Drying methods

An exercise in patience and precision, successful drying and seasoning of wood require both nature and time to play their part. The cooper must be patient and allow each tree to reach full maturity.

The quality of the wood drying and seasoning process is a crucial factor, revealing the aromas in the barrel crafted from it.

The Demptos Research Centre teams have been able to demonstrate the superiority of natural, open-air drying and seasoning in comparison to artificial processes.

Outdoor drying and seasoning use rain to eliminate the most astringent tannins from the wood. Moreover, certain strains of fungus develop on the wood and act on its phenolic profile. When conducted naturally, the natural transformation of lignin to vanillin is more effective than under artificial conditions. Thanks to the hard work of the Demptos experts, they’ve been able to establish the optimum seasoning times for each type of oak in our drying parks.

All of the wood selected by the Demptos Cooperage is air-dried for at least 24 months, and up to 36. Demptos’ parks are located on three sites, which receive an average of 900mm of rainfall per year. All of the French oak is dried here, on the 4.5 hectares site at Saint-Caprais-de-Bordeaux. Our Hungarian oak is dried in the Trust Hungary drying park, while the immense park in Cuba, Missouri, is dedicated to “next generation” American oak.

To ensure the best possible ageing for the oak, Demptos rely on natural techniques. It was the Demptos Research Centre which discovered the three strains of fungus responsible for wood seasoning, and filed a patent to protect their work in 1991. While the wood dried, it’s these scientific teams from the Cooperage which control the colonisation and development of our strains of aereobasidium pullulans in the parks. By analysing samples taken at regular intervals, they can determine exactly when the wood is at peak ageing. This is what guarantees that the oak is free from any potential contamination from organic chloride.