Aim: The phenolic potential and suitability of seasoned and toasted Portuguese chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill) and oak wood (Quercus pyrenaica) as alternative cooperage materials were evaluated.
Methods and results: Low-molecular-weight phenols and ellagitannins from seasoned and toasted Portuguese wood species were analysed by HPLC. C. sativa was found to be richer in phenolic compounds than Q. pyrenaica. High concentrations of vescalagin and gallic acid were specific to C. sativa. Toasting significantly reduced the ellagitannin content in both wood types, albeit less markedly in C. sativa. As regards phenolic aldehydes, C. sativa contained substantially greater amounts of vanillic aldehyde, an odour-active compound, than Q. pyrenaica.
Conclusion: Both types of Portuguese wood are suitable for use as cooperage materials, although chestnut wood is better suited to the heat treatment involved in the coopering process.
Significance and impact of the study: Portuguese wood species provide an effective alternative to the oak wood species traditionally used for aging alcoholic beverages.
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