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43494Re: cheap bourbon?

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  • Sherman
    Sep 11, 2008
      No, it's not the barrels it's the chance combination of a good fermentation, a good set of cuts, a better than usual barrel, and a good position in the warehouse. No matter how much quality control you put into the ingredients, the barrels, the process, variables like wood, weather, people and time introduce variances. By controlling everything you can control you can nearly guarantee good quality every time. But once in a while, everything clicked and one batch, or even barrel will stand out as extra special. Statistically it is bound to happen. Identifying why that particular one was better or worse is the art of the ones who make the best stuff.
      Making it exceptional bourbon, repeatably, is extremely hard because of all the variances. So when you have to rely on chance and finding exceptional quality or a fluke, it makes the best batches rare and the rest is bargain basement.
      That is why these real big distillers are not afraid of telling their grain bill, distillation process, time in the warehouse, char level of the barrels, source of the barrels, and rotation practices. It is because it all comes down to finding the particular barrels of bourbon to mix together, to create their standard by knowing their usual yields and distribution of flavors. Their art is to make a consistent product using very inconsistent variances.
      The problem with their art is that a lot of what gets marketed lacks distinction because it is targeted at the mass market.
      Now lets compare to vintage Bourbon. A Craft Distiller make ten barrels this year and all with the highest attention to every detail. All ten are an 8 or better vs the mass produced which are a 5 or better and an occasional 3 or 4. The small producer will have two thing the mass producer doesn't have. Almost guaranteed a drink with distinction, and a very rare collectable quality product. The consumers of this type don't pay $8 for a fifth they pay %50 to %100 because they recognize the distinctive quality of the very small producers.

      Their production generally will be like this( graph) because years of industrial processing has taught them to do this with process management and a dummied down work force. Once you are on your 8 or 10 Millionth barrel, having measured and controlled every variance within your capability,  you should have it nailed down to the nth percent of everything  and removed as much risk (and opportunity of great exceptions) as possible.  

       10              x
        9              x x
      Q 8              x x
      U 7              x x
      A 6              x x
      N 5              x x x
      T 4            x x x x
      I 3            x x x x
      T 2            x x x x x
      Y 1          x x x x x x
        0      x x x x x x x x x

           0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
                     Quality





      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, mike karnowski <djpotpie@...> wrote:
      >
      > >Their economy brands
      > >are column still productions with standard barrels and result with the
      > >things you identified. They are just not distinctive enough to use for
      > >prime grade products. For every prime grade barrel they have to
      > >produce about 25 barrels. This leaves a lot to be "Disposed of" and
      > >sometime nearly at a loss.
      >
      > Thanks Sherman, i'm still confused about what you mean by "prime grade barrel" and "standard barrels". are the barrels themselves better quality, and do they specifically set out to make a cheap whiskey or is it just a less than stellar batch of their regular (column still) whiskey?
      >

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