What’s the Sweet Spot in Age for Bourbon?

What’s the Sweet Spot in Age for Bourbon?

So I’ve been asked “What is the sweet spot in age for bourbon?” The answer always goes the same way. “The right age whiskey is the whiskey you enjoy.  If you like it young, than that’s the right one.  If you like it old, than that’s right for you.” It’s like answering the question, “Who’s the best artist in the museum” or “What’s the best food on the menu?”  The truth is that the best is relative.  You have to develop your palate and determine which you prefer.  The more you’re exposed to, the better your own understanding will be of  those preferences.  What I can tell you is there are reasons that your bourbon tastes the way it does.  Knowing how age affects your whiskey is the first step to knowing which ones to sample next.   That, and knowing that price has...

What Are Congeners?

What Are Congeners?

What the heck is a congener? The easy answer is that they are the flavor bits that yeast leaves behind after “digesting” sugar during fermentation.  Yeasts are the wonderful little micro-organisms that are responsible for alcohol!  We would not have beer, wine, whiskey or any other fermented beverage without it. Yeasts convert simple sugars into mainly ethanol and carbon dioxide, but there are other bi-products produced called congeners. Congeners, in Latin, means born together. They may be aldehydes, esters, high alcohols such as fusel oils, or acids.  Each species of distillers’ yeast may produce different congeners that affect the flavor of each fermented mash they produce.  A distiller may be very protective of their proprietary yeast strain for its ability...

Angel’s Share Effect

How does the angel’s share affect my whiskey? A lot of different things affect the flavors in whiskey, not least of which is the addition of water or loss of ethanol from the barrel. The “angel’s share” is the loss of alcohol from evaporation during the aging process. Depending on where and how a whiskey is aged will determine how much is lost. (or how much water is gained) Barrels “breathe”. They are watertight, but molecules of water and ethanol will move in and out. If the microclimate within the barrel changes due to external temperature or humidity changes, the pressure within the barrel will change as well. Anyone who owns a glass barometer knows that pressure affects liquids. The change in the microclimate pushes water and alcohol into or out of the wood....