Monday, November 5, 2012

Dirty Bourbon

One byproduct of barrel strength, non filtered, barrel to bottle bourbon is the barrel char dregs that come with it.  For some, this char layer on the bottom of the bottle is the prize at the end of the journey.

Last night I enjoyed the last pour from a 2005 William LaRue Weller.  I handled the bottle gently in order to minimize agitating the char.  I was mildly successful but still managed to get some char into the glass producing a pour that was more the color of weak coffee than the deep amber hue of a typical pour.  I added just a touch of water and wasn't disappointed with a full flavored dram of wheat bourbon goodness.  The char was present on each sip but not unpleasantly so.

Some may be turned off by this but to me it's all part of the experience of enjoying bourbon of varying degrees.....including barrel char.  You will most likely find char is George T. Stagg or Bookers and of course I've seen it in some of my barrel picks that go from barrel to bottle.

I owe an apology to a friend of mine (that's you Em), where he and I have argued over the years about which WLW is better, 2005 or 2006.  My preference over the years has leaned toward 2006 but he swears by 2005 but in this case, I tip my hat to the 2005 as it was an exceptional dram.


  1. I would pour it through a coffee filter or a cotton ball stuffed in the neck of a funnel.

    1. You are correct, you can filter it if you do not like the char influence. I personally don't mind it in small quantities.

  2. Kind of like going for the yeast in the bottom of a bottle conditioned beer. Go for the gusto!

  3. Don't at all mind char in the bottle, but I don't care for it in the glass. I do fancy the occasional crazy-hazy/oily unfiltered Bourbon or Single Malt. Both Park Avenue Liquor and K&L Wines (their 2nd pick) had JPS 18 private retail casks--with absolutely zero emulsion--ridiculously loaded with more oily globules than homemade Italian dressing... and both were excellent bourbons. Have also experienced hazy/cloudy 30+ year old unfiltered, cask strength, Speyside malts (hovering at or below 47% ABV) that were outstanding. I'm sure not all cloudy/hazy whiskies are excellent whiskies, nevertheless I'm happy to see one; just as others enjoy barrel char. To each their own.

  4. Wow...another person who had, and loved, the K&L unfiltered JPRS.

    Had I known how good it was before they ran out, I'd have another 4 bottles of that stuff. Haven't found anyone else who has unfiltered versions of it.

    I've enjoyed getting the char in the glass; but I agitate the bottle a bit to distribute it instead of leaving it mainly till the end.

  5. I don't mind the char in the bottle or the glass. If anything, it's a reminder that the whiskey inside is straight from the barrel. My 08 bottle of Stagg has a pretty good amount of char to it. Great stuff.