Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by S-Cackalacky » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:36 am

He sounds committed to delivering a good product, but damn that sounds a bit expensive.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by humbledore » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:41 am

I ordered from this guy a long while back. He's raised his prices. It's good stuff though. The boxes had half toasted, half charred. The sticks are kind of skinny. But overall good stuff.

I bought a used wine barrel for $50 to use the oak.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Ramen Tamer » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:51 am

I got a box that was all charred oak. I didn't think it was expensive, but it might be a matter of perspective.

I've been buying honeycombs from Black Swan Barrels and those things are very, very expensive. My other option was Oak Solutions Group, which charges around $70 or something for one "system" of oak. This way seemed much cheaper.

But, I suppose if you've got a cheap source of oak and toast it yourself, looking at these would be pricey. I dunno. I've got a wash brewing in my kitchen now, and the box of sticks arrived the other day, so in about a week, I'll start seeing how they work as the wiggle around in my ultrasonic cleaner.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by chris8sirhc » Sun Apr 05, 2015 8:24 pm

Only issue with that ebay seller is he doesnt say how long the oak was naturally weathered for. You want it naturally weathered for at least 6 months for liquor, up to 4-5 years for wine.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Drunk-N-Smurf » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:02 pm

It just occurred to me reading this thread.. My stepfather used to have a shop building cabinets and "sunshine ceilings".

It was 20+ years ago, but he has moved about 500-600 linear feet of 3/4"x2" oak with him from Alberta to bc and back again, and to 8 different homes over the years, I can't remember exactly, but I do believe it was white oak.

I'm gonna ask him about it, if it be white, I may be able to aquire it and if so, I might be able to be convinced to share (it's more than I'll use in a lifetime of hobby stillin)

I'll try and reach him tomorrow...
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Drunk-N-Smurf » Mon Apr 06, 2015 3:31 pm

Nope. It's all red oak.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by SandyCrack » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:55 am

I might have a wee bit of advice to add to this thread topic.

I have been using oak products for aging alcoholic drinks since the 80's, to flavor beers, wines, ciders, mead, and vinegar. I have used them all; barrels stave slices, blocks, beans, powders, chips, liquids, spirals etc. They all produce similar results, but each lends its own distinct character depending upon type and toast.

now, after more than 30 years of practice with fermented drink, I have developed an affinity for staves, and chips, in fact, I use predominately chips.

I age drink in glass, and chips are absolutely the most versatile, and the closest to barreling that I have found for this type of aging.

I buy four types of chips un-toasted, light toast, medium toast, and heavy toast. To be sure all of these are toasted in a kiln, or oven, and the batches tend to be very uniform, with zero charring or sticky, crusty cindering, like a person might find in many types of barrels.

So, the thing about ready toasted chips is, they are just a beginning, they are just begging to be flame toasted, and WHAT a difference flame toasting your chips makes.

I use staves too, but only for long term storage and aging, but these are just BIG chips! I start with raw lumber cut it down to size and char with a propane torch.

Admittedly, I have only 5 batches of palatable brandy under my belt, but I have literally hundreds of fermented beverages, bottled and consumed over 30 years, and I have found that for coloring any distillate, chips seem to be just as functional, and hand charred chips have proven to be just as flavorful in distillate, as in beer, cider, mead or wine.

I will also share a few things I have learned from vinegar making.
There are three things a person needs to successfully age proper, rich, wine vinegar... Oxygen, Oak, sugar, and patience!

I have transferred this understanding to distillate and come up with the following techniques; that seem to work very well, and very fast,

1 - I use medium or light toast oak chips as the base color and flavor

2 - I use heavy toast oak chips in a, 3 base chip/1 heavy toast chip, ratio.

3 - I flame toast 1/3 of my base chips by hand, to a charred around the edges look always trying to preserve the original color in the center of the chip, but producing blackened, cindered edges. With practice it is easy to do.

4 - I add 1 teaspoon (teaspoons, NOT tablespoons) of plain white sugar, for every 20-40 grams of chips.

I oxygenate by sloppily pouring the spirit into a big funnel while transferring it to another aging vessel, then I pour it all back into the original vessel with the chips. I oxygenate daily for 30 days straight, and depending upon how things taste, I may do this 2 or 3 times a day.

It is my understanding that the esters present in the fresh spirit combine with the sugars, charr compounds, and oxygen, to produce the wonderful nutty, mellow buttery flavors we all seek in properly aged spirits. This technique has produced these flavors in as little as 3-4 days in my brandies. After 30 day applications, and filtered rests in glass, I now have several gallons of nutty richly colored, and flavored, brandy in the cupboard, and they just keep getting better the longer they sit!

In fact, my first two batches of sangiovesse brandy were VERY heavy with Ethyl Acetate, do to my inexperience with making cuts, but after about 20 days of the previous technique, it is now very nice, nutty, sweet, with a fruit perfume that lingers on the tongue, correction, ALL of that brandy is now consumed! It was a hit with my wine friends and disappeared very quickly.

It is a lot of hard work, takes patience, and forethought, but well worth the effort!

