I’ve got wood!

And the missus ain’t home, so who else to share it with but you? Now hold on tight. Here is some more information. On what it is and on what it costs.

What it is? It’s blocks made out of American white oak. Not just any American white oak, but the white oak used by Jack Daniel’s to make his whiskey in. After these barrels are used, they are usually sold to other distilleries. Or they are turned into furniture. And some are chopped up into chips or blocks. Why? Well, mostly because people want to throw them on the BBQ. To impart some of the nice wood and whiskey flavour into the meat they are grilling. But … they are a great way to age whiskey too, if you find a 225 liter barrel a bit too big.

The advantage of this wood (aproximately 5 x 5 centimeters) is that American white oak is low on tanines and has a relatively open structure. And much of the tanines present originally … well, they got into Jack’s whiskey. They won’t be bothering yours.

The blocks can be used as is. Like 20% of the total volume of the drink you want to age or wood. So if you want to age 10 liters, you need 1 liter of these blocks. For how long? Decide by colour and taste, but 5 weeks is a good estimate to start with. At what abv? About 60% if you want to go for a more complex whiskey. Closer to 50% if you are looking for that sweet vanilla touch.

You can also decide to toast the wood. Light, medium, medium plus, heavy. Whatever makes your clock tick. In general, toasting makes for a more complex whiskey. But you have to be careful not to over oak. Use around 6 to 8 grams per liter.

So that’s the info on what it is, but what does it cost? I just struck a deal with a company importing JD barrels and cutting them up themselves. And I think it is a good deal. At least for those not living in the States and not having easy access to American white oak.

A 10 kilo container costs EUR 69,95. As an introduction offer from the supplier: the first 5 containers will go for EUR 64,95. Container? Yes, it is packed in a container. That way the whiskey taste and aroma stay in. For whomever wants to know … it is a plastic container.

Shipping in the Netherlands will be free. Shipping to other countries will bring additional costs. I will try to put up a general post on costs of shipping to other countries later. And for my friends outside of the Euro Zone: the website and webshop will have a currency converter for ease of use.

How to order, as long as the website/webshop is not in place? Easy, just send a message to istillmessage@gmail.com. Don’t forget the delivery address!

JD Wood

The start of an interesting journey!

Hi guys and girls out there! I am very excited about all this! Starting a Blog about my adventures in distilling technology. I will try to make an update every few days. Well, if I have something to report, that is.

“Telling about distilling? Isn’t that like … illigal, maybe?” you might want to ask. But it isn’t. I mean distilling is only legal with the right paper work. Government approval, taxation administration, that kinda stuff … At least, that’s how it works in most countries. But talking about distilling, sharing opinions, offering parts to designated distilleries that’s all perfectly legal.

So let’s get started! Where? At the beginning. Do you know how I became interested in distilling? On holidays in Hungary. A country where homedistilling is legalized, by the way. I drank some homemade Hungarian brandy (called Pálinka). And sometimes I drank a bit more than just a bit. At one place the homemade stuff was great, at another family it was as if I was drinking terpentine. Or worse.

Luckily a friend of mine had a solution for bad tasting brandy. He would just poor some honey in, mix it,  and make even the badest drink taste quite acceptable. I wanted to know more, went to the internet, typed something like “making distilled spirits taste good” in Google, and before I knew it, I was reading about “making distilled spirits yourself”. Remember, we are talking Hungary here, where homedistilling is allowed.

Now at first nothing much made any sense. But I got lucky again. My wife’s uncle used to be the master distiller of a big likker company. Retired now, but still making his own. Right, the good stuff. So I asked him, and he answered me, and my learning curve went up.

Learning more about distilling has been my passion ever since. And now I want to take that passion one step furter and use my knowledge and the contacts I have made all around the world to help make a small difference. My little contribution or payback for all who shared their knowledge with me. If I succeed, that is.

How? By talking about distilling and by making products available for pro distillers who want only the best. By means of a website / webshop that will be launched in just a few weeks time. Products that I hope will take the noble art of distilling a step further in terms of quality or at least in ease of use. For distilling, I quickly learned, is not easy. It is a labour intensive craft, where the biggest challenge is not just to get results, but to get repeatable results.

A distiller that wants to make a good drink, wants to be able to make it over and over again. Now that’s a challenge. How I want to help distillers to address that challenge? By providing them with the best information and products available on the market place. And if we can’t find what you are looking for? Well, then we will develop and test it ourselves.

So, do you want to join me on this voyage? I can’t guarantee success. Hey, we might even end up ship-wrecked. But it will be an interesting voyage, that I can promise you!

Odin