A Focus on Grain

Bourbon and whiskies are made from three ingredients: water, yeast, and, most importantly, grain. Some may say that the casks in which the spirit is matured could be considered an additional ingredient due to their influence on flavor over time, but for the purpose of this blog, it's water, yeast, and grain.

For non-whiskey drinkers, grain may be seen as quite innocuous. Bread doesn't have the flavor we rave about, and when was the last time we examined the quality of our breakfast muesli? But take some grain, ferment it, and turn it into spirit, and there is a whole world of flavor to explore.

In this article we will look at Corn, Rye, Wheat and Barley; the flavor they impart and some cocktails that use these grain spirits…well, summer is arriving and what better than a cocktail to celebrate!

Corn:

Corn (maize) is the primary grain in bourbon. (Bourbon is legally required to be a minimum of 51% corn and the remainder of other grains. See our article on American Whiskey for more info: American Whiskey, a simple drink? - Barrel Global ).

If you eat corn in its natural state, you know that it has a lovely sweetness that works well with butter; BBQing brings out those sugars, and of course, popcorn, which can be salted, sweet, drizzled with butter, maple syrup, and so much more. Corn gives us some great flavors and pairings.

So, what does corn bring to whiskey and bourbon? Well, quite simply, corn brings the flavors already discussed. It combines well with chocolate, cinnamon, and honey…it almost sounds like we're describing cereals. Well, there's a reason Mr. Kellogg chose corn for his cereal production, and we agree.

Rye:

While corn is a gentle, sweeter grain, rye offers a spicier experience in your dram. In its pre-whiskey form, rye can offer a slightly sweet and sour flavor profile. Once it has been made into spirit, it is known for adding a little more mouthfeel to a dram. Baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and less sweet elements of pepper, oak, mint, and dried fruit are present in this spicier dram.

Wheat:

While wheat is used less in whiskeys, it adds another taste experience to a dram. While wheat whiskey needs to be at least 51% wheat grain, wheat is added to the mashbills of other whiskeys and bourbon. A prominent recognized flavor of wheated whiskey is fresh, honey-baked bread. So, another gentle, sweeter taste, which for the whiskey-curious may be a great place to start a whiskey journey.

Barley:

While barley is the predominant grain in Scotch and other world whisky, it is used less in American whiskies. Malted barley in spirit form can give notes of malted biscuits and light orchard fruitiness; the flavor also depends on the distillation process. (Copper contact in the stills, still shape, and fermentation times impact the flavor notes in the spirit). Unmalted barley adds a layer of sharpness to the spirit, and you may find notes like lemon and green apples.

Of course, there is not just one variety of each grain species. For example, there are approximately 200 varieties of corn alone. While these grains offer fantastic flavor profiles alone, the magic happens when distillers create their mashbills (recipes) using the grains in varying amounts. The joy for consumers is that it means there are so many variations of spirit that you will never run out of new whisky to try.

We promised some cocktail recipes:

Rye Whiskey based Boulevardier;

Steps

  1. Add bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

Rye based or bourbon (using a mix of grain); Blinker

Ingredients

Steps

  1. Add the rye whiskey, grapefruit juice and raspberry syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
  2. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with skewered raspberries.

*Raspberry syrup: Add 2 cups of demerara sugar and 1 cup of water into a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of raspberries, fresh or frozen, stirring until the berries form a pulp. Allow mixture to cool, then strain into a sealable container. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

(Cocktail credit to The 20 Best Rye Whiskey Cocktails to Try Right Now (liquor.com)

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Sherry cask whiskey (Pt1)...

For years, sherry was the preserve of many grandmothers at Christmas, taken in a specific sherry glass and held with the pinky finger out. From Crofts Original Cream and Harvey’s Bristol Cream, sherry became an outdated fusty drink.

However, the whisky industry has been using sherry barrels to mature whisky for some time. Although predominantly used in Scotland, the idea of maturing whisky in sherry casks has spread throughout whiskey-producing countries.