I have now aged 5 of eight runs of distilled spirit with the same techniques, and have gotten similar success.

Here is the aging recipe from my last run,

1.25 gallons of brandy made from,
10% mead stock
10% mango stock
30% seville orange stock
50% strawberry stock

Proofed to over 50%, under 60%, yielded approximately 2.5 gallons of brandy. fruity, characteristically heavy with seville orange and strawberry notes, strong with ethyl acetate on the back side.
40 grams of light toast oak, 1/3 of which was hand charrred - aerate for 3 days, 3 times a day.
40 more grams of light toast oak, 1/3 of which was hand charrred - aerate for 3 days, 3 times a day
40 grams of heavy toast oak - aerate for 3 days, 3 times a day.
60 grams of white sugar - aerate for 3 days, 3 times a day. Just add the sugar and aerate the brandy, don't worry about the sugar dissolving, it will over the next three days.
Finished over the following 20 days - aerate one time a day.

Now bottled and in the rack for drinking and aging long term.

Character: Nutty, rich, warm, buttery, with a nice caramelized fruit flavor... perfect!
Last edited by SandyCrack on Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:14 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by SandyCrack » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:04 am

This is the color obtained with the aforementioned technique...

Image

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by S-Cackalacky » Wed Nov 11, 2015 6:59 am

SandyCrack, sounds like you have a lot to add to the knowledge base here. There are many threads here related to aging spirits. This is a more recent one that your process may contribute something to - http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =4&t=58087 . That thread is a spin off from this one - http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 44&t=55301 .

As you read and research here, you will find many threads on the subject. Glad you found your way here and I look forward to reading more of your posts on this subject.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by SandyCrack » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:24 am

S-Cackalacky wrote:SandyCrack, sounds like you have a lot to add to the knowledge base here. There are many threads here related to aging spirits. This is a more recent one that your process may contribute something to - http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... =4&t=58087 . That thread is a spin off from this one - http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 44&t=55301 .

As you read and research here, you will find many threads on the subject. Glad you found your way here and I look forward to reading more of your posts on this subject.

Thanks for the link Cackalacky....
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Spankey » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:30 am

Ya I am ordering from that guy on eBay on the first. I also am gonna order from black swan there honeycomb wood variety pack for 1 gal. It's got 1 stick of each wood for $12 but shipping is $10 so I am thinking of ordering 2 of the honeycomb since the shipping is the same for 1 set or 2. It's like 9 different woods. The yellow birtch sounds really yummy

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by SandyCrack » Sat Nov 14, 2015 6:35 pm

I have tried birch in wine, it imparts a mediciney, rootbeery type flavor. It works well with some fruit, overpowering in others.

Has anyone here tried toasted mesquite?

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by still_stirrin » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:46 am

SandyCrack wrote:I have tried birch in wine, it imparts a mediciney, rootbeery type flavor. It works well with some fruit, overpowering in others.

Has anyone here tried toasted mesquite?
Not mesquite, but I have used another good "smoking wood". I did one whiskey with some hickory. It is way too "sharp". Imagine the taste is quite acidic on the front taste. The aroma is strong and tingles the nose too. It does give a great color though. And I didn't have it on the wood very long before pulling it off. I would not recommend using hickory.

But I do like the fruit and nut woods; cherry is very nice and apple is also good. My favorite is pecan though...it imparts a fantastic "butternut" flavor, especially when toasted at 350-400*F for 120 minutes.

Mesquite, I would think to be a sharp smoking wood for meats like hickory...not the best whiskey wood. Alder too, although it isn't as sharp as hickory. I haven't read anyone from the PNW as having used it and it is a common smoking wood for salmon. Comments anyone?
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Spankey » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:56 pm

I was thinking yellow birtch because one of the flavors it says it gives is butterscotch. I like butterscotch

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by SandyCrack » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:00 am

still_stirrin wrote:
SandyCrack wrote:I have tried birch in wine, it imparts a mediciney, rootbeery type flavor. It works well with some fruit, overpowering in others.

Has anyone here tried toasted mesquite?
Not mesquite, but I have used another good "smoking wood". I did one whiskey with some hickory. It is way too "sharp". Imagine the taste is quite acidic on the front taste. The aroma is strong and tingles the nose too. It does give a great color though. And I didn't have it on the wood very long before pulling it off. I would not recommend using hickory.

But I do like the fruit and nut woods; cherry is very nice and apple is also good. My favorite is pecan though...it imparts a fantastic "butternut" flavor, especially when toasted at 350-400*F for 120 minutes.

Mesquite, I would think to be a sharp smoking wood for meats like hickory...not the best whiskey wood. Alder too, although it isn't as sharp as hickory. I haven't read anyone from the PNW as having used it and it is a common smoking wood for salmon. Comments anyone?
ss
Thanks for the info Stirrin.
I probably will try some hickory, in small proportion to oak, I always use oak, even with other woods.

I have tried "fresh" toasted applewood in apple cider, It was wonderful, the pairing was complimentary to both flavors, the wood and the apple fruit. They accentuated each others best characters, and contributed to an awesome smoky profile. Of course I used an equal portion of oak in the cider and bottled it after carbonation in the keg, so it was spectacular, didn't last long at all, like a week tops after the word got out...lol!

