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Starting in used, finishing in new oak


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With the delays in getting adequate barrels, we've been proceeding with putting away stuff in used barrels.  As the barrel situation changes, we may transfer to new oak to achieve some of the new oak benefit.  Anyone done this?  Was thinking if we got adequate new barrels in a year, we could transfer then age for another 2 (or so) in new oak.  Chemically, it seems like the results would be similar to starting in new then finishing in a used barrel.  Thoughts?  Anyone done this before?  

We will be getting some barrels in October, but I don't want to wait. 

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        So we do a lot of used cooperage so I can share some of our experiences with it if that would help? Personally I prefer using used casks for primary aging vessels in most mash bills because I am "solvent" note averse in whiskies and I prefer the end result of rye, especially really high rye mash bills, in used cooperage. Ryes are already heartily "phenolic-ly" (idk if thats a word?) driven and when susceptible to high levels of transesterification that can be very averse to some consumers. This is why straight ryes are usually really intense. Thats why some people love them and others hate them.

      We finish a lot of rye in new casks after aging in used casks for 6 years, blending those casks, and finishing it in used French oak for an extended period of time. We activate a lot more baking spice (eugenol) than black pepper (guaiacol) and the other phenols squib juice is famous for (think dill, mint, etc) when we use used cooperage exclusively, but the longer we expose it to another layer of intense carboxylic acids to drive further development (TANNIN from finishing in a NEW charred and toasted Am Oak Barrel) we start to pop those SJ notes. So, yes the results can be similar, but then the labeling can get difficult.

     If you rebarrel a straight bourbon in a used cask it is no longer a straight bourbon. It's been finished. If you aged a 45% wheat bourbon distillate for 6 years in used cooperage it's a 6 year whiskey from a bourbon mash (not a corn whiskey). If you took that barrel and rebarreled it into used cooperage at four years it would either be a 6 year whiskey from a bourbon mash or a 2 year straight wheated bourbon. If you rebarrel a straight rye into a used barrel its no longer a straight rye whiskey its been finished. We age our own and SJ distillates for six years in used cooperage and finish in new and used cooperage and claim the cumulative age of all wood on our age statement as whiskey from a rye mash. We have a few specialty toast ISCs down currently that have been finishing a six year almost two years. we could call them them eight year whiskey from a rye mash, or a 2 year straight rye. Anyways, I'm not trying to convince you not to do it because it gets complicated, obviously I do it a lot, but it gets really complicated!


Just my .02, take it or leave it it's what I am dealing with! 

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@SlickFloss that's some great insight, thank you for sharing.

I'll just point out that since 2020, TTB has been approving labels for "Straight Bourbon Finished in Port Casks" and other similar finishes.  I don't know that they came out and said it explicitly, but it seems like the cat's out of the bag - there are tons of examples of this in the market now.  

"Straight" is supposed to mean "unadultered" - nothing has been added or done to the liquid.  So it seems to me that secondary finishing should wipe out a Straight label declaration.  But clearly that is not actually the case.  Here's an example from WT.  https://malt-review.com/2020/03/12/wild-turkey-masters-keep-revival/

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