Bourbon, the quintessential American whiskey, has long been a favorite among spirit enthusiasts worldwide. Its rich, complex character, marked by notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, and a touch of spice, offers a taste profile that is as diverse as it is engaging. But among the various styles of bourbon, there's one that's been capturing the attention of bourbon aficionados and casual drinkers alike—Double Oaked Bourbon.
Double Oaked Bourbon is a unique variant of this classic spirit, born from an innovative approach to the traditional bourbon aging process. As the name suggests, double oaked bourbon undergoes not one but two maturation stages in oak barrels, resulting in an explosion of flavor and a depth of character that sets it apart from its peers.
This dual barreling technique allows for an intricate dance between the bourbon and the oak barrels, infusing the spirit with a flavorful symphony that encompasses notes of dark caramel, toasted oak, dark fruit, and a distinctive sweet oak character.
In this comprehensive guide, we will journey through the enchanting world of double oaked bourbon, answering crucial questions like "What is Double Oaked Bourbon?" and exploring how this twice-barreled bourbon creates a unique flavor profile that is as rich and colorful as the heritage of bourbon itself.
The Essence of Double Oaked Bourbon
When it comes to double oaked bourbon, understanding its essence begins with dissecting its name. The term "double oak" refers to a unique process in bourbon production where the spirit undergoes a two-stage maturation process, each taking place in a different oak barrel. This is where the term 'twice-barreled' originates, denoting this exceptional aging process.
Typically, bourbon is aged in charred white oak barrels. This is a legal requirement that distinguishes bourbon from other types of whiskey. The process imparts bourbon with its iconic caramel and vanilla flavors and its deep, amber color. But with double oaked bourbon, the journey doesn't stop here.
In the double oaking process, after the initial aging, the bourbon is transferred to a second barrel. This secondary barrel is often more deeply toasted or charred, enhancing the interaction between the spirit and the oak. The result? A bourbon that carries a rich array of flavors, from dark caramel and toasted oak to dark fruits and sharp honey.
This secondary aging process unlocks a deeper level of complexity, making double oaked bourbon a standout in the whiskey world. The double-barreling not only deepens the rich and colorful flavor profile but also introduces new flavors and aromas that are more vibrant, layered, and refined.
Understanding double oaked bourbon is about appreciating this innovative approach to aging bourbon, leading to a flavor experience that is truly unparalleled. It's a testament to the artistry and ingenuity that goes into making this beloved spirit, elevating the bourbon experience to an entirely new level.
The Journey from Barrel to Bottle
In order to fully grasp the intricacies of double oaked bourbon, it's essential to understand the journey it undertakes from the barrel to the bottle.
Traditional bourbon starts its life as a mash, predominantly made from corn, which is then distilled and placed in a charred oak barrel to age. The magic of bourbon, its flavor, color, and character, develops during this time in the barrel. The charred inner surface of the barrel caramelizes the sugars in the wood, which gradually seep into the bourbon, bestowing it with its signature taste and hue.
However, double oaked bourbon takes this traditional process a step further. Once the initial aging in the first barrel is complete, instead of heading straight to the bottling line, the bourbon is transferred to a second barrel for further aging. This is no ordinary barrel, though; it's a deeply toasted and lightly charred oak barrel, a stage that imparts more flavors, more color, and more character to the bourbon.
Why does this matter? The answer lies in the difference between single barrel and double barrel bourbons. In single barrel bourbons, the flavor is solely influenced by one barrel's specific characteristics. It's a snapshot of a specific time and place in the warehouse. Conversely, double barrel bourbon combines the influences of two separate barrels, resulting in a more complex flavor profile and an intensified sensory experience.
This innovative approach to twice-barreled bourbon is a bold departure from traditional methods, introducing new nuances to the bourbon's flavor profile. The double oaking process allows the bourbon to soak up the rich, sweet oak character of the second barrel, adding layers of dark caramel, honeyed apple, dark fruit, and hints of toasted oak to the mix. This results in a full-bodied bourbon with a colorful flavor unlike any other, a testament to the skill and creativity of the distillers who dare to venture beyond the conventional.
