Age Statements

art_fathertime_800xFather Time has his way of catching up with all of us.  There really are very few things that are affected by age.  There are the obvious ones like you have to be 16 to drive without restriction, you have to be 18 to enlist in the military, and you have to be 21 in most states to drink alcohol legally.  There are also a host of rules around age and sex!  Seems there are still some taboos in our very liberated society, thankfully.  But other than the obvious age really doesn’t mean a whole lot, unless we are talking about…

Bourbon, wine, and other spirits of course!  Typically age brings out different flavors, and finer qualities of various distilled spirits.  This is certainly the case with Whiskey, and in particular Kentucky Strait Bourbon Whiskey.  The different aging characteristics of time and barrel char make tremendous difference in the flavor and character of the final products.

People are used to their favorite wines coming and going, it is just the nature of the spirit, there can be major differences that change the wine dramatically from one year to the next.  Not so much with bourbon.  True there are differences, barrel char, mashbill (mash recipe), and aging can change the flavor of your favorite bourbon dramatically over time, but the master distillers try very hard to reach a very consistent product that is going out in the bottle.  Assuming that the mashbill doesn’t change the one characteristic that can change flavor most is aging, so when changes are made to the aging;  bourbon people take notice.

Lately the buzz about age statements has been that Buffalo Trace Distillery has taken the age statement of 7 years off of the Old Weller Antique bottle.  Several members of the bourbon community have contacted Buffalo Trace to try to get to the bottom of the mystery of why the age statement was removed.  The answers ranged from the absurd (“we didn’t have enough room on the label”) to the more reasonable (“we just don’t want to be confined by a label”).  For now the people at Buffalo Trace say the the bourbon in the Old Weller Antique bottles is all 7 years old and they have no near term plans to change that, but by removing the age statement it gives them the flexibility to put younger juice in the bottle.

good witchThis will undoubtedly affect the flavor of the bourbon.  The question everyone wants to know is “Are you a good witch or are you a bad witch?”  Bad witchIf Buffalo Trace decides to change the age of the Bourbon going into the bottle will it be a good change that enhances its flavor and richness, or will it be a bad change that takes away character and makes the juice thinner and hotter?  Only time will tell, but since Old Weller Antique is such a well made bourbon to begin with, I see where it makes people nervous.

-Don

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Categories: Whiskey

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