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I just recently come by the Blanton's straight from the barrel which are normally bottled between 63-68% ABV. Since a bourbon when filled into barrels it cannot be higher than 62,5% therefore during the maturation the water has evaporated faster than the alcohol. So I have some thinks and questions that some of you may answer.
What other high ABV bourbons are out there? Higher than 62,5%? The one that I know of is Stagg JR.
What are the special conditions for this to happen that water evaporates faster than alcohol? I presume that heat has something to do with this.
Can this also happen in Scottish warehouses that store Scottish single malt?
Simply; in a hotter environment the water vapour is small enough to pass through the staves of the wood barrel and out into the atmosphere, while the ethanol vapour is too large to pass through and condenses and eventually drips back into the remaining liquid.
Stagg, Bookers a few of the BTAC ones. There are a few. They are gasoline!!
Do you know at what temperatures that the water evaporation is faster than the alcohol?
@bedlamborn Alcohol evaporates at a lower temp than water, so it always evaporates first. This is the major reason why an open bottle of a spirit will mellow considerably with age. The temperature is irrelevant as at 100 degrees or hotter, they both evaporate. The thing is that water molecules are smaller than the ethanol ones and in bourbon barrels, that makes a big difference in terms of the alcohol evaporates, but has no place to go so eventually comes back into the liquid, while the water is small enough to get through the wood molecules of the barrel.
So, while the maximum abv that bourbon can be dropped into a barrel may be 125, after several years in a hot warehouse in Kentucky (not the same as cold and drafty Scotland!) there is a higher % of alcohol in the remaining spirit than what was first dumped into the barrel.
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