  • It's "Gluten-free". (Question to myself: Isn't all Whisky "gluten-free?)
  • It's family owned by Robert and Sonat Birnecker.
  • It's independent.
  • It's 51% Corn and 49% organic Midwest Millet mash.
  • It's fresh American Minnisota white oak.
  • It's 47% ABV, 94 proof.
  • It's 0.5 Liter per bottle.
  • It's unchill filtered.
  • It's natural colour.
  • It's from Chicaco in the USA.

The nose of this Dram is a tad confusing for me, but there are some notes that I spot rather soon. The is the spice, the oak (now that I know how it smells it is so there!), some saw dust, some orange, vanilla. I thought I smelled rye, but that would be rather odd, since the other 49% of the mash bill is millet. I do pick up some nutmeg as well. Banana? Yup. 

The palate is harder to pin down for me at first. First thing I wrote was "spice". Then it to some time for my mind to find tasted I could bring home. After couple of tastes I wrote down "if mouth full it's pleasantly burning", not to smooth, not to soft. Brown sugar I get. And even though I don't smoke I do pick up a hint of tobacco. Something salty. 

The finish is not to long, but rather ok. Light honey. And, oddly enough something I can only describe as "wokkels". This "Wokkels" is something that view people will spot, since it is a crisp that I think is only sold in Holland. 

Do I like this dram? Yes I do. I do not do ratings, so I will say this is for me a above average dram. How does it hold ip to others? It is not really important how it holds up. I is a dram on its on like all others. Would I buy this? Probably yes!

Koval Four Grain Whiskey

Next up is the sample of the Koval Four Grain Whiskey.

Koval Four Grain Whiskey

The Koval Website mentions:

The Four Grain is distilled from a mash bill of oat, malted barley, rye, and wheat. This whiskey is aged in heavily charred new oak barrels from Minnesota and bottled single barrel at 94 proof. The four grains define its depth with a banana nose, creamy palate, and spicy finish. Only the “heart cut” of the distillate, no “heads” or “tails.” Grains sourced from a local organic farmer collective in the Midwest.

Small Batch. Single Barrel. Unfiltered. Heart cut. Organic. 

Notes of 16 July 2016
My notes say is "Softer"  than the Rye of the Bourbon. 

The nose has a little Spice, oak, honey, banana, pear, and quite oddly something that smells like the butter i put on my sand-wedges. Quite a pleasant nose. 

The palette has Pear, a little Rye, orange, some slight pepper, grainy, creamy, buttery sweet vanilla.

The finish is not long. It changes from how long you let it in the glass. It was bland finish at one point and quite sharp the next ... odd. 

I sorta like this. It's I am not sure if I would buy this again. Even though it has many flavours that I would label on a Rye or a Bourbon, this has a bit of everything. Not to distinct!

UPDATE: 06 November 2016:

HA! apparently this dram according to https://blog.thewhiskyexchange.com/2016/10/jim-murrays-whisky-bible-2017-the-winners/ has won the US Micro Whisky of the Year (Runner Up) award in the 2017 Jim Murray's Whisky bible 2017. Cool!

Maturing my own whisky

For my birthday, I got a small barrel and two bottles of Wasmund's Single malt whiskey. I want to experiment with comparing new make single malt and different times of aging. So I plan to put this kit together, fill it with 62% spirit and let it mature for 3 month, draw a sample, repeat drawing a sample every month and seeing how it matures. I have written multiple blogs about the influence of fresh American White Oak, but till now I just had to sample ready made spirits and some new make samples. See this blog link to a comparison between new and ages Journeyman Spirit.

So when you get your own barrel kit, it look like the picture below. A compact well made cardboard box filled with 2 700 ml bottles of new make spirit. A single malt spirit is the version I got. I wanted this over their rye version, because I wanted to compare the new make and the ages spirit make from 100% barley. I choose to start with American White Oak, but I plan to get the same spirit and mature it in frensh oak too! Goal is to see if the result differs between Oak's , but keeping the spirit a constant.

