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  • White Oak Trees and Bourbon bottled at Cask Strength.

    White Oak Trees and Bourbon bottled at Cask Strength.

    Oak casks are made from a tree which is a live organism. As all live organisms, no two are the same. Environment nutrients etc., play a massive role in all areas of development.  

    Today’s focus is the environment, region of growth of the tree, and its taste. In particular, we are zeroing on temperature and its effect on tree development and taste.

    Increased temperature, meaning higher and hotter temperatures, for the most part, increase tree growth. This is true in all trees except for tropical trees.[1]

    This means colder climates; trees grow slower. This plays a huge role in anything that trees will be used for, be it creating the cask for your favorite Bourbon to the sound of a guitar such as a Stradivarius’s unique sound[2].

    Wood from slow-growing trees has annual growth rings that are narrower than the fast-growing trees. and would be described as “close-grained” denser, while the wood from fast-growing trees will have wider growth rings and may be described as opened grain or “coarse-grained.” [3]

    Location the colder the location, the tighter the grain will be. Minnesotan Oak, where Terebelo barrels are made, has the unique benefit of being made from frigid temperatures. Minnesota temps can get way below zero compared to Kentucky, which rarely hits the teens.

    Tight grain is more porous, flavorful, and aromatic; this makes for a fuller and more luxurious flavor. However, the release is more complex in cask strength as the flavors may be a little too compact.

    As we wrote in the previous article, the vessels are like blood vessels that bring the water and nutrients up through the Springwood. These vessels are what give the delicious aromas and flavors to your Bourbon as they had transported the sweet minerals, nutrients, and sap up to the budding branches and leaves.

    After a few years, those rings stop bringing sustenance up to the leaves and dry up, becoming the heartwood the wood used for barrel making.[4]

    In the Summer, after the tree’s spring growth spurt, the wood starts to create fibers around the vessels contributing to grain tightness, and of course, this has a flavor that we call tannins.


    [1] https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article/30/6/667/1619936

    [2] https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2008.894

    [3] https://blog.spib.org/what-is-wood-grain/


  • How Char Can You Go

    How Char Can You Go

    There are seven levels to barrel charring used.

    1. Heavy toast
    2. Heavy toast Light char
    3. 1 Char/ Medium Char
    4. 2 Char Medium Plus char
    5. 3 Char heavy char
    6. 4 Char Char, also known as or alligators char
    7. 5 Char Distillers char


    In truth, there are too many variables in the system than to let’s say it’s all guestimates. A char four from the barrel mill might be different from ISC or Seguin Moreau, a

    Then there’s the type of oak you are using, is honeycombed cut or deep cut if cut at all. It is grown (the flavor comes from the caramelization of wood proteins/sugars, so composition is essential). The result of all of this is that is a lot of cask to cask variation. At Terebelo Distiller, we get a complete variety of chars, but even 10 ‘identical’ barrels with the same spirit might all taste quite different.


    Level 1 char (15-second burn)

    Level 1 char is ideal for quick-aging bourbon one step above a heavy toast. Level 1 doesn’t impart nearly as much woodiness into the alcohol as higher chars but still gives some flavor.

    Level 1 is mainly used for home distilling. Most cooperages do not even offer it to distilleries.

    Level 2 char (30-second burn)

    Level 2 char is used among distilleries, but not widely. The flavor profile is very different from heavier charred barrels. The strong caramel tones of higher levels don’t overpower this Char. There’s a more pronounced sweetness that distilleries use to their advantage; Some distilleries custom order level 2 charr after toasting; this adds vanilla, coffee, and spiciness to each finished spirit.

    Level 3 char (35-second burn)

    Levels 3 and 4 char is the standard for American bourbons and whiskeys. As the spirits are aged in these higher-level chars, the alcohol develops an earthy and spicy flavor. Level 3 often has a natural wood taste and scent, while the more extended chars introduce a deeper color, vanilla tones, and caramelization.

    Level 4 char (55-second burn)

    This char level is also called Alligator Char. After 55 seconds of fire, the barrel begins to crack and peel into a rough, shiny pattern that looks like alligator skin. The alligator Char gives more surface for interaction and a different variety of surfaces for the spirit to interact with as the charring now becomes uneven. This will get you a subtle vanilla palate from the wood, in addition to adding a smoky char flavor that contrasts nicely with the sweeter notes.

    Stay tuned for much much more!
    Master Distiller at Terebelo Distillery,

    Binyomin Terebelo