Have you ever felt a little confused by the difference between toasting and charring barrels? It’s easy to see how that can happen, especially when you consider that to varying degrees both processes involve heat-treating the casks being used in whiskey maturation.
However, there are vital differences in the length of this heat treatment that will provide the wood with the properties needed to create the finished product we know and love.
Below are five useful facts to get you started on your journey of toasting and charring knowledge.
- Toasting slowly heats the wood in the barrel, holding it over heat for several minutes
- The act of toasting breaks down components in the wood, which in turn pulls specific flavor characteristics into the whiskey
- Charring sees the cask’s interior set alight for a short period, approximately a few seconds
- The act creates a layer that reacts with the spirit in the barrel, working throughout maturation to remove unwanted flavor compounds
- Char intensity is graded by number