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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Saponification concerns before barreling

Saponification is a recent topic of inquiry as I've been amassing a rather impressive set of bottles of whiskey for my "research".  Several well-regarded bottles had a strong soap flavor to me and my investigation of that is how I arrived at the saponification topic recently. 

I understand the premise for and the purpose of slow proofing.  It occurs to me that this same reaction would/could happen as spirits are proofed to the various targets for barreling -- when water is added to the spirit before going into the barrel.  I've never heard of anyone slow proofing pre-barrel and wondering why not?  Are the compounds that are water-reactive only those that are extracted from the barrel or a result of the oxidation and aging process within a barrel? It just occurs that slow (or slower) proofing prior to barreling may be a point worthy of exploration?

Thoughts?


Reply:

One of the reasons why for the big guys is that saponification is reversible in an high proof/acidic environment - like a barrel. If a spirit has some saponification occur before barreling the tannins and other acidic components will reverse the reaction.

Barrel entry proof effects flavors and the number of barrels you'll need. Higher barrel proof means fewer barrels, lower proof more. Again, big guys want to spend less so they normally go with high proof.

For some smaller folks barrel entry tends to be lower - I've know some do 100p or less. The downside is that since you loose the angel's share it makes it so that your exit proof won't be the same. So people will put their spirit in above bottling proof. So no matter what, unless you're lucky, you'll have to proof down post aging. Some people proof at the end of aging in the barrel.

5 hours ago, jocko said: