Great whisky is a long and tedious journey. East Asia Whisky Company has specialised in creating small batch customised whisky barrels. Each barrel is a unique and handcrafted piece of art that we create together with our clients, developing a truly unique whisky tailored to their personal taste. Below is a description of the process we employ when creating our barrels:
1. Custom Cooperage
It starts in the heart of an old oak forest with trees that have grown for at least 80 years. In the days when today's prestigious whisky industry heavyweights laid the foundation for the quality that lead to their world wide acclaim, they would begin their journey in the deepest, oldest oak wood forest to find the best possible trees to make barrels from. Once these trees had been handpicked for their age and their grain, they would be cut and the process of drying, to take three years, would be commenced. Only with the optimal moisture content would they then qualify as raw materials for Spain's finest bodegas and their coopers. These would then bend the wood into curved staves using fire, water, and steam.
2. Bending of Staves
The traditional style of wet cooperage produces a barrel that is watertight by using heat and steam to bend the staves into shape. This not only creates a distinctive shape and appearance but also activates the deeper layers of the wood, releasing the wood sugars and making them accessible to the alcohol. This process is further exacerbated during charring.
3. Charring of Barrels
The penultimate step of cooperage is arguably the most exciting. Here, the cooper uses oak coal to burn and char the interior of the barrel to a heavy “alligator skin” appearance. This not only further activates the wood layer beneath the char, but also creates an activated carbon layer which filters out any impurities from the whisky. Barrels are either toasted or charred (heavier form of toasting) to activate the wood and concentrate the wood sugars to make them more available to high volume new make spirit.
4. Barrel Curing & Seasoning
We have partnered with the renowned Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla in Jerez, Spain to create small batch sherry oak barrels that have aged some of the finest sherries for 2, 3, and 5 years respectively. Due to their small size of 1 litre, this is the equivalent of usign a 20, 30, 50, and 80 year old larger sherry barrel. The key is the higher surface to volume ratio we are able to achieve with the smaller barrel. Another aspect of our dedication to quality is the fact, that the wood used is from retired sherry barrels. This means the oak trees were 100 - 200 years of age and the wood was dried for a base period of 24 months before being filled with sherry and aging for many years in the cellars of the Bodegas.
5. Whisky Aging
The best cut of new make spirit was always reserved for those barrels that had aged sherry for copious amounts of time, 10, 15, 25, 30, up to as many as 80 years. With the increasing popularity and rising demand for fine sherried whiskies, distilleries started facing a shortage of good sherry barrels and resorted to merely seasoning new oak with sherry for mere months rather than years. The resulting whiskies simply lacked depth, had too much tannins, and were characterised by an excessive bitter aftertaste.
To offer our clients the quality of whisky from the olden days, East Asia Whisky Company has optimised the process using the smallest batch approach. The added benefit of our small batch barrel line is the ability to better control and manage the aging process. Richer flavours and faster maturation let us customise your personalised whisky in as little as 3 months to as long as 1 year. Deeper, richer, bolder and more full-bodied flavours are achieved in as little as 6-8 months. After 12 months of aging we have produced a new flavour all together, with a considerably higher alcohol content by volume (~1% ABV per month of aging).
Working with our Costa Rica-based plantation and saw-mill, we produce the finest bespoke packaging for your whisky using the finest exotic tropical hardwoods, such as teak, mahogany and cocobolo rosewood. Upon request, we can bottle your spirit in individual hand-crafted crystal decanters by Glencairn Crystal Studio, to round-off the experience.