Sunday, June 27, 2010

JDP: Bourbon in the barrel

Start the clock.
Ten liters of Early Times Kentucky bourbon are in the barrel. That whiskey won't see the light of day for the next seven months, which is a long time to wait for a drink.
Although I'm aging the Early Times in order to make a bourbon-barrel aged American Scotch ale, I'm very curious to see how the whiskey will turn out. Early Times is good as is, so seven additional months of aging should (hopefully) do good things.

It is interesting what you learn when you have your own whiskey barrel. For one, you can't fully appreciate how much of bourbon's aroma comes from the wood it's aged in until you're sniffing an empty barrel and smelling whisky. When I was prepping the barrel by filling it with hot water to swell the wood and check for leaks, the kitchen was filled with the scent of bourbon. Of course, it was filled with the scent of wet white oak, but the scent of white oak is clearly the scent of American whisky.

Also, a 10 liter barrel doesn't look that big until you set it next to the six 1.75 liter bottles you need to fill it. There's a lot of bourbon in a 1.75 liter bottle, so there's an awful lot of bourbon in a barrel that consumes five and a half of those bottles.
I don't know if it was serendipity or JD doing some work from above, but while I was out buying the bourbon, I came across a few bottles of AleSmith Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. AleSmith is a San Diego craft brewery that I've been itching to try for some time. Boston is the only place they distribute to on the East Coast, so I've been trying to talk my friend Xiaoyi into bringing me a bottle back from her trip to San Francisco. Needless to say, I was stunned to find a few bottles at my favorite D.C. liquor store. Add to that the fact that one of the bottles they had was a wee heavy -- the style of beer I'm making for the JD Project -- and you have some fantastically odd coincidences going on.
The AleSmith Wee Heavy, by the way, didn't disappoint. It's a 10 percent malt bomb, but smooth to the point of being creamy. It's a very well made beer and a good target to shoot for with my own recipe.
Next weekend I'm heading up to Frederick, Md., for some business at the Flying Dog Brewery. Afterward, I'll be picking up the ingredients for my first batch of Scotch ale and brewing during the Independence Day weekend. That means my first batch will be ready to drink in August, an odd month for malty Scotch ales. Somehow, though, I think I'll be able to choke a few down.

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