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Six sources of flavor

Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:02 pm
by bourbonv
When I do the Woodford Bourbon Academy with Chris Morris he always talks about the five sources of flavor for bourbon. I disagree with him because I think there are six sources of flavor, adding bottling to the list. Here are Chris' sources of flavor: 1) Grain recipe, 2)water source, 3) fermentation, 4) distillation and 5) maturation. I add: 6) bottling to the list.

1) Grain recipe includes the amount and type of grain used to make the bourbon.
2) Water is whether it is spring water, RO water, or some other source.
3) Fermentation includes the yeast strain but also the length of the fermentation, the thickness of the mash and even the time of the year of the mashing.
4) Distillation includes whether you use a pot or column still, but also the proof of distillation, whether you use a pot still doubler, or thumper, or even if you only single distill.
5) Maturation includes not only how long you age the whiskey, but also the char level of the barrel, the type of warehouse, heat cycling and even location of the warehouse and even the location of the barrel in the warehouse.

Chris says these all add flavor to the whiskey, but bottling does not add any flavor.

I add: 6) Bottling in the choice of proof, the amount of filtering is a source of flavor.
I disagree with Chris while at the same time I agree. Bottling does not add flavor but it does alter flavors that are already there and that is a source for flavor to me. Taking out some flavor may let others shine through when they were overpowered by the high proof or tannijns that were filtered out of the whiskey. In think this is especially true for real old whiskey. Without chill filtering, many old whiskeys can be too tannic and bitter, but after the filtering the caramel and vanilla come through better adding balance to the whiskey. While this is not a source of flavor in that it is being added by the process, it is a source of bringing back balance and letting existing flavors come through in the flavors.

What do you think?

Re: Six sources of flavor

Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:59 pm
by EllenJ
Well, I know you're looking for input from folks you haven't already discussed this with a hundred times, but I need to put in a plug for your viewpoint... with what I think is an important distinction.

Chris, if he is talking about the DISTILLER's role, should have left it at FOUR sources, not five.

Maturation is really NOT part of what the distiller does. That is a function of rectification, and even if the company that does the distilling -- or the actual distiller him/herself -- puts on that hat when it's time to start warehousing barrels, it's really another aspect altogether of what ends up in the retail consumer's bottle. "Rectifier" is NOT a dirty word. That concept is a fiction put forth by brand marketers, and those who think of themselves as bourbon afficianados need to reject that idea in order to truly understand what bourbon whiskey is all about. One of the rectifier's functions (NOT the distiller's) is to warehouse and mature barrels of raw whiskey. Another is to select just WHICH of those barrels will be used in the final mix. And that includes -- in fact depends upon -- your idea that "bottling" is a vital source of a bourbon's flavor. Both Chris' fifth step and your sixth should, I feel, be the TWO steps that the rectifier (even, but not necessarily, if that happens to be also the distiller) brings to the final flavor of the whiskey in the bottle.

Re: Six sources of flavor

Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:13 am
by bourbonv
Interesting points, but I am not trying to seperate the two. They all need to be done to come up with the final product. My question is this: Is bottling to be considered a "source" of flavor? I say so since there is an effect on the final flavor of the product.

Re: Six sources of flavor

Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:25 pm
by vince
I would agree that bottling does effect flavor. A perfect example is the Jack Daniels Silver label at 100 proof. I definitely think the higher proof had a positive impact from a flavor standpoint on that TN Whiskey.

Re: Six sources of flavor

Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:31 pm
by delaware_phoenix
If you haven't seen this, you might want to check it out. A bit scientific. ... _5_287.pdf