To turn an ordinary alcoholic drink into a noble one, it must be aged. Most often oak barrels are used for whiskey, in which the magical process of obtaining a refined drink takes place.
The size of the barrel is a very important characteristic that determines the level of exposure of whiskey to the wood. Many amateurs think that they should get smaller barrels because the aging process happens faster in small containers, but most experts question the quality of aging in small barrels. The standard for major whiskey producers is 200-liter barrels. Many of the younger and smaller producers are using 100-liter barrels or even smaller ones to age their whisky more quickly.
Only oak barrels are used to age whiskey. This is due to the special qualities of this wood:
- Oak casks are long-lasting, do not deteriorate or rot;
- Oakwood contains the necessary substances and elements which, when interacting with whiskey, are passed on to the drink and give it its characteristic taste and hue;
- Oak not only gives substances to the drink but also removes “unnecessary” extraneous elements from the raw material.
By the way, oak from different regions gives the drink different tastes. We are glad to be one of the biggest catalogues of oak barrels to buy online!
Even those who don’t know much about whiskey understand that barrel firing influences the taste of the drink a lot. It is this process that releases the vanillin compounds in the wood and provides the drink’s signature caramel sweetness. In addition, barrel firing helps to get rid of the unwanted characteristic aromas of raw wood and form the distinctive color of the whiskey.
Before barrels are used for aging, they are either toasted. This process creates charcoal inside the cask, which filters the alcohol and partially removes unwanted flavors. This process is very similar to how a home water filter works.