Old McBrayer mash bill

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby cowdery » Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:48 pm

I took it to be a reference to the size, and possibly shape, of the starch pieces, so that they resembled Timothy Grass seed, a point of reference he thought would be understood by his readers. Sort of like the old expression "bigger than a breadbox."
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bunghole » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:02 pm

cowdery wrote:Vulgarity aside, Linn's idea makes some sense, ...


edited

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Please note that Chuck says "Linn's idea makes some sense", and not perfect sense.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:47 am

[quote="bungholeA few enter though the narrow gate. ima sailing in through the Vulgate.

Cap'n...............Cap'n................

:arrow: ima :smilebox:[/quote]

You go brotha' :bounce:
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:43 am

I am cataloging another interesting document about McBrayer. It was written in 1921, just after the start of prohibition, but it deals with a description of James McBrayer making the perfect batch of "Old fashioned, hand made, sour mash, fire copper bourbon whiskey". The interesting things here in a nut shell are the preperation work to distill, the yeasting, the making of the cooperage, aging for 7 years and then consolidating it from 10 barrels to 7 new barrels before aging it another 4 years.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:20 pm

For Gary,
It is not exactly tasting notes, but the document does say"within the heart of oak, they had mellowed and sweetened, until their very presense was an aroma as of the rarest flowers".
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby EllenJ » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:57 pm

bourbonv wrote:...It is not exactly tasting notes, but the document does say"within the heart of oak, they had mellowed and sweetened, until their very presense was an aroma as of the rarest flowers".

Mike, I think the most interesting point about what you found is that the re-barreling (after 7 seven year's worth of evaporation loss) was done in NEW charred oak barrels. Consolidation is nothing new, and re-barreling to compensate for shrinkage was certainly practiced in the late 19th century, but usually the whiskey was simply vatted and then returned to the same barrels (albeit not as many of them). I've always thought the idea of re-barreling into new barrels was something fairly new, pioneered by such as Bill Prichard, Wes Henderson, and Mark Brown (and probably Jay Erisman, too).

Then, of course, there is always the possibility that the author of the letter only ASSUMED that the re-barreling was into new barrels. The part you quoted sure sounds more like marketing hype than a factual discription.

BTW, about the 80%+ corn content: Couldn't the low conversion rate be the REASON for the high corn percentage? In other word, if you're only using 60% or so of corn, then 12% malted barley should be fine, but if you need to limit the amount of malt you're using (either for cost reasons or availability) then wouldn't you need to increase the corn in order to net the same amount of fermentable sugars?
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:13 pm

John,
I agree that for the old bourbons, conversion was not a high priority with some brands and that is probably why many have such strong grain flavors coming through to the finished product. I don't think this is a marketing piece because it was written in 1921 when marketing was not a factor. It might (well, is) taking a romantic view of the old days of distilling, but there are many descriptions that I know are accurate as to what the distillers were doing in the late 19th century. If I get time I will transcribe the paper (all 7 pages) and post it here.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:59 pm

Thanks for that description, Mike. Not too many bourbons smell of flowers today!

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:17 pm

In reference to how much does a bushel weigh, it depends on the contents, and in olden times, location. J. H. Alexander's Universal Dictionary of Weights and Measures Ancient and Modern (1857) lists the weights for a bushel of barley as 47 or 48 lbs. A bushel of corn was 56 lbs, and a bushel of rye was 56 lbs. A bushel of wheat was 60 lbs. (See page 27 of the pdf, available via google books.)

Modern values for bushels can be found at http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/scales/bushels.html (actually they haven't changed since then except a bushel of barley is agreed to be 48 lbs).

Smiley mentions in Pure Corn Whiskey that unmalted rye naturally contains alpha-amylase which will help convert the long chain starches. So it may be possible that McBrayer's production technique took advantage of that, and if so, 12% isn't as far off as it seems.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:22 pm

bourbonv wrote:For Gary,
It is not exactly tasting notes, but the document does say"within the heart of oak, they had mellowed and sweetened, until their very presense was an aroma as of the rarest flowers".


Certain varieties of Rye will give you the unmistakeable aroma of lavender or lilacs. You can smell it in the fermenters before the yeast begins fermentation. This passes through to the barrel if you handle fermentation in a certain way.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby Leopold » Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:38 pm

bunghole wrote:Incomplete distillation is where the flavors are. Lower yield fermentations would also yield more cogeners, and more cogeners = more flavor. Lower distillation proof means more cogeners are left in the final spirit rather than distilled out at a higher final proof. A lower barrel entry proof allows for more of the water soluable cogeners in the 'red layer' of the charred barrel to be brought out of the oak and into the whiskey.

I agree with Professor Veach, that craft mico-distillers would do well to recreate the wonderful low yield/low barrel entry proofs of the pre-probitition bottled-in-bond bourbons of a byegone era, because no one's doing that now. It would set them apart and make them very special.