In the US, Bardstown has Copper & Kings, a 12 Indiana bourbon finished in Oloroso casks. Rabbit Hole Distillery created Dareringer, a Kentucky Straight Bourbon finished in Pedro Ximenez casks.

So why sherry?

The flavor is a significant factor in choosing a sherry cask. With various types of sherry giving different flavor notes, the range of expressions that could be available is almost limitless.

Hailing from the "Sherry Triangle," formed by three points in the Andalusian region in Spain—Jerez de la Frontera is the inland point, with Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Barrameda as the coastal points—this area of land sits upon what was once a sea bed, meaning its soils will be full of nutrients from the marine life that once moved around in the seas covering it.

While sherry is surrounded by a lot of technical terminology, this specific blog will focus on the flavors of the various sherry types available.

Most sherry wine is made from Palamino grapes, with Muscatel Bianco and Pedro Ximinez (PX) making up the remainder.

With seven sherry types sitting across three main categories, a broad spectrum of flavor profiles is available.

The three sherry categories:

Dry (Generosos): these include Fino, Amontillado, Manzanilla, Palo Cortado, and Oloroso, all produced from Palomino grapes.

Naturally Sweet wines (Dulces Naturales) are Moscatel, made from Moscatel grapes, and Pedro Ximenez, made from PX grapes.

Blended wines (Generosos de Licor) are made from a base of dry wines and sweetened with naturally sweet wines or concentrated grape 'must'. They can be further divided into three types: Pale cream, medium, and cream.

A closer look at each sherry wine will reveal the flavors that can be added to whiskey fully or partially matured in sherry casks.

Fino: Pale in color and possessing a yeasty saline flavor, fino also has savory herbal notes with some almondy touches. It pairs well with mild cheeses, briny olives, and fish.

Amontillado: This sherry wine can have a wide range of flavors dependent on its maturation style and time maturing. With a slightly darker color than fino, you may find tones of tobacco, nuttiness, herbs, and oak. It pairs well with delicatessen-style meats, medium-strength cheeses, and some pates. It is a great addition to grazing plates.

Manzanilla: Similar to fino, the main difference being the location of production, this dry white-style sherry wine offers similar saline flavor profiles, with an underlying chamomile aroma. Like fino, it pairs well with fish, olives, and other savory, light, sea-based meals, like sushi.

Palo cortado is one of the rarer sherries. It offers a wide range of flavor notes, from tobacco and orange, like the amontillado, to raisins and sultanas, red fruits, and nuts, like that of Oloroso. With such a range of tasting notes, this is a versatile sherry for food pairings.

Oloroso: Whiskey producers highly prize the casks used for maturing this sherry. It is a slightly darker liquid with aromas of walnuts, leather, dried fruit, a toastiness, and a little meatiness. It is easily paired with mature cheeses and red meats.

Moscatel: this sherry has two styles, Pasas and Dorado. Pasas is made from overripe grapes dried in the sun, giving them a raisin-y feel. Slightly darker and sweeter than some sherries, these are closer to PX in color. The grapes used for Dorado are fresher than that of Pasas and have a floral nose. The floral aromas on these sherries are joined by light, sweet, honeyed, fruity notes that pair wonderfully with pastries and light desserts.

Pedro Ximenez: With flavors akin to sweet, dried figs, dates, dried fruit, and chocolate, along with coffee and licorice, the sweetness of PX is balanced by its savory notes. Younger, sweeter PX sherries are regularly poured over ice cream, while their older counterparts lean toward accompanying more savory treats like stilton and pates.

With so many flavor profiles, it is easy to see why whiskey producers turn to sherry casks to add more complexity to their liquids.

If you would like to add more complexity to your whiskey cask portfolio, please contact our experienced team, who will be happy to help.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Spotlight on...Casey Jones Distillery

Barrel Global works with exceptional distilleries to offer you the opportunity to own your own whiskey cask. Whether you're buying one for a celebration or to create an exclusive portfolio, our team can help you curate your collection.

In a new series of articles, we take a closer look at the distilleries we work with, from their location to acknowledging the awards they have received for their products.

In our second offering of this series, we bring you ‘Casey Jones Distillery.’

