Learning to Toast

Treatment and handling after you are done distilling.

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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:47 am

der wo wrote:Of course I don't know exactly how ugly it is. But normally acrid tastes of too dark toasted oak age out a bit. I would look how it tastes after a year. 3 months is generally a bad (too early) moment for judging the oaking.
You can always rerun it. Either to an all feints run or to something similar to the fermented wash or the low wines.


Thanks der wo. I'll see if age fixes those two jars then. I took the bad sticks out and replaced them with light toast sticks, hoping the lt oak will salvage the drink w/o adding more heavy toast yuk. I have a "wine closet" in my basement where I keep my long term projects, and I stuck these jars well in the back. Time will tell......
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:00 pm

Rum on Oak

I finally finished a new batch of spirits an have something left over to experiment with. The Spirit is what I call Bourbrum. It's a molasses/sugar head on spent honey bear Bourbon grains. I used Bourbon backset ( Dunder) in the rum ferment and I added both bourbon feints and dunder to my low wines before the spirit run. The result was a spirit with fruit, sweet corn, honey in the heads, a wonderful warm butter in the middle and some rich smells and flavors from the molasses I can't identify in the bottoms. I know some don't like any heads in their rum, but this one has some. I had five heads jars, (counting foreshots) and I kept the last two in the cuts.

I chose the 520 deg F American White Oak for this experiment.
IMG_2804.JPG
Oak at 520 F, 271 C


I only had enough juice for 150 ml in each jar. I cut my toast sticks down to 2cmx2cmx2cm squares for the smaller jars. That is roughly equilevent to a 150cm (5") stick in an 800ml jar.
IMG_2892.JPG
Rum on 520 F oak, day 1


Jar 1 is control, no oak. Jar 2 has a piece of raw oak, no toast. Jars 3-7 have oak toasted at or near 520 F for 7, 10, 13, 16, and 19 minutes. [ I decided not to test the 22 minute stick, which had a bad burnt smell to it the others did not have. Maybe a whiskey, but not for rum. ]

My version of nuking/rapid aging is using vacuum. I put these jars under vacuum for a minute as the oak soaked up the rum. Lots of bubbles escaped the wood and they sank to the bottom. I'll do this a few more times over the coming weeks as I test these jars and report back here. Otis. :-)
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:20 pm

After 24 hours....
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IMG_2903.JPG
Oak at 520, 24 hours on oak
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Oldvine Zin » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:23 pm

Hey Otis - are your samples just toasted and no char? Also the sample that you decided not to use, did it start to char in the oven?

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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:58 pm

Oldvine Zin wrote:Hey Otis - are your samples just toasted and no char? Also the sample that you decided not to use, did it start to char in the oven?

OVZ


Yes, just toasted and no char. I left the highest toast in the set out for a few reasons, and mainly it was that I was one jar short of doing all of the toast levels plus raw oak plus a control with no wood. I figured this was a rum, so leaving out the most toasted seemed the obvious choice. It was not charred, but it did have an acridic (sp) smell that I personally dislike. I know time would fix that, but like I said I was one jar short.

I have a lot of tests I want to run, including with chars, but I find myself very short on distillate to play with. Just takes more time. ;-)
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:28 am

This is an awesome post. You out did yourself. I linked to it from the Wiki "Toasting" article.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:32 am

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:This is an awesome post. You out did yourself. I linked to it from the Wiki "Toasting" article.


Thanks SMY. I do have a bit of an obsessive compulsive streak to me. :-)
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:47 am

One month update on my rum/oak@520F toast experiment.

IMG_3035.JPG
Rum on Oak (520F) one month

I've been smelling these jars weekly, and I'll tell you it's been very educational. In general, I learned I need to smell these things multiple times before I make any decisions/judgments. What I "liked" seemed to change week to week, though patterns did emerge for me. I'll cover those in a minute.

I wanted some idea as to how long I will want to run this test. I spent some time creating a tool that helped me compare the number and size of sticks I used to standard barrel ratios. In short, my experiment's wood surface area to liquid volume ratio is roughly equivalent to the vol/area ratio of a 53 gallon barrel. i.e. I'll want to run this little test out a few years.

One Month Smell Results (no tasting yet.)

Control - My control jar is filled with my familiar house rum. A combo of sweet corn and warm buttery smell. Very slight scent of bottoms. The control is aging, with both the butter and bottoms scent reduced from the start of this test and general mellowing. This is the only jar I have enjoyed tasting so far. All the other jars are not ready yet, having a strong oak taste that overpowers most everything else.

0 - This jar contains un-toasted american white oak. This jar has an elevated sweet corn smell, and a light oak smell. This jar has consistently been one of my favorites. The "young oak" smell is mostly gone.

