Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

Moderator: Site Moderator

Post Reply
User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:19 pm

This thread will address how I manage to make a pretty acceptable brown likker with regards to my use of locally-sourced oak and a little time...
with some pictures even!

The three "brown" likkers I've been making are sweetfeed, UJSSM and TreeTop apple brandy. No sugar in the brandy however so don't have an infarc, Jimbo.
Basic 75-80 degree ferments, decent cuts and diluted to 55% for the oaking process the next thing you need is some oak. I'm blessed to live in an area that's thick with valley oak and the things are treated with almost spiritual reverence but when one croaks in the back yard, it's gotta go. Since I'm a renter the landlord wanted the bulk of it for firewood (!) but I managed to hold back a nice length of 10" diameter primary limb. It was summarily cut into 4-1/2" to 5" thick slabs for "processing". The tree had been standing dead for well over a year so it was nicely seasoned in the Southern Sierra summer heat and winter freezes.

Now that I have the raw material it's time to split it up. Since the 1 gallon bottles I use have a 1" opening I split the wood to 3/4" square to account for a little swelling once it gets alky-logged. The sapwood (lighter in color than the heart) is removed via camp axe and 3# hammer leaving that lovely heart. Once the "fingers" have been all made the oven gets heated up and the the wood is laid out in an aluminum roasting pan, covered or wrapped with aluminum foil and toasted at 400 degrees for 2 hours."
Whomever came up with this chart deserves a Pulitzer Prize for Stillin' cuz this is awesome:
Oak toasting chart.jpg
Oak toasting chart.jpg (14.66 KiB) Viewed 28109 times
400 degrees will give lots of vanilla with just a bit of toasty...tasty in my book for brandies and whiskey. The toasted wood smells great all by itself too.

Now for the charring phase. I take each "finger", hold it with a pair of needlenose pliers and hit it with a propane torch. The finger gets enough heat to make the wood evenly glow then I move to the next spot keeping the torch moving slowly. I avoid the end grain leaving it fairly uncharred in my belief that it gives the vanilla a better path out of the wood. Nothing scientific, just my thoughts and I like it that way.
Toasted oak.jpg
Once the charring is done, the fingers are rinsed off and summarily dumped into the jug. I use 6 fingers per gallon. I use a formula that I read from Corene some time back. For my use 22-23 square inches of oak per liter gives me the flavor I like. The equation is 5" x .75" (3/4") x 6 pieces = 22.5 square inches.The UJ also gets one stick of raw cinnamon bark which is just enough to give the flavor profile a nice note but not enough to be even close to taking over the flavor of the corn. Darn tasty.
UJ 55.jpg
As noted, the distillate is diluted to 55% and with the oak in it the jug is corked and placed in a location subject to the natural swing of heat and cold. My garage works well since in the summer it can be 100 during the day and 50 at night. I allow the oak to soak for a month and a half. I arrived at this by tasting during the process and when the likker had the oak notes that I like the oak was removed, the drink filtered through a paper towel (coffee filters are too damned slow), poured back into the jug, recorked and back in the garage it goes for another month and a half minimum. By now the drop has mellowed in flavor and considerably smoothed out.
UJ 45.jpg
Of course, you can let it go until it becomes an heirloom if you want but at this point it's perfectly drinkable and when diluted further to 40 or 45% will get approval from most folk savvy to a decent drop of likker regardless of where it came from.

Great for sugarheads and AGs alike (when I get around to 'em). ;)

tp

boda getta
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1248
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by boda getta » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:05 pm

Have you tried it at little higher proof, say 60%-65%? I've found, for my taste, this higher proof pulls out more of the desirable favors.

BG

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:17 pm

Nope but might do so next go 'round. Makes sense that it would. What's "cask strength"? 60-65?

tp

User avatar
Red Rim
Trainee
Posts: 806
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 3:14 am
Location: Orygun

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Red Rim » Fri Aug 01, 2014 4:48 am

Nice write up Teeps.
I use paper towels as well, but figured I would get yelled at for admitting it.
So now I can come out of the closet and say" my name is Red Rim and filter my booze with paper towels"!
There is no such thing as a stupid question....... Unless you didn't research it first.

User avatar
bearriver
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4442
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:17 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by bearriver » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:09 am

Nice write up. :thumbup:

New members seem to struggle with this part tremendously, so this should help a fella or two.

boda getta
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1248
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by boda getta » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:48 am

"What's "cask strength"? 60-65?"

