The experiment is about seeing how ABV influences the speed of maturation. I bought some laboratory equipment for this experiment.

  • 500 ml Erlenmeyer glasses
  • Measuring beaker,
  • Silicone plugs
  • Distilled water,
  • 96% Alcohol,
  • American oak medium toast wood chips.

After measuring out 2 x 3 grams of oak chips I added those to two mixtures of Alcohol and distilled water:

  • 100 ml of Alcohol + 400 ml of distilled water + 3 grams oak chips,
  • 400 ml of Alcohol + 100 ml of distilled water + 3 grams oak chips,

400 ml Alcohol in 500 ml of liquid equates to 80% of the volume is “96% Alcohol”. I am calling this “80 ABV”. It is actually just a tad less, since 4% is water in the 400 ml of alcohol.

The tools I am using are not very scientific and I am not using any scientific approach. It’s all good fun and I do not presume anything else.

I am using 20 ABV and 80 ABV to simulate a “Port” or “Sherry” and a “standard Bruichladdich distillate”. In this way I hope to find out how the alcohol in a “sherry filled cask” reacts differently to the wood than in a “whisky filled cask”. My theory is that since the ABV is so low in a sherry cask that lots of wood notes can still be drawn out by the whisky that are not draws out by the sherry.

After putting the stopper on them I thought I had plenty of time to see what would happen, but I was badly mistaken. The reaction in the 80 ABV mixture (right photo) was almost instantaneous. The wood chips submerged in the 80 ABV while in the 20 ABV the chips floated on the liquid. The wood chips in the 80 ABV started producing gas, so I made some video’s to illustrate.

The experiment after 3 minutes in.

After 5 to 10 minutes in.

After 30 minutes in.

This stuff is like reacting like crazy to the alcohol. producing bubbles that form on the underside of the wood chips. I am still unsure what the bubbles are. First thought is CO2 or O2 but I seriously do not know which gas is being produced and why.

27th April 2017

The photo below is the morning after. Here one can see that in the 20 ABV some oak chips have submerged, but most are still floating. Nearly all the oak chips in the 80 ABV have submerged. There is a good difference in colour as well.

27th of April 09:31 am

The photo below is of 15:50 in the afternoon on the 27th of April.

27th April 15:50 pm

In the 15:50 pm photo the copper colour is already starting to show in the erlenmeyer to the right, where the one on the left is still “earthy” looking. The chips on the left are still producing gas (of some sort) while the one on the right has stopped producing gas.

28th April 2017

The observations of this morning at 09:32 am are:

  • in the 20% ABV there is light condensation in the neck of the Erlenmeyer,
  • in the 80% ABV there is no (visible) condensation in the neck of the Erlenmeyer,
  • in the 20% ABV some of the oak chips are still floating,
  • in the 80% ABV all oak chips have sunk to the bottom of the Erlenmeyer,
  • in the 20% ABV the oak chips show formation of gas bubbles,
  • in the 80% ABV the oak chips show very little formation of gas bubbles,
  • the 20% ABV is starting to show some copper colour tones, but is mostly “earthy” looking still,
  • in the 80% ABV the copper tone has deepened further,

I gave both Erlenmeyer’s a good swirl to see what would happen. Nothing really happened. Which I wasn’t expecting of coarse.

More updates soon.

Side note: I also filled one erlenmeyer with ordinary water and oak chips. Why? Why not. One notices that the colour on Erlenmeyer Nr. 1 is mucky and gross. That is the one with just the water.

Erlenmeyer 1 contains just plain water and oak chips