How old craftsmanship and innovation go together
Originally wooden barrels were designed to transport goods safely from A to B without the environment having any influence on their contents. Everyone knows the old pirate movies – no ship journey without barrels full of rum, cabbage and rusk.
The fact that wooden barrels also affect the taste of the goods stored in them was seen as a positive side effect. So you see: sometimes coincidence leads to innovation.
Over the centuries, the purpose of wooden barrels has changed, so that the barrel stays in one place to give off its taste nuances to the wine, beer or distillate. And these taste nuances are also the focus of a test barrel that our coopers are building for one of our customers. Up to now, it has been the case that you had to decide in which wooden barrel you would like to mature. French oak barrels, for example, bring completely different aromas than those made of American oak, cherry or chestnut wood.
To get the best out of all woods, we are now building a hybrid barrel. This barrel, which will be « only » 20 liters for experimental purposes, combines the four types of wood mentioned above. So the distillate will have vanilla notes with roasted aromas from the American oak, the fine natural sweetness of the chestnut, light almond tones from the cherry and a round spiciness from the French oak.
Hand in Hand
What comes out of this, no one can say yet. Theoretically we know how the individual woods work, but the interaction is something completely new, which – like the wooden barrel storage in the past – first has to be tried out and refined. So we will work hand in hand with the customer, monitor the maturing process together with him and of course take samples again and again to follow the development.
We can be curious if and when our « hybrid barrel distillate » will be ready for the market, to what extent we still have to adjust and change the proportions of the individual woods or the toasting so that the effect will be exactly as the customer wants it to be.
And who knows what coincidence the next innovation will bring us...