Cask strength can actually mean two things. Most distilleries put their product in charred barrels at 60-65%. "Cask Strength" bottled whiskey is all the rage now, but this usually means the proof when taken out of the barrel for bottling. Most I've seen on the market is in the range from 95 to 120 proof; it's important to remember that the longer the whiskey stays in the barrel, the more the proof will drop due to the "angels share". Also note that most large distilleries use 53 gal barrels; the larger the barrel the more cost effective it is, and more importantly, the less contact the whiskey has with the surface area of the barrel. Most hobbyist use kegs ranging from 1 to 5 gals. The smaller the keg, the shorter the time in the keg should be or it could easily be over charred/oaked. I use a 3 gal #4 char Gibbs and I started out at 2-3 months. Note also that every subsequent cycle through the keg, the time needs to be increased to net the same results. Most folks claim that for a small keg, the useful life of the keg is only 3-4 cycles. Mine is reaching that stage now; I will either try to pop it open and re-char or use it for long term storage and buy a new keg.

Good luck
BG

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:55 am

I've come to the conclusion that yes, with a higher ABV on oak you'll get more flavor overall but I like a little more subdued flavor profile in my whiskeys. Aging ABV will be dependent on what you want at the tail end of the overall exercise, no?

Since we're on the subject, I use the oak fingers once. That way I know what to expect and how long to leave it in the jug. It helps that I have access to a lot of it. Once they come out, they get sun dried and wind up on the grill with the evening's dinner. :thumbup:
Red Rim wrote:I use paper towels as well, but figured I would get yelled at for admitting it.
So now I can come out of the closet and say" my name is Red Rim and filter my booze with paper towels"!
Seems you and I think a bit alike. That should bother you. :eh:

tp

User avatar
bearriver
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4442
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:17 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by bearriver » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:03 am

They say aging high abv on oak will pull undesired flavors from the wood.

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:05 am

I think PP said that so it's good enuff for me.

I kinda figger lower and slower would be the better way to go. So far it's worked well at 55% for me.

tp (kinda low and slow hisself)

heartcut
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 2781
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:31 am
Location: Houston, Texas

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by heartcut » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:51 am

Nice write up.
Yer used oak fingers, keep them moist and put in the bar-b-que. Good to the last ash.
heartcut

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know.

W. H. Auden

RevSpaminator
Swill Maker
Posts: 444
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 10:53 am

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by RevSpaminator » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:36 am

I age at 60%, but I typically use apple wood. Not sure if that makes too much difference. So far it has worked out well. I also like to drink it at "barrel proof" since it has a richer flavor.
Snake Oil Whiskey And Miracle Elixir - It'll cure ya or kill ya.

boda getta
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1248
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by boda getta » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:11 am

"I think PP said that so it's good enuff for me."

I doubt that PP said barrel aging in charred barrels at 60-65% would pull undesirable tastes from the wood. I'm sure that he did say that aging at too high a proof +150 proof would, primarily tannins. It's no accident that most distilleries have barrel aged at this proof range for many years. But hey; if aging at a lower proof suits your taste, go for it, but recognize that most don't consider it optimal.
Good luck

BG

User avatar
jedneck
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 3695
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:16 pm
Location: drive to the sticks, hang a right past the sticks amd go a couple more miles.

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by jedneck » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:19 am

I also age at 55%. I also go lite on the amount of oak. If it works for you do it. Don't have to please the masses just your self.
welcome aboard some of us are ornery old coots but if you do a lot of
reading and don't ask stupid questions you'll be alright most are
big help
Dunder

User avatar
HDNB
Site Mod
Posts: 6583
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:04 am
Location: the f-f-fu frozen north

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by HDNB » Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:54 pm

bearriver wrote:They say aging high abv on oak will pull undesired flavors from the wood.

i've found that low abv (40) does the same...kind of a wet wood flavour...go figure. 62% abv aging seems to give a good result. good balance.
i was also toasting at 400, someone suggested not exceeding 380 to retain more vanilla and sweetness, still get some toasty and no acrid. there is a noticeable difference that 20 degrees makes.


great write up Tpee
I finally quit drinking for good.

now i drink for evil.

Axdelmar
Novice
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:45 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Axdelmar » Sat Aug 23, 2014 5:54 am

Thanks for this guys....my next phase starts today...wife thought house was on fire..." No Honey, It's oak" then the deer in the headlight look...
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough.

User avatar
Halfbaked
Master Distiller
Posts: 3380
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:51 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Halfbaked » Sat Aug 23, 2014 6:10 am

T-pee I have read this several times and enjoy it every time. PP says that you get better flavors when you oak at 40 % than at cask stregnth 62%. You are in the middle of that. Just a guess but I would say pros use 62% so to save money and more likkker per barrel not because it taste better. MY opinion only.

User avatar
S-Cackalacky
Master Distiller
Posts: 5879
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:35 pm
Location: The Dark Corner

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by S-Cackalacky » Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:26 am

Coming into this a little late, but - good tutorial. I can use all the help I can get with aging. I tend to screw it up more often than not.

