Many people and books talk about bottle shock, and how 3 months in the bottle greatly improve the spirit as it gets its initial oxidation, rest, and mingling of chemical components. The ADI book Distiller's Guide to Rum suggest the greater part of 3 months for storage after bottling before selling, and we have definitely noticed a marked improvement in our spirits from the day they went in the bottle till a few months later.
With that being said, does anyone have experience in the time of vatting making a real improvement? Example. If we have to release a product in 3 months, will it be more beneficial to blend and vat the barrels for 3 months, then bottle and sell immediately; blend and vat for 1 month then bottle and allow rest; or allow equal vat and bottle times?
Eg. Does the best mellowing happen from blending in the steel vat or resting in a bottle?
Thanks for the help!
Bumping this post!
I saw a big change in "depth" of taste after 3 weeks in bottle and tracked it for 6 weeks.
By that time we were pretty much sold out. I still have a half dozen bottles of my first batch (~18 weeks in bottle) in my private collection but am hesitant to open them.
I think that depending on the product you want to vat and then bottle, you will need to let it rest longer solely based on the acidity of the most acidic product you've made which is being blended into the final product.
So, if you have one product which was allowed a very extended malolactic fermentation, such as a sourmash, you will want to glass or bottle age your product for a long time before selling, versus one with a more straightforward fermentation allowing no time for extended lactic acid.
Aging certainly does occur without oak. If you observe the practices of distilleries in Alsace and the neighboring Black Forest, you'll notice that they almost universally age their eaux de vie in glass "balloons" or demijons, often with a thick cotton cloth stuffed into the lid to allow permeability similar to a barrel.
Does this only apply to clear spirits? Or should I be considering bottle aging of barrel aged spirits as well?