After, sorta, reading the instructions I cleared out the debris that was left over from drilling the bung hole. This was more then I expected but there it is. 

Then I gave the inside a good rinse with clean tap water. Clearing it and refilling and draining a couple of times.  This is a lesson I learned from watching a Twitter friend do this also and getting an almost black result. 

So after filling it with water it is supposed to expand and become water proof. 

Now that I have filled the barrel with water I noticed that I have the opertunaty to smell the nose of wet American White oak, without any other influences of the spirit. This will help me identify the "oak" which is so often referred to in tasting notes/blogs and vlogs. I also have a piece of French oak laying around which I will make wet too! Sometimes you coincidently run into opertunaties that you were oblivious to before you actually ran into them. This was one for me. 

After putting the water in I found out the position of the thingy to close the drain is rather critical. I ended up spilling water on my table, but that's ok. 

After a day of soaking up water there are no more leaks (I think).

The only thing I'm now lacking is a funnel! 

17th of July 2016

So, after getting a funnel I drained the water from the barrel. I kept 100 ml of this water for future reference. The oak smell of it was remarkable even after just one day. 

I put 1300 ml of spirit in the barrel. I am keeping 100 ml for future reference. I added 200 ml of the "one day matured" water that I drained from the barrel back in in an attempt to not loose some of the flavours that already went into the water. 

Now the barrel is sitting pretty in my cupboard. I will let it be for at least a month and then draw a sample.

12th of August 2016

Today I cleaned two sample bottles by cleaning them with hot water. Now they can air dry so they can be used this Sunday. Sunday will be the 4 week marker of maturation. 

14th August 2016

After four weeks of maturation I am taking a sample from the cask. It is a 100 ml sample. 

For lack of a better filter I used an unbleached coffee filter. I am sure there are better alternatives but I had non available to me. 

The result is surprisingly coloured! 

I took a moment to make some quick notes:

Nose has vanilla, oak, banana, strawberry, milkshake, flowery honey, Tobacco, something smokey, salty? 

On the palette the arrival is slow, spicey, heat, smokey, oaky. Smooth at same time as heat. 

I actually quite like this and am debating if this needs more maturation at all? The color is absolutely beautiful. 

The thing is I don't know if it will get better in another four weeks or not, so I think I will just let it mature longer! That was the whole idea behind the experiment in the first place ;)

09 October 2016

I got two more samples from my barrel. One at 6 weeks in and one at 12 weeks in. I shot three photos using the same camera settings, lighting and post processing in lightroom. Then I combined the three images in the photo below.

There is a noticeable increase in color saturation between the 4 and 12 weeks sample. he increase in saturation and hue doesn't seem to be linear over time, but the increase seems to slow down. I will probably wait until the 24 week mark and then make a final bottling. At that point in time I will also try and do comparison onnose and taste. I cant wait actually.

With almost 400 ml taken from the original 1400 ml in the barrel the amount of air in the barrel is increasing. This will also increase oxidization of the content left still. Ones I take the final samples I can also find out how much is gone due to evaporation. Should still be about 0.9 liter in there.

More to come later!

12 July 2016

Ben Glen Loch More

I was reading the Scottish Law on scotch Whisky and in the back of the legal text is a listing of distillerys that are located in Scotland. What I noticed is that lots of distillerys have a name that begins or end with "Ben", "Glen", "Loch" or "More".

Since I'm Dutch I had no clue what those words mean, so to further my own know how I looked it up and asked people for help! 

  • Ben Nevis 
  • Benriwach 
  • Benrinnes 
  • Benromach
Ben or 'beinn' is a common Gaelic word for 'mountain'.

