If you’ve been dipping your toes in the world of smoke cocktails and dabbling with the idea of crafting them in your own home bar, one of the first details to get settled is which type of wood to use. Each type of wood brings its own intensity and flavor profile to the glass and creates a world where no two smoked cocktails are ever exactly the same.
Before we take a deep dive into the best wood for smoking cocktails, it is worth mentioning that it isn’t the wood alone that makes the difference. How long the smoke is allowed to mingle with the spirit factors into the intensity and richness of the cocktail – and yes, it is possible to go overboard.
The type of spirit and accompaniments in the cocktail are also important. You might love the idea of the rich toffee notes that maple brings to the glass, but it’s important the cocktail actually complements the flavor notes of the wood. This is just a little food, or bourbon, for thought, as the case may be.
5 Exceptional Wood Varieties for Smoked Cocktails
Main Flavor Notes: One of the milder woods, cherry offers a hint of sweetness and delicate notes of stone fruit.
Cherry wood is a great introduction for those who don’t want a heavy smoke taste in their cocktails. Cherry wood offers notes that are mild and sweet, and it will add a slight hint of fruit to your evening tipple. The old-fashioned is a classic cocktail that takes on a delicious new personality with cherry wood.
Main Flavor Notes: Smooth and mellow, maple offers notes of molasses and creamy toffee without being overpowering.
In our opinion, maple is one of the most versatile woods for smoking cocktails. It offers a light intensity but has a mellow smoothness that’s easy to distinguish. Unlike cherry, there aren’t noticeable fruit notes. Instead, maple offers the lusciousness of molasses and toffee that goes well in many types of cocktails.
Main Flavor Notes: Warm vanilla, nuttiness, apple, cherry
Oak is the type of wood that bourbon is aged in, offering the amazingly wonderful range of complex notes that the spirit is famous for. It only makes sense that oak is one of the most popular boards for cocktail smoking, especially if bourbon or whiskey is involved.
Oak offers a flavor profile that’s bolder and richer than cherry or maple wood, but it’s still a medium-intensity board. With oak, you’ll notice notes of vanilla, nuttiness, and some apple and cherry in the background.
Main Flavor Notes: Rich and bold but smooth with forward spiciness, followed by notes of tobacco
Even though hickory is a medium-intensity wood, it’s also quite bold and not for the timid. There’s a seductive spiciness backed by hints of tobacco. Compared to the wood types we’ve previously discussed, hickory can best be described as robust. If you enjoy a cigar with your cocktail, hickory is a must-try.
Main Flavor Notes: Earthy, mossy, charcoal
We love using walnut smoke in a sophisticated cocktail, especially one that features a good peaty scotch. Still, it deserves to be said that walnut is not everyone’s cup of tea. If we were to transfer this conversation to the world of wines, walnuts would be the beefy, red zinfandel. It’s bold and robust and leaves a noticeable flavor trail in its wake.
Ready To Find Your Favorite Wood For Smoking Cocktails?
We know. Choosing just one is a struggle, and fortunately, you don’t need to. Both our Smoking Starter Kit and Smoked Old Fashioned Kit offer different types of wood for you to explore and play with. The holidays are approaching, and if you start now, you’ll have enough practice to impress with smoked cocktails at your next festive gathering.