Site and location:

Another distillery within Kentucky, Casey Jones Distillery, is located just northeast of Hopkinsville, approximately a ten-minute drive from the center of town. It is also noted on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. The distillery offers a range of tastings and tours for the curious. From those new to the spirit to old hands, there is something for all to learn.

Over the last few years, the distillery has embarked on and continues to embark on an expansion project, increasing production capacity and creating around fifteen new jobs for the local community.

A new rickhouse (storage facility) is included in the works. With a footprint of 7,000 square feet, it can hold up to 3000 barrels of spirit.

Visitors to the distillery can enjoy the "guesthouse" expansion. The guesthouse holds the distillery shop and tasting area and can accommodate up to 25 guests at a tasting.

The main production hub of the distillery will benefit from an upgrade to the industrial stills and associated distillation equipment and increase production capability to 700+ barrels per year. The upgrades include a new 1000-gallon hybrid pot still, producing 3 barrels per run of bourbon. In addition to the pot still, a bespoke design square pot still has been commissioned and built by ‘Specific Mechanical.’ This pot still holds 200 gallons and can produce 25 gallons of spirit. Known as the "Grandfather Still," this still is exclusively for the master distiller finishing runs.

Why the “Grandfather still”?

Well, let's have a little history lesson.

During Prohibition, Casey Jones was known as Golden Ponds' master still maker. After World War 1, moonshining became a necessity, and to make high-standard moonshine, you needed a high standard still. Casey Jones was legendary in 'The Land Between the Lakes' for his stills.

For over 30 years, his stills were built and used all over Kentucky. He used copper instead of steel and had a natural gift that enabled him to know the exact requirements for each still he built. The stills were constructed in 3 parts, making them easy to move and build. The square shape also made them a favorite for moonshiners, as they could easily fit on the flatbed of a truck, so when the revenue man was on the horizon, a quick disassembly and getaway was possible.

Inspired by his grandfather, Arlon Casey Jones (AJ) now runs the distillery. To keep his grandfather’s passion and ingenuity at the core of the business, the new "Grandfather Still" is inspired by the last still Casey Jones built in 1967. That still is on display at the distillery.

The distillery website below provides more on Casey Jones's history and work.

The Range:

Total Eclipse: Two expressions were created to celebrate the total eclipse events that occurred in 2017 and 2024.

Barrel Cut: small batch single barrel and small batch double barrel expressions.

Casey Jones Bourbons: a selection of four bourbons showcasing individual mashbills.

Rye Whiskey: this is Casey Jones Distillery's first Kentucky Straight Rye.

Moonshines: a selection of three clear and three flavored moonshines, all made to a recipe that spans generations.

(Further detailed information of all these ranges can be found on the Casey Jones Distillery website, which has a link at the end of this article.)

An award-winning distillery:

Casey Jones Distillery has been making its mark at awards events since 2018 and continues to improve year on year* (to date, 2023).

Recent awards include:

2023:

Best in show: ACS* single barrel (Four grain wheated bourbon)

Gold; ACS single barrel, best in states (Four grain wheated bourbon)

Gold; ACS single barrel, best four grain (Four grain wheated bourbon)

Silver: ACS single barrel, four grain (Four grain wheated bourbon)

Silver; SFWS small batch, wheated bourbon (Four grain wheated bourbon)

Gold; ACS single barrel, bourbon whiskey (Kentucky Straight Bourbon)

Silver; ACS small batch, bourbon whiskey (Total Eclipse Bourbon)

2022:

Platinum; FMAA small batch, corn and cane (Double Barrel)

Platinum; FMAA small batch, corn and cane (Single Barrel)

Bronze; ACS small batch, specialty spirit (Single Barrel)

2021:

Gold; ACS small batch, best in state (Kentucky Straight Bourbon)

Gold; ACS small batch, bourbon whiskey (Kentucky Straight Bourbon)

Bronze; ACS small batch, specialty spirit (Double Barrel Cut)

2019:

Silver; ISA small batch, other whiskey (Single Barrel)

Bronze; ACS small batch, specialty spirit (Single Barrel)

2018:

Silver; The 50 Best Awards, small batch, best moonshines (Moonshine)

Bronze; ACS small batch, specialty spirit (Moonshine)

Casey Jones Distillery lives and breathes its proud history of spirit-making.

