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  1. #11
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Only 5% of the chinkapin? That sure sounds like such an insignificant amount, that I hardly see the value. A couple of staves per barrel? I'm actually surprised that they don't track them, and mingle them evenly within the lots. You would think they would aim for even distribution, so as to keep any particular influence that chinkapin might have on a barrel to a minimum.
    JOE

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    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  2. #12
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Quote Originally Posted by smokinjoe View Post
    Only 5% of the chinkapin? That sure sounds like such an insignificant amount, that I hardly see the value. A couple of staves per barrel? I'm actually surprised that they don't track them, and mingle them evenly within the lots. You would think they would aim for even distribution, so as to keep any particular influence that chinkapin might have on a barrel to a minimum.
    That's not the point. They're not looking for 5% chinkapin. They buy whatever comes in over the transom that meets their specifications, which chinkapin does, and he is just estimated that chinkapin is what comes across the transom about 5% of the time. He gave that information because Eric asked for it.

    My assumption is that although it is recognized as a separate species, chinkapin might as well be white oak for purposes of making whiskey barrels. It's a distinction without a difference for our purposes.

  3. #13
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Quote Originally Posted by emr454 View Post
    Here is the response I received from Mr. Nichols from American Stave Company:

    Mr. Renfer,


    While we do not track the age of the logs I would guess the age range is between 40 – 120 years old. We buy based on size because age doesn’t necessarily determine size, the resources (soil, light, water etc.) have a much bigger influence on size.

    As far as I know we have always purchased chinkapin oak and we do not process or track them separately. I would guess we use less than 5% chinkapin oak.

    I hope I have answered your questions and please let me know if I can answer any other questions.

    Regards,
    Justin



    What a nice, helpful and BS-free letter. A model for businesses everywhere. Thank you, Mr. Nichols.

  4. #14
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    It's amazing what some of these wood guys know.

    Many of us have harbored the assumption that even as recently as the 1970s, the average age of wood in whiskey barrels was significantly older than what it is now, and we have attributed to that certain flavors found in old bottlings but not in current ones. An example is the wintergreen flavor of which I am so fond.

    Although this is a good thesis in many ways, it probably can't be tested. Even the fundamental assumptions may be false. It's possible that a certain flavor found in a certain distillery's product for a certain period of production, even a period spanning many years, was the result of a coincidental confluence of events and conditions, culminating in the distillery buying all of its barrels from a supplier who was harvesting a particular stand of trees that just happened to make something special happen when it combined with that distillery's whiskey.

    When that stand ran out, the connection was broken, never to be duplicated.

    Or it could be because of global warming.

  5. #15
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    That's not the point. They're not looking for 5% chinkapin. They buy whatever comes in over the transom that meets their specifications, which chinkapin does, and he is just estimated that chinkapin is what comes across the transom about 5% of the time. He gave that information because Eric asked for it.

    My assumption is that although it is recognized as a separate species, chinkapin might as well be white oak for purposes of making whiskey barrels. It's a distinction without a difference for our purposes.

    Must be. That would explain why there is no tracking. As there is no difference for the porpose of making barrels then, they wouldn't be concerned that a barrel might contain 100% chinkapin staves.

    I'm guessing there is a cost savings in there, somewhere. Probably, from the loggers perspective, which would be passed along to the cooperages.
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  6. #16
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Quote Originally Posted by loose proton View Post
    The oak today is different from oak of 1800's. When the white-eye arrived, the first thing they did was lumber the Great Oak-Chestnut forest and cut down huge old trees in a vast de-forestation program. Then, about 1910, the chestnut blight was introduced which upset the eco-balance between oak and chestnut and changed the character of the forest. Today, a smilar type of type of forest is called oak-hickory.
    Good point! I hadn't even thought of that.

    It is a bit of a concern to me that one day the venerable oak may be stricken by some invasive insect species, disease or fungus. With Asian Long-horned beetles, Emerald Ash Borers, the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, Beech Bark disease, Dutch Elm disease, Sirex Woodwasp, Chestnut Blight, etc. etc. it seems like just about every tree has some disease or insect attacking it, or that may become a potential threat in the future.

    This makes me wonder if stave companies, or those who sell oak logs to the stave companies, are planning for the future, like saving the Ash tree seeds to safeguard against large scale destruction from the EAB? Surely someone must be thinking about this.

    For those that don't know, most, if not all, the invasive insect species came over on wooden shipping crates that were transporting merchandise from Asian countries. Alot of the trees that are being attacked right now are in the same family, sometimes the same species as what is found in Asia, so naturally the bugs find a familiar home here in the Good ole USA. Hooray for international commerce!

    Eric

  7. #17
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    It's amazing what some of these wood guys know.

    Many of us have harbored the assumption that even as recently as the 1970s, the average age of wood in whiskey barrels was significantly older than what it is now, and we have attributed to that certain flavors found in old bottlings but not in current ones. An example is the wintergreen flavor of which I am so fond.

    Although this is a good thesis in many ways, it probably can't be tested. Even the fundamental assumptions may be false. It's possible that a certain flavor found in a certain distillery's product for a certain period of production, even a period spanning many years, was the result of a coincidental confluence of events and conditions, culminating in the distillery buying all of its barrels from a supplier who was harvesting a particular stand of trees that just happened to make something special happen when it combined with that distillery's whiskey.

    When that stand ran out, the connection was broken, never to be duplicated.

    Or it could be because of global warming.
    A butterfly flaps its wings...
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  8. #18
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Reading this thread reminds me of an impulse that strikes me often.

    A friend has a sheetmetal shop that is bordered by one enormous white oak. When he bought this shop some 30 years ago Missouri Conservation estimated that the tree was 300 +/- years old. It's a magnificent, majestic, enormous tree that has been around since well before this land saw the founding fathers. Many of it's branches are larger than the trunks of the 50 year old oaks in my yard.

    I keep wondering if it would make great bourbon barrels?

  9. #19
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    Re: Whiskey barrel wood composition

    Im sure it would make great bourbon barrels! Talking him out of the tree will be tricky though.

    Eric

 

 

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