Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: White Oak and Bourbon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    925

    White Oak and Bourbon

    My bride and I did the Bourbon Trail a couple weeks ago. It was a good time. While on the tour at Makers Mark, the guide commented on the amount of White Oak casks that they (and other distillers) went through every year. I wondered if there were any issues with sustainability, as in my area QSWO has gotten stupid expensive and the story I always hear is that it's in short supply. The said their supply chain folks watch things pretty close, and based on good forestry practices over the last few decades, there are actually more White Oak trees available for harvest than there ever have been. Seems like lumber should cost less. Just saying.
    It's wood dust. Saw dust would suggest a problem.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    5,634
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    ...based on good forestry practices over the last few decades, there are actually more White Oak trees available for harvest than there ever have been. Seems like lumber should cost less. Just saying.
    I'm not sure the harvest-ready tree count is directly related to the finished lumber cost. Seems like you would have to include the chain from tree-cutting through sawing and drying, add in location/handling/transportation costs, and consider inflation in the wood industry over those decades.

    For all I know "Michiana" is a tropical island in the Pacific but around here white oak logs are often worth less than nothing and rot on the ground if not cut for firewood. By the time boards are sawn and dried and planed the lumber is worth a lot. I have two stacks if logs from three big trees waiting for me to saw.

    JKJ

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Central MA
    Posts
    1,148
    Another thing to consider is that they're not using FAS grade QSWO for bourbon barrels. Probably closer to pallet grade than anything considering the clear sizes they need.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    686
    Plus, they are not buying a few sticks here and there for projects. They know what they will need and can project out 5, 10, or 20 years and enter into long term contracts with suppliers to control their costs and avoid price fluctuations the rest of us have to live with.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    390
    Quote Originally Posted by John K Jordan View Post
    For all I know "Michiana" is a tropical island in the Pacific but around here white oak logs are often worth less than nothing and rot on the ground if not cut for firewood. By the time boards are sawn and dried and planed the lumber is worth a lot. I have two stacks if logs from three big trees waiting for me to saw.

    JKJ
    "Michiana" is generally North-central Indiana and Southwest Michigan area, and a combination of the two state names. Not as beautiful as East Tennessee, but still pretty doggoned nice!!

    There are a few local mills that price white oak more reasonably than retail--but once quarter-sawn the price does rise. I got a few small pieces of quarter-sawn sycamore recently--very cool looking wood, and i'm hearing price is very good compared to QSWO...though I've not shopped it at all.
    earl

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,329
    California wine barrels are reused and refilled. I believe the whiskey makers use the barrel once and discard. Bulk wine makers just throw a handful of sawdust in the giant stainless steel tanks.
    Bill D.

    View of a small section of Gallo winery in Modesto, California, USA. Worlds largest.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/amenfoto/4053409652

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Columbus Ohio
    Posts
    230
    The barrels are not discarded. They are repurposed. Sold to all kinds of other distilleries. Wine to liquor to beer. They also sell the barrels for use in smoking foods.

  8. #8
    Eventually, they end up here.

    https://www.winebarreldesigns.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwestern Connecticut
    Posts
    7,130
    Doesn't seem to be any shortage of white oak here in CT, price is pretty stable. Most harvesters us good forestry practices as they are in business for the long term. I had to read your post when I saw "White oak and bourbon"....two of my favorite things in one post!
    "A good miter set up is like yoga pants: it makes everyone's butts look good." Prashun Patel

  10. #10
    There is a fairly new coopery in Jackson, Ohio. Used to be a Merrilat cabinet factory.

    They have a pretty impressive yard full of 4' white oak blanks.

    We also have the worlds largest oak flooring mill, near Portsmouth, Ohio

    Lots of white and red oak in Southern Ohio/Kentucky.

  11. #11
    There is a cooperage mill that I used to drive by on my way to work at a previous job. They had giant stacks of white oak that looked to be about pallet grade stuff and stored it outside. You could smell the mill working about a half mile away and it made that part of town smell like my shop. Too bad that the bourbon wasn't made nearby. Lots of wine and beer, but no whiskey (technically bourbon is only made in Kentucky.)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
    Posts
    4,718
    Blog Entries
    7
    Scotch distillers buy ex-bourbon, sherry, port and other casks to impart a flavor on the whiskey. I’m not sure if bourbon distillers do the same but I assume so.

    Im actually curious to know what causes the casks to wear, given that some scotch and cognac are aged, presumably in the same barrel, for up to a 1/2 century or longer.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Holcombe View Post
    Scotch distillers buy ex-bourbon, sherry, port and other casks to impart a flavor on the whiskey. I’m not sure if bourbon distillers do the same but I assume so.

    Im actually curious to know what causes the casks to wear, given that some scotch and cognac are aged, presumably in the same barrel, for up to a 1/2 century or longer.
    The barrels don't wear so much as become inert. There are actually substances in the wood that become ingredients in the spirits. Like a scoop of coffee grounds, eventually there is no flavor left. Of course, that's a really simple explanation. There is probably enough science involved to earn a two year degree.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
    Posts
    4,718
    Blog Entries
    7
    Ah, thank you!
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  15. #15
    Itís my understanding that the spirits soak into the oak and out again as the weather changes. I believe the storage height also makes a difference with barrel higher up going through more of the back and forth due to altitude. This movement adds flavor by extracting goodness from the oak. Longer aged barrels go though more seasons, have more evaporation and in the end makes for some good sippiní whiskey.

    Price being subjective, I just purchased some air dried white oak for $1.50 BF here west of Michiana.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •