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A Whiskey Vatting Experiment

Posted on by Eric Burke

I try to never dump out whiskey. Not even when it is really bad. I always figure that there is something I can use it for. Even if I don’t want to drink it neat, I might use it in a cocktail. If it isn’t able to stand up in a cocktail, maybe I’ll use it for cooking. If I don’t even want to cook with it I try to see if I can blend it with something. 

Which is the thought that inspired my latest experiment. 

I had a lot of whiskey on hand after the Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets. A lot of whiskey that was ok but not great. As the bottles were reaching their conclusion I was struck by a little inspiration. Why not start a giant vatting of American whiskey and see what I got after I filled a liter bottle? I mean I wasn’t starting with anything crazy. I think Jim Beam white and Johnny Drum 80 proof were the first two in the bottle. 

After a while I decided that if this was ever going to be anything worth drinking that I would need to dip into the better tasting, and higher proof, whiskies as well. So I decided to put one ounce of everything I had opened (or would open in the future) into the bottle no matter if it was a Willett Single Barrel or a Mellow Corn. If it was American Whiskey, it could contribute to the final vatting. It took a couple months but I finally filled the bottle. And after I let it sit for a few weeks to mingle, I decided to see what I had created.

Here is a list of what ended up in the bottle (and it’s proof). One ounce of each.

  • Jim Beam White (80°)
  • Johnny Drum (80°)
  • Dad’s Hat Vermouth Finished (94°)
  • 1783 Evan Williams (86°)
  • Blue State (80°)
  • Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye (94°)
  • Old Weller Antique (107°)
  • Very Old Barton (86°)
  • Maker’s Mark (90°)
  • Old Grand Dad 114 (114°)
  • Booker’s (128.7°)
  • Willett Single Barrel Rye (115.6°)
  • Willett Single Barrel Bourbon (118.4°)
  • Wild Turkey 101 (101°)
  • Woodford Reserve (90.4°)
  • Four Roses Small Batch (90°)
  • MB Roland Single Barrel Bourbon (106.5°)
  • Hochstadter’s Vatted Rye (100°)
  • Michter’s Barrel Strength Rye (108.8°)
  • Parker’s Heritage Collection: Promise of Hope (96°)
  • 1792 Single Barrel: Ace Spirits (93.7°)
  • Rendezvous Rye-finished in Bourbon Barrels (104.8°)
  • Rowan’s Creek (100.1°)
  • Mellow Corn (100°)
  • Four Roses Single Barrel OESF (112.6°)
  • Knob Creek 2001 (100°)
  • 1792 Single Barrel: Ace Spirits (93.7°) - accidental repeat
  • 1792 Port Finish (88.9°)
  • Russell’s Reserve Rye Single Barrel (104°)
  • Old Scout Rye (99°)
  • Larceny (92°)
  • Elijah Craig 12 Year (94°)
  • IW Harper 15 Year (86°)
  • Maker’s 46 Cask Strength (108.8°)

So the final make up was 34 ounces of 33 different whiskies. It ended up being 95.54° proof. But how did it taste?

Arok’s Vatted Whiskey

Purchase Info: Too many to list or remember…see above.

Details: 47.77% ABV

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, spearmint, baking spices and oak

Mouth: Warm and spicy with vanilla/caramel, cloves, mint, bubble gum and oak

Finish: Warm and of decent length. Lingering bubble gum and rye spices.

Thoughts: More than anything this reminds me of some of the higher end Four Roses bourbons I’ve had. It shows a lot of rye character which isn’t terribly surprising since there are a lot of straight ryes in there. This is quite tasty. Overall, I’d say this was a successful experiment.

Now you might be wondering what comes next. Well, I like this experiment and I think I might keep going. I poured off 500 mL and am drinking that. The other 500 mL will be the starter for the next vatting. I’m thinking of doing it sort of solara style where nothing in the blend is truly ever gone, it’s just there in diminishing proportions. Eventually I’ll get bored, but if I keep at it (and make sure I put in the good stuff too) I shouldn’t run out of something that is decent enough to have as an everyday bourbon as long as I am running this site (needless to say I go through a lot of whiskey).