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The European Oak Trials

edited December 2014 in SD Europe

Now, we have put our own oak products to trial as well, and these are the results:

As base we took 100% rye spirits with malted wheat (we call it "Korn") at cask strength of 65% ABV. A good distiller friend was kind enough to fill up our trial stock for this.

Exactly 20 grams of wood (we have used staves and blocks with different kinds of toastings) were placed in each jar with 1 liter of Korn, which is a reasonable recommendation together with an aging & flavoring period of 4 weeks (I gave them 1 week more just to be sure). Today I removed the wood and filled the product back into bottles. There wasn't any more change in color during last week so I guess 4 weeks should really be enough, for those who can't wait.

Because the spirits were young (distilled not long before I filled the jars) we will let the bottles sit for at least another month to give it some more time to settle. Ideally it should sit about 6 months, but I am not sure, if it will survive that long. ;)

For now, I can tell, that there are significant differences in color, and after a quick tasting, some of the samples have very unique flavor profiles. Some of them smell sweet with much vanilla, some give a hint of smoky whiskey, one even had some leather notes. But I think, the aging is not done yet, so I'll wait with writing up an accurate description till the time has come to finally dilute to drinking strength at about 40 to 42% ABV in a month or so.

For our customers we have planned a selection of 10 different oak products in blocks and staves suitable to satisfy everybody's needs, especially when going for fruit brandies like Apple or Plum, which come just perfect with some aging on wood. There is definitely more to come!

Oak Wood Products

Oak Wood Products

Oak Wood Products

Oak Wood Products

Oak Wood Products

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

Comments

  • The aging in the bottles for the last months without the wood did really smoothen the whisky and made it all together rounder and more drinkable.

    Now, here are my descriptions of our ten varieties, which were selected especially for aging spirits.

    Disclaimer: It is very difficult to characterize so many nuances of tastes, some of it may sound similar. But it is definitely not! Some became instantly our favorites, and others I had a hard time describing and found later, after days or weeks, that there was more to it. Also, as already mentioned, we used “korn” as base product for this trial, it has to be considered, that with other spirits the outcome may vary significantly.

    All this varieties are now available from our stock, so if you want to order, please write me an e-mail, the shop will be online in the next days, though.

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

  • edited December 2014

    American Oak N°1 Mini Staves Traditional Toast »

    The color of the spirit is golden. For me it displays a typical taste of whisky: not too much wood, not too much sweet – just round, no edges, smooth and somehow familiar, like my favorite whisky brands. The result is certainly very close to actual barrel aging. The ideal choice for distillers, who always wanted the typical taste of American Oak. This variety is clearly one of our favorites.

    American Oak N°1 Mini Staves Traditional Toast

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  • edited December 2014

    American Oak N°2 Mini Staves Sweet & Smooth »

    The color turned out to be golden. My “korn” became round and smooth with it, I could have let the wood sit a bit longer, the next batch will be made with lesser wood and more time. For my taste the toasting flavors came out clearly, but also spicy, cinnamon and sweet tones appeared. Not too much vanilla, though.

    American Oak N°2 Mini Staves Sweet & Smooth

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  • edited December 2014

    American Oak N°3 Blocks Vanilla & Spice »

    Again showed my product a light golden color. What really is fascinating is the very flowery, fragile and delicate vanilla note. You have to smell more than once, to get it. It mixes well with the flavor profile of wood and smokey tones, just being inspiring. I really did like this one, It could give products a touch, that is very elegant and stands out to be remembered.

    American Oak N°3 Blocks Vanilla & Spice

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

  • edited December 2014

    American Oak N°4 Blocks Vanilla & Sweet »

    This time the color turned to reddish amber. Creamy, rich vanilla, coco and typical oak go hand in hand and, for me surprising, I found also leather notes in my sample. This gives the right twist, it is very well balanced and would match perfectly with products, that have a bit of a stronger flavor. It says, that this blocks can be used for faster maturation, we will try this in several more experiments ;)

    American Oak N°4 Blocks Vanilla & Sweet

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  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°1 Mini Staves Traditional Toast »

    The color turned to reddish amber. This one is the closest to the typical French barrel, it shows clearly oak notes, a hint of vanillin, all together very pleasing and not too much leaning on either side. French Oak is often chosen for discrete barrel aromas. Here you cannot do wrong.

    French Oak N°1 Mini Staves Traditional Toast

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

  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°2 Mini Staves Vanilla & Sweet »

    The color shows again reddish amber. The fact sheet says, it has 220mg vanillin, well, this may be, but over all, the impression is more a distinct sweetness, also a hint of fresh butter, some real yummy smoky tones and good solid woody notes. It is a variety at has a manly, whisky taste, but is also very elegant and pleasing.

    French Oak N°2 Mini Staves Vanilla & Sweet

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

  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°3 High Vanilla Blend »

    My “korn” turned to light amber or golden color. Again high in vanilla, this time the vanilla presents itself really sweet. It shows not so much smoke flavor, it is all together well balanced on the sweeter side. I could imagine, that this wood gives the right kick to whisky, who is a bit rougher or roundens fruit brandies to perfection. One has to find out!

    French Oak N°3 High Vanilla Blend

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  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°4 Traditional Wood Fire Toasted Blend »

    The color turned into reddish amber. This is a blend of different wood varieties and toastings, and they have mixed it well! Caramel, vanilla and spice come at first to mind, but all together, it is just yummy. It is one of my favorite oak products. This one should be tried in any case!

