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The Power of Oak

By Craig Pakish
Most consumers of whiskey need simple choices and do not want distinctive or challenging flavors.

Let us prove this statement false. I challenge you, the new age whiskey consumer to think outside of the barrel and create flavors that satisfy your quest for flavor.

Early on, when I started my distillery, I began to explore the complexity and power of oak to flavor my rye spirits.Initially I purchased two gallon American White Oak (Quercus alba) barrels that had been heavily charred for my experiments.

I was told that I could expect the flavor transfers to occur quickly due to the high surface to volume ratio of these barrels; that I could expect one year's worth of flavor transfer that occurs in a 59 gallon barrel, to occur in three months in these small barrels.

The Evolution of Flavor

So I waited, and tasted; three months, six month, eight months, wow what an EVOLUTION OF FLAVOR! First there were flavors of vanilla and cinnamon and then the sweet smoke oak woody flavors; and smoothness and soft mouth feel also evolved.

It was a great experience to witness this evolution of flavor. I thought why should I be the only one to experience the power of oak. So, I came up with a two gallon and a two liter American Oak Barrel Kit. This was good but not great. Then an idea came to me, how about I put a piece of the barrel into the bottle.