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If I'm not mistaken, some absinthes were historically aged in oak barrels. Which brands currently on the market age their absinthe in oak barrels, if any?

 

The other question I have, is if one wanted to impart an aged oak flavor to absinthe, would simply adding some charred or toasted oak to the absinthe create the same quality and flavor as storing in oak barrels? Oak barrels are notoriously expensive and hard to care for. Keeping them free from bacteria and preventing them from leaking and drying out is a difficult task at best.

 

What's the difference between keeping the absinthe in an oak barrel, and simply adding some oak chips to the product to steep for a while? Seems like the results would be pretty much the same, that is flavoring the absinthe with oak.

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One brand does this currently: Segarra, in Spain. It's peculiar, but drinkable. I believe he uses sherry casks.

 

Oxygenée did a pretty good job of addressing the topic in the last oak-aged thread, a while back.

 

 

Nice thread, thanks. It seems aging in oak isn't really desired in an absinthe. I'll put Segarra on the list to try next time I'm in Spain.

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Any alcohol as such is aged more or less. To the best of my knowledge Emiles are claimed to be aged for some months and in old treatisies you will find that it is the time that finishes the quality. Licorice was once used to make absinthe taste like an aged one (vide Berger).

 

In glass, the process of aging is the quickest and almost unnoticeable. Another process is oxygenation, some people believe that dilution with water and subsequent filtration serves also well. Any alcohol produced from rectified spirit should be aged for a relatively short time, whereas with slivovitz, starka or whisky, the process shall last at least 3-4 yrs , up to 8-10; obviously there is no problem if they are aged longer (20-30 yrs).

 

The only wood that does not affect the product's initial taste is ash tree. Good stuff that uses oak chip, the longer the better, is Dębowa Vodka, check it out.

 

But modern brands rarely pay attention to it. Yet, no one can authoritatively say which is better: aged for one year (the second pic) or fraiche from still and after colouration (look at pic, it is the greener one), you will decide and your taste buds, so enjoy :cheers:

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Most experienced drinkers agree that absinthes should be aged at least 6 months. Many changes happen in the first month or 2 as it settles down from the distilling process. Change slows down a lot after 6 months or so but as vintage shows, it doesn't stop altogether.

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And as vintage shows, any woody note is quite small. And there's no guarantee that this is from aging in oak barrels. Even though it is certain that absinthe was aged in barrels. (See the drawings and pictures of the Pernod Fils factory.)

 

 

Adding oak chips to your absinthe seems like a very bad idea.

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If I'm not mistaken, some absinthes were historically aged in oak barrels. Which brands currently on the market age their absinthe in oak barrels, if any?

 

The other question I have, is if one wanted to impart an aged oak flavor to absinthe, would simply adding some charred or toasted oak to the absinthe create the same quality and flavor as storing in oak barrels? Oak barrels are notoriously expensive and hard to care for. Keeping them free from bacteria and preventing them from leaking and drying out is a difficult task at best.

 

What's the difference between keeping the absinthe in an oak barrel, and simply adding some oak chips to the product to steep for a while? Seems like the results would be pretty much the same, that is flavoring the absinthe with oak.

 

 

Most Absinthe was aged in oak. However the oak was not casks, but rather tuns. The sheer size of the tuns limited the ration of surface area to volume. Secondly, the same tuns were used for many years. Finally, a solera process was used where by a portion of the absinthe was removed from the tun for botteling and this was replaced with an equal volume of fresh absinthe.

 

The net result was that there was no appreciable oak character to the absinthe.

 

Unless you particularly like oak character, I would recomment forgoing the oak as it would not result in a traditional taste.

 

This is like the argument that IPA was shipped in oak and should have an oak characteristic to it. Historical documents show that the oak for IPA was sealed with brewers pitch so there was no oak characteristic to IPA.

 

Bacteria don't grow or survive in alcohol above about 20%abv. At 50%abv it becomes a steralizing agent. 70% abv is about optimum to kill bacteria.

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Absinthist, I think the question had specifically to do with oak, not aging in general.

 

I think barrel aging may have something to offer if done in the proper way and for long enough (whatever that might turn out to be) but none of us seems to be patient enough to find out.

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I thought I'd bring this over from the other thread for reference purposes.

Have any of you ever had a barrel-aged absinthe?

Does pre-ban Pernod Fils count?

