How It's Made

Wood

Whiskey gets most of its flavor from wood.
For centuries, coopers - the craftsmen and women that made whiskey barrels - used white oak because of its unique watertight properties, not necessarily because it made delicious whiskey. Coopers built fires underneath partially constructed barrels in order to soften the staves so they could bend them into place.

Not only did this added heat make the wood pliable, it caramelized some of the wood sugars, which would later be absorbed by the whiskey stored in the barrel, imparting flavors like butterscotch, caramel, and brown sugar that makes barrel-aged whiskey so delicious.

White oak is only one of roughly 1,000 species in North America and there are a lot of flavors to be discovered in other trees. That’s where we come in. After prototyping with different species of wood and various preparations, Split Spirits has discovered some truly delicious concoctions.

We select woods like Black Cherry and Sugar (or Hard) Maple that have unique flavors but are not suitable for cooperage because they lack the watertight properties of white oak. Just like coopers do, we apply heat to the wood to caramelize wood sugars and highlight distinct flavor in each species.

For the types of wood that can’t be used to make barrels, we have to use a different approach to extract those interesting flavors. We do this by putting the wood directly in the bottle and letting it infuse - sort of like inverse barrel aging. Because the wood’s surface area is so high in proportion to the spirit, the wood imparts its flavor in a matter of weeks. We pair wood with grains grown in the same region to create a truly single origin spirits that reflect a sense of place.