Distress aging with charred oak

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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Distress aging with charred oak

Post by Husker » Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:37 am

I have read people using freezer for 2 days, then out for 2 days, to help "motivate" the charred oak (or other flavorful wood) to process more quickly.

If I do this, I will use my 4L glass jugs with 65% or so, put in some charred strips, and freeze. Then put out on my deck for a couple of days, and repeat.

My question is if I put this out, and the sun shines on it, will this impart bad things into the flavor (clear glass bottles)? If so, I guess I could put the glass bottles inside of a box, to keep the sun shine off of them (might also be good idea to keep the neighbors from knowing or asking what is in the bottles ;) )

If people have experience with this process, please share it.

H.

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Post by TRANSPLANTED HILLBILLY » Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:29 pm

You really don't need to put it outside. A 35 to 40 deg.F change in temp is plenty to do the job. And the extra light from moving outside is not really a good thing for ageing. Most aging rooms/houses are kept dark.

Or ya could just make somemore and leave what ya got in the outside shed for a year and fagetaboutit, aside from the occasional shake from time to time.
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Post by Husker » Fri Nov 03, 2006 12:39 pm

Thanks hillbilly.

So, I can simply take 8 gallon jugs, put 4 in the freezer (max my beer fridge can hold), and put the other 4 on top of the fridge, then rotate them every couple of days for a few weeks?

Yes, I know, put them away, and ferget them is best, but I plan on giving some of these out to my poker buds as Chrismas gifts. Some friends like the raw shine, as do I, so they, and me, are easy to handle.

I figure that if I only have a couple of months to age, I better do everything in my power to speed up the process.

H.

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Post by TRANSPLANTED HILLBILLY » Fri Nov 03, 2006 1:22 pm

Sounds like a plan. GITERDONE!
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Post by hans » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:54 am

That is how I do it with good results. I just put in freezer at night. Take out during the day. and leave jar in the sink. makes a huge mess on the counter.I do this for about a week. Hans :D

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Post by possum » Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:21 pm

fridge woorks ok too.
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Post by masonjar » Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:00 pm

Ok, here's a question. I know beer and wine can smoothen out in the bottle without oak. Does booze do any mellowing without oak using the fridge/no fridge technique or does it have to be with wood to get sped up?

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Post by Aidas » Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:12 pm

Shine mellows even without wood. Time will do it too - though not as well or as far.

By the way, the topic of time mellowing has been discussed in detail in another thread. Do a search.

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Last edited by Aidas on Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Miraculix » Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:51 pm

masonjar wrote:Ok, here's a question. I know beer and wine can smoothen out in the bottle without oak.
Does booze do any mellowing without oak using the fridge/no fridge technique or does it have to be with wood to get sped up?
Because it is distilled (and if no flavors/additives are added after distillation)
it will not continue to develop or mellow after it is botteled or put in glas
containers. This is how they do it in France to prevent very old cognac
from further "developing". Also, vodka and gin can be consumed right
away, with no aging or mellowing required.

However, if you're using essences to flavor your "neutral" booze, you can
heat it up to about 50 °C (? °F) in a glas jar or something, take the lid
off for a couple of minutes while it's warm, and then seal it again and put
it away for some storage. Now you have speeded up the mellowing with
considerable time.

Smell the vapors that's coming off.... they're really harsh and foul smelling.

/Miraculix

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Post by Aidas » Tue Nov 07, 2006 3:51 am

...
Because it is distilled (and if no flavors/additives are added after distillation)
it will not continue to develop or mellow after it is botteled or put in glas
containers. This is how they do it in France to prevent very old cognac
from further "developing". Also, vodka and gin can be consumed right
away, with no aging or mellowing required.

/Miraculix
Actually, that's only half true. Yes, aged liquors will have no perceptible change once they're bottled (as in the cognac example). However, raw moonshine will mellow in glass after just a couple of weeks, if not less. Obviously, the effect will not be such as using wood, but it will be less harsh. Try it, you'll see.

Aidas

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Post by goose eye » Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:32 am

i would be kinda careful putin open likker on the stove an putin fire to it

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Post by Miraculix » Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:00 am

goose eye:
Ahh, not open in a boiler.
Put your booze in a glas jar. Seal it (lid). Put into a kettle with water.
Heat the water (and hence; the glas jar) to about 50 °C. Keep the temp
for some time to be sure the contents of the glas jar get this temp also.
Take the glas jar out of the water, open the lid for some minutes, seal again,
and let cool down. You have now speeded up the "developing" by many
weeks.

