We are the UK’s sole supplier of Holm Oak (Encina or Quercus Ilex) charcoal from Spain. Holm Oak acorns (‘Bellota’) are the edible mainstay diet of the Black Iberian Pig, which go on to make the delicious Jamon Iberico.
The wood from the evergreen Holm Oak is surprisingly dense, with a naturally sweet aromatic note, and it’s ideal for making charcoal. The harvesting of the wood is unique for charcoal making too, with surplus branches being carefully cut from living trees (as opposed to clear-cutting a woodland, which is the usual way). In this way the woodland is maintained, intact and healthy.
Essentially, branches are ‘pruned‘ from the trees to encourage it to fruit, and create a healthy canopy growth, thus leaving the rest of the tree intact to carry on producing acorns. The canopy also provides shade all year round for the Black footed pigs, and this evergreen oak species tree thrives in the hot, dry conditions of the Spanish dehesa.
Everything is done with the land and environment in mind, trees only felled where absolutely necessary (mostly through damage or disease). In the process, as much of the charcoal is made from pollarding and coppicing the lower branches of the trees, which in turn leads to a higher acorn yield during the maiden year. The charcoal is this area can still be made on-site, using traditional techniques and little mechanical assistance (bar a tractor or two). The process is both fascinating and compelling, taking up to five weeks from start to finish, the wood being so dense and hard to begin with. It produces an incredibly hard charcoal of rich, earthy, peaty-notes with an underscore of acorn liquor sweetness.
It’s a great product, unsurprisingly really, given the heritage and pedigree of the area.
Ogatan charcoal, or Magik as we call it, is an engineered charcoal. It’s recovered sawdust and other bio-mass from the sawmill industry. It’s bound by a naturally occuring lignum, and extruded into a hexagonal sided bar, and fired in a kiln. This produces an efficient, high heat and long consistent burn.
We stock Chef grade Lumpwood and the long burn engineered ‘Ogatan’ style pioneered in Japan.
Our Holm Oak is unique amongst lumpwood charcoal
charcoals including DEFRA (Department for Environment and Rural Affairs) approved English charcoal made from coppiced woodlands in Kent, using age-old techniques to produce charcoal which is not only end to end traceable, and sensitive to the local environment, but great for your food too.
But not all charcoals are the same. Of course they’re not, as not all trees are the same. Nearly 90% of lump wood charcoal in the UK is imported from either Africa or South America, often from areas under pressure from widespread deforestation. Near endless hectares of trees are cut down and sold at local prices into the global market, our market. It’s happening and it’s impact is notable.
British wood and charcoals have unique flavour and distinctive aromatic notes all their own, so where possible, we encourage our clients to use them. However, we are realistic about sourcing and supplying products, so if we can’t make it here we source the very best from Europe and beyond.