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Oak Dominoes

Hello. I'm after some advice on the best way to prepare the dominoes before soaking them

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  • I simply weigh em out at 10g/l then drop em in to the new make spirit.

  • Cheers crozdog. I've been told to cook them over an open flame. Is this true.

  • @Crozdog. How long in the spirit ?? I suppose the answer depends on how you want it to taste right.

  • The longer you leave it in the spirit the better the flavour

  • edited August 8

    Good reference on Surface Area to Volume Ratios and Extractions.

    AGING OF WHISKEY SPIRITS IN BARRELS OF NON-TRADITIONAL VOLUME (PDF)

    Based on this and my own experience using smaller barrels, I'd go no higher than a SAV of 163, which is equivalent to the surface area of a 10 gallon barrel. This is roughly a cube that is 5.5cm on each side.

    In fact, I'd probably push for a lower SAV (maybe 150-125), and push aging time to 12 months minimum. At least once a month, I'd open the container and blow some fresh air into the headspace (there needs to be headspace). You push for higher surface area, and it cuts down on your maximum maturation time.

    If you want to age longer, and you do, push towards lower SAV ratios. Say - 4 years, reduce to 100 max.

    Just realize that there is a double hump in aging, and this throws everyone off.

    Most craft distillers pull too early, they pull on the upswing of the first extraction hump, because they feel when they get to the top of the first hump, they've "over oaked". This is like 6-7 months on a 10 gallon. Do not let this fool you, the oak will subside and the oak flavor profile will fall back down into a trough. It's the SECOND HUMP that is real over-oaking. On the same 10 gallon - this would be about 16 months. Pull at the first hump, you get lots of tannin, raw oak, harsh spirit. Pull on the upswing of the second hump, you get vanilla, sugars, caramel, coconut, milder tannin, milder smoke/char. As you move up that second hump, you get more smoke/char and mature wood flavors, more tannin again, but not the same quality tannin that you had up the first hump (green wood, sucking on a 2 by 4), drying pucker of a super dry red, etc.

    Also, don't be afraid to pull the oak and let the spirit continue to rest/mature/evaporate - for even long periods, 6+ months. As long as you keep airing the headspace, you will continue to mature, this is due to the fact that the extraction is accelerated, but the reactions are not.

    Likewise, don't be afraid of evaporation. You might want to keep the lid off your container for a few days a month during the warmer months to force some evaporation. You aren't going to get a good color/flavor balance without evaporation. Shoot for at least 10% evaporation a year.

  • edited August 8

    You guys that use oak adjunct more than I do, probably gut check my comments for me.

    I really don't use anything smaller than 15 gallon now, most of my juice goes into 30s.

    Anything smaller than a 10 - you are wasting your time and money being fixated on the shape of a container. Any smaller than 10 - use better alternatives. In most cases, the quality of the oak is far better than what is used to make tiny barrels.

    5 gallon corny kegs sound so much better.

  • edited August 8

    See, I shouldn't do math in the morning. I calculated volume and not surface area of my example.

  • edited August 9

    The dominos can be used as they are for maturation of Bourbon style, a mix of heavy toast and medium toast US works best in my opinion.

    For rum and whiskey some people like to use second use domino's often French oak.

    For use as a sliver in a bottle for presentation then a rinse in water will get any dust or flakes off.

    Have a read here if you haven't already;

    Oak Dominoe Comparo

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • @DonMateo said: Crozdog. How long in the spirit ?? I suppose the answer depends on how you want it to taste right.

    Exactly. It'll colour up pretty quick, but the full flavour takes longer

  • Great information, Grim. Very handy to me right now. Thanks a whole bunch,

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • I have been holding on to stuff in 15 gal kegs with charred sticks for about a year now. I do air the headspace regularly and there is a marked improvement in overall quality between 6 mo and 1 year. This is the first time I am able to age for this amount of time, so it's new to me. These are UJ style makes. (Have not done AG yet) My goal is to get to a 3-5 year rotation where I am using a 3-5 year old product (for personal use). Aging the way I do, what should I be looking for in reference to over oaking?

    The 14 month old drink right now is very much to my liking. Incredibly smooth. (Not as full flavored as an AG, but for now will have to do) Will it improve even more with longer aging keeping it in the keg with the same amount of charred sticks? Or should I reduce the amount of wood for further aging?

    Have 3 kegs aging this way and would sure hate to mess up a pretty good thing as it sits now. Any advice appreciated. Thanks.

  • Over oaked means, when you don't smell anything BUT oak anymore. So no vanilla, no lactone, no caramel or what so ever. It is just oak.

