Giant Texas Distillers Bourbon Heritage Month – Barrel Aging
It’s the last week of Bourbon Heritage Month here at Giant Texas Distillers. We previously learned about the grains, mashing and fermentation, and distillation. The final step in the making of our 100% grain-to-glass, Texas Bourbon is barrel aging.
So before we go any further, let’s go over the 6 rules for a whiskey to be labeled a “Bourbon”:
- Bourbon has to be made in America…anywhere in America, not just in Kentucky
- It must be created from a mash that is at least 51% corn (our Giant 95, Giant 100, and Cask Strength Bourbons are made from 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley)
- Nothing but water can be added. This is only at the end to lower the proof of the spirit
- Bourbon must be distilled no higher than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume)
- It must be aged in a brand-new American oak charred barrel at no more than 125 proof (62.5% alcohol by volume)
- It must be bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume)
Notice that there is no age requirement. So you could take your white dog, put it into a barrel, take it out after a minute, and ‘Voila’ you’ve got Bourbon. It’s going to taste horrible, but you can legally call it Bourbon. Our award-winning bourbons are “Straight Bourbon Whiskey”, which means that they MUST be aged at least 2 years.
Now back to the barrels, where all of the color and flavor of bourbon comes from. We hold quite a few of our barrels in our distillery area. These are our newest barrels and we leave them in the distillery because of the drastic temperature changes that force the bourbon in and out of the wall of the barrel.
After 6 months, we transfer them to our barrel warehouse, a concrete building just a few minutes away from our distillery. The warehouse is a much more suitable environment for aging our bourbon because it is much cooler. We rotate the barrels from top to bottom every six months, to keep the consistent heat exposure for each barrel.
Once the bourbon has aged for the requisite time and our Head Distiller is happy with the flavors and color that has developed, the barrels are emptied and the spirit is sent over to our bottling facility to be bottled and ready to be consumed by a happy bourbon lover!