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Marla

Transfer 5 Gallon Barrels to 53 Gallon Barrels?

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We are a craft distillery that is only 3 years old. We have an excess of 5 gallon barrels for bourbon and rye whiskey that we are considering transferring into 53 gallon barrels.

1) Will this help to round out some of the "young" characteristics or unpleasantness that you find in a 5 gallon barrel - hoping to get a better mouthfeel and less "campfire" profiles in the transfer if we let it rest for an additional 1-2 years in a 53.

2) New or Used 53 gallon? Our concern is that a new will not help to round out some of the over-oaked or campfire characteristics, but a new barrel would be more attractive from a Straight bourbon standpoint.

3) Has anyone ever done this and at what success rate?

Thanks in advance.

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Keep in mind, that when you transfer to a new barrel, the clock stops on aging. Now, what is unclear (we have a query to the TTB on this) is if you aged in a small barrel for a short time then transferred to a larger new barrel and aged for a much longer time, could you use the time in the second barrel as the aging time? Potentially yes, because you could treat the time in the first barrels as simple storage of spirit prior to aging. But what you can't do is sum the two periods, in any case.

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I finish all my malt whisky in used 53 gal casks for about 6 months to give the spirit time to round out. With that said the 6 months in the used cask does not go towards the published age of the spirit.

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18 hours ago, Marla said:

We are a craft distillery that is only 3 years old. We have an excess of 5 gallon barrels for bourbon and rye whiskey that we are considering transferring into 53 gallon barrels.

1) Will this help to round out some of the "young" characteristics or unpleasantness that you find in a 5 gallon barrel - hoping to get a better mouthfeel and less "campfire" profiles in the transfer if we let it rest for an additional 1-2 years in a 53.

2) New or Used 53 gallon? Our concern is that a new will not help to round out some of the over-oaked or campfire characteristics, but a new barrel would be more attractive from a Straight bourbon standpoint.

3) Has anyone ever done this and at what success rate?

Thanks in advance.

As has been stated, you’ll stop the clock on the age as it’s rye and bourbon.

 We have had much success doing this with corn whisky & malt and even small runs of bourbon. I recommend used bourbon barrels, you don’t seem to need more tannin/spice/char, and maybe even consider dropping your proof closer to 58-60%.

Given your situation you could try new and used, and maybe in new barrels lower the proof to 55-57% to stay in a wood sugar window but out of tannin/spice character range. Under current regs you can even keep the clock going if you xfer to new.

Good luck!

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On 5/10/2019 at 6:05 AM, gabericharde said:

Under current regs you can even keep the clock going if you xfer to new.

Can you point to the text in the CFR or some other TTB communication to substantiate this? I am not aware...

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On 5/11/2019 at 1:13 PM, bluestar said:

Can you point to the text in the CFR or some other TTB communication to substantiate this? I am not aware...

Nor am I, but it does appear in the proposed regulations.  §5.74(a)(3), as proposed,  provides, "(3) If spirits are aged in more than one oak barrel (for example, if a whisky is
aged 2 years in a new charred oak barrel and then placed into a second new charred oak barrel for an additional 6 months,) only the time spent in the first barrel is counted towards the ‘‘age.’’ 

I don't know how TTB would conclude that this sort of requirement is necessary.  Transfer from new to new would seem to be a "no harm, no foul sort" of play - expensive, for sure- but not one that would lead to deception in age statements.   

The chart in the NPR that describes the impact "on rulings, industry circulars, and other public guidance documents issued over the years by TTB and its various predecessor agencies" lists no document that is superseded by §5.74(a)(3), so, if the list in the table is complete, you will not find the requirement "in the CFR or other TTB communication."  

I conclude that either this is a brand new rule - which some above say it is not - or it emerges from a private letter ruling that someone issued in the past.  I don't plan on commenting because it seems to be a rule of little consequence to any of my clients, but it would be interesting to know the impetus that lead to the question and the logic behind the answer. 

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Posted (edited)

There are a number of major products on the market today that are "double new oak barreled", and I'd suspect a good number of them are counting the aggregate age.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Jack Daniels Double Oak

Pritchard's Double Barrel Bourbon

Old Forrester 1910

Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye

 

 

 

Edited by Silk City Distillers
Added “new oak”

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On 5/11/2019 at 3:13 PM, bluestar said:

Can you point to the text in the CFR or some other TTB communication to substantiate this? I am not aware...

It's not stated in CFR or TTB communications as far as I know, but doesn't violate any existing CFRs.