7 - This jar contains oak toasted at 520F for 7 minutes. Really sweet smell. Slight toasty/acridic bite. Smoke smell. Not much butter detected.

10 - Oak @ 520F for 10 minutes. Really sweet smell. Trace of Vanilla? The Butter is back, big. A little acridic detected.

13 - Oak @ 520F for 13 minutes. Really sweet smell. Vanilla! Has a trace of something toasty, and also that sweet "young oak" is in this jar. Overall, this jar smells noticably "richer" and "deeper" than the predecessors.

16 - Oak @ 520F for 16 minutes. Rich Oak smell. Less sweetness that predecessors. More intense rich/deep smells of vanilla and oak. No trace of acridic smell I got in predecessors. This is my other favorite right now.

19 - Oak @ 520F for 19 minutes. Slight Creotcil (sp) smell (wood stove chimney). More sweet again, along with those intense smells.

Aging Time:
I wanted to compare my volume to wood surface ratios, to give me some idea on the time to age these out. I made a tool that calculates vol to surface area ratios and helps me compare them to barrel aging times. I know that vol/area is only one dimension of aging, and time/air/materials/taste/other conditions also impact aging times.
agingonoak.jpg
Area/Vol tool


My test jars are 150ml using one 2x2x2cm cube ea. (see the .15L row above) From this perspective, my aging may take a bit longer to mature than spirits in a 53G barrel.

I made this tool is in Excel so I could plug in new values any time for a new analysis. PM me if you want a copy of the tool. Otis
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby SaltyStaves » Fri Oct 06, 2017 12:56 pm

A barrel stave only has a single face in contact with the spirit. Penetration/saturation is far from total.

After the air escapes and the oak sinks, your cubes are completely saturated. This takes merely a few days. The entirety of their mass is in contact with the spirit and contributing to it.
Volume to wood surface ratios don't account for this.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby der wo » Fri Oct 06, 2017 1:11 pm

SaltyStaves wrote:A barrel stave only has a single face in contact with the spirit. Penetration/saturation is far from total.

After the air escapes and the oak sinks, your cubes are completely saturated. This takes merely a few days. The entirety of their mass is in contact with the spirit and contributing to it.
Volume to wood surface ratios don't account for this.

This is true IMO. But the maiority here believes in the surface ratio theory.

One cube 1x1x1cm will add much more oak than three 1x1x0.1cm chips, although the three chips have a little more surface. Because the one cube has 3.3 times the volume of the three chips.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Fri Oct 06, 2017 5:50 pm

SaltyStaves wrote:A barrel stave only has a single face in contact with the spirit. Penetration/saturation is far from total.

After the air escapes and the oak sinks, your cubes are completely saturated. This takes merely a few days. The entirety of their mass is in contact with the spirit and contributing to it.
Volume to wood surface ratios don't account for this.


Sure, I get all that and I understand aging is way more complex than vol/area. For me it's just a data point, and maybe I can improve upon it with some help.

Do you happen to know what kind of penetration, how deep alcohol seeps into a stave of a standard 200l barrel? I'm sure the answer is "it depends", and that it varies by proof/temp/humidity (season). It would be interesting to convert my tool to show a comparison of saturated wood mass between barrels and sticks. Sounds like this change would move any aging time estimates in the correct direction. Of course, if the depth answer is close to 1cm, then my table would not need much adjusting to suite my needs.

Thanks for input and perspective.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby der wo » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:44 am

OtisT wrote:Do you happen to know what kind of penetration, how deep alcohol seeps into a stave of a standard 200l barrel? I'm sure the answer is "it depends", and that it varies by proof/temp/humidity (season).

Yes. Unfortunately it depends. Not only on proof/temp/humidity. Also the different compounds of the spirit permeate different. And molecules reaching deep into the stave perhaps never come back, because they will evaporate. The whole stave gets penetrated, but the outer layer less. Impossible to translate this to gramm or cm² of sticks. You "simply" have to decide for the oaking duration and the taste you want and then estimate the size of the stick. It doesn't have to be super exact, you can always take it out or more oak into.
Sorry for my bad English!
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:14 pm

UPDATE on past posts. The barrel Surface Area data I used previously was BAD, and this impacts all of my target wood cube sizing. The chart below has been updated with proper SA/Vs for barrels (close approximations) and I have updated my target stick size based on volume.