Flavor Profile: Unraveling the Richness of Double Oaked Bourbon
The defining trait of double oaked bourbon that sets it apart from its traditional counterparts is its distinctive flavor profile, characterized by a complexity and richness that make each sip a unique experience.
Double oaked bourbon carries a vibrant tapestry of flavors, an orchestra of tasting notes and hints that come together to create a symphony of sensory delight. Every component - the sweet oak character, dark caramel, honeyed apple, dark fruit, and others - plays a critical role in defining this distinctive flavor profile.
Let's dive into these elements to better understand their contribution to the richness of double oaked bourbon. Firstly, the sweet oak character, a gift from the second barrel, acts as the backbone of the flavor structure. It adds a layer of woody sweetness that beautifully balances the inherent heat of the bourbon, smoothing out the rough edges and adding depth to the overall flavor profile.
Dark caramel is another prevalent note, a result of the sugars in the charred oak barrels caramelizing and infusing the bourbon during the aging process. This gives the bourbon a rich sweetness, reminiscent of burnt sugar or toffee, which harmonizes perfectly with the oak's sweetness.
Honeyed apple brings a touch of crisp fruitiness to the bourbon, lightening its character and adding a contrasting freshness to the rich, dark flavors. This fruity note, coupled with other dark fruit flavors such as ripe cherries and plums, creates a delightful interplay between sweet, tart, and rich tastes, further enriching the bourbon's flavor complexity.
These key components, along with many others, work in unison to create a flavor profile that is both diverse and harmonious. Every sip of double oaked bourbon is a journey through these flavors, a rich and colorful exploration that encapsulates the spirit of this twice-barreled bourbon.
Double Oaked Bourbon in Practice: An Insight into Woodford Reserve Double Oaked
Having delved into the essence and flavor intricacies of double oaked bourbon, let's put theory into practice with a renowned player in the field: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.
Woodford Reserve, an acclaimed distillery based in Kentucky, is celebrated for its innovative approach to crafting bourbon. Its Double Oaked iteration is a vivid example of this spirit of innovation, embodying the principles of double oaking in every drop. Their bourbon is distilled in copper pot stills and aged in white oak barrels, then transferred to a second barrel for an additional aging period.
What sets the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked apart is its second barrel, deeply toasted before a light charring. This secondary barrel is where the 'double oak' magic happens. The additional exposure to the wood intensifies the bourbon's flavors, allowing the rich notes of dark caramel and the sweet oak character to deepen and mature.
Aging is crucial in the creation of double oaked bourbon, with time serving to mellow and blend the flavors. The Woodford Reserve Double Oaked is aged for several years, though the exact duration is a closely guarded secret. This aging period is vital as it allows the bourbon to absorb the flavors and aromas from both barrels, resulting in a bourbon characterized by its smoothness and complex flavor profile.
This real-world example underscores the transformative impact of double oaking on bourbon. It offers bourbon lovers a unique tasting experience, marked by a rich tapestry of flavors that is both layered and harmonious. It truly exemplifies the innovative approach to twice-barreled bourbon and stands as a testament to the rich and colorful flavor of double oaked bourbon.
For more check out our Best Double Oaked Bourbon blog post.
Savoring the Double Oaked Bourbon Experience
With a rich understanding of what double oaked bourbon is and how it's made, the final piece of the puzzle is to explore how to best savor this flavorful spirit.
One of the distinctive features of double oaked bourbon is its smoothness. The double barreling process adds depth and complexity to the bourbon's flavor, but it also has the effect of smoothing out the sharp edges. This can make it an excellent choice for those who enjoy their spirits neat, without any mixers or ice to potentially dilute the flavors.
When it comes to enjoying double oaked bourbon, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to appreciate the nuanced flavors of this spirit often depends on personal preferences. However, here are a few suggestions that might elevate your double oaked bourbon experience:
This is perhaps the purest way to enjoy bourbon, without any additional elements. Drinking double oaked bourbon neat allows the bourbon's layered flavors to shine through unadulterated, from the sweet notes of caramel and honeyed apple to the hints of dark fruit and toasted oak.
