Well, here I go again. I thought something was the same, but nope.
Most people say all barrels and casks are the same thing. However, a barrel is a type of cask. Barrels have a particular shape and size. A cask can be any wooden vessel.
Bourbon is aged in a barrel. Whiskey is aged in a cask. Not all wood is good for aging whiskey. As with bourbon, the wood type, seasoning, charring, shape, size and how it’s treated all define the flavors.
Wood Type:
Most casks are made from American white oak, European oak, Japanese Mizunara oak, maple or cherry wood. Barrels for other whiskey can be made from these as well. Barrels for bourbon must be made from virgin American oak.
Casks are seasoned with the liquids used in the cask before the whiskey-making process. Before you choose your cask, you must decide the flavors you want to achieve. For example, if you use casks that had bourbon in it, you are going to have a very different flavor than, say, wine or port.
I didn’t realize that charring the inside of the cask was done to give it a charcoal layer for filtering out unwanted compounds during aging. I thought it was purely for taste! The toasting of the cask is on the inside of the top, where you get the caramelization from the wood.
A cask is a general barrel shape. It is just what makes it the easiest to create and transport from rolling to stacking.
My, oh my. There are A LOT of different sizes. I made a graphic for you.
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Owner/President at The Bourbon Flight, LLC | + posts