2 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

Nor am I, but it does appear in the proposed regulations.  §5.74(a)(3), as proposed,  provides, "(3) If spirits are aged in more than one oak barrel (for example, if a whisky is
aged 2 years in a new charred oak barrel and then placed into a second new charred oak barrel for an additional 6 months,) only the time spent in the first barrel is counted towards the ‘‘age.’’ 

I don't know how TTB would conclude that this sort of requirement is necessary.  Transfer from new to new would seem to be a "no harm, no foul sort" of play - expensive, for sure- but not one that would lead to deception in age statements.   

The chart in the NPR that describes the impact "on rulings, industry circulars, and other public guidance documents issued over the years by TTB and its various predecessor agencies" lists no document that is superseded by §5.74(a)(3), so, if the list in the table is complete, you will not find the requirement "in the CFR or other TTB communication."  

I conclude that either this is a brand new rule - which some above say it is not - or it emerges from a private letter ruling that someone issued in the past.  I don't plan on commenting because it seems to be a rule of little consequence to any of my clients, but it would be interesting to know the impetus that lead to the question and the logic behind the answer. 

Yes, new proposed regs may forbid the practice of aggregating time in xfer barrels, but new proposed regs may also forbid 5 gallon barrels and under both those potential regs the juice this gentleman is aging technically wouldn't have hit its first legal barrel yet, so transfer to new barrels and start the clock?

1 minute ago, Silk City Distillers said:

There are a number of major products on the market today that are "double barreled", and I'd suspect a good number of them are counting the aggregate age.

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked

Jack Daniels Double Oak

Pritchard's Double Barrel Bourbon

Old Forrester 1910

Knob Creek Twice Barreled Rye

^this, also Garrison's Balmorhea

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2 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

Nor am I, but it does appear in the proposed regulations.  §5.74(a)(3), as proposed,  provides, "(3) If spirits are aged in more than one oak barrel (for example, if a whisky is
aged 2 years in a new charred oak barrel and then placed into a second new charred oak barrel for an additional 6 months,) only the time spent in the first barrel is counted towards the ‘‘age.’’ 

I don't know how TTB would conclude that this sort of requirement is necessary.  Transfer from new to new would seem to be a "no harm, no foul sort" of play - expensive, for sure- but not one that would lead to deception in age statements.   

The chart in the NPR that describes the impact "on rulings, industry circulars, and other public guidance documents issued over the years by TTB and its various predecessor agencies" lists no document that is superseded by §5.74(a)(3), so, if the list in the table is complete, you will not find the requirement "in the CFR or other TTB communication."  

I conclude that either this is a brand new rule - which some above say it is not - or it emerges from a private letter ruling that someone issued in the past.  I don't plan on commenting because it seems to be a rule of little consequence to any of my clients, but it would be interesting to know the impetus that lead to the question and the logic behind the answer. 

Thanks, you are pointing out where the proposed regulation makes overly clear that you can not sum the ages. But my question to @gabericharde was where in the CFR he can cite that you ARE allowed to do it. I am not aware of it. I believe the proposed change is to make clearer the current interpretation of the current regulation, especially if that interpretation may have been true for some time. I do understand how one could argue, with no indication otherwise, that if moved from one new charred oak barrel to another, the product is always aged in a new charred oak barrel, and one could sum it. Similarly, if moved from a new charred oak barrel into a used barrel, including the barrel it was in initially, one could argue it has not been stored in a used charred oak barrel, etc. Also note that Chapter 8 of the BAM does not address this issue, either. Now, there is one hint or suggestion that we should NOT assume it can not be summed: in the case of age statements in used cooperage, foreign producers will often move from one barrel to another during the period of aging, and that is allowed as part of the total age statement. I have also checked the rulings, and have not found it either. Maybe someone else has?

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Regulations come in three flavors, so to say:  those that say you must; those that say you must not; and those that say you may, but if you do, then you "must" do this and "must not" do that. 

The proposed regulations want to say, "you must not" claim additional age when spirits are transferred from one new barrel to a second new barrel.  But if I were going up against TTB under the current regulations, here is how I would argue:

The definition of age is  clear, "Age. The period during which, after distillation and before bottling, distilled spirits have been stored in oak containers. “Age” for bourbon whisky, rye whisky, wheat whisky, malt whisky, or rye malt whisky, and straight whiskies other than straight corn whisky, means the period the whisky has been stored in charred new oak containers." 

I would argue, the definition  does not modify the phrase "new charged oak containers" with the the phrase, "the same."  Further, I see nothing in §5.40 that would impose a  same barrel requirement. 