Aidas:
Yes, that's of course true. Was thinking more of "longer term" storing of
whisky and such. Raw distillate will mellow quite a lot during first few
days/weeks.

/Miraculix

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Post by Aidas » Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:26 pm

UPDATE

As I mentioned earlier, I was "distress aging" some sourmashed rye. I'm also aging some sourmashed rye simply, i.e. not taking it in and out of the freezer.

Last weekend, after some serious kayaking (we've had some good rain lately, so the water was up, and the rapids were just right... but I digress...) I decided to uncork the distressed rye and let the crew get a taste of the good stuff. FANTASTIC! Fortunately, I managed to save a couple of slurps to compare to the "traditionally" aged stuff. There is no comparison. The distressed tasted as though it had been aged for a longlong time, while the traditional stuff, though better than any storebought rye, was still a little rough around the edges (compared to the first).

Hence, I'm becoming a believer in "distress".

Aidas

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Post by Uncle Remus » Sat Nov 25, 2006 6:58 pm

I've been putting some corn and also some barley whiskey in and out of the freezer now for a couple weeks. It tastes as good as some stuff I've had kicking around for a year or more. I can't believe how much it's sped up the aging process. It works very well....now only if I could quit sampling it.... :lol:
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Post by Tater » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:08 am

Ive tryed aging by a method that been posted a while back . I first read it i think on tonys sight.I tryed 2 ways . 1 tyed my 7 1/2 gallon keg to a tree limb with a plywood square attatched to act as a sail.any breeze kept keg moving around 2nd I tryed useing same type keg I put in shed with a weak floor and a pice of rebarb under keg to make it doddle from side to side every time someone walked on floor.Both worked .The tree was better. Rye tasted like Rye I had tasted that was 10 years old .Corn tasted like some I had tasted 4 years old .Both had been aged only a year.
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Post by absinthe » Wed Dec 06, 2006 5:17 am

i have a window in my house that gets full afternoon sun.. so the curtain is almost always closed..

i wrap my barrels and bottles in black cloth to stop the light getting to em and stick em right near the glass....

in the afternoon they are DAM warm (i haven't tested them but id guess about 45C at the moment) and at night they drop to the night temp rather quickly and it makes a huge difference...

although the Angles get a bigger share this way :P
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Post by hornedrhodent » Thu Dec 07, 2006 2:55 am

="tater"

.....I tryed 2 ways . 1 tyed my 7 1/2 gallon keg to a tree limb with a plywood square attatched to act as a sail.any breeze kept keg moving around 2nd I tryed useing same type keg I put in shed with a weak floor and a pice of rebarb under keg to make it doddle from side to side ....

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Post by pintoshine » Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:58 am

I'm not a fan of toasted oak. It is good in wine but not to my liking in spirits.
I posted this by request after sharing some of my sticks with wineo and from him, some aged spirits to mntwalker2.
This is my charred oak stick procedure with com observations.

I select White Oak from which I know the origin. I buy mine near Sonora Kentucky from some Amish fellow's sawmill. I try very hard only to get heart wood. I put them out in the weather, stacked with spacing between them to use for various wood working projects.
When they are good and dry, in about a year, the top ones have aged in the weather really bad and turned gray. These are the ones I won't use for wood working because they require a lot of cleanup. But, these have the best aging flavor. A lot of the water soluble volatiles have been leached out. These can give some bitterness in a long aging.
I rip these boards into 1/2" x 1/2" X 6" sticks either in my band saw or my table saw. It depends which one has less junk piled on it at the time.
I don't pay much attention to grain because sometimes these were the crooked boards or knotty boards anyway. That's why they are the cover boards on the stack.
After they are cut, I put 40 or so on the grating on the charcoal grill. I make two rows, with an inch or two between the rows and all the sticks in the row touching each other side by side.
I use my mapp gas torch with the instant start trigger. The mapp gas is so extremely hot that it can char the outside of the wood extremely shallow. It only burns about a 1/32 inch into the wood but chars it intensely enough that it removes the smoke taste and smell from the char. The wood immediately behind the char is caramelized. Since the char is carbon, and I char it until it turns bright orange, the resulting surface has thousands of micro cracks in it. These cracks are the alligator char in miniature. This gives much more area for the alcohol contact and allows the alcohol to flow through to the caramelized wood really fast. The intense heat is what allows this.