  • Glenallachie 
  • Glenburgie 
  • Glencadam 
  • Glendronach 
  • Glendullan 
  • Glen Elgin 
  • Glenfarclas 
  • Glenfiddich 
  • Glen Garioch 
  • Glenglassaugh 
  • Glengoyne 
  • Glen Grant 
  • Glen Keith 
  • Glenkinchie 
  • Glenlossie
  • Glenmorangie

  • Glen Moray (also known as Glen Moray- Glenlivet)

  • Glen Ord

  • Glen Scotia

  • Glen Spey

  • Glenturret
  • The Glenlivet 
A glen is a valley, typically one that is long, deep, and often glacially U-shaped, or one with a watercourse running through it. Whittow defines it as a "Scottish term for a deep valley in the Highlands" that is "narrower than a strath".

  • Loch Ewe 
  • LochLomond 
Loch (/ˈlɒx/) is the Irish and Scottish Gaelic word for a lake and a sea inlet. It is cognate with the Manx lough, Cornish logh, and the Welsh word for lake, llwch

The Ben, Glen and Loch all seem to indicated locations of the still or locations of the water sources. In this light I thought the "more" was a reference to a bog or "Moor". Especially since peat is the product of such a wetland. I was mistaken.

  • Ardmore
  • Aultmore
  • Bowmore
  • Dalmore
  • Mannochmore 

Bowmore comes from the Gaelic Bogh Mòr, where Mòr means great/big (and Bogh is sea reef)

So no reference to a "moor" but just something rather big!

4 July 2016

Comparing "New Make" and "Aged" Journeyman

I have reveived a Total of 12 samples from the kind people of Haromex. These samples have given me insight in a number of aspects. One of these aspects is the opportunity to compare one distillate in an aged and new make state.

The Drams I compared are from Journeyman:

The mashbills of these spirits is the same. 
The equipment used to make these spirits is the same.
The ravel wood was age in 15 gallon barrels with a level 3 char. (information profides by the distiller via twitter)
The mashbill consists of 60% rye and "Heavily Wheated".
"Ravens wood" and "last feather" are the same dram, only different labels, since 2015.

The two are tasted side by side while relaxing in the garden.

First the new make Nose: 
  • Strong pure rye,
  • Sweet banana,
  • Predominantly Strong caramel, 
  • Alcohol tingle in nostrils,
  • Cheese? Yeah young cheese.

Next the aged Nose: 
  • Less rye, more subdued, more integrated
  • Sweet banana almost gone,
  • Caramel almost gone but still there,
  • Clove / spice. 

What is clearly noticeable is how the new make nose is totally transformed and the clove / spice note is now predominant. The spice / Clove is the result of a wood/spirit interaction. (Task to myself: Look up the chemical reaction behind it) 

New make palette:
  • Nothing registers at first taste. I mean with that, that normally there is at least one note that registers immediately but now I'm at a loss
  • Smooth oily at arrival,
  • Something sweet like liqourice / anise,
  • Alcohol slowly kicks in covering the tonque,
  • Light floral note.
Next the aged palette
  • Spice 
  • Orange 
  • Banana 
  • Chocolate 
  • Vanilla

Here too the wood has completely transformed the palette. Adding wood flavours like vanilla and transforming others. 

What I have learned from this is that there can be and is a bit difference between how a spirit is distilled and how this spirit is transformed by wood and time. This is naturaly such an "open door", but actuelly finding our by yourself is a very powerful experience. 

I will do this again to see if at second comparison I can pick up more notes. I will also try to find out if what smelled and tasted before and after can be explained by standard "Whisky Chemistry". 

Just for fun I combined the new-make and the ages spirit. 
  • Caramel still overpowers the nose
  • Spice and Clove are the second tone
  • The other tones are not registering. Apperently they did something to each other! lol
  • Very Sharp after a slow arrival,
  • Not pleasent,
  • Nothing integrated,
  • Yuck
  • LOL

If you want to try this for yourself and you are in Holland or western Europe these online shops offer both the new make and the "last feather". 

3 July 2016

Science-Nerd-Review of "Stultitia" by "Et Fidus" Distillery

A new whisky has come from the "Et Fidus" Distillery located on the wind showered shores of Loch Glen Moore. The spirit is called "stultitia" in the proud tradition of this Distillery ran by owner and Master Distiller Ben Granddram.

