Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

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Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:59 am

Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging - The Beginning

I seasoned some Apple, Cherry and Plum wood and I plan to experiment with it to learn what I can. I am documenting my tests and ramblings here in this thread, and welcome any input on the subject of using fruit wood in aging spirts. I’m new to using fruit wood for aging and I am starting from scratch, so please keep this in mind; I’m no expert, but I am curious and willing to try most things, so here we go.....

The anecdotal advice I have received on using fruit wood is to use it sparingly, and not to soak product in it too long. I’m guessing this is because it can become overpowering, but I will also keep an eye out for any long term changes in the flavor this may bring to a product.

About the Wood
I started out with this small pile of wood that came from a friend’s rural land. Fruit trees they had harvested fruit off of for years. No chemicals used so I guess that makes the wood organic.
Fruit wood Logs from a friend
Fruit wood Logs from a friend
IMG_0071.JPG (40.6 KiB) Viewed 6543 times
The logs had been piled outdoor for various lengths of time. Total seasoning time was just over 1 year for the Cherry and Plum, and just over two years for the Apple. I cut the logs into short rounds.
Cherry Rounds
Cherry Rounds
Plum Rounds
Plum Rounds
Apple Rounds
Apple Rounds

This is what I split from the logs. I have more Plum/Apple not shown. Wish I had more Cherry. Much of it rotted while seasoning outdoors.
Split Wood - Plum, Cherry, Apple (L to R)
Split Wood - Plum, Cherry, Apple (L to R)
Observations of the raw split wood
The Cherry stands out in smell. Easy to tell it’s cherry. Others have faint fruity notes to them.
All three are very solid hard wood. Not a lot of open pores noticed in the end grains.
The Apple was the only log to have obvious heart and sap wood. I split only the heartwood.
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:19 pm

Making Fruit Wood Tea - Raw Wood

It was suggested to me that making a tea out of oak is one way to determine relatively how much tannin is in it. The process sounded interesting so I decided make tea out of my raw fruitwood also to learn what I can. The types of wood that were included in this specific test include:

- Oregon Oak
- American White Oak
- Mesquite
- Apple
- Cherry
- Plum
Raw Wood Samples for tea
Raw Wood Samples for tea
Wood samples each started as ~1” cubes and were split into small chips with a chisel


Tea Making Process

- Bring 3/4 cup water to a boil and add chips
- Maintain low boil for 10 minutes and strain
- Let samples cool and start tasting
Raw Wood Teas
Raw Wood Teas
Raw Wood Teas - different light
Raw Wood Teas - different light
Tasting notes by wood

American White Oak (AWO)
Color. A medium amber color that is much darker than OO.
Smell. Med/light intensity. A distinct smell of oak with Sweet and Nutty notes.
Taste. Sweet, Oak. Richer and thicker feel compared to OO.
Feel. Astringent down the center of my tongue, focused on the back of tongue. A bit more mouth feel/thickness as compared to the OO.
Notes. This helped me with a good baseline on what to expect from an Oak tea from wood I am familiar aging with.

Oregon Oak (OO)
Color. A lighter amber color that is much lighter than the AWO.
Smell. Light intensity. A delicate fruity, floral, and nutty smell.
Taste. Sweet, oak. A light fruity taste. Less intense than the AWO.
Feel. Astringent down the center of my tongue, focused on the tip as a brief “bite”. A light/bright feel as compared to AWO.
Notes. This seemed to match with what I have read on the characteristics of a French Oak. I.e. lighter in flavor intensity compared to AWO with an emphasis on floral and fruity notes vs woody/ darker notes. The tannin intensity comparison at different dilutions shows that this OO has less tannins in it than the AWO. That said, the OO does not look as porous as the AWO and this may mean the OO will just be slower in showing tannins?

Mesquite
Color. Not much.
Smell. Slight woody smell. Not much.
Taste. Not much.
Feel. Slight woody dryness
Notes. I did not get much from this wood. Not sure how I would use it.

