The congener of “Woodsmoke” is parts of the “Smokey” sub category as part of the “peaty” head category.

“Smokey” is a congener that is chemically linked to a lot of chemicals. For an overview one can look at this page on the “the good scents company” website. This website does not have a “peaty” congener, but it does have one for “smokey”.


The website describes different “wood” and “whisky” related smells and tastes like:

  • allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenol
  • beech wood, creosote
  • quercus alba chips extract
  • dimethyl benzofuran
  • propyl phenol
  • etc, there are more then 20 on this page

As can be seen on the Good scents page there are many “smoke” related congeners based on very many different types of “Wood Smoke”.

The trick is that this congener is a combination of two things. “Wood” and “Smoke”.

Wood comes from a tree! Obviously! Since there are thousands of tree species there are also thousands of types of smoke these could produce.

I am making an assumption to limit the amounts of “Wood” to just a view”

The “woodsmoke” relevant for whisky would come from a number of places in the whisky making process. As Oak is the relevant wood in the whisky making process it stands to reason that this is the primary source of the “smell” and “taste sensation” as intended on the Flavour Wheel.

  1. The treatment of the staves during the barrel making process
  2. The charring / toasting of the inside of the barrel
  3. The re-charring / toasting of the inside of the barrel

Now Smoke only occurs when the fire burns wet wood or the one making the fire uses some kind of accelerant to start the fire. Ones it’s burning the wood is hot enough to not produce smoke. This is naturally not what the whisky making process needs as one tries to “smoke” or “reek” the barley to infuse the peat or smokey phenols on/in the barley.

I have therefor not found any reference to wood being the fuel for a kiln. I will have a better look, but as far as I can find “wood” is not used to fuel a kiln. It would be to hot. I might be horribly wrong, if so let me know and I will edit this blog a.s.a.p.

Now we all know the smell of smoke from a wood fire. I smelled it on the campfires I made as a Boy-Scout. These were mostly Pine and Birch wood fires. Other smoke from wood come from the fireplaces I sat in front of. I have no idea which kind of wood was used to fire these fireplaces, but they do give a smell. Since Oak is a relatively expensive type of wood I doubt the fire places would have been fueled with Oak.

This means I probably have never smelled “Oak Wood Smoke”.

Does that matter? I would not know! To find that out one would have to know what “smoke” is.

I have described smoke already in an earlier blog. There is a good wikipedia site as well about Smoke.

Quote from the Wikipedia site:

Smoke is a collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases[1] emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires (including stoves, candles, oil lamps, and fireplaces), but may also be used for pest control (fumigation), communication (smoke signals), defensive and offensive capabilities in the military (smoke-screen), cooking, or smoking (tobacco, cannabis, etc.). Smoke is used in rituals where incense, sage, or resin is burned to produce a smell for spiritual purposes. Smoke is sometimes used as a flavoring agent, and preservative for various foodstuffs. Smoke is also a component of internal combustion engine exhaust gas, particularly diesel exhaust.

Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death in victims of indoor fires. The smoke kills by a combination of thermal damage, poisoning and pulmonary irritation caused by carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other combustion products.

Smoke is an aerosol (or mist) of solid particles and liquid droplets that are close to the ideal range of sizes for Mie scattering of visible light. This effect has been likened to three-dimensional textured privacy glass[citation needed] — a smoke cloud does not obstruct an image, but thoroughly scrambles it.

When I read all this I would have to say that I cannot accurately describe what “Wood Smoke” is as intended on the Flavour Wheel. I can not bring it down to just one chemical or fixed combination of chemicals.

This is a good observation in itself. It means that “My Wood Smoke” does not have to be “Your Wood Smoke”!

I have seen notes in books and blogs that say “this smells like pine wood”. This is not the same as “pine wood smoke”.

So “Wood Smoke” is not a particularly “SMART” descriptor since it is highly dependent on your personal experience with “Smoke”. Smoke in my normal life comes from me starting a fire in some stupid way and not getting it hot enough. This is also true for my bbq, but I normally don’t fuel my bbq with wood.

Conclusion. “Wood Smoke” as a congener is highly subjective and personal. (unless you are a cooper and fire Oak fires on a daily basis)