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Looking for people's thoughts on solera aging whiskey. I see several companies have offered up version (Hillrock, Blade and Bow, Samuel Franklin). I know Solera aged rums, brandys, cognacs, etc. are well respected.

Allegedly provides for greater consistency of product and a smoother product. 

 

Any feedback would be appreciated.

 

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2 hours ago, HottyToddy77 said:

Age statement can be an issue 

I think it would be the issue. 

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1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Why is it an issue?  It's the age of the youngest whiskey added.

 

yes that is what would need to be done. 

 

True Solera uses all previously used barrels also?

Not sure if there is much difference between solera and "vatting" (and possibly finishing in a different barrel). not sure what you end goal is.   

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Consistency across small batches is the goal. Plus, solera aging in other spirits is well respected. Essentially, the oldest spirit is in the bottom barrels. Half of this is drained blended then bottled. Bottom barrel is refilled from the barrel above which was a little less old, that barrel is refilled with spirits from above barrel, etc until the top barrel is refilled with new make.  given the age of you bottom barrel this would be the minimum age of the spirit since a portion of that barrel is always getting older and the spirits above are aging as well.

 

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On 3/12/2018 at 4:27 PM, jbdavenport1 said:

The other whiskies or bourbons I've seen that do solera only state 'solera aged'.

Wouldn't this require the youngest spirit to enter the Solera, at the top, to be at least 4yo?

 

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To be called whiskey, it only has to 'touch' an oak barrel.  'Straight' whiskey has to be at least two years old.

 

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Silk City is correct.  It is the age of the youngest spirits.  So you say, "Solera Finished," "Aged not less than 1 year," or whatever.  Also, the spirits are going to be introduced into used barrels, not new, so you get whiskey distilled from malt mash rather than malt whiskey and disguise that in the clever way you break the lines on the label, not that I think most consumers would care.   Of course, having said all that, I can quickly find a TTB label approval for a product that claims to be solera bourbon - bourbon being a product about which TTB be is more label-claim picky than other American type whiskeys - and which also states no age, which means it should be four years old and straight to boot, which also can't be treated, as bourbon can't be, in ways that are not traditionally employed, in TTB's opinion, in the production of the product.  Since I insist on citing authorities, see Section 5.23 and TTB Ruling 2016-3, which addresses general use formulas, but strays into the realm of bourbon identity to give BAM statements about the sanctity of bourbon a  higher level authority. 

I give all of this what I've what I've come to call my label approval shrug.   

I think a marketing shrug may be appropriate too.  I think producers sometimes think that consumers care about issues like age and new charred vs. used barrels more than the consumers do care.  "Solera" may be a hook for those who are seeking new experiences.  The sales from novelty well might outweigh the sales lost from a one year age statement on whiskey, some of which has been aged four years.  In a tasting room, it would create curiosity.  You could express all the virtues that are attributed to the process with sherry and rum and even Scotch.  

Did I say that I am a notoriously bad judge of marketing strategy?  Well, I am.  

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Technically, you could have a non-age statement solera bourbon by not designating a barrel as the new youngest until it is 4 years old. Since you have met the aging standards and aging ends once you are no longer in new oak, the additional however many years would be irrelevant from an age statement standpoint. Not much help for a young distillery, but a heck of a show piece for local craft.

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