Cherry
Color. Med amber color, touch of red. Almost identical to Apple.
Smell. This has a very prominent fruity and sweet smell that was very strong and noticeable from the get go. I could tell it was cherry immediately.
Taste. A very prominent sweet and bright fruity taste. The fruit taste was stronger and notably different than the fruity taste I got from the Plum. (Both good, just different.)
Feel. Not much. Did leave a slight pucker on one tasting that did not last long.
Notes. I get the feeling that Spirits would not need to be in contact with Cherry long before benefiting from this wood. The nose and flavor is strong.

Plum
Color. A rich Red/Amber color. Surprising, because the raw wood was one of the lightest in color.
Smell. Not very noticeable at first, but with some time sampling I could detect some rich fruity plum notes, and maybe raisins too. This rich fruit smell is distinctly different than the light fruity notes coming from the cherry.
Taste. A light sweet and dark fruity taste.
Feel. Not much. A slight drying sensation that did not last long.
Notes. This wood has some wonderful dark/rich fruit notes in it. Less intense than the Cherry

Apple
Color. Med amber color, touch of red. Almost identical to Cherry.
Smell. Not much. A very subtle hint of apple fruit and wood.
Taste. Refreshing and clearing the pallet. Not much to it.
Feel. Refreshing. No bite, pucker, dryness, etc. very neutral.

Personal Observations
1 - I am looking forward to using Oregon Oak, especially with Brandy and Rum. I think it may go well with some of the more delicate whiskeys where I don’t want to cover too much with a strong oak. Oregon Oak aged spirits will not be as dark as AWO aged spirits.

2 - Cherry is a strong wood and may need to be used either sparingly and/or for a short duration before being checked for impact on a spirits. The fruity notes from cherry are lighter/sweeter flavors as compared to the Plum.

3 - Plum has some wonderful dark fruity notes. I think it may take more time for the Plum to have an impact on a spirit but the end result should be delicious. I am really looking forward to trying this wood with many different spirit types, especially brandy and whiskey.

4 – Apple had just a hint of fruit to it, so it may take a longer soak in Apple to have impact on a spirit. Not sure how I may want to use this yet.

5 – Mesquite did not do much here. It had just a hint of wood taste and not much else.

6 - None of the fruit wood had any offensive tastes or smells to them.

7 - I know I have an allergy to oak because when cutting/sanding that wood it congests the hell out of me (I have to wear a mask when working with oak). When I tasted the oak tea it immediately messed with my throat for hours by tightening up and causing congestion. Nothing life threatening or scary, just uncomfortable.

8 - I let these jars sit covered and in 3 or 4 days infections were forming in most of the jars. oops.

Note to self. I need to repeat this test using toasted fruit wood.

I remind myself that these tests were done with water. Alcohol will draw different molecules, at a different rate, and with different reactions. I found this test very enjoyable and educational.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:48 pm

Toasting Fruitwood Sticks

I needed to toast some fruitwood sticks for further testing so I used my hotplate setup as a grill for toasting a single small batch of Apple, Cherry and Plum.

Using a grill for toasting, you can only toast one side at a time. My sticks were hand split and irregular in shape, so I gave two sides of each stick a quick pass on the belt sander so they would have two flat surfaces for good contact with the grill.
Fruitwood sticks on the grill
Fruitwood sticks on the grill
A little cover to help maintain 360F
A little cover to help maintain 360F
I gave these sticks a medium/light toast, which for me is a surface temp of approx 360 F. I toasted about 80 minutes each side, leaving a bit of the center wood unchanged in color.

Here is my batch of toasted fruitwood. For comparison, a sample of raw wood is in front of each wood type.
Small batch of toasted Plum, Apple and Cherry (L to R)
Small batch of toasted Plum, Apple and Cherry (L to R)
Before soaking I stamped stick ends with the type of wood to help ID sticks post soaking.
Raw and toasted sticks, stamped with wood type prior to use
Raw and toasted sticks, stamped with wood type prior to use
Note to self: I need to try different toast temps too, at some point in the future.

Observations
This fruitwood smells absolutely wonderful toasted. Each type smelled really nice and I can’t wait to try it.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:21 pm

Fruit Wood Vodka Soak Test - Start

I want to learn what this wood, toasted and raw, does to a strong neutral(ish) alcohol. I’m using a 62% ABV wheat vodka and the base for this test.
Six jars contain Raw Apple, Toasted Apple, Raw Cherry, Toasted Cherry, Raw Plum and Toasted Plum.
Fruitwood Vodka Soak Test after 1 week.  T=toasted
Fruitwood Vodka Soak Test after 1 week. T=toasted
The amount of wood is probably 4X what I would use for the same volume of a drinking spirit. I did this to more quickly extract flavor/smell/color. Aging tests with various alcohols will come later, once I know more about each wood.


