I was doing some reading on this website:
mostly because I had an idea of trying to grow white oak trees in my yard once I finally get settled down. It would be cool to be able to sell some logs to a stave company to be used in my favorite beverage, even though I'll be long gone most likely before they get old enough to harvest, but I'm getting off track a little bit here...
Anyway, reading the website page where they have info for potential sellers of white oak logs for the manufacture of whiskey barrels. It states that they use white oak and chinkapin oak, which they claim is closely related to white oak. Now, I've taken some botany and forestry classes, but I'm no expert when it comes to wood and its composition. Apparently, these two types of oak are closely related, enough to make cross-breeding/interbreeding possible. Even though they are similar, they probably are not exactly the same, and therefore, may influence the taste of whiskey. It could also react differently to the charring process, no?
After reading a few threads about how whiskey, "aint like it used to be," I got thinking about the wood used for barrels. There are quite a few factors that could come into play that would affect how the wood would influence the whiskey put inside it, for example, age of the tree, how fast it grows, soil conditions, etc. I also just listened to a WhiskyCast episode where BT master distiller Harlan Wheatly was talking about their seasoned oak, and how normally all the wood is grouped together no matter how old it is when it goes to be turned into staves. He says they dont keep track of any particular wood that may be better than others.
All this got me thinking, how long have stave companies been using chinkapin oak, and since it all apparently gets lumped together in one big group at the sawmill, could this affect the taste or recently made whiskey? If using chinkapin is something relatively new, could this not affect the final taste of whiskey, making some of the older whiskey better stuff than the new? Am I reaching too far here?
In keeping with the idea of the logs not being sorted, I doubt any of the barrels are made entirely of chinkapin oak, but some of these staves could be mixed in with with white oak and cause a slight difference.
Anyway, I may shoot them an email and see if they are willing to disclose how long they've been using chinkapin oak, and also how much of their production is sold to distilleries. If they are willing to share this info, I will be sure to report back here. I've been thinking about this alot lately, possibly overthinking it!