Therefore, I would argue, in this let's pretend world, that claiming aggregate age is within the meaning of "age" as the term is defined in the regulation.  

Further, I  would argue that TTB has considered the age regulations at length in hearings, for example, as it did in 1968, and nothing in the Treasury Decisions (I'd have to reread them carefully, but I think I am correct) indicates that the IRS (at that time it was the IRS) intend to implement a same barrel provision.   Had it wanted to do that, it could have done so in the regulations it adopted.  It did not.  Thus, aggregation age is consistent with the current regulations

Would I prevail?  Who knows, but I could make an interesting fight of it, pointing out that the same barrel requirement,if such a requirement exists, for I have not found it,  seems to have arisen outside of the formal rulemaking procedures required by the the Administrative Procedure Act, but that the rules that allow it, as I have argued it does anyway, were adopted by formal rulemaking.  So, if TTB wants to change the rule, as it now is attempting to do, it should do so under formal rulemaking procedures, or at least issue a formal revenue ruling, for all to see giving the reasons it amplifies the existing regulation. 

But I generally try to avoid interesting fights.   And I might be missing something.  I can't be sure that I am not.

 

 

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On 5/20/2019 at 3:15 PM, dhdunbar said:

...

But I generally try to avoid interesting fights.   And I might be missing something.  I can't be sure that I am not.

I understand your reasoning, and I would concur. The only reason we have done otherwise, is that the one verbal inquiry we made to the TTB said no, and generally one is advised to follow advice from the TTB (although they can and do make mistakes). So, my current belief is that there is a reasonable argument to consider it not disallowed, but no place in the CFR where it is explicitly allowed.

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One final comment of general applicability. 

I never ask TTB a question until I have done my best to get an answer.  If what they say is not what I understand, then I ask them to tell me how they concluded what they did.  I certainly can be wrong, and in the end they make the rules, but I want a citation in support of what they say.  I also want to ensure that the person who is giving me the answer is someone vested with the power to speak authoritatively, on that issue, for TTB. 

I lived by that rule when I worked for the agency.  My response was always, here is my answer, here is why I say it, and if you want to rely on it, then send me the question in writing and I will get you an answer in writing.  I never resented being challenged either.  People had aright  to say, on what do you base your dumb answer.  Too often TTB employees do not understand their own regulations - who out there who has submitted a label for approval has not experienced the frustration of a WTF denial. 

Again, TTB may have a policy that transfering  from a barre, which was new charred oak when the product went in, into a new, new charred oak barrel,  puts an end to the aging process.  But, if they told me that when I asked them the "mother may I question,"  and it actually mattered to me, I would respectfully ask on what they base that answer.  I wouldn't try to claim extended age without permission, but I would not shut the door on the possibility, unless, of course, winning the battle was worth it.  If it wasn't, then there would be no point. And as a consultant, I always have to ask a client, how much are you willing to pay to fight this out.   The answer is often, not what you are going to charge me to do it :-).

Perhaps someone can enlighten me on why, other than some marketing claim designed to sell, you would want to go to the expense of double aging? I really am curious about that.  I suspect that most consumers can't tell any difference, and, if they have a taster like I have - which is pass the  jalapenos please and make that five star subtle - may trip in trying to discern a bourbon from a whiskey made with far less than 51% corn.  True confessions - I could probably confuse rum and brandy when both have seen significant time in oak.  In fact, I think I have.  And there may be witnesses to that too.  And how many people who drink Canadian whiskey know that it probably has a significant dose of NSG with compensating flavors added?  Or care?

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13 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

 

Perhaps someone can enlighten me on why, other than some marketing claim designed to sell, you would want to go to the expense of double aging? 

It is one way to make younger whiskey show a little better given the same time. Two years in first barrel, one year in second will generally show better than if you had left it in the original cask for three years. This is of course completely subjective, but young cash strapped shops will do anything to make their not ready juice sellable. 

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Thanks - I figured you got an aging "boost", but you have to pay for two new charred barrels, so $seemed like an expen$ive way to accelerate aging.   I guess the economics works out if you crunch the numbes$.  :-).  

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9 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

Thanks - I figured you got an aging "boost", but you have to pay for two new charred barrels, so $seemed like an expen$ive way to accelerate aging.   I guess the economics works out if you crunch the numbes$.  :-).  

I have local craft breweries beating down my door willing to pay $150-200 a barrel for fresh dumps. Personally I don’t think double new oak sub 3 year rye is the answer, but you asked a question I could answer. 

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