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Resinous wood cask???

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Resinous wood cask???

Postby African Peatmonger » Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:21 pm

There are these cedar trees unique to Malawi (Africa) called Mulanje Cedar; the wood is often used to make little boxes and chests, and the wood is famous for its smell. Its a pungent, kinda peaty but sweet smelling wood (very special), and when I drank Ardbeg for the first time I was reminded of that smell. I immediately thought of making my own whisky from Malawi in casks made of this Mulanje cedar. I'm sure it would be a unique whisky. I'm not sure about the wood type but I think its a softwood which holds resin. This is a problem as I read because the resin stops the whisky from breathing during maturation. Does any one know if it is possible to remove the resin from the wood? Or would a cedar wood fire (to dry the barley) help to get the smell into the whisky? If one would then age it in oak, would the oak overprint the cedar? Or would it conflict? Anyone know about this?

Cheers - Gj
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Postby PuckJunkie » Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:15 am

While there are some unique wood finishes rarely, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone aging whiskey in a softwood. The resin isn't a huge problem, because charring the cask prevents transfer, but overall I don't think any softwood is suitable - as you say, there's not much chance of breathing. If you used cedar during the malting process, it should transfer flavor and aroma to the malt, and I wouldn't worry about oak taking over the flavor from something as strong as cedar. I'd worry about the bizarre flavor cedar would lend to the malt to begin with. But hey, you make it, I'll try it. That's my rule.

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Postby Aidan » Tue Jul 18, 2006 6:33 am

Of course it wouldn't be called whisky if it was matured in anything but oak.

There's sap in oak too, but they dry it out.

Anyway, good luck with your project if you try it. I'd also make sure the wood isn't poisonous if you were going to try it.
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Postby African Peatmonger » Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:10 pm

Haha! Poisonous! I thought about that one and yes, I better watch out for that. There are certain woods in Malawi that can put a man into coma when burnt... talk about 'casket' strength, it will put you in one!

But thanks for the info guys. I'm just going to have to have a good think about how to do this because I think they don't even grow barley in Malawi... it would have to be a bourbon in that case, they grow corn there, maize, craploads of it. I don't like boubon much. Maybe I can get some distiller in scotland crazy enough to experiment burning some barley over cedarwood???

If I could manage to get that smell in the whisky, wow!

Cheers - Gj
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:00 pm

Or another angle AP is to get some young 5yo bottled whiskey and stick it in an oak cask and add cedar staves or chips into the cask also....

You can get small casks on line 1,2,3 and 5 litre casks on sale on ebay.



Image

See

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Bushmills-Irish-Whiskey-aging-barrel-5-Liter-steel-keg_W0QQitemZ220008348447QQihZ012QQcategoryZ115714QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem



Image


See

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/5-Liter-White-Oak-Barrel-w-Black-Steel-Hoops_W0QQitemZ220006508866QQihZ012QQcategoryZ38172QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem
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Postby African Peatmonger » Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:57 pm

Good idea! But is that done often? Putting wood chips or something in a cask. Can it still be called a whisky?

Thanks for the link!
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jul 18, 2006 11:52 pm

I don't think any one can argue with you on your own creation :wink:

but technically I would assume no you cannot call it whisky with cedar used to age it. Unless you have plans to sell the stuff I would not overly worry about it.

I was tempted to fill a cask with poitín (Irish Gaelic for moonshine) and see how it got on but it's hard to get your hands on enough of the real illegal stuff to do this. Maybe some time???
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Postby African Peatmonger » Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:06 am

Is that still illegal? Made from potatoes right?

About the cedar stuff, I am definitely going to buy that cask once I find out from someone if the mulanje cedar is not poisonous. I would love to give Malawi its own whisky, that would just be cool! Give it some funky African name. And if they don't allow me to call it whisky, well I'll call it wiski or something...

Thanks once again man!

Cheers
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:18 am

African Peatmonger wrote:Is that still illegal? Made from potatoes right?

Cheers


Only if you make it in your back yard or up a mountian :lol: :lol: :lol:

but it's where the good stuff comes from :wink:

Actually Poitín can be made either from potatoes skins or grain....

more from potatoe skins in the old days as grain was too expensive to be using by the poor... however some big time operators used grain... now mainly grain spirit.

Blow the head of ya this stuff so needs to be respected. Used by farmers as a rub on sick sheep and cattle and by old people for their arthritis... 1001 uses :wink:
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Postby PuckJunkie » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:11 pm

Of course he can call it whiskey! Or even whisky. If India's manufacturers can call their rum "whisky", what does a few cedar chips in an honest whisky hurt? He can't call it "scotch", obviously, nor "bourbon". But if he's making it from malted barley - or rye, or some other grain - not only can he call it whiskey, it is whiskey by any standard. Regardless of how it was aged. What else would you call it? Vodka?

