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indyspirits

"Angels Share"... What are you seeing?

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I've always read:

  • Small barrels experience much greater loss than large
  • On the average and in the long run 53s lose 4% in year 1 and 2% per year thereafter

That's not exactly what we're seeing. After two years we're seeing about 20% loss in 30 gallon barrels and 11% (both on a proof gallon basis) in 53 gallon barrels. These are Kelvin #3 char. Barrels are stored vertically, four to a pallet in the midwest. We do get some weeping through the bungs which stops after some time or with liberal whack from a dead-blow.   Our prod facility is not climate controlled and drops to 60F in winter and high in the upper 90s (with humidity to match -- yes, it can get oppressive) in the summer. 

I'm displeased with this rate of loss. What are others seeing?

Edit:Spelling

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We have a similar climate around here. If you're storing in a concrete floor warehouse you're likely having issues with low humidity. I know at least one local place that had to install humidifiers to bring it up. I believe I remember reading that humidity should be 60%+ for optimal storage. 

Is your proof going up or down? Proof going up is a good indicator that you're too dry. 

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@indyspirits - Wow, we are very very similar to you.  20% loss in 2y in 30g, with the 53g being roughly half.

We have heat, but it runs sporadically.  Coldest winter temperatures are around 55 degrees, and we have hit 100 in the summer.  Probably similar to you, winters are very very dry.  Low outdoor relative humidity in the winter means even lower, bone-dry, relative humidity indoors at warmer temps.\

We've considered humidifying to reduce losses, but we really get some fabulous color and flavor at the 2 year mark, which makes me hesitate to change any of that.

To some extent, evaporation of liquid means some intensification of flavor, especially as it relates to the non-volatiles.

Our proof slightly increases in 2 years, but it's fairly minor, maybe and increase of 2 proof.  Looking at some of the high proof KY Bourbons, seeing proofs at 130+, wouldn't it mean KY is too dry?

 

 

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If you see any increase in proof, you may be too dry in the winter, unless you are going in at very low proof. We see early initial loss in volume, but that is both angel's share and devil's cut. The latter will scale with size too, due to change in surface to volume ratio, and also the humidity and grain structure in the wood. 2% loss from devil's cut in a 53g is not unusual, so a 30g could be twice that, and a 10g could be more than 3x that. At the most extreme, for total loss, we have seen more than 50% loss after 2 years in a 5g barrel, compared to 10% for a 53g barrel. So, 20% loss for a 30g barrel does not seem so unusual, especially in a dry environment.

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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. 

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I don't really know much about this topic, but I remember a Seagram/Hiram Walker paper from the 1940's mentioning that they reduced a massive amount of losses by instituting an inhouse cooperage repair program to stop leaking. I bet it takes a ton of observational skill and intuition to know what will add up if you don't drag the barrel down and whack the hoops.

Are people seeing consistency in stats across barrels or a bunch of outliers?

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23 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Are you guys consistently soaking?  Or going in dry?

We stopped soaking about two years ago.  For us it became a time thing but perhaps we need to revisit it.

 

 

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2 hours ago, JustAndy said:

For 30 gal barrels it's something closer to 22% loss after 3 years

We're right there with you. Kind of screws with production estimates.  

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1 hour ago, bostonapothecary said:

instituting an inhouse cooperage repair program to stop leaking

But I don't think it's leaking -- on the majority of these bbls there is no visible leaking,  so it must be evap or loss into staves.

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Anecdotaly, we had higher loss in our palletized storage compared to our racks. 

 

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