Charring the interior of the barrels is what allows for the transmission of the smoky flavor and golden coloring to the maturing liquor stored inside the barrels. Charring is actually a very complex interaction between the oak wood and fire, for a more in depth explanation of how this works, have found that this site seems to have the best explanation.
There are 4 common charring levels which are used. They go from level #1 to level #4.
Level #1 is very mild char and fire is applied to the barrel for a short 15 seconds.
Level #2 is 30 seconds.
Level #3 is 35 seconds.
Level #4 what is called the alligator char is 55 seconds.
We use the most common level of charring which is level #3 as you can see from the picture below, level 3 charring is quite dark, but the char layer is even looking without showing breakages.
Level 4, alligator charring, which we do when we receive special requests. Leaves the staves looking like its name implies with burnt layers of wood that lift like alligator skin. If you would like a special type of charring please contact us and we can accommodate it, just please be advise that shipping will take longer as we usually do no have different charring levels in stock.
Picture illustrates diffrerent charring types dark alligator char, level 3 charring and none charred stave.
*For requesting a special type of charring please add request to the instruction box that appears when adding engraving.
Charring of the barrel heads
We get this question quite a lot as some customers peak inside the barrel and notice the barrel heads are very lightly charred comparing to the rest of the barrel. The reason for this is simple the barrels heads cannot be charred to a darker level as heat would bend them out of shape, just imagine burning a piece of paper how it folds upwards as it burns. The same thing happens to the heads making them impossible to place them afterwards on the barrels.
Below picture shows how the body of the barrel is charred before the lids are placed o the barrel.
As you can see from the above picture, we are using oak chips to char the barrel. This technique is hard to master so only our most experienced coopers use oak chips to char the interior of the barrel, this method has two benefits:
- Oak chips tend to add to the flavor of the charring as the smoke of burning oak impregnates the interior of the barrel.
- We reuse oak chips that are left over from the different phases of coopering the barrel. This allows us to reduce waste as much as possible.
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