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Postby bamber » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:17 pm

I'd drink it. Sounds very interesting. Poisonous ? Just limit yourself to 1 dram / night :D
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Postby African Peatmonger » Wed Jul 19, 2006 4:50 pm

Good point bamber. Should I put that on the label? :D Maybe a lite edition, that allows for two drams?
Can't wait to try it myself. If you don't hear from me again, then you know you should never chuck Mulanje Cedar in your whisky.
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Postby lbacha » Wed Jul 19, 2006 5:00 pm

In Canada you can add almost 10% of whatever you want to whisky and still call it whisky so I can't see adding cedar to be any different. I will warn you that I have cooked over cedar before and it add a very bad flavor to anything you cook over it. I beleive it is the resin that causes this. So smoking the barley may be a bad idea unless you get all the resin out of the wood first which I'm not sure you can do.


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Postby African Peatmonger » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:10 pm

Thanks for the tip. I'm definitely going to test it all first before I go through with this. I'm trying to get someone to send me a few pieces from Malawi, burn the buggers, see what happens. Perhaps the resin is just too potent, but that smell is just very crude and woody, iodine, old treated books, but still has something soft to it that makes one want to smell it again and again, nostalgic. I was just reading that they use Mulanje Cedar to make cedarwood oil, its close to heartwood (Juniper type trees) which is also used to flavour gin. Species name is Widdringtonia whytei, apparently its on the endangered species list??? Maybe it would help finance rehabilitation of this tree by making a Malawi Cedar Single Malt Whisky out of it???

Cheers
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Postby Aidan » Thu Jul 20, 2006 7:41 am

PuckJunkie wrote:Of course he can call it whiskey! Or even whisky. If India's manufacturers can call their rum "whisky", what does a few cedar chips in an honest whisky hurt? He can't call it "scotch", obviously, nor "bourbon". But if he's making it from malted barley - or rye, or some other grain - not only can he call it whiskey, it is whiskey by any standard. Regardless of how it was aged. What else would you call it? Vodka?

Puck


He can call it Scotch whisky if he wants too. Or he could call it Steve, mother, gin, port or Macallan, but "legally" he probably could not market it as such.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:19 am

Aidan wrote:
PuckJunkie wrote:Of course he can call it whiskey! Or even whisky. If India's manufacturers can call their rum "whisky", what does a few cedar chips in an honest whisky hurt? He can't call it "scotch", obviously, nor "bourbon". But if he's making it from malted barley - or rye, or some other grain - not only can he call it whiskey, it is whiskey by any standard. Regardless of how it was aged. What else would you call it? Vodka?

Puck


He can call it Scotch whisky if he wants too. Or he could call it Steve, mother, gin, port or Macallan, but "legally" he probably could not market it as such.




Indeed remember what happened to poor old spice tree :cry:
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Postby PuckJunkie » Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:50 pm

Aidan wrote:
PuckJunkie wrote:Of course he can call it whiskey! Or even whisky. If India's manufacturers can call their rum "whisky", what does a few cedar chips in an honest whisky hurt? He can't call it "scotch", obviously, nor "bourbon". But if he's making it from malted barley - or rye, or some other grain - not only can he call it whiskey, it is whiskey by any standard. Regardless of how it was aged. What else would you call it? Vodka?

Puck

He can call it Scotch whisky if he wants too. Or he could call it Steve, mother, gin, port or Macallan, but "legally" he probably could not market it as such.

True, but he can legally market it as whiskey. Or whisky. I can't tell from your statement if you're disagreeing with me or just making conversation. :)

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Indeed remember what happened to poor old spice tree :(

Yes, but Spice Tree is a scotch - or wasn't, I suppose - and had to conform to the specific laws surrounding scotch to keep that label. Or even to be produced in Scotland, I think - didn't the SWA actually make it so that any whisky produced in the country had to be scotch whisky and had to conform to the entire act? But no other country has done anything like that, at least not that I know of. Here in the US we have a whiskey that's flavored lightly by hops and at least one other that's exposed to applewood chips during the aging process. They're both entitled to call their product whiskey, here and (if they were shipped overseas) in Scotland as well. If Spice Tree were made here, it would have been perfectly legal to bottle and sell back in Scotland - but not as scotch. Just as whiskey (or even "whisky", since the "e" is a matter of convention rather than law).