I wouldn't describe pre-ban Pernod as "barrel-aged" in this sense. Large wooden vats such as Pernod used are functionally no different from modern stainless steel tanks - they're simply a method for storing the liquid in bulk. At the time Pernod Fils was made, the stainless steel alternative didn't exist, so wood vats like this were the only option. Both because of the size of the vats, and because they were used for many years consecutively, they would have imparted essentially no noticable wood character to the drink they contained. Vats like this were (and occasionally still are) used to store Riesling in Germany, and here any type of wood character in the finished wine is definitely undesirable - because the vats are large and old, they impart none. Pernod Fils aim was to age their absinthe, not for it to pick up "wood-aged" characteristics.

 

In common parlance in the wine (or cognac, or whisky) industry, barrel-aged means aged in small barrels of 225l or 300l capacity, and implies that the barrels are either new, or only a few years old (probably less than 3 years, certainly not older than 5 years - after 3 years a barrel imparts almost no wood tannins, after 5 years, it imparts none at all).

 

In French - and in the wine and spirits industry - barrique - the word used in the Alandia absinthe - almost always means the 225l/59 gallon barrel originated in Bordeaux, but now used widely outside the region as well. In Burgundy the standard barrel is the 228l pièce, in Chablis it is the small 132l feuilette. The type of large barrels used by Pernod would more correctly be called tonneau (or tuns in English).

 

If the Alandia description is correct (ie not a misprint), then this absinthe was aged in a 5l barrel - this is a tabletop product, made for decorative use in bars, and has no commercial application (as it hold the equivalent of less than 7 bottles). In such tiny barrels wine and spirits behave unpredictably, but usually rapidly succumb to excessive oxidation. So this is gimmick, and a poorly thought out one at that.

 

Segarra, by the way, can correctly be described as barrel aged, because Julian Segarra uses the small 225l barricas bordelesas he's previously used for ageing his brandy - they impart both an oaky and (especially) a brandy-like quality to the finished product. This is what gives Segarra its distinctive if slightly eccentric character.

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I have added the general info as some may be interested in it :cheers: And below hopefully nice examples for a vintage one :)

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Most experienced drinkers agree that absinthes should be aged at least 6 months. Many changes happen in the first month or 2 as it settles down from the distilling process. Change slows down a lot after 6 months or so but as vintage shows, it doesn't stop altogether.

 

Six months? :shock: That would be a long time to wait. I'm convinced from the info here that aging in oak is probably only for a novelty brand of absinthe, and not the norm. If one were aging a beverage in oak, and purposely trying to impart a flavor from the wood, I can't see how it would matter if you put the liquid in the oak (in the form of a barrel), or the oak in the liquid (in the form of chips).

 

I understand aging in general. Wine is aged in the bottle because some of the stuff that tastes bad breaks down over time, no wood needed.

 

The Debowa Vodka looks very interesting, not only because of the oak, which seems unusual for a vodka, but also because of the black Elderflower. I'll have to look around and see if I can find a bottle. There isn't any sort of "beverage depot" nearby, but maybe one of the local liquor stores carries it. What's the correct pronunciation?

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I've really liked the Segarra 45, but it's been a long time since I tried it. I remember the oakiness being very subtle, but definitely lending a unique character to the drink. I'm going to have to bug my friend who has a bottle of it sitting around. I'm always tempted to order a bottle, but the cost always puts me off.

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You write it "dębowa" and pronounce DEMBOUVA, I know it is available in the U.S., so there should be no problem getting it. Once you have it, do not open it, let the oak work a bit. We have done so (we have waited four years) and the result was more than brilliant. :cheers:

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I've really liked the Segarra 45, but it's been a long time since I tried it. I remember the oakiness being very subtle, but definitely lending a unique character to the drink.

 

Most people who have tried Segarra attribute the diacetyl (butterscotchy) flavor to the aging in oak, but I've always found that such aging adds a vanilla characteristic to the libation.

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Let's say you have your nice brand new oak barrel. You add your wine. Age. You get lots of oakiness.

 

You drink the wine anyway and then make a new batch. Put it in your previously used oak barrel. Age. You don't get as much oakiness as the first time.

 

Why?

 

Because the first time round the brand new oak barrel has 100% of it's oakiness molecules. Opinions differ, but consider that 50% of the oakiness molecules migrate into the wine imparting that oaky quality. That leaves 50% of the oakiness molecules still in the oak barrel. So when you add the next batch of wine, you only get 50% of the remaining oakiness molecules which is 25% of the original oakiness molecules. Do you know what happens the next time? (Pop quiz)

 

Each time less and less (or fewer and fewer) oakiness molecules remain in the oak to be imparted to the wine.

