Oak and whiskey

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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corene1
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by corene1 » Mon May 04, 2015 7:39 pm

Well I guess the best way to find out is to try it and see what happens. I know there was a discussion similar to this several months back as to how to char a piece of oak and the different possible flavors that may be implanted into the oak. I think the vast majority used a natural gas flame for charring. I have never thought of starting an oak fire and charring the oak sticks with it. That is what is most enjoyable about this hobby, thousands of different experiments to try.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Bobdoe » Wed May 06, 2015 8:04 am

Corene- I looked around the 'net and found a company that makes oak barrels (http://www.iscbarrels.com/char-options" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow) and I took the liberty of cutting and pasting this description of one of their products from their site: "This barrel is slow toasted over an oak fire for 30 minutes before catching on fire to create a light char level on the surface." On the other hand, I found descriptions from large distilleries who used gas flame to char their barrels. It IS truly a cool hobby. So many things to try!
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by heartcut » Wed May 06, 2015 5:10 pm

Good idea, Bobdoe, gonna have to try that. Lots of possibilities there.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by NgrainD » Thu May 07, 2015 8:10 am

heartcut wrote:Good idea, Bobdoe, gonna have to try that. Lots of possibilities there.
Man, no kidding.
What about oak charred on a pecan wood fire, Cherrywood, apple. ... :crazy:
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Jimbo » Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:40 am

http://www.drinkingcup.net/understandin ... our-casks/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by SaltyStaves » Mon Jun 29, 2015 3:08 pm

Thanks Jimbo. Never heard of some of those barrel sizes.
Its funny that when we refer to our tiny coolers as 'Mash Tuns', its (empirically speaking) a gross exaggeration.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by humbledore » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:04 am

Holy crap Jimbo that is a good read. Lots of new info in there, at least for me. Thanks.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Jimbo » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:52 am

Says part 1. Might be more good stuff coming on oak flavors aging rickhouses etc
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by humbledore » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:58 am

I was able to read all three parts, there are links at the bottom of the page.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Jimbo » Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:30 am

Nice, thanks, missed that. :thumbup:
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Justafarmer » Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:39 am

I recently oaked a half gallon of all-bran at 55% . I've read that 62.5% is the "sweet spot" for vanillins and that more sugars would come out at around 55%. I used locally sourced (from my wood pile) white oak heart wood sticks (2) 3/4" x 3/4" x 6". I toasted both at 400 degrees in my heat treat oven ( I'm a hobby knife maker, too) for two hours and charred two sides of one stick with a propane torch. For two weeks I put the jug in the freezer for a couple of hours, then in my hot truck until it was no longer cool. I did this a couple of times a day, leaving it in my freezer overnight. Then I just left it on a shelf in my shop for a month. Then I strained it through a coffee filter and proofed it down to 100. The flavor is very nice, with a lot of sweet notes and a surprising amount of vanilla and butterscotch , though not quite as much as the UJ I have aged at 62.5%. I have another All-Bran wash to strip and add to a spirit run, and I plan to put a gallon on four oak sticks treated just like the two previous ones, but I'm gonna start at 62.5% for a month or so, and then cut it to 55% until I'm satisfied. I'm hoping to maximize the vanillins and sugars with this graduated strength. I've seen that someone else does something similar with their strength while aging, but I haven't read of their results.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Chucker » Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:48 am

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?
I can see where you'd be coming from with that, Bobdoe and I'm wondering if you are lighting your 'gar with a liquid fuel lighter or butane torch? As far as the wood goes, I'd assume that a propane torch shouldn't really impart any off flavors and if I do a reasonably sized pile of sticks that their own smoke sort of takes over for them. I can definitely taste a smoky aroma in the youthful portion of the aging when I'm using some fresh charred sticks compared to some that I've stored for a couple of months. I've never tried actually burning them over a wood fire, though, as I use the basket over my kettle burner. I do know that I sure smell like fresh smoke after charring up a batch, though. Roasting up a few baskets in the garage and keeping them shaken up at arm's length to avoid burning prematurely will do that to ya!

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by chris8sirhc » Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:49 am

if your going to use a gas flame, be sure to use butane. The wood will pick up notes from whatever chemical was used, which will show up in your final product. Butane is the cleanest of the gas flames available.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Jimbo » Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:50 am

Ive been using a propane torch for years, no flavors at all. Toast em, torch em and toss em in a bucket of water overnight.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by Monkeyman88 » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:07 pm

I use LPG with no noticeably tastes. I've also just stacked up a pile of them and lit with a match. Haven't noticed any difference between the two.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by BourbonStreet » Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:54 pm

I've been letting some of my UJSSM sit on JD chips ever since I started making it a few years back. I charred them a little more with a propane torch, and diluted the spirit down to 55%. After a couple of years, it still tasted too rough. I finally tried the Solera method, and mixed some old and new batches together. A few months later, it was decent. It tasted like JD, but I'm not a big fan. My oaked spirit just recently hit three years, and I pulled it out and tasted it. Wow! It's really getting good now. The bite is gone, and it's totally smooth.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by raketemensch » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:14 pm

BourbonStreet wrote:I've been letting some of my UJSSM sit on JD chips ever since I started making it a few years back. I charred them a little more with a propane torch, and diluted the spirit down to 55%. After a couple of years, it still tasted too rough. I finally tried the Solera method, and mixed some old and new batches together. A few months later, it was decent. It tasted like JD, but I'm not a big fan. My oaked spirit just recently hit three years, and I pulled it out and tasted it. Wow! It's really getting good now. The bite is gone, and it's totally smooth.
Has the oak been in it for all 3 years?