To speed up the soaking process I placed each jar under vacuum several times. I have a jar vacuum attachment for my FoodSaver that works great for quickly soaking and pulling from the wood.
FoodSaver for Vacuuming jars
FoodSaver for Vacuuming jars
Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Little Hank » Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:08 pm

8) follow
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A little spoon feeding *For New & Novice Distillers viewtopic.php?f=15&t=52975
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by still_stirrin » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:25 pm

Otis
Have you started to look at the “nut” woods yet? There’s some diamonds burried there....
ss
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:15 am

still_stirrin wrote:Otis
Have you started to look at the “nut” woods yet? There’s some diamonds burried there....
ss
No, I have not tried any nut wood yet. I will keep any eye out and if I come upon some I will definitely give it a try.

Do you know any specific types of nut wood folks have used with success? What type of wood, toasted/raw, and how did they use it. I have lots of hazelnut trees in my neck of the woods, and I see some walnut trees too. I’m not sure what else I could round up around here.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by still_stirrin » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:58 am

OtisT wrote:...Do you know any specific types of nut wood folks have used with success? What type of wood, toasted/raw, and how did they use it.
I’ve used toasted pecan with much success. It gives a “butternut” sort of flavor. It’s not tannic either....kinda’ soft and smooth. Not as much color as toasted oak though.

OtisT wrote:...I have lots of hazelnut trees in my neck of the woods, and I see some walnut trees too.
Hazelnut sounds real interesting and I would definitely give it a try. Walnut too, although it will give you a fuller flavor. I’d toast the hazelnut and probably toast & char the walnut.

What I’ve found is that the nut woods don’t finish as sweet as the fruit trees do. And the possibilities of the flavors is intriguing. Imagine what complexity a mix of blended woods would do for a bourbon. Create the “OtisT Signature Small Batch” (OSSB).

Give ‘em a try and see what you come up with.
ss

p.s.- Have you any mulberry trees around? I have a couple of old age trees in the yard and I’ve cut and seasoned some of the fallen branches. Another possibility of fruit woods.
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:45 am

Fruit Wood Vodka Soak Test – 2 Weeks Tasting

These are my notes from tasting the samples after soaking 2 weeks. I diluted samples down during the process of tasting and smelling

Apple
Apple Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Apple Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Apple Wood Raw
Smells of fruit and is a bit chemically. I can distinctly smell the Apple also. The fruit smell is a bit like heads smell (ethyl acetate.) A solid presence but not super strong relative to other samples
Tastes a bit fruity and sweet. No chemical bite/taste that I associate with heads. No astringency or bitterness. [the vodka used has no hint of heads in it that I can detect.]

Apple Wood Toasted
Smells like a sweet and rich fruit. Not bad at all. Can’t say I would ID it as apple. No hint of chemical or heads like in the raw sample had.
Tastes of toast and has a fruity kick (in a good way). Pleasant and non-offensive in the mouth. No bitter and no astringency.

Plum
Plum Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Plum Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Plum Wood Raw
Smells faintly of sweet fruit and I can smell the base vodka*.
Tasting this sample I first detect fruit. There is a slight bitterness to this sample as well as a slight astringency.

Plum Wood Toasted
Smells toasty, sweet, fruity with a trace of the Vodka base smell*.
Tastes of sweet and fruit. Barely detectible traces of bitterness and astringency.

Cherry
Cherry Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Cherry Wood in Vodka - Raw and Toasted
Cherry Wood Raw
A strong sweet and fruity smell, chemically smelling like heads (ethyl acetate)
There is a fruity taste up front that is nice, and I can taste the base vodka*. No bitterness and no astringency.

Cherry Wood Toasted
The first smell that came to mind was butterscotch and toast. Smells like sweet candy fruit.
Tastes of toast and a complex fruit taste. The finish was a little dry, but not astringent and not bitter.

