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JustAndy

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JustAndy last won the day on August 16 2017

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  1. Moving from ~30/36 gal #2 & #3 char barrels to 53 gal barrels was an adventure for us. From the smaller barrels our releases were around 26-30 months (time of year they were filled seems to skew things a bit), and our releases from full-sized barrels are now in the 40+ month range (the next 4 releases will all be at least 48 mo). The flavor is different between the two, but I think mostly for the better. It seems like we get the majority of oak extraction in the first two years and the rest of evaporation/concentration and other maturation effects. With the smaller casks sometimes we'd have to be careful about getting overoaked, but with the 53s even at approaching 60 month it hasn't been a concern. We're a small operation and there are a lot of variables that differ with each barrel we fill that I am glossing over but that's my overall impression.
  2. It could also be where/how the barrels are stored and prepped. I agree the Chicago Distilling review is not very professional, but I don't think he's obligated to say how to make it better - he is a writer and a taster, not a distiller/producer/technical person. Even if he was on the technical side, some of these issues can have multiple sources. My partner gets a lot of whiskey samples and some of this reviewer's comments ring unfortunately true; I've had many more muddy, grainy, harsh, whiskies that were nuked with poor quality oak from the craft sector than I've had well-made, delicious whiskies. The balance seems to be starting to shift, hopefully before it's too late.
  3. We'll for $5 we will take a whirl I guess. Will be an interesting expense report, "$5 for Bang Good.com"...
  4. I'm looking for a shorter 0-100 hydrometer to use in the parrot of our still. Ideally it would be about 9.5" in length (a standard 12" hydrometer doesn't float in our parrot until it reaches about 150p). For the past 10 years we've used a supply of shorter ones from a homebrew shop in Germany but can't find one online to order replacements. Help!
  5. We're in Portland Oregon which has a pretty wet mild climate. On a 53 gal barrel after 3 years it's about 15% loss which I peg as 5% absorbed into the barrel (which I tested by 'swishing' some barrels that held spirit for about 3 months and marking the PG i pulled out of the wood) and additional 3% each year. Our entry and exit proofs are just about the same, with a minor bit of variation. The bigger variable is barrel quality and grain tightness. We've used some american oak toasted casks (made for the wine industry but used new by us) which experience very little evaporation and no leakage/seepage and casks from Michigan oak also had much lower evaporation from the tighter grain (but did not like the flavor). For 30 gal barrels it's something closer to 22% loss after 3 years We used Kelvin barrels for about a year of production and we're just now starting to dump some of these barrels. Some look like they've had quite a bit of seepage so we'll see I guess. We store on barrel racks, our data is a little muddy as some of the barrels spent 18 months in a shipping container in our parking lot, and a year at a neighboring distillery when we ran out of space but overall probably average 50ish degrees in winter and 80-90 in summer.
  6. Thanks for posting this, interesting stuff! Do you know if your quinoa was treated to remove saponin (usually it's either abrasive scarification or a wet rinse process)? Or if it was a low/no-saponin varietal? I know someone who breeds quinoa (the amazing Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds https://www.wildgardenseed.com/index.php?cPath=50) and attended a seminar about it's production, it's a beautiful plant but seemed like a lot of work.
  7. French oak (both species) is looser grained and more porous than American oak. I also don't really grasp the relevance of this information. I imagine loosening the hoops would cause leakage and seepage, and using a clothed bung (or just removing the bung periodically, like to sample it...) would introduce more oxygen.
  8. Most of the bulk brokerages bring in malt whiskey from Scotland, and I can think of at least 6 US distilleries (and probably more if I worked at it) that bottle whiskey originally from Scotland (either blended with their own spirit, or not). However, to be labelled Scotch it needs to bottled in Scotland so if you wanted to work as an independent bottler in the US you would have to great creative in your labeling (https://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1178086 https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/gonzalez-byass/nomad-outland-whisky/ etc) .
  9. Where are you located? In addition to what's said about: Putting in simple flow meters for the depleg and condenser controls can be very helpful in roughing out how manual controls need to be set. Similarly putting a hash mark on a dial and affixing a print-out clockface or compass rose behind can be helpful in aligning your 'turn to 2'oclock' compared to other staff. Even if you plan to be grain-to-glass, buy a 55 gal drum of gns and do several practice runs with it until you can reliably hit your target proofs and understand the cooling needs and settings for the column (the gns could be used for sanitizer/cleaning/etc afterwards).
  10. We found unmalted barley gave a higher yield per lb than rye, and lower than wheat. We used grain milled to flour from a local mill so the moisture content should have been pretty much the same. If we tried unmalted barley again without other grains, I would try getting hulless or naked barley.
  11. I haven't read the paper totally, so I don't know why they didn't find it but there are many references to ethyl lactate in whisky, and a couple of papers showing the average level https://books.google.com/books?id=allg4XxlOM4C&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=ethyl+lactate+whisky&source=bl&ots=Pgc5DIetjS&sig=ACfU3U37z83LZgOZy3dXVrAlvyMbkTo8Gw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjCvpiW9YzgAhX-CDQIHTECAcAQ6AEwBHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=ethyl lactate whisky&f=false
  12. I don't think it's fair or accurate to say European wine is or was riddled with faults', things that one might consider a fault in some context are important parts of terrior or wine character for some styles. The 'international' style of flying winemakers driving things from a lab is starting to get quite a bit of push back as people become interested in historical, authentic flavors of place (is brett, va, oxidation, a fault? depends on who you ask). By the same token many of the rums, mezcal, and baijiu that incorporate some of the techniques discussed here would be judged hugely faulty by many palates. That's what I mean about intention. There is no 'ur'-spirit, and research will not uncover the holy grail of flavor that everyone agrees is the best, because taste is subjective and context matters. It's very useful to have the tools to figure out how to make more cinnamon flavor, but that doesn't mean cinnamon tastes better than vanilla. I've read Skofis's transcript and several of the other ones which were all interesting, I don't recall the specific name but there was a CA winery making pinot noir brandy in the 1880s that took prizes at the World's fair or something like that. From his transcripts I gathered not that they didn't know how to make quality brandy, but that there was no market for it which is a pretty different problem. Anyways, back to bacteria talk.
  13. I didn't chime in earlier, but I read your site and really enjoy it and appreciate the work you put into it. That statement just really rings hollow for me.
  14. You would need to specify fine 'californian' wine, Europe has had 'fine' wine by any reasonable definition since about the 3rd century. In some of those oral histories you will find reference to a variety of 'fine' or ambition wines produced in California prior to prohibition and even fine distillates like pinot noir brandy. The creation of 'Fine' beverages might be aided by lab work, white papers, university research etc but what ultimately matters (as Silk mentions above) is intention, palate, and an understanding of your materials (however derived).
  15. "Fine wine was born in the lab (Grgich, Stag's Leap, Chateau Montelena) and fine distillates will be the same. " I don't understand your use of the word 'fine' I guess. The idea that there was no 'fine' wine before the 70s is ludicrous.
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