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by scout » Mon Jan 25, 2016 1:26 pm

When we char a cask we coopers use a gas flame ring, the char comes as part of the heating to bending temp. and a cask will usually be heated for 10 to 15 minutes before being pulled to set that ends rings. Once all the rings are knocked in they will go back on the flame to get it to "ordered char", then the ends are set and the cask is off to cool and then packing. Barrel staves are never charred on the end grain. You will have "fresh" wood in a cask, that is so it can be reworked at least two times for longer life. My personal cask are smallish, medium charred and wood ringed instead of steel ringed (steel rings are more for moving the casks around (durability is also a factor)). TP, love your method.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by T-Pee » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:50 pm

Thanks, scout! Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. :ewink:

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by pjkumpon » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:12 pm

I'm new to distilling, and recently performed a stripping run from my first corn/malted barley wash. The results were an average 20% from an 6-7% wash. Upon tasting this, it did not taste like whiskey. It didn't taste bad, but just not distinctive. I know that I need to do my spirits run - but I can't imagine that the flavor will change much. My questions are as follows:
1. How much of the characteristic whiskey flavor comes from the Oak? Does the taste change considerably?
2. How long do you typically leave the whiskey in the Oak?
3. What should the ABV be when I put it on oak?

Thanks!

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by acfixer69 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:26 pm

The thread is old but still holds information. I'm not going to read it agin so I will answer shooting from the hip.
1. 90% IMO is the wood
2. 3 month for most small barrels
3. 60-70% ABV is what most do

I like corn barley white best but wife like the sour mash tree tea. So hope you find what you like.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by thecroweater » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:16 pm

I think a good rule of thumb is abv of low 60s for fresh oak and if used raise it accordingly, in almost spent oak I start at between 72 and 75% which might give you a tannin hit in new oak.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by FL Brewer » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:50 am

Hi Croweater - I've got a batch of single malt ageing on used bourbon sticks at 60%. I had not read anything before about ageing at higher proof when using used wood.... what flavor advantages does the higher proof get you? Is it just faster extraction? I know that my first bourbon batch, where I used untoasted charred oak (Jack Daniels barrel cut into roughly 8 x 1/2 x 1/2 inch strips, old char scraped off and recharred) on 65% I got a strong tannin flavor that I didn't like. I read a bunch, did my next batches with wood toasted for an hour or two at 400 degrees F then charred and cut down to 60% strength to get a much better flavor profile, and just assumed the same would apply to used wood (yeah, I know what they say about what happens when you "assume"). Any idea what Scotch and Irish Whiskey makers use for ageing proof?
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by dieselduo » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:32 am

Try soaking the used oak in sherry. It gives a nice flavor profile

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by butterpants » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:38 pm

Good thread!

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by T-Pee » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:38 am

I once had some of Corene's AG done with sherry barrel oak. Truly outstanding.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by FL Brewer » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:42 pm

dieselduo wrote:Try soaking the used oak in sherry. It gives a nice flavor profile
I'm gonna try that! At what proof were you aging?
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by thecroweater » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:27 pm

There is a finite amount of compounds in the wood surface and with spent oak there will be a higher percentage extracted of the most soluble compounds. What higher proof with do is allow your spirit to be more solvent extracting a bit more and pumiating a bit deeper into the oak, with fresh oak that might be a bad thing but with spent wood it allows you to milk more out. I don't know if the Scotch use a higher proof but they do tend to keg for much longer, 8 to 12 years is pretty common.
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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by corene1 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:10 pm

I tend to believe that the ABV of the spirit should be determined by what you are looking for in your spirit as well as what type of spirit you are making. If I want strong flavors quickly I will oak at a higher ABV than if I am intending to age for a long time. If I am making a Scotch or Irish whisky and want more of the floral fruity flavors I will use a slightly lower ABV. If I am making a bourbon or a stronger type of Scotch say a Speyside, I will oak at a higher ABV. Basically my ABV ranges from 55% to 63% give or take a bit. I always have some once used oak sitting in a gallon jar full of good sherry as well as one that has a good whiskey in it. No rules out there that say you can't switch the oak as the aging process moves along. That makes me wonder what my whiskey jar alcohol could do as a flavoring to a good bottle of whisky.

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Re: Oak and whiskey

Post by MDH » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:21 am

The transition of higher ABV to lower or vice versa over time means a wide range of compounds are extracted gradually in conventional aging.
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