Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting Started

Typically, you’d soak smoker wood in water for at least 30 minutes before using. Soaking helps keep the wood from burning too quickly and you want smoke, not flame. Of course, by infusing our BRICX with Bourbon they can catch fire even faster but you’re better off just throttling down the oxygen to get a better smoke. If you really want to soak them, use a small container, adding just enough water to cover the BRICX. Every grill works differently so you’ll have to experiment a little. 

One option is to wrap them loosely in foil, take a fork and punch a small set of holes, then see what happens. You can still soak them in water but don’t over soak. 

For charcoal grills and smokers, once the coals are hot and covered with white ash, just toss the foil pouch or a few of the BRICX right on the coals. Close the lid right away but make sure you put the cooking grate back in place first (we make that mistake all the time). Once the smoke starts coming out of the vents, it’s all yours. Time to start cooking. 

If you are using a gas or electric grill, it's probably best to follow their instructions since each one is different. You can still experiment but start with their recommended approach.

 

 

 

How do I know what wood to try?

First, think about the food you’re going to prepare. Each wood works best with certain types of food and with the bourbon infusion they all provide for an amazing range of flavor. You can check our recipe section but that’s new so it will take some time to build up the content. In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of each wood, the type of food it might be best for and a little about the flavors you might expect.

American White Oak

This is the oak used to make whiskey barrels, it’s a classic smoke wood. Pairs well with just about any meat, fish or fowl, imparting a medium smoky flavor that is stronger than our apple and black cherry, but lighter than hickory. Mixing oak with any of these three woods will produce a variety of delicious finishes. Because it has a dense, tight grain, this is an excellent choice for larger cuts of meat which require longer smoking times.

Apple
As a whiskey finish it’s delicate, maybe even a little tart. The smoke has a sweet, light and fruity aroma and we recommend it with pork (especially ham), poultry, lamb and seafood.  It is great on its own but also plays well when paired with Oak, Cherry and Hickory.

Black Cherry
Like Apple, this wood is sweet and very fruity. Black Cherry tends to leave a mild smoke flavor making it an excellent choice with beef, chicken, fish, pork and lamb. One of our favorites with chicken. It can be mixed with American Oak and Apple. Our Bourbon finished with Black Cherry has already won 27 Gold Medals at competitions around the world, it’s one of our best.

Sugar Maple
Maple has a mellow, sweet aroma and imparts a mild smoke flavor. The wood is dense in weight and has a light color. We char this wood for our bourbon and recommend it for poultry and vegetables.

Honey Locust
Not your typical smoker wood but it worked surprisingly well as a finish wood for our Bourbon. The smoke has a light, fragrant smell but it’s dense and burns hot so best to mix with other hardwoods. We recommend mixing it with Oak or Apple and using it sparingly for seafood and vegetables.

Hickory
Hickory is the most popular smoke wood used in barbecue. It packs a strong punch that goes well with large cuts of beef and pork (especially ribs). Because it can be overwhelming for poultry, fish and vegetables, we recommend using fewer BRICX, or mixing with American Oak or Apple. Another Bourbon Gold Medal winner, decidedly different than traditional whiskey.

 

“Packed Wet, Packed Fresh”?  What does that mean?

Within minutes of pulling the wood out of our whiskey production process, while it’s still wet and fresh, we carefully hand fill each container. To keep in the bourbon, we use an alcohol safe, recyclable (PET) container, heat-seal an inner vapor barrier and then screw on the lid. 

We won’t use a cheap plastic bag to keep down the costs or a brown burlap sack to make it look like a craft product (and charge you more than it’s worth).

Are the Smoker BRICX really infused with Bourbon Whiskey?

They certainly are. Not just passively infused like you might find with a used whiskey barrel but the Bourbon is pushed deep into the pore structure of the wood using pressure variations. It’s part of our whiskey making process. 

Why are BRICX shaped as blocks as opposed to chips, pellets, biscuits or chunks?

It’s about our whiskey production. The shape, size and surface area is optimal for distillate absorption which helps provide the natural flavors in our Bourbon. The same reason they’re sized and shaped this way for our whiskey also makes them perfect for smokers.  While regular wood chips, pellets or even wood chunks have their merit, none of them are infused with Bourbon which we think makes for a better smoke and ultimately better flavor.

 

Solid wood? That’s what it says on the package. Why does it matter?

