Barrel Aging FAQ
I just got my aging barrel, now what?
Time to cure your barrel! Our barrels seal themselves with liquid and pressure. This is the most important step in your aging process. If skipped, your barrel will leak the good stuff and be compromized.
- Rinse your barrel out with water to remove any possible debris
- Insert spigot to front head of barrel. Secure it tightly with hands.
- Place barrel in sink, shallow pan or on an absorbent surface and fill with hot water from the bung hole on top. This is the part where your barrel is going to seal and it can take anywhere from 1-8 days. You will keep an eye on your barrel over this time and continue to fill with hot water until it holds a seal for 3-5 hours.
- Turn barrel upside down and empty water through the bung hole.
- Turn the spigot to on position and let barrel dry out for 3-5 hours so as not to water down your spirit.
- You are now ready to age your spirit(s)! Place your barrel on stand and fill with desired liquids. Put the spigot back to off position and secure the bung in place.
What should I put in my barrel?
Whiskey and Bourbon are what most people think of when aged spirits comes to mind, but the possibilities are endless. Tequila, Rum, Gin, Cognac, Brandy, Port, and dry wines are great to experiment with your aging barrel. Hot sauce, Barbeque sauce, bitters and beer are other fun ideas. You are not limited to one ingredient per barrel. Think Barrel Aged Manhattan; simply add your Manhattan ingredients and let the barrel do the work! See our recipes page for more ideas and proportion clues.
How long does it take to age my spirits?
Every barrel and every batch is going to be a little different, so the rules are pretty much up to you! You can start tasting after a few days but most of the time your liquids will develop a nice taste after 10-14 days. Smaller barrels will age quicker than the larger barrels because there is more char to liquid contact on the inside of the barrel. This means the larger ones can go a little longer. Once you find the taste you are looking for, bottle up that sweet stuff and start another batch. Keep in mind, if you are changing recipes after each batch, your new recipe will absorb some of the flavors of your last batch. You can start with milder flavors to avoid overpowering a second recipe.
How do I store and care for my barrel?
After use of your barrel you will notice some changes in coloration throughout the wood grain and staves. You may even notice a sticky residue on the outside of your barrel, this is perfectly normal. When the alcohol gives up the “Angels Share” or evaporates, the sugars from the alcohol are left behind leaving a sticky molasses like residue. You can leave it on the barrel and it will act as a natural sealant, or you can wipe it off with a hot wash cloth.
After each use you can roll right into the next batch without cleaning your barrel. You may have a batch of something with a higher sugar content or strong flavor that you’d like to rinse out. In that case, you can clean your barrel using a provided campden tablet. Crush a campden tablet into a gallon of warm water and fill your barrel with this solution, let sit for 24 hours. Empty barrel and rinse 2 times. You are now ready to start a fresh batch!
The most important note in storing your barrel is that it needs to be stored wet to prevent drying out and being compromised (you will lose the seal from curing your barrel and it will leak going forward). If you fill your barrel with just water, there is a good chance that mold and mildew will grow. So, you can use that campden tablet solution from above to store your barrel when not aging spirits. Take good care of your barrel to ensure longer use.