What is a whiskey thief

Q: Does it have something to do with the Pappy Van Winkle Whiskey heist?
A: Nice try but, nope.

Q: Is it someone that steals whiskey?
A: Kind of but it’s generally for a legitimate reason.

A whiskey thief is a tool that distillers use to extract a small portion of spirits out of a barrel. It’s used for sampling and quality control to make sure that all is well in the barrel. It basically works like a straw that you put into a glass of ice water, you place your thumb on top of the straw, draw the straw out of the glass then let the cold water drip down your sisters neck (or is that just me?)

Vendome-Copper-Brass-Works-Whiskey-Thief
Sample Whiskey Thief – Courtesy of Vendome.

A whiskey thief is generally copper but could be made of plastic or glass. I’ve heard stories of old-time distillery workers using a hose to secretly sample some spirits during the work day. Unfortunately, getting caught would likely be your last day of work at the distillery.

According to Parker Beam if the Angel’s Share inside the barrel is extreme, it can be difficult to get a sample out of a barrel. It may require rolling the barrel around on the floor to get a good sample.

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Parker Beam and Craig Beam of Heaven Hill Demonstrate a Whiskey Thief

Vendome-Copper-Brass-Works-Whiskey-Thief
Sample Whiskey Thief – Courtesy of Vendome.

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