All our wood is hand selected and sustainable. It’s not scrap from a sawmill or chipped from insect damaged city trees. Remember this is the wood we use to make our Bourbon.  No substitute, no compromise.

Why do some packages look “wetter” than others?  Is there more Bourbon in some than others?

You’re right, each package looks a little different. Part of it is our “small batch” process where you simply can’t avoid some differences, but also each type of wood absorbs alcohol differently. If you cut into a black cherry log the wood looks and feels quite different than say, honey locust or hickory. Some of the woods also continue to absorb the Bourbon into the core of the BRICX packaging. The American White Oak for instance can look dry on the outside but when you open the package you can’t miss the great aroma of all the Bourbon soaked into the wood. 

Temperature swings can also make a significant difference. Leave your package of Smoker BRICX in the trunk of your car on a sweltering day and you might see some condensation on the inside of the container. No worries, as the package cools the Bourbon will likely flow right back into the wood (but it can take some time).

What does the name BRICX™ mean?

Okay, it’s a made-up name. The size and shape, something we developed for optimal absorption and surface area in our whiskey production just reminded us of the wooden blocks or “bricks” we played with when we were kids. We started using that name and it stuck.

What about other “Whiskey Barrel” wood chips?  How are BRICX different?

This is a good comparison to make. A couple of big name whiskey companies are in the market with whiskey barrel wood chips. 

Most emptied bourbon barrels, if the staves are still good, are disassembled and shipped to Scotland where they are cleaned, reassembled and used to make perfectly good Scotch Whisky. 

The staves that are broken, mold or insect damaged, warped or otherwise unsuitable for re-use in a barrel are the ones that are palletized and shipped off-site for chipping, packaging and distribution. It’s dry wood by the time it gets to market and the quality varies.

BRICX, in contrast are always made from quality, hand selected wood and they are always infused with our Bourbon, packed wet and packed fresh.

Refrigeration. Seriously?

There’s a reason, seriously, there is. The wood is soaked in bourbon and of course that’s a good thing. But bourbon isn’t just concentrated alcohol, there’s water in it and alcohol evaporates easier and faster than water. Every time you open the container some of the alcohol evaporates and that leaves an increasing concentration of water in the wood. Of course, we also wouldn’t mind if you simply added more Cleveland Whiskey to the jar but refrigeration works as well.

Wait, isn’t Bourbon made in Kentucky?

Yes, almost all of it is made in Kentucky but it doesn’t have to be. Uniquely American, Bourbon is now being distilled in virtually all 50 States. It must be made from at least 51% corn (most bourbons have 75 to 85% corn), distilled at less than 160 Proof (that’s 80% alcohol) and “aged” in a new American White Oak barrel. There are however no restrictions on minimum age or time spent in the barrel unless it’s a “Straight Bourbon” and then it needs to have been in the barrel for at least two years. 

I’ve never heard of Cleveland Whiskey, who are you?

Although we were named “Whiskey Distillery Innovator of the Year” in 2016 at the Berlin International Spirits Competition, we’re still comparatively new to the industry. In fact, we shipped our first bottles of Bourbon in March of 2013.   

Unlike more traditional and established distilleries however, where everything is aged in an oak barrel, we’ve perfected a technology that allows us to finish spirits with a range of woods that simply have never been possible. We’re not constrained by barrels or passive aging and we don’t add sugar, syrup, artificial flavor or color. 

Currently distributed in 16 States and six countries, our Smoker BRICX are the by-products of our whiskey making process. Infused with Bourbon, they’re unique, flavorful and part of our cycle of innovation. Whiskey. Without Limits. ™

Do you offer subscriptions?

Not yet, but we’re seriously thinking about it. 

At Cleveland Whiskey, we’re constantly experimenting with non-traditional “whiskey” woods. We’ve tried Persimmon, Mesquite, Pear, Magnolia, Beech and Birch, just to name a few. We don’t use a lot of wood but if you’re a “smoker geek” then getting a shipment of bourbon infused pistachio one month and tequila soaked mesquite the next might be something to quite literally drool over.

If this is something you’d be interested in, click here and we’ll put you a special list. If we launch a subscription you’ll be one of the first to know.  And if you have made it this far into our commonly asked questions, you can use promo code "FAQshipping" for free standard shipping on your order!  

What’s with the Label Warning?

California regulations require the following language on products like Bricx, including bagged charcoal:

California Proposition 65: Combustion of this product, like other wood or charcoal products, results in the emission of compounds and other by-products of combustion which are known by the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

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