For further information on the distillery, please follow this link: Casey Jones Distillery

If owning a little bit of bourbon history sounds good to you, please contact our team, who will help make that happen.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Celebrity whiskey & bourbon, good or bad?

With so many whiskies and bourbons available to consumers, choosing what to buy can sometimes take time, especially if you are new to drinking whiskey and bourbon.

Marketing teams looking to attract people to their brand sometimes turn to the simple yet effective tool of celebrity endorsement. This can come in several formats, ranging from product placement within a film or popular television program to full singular celebrity endorsement.

You may have seen Jimmy Kimmel and many celebrities taking shots of tequila recently at the 2024 Oscars ceremony. That tequila was Don Julio 1942. If ever there was an effective advert for a spirit, that would be one! According to Nielson data, the Oscars were broadcast to an audience of approximately 19.5 million.

Other celebrity whiskey and bourbon partnerships include:

Sweetens Cove Bourbon — Peyton Manning, Andy Roddick, and friends:

Wild Turkey Longbranch Bourbon — Matthew McConaughey:

Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye — GWAR:

Haig Club – David Beckham

So why are these endorsements good for marketing a whiskey or bourbon brand?

Well, much of this comes down to trust and aspirations. If a company invites a celebrity to collaborate, it will look for someone likable, trustworthy, and memorable (for the right reasons!). However, at the same time, it doesn't want the celebrity to completely eclipse the product either. This is known as the “vampire effect,” where a consumer takes more notice of the celebrity than the product.

So, if the vampire effect is problematic, why still use a celebrity?

Evolution. Research has shown that humans and primates will take their lead from those in a position of success or higher status. The thought process is, "If it's good enough for "x," then it must surely be good enough for me.” Of course, we aren’t unquestioningly led into a purchase. If the celebrity is endorsing something you don't like, then however much you may like the celebrity, you are still not going to purchase that product.

As with much marketing and product placement, whether on screen or in real life, a lot of research has gone into tracking eye movement. In relation to celebrity-endorsed products, although the eye may linger on the celebrity longer than on the product, due to the evolutionary aspiration aspect, a decision is made quicker than on a non-celebrity-endorsed product.

(More information on this can be found here: The Marketing Psychology Behind Celebrity Endorsements - Knowledge at Wharton (upenn.edu) )

Of course, it's not just real-life celebrities who endorse a dram. Many fictional characters are also partial to whiskey or bourbon.

One of the most famous is James Bond. While we may initially associate him with a martini on screen, he drank bourbon more often in the books written by Ian Fleming. This is due to Fleming himself enjoying the dram.

In Steig Larsson's series of Swedish crime novels (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.), the lead female character, Lisbeth Salander, drinks Tullamore D.E.W., the Irish Whiskey.

Katniss Everdeen, the lead character in the Hunger Games series, is witnessed drinking Moonshine (white liquor) with other characters.

While these characters are fictional, the combination of the actor and the character can influence the consumer when considering the purchase of a product.

To sum up, the overall use of a celebrity to endorse a product is viewed as a positive investment. The celebrity can bring a product to their audience, which may not usually turn to that product. A recent example of this may be Sam Heughan and The Sassenach whisky. (We’ll let you work this out).

The celebrity can bring credibility and trustworthiness; this links back to the evolutionary response, as noted previously.

Lastly, the association with a particular celebrity may elevate the product from a perceived lower-end brand to a higher-placed product.

So, while you may now be in the mood to have your own personal whiskey or bourbon to drink or even bottle and sell, we can't necessarily provide you with a celebrity to accompany any purchase you may make with Barrel Global; we can say you will get the star treatment yourself from our team.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Women? Whiskey? Why YES!!!!

