Oak and whiskey

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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corene1
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Oak and whiskey

Post by corene1 » Sat Dec 13, 2014 4:50 pm

Just when you think you have read enough there is always more. In a recent post a question was asked about spirit being hot after only a few weeks on oak when the spirit had been smooth before the oak. It made me think of how much I don't know about aging and oak . So I started looking and found this article. I think it will help all of us learn a bit more plus there are some great links to information regarding other aspects of distillation. Now I just need to get out my dictionary to figure out some of the words.
http://whiskyscience.blogspot.com/2011/ ... vours.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by T-Pee » Sat Dec 13, 2014 7:24 pm

First two sentences:
Hundreds of different flavour compounds have been identified in whisky. The synthesis and degradation and synergistic properties of these compounds is still poorly understood as there are so many aspects contributing to the result of cask maturation.
Interesting read. I'll call it FM and leave it at that though.

tp

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by S-Cackalacky » Sat Dec 13, 2014 7:51 pm

I tried reading it, but after a while the words just went into my eyes and bounced off my feeble brain.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by bearriver » Sat Dec 13, 2014 8:08 pm

Gives me a few hours worth of words to research... :thumbup:

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by ShineRunnah » Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:02 pm

Good read. Tells me I need to go talk to my lumber supplier and get him to source me some European oak from a few different areas. Time for some experimentation!

Been thinking about a sherry cask for some time now, as I'm kinda addicted to Scotch. A friend of a friend owns a winery, I think its time to go for a visit...

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by jedneck » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:28 am

Excellent read, anybody got a link to a good dictionary.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by bearriver » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:43 am

Wikipedia is what I'm using to decode the article.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by thecroweater » Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:09 am

I love the whisky science blog, read it often, they have had some very interesting blogs of late that i would like to touch on down the track a bit :thumbup:
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by DAD300 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 11:23 am

Nice article...but...

Basically different woods, methods of making the barrel, toasts and chars give different taste notes to the final aged product!
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Da Yooper » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:37 pm

WOW :crazy: ^^^^^^^well said DAD^^^^^^that makes more sence
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by corene1 » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:24 pm

I stumbled across this as I was looking for answers to a previous post about a 4 week old whisky that had gotten hotter instead of smoother after the oak was put into the jar. I did find the answer in this article . I know that different toasting times and temps do make a difference in the flavor profiles of a whiskey as well as the depth and severity of the char. I just like to know why it happens so I can make subtle changes to the flavor of my whiskies. There are tons of links to other interesting distilling processes also. One interesting one is the different distilling temperatures that render out different phenols into the spirit and where they come across in the run. These too can change the flavor profile of a whiskey.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by T-Pee » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:38 pm

Funny you should post this, Corene. I had a bit of an eye-opener recently myself: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =4&t=50348

tp

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MDH » Mon Dec 15, 2014 10:25 pm

WhiskyScience is an excellent blog, a good summary of research. I recommend reading the posts on copper and sulfur.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by DAD300 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:49 am

I love that chart...
Oak toasting chart.jpg
Oak toasting chart.jpg (14.66 KiB) Viewed 15813 times
I do sticks and chips in glass jugs.

Now, I'm trying to figure out the affects of charring after toasting. Charring has been far harder to figure out than toasting.

My take so far, has been to toast all sticks around 440F and char half.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MDH » Tue Dec 16, 2014 2:29 pm

For truly authentic, complex whisky, you want a little bit of everything, including some raw.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by DAD300 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:20 pm

MDH...that's very profound...the outside of a barrel isn't toasted or charred. Jeezzz...now I have to try raw wood.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by jedneck » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:23 pm

I use 2x2x6 inch blocks that are chard no toast. I find that it gives a more complex flavour to my untrained palate.
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
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:50 pm

DAD300 wrote:MDH...that's very profound...the outside of a barrel isn't toasted or charred. Jeezzz...now I have to try raw wood.
Was just thinking about that a few days ago when I picked up a 5 gallon barrel. Anyone know how they toast a barrel, but only on the inside? I'm thinking about taking the barrel apart to clean it up, (inspired by RandyMarshCT) and toasting the staves in the oven at 380 for a few hours before reassembling. Would be a darker barrel then.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by DAD300 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:56 pm

I have three little barrels...I keep thinking about what it would be to take them apart and get them back together.
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Ethyl Carbamate Docs viewtopic.php?f=6&t=55219&p=7309262&hil ... e#p7309262
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:11 pm

DAD300 wrote:I have three little barrels...I keep thinking about what it would be to take them apart and get them back together.
No sweat: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =4&t=52710
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MDH » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:14 pm

DAD300 wrote:MDH...that's very profound...the outside of a barrel isn't toasted or charred. Jeezzz...now I have to try raw wood.
'Generally speaking the cooperages don't make a perfectly even toast because they're using open flame. Once the spirit passes through the charred layer, it hits the more caramelly toasted woods, then a small amount into less toasted, more raw wood. The general makeup of what the Whisky is exposed to, I think, would be charred and some toasted, with only a bit of raw.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by ShineRunnah » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:17 am

You may be using raw oak without even knowing it. Try cutting some of your charred/toasted sticks in half to see what the center looks like.

