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Does Aged Vodka become Whisky

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Does Aged Vodka become Whisky

Postby Tommy » Fri Jun 30, 2006 5:30 pm

Okay, I know it's not that simple, but recently I tasted some "rye vodka" as it was being distilled and wondered what would happen if it was put in a barrel and aged. Aside from the differences in making Scotch versus Bourbon or other "Whiskies" ... what would actually happen if you aged a decent pot stilled vodka?
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Postby Frodo » Fri Jun 30, 2006 7:29 pm

It would become Canadian-style whisky!
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Postby Jan » Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:28 pm

So Canadian whisky is really aged vodka? :wink: :lol:

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Postby Tommy » Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:34 pm

Interestingly, there is a distillery in Bend, Oregon (USA) that make a vodka called "Crater Lake" and claims that it is aged "slightly" in oak. Not sure what that means so I think I'll drop them a line and maybe encourage them to join this conversation.
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Postby Jan » Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:37 pm

There is actually an oak aged russian vodka; Starka.

It's quite good for a vodka, very smooth and rounded. When I was younger I used to buy it to friends at a bar we frequented and have them taste it blind - nobody guessed vodka, usually cognac, brandy, whisky etc.

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Postby kallaskander » Sat Jul 01, 2006 9:28 am

Hi there,

here a whisky review talking about brown vodka in connection with cheap Canadian whisky.
The reviewer thinks the world buying Canadian whisky gets "brown vodka" and the good stuff stays in country.

http://www.theartofdrink.com/blog/2006/ ... deluxe.php


Greetings
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Postby hpulley » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:51 am

No, aged vodka would not be whisky unless it was never vodka in the first place. Vodka is distilled at too high an ABV to qualify as whisky for one thing. For another, I thought the charcoal filters would disqualify it but on the other hand, many whiskies are filtered before or after maturation so while less in extent than vodka perhaps that filtration alone would not disqualify it. Obviously the mashbill is not as restrictive for vodka either.

Big business though, vodka. July 8th LCBO Vintages new releases, only spirit is a Swedish Vodka. Been hardly any scotch this year, more other spirit products.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:09 pm

As Harry points out, distillation proof is everything here. Most vodka comes off the still at something close to 100% pure grain alcohol (or as close as the distiller can make it practiceable). For example, I have sampled vodka at the top of Buffalo Trace's vodka still at 190 proof (95% abv). The reason for this is to eliminate flavor elements from the liquid. In the U.S., at least, vodka must legally have no 'distinctive' flavor or aroma. In other words, you shouldn't be able to tell vodka made from corn from vodka made from rye, wheat or potatoes (and there are plenty of blind-tasting results which indicate you really can't, but that's a debate for another thread/forum).
Whisky deliberately is 'proofed out' at a lower ABV -- not more than 160 proof (80% abv) in the U.S., for example -- in order to retain the congeneric flavors of the various grains, yeast, etc. So, while new-barrel aging can impart well over half of the flavor of bourbon, it's still not that rare to find non-expert tasters who can almost uniformly tell a wheated bourbon from a tradition rye bourbon or straight rye based simply on the flavors inherent to the grains.
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oak aged vodka

Postby Bendistillery » Sat Jul 01, 2006 4:43 pm

Yes, we do produce a vodka in the U.S. that is slightly aged in oak, Crater Lake Vodka. It still meets the requirement of having no distinctive color, taste, or odor. The minor aging in oak helps smooth out the spirit and gives it a soft "vanilla" finish to an experienced vodka drinker. Any grain distilled at a lower proof (generally 160 or less) is called whiskey and is characterized by the grain used ie rye whiskey. Any grain distilled so high that it loses all characteristics of the grain (generally 190 proof) is called a neutral grain spirit. This neutral grain spirit is then blended with water, filtered, and bottled at generally 80 proof to be called vodka.
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Blended Whiskey

Postby Bendistillery » Sat Jul 01, 2006 4:52 pm

I guess that I should add that blended whiskey does not have to be 100% distilled at under 160 proof. Pure whiskey is from 100% distillation at under 160 proof. Blended whiskeys can actually be blended with neutral grain spirits......hence the brown vodka term. So, stick with the 100% pure whiskey. It is similar to tequila, stick with the 100% agave tequila.
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Postby MGillespie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 5:50 pm

Ben, welcome to the forums and thanks for jumping in to help answer this! I stumbled on the thread this morning, and I'm glad I learned something today.