March 8th is International Women’s Day, and March is Women’s History Month. We know women have worked in the whiskey-making industry for more than 100 years and are absolutely rocking the world of whiskey and bourbon, but do you know what they do or who they are?

In this article, we will take a quick look at an unsung American legend and review some of the whiskey distilleries that Barrel Global works with where women are integral to the running of the company.

Let’s start with a classic American brand, Dickel. Augusta Dickel, wife of George managed to keep the legacy of her husband’s work alive, by ignoring his wishes noted in his will. The will, written in 1894, instructed Augusta to sell the business at the "first favorable opportunity." Augusta instead retained her husband's share of the company and spread the word about the product in Europe, predominantly in France.

While she didn't oversee the daily production operations, her business acumen ensured that the company remained functioning. When Augusta died in 1916, the company was passed to her brother-in-law, V.E. Shwab.

Nicole Austin now runs the distillery Cascade Hollow Distilling. Appointed General Manager and Distiller in 2018, Nicole has won multiple awards, including the ‘Distillery Manager’ award from Icons of Whisky in 2021.

You could say that the quote "Well-behaved women seldom make history" (Ulrich, 1976) very much applies to Augusta Dickel.

(source: Our Story - George Dickel & How Women Shaped Whiskey History | Wine Enthusiast Magazine )

You may be wondering if any of the distilleries Barrel Global works with have women at the forefront of their businesses. The simple answer is yes.

Firstly, we have Corsair. Founded in 2008 in Bowling Green, KY., Corsair is the first craft distillery in Nashville since Prohibition. One of the co-owners is Amy Lee Bell. Amy Lee comes from an advertising background and brings her writing skills to the business through marketing. Using her previous experience writing about cocktail culture, bar, and drinks culture, she now preaches "Booze for Badasses" while promoting Corsair’s multi-award-winning spirits.

For information on Corsair, look at their website, Our Story | Corsair Distillery.

Next up, we have Revelton. Based in Iowa, the distillery was born out of a love of whiskey inspired by regular visits to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Like many, Christi Taylor and her husband, Rob, fell in love with the "variety and nuances" of whiskey. They conducted research and, with the knowledge and advice of other industry professionals, landed on setting up a business in Iowa, where the best corn comes from. Christi and Rob have made the business very much a family environment. Their daughter helps with making their award-winning gin, and all the team and suppliers who work for and with the company are treated like part of the family. The female theme within the distillery also runs as far as the equipment used to produce the spirit, with the 33ft Vendome still being called Lucy!

If you would like to know more about Revelton, click on this link:

 Revelton Spirits, Born and Raised in Iowa. (reveltondistillery.com)

Next up, we have Laws Whiskey House. On the website, Laws state clearly that At Laws, no person has the title ‘Master Distiller.’ We believe it takes the talents, smarts, quirks and obsessive passion of every Laws co-worker, aka The Village, to make our whiskey. In the Laws Village, you are part of something so much greater than self.”

What a sentiment! In March 2023, the company released the "Women of Laws" single barrel. The distillery released the expression highlighting the "talent and collaborative mindset of the Laws village.” After nosing and tasting a selection of whiskies, the team of women finally settled on barrel 2264.

Laws then took the idea a step further by nominating an organization to support using the proceeds from the sale of the spirit. Frontline Farming, a women-run farming and food-based advocacy organization, was selected.

For further information about Laws Whiskey House, the "Women of Laws" bottle release, and,  on Frontline Farming, follow this link: Women of Laws Single Barrel Release - Laws Whiskey House .

From distilling to selling, from CEO to brand ambassador,  women and whiskey have always made a formidable combination.

If you would like to know more about any of our offerings at Barrel Global, don't hesitate to get in touch with our team. They will be able to walk you through our barrel ownership process. You can view the process and contact our knowledgeable team here. How it works - Barrel Global .

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Whiskey predictions for 2024

Ideas and trends swarm around the whiskey industry early in the year, suggesting what will be "popular" (or not) in the coming year. They range from who will drink whiskey to how they will drink it. What topics will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and what topics will be hard to swallow?

We look at what may be influencing your whiskey choices below.

