Charring oak barrels: The effects

Some historians believe the charring process was influenced by distillers reusing old barrels that once stored pig parts or fish, which led to distillers reusing old barrels that were charred. One of the most common questions we hear from newbies is, why are whiskey barrels charred? In order to prevent a spirit with a fishy flavor, the barrels were burned. The process of charring and toasting has become a staple of the wine and liquor industries, regardless of the reasons for its origin. For some spirits, Charred Oak Barrels are even required for storage for example, bourbon. Because we no longer store animal parts in wooden barrels, why are whiskey barrels still charred?

What is the purpose of charring whiskey barrels?

Charred Oak Barrels

Charred Oak Barrels open the wood, allowing the spirit to soak up new flavors. It smooths out the taste and takes the sharp edge away from the whiskey; the carbon smooths the flavor out. The wood sugars in oak barrels caramelize during charring, as well as other chemical changes. Depending on the length of time the barrel is burned, it can produce notes of caramel, coconut, vanilla, and even coffee. It is measured in levels 1 through 4, with level 4 sometimes known as the “alligator char” due to the appearance of the wood after a long burn. Char depth is measured in levels 1 through 4, with level 4 sometimes referred to as the “alligator char.”

Charring vs. toasting barrels

There are distinct differences between toasting and charring, which are often interchangeable. Toasting is often used in wine and cognac, while charring is typically more associated with whiskey. Toasting involves a slower process than charring. Because there are no ashes, a toasted spirit is visually lighter and has a sharper flavor because carbon hasn’t mellowed it. Strong, spiced vanilla flavors are often described as characteristic of spirits stored in toasted barrels. Unlike charring, which is a longer burning process, charring produces a thick layer of ash. That layer of ash makes spirits in charred barrels darker and have a sweeter, richer taste. It has the perfect charred oak barrel for your next batch, whether you’re a home brewer or an established distiller. You can choose from five customizable barrel sizes crafted from tight-grained premium oak, then charred to perfection.