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Why 63.5% ?

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Why 63.5% ?

Postby Mustardhead » Fri Mar 16, 2007 1:38 am

Quite a few distilleries seem to water their new make down to 63.5% before filling their casks.

Any idea why?

I have bought cask strength whiskies which aren't far off that strength after 12 years in cask, there's no way these new whiskies will manage that after a few years.....so what's it all about?
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Postby Ann-Helen » Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:28 am

I think that when you dilute the new make down to 63,5% it matures faster than if you don`t dilute it .
Another question comes to my mind what does it do to the taste ?
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Postby mithril » Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:31 am

Mainly it'd be about the intent of maximizing yield per distillation run. The majority of malts are either: 1) destined for use in blends 2) bottled at 40% - 46% ABV. Since both have the same strength and you need to dilute to strength during bottling, it makes sense to pre-dilute before filling to increase the number of casks you get per distillation.
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:45 am

Why exactly the new make is diluted to 63,5% I don't know, but it's a fact that it's an industry standard they all follow (a few exceptions) when trading whisky to blenders. It would be hopeless to sell whisky of various strenghts and laboursome to keep control of the stock with too many differing strenghts in your warehouses. Well, that's my highly unqualified guesses at least.
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Re: Why 63.5% ?

Postby corbuso » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:13 am

Mustardhead wrote:Quite a few distilleries seem to water their new make down to 63.5% before filling their casks.

Any idea why?


You will find what you are looking for here:

http://www.whisky-news.com/En/reports/Entry_proof.html

cheers
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Postby Frodo » Fri Mar 16, 2007 9:27 pm

I think the answer is reciprical trading. In the industry it is common for companies to trade casks of whisky with each other. A common str makes it easier to make sure for all that they are all starting out with the same amount of spirit vs water in the casks.

Bruichladdich I think doesn't care because they bottle and sell all they make as opposed to trading with anyone. Thus they just fill the cask at whatever str it comes out of the still at.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:08 am

I asked Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich about his policy of filling and he said that he did not agree with 63.5% and felt that the higher filling point (of around 70%, I can't remember the exact number) was much better for maturation.

I also asked Robert Fleming of Tomintoul about 63.5% and reciprical trading and he said it was a moot point because all calculations for any trading were all done at 100% alcohol. This was for the Revenue.

I have asked many times to many people about the origins of 63.5% and have never heard a definative answer but the one that is the leader at this point is that it was a boffin form a big company who worked out that 63.5% was the best level for maturation. Obviously not all distillers agree.
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Postby Mustardhead » Sat Mar 17, 2007 1:37 am

Thanks for the comments and the link :)

One of the reasons for asking is that I have been looking at some of the cask offers from a few distilleries. The trouble is that the majority of them water the stuff down before filling the casks. None of them are going to be able to offer a "real" cask strength whisky in 10, 12 or 15 years :(
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:20 am

MustardHead, if you're looking for a distillery that doesn't water down you might look at Bruichladdich, I think they put the spirit in the cask without any water. I'm not 100% sure on this so you need to ask them before you buy.

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Re: Why 63.5% ?

Postby Di Blasi » Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:19 am

Also, to answer your other question,

Mustardhead wrote:I have bought cask strength whiskies which aren't far off that strength after 12 years in cask, there's no way these new whiskies will manage that after a few years.....so what's it all about?


The 63.5% is fairly new(ish), not sure how new. But for example, the Rare Malts series can be above 60% after 20 or so years in the cask because they use to put the new spirit into cask at a higher alchohol level.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Mar 17, 2007 7:40 am

I wasn't aware that ALL casks (except Bruichladdich) were now being filled at 63.5% and I find this quite saddening as what will happen to future CS bottlings?

No more higher strength CS editions?

How much ABV is 'lost' for each year in the cask?
I have a feeling that future CS editions at 10, 12 15 .... years will now be nearer 50% than 60% ???

Do I need to stock up on the cask strength Caol Ilas at almost 60% vol that I dearly love, as they won't be available in years to come?
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Postby Di Blasi » Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:35 pm

Yes, I agree with Malt-Teaser. The future may be about really aged whisky at 42.1% or something! Maybe with the rise of whisky's popularity they'll adjust back up to the higher alcohol level, in order to insure longer ageing, (without dropping below the regulated 40%), and for us true afficionados! Let's hope!
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Postby Frodo » Sun Mar 18, 2007 12:30 am

Interesting in that some tequilas are put into the barrel at about 55%. I've heard a line of thinking that says the lower the abv% in the bottle, the better the spirit ages - specificly for tequila, and perhaps rum.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:37 am

Lawrence wrote:I asked Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich about his policy of filling and he said that he did not agree with 63.5% and felt that the higher filling point (of around 70%, I can't remember the exact number) was much better for maturation.


72% for Bruichladdich (according to PS&S), which is itself quite high--68.5% seems to be more typical.

Lawrence wrote:I also asked Robert Fleming of Tomintoul about 63.5% and reciprical trading and he said it was a moot point because all calculations for any trading were all done at 100% alcohol. This was for the Revenue.


