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Both Black Swan Cooperage and Kelvin Cooperage have devised methods to increase the surface area exposed to aqueous alcohol.

BSC has a larger set of arrows in it's quiver...they will let you play with exotic (non-oak) woods, mix the ratio of honeycomb staves (read monster amounts of END grain exposed: think of soda straws, do you get much rootbeer from sucking on the side of a straw?) with conventional charred staves to release a broad set of extractives like vanillin. Karasch (BSC) can look around for oak woods that provide more vanillin than other forests....like grapes, different forests and different trees have different components available to your product.

If you are a beer guy or a barrel aged cocktail purveyor, they can supply you with staves to fit your container and reduce your time to market.

You can mix your cooperage across a range of barrel aging time profiles to reduce your barrel costs over time and gradually ramp up your barrel aged available inventory. You can tune your "finished" product inventory availability and control your costs to your lay down capacity and your market requirements.

When starting out you need sales (at least we did) sooner than later and you can use these TTB (need TTB approval letter for your distillery) sanctioned barrels without specific attribution (if integral to the barrel)....you will get a market response sooner and be able to tell if your fermentation, distilling and aging protocols are viable in the market or if you just want to know sooner if your new product is on the correct path.

or you can wait three or more years to turn a buck...yes, chuck, older is "better"....but older might be too late....

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The USA TTB CFR for Bourbon reads (in part):

Whisky produced in the U.S. at

not exceeding 80% alcohol by

volume (160 proof) from a

fermented mash of not less than

51 percent corn and stored at not

more than 62.5% alcohol by

volume (125 proof) in charred

new oak containers.

Straight Whiskey

· Whisky produced from a

fermented mash of less than

51 percent of any one type of

grain and stored in charred

new oak containers for 2

years or more

· “Straight Whisky” may include

mixtures of two or more

straight whiskies provided all

of the whiskies are produced

in the same state

Apparently the TTB wants to know about any distillery using a non-traditional barrel with products otherwise in conformance with the above definitions. Both the manufacturers mentioned in the previous post make non-traditional barrels in that they are manipulating the interior of the staves to increase the surface area exposed to spirits and accelerating the aging profile or changing it in interesting ways.

It is not an onerous thing and particularly for Bourbon, which is a USA product, the TTB needs to maintain product standards in the USA just as France does for Cognac. We are in the process of pursuing the USA interpretation of Law in the UK and Europe which has their own whiskey(y) standards, which in some cases are NOT in harmony with USA "standards"....a case of what is being good for the goose: good for the gander, I suppose....we had to change the name of our product to export into France, for example.

Both of these manufacturers solutions are integral to the barrel and do not, at least by my experience, impact the evaporation rates or physical integrity of the barrels. What constitutes a "charred new oak container" is up to the interpretation of the TTB not the distiller.

The TTB is, apparently, also, pursuing the use of oak adjuncts in the aging of wine and requiring or may require these additives to be declared/permitted with notice....chips, pellets, spiraled sticks, sawdust in a bag....what have you....a big deal to wine makers.

What is great about the TTB's management, in this case, is that they are allowing this usage with permission.

You could presumably use these barrels or a variation of them if you wanted a 2+ year old with some additional branding swagger...but technically you need to have the TTB aware of the non-traditional barrel with the distillery applying for the exception as opposed to Black Swan or Kelvin....why....because.

If you were to use a mixture of non-oak woods under the above CFR definitions you could not call your product "Bourbon" but the TTB has other exceptions to the rules that would allow you to age something "fanciful" or where definitions are not strict definitions...just ask the guy in Europe operating under the SWA about using heads from a different species than the staves.

It will be very interesting to how people using this site will negotiate the TTB as they pursue innovation....Straight Spelt Whiskey?

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To clarify, some of the approaches Brian mentions, such as use of "exotic (non-oak) woods," would not meet the TTB's definition of "charred new oak container" (obviously). Others, such as "manipulating the interior of the staves to increase the surface area," which are "integral to the barrel," should be no problem.

Getting clearance from TTB is up to the distiller, not the cooperage, because cooperages aren't licensed producers.

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