    In our European Oak trials we advised our customers, that 5 weeks of oaking is enough. This is, what the manufacturer of our oak adjuncts advised, simply because it is not an barrel but small bits that get washed out in this time - there is nothing more to gain after the 5 weeks.

    What I strongly advise is to mature the spirits after oaking for some time, at least 2 months or so. Spirits get rounder by this.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • This stuff has been on American White Oak sticks I charred myself for a little over a year. There is a night and day difference between 5 weeks and 6 months and one year. Something was gained in that time. That is undeniable. I would find it hard to believe that it would be as nice as it is now if I had removed the oak after 5 weeks. Color even improved past the 5 week mark.

    That being said, I have not tried it that way.

  • edited August 9

    Yes @Pa_bon we reduce the oak dominos for longer ageing. Also in our ageing drum the dominos are all used ones. It doesn't start getting good till at least 12-16 weeks on dominos if you are doing bourbon type spirit and will be much better at a year.

    This applies especially for rum which will taste like bourbon from the oak right out past 6 months. It's only as it ages that the vannillans settle and the mollases starts to shine back through.

    Maybe a fruit brandy would be right after 5 weeks...

    This is my experience anyway.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited August 9

    Punkin, how much of a reduction do you do as a percentage of the amount started with?

    I don't imagine it makes a difference here, but I am using charred sticks and not toasted dominoes...

  • edited August 9

    We play it by eye mate, with oft used (spent really) sticks and a larger finishing barrel it is not as important.

    The process here is UJSM in 50l barrels that are sent away for recharring now and then filled for 2-3 years per batch, then moved into gallon jars as needed with a combination of new and older dominoes for colouring for 4-6 weeks then into a 10l stainless vessel that is kept topped up with the gallon jars and contains oft used oak as a solera system that maintains a 'house' consistency.
    It may not be the same if you sampled bottles a few years apart, but it changes so gradually that you wouldn't pick it from bottle to bottle.

    We break down from 65% at bottling time, even though i know it would be a better system to gradually break down at each step i'm lazy.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • For whiskey, we hit oak at 110-115 proof. Rum in used barrels a bit higher.

  • I have some dominoes soaking in 40% clear spirit (alcohol). How long will it take for the clear to change colour from the soaking of dominoes?

  • As long as a piece of string.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • about as long as it takes my wife to change her mind on what to wear after previously deciding what to wear.

  • @crozdog. Where I am setting up I have found some alternative brazillian rainforest timbers that are used for barrels for cachaca so I am going to try and make some myself for some alternative tastes and I can get some alternative oaks to try as well. I cant import the dominos so I will have to try and make some myself. Thanks for this post. Very helpful.

  • @ crozdog. Do you cook your dominoes before use?

  • Heaters there is no reason to "cook" dominoes before use......they are already toasted when you buy them.

  • @DonMateo said: crozdog. Where I am setting up I have found some alternative brazillian rainforest timbers that are used for barrels for cachaca so I am going to try and make some myself for some alternative tastes and I can get some alternative oaks to try as well. I cant import the dominos so I will have to try and make some myself. Thanks for this post. Very helpful.

    To be honest, IMO, those domestic Brazilian woods are far better than the acrid qualities that come over with oak. Looking forward to your feedback on this.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited August 11

    @smaug Here is an article on the type of woods that they use with the botanical name. I am sure if you hunt around you could probably get them.

    Suitable Woods For The Aging of Cachaça

    I start up my stills in about 3 weeks and at the same time I will be getting some Amburana and Jequbita and makign dominos of those. I will post results of course. It will be nice to contribute something back to the forum.

  • edited August 11

    Here is another article

    Woods Used For Aging Cachaça

  • This is something I'd like to see more about.

    Several years ago I experimented with using local tropical woods here in Fiji. I tried a species of Vesi which is like an iron wood. It produced a lot of coloration and tannin bleed very quickly and seemed to be too harsh as a method of aging.

    I'd actually like to try a wood called rosawa which is very similar to teak in functional use. It's pretty oily wood tho so not sure about it. I have some mango, orange, nut tree, and other things I could try as well. Not sure what I'm looking for as far as what would make a good wood to age on tho.

  • the only prep I do is to weigh em & make sure they go into the neck of the bottle - sometimes have to split em in half to make em fit

  • @fijispirits. I would check or ask at a unversity botanical department what woods are good for storing liquids. The british were very good at investigating those kinds of things in their colonies and that information will still exist somewhere. Just a suggestion.

  • @crozdog said: the only prep I do is to weigh em & make sure they go into the neck of the bottle - sometimes have to split em in half to make em fit

    Ahhh,,,the devil is in the details lol.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

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