I added a row for my Badmotivator Barrel (BBOB). Those BBOBs are looking to be a nice non-aggressive way to achieve proper wood aging in small barrel size quantities. :-)

AAWoodAgingChart.JPG
Otis' Wood Stick Aging Chart
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:37 pm

I have learned a new way to toast that I am very happy with. I needed to make larger staves for a handful of Badmo barrels I am making, so my previous method for sticks in the oven just would not work for a variety of reasons.

The new method uses a 1500 Watt hotplate for the heat source along with a 3 lb aluminum heat sync. The heat sync ensured a consistent temp throughout the toast, which I checked with an IT thermometer on both the wood and the plate.
IMG_0413.JPG
Don't forget the heatsync

IMG_0414.JPG
Checking temp


I found that a setting of 7 (out of 12) gives me a consistent 400 deg F surface to place the wood upon.
IMG_0412.JPG
Oak staves on the hotplate


I rotated the staves on the plate every 10 to 15 minutes for 2 hours on the set shown. My next set I am toasting for an extra 30 minutes for a deeper toast.
IMG_0417.JPG
Finished Set


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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Badmotivator » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:11 pm

OtisT wrote:I have learned a new way to toast that I am very happy with.
Otis


That looks awesome. Good job!
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby TDick » Sat Mar 31, 2018 8:23 pm

OtisT wrote:UPDATE on past posts. The barrel Surface Area data I used previously was BAD, and this impacts all of my target wood cube sizing. The chart below has been updated with proper SA/Vs for barrels (close approximations) and I have updated my target stick size based on volume.

I added a row for my Badmotivator Barrel (BBOB). Those BBOBs are looking to be a nice non-aggressive way to achieve proper wood aging in small barrel size quantities. :-)

AAWoodAgingChart.JPG

Hi OtisT,
I was reading the thread on "Good Rum"
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=70281

and it was tilting toward the discussion on aging and toasting and
GCB3 wrote:OtisT has a good post on toasting here:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=67274&p=7508710&hilit=Toasting+temperature#p7508710


To keep that one from going further off target I wanted to give this thread a bump and I also have a noob question.

I have an raw untreated oak 2x4 that felt green and heavy when I got it back in November.
I need to cut it - 1/2 x 1/2 x 5" (?) and let it age a bit more, but.
Everything I've read on toasting involves preheating the oven.
Seems to me that if you put the pieces in the cold oven and bring it up to temp, you will have a much greater variety of "flavors" in the wood.
That would be even more valid if for example you placed them in the oven turned it on to 520 F and left it at temp for the 10-13 minutes.
That as opposed to the method of toasting at 400 for an hour or two which I would think would have a singular character throughout the wood.
Whatcha think?
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:49 pm

TDick wrote:I have an raw untreated oak 2x4 that felt green and heavy when I got it back in November.
I need to cut it - 1/2 x 1/2 x 5" (?) and let it age a bit more, but.

.5" x .5" is pretty thin. It will be hard to get/see a consistent gradient in that. If possible, I would suggest a bit thicker.

As for length, I used 5" because that fit in a quart jar nicely. After toasting I cut some in half for pints.

The longer it can sit in the weather, the better. :-)

TDick wrote:Everything I've read on toasting involves preheating the oven.
Seems to me that if you put the pieces in the cold oven and bring it up to temp, you will have a much greater variety of "flavors" in the wood.

I'm not sure off hand how that cold start would work because I have never tried it and have never read about anyone using a cold start. Sounds interesting. I would be concerned that my little oven would burn sticks if it were not preheated because the elements are so close.

TDick wrote:That as opposed to the method of toasting at 400 for an hour or two which I would think would have a singular character throughout the wood.

I like the way that process toasts my barrel heads. The hotplate with the heat sync gives me consistent temps so I get consistent results. 400 F gives me a medium toast and it takes 2 hours to get that toast almost half way through the 1.1" thick wood. If I liked a heavy toast, you bet I would crank it up near 500 then test to see how long it takes to toast to the desired depth.

I've tried on a BBQ grills like others, but I don't have good control of the temps in my BBQ so I usually end up with charcoal.

Hope this helps. Let me know how your toasted sticks turn out. Otis
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Chickenbone » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:49 pm

OtisT wrote:One month update on my rum/oak@520F toast experiment.

IMG_3035.JPG

I've been smelling these jars weekly, and I'll tell you it's been very educational. In general, I learned I need to smell these things multiple times before I make any decisions/judgments. What I "liked" seemed to change week to week, though patterns did emerge for me. I'll cover those in a minute.

I wanted some idea as to how long I will want to run this test. I spent some time creating a tool that helped me compare the number and size of sticks I used to standard barrel ratios. In short, my experiment's wood surface area to liquid volume ratio is roughly equivalent to the vol/area ratio of a 53 gallon barrel. i.e. I'll want to run this little test out a few years.

