Tuesday Tech Talk!


Finishing taste rich product on wooden barrels is common practice. Here’s a short post with a guideline for how to barrel age in such a way you get the desired taste profile!

Barrel aging and flavor

Lots of things happen while barrel aging. Your drink mellows out due to O2 contact. Wood particles enter your drink. And much more.

But taste wise, well, taste wise, the barrel pretty much adds two things you may want to play around with:

  • Tannins;
  • Vanillins.

Tannins add complexity to your spirits, where vanillins adds a sweet, vanillin taste.

Barrel wood and flavor

In general, American white oak is a faster growing oak variety. Less hard structures and more soft wood result in relatively more vanillins and less tannins. French oak grows slower and has therefore more hard structures for more tannins and less vanillins. iStill barrels, that are made from Slavonic oaks from North-East Hungary, are rich in both tannins and vanillins.

Getting over the right flavor

If you are after vanillin taste for your rum, brandy, or whiskey, go for American white oak or Slavonic oak. If it’s the complexity of tannins you want, then please choose French or Slavonic oak to start with.

Now, the next thing I want you to understand, is that vanillins dissolve in water, where tannins dissolve in alcohol. Understanding this gives you a great tool in creating the right barrel flavors:

  • Age at a higher ABV if you chase those tannins (60 to 65%);
  • Age at a lower ABV if you want the vanillins to shine through (50 to 55%).

45% strong organic Bourbon aged for 6 months in a 30 liter iStill Barrel …



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