We produce a range of oak barrels, starting from the absolutely tiny (1 litre), going up to 500 litres. For all of our new barrels you can specify the kind of wood (French Oak, American Oak, European Oak, Portuguese Oak, Recovered Oak and Portuguese Chestnut) as well as the char level (we offer four options light, medium, heavy and extra heavy). Char is of course incredibly important when ageing spirits in wooden barrels, because of the way it affects how flavours are released from the oak to the spirit.
The basic role of charring is to open up the wood up to allow flavours to be extracted, but it also serves as a catalyst to generate chemical changes in the wood. So for example the lignin in the wood releases vanilla flavours when it is charred and the longer the barrel is charred, the more vanilla flavours will be released. Also, hemicellulose breaks down to release toffee and caramel flavours under the intense heat applied in charring. The charcoal that is produced in charring also acts as a sort of activated carbon filter, helping to remove sulphur compounds from the whisky in a process knows as subtractive maturation.
Higher char levels have another effect, in that it will lessen the interaction between the spirit and the wood’s tannins as well as giving the spirit a darker colour and a smokey flavour. We offer for levels of char: light, medium, heavy and extra heavy (alligator). You can find our more about the difference between toasting and charring here.
So if you are looking for a oak barrel supplier who can offer you specific char levels, please contact us for more information.