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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Proof affecting oxidation in barrels

I was listening to a podcast that was interviewing Sean Venus of Venus Spirits. He stated that lower proof would allow the product to oxidize faster, as water allows more oxygen in. I never heard of this before & am a bit suspect. I've googled this and couldn't find anything supporting it. Has anyone else heard of this? I know a couple other reasons to keep barrel entry proof down (reduced wood contribution/tannins, less proofing), but never increased oxidation. 


"To add further complication, the effects of these variables are not static throughout the aging process. As the barrel ages, the wood becomes increasingly more saturated with alcohol. As this happens, the rate at which the oxygen can permeate through the wood changes. The diffusion of oxygen in air is multitudes greater than that of its diffusion through water. This suggests that as the barrel becomes more saturated over time, the rate at which oxygen transfers through the wood slowly decreases. Furthermore, the diffusion coefficient of oxygen in ethanol differs from that of water which would suggest that entry proof has an effect as well."


Think about how much easier 12% abv wine oxidizes vs 22% abv port. 


Well there you go, science! And he just wrote that too. Thanks JustAndy, that helps a lot!