As the year 2016 begins, we have reached the 18 month mark for our first experiment underway inside of Warehouse X. We are now fully immersed in our experimental journey - delving into the effect of natural light on aging bourbon barrels. Throughout the year 2015, barrels inside of Warehouse X experienced temperature fluctuations ranging from 30°F to 90°F, along with an extremely high number of humidity variations. This seems like quite a bit of variance, but these environment fluctuations were in fact more mild in comparison to the extreme temperature fluctuation barrels experienced during 2014. At this point, we have taken several intermittent samples from barrels throughout the warehouse, as well as drawing complete samples sets from all 150 barrels at three different times. This has bestowed upon us a solid collection of data. In fact, we have collected over 50,000 data points for temperature, pressure, humidity, etc.
Each sample has been measured on several factors including - color, aroma, proof, taste, and chemical compounds.
Samples have also been reviewed by our small group of tasting panelists to explore aroma, flavor, body, finish, and overall balance. Some of our tasting comments thus far have been “taste of honeydew” and “hints of rich sweetness.”
Most intriguing is that we have observed distinct variations in flavor profile from bourbon between different chambers and the breezeway. Another surprising and delightful observation is there are distinct differences in how the barrels look between different areas inside of Warehouse X. Some barrels appear much more weathered while others appear more pristine.
We are not sure if - or how - these visual differences correspond with variation in bourbon taste. But we are incredibly curious to find out. Time will tell.
This particular experiment is scheduled to be completed in June of 2016.
At that time, we plan to evaluate if we have strong enough evidence and conclusions, before moving on to the next experiment. So far, we feel gratified that we have already gained a wealth of new knowledge about the nuances of aging whiskey. We can state with confidence that the taste of bourbon can indeed be altered by the environment in which it ages. Now, we are looking deeper to see if we can discover how.