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Postby Frodo » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:27 pm

I still don't get why Mr Glasser doesn't simply re-label The Spice Tree as Scotch Whisky Liquor and continue to make it?
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:43 am

PuckJunkie wrote:]

Yes, but Spice Tree is a scotch - or wasn't, I suppose - and had to conform to the specific laws surrounding scotch to keep that label. Or even to be produced in Scotland, I think - didn't the SWA actually make it so that any whisky produced in the country had to be scotch whisky and had to conform to the entire act? But no other country has done anything like that, at least not that I know of. Here in the US we have a whiskey that's flavored lightly by hops and at least one other that's exposed to applewood chips during the aging process. They're both entitled to call their product whiskey, here and (if they were shipped overseas) in Scotland as well. If Spice Tree were made here, it would have been perfectly legal to bottle and sell back in Scotland - but not as scotch. Just as whiskey (or even "whisky", since the "e" is a matter of convention rather than law).

Puck


I suppose the main issues we are talking about is wood aging with other woods but in spice trees issue they used all oak.

Basically the EU will not allow any product to be sold in Europe unless it conforms to the basic rules of Whisk(e)y which includes maturing for 3 years and more in an oak cask.

The issue in relation to the Spice Tree is whether the staves put into the cask are considered part of the cask or an addition. Compas box says part of cask while the SWA say it's an addition. See part 3 of the Scotch whisky act below.

Ireland has similar laws to Scotland but we don't have a vociferous organisation like the SWA :wink: .

To legally be called Scotch whisky, the spirit must conform to the standards of the Scotch Whisky Order of 1990 (UK) which clarified the Scotch Whisky Act of 1988, and mandates that the spirit

1. Must be distilled at a Scottish distillery from water and malted barley, to which only other whole grains may be added, have been processed at that distillery into a mash, converted to a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems, and fermented only by the addition of yeast,
2. Must be distilled to an alcoholic strength of less than 94.8% by volume so that it retains the flavour of the raw materials used in its production,
Must be matured in Scotland in oak casks for not less than three years, and
3. Must not contain any added substance other than water and caramel colour.
It may not be bottled at less than 40% alcohol by volume.

4. No whisky other than Scotch whisky may be made in Scotland
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Postby PuckJunkie » Fri Jul 21, 2006 8:04 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Basically the EU will not allow any product to be sold in Europe unless it conforms to the basic rules of Whisk(e)y which includes maturing for 3 years and more in an oak cask.

Are you sure about this? The EU doesn't allow calling a product "whiskey" if it doesn't fit those criteria? I swear I've seen corn whiskey available for sale in the UK, and it's typically aged no more than a year, usually less.

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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Sat Jul 22, 2006 11:04 am

PuckJunkie wrote:
irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Basically the EU will not allow any product to be sold in Europe unless it conforms to the basic rules of Whisk(e)y which includes maturing for 3 years and more in an oak cask.

Are you sure about this? The EU doesn't allow calling a product "whiskey" if it doesn't fit those criteria? I swear I've seen corn whiskey available for sale in the UK, and it's typically aged no more than a year, usually less.

Puck


Had not thought about that.... maybe your right... I think the EU will ban anything the SWA has an issue with and can justify is not propper whiskey. Maybe the fact the it is labeled as Corn Whiskey they are not too fussed about it and maybe corn whiskey is protected as an american invention. And of course the big one, it is not a threat to scotch whisky. I just don't know to be quite honest.

I know that Armut is on sale in Europe labeled as an Indian Single malt whisky which the SWA have no issue with but the molasses made stuff there is a blanket ban on... the same would apply for whisky matured in Ceder casks :roll: I'd presume... it's all a grey area really I suppose.
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Using Cedar for Barrels

Postby Tommy » Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:20 pm

Recently, while researching the use of oak alternatives (there is another thread on this in the forum although I forget the name), I came across a number of references to the use of woods such as ash and cedar for barrels. I didn't keep the specifics but they were found through some google searches so if you're serious about this you might want to look for them. As I recall they were being used at some California Wineries. Interesting discussion since as I understand it the use of oak to age whiskies wasn't so much as a scientific choice but rather happenstance. Oak was convenient, plentiful and used to produce barrels for all kinds of food storage - and it was in the transportation (and almost inadvertent aging while being transported) that it was discovered that it was a beneficial process. Indeed, there might be plenty of other woods out there that would actually produce a product that tasted, dare I say, even better than what is produced today. Of course, saying all this, I could have all of my facts wrong about barrels. I'd gladly defer to a more knowledgeable source.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:43 am

I think you have it about right, Tommy. My understanding is that oak is used to make barrels because it's pliable. Of course, so is cedar. Now wouldn't that make a dram! You wouldn't have to worry about moths getting into it.
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