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The shortage of oak could affect the bourbon industry


When it comes to the oak barrels in which whisky is aged, people tend to think of Sherry and bourbon casks. In the wider world of whisky, bourbon casks are not uncommon, and they are the flavor casks that many whisky distilleries cannot live without.

White oak has a firming texture that prevents leaks and is the barrel of choice for most bourbon whiskies. At the same time, white oak barrels can also effectively avoid the "wood soup" phenomenon caused by long aging, and can give whiskey more sweet, vanilla flavor. This unique aroma is one of the important flavors sought after by many lovers.


But there's recent news that may make bourbon lovers uneasy: the bourbon industry may be running out of oak barrels.

Not long ago, Calvin Norman, a professor of forestry at Pennsylvania State University, suggested that white oak, an extremely valuable resource, might soon become scarce. A white oak may take 60 to 80 years to grow to the minimum size for use in woodwork and must be planted in a well-grown area. The reason is that the growth cycle of white oak is not short, and barrel makers must use high-quality white oak without any shape turns to cut into regular boards, after drying and baking to make wood barrels. That said, over the next few decades, the bourbon industry may find itself lacking one very important thing: wood.


That's why the whiskey industry has taken steps in recent years to try to keep the white oak population flat. Maker's Mark from the United States has launched a partnership with the University of Kentucky to build a rich white oak repository. They are also working together to map the white oak genome in search of better oaks. In addition, Angel's Envy's white oak planting activities and the research and application of different oak planting and cultivation techniques carried out by Buffalo Footprint of Kentucky in collaboration with the University of Kentucky will also help ensure the sustainability of oak development.


In fact, in recent years, more and more distilleries have begun to focus on sustainable development, they have also made a lot of efforts to maintain the oak resources. Of course, sustainability is a long way to go for distilleries, but white oak is an indispensable resource for the whisky industry, and we expect the whisky industry to take the initiative to protect and restore white oak to produce more fine whisky.