* I flagged these records because one of my desires is to find a fruit wood treatment that does not cover the base spirit. I figured anything that still allows me to recognize my vodka after soaking should be noted. I will keep an eye on this data point moving forward.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Copperhead road » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:32 am

Great thread, I would like to play with some mulberry wood soon.
I was going to import a 20L mulberry wood barrel from Germany but it worked out far to expensive. :thumbdown:
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Mon Sep 17, 2018 3:41 pm

Fruitwood Finish on my Best Honey Bear Bourbon

My best drop to date is my 11 month old Honey Bear Bourbon aged in a Badmo bourbon barrel. Delicious! I am using that bourbon for my next fruitwood finishing test.

I started with four jars of 60% ABV spirit. Three jars received a small block of toasted fruitwood. The fourth jar is my control.
Bourbon and Toasted Fruitwood
Bourbon and Toasted Fruitwood
Day 1 I vacuumed each jar twice to quickly soak the wood with bourbon. I could smell an impact on each jar immediately after vacuuming. All good smells.

Day 2 I vacuumed each jar twice to force the cubes to breathe. The smell of fruitwood was prominent so I decided that was enough and it was time to pull the wood. I saved the bourbon soaked cubes in sealed jars in case I need to add these back later, for more flavor. (If they don’t go back in here they will add a nice something special to a small jar of something else in the near future.)
After the soaking Soaking
After the soaking Soaking
I was looking for any color changes due to the fruitwood, but the bourbon is so damn dark I can't see any impact. Hell, I couldn't even see the wood in these jars unless I had a light behind it.

I have been cautioned to use fruitwood sparingly and only for short lengths of time. My vacuuming sped up the soak process, and I hope I was not too aggressive. The fruit smells are very prominent right now and I believe a little time will mellow that out a bit. I let the jars air for 12 hours after pulling the wood then diluted each jar to 40%.

I believe the bourbon should have some time to mingle with the newly introduced fruitwood molecules before this will be done. I’m planning on letting these jars sit a bit before I do a formal tasting. Right now I can tell you that these each smell incredible and each is unique. These will sit until this Friday, when a distiller friend is coming over to try these with me. I'll let you know how it goes.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:43 pm

Two things I have come to believe from my experiments with fruit wood so far.....

One, is that less wood is better. In my few experiments so far the fruitwood smell/flavor has been more intense than I anticipated. My desire is to add character to a spirit, not replace its character, so I need to work with less wood and watch the soak times.

Two, is that I should have titled this thread learning to Polish (or Finish) a spirit using fruitwood, versus referring to this as Aging. Maybe long term aging on fruitwood is done, but with big impact I am getting in a short time, I will focus my future work on more short duration tests.


Tasting my Honey Bear Bourbon with Fruitwood
I had a chance to taste my bourbon and my bourbon on fruit woods with Medstiller. I’ve combined our thoughts below.

All four jars smelled good and I could tell each was quite different. Not a subtle difference from the base bourbon. All were pleasant to drink. All of the fruitwood polished bourbons appeared to lesson the impact of Char on the nose.

Toasted Apple
The Toasted Apple is both our favorites. That is a surprise for me, based on my past comments. This may be because previously I thought Apple added the least taste and least smell, so this may just be an intensity thing.

It had a good nose and the taste remained pleasant. Could smell and taste the fruitwood. I felt that the apple smell/taste reduced the char smell/taste a bit and smoothed the drink out.

Toasted Plum
The Toasted Plum was described as a bit sharp in taste. I felt the finish was a bit dryer than the others, which may be from a light astringency I noticed in past tests with Plum. Astringency and bitterness were not noticed.

Toasted Cherry
The Toasted Cherry was again called out for being overly strong. It still has the most identifiable smell of cheery. We both liked it, but thought less Cherry was needed.

I did thin out a bit of the cherry soaked bourbon with some straight bourbon. It really opened up the sweet fruity nose though the cherry wood flavor was less intense. Improvement.

Observations/Lessons Learned
I am proud of my HBB and I like what the fruitwood soak made too. That said, it was farther from my base bourbon that I was hoping for so I will need to apply less fruitwood next time.

