We are Water Benders
We “water bend” our staves to reduce tannin and stress produced for barrel shaping.
Two things happen that improve the oak qualities which will subsequently be imparted into your product from "Water Bending". The first is tannin removal. We soak the partially raised barrels in hot water for at least 45 minutes. This soaking removes the surface tannins.
Saturating the staves in hot water makes them pliable for subsequent bending ("raising") of the barrel into it's traditional bilge shape.
The “hot tub” soaking removes, softens and rounds out the astringent tannins during the “soak”.
Our barrels are "raised" before they are toasted or charred. We do not use fire to make the oak staves pliable.
How do Tannins effect my product?
Tannins (tannic acid) can impart a sharp note to the products aged in barrels. This is not a simple marketing claim: the pH of the water decreases and becomes more acidic and the water becomes black over the course of the process. Reduced tannins enhance mouthfeel and lengthen the finish. The tannins are leached out of the surface of the oak by this hot water soaking process.
These combined processes do NOT submit the oak staves to stresses common to commodity fire bent barrels.
Commodity fire bending forces the stave into the bilge shape of the barrel within 15-20 seconds of intense propane flame induced heating.