 

Remember BrotherO that pre-Ban has no oakiness. Pre-ban is not a Cab.

 

Don't put oak chips in your absinthe.

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The other question I have, is if one wanted to impart an aged oak flavor to absinthe, would simply adding some charred or toasted oak to the absinthe create the same quality and flavor as storing in oak barrels? Oak barrels are notoriously expensive and hard to care for. Keeping them free from bacteria and preventing them from leaking and drying out is a difficult task at best.

 

What's the difference between keeping the absinthe in an oak barrel, and simply adding some oak chips to the product to steep for a while? Seems like the results would be pretty much the same, that is flavoring the absinthe with oak.

 

 

DP is right about oak decreasing by about 50% each time an oak barrel is used. Another thing to consider is the oak:wine (or absinthe) ratio. The proper ratio when working with wine is obtained by 60 gallon oak barrels. Smaller barrels put too much oak in the wine (although this can be somewhat subjective).

 

You have to re-coop barrels after 2 uses. This can get quite expensive. You can burn sulphur discs in barrels, use citric acid and sulfites to keep them clean -- it's really not that hard. When they dry out, all you do is fill them with water for about 24 hours or so, they expand, and then they're ready to store your wine, or whatever.

 

Many wineries actually do use oak chips. It's easier, cheaper, and it achieves pretty much the same result (except the slow oxidation) as barrels. There are many types and sizes of chips. If you wanted to put them in your absinthe, I guess you could, but you'd want to have a way to filter them out. I don't think I'd want my absinthe that oaky though. I don't like my wine that oaky either.

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Elfenmagic--

 

The Beechwood imparts no flavor to the beer at AB. It is used as a place for the yeast to floculate to. In fact, the wood is boiled in caustic soda before it is used. This helps expand the surface area for yeast to cling to as well as removing any flavor the wood could impart.

The "Chip Tanks" are HUGE stainless steel vessels and Beechwood chips are placed on the bottom before the beer is aged on them. HUGE refers to bigger than a liquid rail car. Budweiser is a good pilsner style beer in the chip tanks. It then has over 20% water added to it.

King Of Beers? Well, it can be seen as gold in color.

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The Beechwood imparts no flavor to the beer at AB.

 

If only the other functions they executed during the brewing process did likewise, the stuff might be as inoffensively palatable as Coors "beers"..,unfortunately, whether you think Budweiser's nauseatingly tannic overtones aren't influenced by the beechwood chips, or not, something surely makes that beer taste :puke: erous.

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I don't think that one 'has' to age absinthe, but most info we've seen lends to the notion that at least some (say... 3-6 months) is a good thing. as stated earlier, chemically, a lot of 'settling', 'smoothings', and calming occurs during this time. The way I figure it, and this is by no means a scientific analysis, distillation is a rather traumatic process, adn the booze has got to calm down a bit afterwards. Or, in cooking parlance, the flavors have to marry a bit.

 

Think chili... lots and lots of spices and flavors, all cooked together. The longer it's cooked, the better. FURTHER, it always tastes better the second day... same with cajun food.

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Elfenmagic--

 

The Beechwood imparts no flavor to the beer at AB. It is used as a place for the yeast to floculate to. In fact, the wood is boiled in caustic soda before it is used. This helps expand the surface area for yeast to cling to as well as removing any flavor the wood could impart.

The "Chip Tanks" are HUGE stainless steel vessels and Beechwood chips are placed on the bottom before the beer is aged on them. HUGE refers to bigger than a liquid rail car. Budweiser is a good pilsner style beer in the chip tanks. It then has over 20% water added to it.

King Of Beers? Well, it can be seen as gold in color.

It was meant more as a joke, butt I am aware of the process. Bud was on Ultimate Factories showing the tanks. There were quite a few good looking beers lined up for the master brewers in the blending room. Sadly, many of them were culled.

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HURRY UP. The "Budweiser" Ultimate Factories show on National Geographic Channel (276 DirecTV) is being re-run again 7pm Eastern. It's pretty interesting actually.

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Got it on now via my digital cable provider. Thanks!

 

And here I thought Idaho was nothing but the potato!

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