I used about 20+ g of wood per 400 ml of barrel strength bourbon before I proofed it down. The ratio of wood to spirit needs to come down significantly so I can slow down the change.

I only soaked these bourbons for about 30 hours, but I did use my jar vacuum system twice. I used it to soak wood when I first started the soak, then again 24 hours later to cause the wood to “breath” it’s molecules into the spirit. I think I will stop using the vacuum more than once, and maybe stop using it all together. Slowing the process down may help me monitor change and allow me to pull the wood before it becomes too much for my tastes.

I have some barrel strength white panela rum that I will be testing with next. Stay tuned.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by masonsjax » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:15 am

Excellent thread, thanks for sharing! I'm a big fan of apple wood, I need to use it more often. I like cherry, but too prefer apple. I have some plum that I'd like to play with, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Kareltje » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:43 am

Thanks OtisT ! :thumbup: :clap:

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:23 pm

Thanks for the encouragement folks. I've learned so much on this forum and I'm just trying to give back a little.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Less is Better

I've started a new test using fruit wood with my Panela Rum. The rum used is a straight white panela rum I just made via a 1.5 distillation run. No Backet. No Feints. It's a nice smooth rum and I can still smell and taste the panela in it.

My goal will be to get some of the fruit smell in my rum w/o loosing the smell and taste of the panela.

I am using a lot less wood this time, and I will not be vacuuming the jars. Just a regular soak. My bourbon used about 8 grams of wood per 100 ml. I am stepping the ratio way back to about 2 grams (+/- 0.5 g) per 100 ml.

0 Hours
Fruit wood in panela rum - 0 hours
Fruit wood in panela rum - 0 hours
24 hours
Fruit wood in panela rum - 24 hours
Fruit wood in panela rum - 24 hours
I smelled my samples after 24 hours. I was not surprised that the cherry was strongest, and that I could detect a distinct cherry smell in them. The other woods had changed the smell of panela a bit, but no fruit smell was detected so I will let these soak a bit longer before checking again. The Plum seems further along than the apple at this point, which again is no surprise based on my past tests.

Once I have pulled the wood from all the samples I will get to diluting and tasting. I've taken some notes but don't feel it's a good comparison yet until I am done with all the soaking.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Oldvine Zin » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:18 pm

amazing the amount of color in just 24 hours
OVZ

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:21 am

Oldvine Zin wrote:amazing the amount of color in just 24 hours
OVZ
Ya, the wood is thin and the ABV is strong (64%) so it is leaching fast. I guess I should have thought about proofing this down a bit as another way to slow down the process for more control. Next time.
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Smokee » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:35 pm

I really like cherry and have been working with it for a couple years now, If you get it right it can be surprisingly good. I've tried the two different cherry woods - Black cherry and sweet. I like the black cherry much better. I always toast now, tried un-toasted and toasted side by side and I think the toasted wood gives a better taste with a more mature cherry essence. The problem is getting it right, which I'm finding out is an art. I've been putting the bulk of my AG spirit run on oak with a quart or two set aside for cherry. This past February I put about a gallon of my run on Oak and did a quart of cherry like I've been doing. Just before a camping trip with my son in late June I found this quart of cherry, cut it to 41% and went to the mountains. Turns out it was the best I've ever made. I think what separated this quart from the rest was the toast.... I got it just right but I always focused on the oak and didn't take detailed enough notes on this cherry. You mentioned that you found that a little wood goes a long way, that's what I found as well. I get better results with less wood over more time. My first attempt at reproducing the February quart turned out like Cherry wood tea. I completely blown it out buy trying to rush the process, way too much wood. I also toned back the char and now just do a light char with the torch. I'm solely on the cherry train now, everything I make gets cherry now.... I'm just trying everything to figure out what I did back in Feb. I have 2-6 gallon pales of AG percolating now that I'll strip and spirit run but this time I'm separating into individual quarts that I'm going to try different toast levels. Hopefully, with better notes, I'll figure out what I did that made that one quart turn out so well.

Thanks for this thread, excellent info here for anyone wanting to try something different.

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Irishgnome » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:50 am

Otis T,

Thank you for the great post!

