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Pre-treating toasted oak

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  • Peter Angus
    Hello all, When using toasted oak for spirits such as scotch that require used barrels, I note that the best barrels are ex-sherry. With that in mind, I
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 30, 2005
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      Hello all,

      When using toasted oak for spirits such as scotch that require used barrels,
      I note that the best barrels are ex-sherry. With that in mind, I thought I
      might pre-soak my oak in sherry before use. Has anyone tried this? I was
      thinking just using enough sherry to cover the oak. But for how long?

      As the sherry will penetrate the oak thoroughly and quickly (compared to the
      slow penetration into the oak staves of a barrel) I'm thinking a very short
      period of a week or so. Otherwise I'm concerned that the oak will be "spent"
      and have no character left to add to the scotch.

      What do you all reckon?
      Thanks
      Peter
    • exogate
      why not just add a little cream sherry to your final product? I think harry said 10ml/1L of spirit. Get the same effect without the fuss. .br. ... barrels,
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 31, 2005
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        why not just add a little cream sherry to your final product? I
        think harry said 10ml/1L of spirit. Get the same effect without the
        fuss.

        .br.

        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Angus" <peterangus@o...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Hello all,
        >
        > When using toasted oak for spirits such as scotch that require used
        barrels,
        > I note that the best barrels are ex-sherry. With that in mind, I
        thought I
        > might pre-soak my oak in sherry before use. Has anyone tried this?
        I was
        > thinking just using enough sherry to cover the oak. But for how
        long?
        >
        > As the sherry will penetrate the oak thoroughly and quickly
        (compared to the
        > slow penetration into the oak staves of a barrel) I'm thinking a
        very short
        > period of a week or so. Otherwise I'm concerned that the oak will
        be "spent"
        > and have no character left to add to the scotch.
        >
        > What do you all reckon?
        > Thanks
        > Peter
        >
      • Peter Angus
        I m not just after the sherry contribution, but the less harsh taste that second-hand oak will impart. I ve used old oak chips for a honey derived spirit and
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 1, 2006
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          I'm not just after the sherry contribution, but the less harsh taste that
          second-hand oak will impart. I've used old oak chips for a honey derived
          spirit and had good (but very slow) results. The oak was from a few
          different old batches and was really too spent. I'd like to control it a bit
          better this time with a shorter period and a more appropriate soaking agent.
          I guess I could always add back some of the sherry if the oak character is
          too subdued.

          Anyone else have any thoughts?

          Peter

          > why not just add a little cream sherry to your final product? I
          > think harry said 10ml/1L of spirit. Get the same effect without the
          > fuss.
          >
          > .br.
        • sea_strider
          I ve tried it both ways. If you add a small amount of cream sherry, you have to be very careful not to overdo it. The difference between just enough and a
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 2, 2006
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            I've tried it both ways. If you add a small amount of cream sherry,
            you have to be very careful not to overdo it. The difference
            between "just enough" and "a little too much" is very small (IMHO).

            I soaked oak chips in a bottle filled with cream sherry for about six
            months, then dumped them out and let them completely dry out. They
            are good for making a pseudo-Bushmills type of spirit, but I still
            add perhaps half the total chips as plain old American oak.


            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "exogate"
            <blackrabbit.namespace@h...> wrote:
            >
            > why not just add a little cream sherry to your final product? I
            > think harry said 10ml/1L of spirit. Get the same effect without
            the
            > fuss.
            >
            > .br.
            >
            > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Angus" <peterangus@o...>
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > Hello all,
            > >
            > > When using toasted oak for spirits such as scotch that require
            used
            > barrels,
            > > I note that the best barrels are ex-sherry. With that in mind, I
            > thought I
            > > might pre-soak my oak in sherry before use. Has anyone tried
            this?
            > I was
            > > thinking just using enough sherry to cover the oak. But for how
            > long?
            > >
            > > As the sherry will penetrate the oak thoroughly and quickly
            > (compared to the
            > > slow penetration into the oak staves of a barrel) I'm thinking a
            > very short
            > > period of a week or so. Otherwise I'm concerned that the oak will
            > be "spent"
            > > and have no character left to add to the scotch.
            > >
            > > What do you all reckon?
            > > Thanks
            > > Peter
            > >
            >
          • Peter Angus
            Hi sea_strider ... Did you need to add any further sherry when using the pre-soaked chips? Or did they impart enough sherry flavour? Out of the two methods,
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 2, 2006
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              Hi sea_strider


              > I've tried it both ways. If you add a small amount of cream sherry,
              > you have to be very careful not to overdo it. The difference
              > between "just enough" and "a little too much" is very small (IMHO).
              >
              > I soaked oak chips in a bottle filled with cream sherry for about six
              > months, then dumped them out and let them completely dry out. They
              > are good for making a pseudo-Bushmills type of spirit, but I still
              > add perhaps half the total chips as plain old American oak.

              Did you need to add any further sherry when using the pre-soaked chips? Or
              did they impart enough sherry flavour? Out of the two methods, which did you
              feel gave the best results?

              Thanks
              Peter
            • sea_strider
              About--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Peter Angus wrote: Peter: Sorry to get back to you so late ... I use the sherry pre-soaked oaks
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 9, 2006
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                About--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Angus"
                <peterangus@o...> wrote:

                Peter: Sorry to get back to you so late ...

                I use the sherry pre-soaked oaks chips very sparingly. I have pre-
                prepared several small bags of oak chips, varying degrees of toasting
                (virgin to a heavy/dark toasting) as well as the "sherry chips."

                I rather like to use a third of the amount of chips as virgin (non-
                toasted) American oak, a third as somewhat heavily toasted, and no
                more than a third (I might even go up to 1/2 of total "chippage") as
                soaked sherry chips. Remember, they are dried out prior to use and
                still smell of sherry since they are kept tightly sealed in a bag.

                I prefer to NOT add additional drops of sherry into the spirit. I had
                previously made up a blend of sherry mixed with a liquid oak extract
                and it's easy to over do it ... not so much with the oak extract, but
                with the sherry flavour (using the liquid custom sherry/oak extract).

                It takes time, but soaking chips (whatever blend is used) in 1 gallon
                glass jugs of spirit seems to give the best flavour overall. It takes
                time, but not too much. Even after a couple of weeks you see that
                nice amber colour developing that we love so much! In a pinch, for
                instant gratification, I have added some oak extract and just a drop
                or two of sherry, but there's something about the oak-soaking that
                makes it a good second-best to actual oak barrel aging. Wow, it
                really smooths it out. Something about the interaction between the
                spirit and the wood although I'm not the one to ask about the
                technical reasons why. All I know is it's a yummy and magical
                process: oak and whiskey!



                >>To sea_strider:
                > Did you need to add any further sherry when using the pre-soaked
                >chips? Or did they impart enough sherry flavour? Out of the two
                >methods, which did you feel gave the best results?
                >
                > Thanks
                > Peter
                >
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