Whiskey Festivals

Festivals may seem like an obvious choice, and before 2020, whiskey festivals across the globe were doing great trade with a lot of footfall. Between 2020 and the end of 2022, there were restrictions on people coming together, and some whiskey festivals transferred to being online or were cancelled completely. From 2022, while we could start going back to festivals, confidence in attendance from producers and consumers was lower than before. However, festivals experienced better attendance by the end of 2023, and we predict this will continue improving in 2024. Not only will there be more people attending events, but there will also be more events to attend.

Some events this coming year include:

Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2024 - Distillery Trail

WHISKEY RIOT

If you would like to know more about festivals in general, take a look at our article on whiskey festivals here: Wonderful world of Whiskey & Bourbon Festivals - Barrel Global

RTD (Ready to Drink)

Again, the global pandemic stopped us from going into bars and clubs for a while, and when they were able to meet, some turned to experimenting with home bars, making cocktails, and exploring different drinks. A great way to drink whiskey and bourbon is, of course, in a cocktail. Innovators within the spirits industry are tapping into this and creating a wide range of convenient and tasty “cocktails in a can,” ranging from a simple bourbon and cola to a classic Espresso Martini.

Sustainability in the whiskey industry

While the environment and climate have been part of production considerations for a long time, global awareness has increased, and many companies are looking more closely at how to reduce their impact on the environment during their production and distribution processes. From using local ingredients and reducing carbon footprint in production to reviewing and revising packaging materials, we expect more focus on sustainability across the industry in the future. Not only will legislation influence this, but consumers will also become more conscious of their input on climate issues.

For more information on how some companies are adapting, check this article: Sustainable Development Initiatives in the US for Whiskey Production (d4pack.com)

The demise of the social media whiskey influencer

Over the last few years, and again, likely in response to the global pandemic, the whiskey "influencer" has held our attention via Instagram, podcasts, and blogs. Drammers were a captive audience for a couple of years, and while we couldn’t go to bars and clubs, the industry quickly pivoted to selling us their wares via online tastings, whiskey mail (subscriptions where samples could be sent you at home), and virtual "pubs.”

What easier way for distilleries to get their products to us than having influencers receive some free samples or bottles to tell us about? Content creators could utilize every social media platform, and it worked. However, the bubble is bursting; being a content maker or influencer takes time and money to invest in a good kit, and of course, a captive audience helps. Real-life interactions and jobs now replace free time. The loose promise of fame and financial gain rarely comes in the form of actual cash, and bottles of whiskey don't pay the rent.

Companies are back on the road with in-person events, and the brand ambassador is back.

An increase in product transparency

Whiskey drinkers are becoming increasingly interested in the products they choose, from production methods to where the ingredients originate to how long the liquid has spent in each barrel if not a single cask. If a dram is a blend, they want to know what is in it. They want technical information, fermentation times, still sizes, and more. While much of this can be obtained from visiting a distillery, we will see more information on labeling either in writing or via a QR code system.

Rise of whiskey fraud

Wherever there is an increased interest in a product with perceived high-level value, there will be those who will take advantage of people who wish to invest in that product, whether it be art, jewelry, or whiskey. There has been an increase in the number of companies purporting to sell high-end rare bottles of whisky, whiskey, and bourbon, as well as those selling cask investments. Of course, with Barrel Global, you are welcome to contact our team to discuss your current or prospective investment, and we will gladly discuss your options.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

For the love of whiskey...

It is February, and not only is it the month we celebrate Valentine's Day, but this year is also a leap year, giving you an extra day to enjoy a dram. But of course, this is a whiskey and bourbon blog, so get ready for some whiskey love! In this article, we cover some distillation processes, a film, and a whiskey-based Valentine's Cocktail.

Starting with an obvious link to whiskey (but not necessarily bourbon), we will begin with ‘The HEART Cut.’

What is the Heart cut?

While making whiskey/whisky, there comes the point where a distiller will decide which part of the spirit will go into the cask for maturation and which won't. These points are called 'cuts' and are called 'Head, Heart and Tails.’

