The road to Bimber’s London Single Malt Whisky. Part 2 – Virgin Oak Barrels.
We have previously written about how and why we select our ex-bourbon barrels. Another set of casks we use are Virgin American Oak, which are particularly exciting as they bring unique character to our London Single Malt.
At Bimber we want to explore innovative ways of maturing our spirits - you don’t often find whiskies fully matured in Virgin American Oak barrels.
The influence of the oak on the maturing spirit is reduced with each filling of the cask: More than two fillings and the wood effect is neutral – the whisky continues to evolve, but the effect of the wood’s tannins is minimal. We want some of our whisky to have plenty of contact with fresh wood, to allow the spirit to take on all the flavours from the pure oak.
Due to the freshness of the oak, you can actually expect a lot from it. The maturation process will be much faster in virgin oak barrels than the barrels which have been previously used. This is owed to the oak’s open pores and the thin stave diameter (20mm) which combine to allow more air contact, letting the spirit breath.
We use barrels made by World Cooperage, Missouri, USA. The barrels are air-dried for 18 months and toasted by classic ‘gas toast charring’. We have chosen char #3, as this is a very dark char and will help to create a unique spirit.
The virgin cask adds well-rounded oak characters and plenty of sweetness, especially vanilla notes. The finish we are expecting should be a special combination of sweet, creamy notes such as Crème Brulée, coconut, brown sugar and sweet ginger marmalade.
The dark char toasted barrels will influence the spirit with extra nuttiness; sweet smoky aromas, freshly toasted bread and treacle notes.
We are expecting a lovely golden colour from our London Single Malt Whisky, perhaps slightly darker than expected from virgin oak due to the high level of char.
The countdown has started… two years eight months and one week to go…