The Wonders of White Oak Wood
What on earth would bourbon taste like without it? Since the 19th century, charred white oak barrels have played an important part in the distinctive flavor of American whiskey. In fact, white oak turns up again and again in important places in American history. If you stroll by Boston Harbor, for example, you’ll likely spot some floating white oak in the form of the USS CONSTITUTION, the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat. The strength of the North American wood helped save the ship from repeated pelting by British cannon balls. The ship’s sturdy oak hull is what earned it the nickname “Old Ironsides”. The shipmakers’ choice of wood has everything to do with white oak’s special properties—properties that make it just as perfect for woodworking projects as bourbon and ships.
White oak’s most notable quality is a unique cell structure that repels both moisture and insects, making the wood resistant to rotting—a pretty remarkable trait for a wood. This same trait makes white oak environmentally friendly to use because it does not need to be sealed with harsh chemicals. White oak’s resistance to moisture along with its strength, durability, and easy-to-finish nature make it a favorite among woodworkers, shipbuilders, and bourbon drinkers alike.