By regulation, all bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels. Why? Because unlike other whiskies, no additives (other than water) are allowed in bourbon. No added color. No added flavors. So, other than the distillate itself, bourbon picks up a lot of its character from the barrels. And the character of the barrels depends in large part on the level of char.
To learn more about the process, we chatted with Jeff LaHue, head of strategic partnerships at Independent Stave Company (ISC), which supplies and chars barrels for Lux Row Distillers.