Field of Science

So many whiskys, so little time -

"See what the boys in the backroom will have
And tell them I'm having the same
Go see what the boys in the backroom will have
And give them the poison they name
So many whiskys, so little time.  It's a problem we're just going to have to deal with a little at a time.  When it comes to whisky you pay for age, you pay for strength (higher proof), and you pay for rarity.
Aging is a funny thing.  You see the problem is ethanol is basically a colorless, tasteless liquid, and that's what distillation makes.  Some of the other stuff may be heat volatile, and get transferred to the distilled side of things, but TPP's one experience with "white lightening" had the total sensation of "swallowing a kerosene lantern, lit" (according to one author).  But put the neutral grain spirits into a charred white oak barrel for 8, 10, or 12 years and now you've got something with color and flavor, and fewer nasty chemicals too, but you have less of it, and it took a lot of time that you have to pay for, so aging and rarity are related.  Hard to believe that anybody actually likes moonshine, but not so hard to believe that some people are just too impatient to wait that long for a whisky, so long have people sought to speed up, or alter, the process. While other woods don't make good barrels, other woods will impart different flavors to the whisky, so in this highly competitive business, people are trying all sorts of different things, like putting charred wood in a steel barrel of whisky, clearly a blasphemy in some places.  Here's an interesting article on some of the different ideas people in the business are trying.  And you're going to see more of this as the craft distilling business continues to grow. 

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