We are specifying wood that has been thoroughly and properly dried, sometimes for as long as 18-48 months, in order to enhance the natural properties of the wood which allow for better flavor and to reduce the levels of tannin imparted to the whiskey.
Toasting a barrel before charring helps to make the wood’s sugars more accessible. These sugars caramelize and concentrate to form the "red line" in the barrel stave cross-sections due to the heat, ultimately adding more flavor and color to the whiskey as it seeps through the char to the caramel red line.
Although the typical industry entry proof is 125 proof, we believe that the lower 103 proof (51.5% ABV) level – which was historically regarded as the gold standard in Kentucky – allows for the concentrated sugars in the toasted and charred wood to dissolve more readily into the distillate as it cycles in and out of the barrel. Even though the lower entry proof yields fewer bottles per barrel, we believe that the smooth flavor and richer mouthfeel makes it worth it.
The more often whiskey expands and contracts ("cycles") soaking in and then out of the wood of the barrel, the more flavor it absorbs from the sugars in the caramelized red line of the wood. Heat cycling is an uncommon practice used to raise and lower the temperatures in the barrel warehouses to induce extra cycles within a given year. This practice is extremely costly because heat cycling significantly increases the "Angel Share" evaporation during aging, but in most cases enhances the flavor of the whiskey.
At our distillery, we chill filter all of our whiskeys instead of using carbon filtration that can strip out flavor and aroma. Moreover, rather than use the one size fits all approach of many distillers, we use the different filtration mediums and techniques best suited to each of our individual whiskey offerings – despite it being time consuming and costly – to highlight each expression’s best qualities.