It sounds like you may be steering away from the vacuum process. In another post (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=72693&p=7548739#p7548739) you mentioned that you don’t ultrasonic, have you compared the vacuum process to ultra-sonic? I ask because I have an ultrasonic that I use often and feel that the results are quite impressive, if a vacuum is better I’d push myself to pick one up.

I see a number of posts comparing ultrasonic to microwaved spirits, but haven’t found much about vacuum vs. ultrasonic. A combination of both could be interesting as well.

I hope to see a round two / follow up to this with different woods.

Thanks again for the hard work and sharing your experience.

Cheers,
Irish
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Smokee » Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:52 am

I don't have a vacuum pump but use a 5L glass jar which I fill and rotate in and out of the freezer. When I take it out the spirit's about 0*F and has contracted a good bit creating a pretty strong vacuum. After opening, I close it up and let it sit at room temp, once the spirit warms it expands and creates a good bit of pressure - kind'a poor man's pump. I use the freezer to force the spirit in and out of the wood to speed up the "wooding" process and I use the UC right after the spirit run to smooth out the spirit. I find the UC def smooths things out and the pressure/vacuum speeds up the wood aging process.

These jars are like $15 on amazon and have a really good seal that will hold the positive and negative pressures.

I'd like to hear of Otis' experience with this as well.
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sat Dec 22, 2018 10:27 am

Smokee wrote:I really like cherry and have been working with it for a couple years now, If you get it right it can be surprisingly good. I've tried the two different cherry woods - Black cherry and sweet. I like the black cherry much better. I always toast now, tried un-toasted and toasted side by side and I think the toasted wood gives a better taste with a more mature cherry essence. The problem is getting it right, which I'm finding out is an art. I've been putting the bulk of my AG spirit run on oak with a quart or two set aside for cherry. This past February I put about a gallon of my run on Oak and did a quart of cherry like I've been doing. Just before a camping trip with my son in late June I found this quart of cherry, cut it to 41% and went to the mountains. Turns out it was the best I've ever made. I think what separated this quart from the rest was the toast.... I got it just right but I always focused on the oak and didn't take detailed enough notes on this cherry. You mentioned that you found that a little wood goes a long way, that's what I found as well. I get better results with less wood over more time. My first attempt at reproducing the February quart turned out like Cherry wood tea. I completely blown it out buy trying to rush the process, way too much wood. I also toned back the char and now just do a light char with the torch. I'm solely on the cherry train now, everything I make gets cherry now.... I'm just trying everything to figure out what I did back in Feb. I have 2-6 gallon pales of AG percolating now that I'll strip and spirit run but this time I'm separating into individual quarts that I'm going to try different toast levels. Hopefully, with better notes, I'll figure out what I did that made that one quart turn out so well.

Thanks for this thread, excellent info here for anyone wanting to try something different.
Glad you like the info smokee. I know you did not take good notes before but if you can, I would love to know details like the spirit type, ABV, liquid volume, the amount of wood, and duration that you find you like. If not for your past success, maybe with your next batch? Pics would be great to see vol, color, and the size of the wood. Also, share info on your toast: method, temp, duration and if possible a pic of the toasted wood, pre char. Would love to hear what others like.

I’ve never considered charring my fruitwood but may have to try that in the future. I did use fruitwood on a bourbonn that started its aging in a new white oak toasted/charred bourbon barrel.

I agree on toasted wood giving a more mature/complex flavor versus raw wood. I do happen to also like what the raw wood does for smell. Most of my sticks were toasted part way through so there is a gradient of toast from raw to full toast, going for more complexity. Like you, I want to test some varying toast levels to see how that impacts things. In my test jars I have one or two that have a bit too much toast to them (a bit of an off toast smell), so I think my previous batch of toasted wood was on the heavy end of the temp range i need to look for.

If using an oven, I recommend you get an oven thermometer to verify temps. I found that my oven numbers were quite far off from the actual temp. I use a hot plate now with an IR thermometer for measuring the actual temp of the wood.

Take good notes and please share when you have some results. Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sun Dec 23, 2018 4:19 pm

Irishgnome wrote:Otis T,

Thank you for the great post!

It sounds like you may be steering away from the vacuum process. In another post (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=72693&p=7548739#p7548739) you mentioned that you don’t ultrasonic, have you compared the vacuum process to ultra-sonic? I ask because I have an ultrasonic that I use often and feel that the results are quite impressive, if a vacuum is better I’d push myself to pick one up.