On the rocks
Adding a few cubes of ice can alter the bourbon's flavor profile slightly, mellowing the stronger flavors and bringing out some of the more subtle notes. This can be a particularly refreshing way to enjoy double oaked bourbon during warmer months.
With a splash of water
Some aficionados prefer adding a small splash of water to their bourbon, as this can help to open up the flavors and make them more perceptible to the palate. This can be especially beneficial when trying to discern the intricate flavors present in double oaked bourbon.
Double oaked bourbon also makes an excellent base for a variety of cocktails. Its rich flavor profile can add depth and complexity to classic bourbon cocktails like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
Remember, how you choose to savor your double oaked bourbon can significantly impact the flavors you perceive. Each method of consumption brings out different aspects of the bourbon's flavor, so don't hesitate to experiment to discover your own perfect way to enjoy this unique spirit.
The Rich and Colorful Flavor of Double Oaked Bourbon: From Production to Market
As double oaked bourbon continues to grow in popularity, an increasing number of brands are bringing their own versions of this special spirit to the market.
Renowned brands like Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, and Old Forester have double oaked offerings that are often celebrated for their rich, complex flavor profiles. Each distillery has its unique process and style, offering a broad spectrum of tastes and experiences for the bourbon enthusiast.
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, as we've discussed, is an exceptional representation of double oaked bourbon. Its uniquely matured, twice-barreled process, coupled with Kentucky's climate, contribute to a rich and colorful flavor unlike any other.
Another popular double oaked bourbon is the Jim Beam Double Oak. Made in the classic Jim Beam style, this bourbon is first aged in charred American white oak barrels, then poured into another freshly charred barrel to mature for a second time. The result is a bourbon that balances caramel and toasted oak notes while carrying a spicy, full-bodied finish.
Old Forester, America's first bottled bourbon, also offers a double oaked version known as Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky. This bourbon undergoes a second barreling in a lightly toasted, heavily charred barrel, giving it a unique flavor profile characterized by rich, dark chocolate and buttery caramel.
But how does this translate to the price point? Double oaked bourbon, due to its extended aging process and the extra care that goes into its production, often comes with a higher price tag compared to single-barrel offerings. However, the price can vary widely depending on the brand and age of the bourbon.
For example, a bottle of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked typically costs around $50-$60, while Jim Beam Double Oak and Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky are usually priced between $20-$30 and $50-$60, respectively. This range allows for bourbon enthusiasts of varying budgets to explore the world of double oaked bourbon.
In the grand scheme of bourbon market landscape, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, along with its other double oaked counterparts, carve a niche for those seeking a bourbon experience that is deeply flavorful, nuanced, and reflective of the innovation within this centuries-old industry.
As we've journeyed through the process, flavor profiles, and market representation of double oaked bourbon, it's clear that this twice-barreled spirit holds a unique appeal for whiskey enthusiasts. The innovative approach to twice barreling creates an intense, rich, and colorful flavor unlike any other. It's a testament to the creativity and passion that bourbon makers pour into each bottle.
Double oaked bourbon, with its heightened complexity, engages both the nose and the palate. The melding of toasted oak, dark caramel, honeyed apple, and dark fruits weave an intricate tapestry of flavors that promise a rewarding experience with each sip. It's a symphony of sensory engagement, a celebration of craftsmanship that tells the story of its journey from grain to barrel to bottle.
Whether you're a seasoned bourbon connoisseur or just starting your exploration into the world of whiskey, double oaked bourbon offers a rich, rewarding experience. It serves as a reminder of how far bourbon has come and yet how rooted it remains in its traditions of patience, craftsmanship, and innovation.
As you immerse yourself in the world of double oaked bourbon, remember that the joy of whiskey lies as much in the tasting as it does in the learning. Whether it's Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, Jim Beam Double Oak, or Old Forester 1910 Old Fine Whisky, each offers a different perspective on this innovative bourbon style.
So, we encourage you to explore the world of double oaked bourbon. Savor it neat, on the rocks, or in your favorite whiskey cocktail. Let your palate discover the nuances of the double oaked process, the lingering hints of sweet oak character, dark caramel, and honeyed apple. And most importantly, enjoy the journey.