Linn


This is the very first time I've seen this idea in print here in the US. This method is still used in eaux-de-vie production where they, too, are using full mash directly in the still. There are always some flavors left in the mash that is put in the still that aren't either alcohols or congeners like phenols or esters. This is why properly made eaux-de-vie's are so aromatic: pretend you could magically remove the alcohols and congeners from an apple or bourbon mash. If you boil it and condense back into water again, that water is going be be quite flavorful. All those who are lautering their mashes are missing this component. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This is also why the whiskies produced from continuous stills aren't the same animal as pot distilled mashes. One is heated with live steam for just a few moments, and the other is boiled for several hours. This is also why I think that focusing on the proof that it's coming of the still is misleading when you're trying to compare continuous stills with pot stills.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:20 am

Nicely said, Leopold.
And, while they may not find their way into print as often as they should, such ideas nearly always find their way into the conversations that form the background of get-togethers between many of us -- certainly the Honorable Bunghole, the Professor, and myself. We have long campaigned for the larger commercial distilleries to at least attempt to do such, but no one really has (at least not completely). My personal suspicion, having worked many years for a well-known consumer products manufacturer, is that industry standards and the law now make it impossible or illegal to do so. Some artisan distillers might be capable of making spirits this way, but only as long as they remain "under-the-radar". Two major distillers who seem to be open to such suggestions are Buffalo Trace and Four Roses, but they're not talking about anything yet. However, keep your eye on those distillers and The Party Source (a Bellevue, KY retail liquor store on steroids) to see what spirits manager and independent whiskeyman Jay Erisman might be cooking up in the future.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:56 am

I agree that two given distillation proofs issuing from different stills will have different characteristics. Thus, even if you distill at, say, 125 proof from a continuous still, the distillate will not likely resemble that produced in two runs from a pot still at that proof.

It also can work the other way around, however. Woodford Reserve's pot still production uses three distillations and the final comes off I understand at 159 proof - just under the maximum allowed for bourbon. Yet, that whiskey, even after 5-6 years aging in new charred barrels, is a very aromatic pungent spirit. This can be seen even in regular Woodford Reserve where it is tamed by being mingled with column still whiskey, but especially in the releases that are all-pot still production, e.g., the sweet mash 1838 version. That has a bready, coppery, grassy, quality that is quite forward in flavor (somewhat like the Anchor Distilling whiskeys).

I think one factor here too is using raw grains, as is the tradition for American whiskey (except for the barley malt) and as Leopold noted, the full mash in the still.

It is possible, likely I think, that another few years in wood would transform the Woodford and Anchor "pot still" characteristics into something quite wonderful (as one finds with Scots malt whiskies) but we will have to see if any is ever released. Personally, I like the balance Brown Forman gets in regular Woodford Reserve. Recent bottlings are some of the best ever in my view. They seem to contain older whiskey than earlier batches, but also the mingling is very carefully done.

My point being, I am all in agreement with traditional production methods but it may require special "handling" to enure optimal results: prolonged barrel aging or a different approach such as e.g., using small-sized barrels; possibly a lautering or some variation; perhaps a different approach to the traditional raw grains-based method for American whiskey. I am sure that each producer in the 1800's had his special way to make it all come together. And it will again I am sure with the advent of the brave new generation of microdistillers.

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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby EllenJ » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:55 am

gillmang wrote:... Woodford Reserve's pot still production ... has a bready, coppery, grassy, quality that is quite forward in flavor (somewhat like the Anchor Distilling whiskeys).

Leave it to Gary to nail an idea by looking in a direction no one else had thought of yet!

Your association of Woodford Reserve with Anchor brings some clarity to the oft-discussed issue of whether WR's unique distilling apparatus is a major cause of it's unconventional flavor. Because, of course, WR is NOT unique. Even though we rarely bring up Anchor Distilling (hey, it ain't in Kentucky, right?) Fritz Maytag has been distilling rye, bourbon, and even gin in copper pot stills there since 1993, and (although quite different in most respects) there can be no denying that a certain commonality is shared by both whiskies.

I don't have a chance to follow every thread here, so this subject may already be "old hat" to other members, but for me your point was a great revelation that helps me better understand both Woodford and Anchor. Thanks again, Gary.
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Re: Old McBrayer mash bill

Unread postby gillmang » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:07 pm

Hey thanks John.

After a while I think, regardless even of fermentables used, you get a sense of the pot still flavour. It is a kind of oily, often minty/grassy note. I recognize it in pot still rum for example. Myers's rum is all-pot still according to the label and it tastes it, offering a very impactful oily, tarry-like palate, in that case informed of course by the molasses esters and other co-products unique to a molasses ferment. But still, there is something in common you can recognize with young pot still whiskey. Even column still whiskey distilled out to about 100 proof would probably have something in common with these but again I agree the pot still will impart its own characteristics.

Todd, one thing I was wondering, about live steam in a column apparatus: when it vaporises the ethanol, does it condense on the higher plates and become redistilled? If so would that mean it is constantly being redistilled in the procedure?

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