I see a number of posts comparing ultrasonic to microwaved spirits, but haven’t found much about vacuum vs. ultrasonic. A combination of both could be interesting as well.

I hope to see a round two / follow up to this with different woods.

Thanks again for the hard work and sharing your experience.

Cheers,
Irish
Hi Irish. I have not tried ultrasonic, and have not read a lot about it. I’m not sure what the theory is of how it works or what is does to a spirit.

I use the vacuum system to soak wood, and cause it to “breath” with subsequent vacuumings. In that way, it should be similar to the heat/cold cycles that alternate between a positive and negative pressure. The vacuum is much quicker than the heat/cold method: Just a few seconds to apply a vacuum to a mason jar.

I’m not going away from using vacuum entirely. I think it’s great for quickly soaking wood, and causing wood to breath, if that is what you want. With oak, I like to vacuum several time in the first few weeks to quickly get a lot of alcohol in contact with a lot of oak, then I let time mellow it all out. I will likely not use vacuum beyond the initial soak for fruitwood in spirits where I want to apply only a little fruitwood character. Slow soaking will give me more control of the soak so I can pull the wood when it’s ready, not after I have gone too far.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sun Dec 23, 2018 4:23 pm

Smokee wrote:I'd like to hear of Otis' experience with this as well.
Sorry smokee, I have not tried the freezer method but the theory sounds solid to me. Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:45 pm

Honey Bear Bourbon with Fruit Wood

This is an update on finishing my honey bear bourbon with toasted fruit wood. After my initial tasting I bottled each sample up and thought I would give it some time to mellow in glass. Since the base spirit is Honey Bear Bourbon I thought I would play with the name on the label a bit. If you can’t read the image, I called them Apple Bear Bourbon, Cherry Bear Bourbon, etc.
Fruit wood bourbon
Fruit wood bourbon
All of my tasting notes from my previous post on this batch are still applicable. The differences are that these taste smoother and the fruit seems more integrated with the spirit, if that’s possible, and the fruits all seem a bit sweeter. The Plum Bear bourbon lost that bit/dryness. The cherry is still the most dominant fruitwood, though it does not seem to be as overdone as it was when I first made them.

I am so glad I tried this on my best bourbon; it’s really good. All around, I really enjoy each version and plan to try this again on a larger scale.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by RiseNShine » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:01 am

OtisT wrote:Two things I have come to believe from my experiments with fruit wood so far.....

One, is that less wood is better. In my few experiments so far the fruitwood smell/flavor has been more intense than I anticipated. My desire is to add character to a spirit, not replace its character, so I need to work with less wood and watch the soak times.

Two, is that I should have titled this thread learning to Polish (or Finish) a spirit using fruitwood, versus referring to this as Aging. Maybe long term aging on fruitwood is done, but with big impact I am getting in a short time, I will focus my future work on more short duration tests.


Tasting my Honey Bear Bourbon with Fruitwood
I had a chance to taste my bourbon and my bourbon on fruit woods with Medstiller. I’ve combined our thoughts below.

All four jars smelled good and I could tell each was quite different. Not a subtle difference from the base bourbon. All were pleasant to drink. All of the fruitwood polished bourbons appeared to lesson the impact of Char on the nose.

Toasted Apple
The Toasted Apple is both our favorites. That is a surprise for me, based on my past comments. This may be because previously I thought Apple added the least taste and least smell, so this may just be an intensity thing.

It had a good nose and the taste remained pleasant. Could smell and taste the fruitwood. I felt that the apple smell/taste reduced the char smell/taste a bit and smoothed the drink out.

Toasted Plum
The Toasted Plum was described as a bit sharp in taste. I felt the finish was a bit dryer than the others, which may be from a light astringency I noticed in past tests with Plum. Astringency and bitterness were not noticed.

Toasted Cherry
The Toasted Cherry was again called out for being overly strong. It still has the most identifiable smell of cheery. We both liked it, but thought less Cherry was needed.

I did thin out a bit of the cherry soaked bourbon with some straight bourbon. It really opened up the sweet fruity nose though the cherry wood flavor was less intense. Improvement.

