The freshly distilled wine spirit has a high concentration of ethanol and many volatile compounds, but is devoid of phenolic compounds other than volatile phenols. Therefore, an ageing period in the wooden barrel is required to attain sensory fullness and high quality. During this process, several phenomena take place, namely the release of low molecular weight phenolic compounds and tannins from the wood into the wine spirit. Research conducted over the last decades shows that they play a decisive role on the physicochemical characteristics and relevant sensory properties of the beverage. Their contribution to the antioxidant activity has also been emphasized. Besides, some studies show the modulating effect of the ageing technology, involving different factors such as the barrel features (including the wood botanical species, those imparted by the cooperage technology, and the barrel size), the cellar conditions, and the operations performed, on the phenolic composition and related properties of the aged wine spirit. This review aims to summarize the main findings on this topic, taking into account two featured barrel characteristics—the botanical species of the wood and the toasting level.
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