Downtown Spirits - Seattle

One of the steadfast rules of Bourbon whiskey is that it must be aged in new white American oak barrels that have been charred inside. This step in the production process gives Bourbon its color and flavor from the caramelized sugar in the charred wood. One of our readers, James Shepherd, tipped us off that it was Evan Williams who was the originator of charring barrels before aging. James writes:

"When I went on a distillery tour in Kentucky they said that the reason for the charred oak is because of Evan Williams. A frugal preacher and whiskey distiller, Williams used to make corn whiskey and ship it down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans in oak barrels. One night there was a fire in his barn where the barrels were stored. Since many of the barrels were still intact and only charred he saw no reason for new barrels and filled them with corn whiskey anyway. Over the next 6 or so months before the casks were opened in New Orleans the whiskey soaked into the wood, taking on the flavors of the oak. As he got more and more requests for this "New Brown Whiskey" he decided to char all 
of his barrels and up the cost of whiskey."

Smart man. No wonder Evan Williams flies off the shelves at Downtown Spirits.  

- Meru Belbayeva

Written by Meru Belbayeva — October 14, 2012

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