There are many types of alcoholic beverages that are aged in oak barrels. For your product to be really high-quality, you need to study in detail the instructions for its use. Precisely prescribed steps, most likely, do not exist. Still, there are parameters for alcohol, which are poured into a wooden container, and there are also requirements for an oak barrel in which the aging process of an alcoholic drink takes place.
The oak barrel is the base that shapes the character of the whiskey.
For the aging of whiskey, experts can use both new oak barrels and barrels that have already been used for aging, but other noble alcoholic beverages. For example, often for the manufacture of whiskey, they take wooden barrels, in which port wine was previously kept a wooden vessel in which the Bourbon was previously owned.
Whiskey is not a new drink. It has been produced for many years, and during this time, some standards for a quality drink have emerged. It used to be thought that after only three years and one full day of growing up, whiskey could be labeled as Scotch whiskey. But time goes by, and the standards have changed ... These changes also affected the alcoholic drink "whiskey" production process. Now the minimum aging time for whiskey is 5 years.
An interesting fact is that after pouring a drink into a bottle, the process of its aging stops.
More exciting information on aging whiskey. Some of the alcoholic beverage evaporates during aging through the rivets of the oak barrel. The Scottish people call this phenomenon "Angels' share."
Why is the whiskey kept in a barrel made of oak wood?
It all lies in the unusual structure of oak wood. It consists of trace elements that positively affect an alcoholic drink, and this wood is also very durable. These characteristics are ideal for the material from which oak barrels are made for aging alcoholic products. Also, a great advantage is the minimal presence of resin channels.
We have figured out why it is oak, but there is a wide variety of species. What kind is suitable for making an oak barrel? We have a clearly prepared answer to this question. Usually coopers prefer to use three types of oak in their work on the manufacture of barrels:
Rock oak. Typically, barrels made from this type of oak are used for aging most wines. It has tannins and will add vanilla notes to the alcoholic drink.
White oak. This oak is used most often for the production of oak barrels for whiskey. The material from white oak contains a large percentage of lactones. As a result, the alcoholic drink that the craftsmen keep in a wooden container made of white oak has a more colorful taste.
English oak. Oak barrels, made from the wood of English oak, reward the alcoholic drink with pleasant notes of prunes, and you can also feel the taste and smell of raisins. Pedunculated oak barrels are used to ripen drinks such as cognac and sherry.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, oak barrels for whiskey are not always brand new. Such wooden whiskey containers are more valuable if Bourbon or, for example, sherry has matured in the vessel before this alcoholic beverage. Then the wooden container is ready to start its new second life and become the birthplace and maturation place for whiskey.
That is, you can independently choose whether to use a new barrel in the production of whiskey or still give a second chance to the barrel in which the Bourbon has matured. But the barrel must be made of oak - this is one of the main rules! But you also need to remember the type of oak that was used to make the barrel.