Mark
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Postby Tommy » Sat Jul 01, 2006 7:11 pm

Thank you for the post Bend Distillery, this helps clarify things quite a bit.
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Postby Frodo » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:02 pm

TNbourbon wrote:Whisky deliberately is 'proofed out' at a lower ABV -- not more than 160 proof (80% abv) in the U.S., for example -- in order to retain the congeneric flavors of the various grains, yeast, etc.


I think you are right when you refer to AMERICAN whiskey in this way. Cdn whiskey I think can be distilled to a higher proof if I'm not mistaken - thus the joke about it being "brown vodka". Curious if anyone knows what proof Cdn whisky can come off the still?
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Postby Frodo » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:05 pm

And welcome to the forum Bendistillery.
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Postby The Fachan » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:36 pm

Bendistillery,

Grain whisky for belnds produced in the UK must be at a maximum of 94.6% abv as it still retains a degree of flavour at that strength.
Neutral spirit can be produced in the same still but has a strength above that and will not find its way into Scotch.

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Postby dsoneil » Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:27 pm

Frodo wrote:I think you are right when you refer to AMERICAN whiskey in this way. Cdn whiskey I think can be distilled to a higher proof if I'm not mistaken - thus the joke about it being "brown vodka". Curious if anyone knows what proof Cdn whisky can come off the still?


Some Canadian distilleries do multiple proofs. A common example is Alberta Premium which does a high proof (about 180 - 190) and then they do lower proof "flavouring" at around 130. Then they blend.
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Postby Frodo » Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:07 pm

Yeah, that smells right from what I've read. I've also heard that Lot 40 is a "straight" or flavouring whisky bottled on its own. Anyone know this for sure? Sure is more flavourful than most Cdn whiskies I've had...
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:10 pm

I read a very interesting article, which of course I cannot remember where, about how closely related all european spirits are by name .....

Whisk(e)y (Uisce Beatha[Irish Gaelic] & Usque Baugh [Scotch Gaelic]) & vodka both derived their name from Aqua Vitae amonst others eventhough they may not be grain spirits are Aquavit (Akvavit) & brandy ( Eau de vie)

So if they are all so closely related by name it is not unimaginable that maybe the Russians could of Invented Whiskey and Ireland/Scotland (not getting into that argument now :lol: ) could have invented vodka now that would interesting to contemplate......
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Postby PuckJunkie » Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:50 pm

The Fachan wrote:Bendistillery,

Grain whisky for belnds produced in the UK must be at a maximum of 94.6% abv as it still retains a degree of flavour at that strength.
Neutral spirit can be produced in the same still but has a strength above that and will not find its way into Scotch.

Ian

What a bizarre concept! Is that true? Can a touch over 0.4% of a distillate carry enough taste to be detectable in the distillate itself, much less the final product after the distillate is mingled with malts that have far stronger flavors?

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Postby dsoneil » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:02 pm

PuckJunkie wrote:What a bizarre concept! Is that true? Can a touch over 0.4% of a distillate carry enough taste to be detectable in the distillate itself, much less the final product after the distillate is mingled with malts that have far stronger flavors?


The 0.4% of the distillate can carry a lot of flavour. Our nose can detect organic compounds in the parts per million which can be 0.01% (100 parts per million) or less. For example certain sulphur compounds can be detected at less than 1 part per million (0.0001%).

One thing to remember is that most of the flavour components of any distillate are in the alcohol phase and note the water phase. This is because the organic molecules are more soluble in the ethanol.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:20 pm

PuckJunkie wrote:What a bizarre concept! Is that true? Can a touch over 0.4% of a distillate carry enough taste to be detectable in the distillate itself, much less the final product after the distillate is mingled with malts that have far stronger flavors?

Puck


Well, it's 5.4%, not 0.4%. And I suspect that while the maximum allowable is 94.6%, no one likely approaches that in the real world. Remember the row over Bruichladdich's quadruple-distilled batch, which approached that figure. Perhaps someone here knows what the usual strength of column-distilled grain whisky in Scotland is--I'm only guessing.
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Postby Jan » Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:39 pm

This reminds me of my GF. The last few days, she has commented on my "dramming on the smoky ones again....

This after me having a single dram of....... Cragganmore 12yo! - I'm amazed that she can pick up the minuscule amount of smoke in this malt - and at a distance! :shock: :shock:

Cheers
Jan
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