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A lot of distillers these days find themselves in a predicament. They need to differentiate their base liquid, be it bourbon, rye, Canadian whiskey, tequila or rum. They want to develop a flavor profile finishing that can set them apart from the competition on the shelf and do so in a consistent manner year after year. The dilemma they face is that traditional double aging in new or used barrels is expensive and operationally costly. New barrels are hard to source these days, are at an all-time high in expense, and used barrels are becoming less available and are inconsistent in their effects. Who wants to dump barrels, re-barrel and re-rack, potentially losing valuable liquid or risking hurting employees in the process?
Innerstave offers a consistent, cost-effective solution. Our barrel alternative oak profiles allow distillers a way to add new American and French oak in any number of toast or char levels and flavor profiles (think Port, Sherry, Brown Sugar, Maple, Tequila, Rum – you get my point), either directly into barrels or into totes or tanks for maturation before bottling.
So, what are you to do? A BENCH TRAIL! A bench trial will be the easiest and most efficient way to experiment with new toasts and finishing profiles. Our bench trial kit contains up to 15 different oak, toast, and extended oak seasoning profiles in either sticks, cubes or chips. The first step after learning what your goals are for the project, we would recommend an oak format that will fit the scope of your project, we would make this recommendation based on any time parameters. If time is a not a factor, we would most likely recommend bench trialing with cubes because on the bench they give you a good understanding of how our larger format oak will extract.
From there, we would select a mix of French and American oaks in the toast levels that have the flavor notes that you are trying to achieve. Also, if you were considering a secondary barrel finish this would be the point at which we would select the Extended Oak Seasoning profiles that you’d like to experiment with. Now, the oak gets added to the spirit at the prescribed addition rate for a minimum of 2 weeks. We suggest waiting the whole 2-week period before tasting so that the oak has enough time to extract and integrate into the beverage properly.
After you taste your spirit and decide you would like to scale the project, we can help with calculating the appropriate amount of oak down to the gram. This innovative new way of aging allows for the distiller to create their own unique finishing profile that allows them complete control over the final product and can be repeated consistently over time. Because we offer new oak in smaller sizes, this process provides more surface area extraction over a shorter period of time than traditional barrel finishing.
Some distillers know exactly the flavor profile they hope to achieve while others need a little help in trying to figure out the final flavor profile that works best for them, like achieving a mid-palate boost. Our trial kits allow distillers to run bench trials in 750 bottles that allow them to experiment on exactly how much oak extraction they want to achieve and for how long. They can also “play” with different combinations of flavored oak products (i.e. American Medium toast, High Vanilla and Bing Cherry) to create a profile that is proprietary and unique to them. This methodology allows for relative precision and a distiller can understand the oak impact in about two weeks. Distillers can fine tune their tests with the unoaked control until the perfect oak impression is achieved.
In a world where nearly 50% of all bourbon and rye liquid comes from a very few base sources, this finishing process is a game changer and positive disruption to a category that needs it right now. So, call me at 502-299-2970, email me at [email protected] or direct message me on Instagram and let’s get some tests going in 2023!
-Lee Tatum, Managing Director, Spirits.