One Month Smell Results (no tasting yet.)

Control - My control jar is filled with my familiar house rum. A combo of sweet corn and warm buttery smell. Very slight scent of bottoms. The control is aging, with both the butter and bottoms scent reduced from the start of this test and general mellowing. This is the only jar I have enjoyed tasting so far. All the other jars are not ready yet, having a strong oak taste that overpowers most everything else.

0 - This jar contains un-toasted american white oak. This jar has an elevated sweet corn smell, and a light oak smell. This jar has consistently been one of my favorites. The "young oak" smell is mostly gone.

7 - This jar contains oak toasted at 520F for 7 minutes. Really sweet smell. Slight toasty/acridic bite. Smoke smell. Not much butter detected.

10 - Oak @ 520F for 10 minutes. Really sweet smell. Trace of Vanilla? The Butter is back, big. A little acridic detected.

13 - Oak @ 520F for 13 minutes. Really sweet smell. Vanilla! Has a trace of something toasty, and also that sweet "young oak" is in this jar. Overall, this jar smells noticably "richer" and "deeper" than the predecessors.

16 - Oak @ 520F for 16 minutes. Rich Oak smell. Less sweetness that predecessors. More intense rich/deep smells of vanilla and oak. No trace of acridic smell I got in predecessors. This is my other favorite right now.

19 - Oak @ 520F for 19 minutes. Slight Creotcil (sp) smell (wood stove chimney). More sweet again, along with those intense smells.

Aging Time:
I wanted to compare my volume to wood surface ratios, to give me some idea on the time to age these out. I made a tool that calculates vol to surface area ratios and helps me compare them to barrel aging times. I know that vol/area is only one dimension of aging, and time/air/materials/taste/other conditions also impact aging times.
agingonoak.jpg


My test jars are 150ml using one 2x2x2cm cube ea. (see the .15L row above) From this perspective, my aging may take a bit longer to mature than spirits in a 53G barrel.

I made this tool is in Excel so I could plug in new values any time for a new analysis. PM me if you want a copy of the tool. Otis



Otis, I’m wondering if you could provide an update on this experiment, provided of course, your test specimens have not been consumed.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:59 pm

Chickenbone wrote:Otis, I’m wondering if you could provide an update on this experiment, provided of course, your test specimens have not been consumed.


What Incredible timing. :-) I have been cleaning/organizing my still room yesterday and today and just pulled out that case of jars one hour ago to sample and report on this week. They are airing now and in am planning to sample them tomorrow. I will report back soon. Otis
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Copperhead road » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:05 pm

Great thread Otis :clap:
It’s the best toasting thread I have ever come across, thanks for sharing....

Very well done, it’s a credit to you :thumbup:
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby Chickenbone » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:46 pm

Awesome Otis thank you. Looking forward to your report.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:16 pm

OtisT wrote:One month update on my rum/oak@520F toast experiment.

One Month Smell Results (no tasting yet.)

Control - My control jar is filled with my familiar house rum. A combo of sweet corn and warm buttery smell. Very slight scent of bottoms. The control is aging, with both the butter and bottoms scent reduced from the start of this test and general mellowing. This is the only jar I have enjoyed tasting so far. All the other jars are not ready yet, having a strong oak taste that overpowers most everything else.

0 - This jar contains un-toasted american white oak. This jar has an elevated sweet corn smell, and a light oak smell. This jar has consistently been one of my favorites. The "young oak" smell is mostly gone.

7 - This jar contains oak toasted at 520F for 7 minutes. Really sweet smell. Slight toasty/acridic bite. Smoke smell. Not much butter detected.

10 - Oak @ 520F for 10 minutes. Really sweet smell. Trace of Vanilla? The Butter is back, big. A little acridic detected.

13 - Oak @ 520F for 13 minutes. Really sweet smell. Vanilla! Has a trace of something toasty, and also that sweet "young oak" is in this jar. Overall, this jar smells noticably "richer" and "deeper" than the predecessors.

16 - Oak @ 520F for 16 minutes. Rich Oak smell. Less sweetness that predecessors. More intense rich/deep smells of vanilla and oak. No trace of acridic smell I got in predecessors. This is my other favorite right now.

19 - Oak @ 520F for 19 minutes. Slight Creotcil (sp) smell (wood stove chimney). More sweet again, along with those intense smells.


9 Month Update - and the end of this test for me

Summary of what I think I learned:
1) The flavors/smells that come from toasting appear to be tied to the Temperature, and not the time/depth of the toast.
2) Time/depth of toast appear to impact the amount/intensity of new flavors/tastes that come from aging on oak.
3) If using the oven method of toasting that produced these samples, the desired toast duration (in my oven) should be from 13 to 17 minutes.

As far as smells/tastes I associate with proper wood aging, I did not feel the spirit had "turned" yet in the #7 and 10 jars. In Jar 13, I started detecting smells that I would associate with proper aging and the intensity of these smells increased as the toast time increased. Example: I did not pick up a true vanilla smell in the 0, 7, or 10 minute toast jars. Vanilla was clearly present (and seemed to increase) in the 13, 16, and 19 jars.

While I learned some things through this test, it is not necessarily the test I wanted to run. I was hoping to identify taste/smell differences between the toast times, not just intensity differences. To create different flavors, I have come to believe that I need to compare various toasting temps. (my next toasting experiment.)

Subjective Thoughts on a 520F toast temp
I am not liking the smell of this 520 F toast. I don't know what the offensive smell is, but I have been calling it a Creotcil smell. That smell was present in the toasted wood before being put into the spirit, and my hope was that it would dissipate and clear over time (it did not). While early on that smell appeared to come/go in various jars, this smell is now clearly present and strong in each toasted sample, while none of it is present in my control and none of it is in my sample with raw (not toasted) oak. The intensity of this smell increases with the longer toast times. I have smelled this same smell on previous stick toastings I have done for jar aging. I have gone as long as two years in a jar and that smell does not go away with time or airing. Because this was a jar test, I did a lot of airing but that had no impact on the offensive toast smell. I have tossed everything with this smell, as it is so offensive to me.

More recently I have discovered that 400F produces a nice flavor I like for my whiskies, with the "turn" starting after only 3-6 months on wood.

I hope folks find this test of value. It sure has been fun and educational for me.

Next adventures in Learning to Toast
I am planning my next tests to look at the impact of various toast temps on my spirits. I suspect that different spirits will lend themselves to different toast types, so i will want to run a parallel test for rum and whiskey, the two flavored spirits I make most. I have prep to do before I begin. I need a new batch of basic whiskey and a new batch of basic rum as my base. (Basic = conservative cuts of a spirit not hopped up with dunder/feints/etc. The stuff I use for blending that I am out of.)

My toast temp range for this next test will likely be from 320F to 480F, and I will settle on a consistent toast time. Because I do my toasting now on a hot plate, not in the oven, the toast times will likely be in the range of one to two hours, depending on wood thickness. When I get all this stared, I will post again on this thread.

Enjoy.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby seize the bottle » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:43 pm

I just found this series of posts the day after my first spirits. I obtained a few off cuts from a local cabinet maker in exchange for a promise of a bottle.

I took the oak home cut 'em up into 4" lengths and then torched them with a blow torch until they started to burn. Stuck each in turn into an airtight metal container and when complete put the box into the oven at 400F for 30 minutes.

I have three liters each with a couple of chunks of oak in them.

I am now worried as you said the strong smoky flavor did not abate over time ... ouch!
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby OtisT » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:30 pm

Well I hope it turns out well for you with time. Some of the smoke smell/taste will calm down over time, but in my experience not much. There are also folks who like that strong smokey smell. A distiller friend of my just sampled my experiment jars today ( very coincidental, I know, but true) and he actually likes the smell/taste of my jars, and prefers the stronger toasted jars I said were too much for me. Folks have different tastes, so don’t give up on what ya started. I have some jars with sticks that I thought sucked for over a year and eventually improved.

Most folks I know toast before charing wood. Not saying it won’t work in the order you did it, but I’ve not heard of anyone doing it in that order. I have some theories why charing is done last, but just theories so won’t elaborate. If your not sure, go with the proven process people have tested with good results.

I find that american oak wood from a typical wood supplier for general use does not turn out nearly as well as seasoned wood. It definately takes longer to mature and mellow than seasoned wood. Store bought is typically kiln dried or aired naturally in a protected location, and retains some elements that are harsh to taste, from the tannins I believe. If your in this hobby for the long term do yourself a favor and buy some oak boards with lots of heart wood in them ( the dark parts) and stack them outside where they get rain, sun, the works. A year will pass soon. After a year plane off the outside layer, cut into sticks, and you will have some good aging wood. You may end up finding a source for seasoned wood, but you may not, so hedge your bet and get that wood seasoning now. You will be glad you did.

Good luck.
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Re: Learning to Toast

Postby seize the bottle » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:15 pm

Thanks for the words of encouragement and warning! I will certainly post my results to this thread over the next months/years.

I live in New Zealand (an expat from the states) and have not run across Oak in over a decade. I think I will just put some of the off cuts outside!
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