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.
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.
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.” 
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.
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.
How Char Can You Go
There are seven levels to barrel charring used.
- Heavy toast
- Heavy toast Light char
- 1 Char/ Medium Char
- 2 Char Medium Plus char
- 3 Char heavy char
- 4 Char Char, also known as or alligators char
- 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,
American Oak Casks or White Oak
For the most part, bourbon is aged in American oak casks, though at times French Oak or other oak may be used.
There are 10 different types of American Oak trees each with an unpronounceable name some are better than others and then there is the best. The one called Alba is considered the best.
The question you must be asking yourself now is why, well the holding structure of oak for one. This is because upon tree death and formation of the heartwood there forms tyloses a bubble-like structure in the wood which prevents leakage by the state ends or top and bottom of the barrel.
The number of bubbles found in oak makes it uniquely suited for storing.
Another feature found in white oak is the multiseriate medullary rays, these are the tree arteries used to transfer water to the top of trees they can’t leak water. There is so much overlapping in the tree that it makes the barrels waterproof. They are so dense that if liquid trying to exit the barrel would try to beat a straight line it would have to cut through 5 layers.
Another important factor is the flexibility of the wood most wood after seasoning, seasoning is leaving the barrels out in the open for 36 to 48 months most wood becomes brittle oak does not. Thus enabling the cooperage to work with the wood to create barrels.
 Singleton V.L. 1974, Some aspects of the wooden containers as a factor in wine maturation. Chemistry of winemaking
Oak Used To Create Casks For Aging Spirits Such As Made At Terebelo Distillery
Ever wondered why those wooden casks that you purchase as planters are in such demand by distilleries? Ever wondered what Oak is used and why?
This will be a series of articles, recordings, and video’s exploring the different oaks used in aging. Why, for the most part, oak is used and not other woods.
Let us begin with exploring the primary oaks used, and then we will follow up with explaining the benefits of each one, the dynamics,, tastes and color, and of course, much more.
A brief history is a must; Oak was used as a shipping container for all goods until the turn of the 20th century. This is important to remember, for at times, barrels that are referred to, such as Sherry Casks, are really not made from Sherry but contained Sherry for transport. This has changed, as we will find out during our finishing series.
Another thing to keep in mind is the level of char in American Oak and the level of toast for French Casks.
Other topics that will be discussed will be the influence of the size of the barrel, the type of water, the grain, the yeast, temp, and much much more.
American Oak,, also Known As White Oak.
American Oak grows throughout the United States. For years, the premier location of the tree’s being harvested was located near the Distilleries in Kentucky; this has changed. With the discovery of the quality such Minnesota, the Trees adding a more full and delicious flavor cooperates have opened throughout the country. For the most part, artisanal distilleries such as Terebelo work with smaller cooperages since they have the same goal in mind. That is to deliver a luxury product instead of a mass-produced product ensuring that, there are no bandaids like wheat flour paste to keep the barrels from leaking. That is why small cooperages are gluten-free.
French oak barrels come from one of five forests, some of which were initially planted during Napoleonic times for shipbuilding. These forests, primarily located in central France, are Allier, Limousin, Nevers, Tronçais, and the Vosges, and each is considered to have distinctive characteristics.
European Oak Also Known As Eastern Europe Oak
Similair in profile to French oak without the storied passed grows deep into Russian and Turkey.
Mizunara oak is very common in the forests of northeast Asia, where it is used primarily for high-quality furniture. Due to its high density and thin fibers, the Whiskey barrels, Mizunara oak gained popularity for Whiskey aging in the early 20th century.must be cut along the fibers, which never grow perfectly straight. The Oak also lacks waterproofing oil enzymes, so much more evaporates during aging than when stored in American or European oak. Despite these characteristics, which make it much more difficult to use for
Not least because of the special aromas it gives off to Whiskey, reminiscent of sandalwood, coconut, and oriental spices, for example.
Also known as Amburana, and Cerejeira amongst many other names in Portuguese, it can be found in the Northeast, Center-West, and Southeast regions of Brazil. The tree has an average height of 10-20 m (32-65 ft.) and a trunk measuring 40-80 cm (16-31 in.) in diameter. It imparts an intense color, a distinct characteristic aroma bouquet with notes of vanilla, and a slightly sweet flavor. This wood is often blended with either french or American oak.
Mexican Oak was used in the past to store Tequila, in the distillery. Today it is extinct found only in very old and traditional Tequila Distilleries as holding vats.
Similar in profile to French oak with a little more smoky and vanilla nuances. Though there is much speculation that it is responsible for the unique flavor of Bourbons that are aged in Sherry casks as Sherry is a Spanish Wine. This unfortunately is not accurate for Sherry wine is today aged in American Casks to the exclusion of Macallan which has their own cooperage and conditions the barrels with their own sherry. You may be able to argue this is part of what makes Macallan so unique.
Specialty Barrels Not Widely Used But Worth The Mention
Hard Maple, Hickory, Red Oak, Sassafras, Soft Maple, Danish Oak, Acacia, Ash, Chestnut, Cherry Tree and Mulberry, white oak, chestnut oak, red or sweet gum, sugar maple, yellow or sweet birch, white ash, Douglas fir, beech, black cherry, sycamore, redwood, spruce, bald cypress, elm, and basswood) and Europe (white oak, chestnut, fir, spruce, pine, larch, ash, mulberry), and a number of additional species imported from Africa, South America, and Australia (acacia, karri: Eucalyptus diversicolor; jarrah: Eucalyptus marginata; stringybark: Eucalyptus obliqua and Eucalyptus gigantea; and she oak:
Some are used to hold wine or spirits, however, most of the barrels woods are not approved to be used by the Organization of Vine and Wine and therefore ignored by the industry.
Your Friend and Master Distillery,
Terebelo Private Label
For years, you have been the man who made the most awesome cocktails being the one that the neighborhood would ask to make the cocktails for at the local charity events.
For years you have been running a speakeasy out of your basement, quietly selling your homemade mixes, building a reputation of excellence, and you now want to make your combinations available to all.
Grandfather passed down a secret liqueur recipe that gets reviews at every event that you manage to make it for. You feel it is high time that you make it commercially available.
Since you were in college, you dreamed of having a liqueur or Spirit that carries your name on it.
At Terebelo Boutique Distillery, we will be there for you from start to finish. With our expert team ranging from our Master of Fermentation to our Master Distiller, we will do everything in our power to fulfill your dreams.
Start what I mean is from laying down your vision throughout the implementation. From “dream to the shelves.”
Yours Truly President and Master Distiller,
What You Can Do
Pick the recipe.
Design the label.
Pick the bottle.
What We Do
Purchase your ingredients find supply sources when needed.
Ferment through bottling.
Submit label to TTB for approval.
All legal work.
Handoff to distributer.
What We Both Together
Essentially we view ourselves as partners and advisors.
First, to create a masterful project. We will assist you and advise you throughout the project.