Thanks for the write up.
S-Cack,
Forum Contrarian

Every new member should read this before doing anything else:

User avatar
MichiganCornhusker
Master Distiller
Posts: 4394
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:24 am

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Sat Aug 23, 2014 7:46 am

Thanks for posting this T-Pee, the chart and your description have helped me a lot. I was previously just charring the outside of my oak sticks, not toasting them at all first.
Running the oak through the oven for a couple hours at 380-400 has make a huge difference in the flavors I'm getting out of the oak. :thumbup:
Shouting and shooting, I can't let them catch me...

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:45 am

:oops: Truth be told, I made this thread kinda for the newer members as an easily searchable subject like others have done. It was also to see what others were doing to make sure I was on the right track although I had a pretty good that I was due to the fine taste and universal acceptance amongst those that have sampled my simple sugarshines. That it helped some of the folk that have been here for a while is gratifying. Glad I could help with my sharing! :thumbup:

tp

User avatar
Jimbo
Master Distiller
Posts: 8376
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2012 1:19 pm
Location: Down the road a piece.

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Jimbo » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:53 am

Nice write up TP. Kudo's on leaving the refined sugar for your favorite cookie recipe and not bumpin your brandy ;)

I age just like that too. Anywhere from 47% to 62.5%. When I do single run apple brandy sometimes my hearts avg as low at 47% so thats how it goes in the barrel. Turns out caramelly fine just as one would hope.
In theory there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there is.
My Bourbon and Single Malt recipes. Apple Stuff and Electric Conversion

Axdelmar
Novice
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:45 pm

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Axdelmar » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:09 pm

All I can say is....wow. Oak rocks...Kinda overdid the first QT.Way too much wood...but I'll leave it be for later...as per suggestion. You guys ROCK!!!!
Like AC/DC..not like the Titanic... he he he...
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough.

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Sun Sep 14, 2014 7:06 am

Most people just wouldn't understand why this picture makes me happy. You folk do however.

I grabbed one of the oak rounds from a tree we took down that I saved, sat down with a 3# hammer and a sharp hatchet and before you know it the house smelled gloriously of oak finger toasted at 400 degrees for 2 hours.

Oh. Add the smell of frying bacon. I had a BLT for dinner too. Image
TOASTED OAK.jpg
tp

User avatar
Tater
Admin
Posts: 8816
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:19 am
Location: occupied south

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Tater » Sun Sep 14, 2014 8:10 am

Id think lot had to do with proof.But depending how aging is applied .In barrel or using sticks chips along with temp and type of wood when charred and temp of product when ageing and time. the big boys seem to have it figured out for process they are using but would seem hobby field is still wide open.Things as simple as adding peppercorns to product can really accent the char.Why I like this site :D
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

1965 wite
Swill Maker
Posts: 253
Joined: Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:52 am

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by 1965 wite » Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:09 pm

I put some ujssm on charred and toasted oak sticks tonight as well as a two jars on toasted oak chips. Some jars at 120 and some at 140. I had aged some of my first stuff by accident at 140 and when I think back on it, that batch was possibly some of the best flavored stuff I have made. So this will be a test to see what works better. I'll also be able to compare differences between chips,sticks and the different levels of toast and char.

InglisHill
Rumrunner
Posts: 710
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by InglisHill » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:01 pm

By the time I get that sort of colour, my staves have dropped. I find it strange that the ones in your picture are still floating. I wonder what the reason for that might be?

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Mon Sep 29, 2014 10:56 pm

What do you use for oak?

tp

InglisHill
Rumrunner
Posts: 710
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by InglisHill » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:05 pm

Oak. Heart.

Toasted, 200 deg C, three hours.

They usually sit up like your photo for a day or so until, I assume, they get water logged and they fall to the bottom of the vessel. I thought it an interesting difference.

User avatar
Tokoroa_Shiner
Distiller
Posts: 1321
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:02 am

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by Tokoroa_Shiner » Tue Sep 30, 2014 12:04 am

I get the same. Although half of mine have sunk and half haven't.
Must read topics for new members

The Rules By Which We Live By
Safety And Related Issues
New Distillers Reading Lounge

Have Fun, Keep Safe and Shine On

User avatar
T-Pee
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 4354
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:20 pm
Location: The wilds of rural California

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by T-Pee » Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:21 am

Have no fear. They're on the bottom of the jug now. :relaxed:

tp

woodshed
Master Distiller
Posts: 2970
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:21 pm
Location: Pagosa Springs,CO

Re: Oaking and aging the T-Pee way

Post by woodshed » Tue Sep 30, 2014 8:57 am

Great thread t pee. I haven't used sticks for awhile but this should help a lot of those who do.

Post Reply