    French Oak N°4 Traditional Wood Fire Toasted Blend

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

  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°5 Blocks Intensive Toast »

    The color was a bit darker than the others, almost mahagony. Here the wood notes are very present, but also a wonderful creamyness comes out. It presents a typical whisky feeling, with character, a bit on the rustic side, but yet elegant. Blocks are usually used for quicker maturation, so again, we will set up another batch to let it sit a bit shorter that 5 weeks on the alcohol. Second reason is, this bottle had a very short life.

    French Oak N°5 Blocks Intensive Toast

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  • edited December 2014

    French Oak N°6 Blocks Extreme Vanilla »

    The color can be described golden. A bright, creamy and sweet vanilla shows, but this is no wonder, this wood has a concentrate of 378µg/litre, says the fact sheet. But also smoke aromas, wood notes and tannines chime in, the impression is well balanced. I could imagine, that this variety also can give the right twist to an already wood aged whisky, who lacks personality, or again for fruit brandies, to give them the irresistible vanilla and non the less smokey touch.

    French Oak N°6 Blocks Extreme Vanilla

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  • edited September 2014

    So, that's it. I can assure you, A LOT of tasting had to be done, to make the right descriptions! :)

    Feel free to ask me, if you need any further informations.

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

  • edited September 2014

    Great breakdown, and did you play "Korn" in the background while your "Korn" was being made?. @Sunshine never thought you would be in to Heavy Metal. \m/

  • edited December 2014

    We used "Korn" to get an even result. We don't had the capacity or time to produce the necessary amount for the trials. Our friend has a small professional distillery with very high quality products, we figured, to get the real taste of the wood without spoiling the outcome with different flavors, it made more sense to use his rye korn.

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

  • Very informative @Sunshine, thank you.

    I thought the wood should be in the sprit during all the maturity period. Can you explain the difference. I certainly will try this and maybe some nuking may help also?

    Cheers.

  • We did follow the rules of the producer Suber Lefort, this varieties were chosen for distillers because of their flavor profile. ( If someone would need a different flavor style, it would not be a problem to engineer this, as we have learned by Suber Lefort, this showes, how skilled they are, in what they do: it is like they are painting with wood)

    The oak staves and blocks are made to sit a certain time in the alcohol. The producer has carefully engineered the varieties to give accurate flavor shades. The release of the substances of content will happen within up to 4-5 weeks. If you let the wood soak more than this, the taste will not be as intentioned, or will not develop more.

    The blocks, that are for quicker maturation can be used for lesser days, of course it is then, like giving a spike of flavor. This can be an opportunity, when someone had already used a real barrel or oak adjuncts and misses the certain hint of taste, of if generally time is an issue - which may be a problem for professional distillers some times.

    We removed the wood after 5 weeks and the rest of the time the spirits had time to age to remove any unwanted edges. Of course, everyone can try different strategies and can find out, what will happen with the spirits.

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

  • Thanks @Sunshine

    You made it very clear.

    I will certainly try this method. I have the patience to wait as long as it takes.

    Cheers.

  • we have all 10 varieties in stock - and we will do a opening sample special with the oak products, when the shop opens. Which will be very soon! :)

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

  • edited October 2014

    people ask: what oak product gives the taste of Jack Daniels whisky? So, after having the right recipe of the wash and using the right yeast, I would recommend:

    American Oak N°1 Mini Staves

    It is the closest to the typical American white oak barrel that the big players like JD use. Also I would advice to taste every week, the point of perfection could be reached much sooner than the recommended 4 - 5 weeks.

    :)

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

  • take sugar maple, soak it in your raw whisky, light it on fire, spray with water once charred, run your whiskey through them at full strength before before reducing to barrel strength and putting it in the barrel.

    Lincoln County Process @ Wikipedia

  • @Sunshine, Jack actually has there own cooperage so they make there own barrels, If memory severs me right they utilize northern white oak rather then southern. Also remember they filter the distillate through sugar maple charcoal to get their flavor profile.

    MOCS

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster youtube.com/watch?v=08e9k-c91E8

  • the lincoln county process is how they make and use that sugar maple charcoal

  • yes I am aware of that. The customer just asked me what of OUR oak products could be appropriate for his endevour. It is much more complicated than that, but American Oak °1 would be the most fitting choice of StillDragon Oak staves and blocks.

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

  • edited December 2014

    Finally the labels and the bags for the wood arrived and so we can proudly present the new look of our Distiller's Edition Oak products!

    The trial packages make very fine presents for Christmas, too. Every distiller would be really happy with such a gift from Santa Dragon ;) - just think of ordering quickly, to receive the parcel just in time.

    American Oak Trial Pack of 3 »

    American Oak Trial Pack of 3

    French Oak Trial Pack of 3 Variety (A) »

    French Oak Trial Pack of 3 Variety (A)

    French Oak Trial Pack of 3 Variety (B) »

    French Oak Trial Pack of 3 Variety (B)

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  • I bloody love it and want them all! :D

  • thats good work sunshine, i enjoy and can relate to your descriptions. Just to be safe ill have to do my own taste test. Just to be safe.

  • I bought some trial packs of these, 6 different types in total. nice little presentation bags with labels that I can tie to corny kegs I age in. A week ago I put 7 liters of single malt at 62% down on 100g of American oak number 4 (it sounded appropriate). 7 days later it smells amazing! I know it's gonna turn out great a couple of months down the line... I have a wheat whisky in fermenter now, will probably put that on some American oak 3.

    Does anybody have a favourite SD oak product for a light rum? I'm running some through the VM today and might try a few liters of it on some wood for a short spell.

  • French oak is popular for rum.

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