Observations/Lessons Learned
I am proud of my HBB and I like what the fruitwood soak made too. That said, it was farther from my base bourbon that I was hoping for so I will need to apply less fruitwood next time.

I used about 20+ g of wood per 400 ml of barrel strength bourbon before I proofed it down. The ratio of wood to spirit needs to come down significantly so I can slow down the change.

I only soaked these bourbons for about 30 hours, but I did use my jar vacuum system twice. I used it to soak wood when I first started the soak, then again 24 hours later to cause the wood to “breath” it’s molecules into the spirit. I think I will stop using the vacuum more than once, and maybe stop using it all together. Slowing the process down may help me monitor change and allow me to pull the wood before it becomes too much for my tastes.

I have some barrel strength white panela rum that I will be testing with next. Stay tuned.

Otis

Incredible work! thank you for sharing. I have been eager to try a lot of these. I have played around with a few wood types by not these. Looking forward to trying some Nut wood as still_stirrin suggested. Though, I picked up some black walnut, charred some toasted the rest. added to mason jars and left it...only to find out that the wood is apparently a toxin and could cause swelling if injested. I havent tossed it yet but I am nervous to try it

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by Copperhead road » Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:37 am

OtisT wrote:Honey Bear Bourbon with Fruit Wood

This is an update on finishing my honey bear bourbon with toasted fruit wood. After my initial tasting I bottled each sample up and thought I would give it some time to mellow in glass. Since the base spirit is Honey Bear Bourbon I thought I would play with the name on the label a bit. If you can’t read the image, I called them Apple Bear Bourbon, Cherry Bear Bourbon, etc.
F1878CC6-7CF8-4510-9780-B63EB00E0A2F.jpeg
All of my tasting notes from my previous post on this batch are still applicable. The differences are that these taste smoother and the fruit seems more integrated with the spirit, if that’s possible, and the fruits all seem a bit sweeter. The Plum Bear bourbon lost that bit/dryness. The cherry is still the most dominant fruitwood, though it does not seem to be as overdone as it was when I first made them.

I am so glad I tried this on my best bourbon; it’s really good. All around, I really enjoy each version and plan to try this again on a larger scale.

Otis
Great stuff OtisT, your experimental bourbon is an inspiration! It’s great to see folks test the boundaries and end up with real success. Having the courage to think outside the box, “Rocks”!
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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by mendozer » Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:14 pm

this looks awesome. Not only do I love bourbon, but I love science and experimentation. I live in the PNW as well, maybe I'll run across some HbB one day in my travels. Do you have a general oz/liter/proof ratio you think is ideal? I see you're adding to barrel strength liquors, but how would you adjust for say 80 or 95 proof?

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by OtisT » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:59 am

mendozer wrote:this looks awesome. Not only do I love bourbon, but I love science and experimentation. I live in the PNW as well, maybe I'll run across some HbB one day in my travels. Do you have a general oz/liter/proof ratio you think is ideal? I see you're adding to barrel strength liquors, but how would you adjust for say 80 or 95 proof?
With lower proof it should just take a little longer, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Gives you more control going slow. My bourbon soaks were only 30 hours, so I would suggest starting with the same wood to liquid ratios and simply monitor progress over a few days time, and stop when you get the smell you like. I did vacuum my jars with wood in them, so it may take you a little longer yet. Those ratios of wood weight to liquid volume are in the thread above, along with a pic of the bourbon jars that show the size of the wood also, in case you don’t have a scale.

I also did a few jars of young oaked/aged wheated whiskey that soaked with fruitwood in jars w/o vacuum for about two or three weeks, and those also turned out well. I used the same ratio as I did with the bourbon. After pulling the fruitwood I wanted more oak so put a small oak block back in each jar again for a spell, and each time I check on them they continue to make me happy. Six months so far, and they keep getting better. :D

You can always put more in, or let them soak longer, but you can’t take it away after you do too much. Well, I guess you could always thin it with more unadulterated bourbon, but you get the point.

Good luck
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
Badmotivator’s Barrels: Badmo Barrels

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Re: Learning About Fruit Wood for Aging

Post by mendozer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:54 pm

Nice! I need to befriend a tree cutter now haha.

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