Whisky tumblers -advice please


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Established Member
18 Aug 2019
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Ash Vale, Aldershot
So a friend has asked if I'd be able to turn a set of whisky tumblers for another friend, both of them are also colleagues, preferably from oak, I've said I'll look into it before accepting so here I am, a few questions
1- end grain/side grain does it matter?
2- I've seen a couple of YouTube vids of people scorching the inside but not give detail on how scorched and how much cleanup is done after
3- finish, would no finish be best or would you guys recomend something?

Any other advice???
Would love to get these right
Sorry can't help here Stig......

BUT..... Watching with interest as I've never done this but curious about the answers.....
For the insides, have you considered iron acetate? (Wire wool in vinegar). Gives a very good black with a hint of blue, showing a little grain pattern in high tannin wood.

For the finish, a spirit glass is pretty harsh on anything you put on it. I would think epoxy would be the only possible option. Oak is so open grained I would worry they would leak (or at the very least absorb half the drink) if unfinished!
Not so sure. I've been to Germany where they like to serve beer in stoneware crockery. I find it unnerving as I can't see the beer. ! Maybe make a nice box with some presentation glasses ??
If it were me I’d think about how they make casks - use American white oak, I would keep the char on the inside fairly light though- taken all the way to black but not to the point that it develops the crackled surface. Outside then finished with beeswax.

After the chat I’d just scrub with a kitchen nonstick nylon scrubbing pad to get rid of anything loose

I’d veer away from anything that might taint the flavour - so no finish on the inside - especially not vinegar.
End grain oak is going to let any liquid through so you would need to apply a finish that sealed the wood completely. That's why oak barrels have ends which are side grain!
The ones I have seen and considered making were of White Oak (use the heartwood where the Tyloses have filled), charred lightly to make a decent black and the outside is an oil/bee's wax finish. Claimed the charred oak enhances the Oaked flavour of aged whiskey. I doubt sitting in a tumbler for a few minutes, (has anyone got the patience to wait longer?) will do much but it is a novel way to serve it. Pretty much all I could find are end grain and a few that are staved. I considered making some staved ones from 4 quarter White Oak but when I cross cut it about 10mm thick I could blow through it and see light come through the pores when I sat it on a strong LED flashlight. Maybe it was a different Oak species, Red Oak perhaps or maybe sapwood. I have some 100mm thick Oak that I might try someday. Spendy critters if you want to buy them.

I've used epoxy as a finish before. Partially because it's fast curing and stable so it won't do anything to the drink, or the drink to it and also because that way the recipient can wash it with warm soapy water without worrying about residues from that getting trapped in the wood, tainting the next drink. I think any use of oak to 'enhance the flavour' is most likely rubbish made up by companies making these to turn a profit. What's a few minutes of sitting in an open vessel compared to years of aging in a sealed barrel?
The honey wax from what I can find is made from honey, sugar and lemon juice, commonly used for hair removal in beauty treatments, would be foodsafe but would not last long.
I made some small tasting glass place settings from cherry recently for a whisky dinner - finished in beeswax - the drops of whisky on the evening went straight through the finish - so I guess you would get one use before needing to re-finish it!
I think you might lose a lot of the pleasure of whisky drinking, as mentioned above plus the clink of the ice. If pressed, I might buy some inexpensive, as in as cheap as possible, shot glasses and make decorative wooden sleeves. Need to think that through but maybe sleeves 2/3 height so it's still glass in contact with the human drinkers lips.

If you pursue all wood receptacles, I wonder if wipe on Melamine (chestnut products) or a spray laquer might do it. It's not like a vase where liquid lies there for days on end.

You could test, just a small flat piece of oak or similar with stripes of different finishes, once cured expose them to alcohol. Meths is cheaper than single malt.