Fire/ Steam Bent Barrels

The traditional bending method for an A.P. John barrel is to utilise the natural elements of fire and water. The staves are ‘raised’ together within a control hoop, the process referred to as “raising the barrel”.  (The term obliquely comes from the French “mise en rose” which literally means “setting the rose”, presumably because the unbent staves looks like an open flower). After the first three raising hoops have been driven, the ‘rose’ or ‘shook’ is ready for bending.

The staves are prepared for bending by placing the ‘open petals’ of the ‘rose’ or ‘shook’ facing down.  While over the brazier, the barrel is frequently sprinkled with water.  The heat from the brazier combined with the water to steam the wood, ensuring the oak is pliable to bend.  This traditional method of bending has been employed and refined at A.P. John for over 120 Years.

This bend process coupled with our unique toast formulae ensure a complex array of lifted aromatics.

Immersion Bent Barrels  

Apart from the Traditional - fire/steam barrel bending technique, for the past 15 years, A.P.John Coopers have also crafted oak barrels utilising the barrel bending technique that requires the ‘Immersion’ of the barrel “shook” in a hot tank of water.  This type of bending process, commonly known as ‘Immersion Bend,’ is a technique that evolved due to the necessity to bend harder/ less pliable oaks into barrel.  When applied to the more traditional wine oaks such as Quercus Petraea & Quercus Alba, some distinctive characteristics provide a unique flavour proposition for your varietals.

When ‘Immersing’ the shook into the tank, we are able to leach further oak tannins from the wood than we would otherwise do when ‘Fire bending’.  This generally implies that the final oak reaction with wine in this barrel type is quite subtle.  Experiences with tastings have also revealed that this bend type can assist with mid palate oak structure and length.  We also note the absence of guaiacols (charr) when toasting with this bend type.

Integration time with wine varies with regard to the cultivars but we generally note that it will take place from 3 through to 12 months.