Think of it like cooking a steak. High heat for a short time will give you exterior char, some internal toast and a center that is nearly raw.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Wed Dec 17, 2014 11:27 am

ShineRunnah wrote:You may be using raw oak without even knowing it. Try cutting some of your charred/toasted sticks in half to see what the center looks like.
Done it. I was surprised that the toasting seemed to happen evenly throughout the stick right from the beginning.
Here is a pic showing a stick that was toasted and charred next to one that was just charred. The charring does very little beyond the surface. I have been really happy with the toast/char combo.
Toast no Toast.jpg
Here is a stick toasted for 80 min:
Toasted 80.jpg
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Chucker » Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:29 pm

I've been searching for info on the board concerning aging and there is a ton of great stuff here but a couple of things really stand out; a) A lot of this is very personal and subjective, and, b) There seem to be more differences than similarities in preferences and techniques. I would say that most comments seem to be geared toward non-barrel methods since glass seems to me much more accessible. Within those comments and even among the differences there is probably more commonality to the physics than seems evident within the individual method.
The root of my question line has had more to do with time than anything and how to more readily discern when desirable flavors have peaked and more specifically when enough is enough.
I use gallon jugs and finger sized sticks of charred white oak. I used to simply blast and stir a small pile with a blowtorch but have more recently switched to a small screen basket held over flame, shaking and stirring to get some even and deeper char until they all start catching fire quickly. All are then quenched and rinsed in a bucket of water to rinse off loose ash. As another post notes I concur that this invokes some degree of toasting, varying degrees of char, and some raw wood interior. All of this varies with stick size and the amount of direct flame contact they've had.
The imparted color, aroma, and flavor has been impressive. My ratio has been arbitrary and based on the jug size more than anything; I just try for a single layer to float in about 3 liters of 55-60%. I'd really like to hear more about what others here have perceived as under/over-oak flavors, or for that matter what constitutes excellence.
My washes have been based on brown sugar and corn after beginning with oats. The corn tastes better and next season will incorporate more corn. I use an adapted CM head on a gas fired 10 gal kettle. My best results so far have been to do a stripping run as a pot still and then a finishing run with reflux to a composite of 160 proof. Learning all of the time and especially from this site.
Would really welcome input/comments/further questions.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by culvercreek » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:30 am

Interesting read. I have seen a lot of stick pictures posted on the site and most of them have very little exposed end grain. When I was toasting and charring my sticks I opted for the more crosscut in forming the sticks rather that ripping the wood. It made sense to me since this allows more access to the grain of the wood, since wood is basically bundles of tubes. My thought process was more contact area. Have any of you noticed a difference the direction of cuts make in your process?
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by corene1 » Tue Dec 30, 2014 7:36 pm

culvercreek wrote:Interesting read. I have seen a lot of stick pictures posted on the site and most of them have very little exposed end grain. When I was toasting and charring my sticks I opted for the more crosscut in forming the sticks rather that ripping the wood. It made sense to me since this allows more access to the grain of the wood, since wood is basically bundles of tubes. My thought process was more contact area. Have any of you noticed a difference the direction of cuts make in your process?
]

Absolutely! The more end grain that is exposed the faster the wood will transmit flavors into the white whiskey. This will also cause over oaking very quickly.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by pulsetech » Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:17 am

Isn't end grain avoided because of the tanins ? A barrel has very little if any and grain exposure. I like my staves long and thin . 1/2 x 1/2 x 6 seems to be a nice size. I have stoped toasting and gone for exterior char only just like a barrel would be. Not saying I'm right or anyone else is wrong just another way to get it done

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by chris8sirhc » Tue Mar 31, 2015 2:49 pm

pulsetech wrote:Isn't end grain avoided because of the tanins ? A barrel has very little if any and grain exposure. I like my staves long and thin . 1/2 x 1/2 x 6 seems to be a nice size. I have stoped toasting and gone for exterior char only just like a barrel would be. Not saying I'm right or anyone else is wrong just another way to get it done
yup, end grain imparts a "brown paper bag" flavor compared to side grain.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by ipee7ABV » Mon May 04, 2015 5:01 pm

pulsetech wrote:Isn't end grain avoided because of the tanins ? A barrel has very little if any and grain exposure. I like my staves long and thin . 1/2 x 1/2 x 6 seems to be a nice size. I have stoped toasting and gone for exterior char only just like a barrel would be. Not saying I'm right or anyone else is wrong just another way to get it done
I still have a lot to learn but if you think about it the staves are just end grain split.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Bobdoe » Mon May 04, 2015 6:15 pm

I hope this question is on-topic. Bear with me here: I enjoy a nice cigar now and then and I can taste a definite difference when I light a cigar off a lighter vs one lit with a piece of burning wood.

So, is charring a piece of wood with a torch going to give different flavors to a drink compared to a piece of oak or other wood that is charred with wood flame?

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