On the nose:
The nose hits with a crisp sense Exhyl Hexonoate. There is a clear note of fresh picked iso-Amyl acetate. A pleasant hint of the cask influence comes thru as gentle burned 4-Vinyl-guiacol hits your nostrils. Combined with some added punch of Euganol this is a pleasant American White Oak influence that clearly hasn't been lost at this first fill. The Maltol does not overpower the rest of the nose. The Geraniol that is ever present in the distillates of this distillery is not lost in this pleasant nose. 

On the palate:
The Euganol and 4-Vinyl-guiacol that were predominant in the nose arrive as soon as the spirit hits the palate. The vanillin is pleasantly there. A slight but not distracting hint of o-Cresol that quickly subsides if you let it breath for a while in the glass. Later in the development the 2 and 3-Methyl Butanol comes thru from the distillate and grains. There is a hint of 4-hydroxy-2,5-dimethyl-3 (2H) furanose too. The mountfeel is predominantly Heptanol and Diacetyl which covers your mount quite pleantly. 

On the finish:
The finish subsides rather quickly, but the main influence is predocmently Euganol driven. 

All in all Ben Granddram did it again. He was again inspired by the locale of Loch Glen Moore and this terroir clearly comes thru in this singular expression. 

2 July 2016

"Sherry" Matured is "Bourbon" Matured, only just a bit less

The title of this blog is naturally not true, since a Bourbon is very different from a Scotch Whisky, but what I mean to say is that I want to find out if the "wood-influence" of American Oak is comparable between a "New American Oak" barrel, a "Ex Sherry" American Oak barrel and a "Ex Bourbon" American Oak barrel.

I had given myself a task. A tast to compare three drams. Why? To see if I could find out if "Sherry" matured Scotch Whisky is somehow more like Bourbon than like Sherry. I tasted a "PX Sherry" just for the sake of tasting actueel Sherry.

My theory behind all this is mentioned in two other blogs but this blog is to actually taste the different drams and compare them side by side.

See: These other blogs:

The drams I compared are:
  • Koval, Bourbon
  • Compass Box, The Circus
  • Corsair, Triple Smoke 

Why did I select these drams? 

The Koval Bourbon is mash bill that has millet as second component. This means there is little influence of spice that can come from rye that would overpower the taste. The millet gives a dimension to the taste that cannot be confused for something else, since this is the only Bourbon in the world that has Millet. 

The Compass Box The Circus is the dram I selected to compare the "Sherry" influence against. Since it is not allowed by UK laws to have anything "added" to the barrel, the only influence of the "Sherry" can come from the "Sherry" that is left over in the wood of the barrel. I do not know today which kinds of barrels Compass Box uses, and it is also not disclosed in the information provided. I do know that this is a Scotch Blended Malt that is made with 100% barley. It is therefor an excellent example of a high quality dram. 

The Corsair Triple Smoke is a 100% barley Whiskey. It shares one of the influences that is also present in the Koval Bourbon, being that both are matured in new American Oak barrels with a Medium Char. They both have been matured around 2 to 3 years. This means the wood interaction is comparable but not "the same". The Alcohol / water / barrel reduction/addition and reaction processes are "comparable". 

What I noticed is that the color of the three drams is very alike indicating that wood abstraction processes have resulted in comparable outcomes. All drams are natural color and non-chill-filtered. 

I had started out comparing "The Circus" to the "Bourbon" and what struck me was the "pepper-spice" nose on both. I have smelled an actual PX Sherry and nothing spicey is in the nose of this Sherry. Does this mean anything? It could, if I would know the "Sherry" background used in the Compass Box. 

What I have been reading in a book called "Whisky

Technology, Production and Marketing" is this: The importance of wine contact has not been established. Constituents of sherry have been identified in whisky matured in sherry casks, but their sensory impact, if any, has not been established.