In the distillation process, as the liquid in the still is heated, it releases particles (vapors) which rise to the condenser, where it cools and becomes a liquid again. This liquid is high in ethanol and contains certain flavor compounds. As liquid heating continues and the temperature rises, more vapors are released, and more flavors and aromas arise.

The vapor released at lower temperatures will contain particles that smell like solvents and compounds like methanol and light esters. This section of the process is the “heads.” It's not the nicest of aromas, and too many of certain compounds would be toxic, so removing them as far as possible is good practice. The distiller will decide where within the run of heads to cut before the heart of the spirit comes through. Once they decide while the liquid flows, the distiller will move the flow from one container to another. This next container will be for the ‘heart’ section of the spirit run. This is the part that will go into casks for maturation.

Lastly, as the run continues, the amount of alcohol particles reduce and flavors and aromas will change, becoming a little bitter and we also get fusel alcohol particles. (Fusel, German for bad liquor, gives the feel of cheap alcohol and a hot/sharp alcohol flavor). So again, the distiller decides where to ‘cut’ the spirit flow and moves it to another container.

Essentially, the distiller decides what part of the flow of the spirit is the best for flavor and aroma and, therefore, will make the best whiskey.

The head and tails left over may be returned to the process to be distilled again or disposed of.

As noted at the beginning of this article, this process does not apply to Bourbon production. This is due to the use of column stills, which will remove the three sections simultaneously during production.

So now the heart of the spirit sits in the casks, in a dunnage/warehouse, and matures, taking on the flavors of the cask, which brings us the next Valentine's tenuous link, angels.

Angels are associated with love and loved ones, and yes, angels are associated with whiskey production.

The Angels Share

During maturation, some of the liquid inside the casks is lost through evaporation. This loss is known as 'the angel's share'; in Kentucky, for example, it ranges from 2% to 10% in its first year.

Product loss through evaporation varies globally depending on the time in the cask, cask type (size and wood used), and ambient temperature. For example, whisky in cask in Scotland will mature slower than in Kentucky. Liquid of the same age will look different and taste different. So, be wary of judging a dram by its age and color; you could be missing some great whiskey!

In 2012, a film called "The Angels Share” was released and is worth watching with dram in hand. The Angels' Share - Wikipedia

A cocktail for your Valentine

The Cranberry Manhattan.

Not only does it look “lovely,” but it's simple and easy to make, giving you more time to enjoy it than make it.

You will need:

2 ounces whiskey (rye will give a nice spice to this)

½ ounce sweet vermouth

½ ounce cranberry juice

Orange bitters

Orange peel/cranberries for garnish (optional)

Method:

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add all the ingredients. Shake for 15 seconds, then strain into a martini-style glass (but any will do; we're not going to judge), then garnish and serve.

Lastly, of course, you may wish to give your loved ones a gift for Valentine's Day, and what better for a whiskey lover than giving them a bottle of whiskey you know they will enjoy? Well, giving them a bottle from your cask is better! Not only is it more personal, but with Barrel Global, we can also assist you with labelling and bottling, so do contact our team, who will gladly guide you through the process of barrel ownership.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today.

Wonderful world of Whiskey & Bourbon Festivals

At the beginning of the year, after we drag our weary bones through what always seems the longest month of the year (January, just in case you didn't realize!), we receive our first paycheck since what seems like months ago. We congratulate ourselves on several trips to the gym and maybe even completing dry January (Dry January... - Barrel Global ). But as we rub our tired eyes and eye the horizon of the coming year, something that makes us look forward to the coming months is whiskey and bourbon festivals.

If your happy place is whisky, whiskey, and bourbon, then a festival is something you look forward to attending at some point in the year. However, regardless of how long they have been drinking our favorite grain-based spirits, many people have never been to one. So, we will give you a quick Whiskey Festival #101.

What IS a whiskey or bourbon festival?

It's an event where a number of producers/distilleries come together in one space for anything from a few hours to a few days to bring their product to the consumer for them to try.

