Wood. It’s one of the most ancient and natural of all building materials. Mankind has been using it to build all manner of things since long before the birth of Christ. Be it furniture, buildings, doors, chairs, tables, beds, tools, frames, flooring, firewood, smoking chips, bridges, ships, the Trojan Horse, bows and arrows, bats, rifle stocks, all the way to the earliest of aircraft made from balsa and paper. And those are just the obvious ones, we use countless of products everyday with some byproduct of classification of wood or tree in them, the sap of some trees do indeed contain medicinal properties. And it goes without saying, our lives are better having it in it. Apart from metal, it’s one of the most universally used material on earth. The role it came to play in the preparations of the world’s greatest liquors was inevitable. Oak barrels, now recognized for the importance of it’s emparted taste properties, in the bygone pre-war era of alcohol was nothing more than a vessel with which to transport its contents. Before the popularization of individual glass bottles, all liquors were transported and sold in bars and pubs by manner of tapped barrels. Spirits were collected in barrels like these straight from the condenser of the still, or in wineries once fermentation had completed and were strained of the must until the wine was seen fit to drink of, where they rolled onto the awaiting horse-drawn carts and taken aboard ships by the hundreds to be sailed to markets around the world. In this day and age, the barrels work life are much shorter. Once the inside contents are aged appropriately, the barrels are opened up and the liquor inside let to pour into a collective vessel, on it’s way to be bottled, the bottles are then shipped and wrapped in pallets and sent by air. Barrels that, in this day and age of increasingly reliable and accurate woodworking tools, the average Jo can repurpose into many different objects. Be it smokers, liquor cabinets, decor, or simply upcycled furniture. Wood, or more specifically, oak, has come to be known as an important element of the wines and spirits game. Oak itself, although not technically edible, does contain many and varied flavors to impart on liquor, depending on species, treatment, and exposure. Though these tastes, are one of the many combined elements that create a fine whiskey or a fine wine. But what if, we wanted to really taste these things, unimpeded and intimately. No product like this exists, surely, you might say. And you are right.
G’day guys. Welcome to a very special article of my site, my first video upload. Something to really show my point. What you are about to see, is a little creation to try at home. Something fun to do with some American oak chips, some vodka, and a jar. A little homemade concoction that exhibits the flavors afforded by oak. Since vodka, by nature, is a neutral spirit. Therefore, the sole contributing taste is that of the oak. The vast majority of you have probably already skimmed directly over these words and shot straight downwards for the video, but the written instructions of this creation are short nonetheless. As this is a very easy thing to create anyway.
You will need: A bottle of vodka, two clean sealable containers, cheesecloth, American oak chips
- The first step is simply to add oak to the jar. Your first instinct is to simply pour the oak chips straight into the jar, don’t do this. As the bag of oak chips, will at the bottom contain tiny crushed up pieces of wood that are difficult to strain out. To constrict these pieces at the bottom from pouring into the jar, simply take your forefinger and your thumb and restrict the bottom fifth of the bag. (In the video below, I said that “although despite the best efforts, some fine particles will undoubtedly sneak through” and to treat the lumber liqueur as a vintage wine, or a cold brew coffee – Treat the bottom last insignificant milliliters as the sacrificial drink. With some effective cheesecloth folded in two, this filters this completely)
- Then add the vodka. You will need to take into account the total volume of the drink inside the jar, I find the oak chips typically add a hundred milliliters to the drink, choose a container that allows for this (although of course, through the process of oaking, you’ll actually lose a hundred millilitres through absorption). Seal the container. You may choose to upend or shake to jumpstart the process.
- Leave for twenty four hours, or until the taste is to your liking
- Once you are happy with the oaking, filter the chips out with a fine cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth in half for added filtration. Pour through the cheesecloth into the second container. Be prepared to repeat this step several times if needed
And that’s all it takes to turn some cocktail mixer vodka into a top-shelf whiskey-identical spirit. Hope you enjoyed the article and/or the video, feel free to head over to my newly slapped-together YouTube channel and subscribe, but more importantly; subscribe to this website. Cheers