I don't understand what you mean here. Wouldn't figuring the net amount of alcohol swapped be easier if all the barrels were at the same strength?
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:08 pm

That's not the point Mr. T, the law states that all calculations for the Revenue are to be done at 100% ABV.
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Postby lbacha » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:23 pm

Do barrels have actual volumes marked on them or do cooperages have strict volumes they must meet when making a barrel, I would think they all vary a little. Even if they are a strict volume unless you top off the barrel how do you know how much has evaporated, the measurment must come after it is emptied out of the barrel and then be based on the ABV of the final volume of the barrels.

Basing everything on the volume of 100% alcohol makes sense as well. This means a company buys 100 liters of alcohol from the distillery and that would equate to 200 liters of product if it was 50% ABV. I'm sure this is all to make it easy on the tax man, he doesn't care about the water and other things in the whisky just the alcohol.

Len
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:35 pm

Lawrence wrote:That's not the point Mr. T, the law states that all calculations for the Revenue are to be done at 100% ABV.


I repeat, I don't understand what you mean by that. Do you mean that the barrels are assumed to be 100% alcohol, for tax purposes? And if that's the case, isn't it even more important to have a standard for swapped barrels? After all, if you swap a barrel at 68% for one at 64%, and in the taxman's eyes they're both the same, someone's getting the short end of the stave.
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Postby karlejnar » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:11 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:After all, if you swap a barrel at 68% for one at 64%, and in the taxman's eyes they're both the same, someone's getting the short end of the stave.

No - cause they're not the same. Duty is to be paid per liter pure alcohol. So the first barrel has 68 lpa for each 100l of volume. The second would have 64 lpa.

The barrel's has to be re-gauged and the duty to be calculated based on the actual volume.

But I read somewhere, that barrels are sometimes swapped or bought based on ola (=original liter of alcohol) instead of lpa. In that case it makes good sense that barrels are filled at same abv. That makes swapping easier. E.g. if you fill two barrels with 200l of spirit at 63.5% abv, they both are 127 ola.

Some distilleries actually have one filling strength on barrel's for swapping/blending (63.5%) and a different (higher) strength for barrels to be laid down to be used internally or as single malt.

And then there's Bruichladdich filling everything at full strength. Quote Jim McEwan: "We don't waist warehouse space by storing water" :wink:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:58 pm

karlejnar wrote:
MrTattieHeid wrote:After all, if you swap a barrel at 68% for one at 64%, and in the taxman's eyes they're both the same, someone's getting the short end of the stave.

No - cause they're not the same. Duty is to be paid per liter pure alcohol.... But I read somewhere, that barrels are sometimes swapped or bought based on ola (=original liter of alcohol) instead of lpa. In that case it makes good sense that barrels are filled at same abv. That makes swapping easier. E.g. if you fill two barrels with 200l of spirit at 63.5% abv, they both are 127 ola.


Exactly my point in the first place, and the reason I don't understand why Lawrence feels what he said makes a difference, which made me think I didn't understand what he meant.

Now I don't know what I mean.... :?
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:18 pm

Hi there,

the high abv of over 60% or more after twenty or more years is not only a result of the strength of the spirit at filling date. You can put a newly filled cask with 63.5% abv at the right spot in your warehouse and come up with higher alcohol content but less content of fluid after twenty years.
So do not despair, there will be high abv bottlings beyond 60% in the future still.

Greetings
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Postby lbacha » Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:11 pm

That is why I would think it would be hard for distilleries to swap barrels without emptying the content and measuring it for volume and ABV first. Unless the tax man doesn't care about the alcohol content until it is finnally poured out and sold, I'm not sure of the rules there, maybe the distilleies are willing to take the risk of getting less alcohol then they traded for and the tax man doesn't care till they finnally pour it out and bottle it. If this is the case then it makes sense to start at the same ABV but only if all barrels are the same exact size that you are swapping if not you are back to square one which is you need to do a calculation, I doubt only one barrel is swapped at a time so when your trading 30-40 barrels you make the conversion and one side gets 35 and the other gets 40 if their barrels are bigger.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:27 pm

There is variation in barrel size, but it's pretty small--I seem to recall them telling us at the Speyside cooperage that it's less than it used to be. Likely it's small enough that sellers and buyers aren't bothered by the fractional differences. And when they're dealing with many barrels, it probably all averages out.
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Postby Wave » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:29 pm

I know there are whisky traders that deal with casks on the professional level but how they do their trade or the laws involved is beyond me. I wish there was someone on the board in that trade that could enlighten us on the facts. I have an interest in this and have even tried to find info about it on the net in the past and found very little.


Cheers!
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Re: Why 63.5% ?

Postby jaxjrone » Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:56 pm

New make is placed in oak casks at 63.5% for the purpose of uniformity. At maturation, a lot of casks may be vatted for a specific bottling. In that all the whisky started maturation at the same strength is believed to even out the ABV at maturation factor. But what do I know... I'm a yank.
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