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White oak cask for fermenting

J Bowlby

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I have made an oak cask and thinking about using it to ferment but not sure how to maintain it. Thinking a mild citric acid wash and a good bristle brush scrubbing weekly. I'm even considering Samuel McHarry's method to sweeten the cask with burning hay. will I get a woody taste in my mash and would that taste come through the distilling process ? Another question on a different topic. In researching water softening , I learned about iron filters that use a medium similar to salt systems but use oxygen to clean the medium instead of salt. In the process the clean water is oxygenated. Would oxygenated water be an advantage to enhance the flavor of the spirit? What if I proof with it ? Thank you

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  • 1 month later...

You might want to talk to the beer guys who are doing cask conditioning, they likely have that protocol figured out for you already. I don't think you are going to find many here doing that, because it doesn't scale well, and might be an uneconomical approach to fermentation, especially given the benefits (which may not exist at all). Steaming the barrel is probably the easiest approach to cleaning and sanitizing without having to introduce sanitizers.

Using it as a primary fermenter might be a bit of a challenge, given the geometry and a rapid fermentation, I can see a high probability of overflow. Also, you will likely lose much of the barrel contribution during distillation.

If you burn hay in the barrel (introduce smoke) - some of that may come over in the distillation, however the taste that comes over in distillation need not be the same as the odor of the smoke. Check into Darek Bell's Alt Whiskies for more info on smoke introduction.

No idea if using high oxygen content water is beneficial or not (sounds like Ozone to me), but it will cause some of the organics in the product to the oxidized. I'm going to err on the side of that being a potential negative, as the oxidation is going to be indiscriminate - good flavors can be impacted just as much as bad flavors. High iron is detrimental for fermentation, so if you are trying to eliminate an iron problem, I'd suggest going down the traditional path.

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