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South African
Wine Lab Association:

Rapid induction of ageing character in brandy products. Aging and general overview

Van Jaarsveld, F P; Hattingh, S.

Ageing is one of the most important and most costly factors determining the quality of distified beverages.
As part of a broader study that investigated techniques for the rapid induction of a desirable ageing character
in brandy products, the effect of maturation for eight months at room temperature and below 0°C in
glass bottles, and the relationship/correlation between treatment, chemical composition or wood-derived
congener concentrations and pot-stifi brandy sensory quality, are reported on. Extracts representing different
oak types (American or French), levels of toasting, suppliers (i.e. cooper or commercial), types of
medium (ethanol or water), concentration types (open or reduced pressure) and concentration levels (by
45,65 or 85%) were added to pot-stifi spirit and stored for eight months in glass containers. Matured and
unmatured (control) pot-stifi brandy samples were analysed for wood-derived compounds by means of
HPLC and CC. The different treatments brought about chemical changes with a noticeable impact on the
acceptabifity of oak extracts and the overall quality of pot-stifi brandies. Through application and selection
of the correct oak type and treatment combinations, it therefore was possible to rapidly produce good
quality brandies without the use of expensive oak barrels. Maturation in glass bottles had a lesser impact
on further improvement of the final product, not the same as the reported improvement from ageing in
wooden barrels. The production of good quality brandies and the rapid induction of the ageing character
through certain treatment combinations, with little need for further maturation, therefore was achieved in
glass. The complexity of brandies aged in glass rather than wooden barrels might be different, since ageing
in wooden barrels brings about all the characteristics, complexities and flavours that characteristically
evolve over time under the more oxidative conditions in wooden barrels. Future research should focus on
a combination of both technologies, using certain oak treatment combinations together with traditional
barrel maturation for the improvement and rapid induction of the ageing character in brandy products.

Unmatured and matured pot-still brandy, oak wood, brandy quality, flavour compounds, maturation

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