Where can I find a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Well, if a country produces it and/or drinks it, you can be sure that a festival will be taking place somewhere at some time. If you enter "whiskey festivals 2024 US" into a search engine, you will get several returns; hopefully, some will be near you.

How big is a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Whiskey festivals can range from a small town hall for an afternoon to large conference centers or similar for a few days. The larger the event, the wider the range of distilleries in attendance, which will impact ticket pricing.

Who goes to a whiskey or bourbon festival?

Anyone with an interest in the drams and the industry. Some festivals may have different “days.” For example, a large event over three days may have one day for trade and press and the other days for everyone.

People go in groups of friends, a whiskey club may use it as a trip for the club, and many will attend solo. The only people who don't go are under the legal drinking age in their country or don't like bourbon or whiskey.

How much does it cost, and what do I get for my money?

This depends entirely on the festival organizers. There are a couple of standard formats:

  1. Your ticket price will include access to all drams within a “session,” and more often now, some meal or food choice during your paid-for session. You will receive some sort of glass for your dramming and other "merch" that the organizers want to pass to you.
  2. The token system: with this system, you may pay a lower fee for an entry ticket, which may or may not give access to various products. On top of this, you can purchase "tokens" at different pricing levels, which you can then exchange for higher premium whiskies or bourbons.

Read the ticket conditions closely so you know what to expect.

Whiskey and Bourbon Festival etiquette

You will note that some festivals now state the expectations of behavior at a festival on their websites. Of course, people are likely to become inebriated; alcohol is involved. But there is a big difference between being a little tipsy and unable to stand up.

The organizers and the producers want you to have a brilliant time, talk to their ambassadors, learn about the industry, the whiskey, the bourbon, and go away having had a great time, bought their whiskey, and want to return next year.

Some basics:

DON’T BE A ROOKIE!!

You may have been drinking bourbon or whiskey for decades but have never been to a festival, or you have just started your foray into this brilliant drink. But what both these people have in common is that they are confronted with a room full of bourbon and no cap on how much they are allowed to drink; it's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The urge to try everything is strong, and even with small pours, after a couple of hours, you are drunk and being escorted out. Don’t be this person*.

(*we’ve all been this person, and after the first time, it’s doubtful we will do it again)

The most sensible approach to a festival is planning, even if it's just a little bit. Check the list of distilleries in attendance and what expressions they will be bringing (not all shows provide the latter information, but some do), and note those you have yet to try or expressions from a distillery you want to try. If you think about it, you may love a particular dram and have a bottle at home, so why would you drink it at a festival?

Next is the order of drams*; the best way is to work from low abv to high abv and non-peated to peated. In general, high abv and/or peated will affect your taste buds to the extent that you may not taste too much afterward.

(*some events may have very high-end whiskies available on a token. We'd recommend having this early in a session so you can appreciate what makes it premium. If you have already blasted your tastebuds, it would be a waste, which would be a great shame.)

DRINK WATER!

Always drink more than you think you need. Trust us, you will feel better for it the next day.

EAT. EAT. EAT.

Have a decent meal before the event. A lined stomach will be better for drinking on. If the event provides food, take advantage part of the way through and have a rest.

GENERAL BEHAVIOUR

Watch how much you are drinking. After 6 or 7 pours, your tastebuds will be overloaded, and everything starts to taste a little samey. Have a break. Have a coffee (great for resetting the nose and the tastebuds), drink water, and get fresh air.

Remember, everyone has a right to be at the event. Some stands may be more popular than others; be patient or visit a less busy stand. Be polite to brand ambassadors. They are there to help you enjoy your day, and DON'T ask them if there is anything "special" under the counter.

Another reason for visiting a whiskey or bourbon festival, of course, is research. If you are reading this article, you are likely interested in buying a cask through us or may even have some already. By attending these events, you may meet producers we work with, and there is nothing better than talking to the distillery team about the product while trying it.

We are on a mission to make whiskey barrel ownership accessible to collectors worldwide. As the first-ever global marketplace for whiskey barrels, you can connect with distilleries and collectors worldwide to build your own portfolio. For a whiskey experience unlike any other, request access today