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/

[4]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261773958_The_tannins_of_oak_heartwood_Structure_properties_and_their_influence_on_wine_flavor

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