When I am torching the sticks I do the ends first. I hold the flame on the ends until they glow bright orange. and the wood grain is intensified. I then do the topside of the sticks working from end to end of each stick and preheating its neighbor. I always move slowly but constantly so that the surface has a chance to glow bright orange. The corners sometimes ignite but go out rather fast. I know I am moving about the right speed when I leave the corners smoking and sightly ashen. The I turn each stick 1/4 turn and do the top side again. By the time the fourth side comes around it won't need much to finish it off. I then bag them up for later use. I never wash them or pre-soak them. The char is as sterile as it can be.

The small amount of ash turns black in the spirits but is easy to remove. I always polish my spirits with a couple layers of coffee filter paper before final bottling anyway.

This process for making aging sticks is easy and rewarding. In 90 day with a ratio of two sticks per 750 ml or 10 to a gallon, it makes nearly a perfect sipping liquor. I have aged some as long as three years this way and the results are great.
Different liquors react differently with the sticks too. Wheat germ, especially the second generation, comes out dry after about 3 months. The fast fermenting molasses with no sugar added seems to pull more sweetness from the wood. It is really nice over ice. Sugar wash, especially the stuff that has been mostly cleaned up in a good column, approximates cheap patent still blended scotch. All wood but not much else.

The best proof for this wood is 120. The vanilla needs a bit higher alcohol but the water soluble caramel, especially the reddish part, needs water. I find that 120 proof is a real good compromise. Of course the proof can be fooled around with if you like. The more alcohol the dryer it is and the more water the more colorful it can get.
If you keep a lot of tails in your liquor, these sticks are a miracle worker. They can make a single run with lots of heads and tails taste almost like store bought stuff. If you like collecting everything but the foreshots, the these babies are nice to make harshness go away.

You know wood usually floats. In a couple weeks these become saturated and sink. Right after they sink, the mellowing starts.
These things are great in the smoker to flavor meat. Its second use is a family secret for pulled pork. Now you know why I weigh so much...

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Post by Bohunk » Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:38 am

Pint, thanks so much for taking the time to write that lesson about aging, I have also used your triac controller for my set up, now I'll use your charring method. When I grow up I want ot be just like Pint-o-shine.

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Post by Husker » Fri Sep 14, 2007 7:05 am

Bohunk wrote:Pint, thanks so much for taking the time to write that lesson about aging, I have also used your triac controller for my set up, now I'll use your charring method. When I grow up I want ot be just like Pint-o-shine.

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so you want to be known quartoshine :)

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Post by Frito » Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:16 am

Wow, Pint. Good stuff. I've poured through the aging section on the main site, but it seemed so hit or miss. I think my stuff aging is too high in proof (166 or so) Might just split it and use a couple more sticks. I'm using red oak right now, but need to find a source for white oak. thanks.

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Post by Bohunk » Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:36 am

Husker, I think quart-o-shine would be a little to big for me, half-pint would do just fine. I’m 67 with no signs of growing up in sight, so I may never get the name. On the subject of members being helpful, Pint has surly help us all a lot, but my vote goes to husker, he has always gone above and beyond helping folks who are just starting out. His answers are always courteous and very much full of knowledge, no I won’t be like husker when I grow up, cause I’m already a HUSKER.

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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by taliesin101 » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:22 pm

I have just finished my spirit run on my USJM that I took to 4 generations (sorry lads, just could not wait to taste the juice long enough to let it get to 8.....next time lol).