I am intrigued by your experience with pecan. I have used it in wine, and found it didnt add alot of flavor at all, in fact I found it so weak that I have only used it a couple of times, and then never used it again.
I found mulberry to be a bit... well... stanky... rough around the edges, overly earthy? Seemed like the more you toasted it, the worse it got.

I am going to have to try the pecan again in a spirit, I am also going to try and find some actual butternut wood. I LOVE the smell of fresh cut butternut, sweet and green, earthy, and woody. They are common where I grew up, in the midwest. I have read where the tree is actually endangered now due to a virus or something.... I am certain it would perform similarly to pecan.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Spriit Tisler » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:50 am

Since making or buying a barrel could be inconvenient, could one make a container for aging whiskey style spirits? Like using a very crude setup of oak planks and stainless steel plate to crimp it in and hold the charred surfaces in there? This gets somewhat desperate. :crazy: :lol:

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by distiller_dresden » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:37 am

Hi all, new to the thread;
I just moved into a new home and there is a HUGE I mean F-ing HUGE several cords of wood that have been outside aging on the side of the house under cover for firewood. If I selected some choice-looking pieces and took pictures, could someone please identify the wood (hopefully) and let me know if identified if it is safe to toast and age with? I'm in northeaster Indiana, Fort Wayne, and I would venture to guess the wood is either oak or maple. It's all been cut to be 'fireplace' ready, but it all has bark on it, so I think it should be identifiable...
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Wild Bill » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:13 pm

Ghost wood?


Did you mean to post a pic DD? cause I aint seeing one.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by butterpants » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:21 pm

Spriit Tisler wrote:Since making or buying a barrel could be inconvenient, could one make a container for aging whiskey style spirits? Like using a very crude setup of oak planks and stainless steel plate to crimp it in and hold the charred surfaces in there? This gets somewhat desperate. :crazy: :lol:
Some dude here is doing just that... but not crude at all... plenty of polish. I forget his name but you'll find it.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by distiller_dresden » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:25 pm

Hey Wild Bill, no, sorry, I was wondering if I posted a pic... Sounds like you're looking for one, and in hindsight I guess that was probably a dumb question; when I am home in a little bit I will take some pics and post them. Thanks! If I have something special or even if not but I have some good seasoned wood and someone wants any, we can work something out. There is a veritable shit ton out on the side of my house and we don't use the fireplace.

edit - here we go, got a couple pieces out, and tried to get the whole stack as there looks to be a few different types of wood, especially further down; the pieces I pulled are from the top, but further down the wood looks different, especially the lower left. Don't mind the black, someone stupid spray painted against the wood stack in the past; if used for aging this wood would be cut and gotten to 'heart' pieces. I can email the full HQ images if you really want a good look, just PM me.
wood1.jpg
wood2.jpg
Last edited by distiller_dresden on Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Cu29er » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:46 pm

.

https://woodidentification.net/red-oak/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
https://woodidentification.net/white-oak/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Red oak untreated trim can be found at big box lumber stores.

Red oak doesn't get used for barrels, and hence the popularity of White Oak in the discussion, because the pores are so large the wood leaks like a sieve. Toasting and aging Red Oak sticks works better because the liquid can go in and out easier than the more closed cell White Oak.

Temperature of the aging matters -- high shelf in the cupboard vs floor of the pantry.
Temperature fluctuation matters -- look up the 'nuclear aging' method thread on this forum.

.

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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by distiller_dresden » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:58 pm

Hey Wild Bill, or anyone else, do you need better pics?

I am fairly certain Cu29er was replying up-thread to Drunk-N-Smurf and his red oak from inherited shop wood, not to my pics.
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by kiwi Bruce » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:38 pm

Thank you Spriit Tisler for resurrecting this post...there is some very valuable info here!
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Rob S17 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:53 am

Ok! Let’s wake this 11 yr old subject up again!
Of course, the question I’m about to raise is probably buried in the depths of this thread. I decided to just pop the Q rather than spend my lovely morning at work scouring the thread.
I live in Northern Kentucky. We have oak trees growing out of our ears. I’m wondering if a pin oak, or black oak will be a good stand in for the white oak? I’m gonna try it anyways. Just seeing if anyone has had any luck with it.
Thanks!!
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by still_stirrin » Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:47 am

Here is some discussion:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3843
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12488
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4532
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11949&start=25
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=33487

There...something to get you started. Spend your evening reading....
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by Rob S17 » Fri Aug 30, 2019 3:11 pm

Thanks! Will read through them!
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Re: Everything you need to know about oak alternatives.

Post by 8Ball » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:23 am

I had a conversation with a well known cooper who I won’t mention by name. I asked him how to go about charring some bones I made from the cut offs of white oak barrel staves I obtained. He said: “Well, just stack ‘em up on a little pile and get ‘em burning good then douse them out in a bucket.” I use white oak shavings and fores to get my bones charred. FWIW.

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