Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Small Barrels" Now On Kindle.

Do you recall this post from last year, about the small barrels experiment at Buffalo Trace (BT)? It created quite a sensation. Well, it's now a book. A very small book (like the barrels) but also a very inexpensive one, just 99 cents on Kindle.

I have been looking at Kindle as a way to make some of the material I write for my newsletter, The Bourbon Country Reader, available to a wider audience. So this is, in part, an experiment.

By the way, you don't need a Kindle to read a Kindle book. You can download a free reader for PCs and other devices, or you can just read them using your web browser.

In addition to the small barrels article, the book includes a new piece about some of the reaction, plus a review of a couple of specific whiskeys aged in little barrels. There's also a piece originally posted here in December, 2010.

The recent post received a lot of comments, most of them from people who only (and in some cases, barely) read the post, not the actual article. You can find more people taking me to task over on the ADI Forums. Plenty of people are prepared to ream me for the headline alone. This way they can at least read the article first.

One familiar refrain is that of course whiskey aged in small barrels for five years is bad, you should never age whiskey in a small barrel for that long, yet I defy anyone to show me where anyone made such a statement before I started to publicize the BT experiment.


Rob said...

Below is an excerpt from Bill Owens' book "Craft of Whiskey Distilling" published in 2009. He does warn aspiring distillers about the danger of over-aging in small barrels. He also notes that small barrel aging will produce a different flavor profile than 53s will.

"Smaller barrels age the whiskey faster and impart lignin and vanillin, and also tannin, faster as well. And, a good-quality bourbon can be aged out in only three to six months in a 5-gallon barrel. In fact, any longer and the whiskey would go over the top and become astringent and bitter. It’s important to note that the flavor profile is a little different for a whiskey aged in a smaller barrel, but not a difference that is necessarily inferior or superior."

Chuck Cowdery said...

Granted, he warns against over-aging but he also repeats the falsehood that small barrels age "faster," and produce "a good-quality bourbon" in 3 to 6 months. If he had said "whiskey" I might could go along, but I maintain these young products may be bourbon by law, but no one could possibly drink one blind and say, "that's a good quality bourbon." Saying the flavor profile is a "little different" is a gross understatement.

AnotherSuggestion said...

Just read the Kindle book, and I enjoyed it a lot.

I don't have a dog in this fight, and I find the Baby Bourbon to be a pleasant occasional detour but am generally unimpressed by most of other micro-distilled products.

Anyway, I really liked that you packaged up a more lengthy presentation of your argument, put it in a readable and accessible form and sent it out on Kindle. Please do more of that sort of thing when the opportunity arises.


Chuck Cowdery said...

Thanks, Rich. Assuming this goes well, that's the plan.

M Lange said...

It it unreasonable to be critical of the title of your original blog post, considering the title itself was an inaccurate representation of the Buffalo Trace experiment? (note: I have read the full article)
I also find it interesting that you attack the rest of the excerpt Rob posted from Bill Owen's book, ignoring the fact that the quote does exactly what you defied anyone to do, namely warn that small barrels can easily create an overly tanic spirit with too much contact time, long before you publicized the BT experiment. With a very quick search of the ADI forums I also found this from 2009:
"i have had prototypes that were fantastic after 3 -4 months and two weeks later were way over wooded."

While I have had plenty of lackluster small-barrel whiskey, in my opinion the Hudson Bourbons as well as small barrel bourbon I have had from Garrison Brothers are "high quality bourbon." I respect the fact that you have a different opinion on this, but it must be remembered that opinions are different from facts.

Anonymous said...

What?! No love for the Nook? I only buy ebooks that are compatible with my Nook. Nothing against the Kindle, but the wife and I both have Nooks.

Chuck Cowdery said...

Kindle is small-publisher-friendly. Nook not so much.

Chuck Cowdery said...

About the title. My only regret is that it has caused some readers to miss the point, which is this:

You can't have it both ways. Either young, small barrel whiskey is a different product that can't be compared to mainstream whiskey and must be judged solely on its own merits, or it's a better-made version of the mainstream style.

It can't be both.

Contrary to the conclusions of many, I'm not hostile to small producers. I simply suggest they should focus on the former and not claim the latter, as many currently do.

Jor-el said...

Contrition. it's such an ugly word.

Jason Thomas Cammarata said...

Chuck, I have not yet tasted any small barrel aged whiskey. I am curious if you are aware of any blind tastings of small barrel and traditionally aged whiskies. The results of such a tasting could go a long way in demonstrating your point. Thank you.

SteveBM said...

Looks like people are finding other potential ways to take shortcuts with aging whiskey...


I have to admit, this is some pretty cool stuff but there will never be a replacement for the process of barrel aging whiskey in a 53 gallon barrel over time.