So the Bourbon and the Circus share spice notes in both taste and smell. I also tasted the Triple Smoke and that struck me is that the Triple Smoke and the Circus smell actually even more comparable to each other with respect to the spice. Since the spice cannot come from rye, and it does not come from the millet it stands to reason that it comes from the Oak. 

The Koval lacks the citrus floral note intensity (they are in there but less prominent) that are present in the Triple Smoke and Circus. This is partly explained by the fact that the 51% corn. The other 49% millet give the influence, since it cannot come from the wood. 

The Circus is "Complex" due to (but not alone) the blending of Malts and the added influence of wood during maturation. The overall intensity of Spice and other wood related influences is "less prominent" compared to the others, but more intense then a "Ex Bourbon" matured dram. The Circus has the most Citrus / Floral / Malt influences compared to the others. Which is logical since it is a 100% barley sources from 4 sources. Which also ads complexity. 

The Bourbon from Koval gets is complexity from the combination of Millet in the mash bill which adds grain related complexity that cannot be found in the other two. But the Vanillin and Spice influence is "comparable" to the Corsair. These are from the new American oak.

The Corsair Triple Smoke is remarkably simular on the nose to The circus, but less complex since it misses the 4 component parts that the Circus has. It does however have something on the nose that the circus does not since it was smoked with three kinds of fuels. This add a smoke influence that is more prominent in the Corsair. The influence and levels of spice are higher, but surprisingly simular. 

What this all tells me is that the influence of wood can be ranked in a way that is not orthodox in whisky reviews, so bare with me.

20: "High" Oak influence : 
Corsair and Koval, due to fresh American White Oak, small cask, medium char. The wood influence is documented to be 20x higher for some notes, compared to the same notes in "Ex-Bourbon". 

2-19: "Medium" Oak influence : 
Compass Box, due to inability of "low alcohol Sherry-oak" interaction with either an American White Oak barrel or a Spanish Oak barrel. Low alcohol (higher water) interaction "leaves" components behind that the Sherry just can't withdraw. These are "left behind" for the high Ethanol Single Malts to interact with when used. (Before the early 1970 this was the "normal oak influence". This was before the industry switched from "Sherry transport casks" to cheaper "Ex-Bourbon casks")

1: "Normal" Oak influence : 
"Standard" Single malts matured in "first fill" ex-bourbon. Since the influence of the "left over bourbon" in the wood is negligible just as the "Sherry" influence is. (See quote from the book I mention before) the main influence is the cask. This has become the "standard" ever since Scotsch Whisky could not used new make American oak "transportbarrels" used for shipping "Sherry" to the UK. This practice stopped after the early 1970's. 

0-1: "Low" Oak influence:
The barrels used for bourbon and first fill, when reused, can be re-charred, but this simply does not give the cask the same wood influences that a new barrel has. These casks are on the lower end of the influence scale, since all wood/alcohol interactions have just about taken place. Multiple fills will eventually "deplete" the cask.

It is quite hard for me to make a summarization of all I have learned over the past months, but the tasting of actual PX Sherry, the tasting of the corsair next to the compass box, comparing to the Koval bourbon and any other ex bourbon dram has me convinced that the "Sherry" influence is Negligible/non-excistend and that the actual "Sherry" influence should be read as "Spannish Oak" or "American Oak" influence. The nose and "sweet" taste of PX Sherry is simply not there in my view. The sweet in Sherry is a waterdesolve able influence that is to little to be registered. Also the nose and palate of the corsair and compass box are just to simular to be explained by anything else than the wood influence. The low alcohol/high water content of the Sherry, the presence of flor in a Sherrybutt and the high quantity of water lead me to conclude that "Sherry matured" malts make use of the wood flavour compounds NOT withdrawn from the cask by the "low alcohol/high water" Sherry. 

Compared to "New American Oak" this wood influence is naturally less prominent than in "Sherry butts", since the low alcohol in Sherry did actually extract some flavours. It is however more prominent than using "Ex bourbon" casks, since the high alcohol Bourbon has attracted most of the wood influences from the cask before Scotch is put in. The longer the age of the bourbon, the less wood influence is left.