I combined 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations of USJM. Now the distillate from the slow spirit run (with cuts by taste and tecture) are sitting in big mason jars. Every jar has the same number of TOASTED oak and a few sticks of untoasted natural oak. Not exactly sure what the natural oak will do, but I just put those naturally oak pieces in 2 days ago (the dog was on the toasted sticks for about 5 days now, in and out of the freezer)....and I have noticed a definite added mellow sweetness to the dark smokey flavor.

anyway, getting on to the post......I have been putting the jars in and out of the freezer just as described....in at night, out in the morning. And I can say with certainty that there is a HUGE difference in the taste in only 5 days. The color is already perfect.......but I will let it go darker before I just let them sit in my cellar. But I have to say, that the distress aging certainly has a very big advantage in that it cuts down the smoothing/ aging/ oaking time alot.
Maybe I'm just partial, because I made these corn squeezins', but this tasted heads over tails (no pun intended) better than ANY of the JD products I've had. Hell, IMHO, it's nicer (in flavor) to me then Knob Creek...sweeter and smokier already. Not sure how this could be, as it's only been on oak 5 days now. But that's my take. I don't think I will ever buy store bought again, as long as I can produce my own. My biggest problem is figuring out when to take it off the oak....from what I read in other oaking posts......it does seem possible to over-oak things.....and I certainly don't want to do that. At the same time, I want to let it go as long as it keeps getting better....the trick is finding out when that peak between "keep getting better" and "over-oaked" is lol.
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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by Selby » Mon Sep 22, 2008 1:08 am

Does anyone Know if cleaning the final distillation of Bourbon with baking soda would have a bad effect on oak aging?

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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by Hawke » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:02 am

In my limited experience, I've found if it doesn't taste like a tree after the first day or two, it will only get better.
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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by big worm » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:28 pm

so the 10 quarts sitting in the old shed airing out for about three weeks have be stress aging? it freezes and thaws daily in there. :twisted: this thread reminded me that i put them up before thanksgiving they been coverd with coffee filters banded down. i must go and sip..er check them
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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by Barney Fife » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:23 am

I've tried a few things lately that were interesting. I had 6 liters of UJSM that I blended together in a BOP, so that all 6 were identical. I then added varying amounts of oak in each 1L jar(in 3 pairs, meaning the same amount of oak in two jars), set 3 of them in the freezer overnight, and 3 on the shelf. The next morning, I took the 3 from the freezer, un-capped them, then re-capped them tightly. Upon warning back to room temp, the air expands, thus pressurizing the jars. I then set these alongside the other 3 and watched 'em for the next few days. All 3 frozen jars colored up much faster, and they were all the first to have the oak sink in the jars. This tells me that the pressurized jars indeed force liquid into the wood more quickly. But after a week, the non-frozen jars had caught up, color-wise, and their oak also began to sink. After 3 weeks, I uncapped all of them, and re-capped them with coffee filters to air out. I'll be trying some of it over the holidays, but the sniff and finger-dip tests show little difference at this point, between the frozen and the others. The amount of oak added, though, shows huge differences, with the highly oak'd ones being very much Bourbon-like in flavor and aroma, where the lightly oak'd jars aren't very distinctive.

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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by punkin » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:20 pm

What i did was take two 4l (1 gallon) jars and set them both with about 3 litres of UJSM white dog. I put the same amount of chocolate toasted sticks in each (quite a few).
I use these sticks all the time and am confident in my knowledge of the results they give...

I put one jar in the freezer overnight and got it out during the day, and i put the other jar on top of the freezer to remind me it was there :lol:

Did this daily for a couplea weeks and observed that the 'distress aged' jar was very much slower to achieve any amount of colour or flavour from the wood in that time. The jar that was left alone however seemed to 'mature', that is, colour and get intensive flavours much quicker by comparison.

I have not tried to repeat this experiment since then and am quite satisfied that it doesn't work. I would suggest anyone else who wanted to give it a whirl, do the same thing i did with a side by side and see for yourself. 8)
Last edited by punkin on Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by Hack » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:45 pm

Punkin, I've toasted up chunks of oak similar to the process I believe you use. I usually only put one piece per jar for aging. I've noticed that each jar will take on color and flavor at different rates. All of these chunks came from the same piece of wood and were toasted at the same time. It may be that my toasting process was uneven. This might account for some of the variances you saw, although since you used multiple sticks it would probably average itself out. It may mean something, it may not.

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Re: Distress aging with charred oak

Post by punkin » Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:27 pm

Thanks Hack, true, it may be pertinent.

May be why others have found the distress a positive experience :lol:

This is the sort of quantitiy i use for quick ageing...

Image

Hope you can see it, probably six or more sticks 1/2 x 3/4 x 4".
This takes about six weeks to colour and flavour up UJSM, not as good as half as much for longer, but ok for those heathens who drink it with coke :roll:


By the way, that Peaches and Corn from early this year is REALLY good now 8)

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