Many spirits are aged in some kind of wooden cask or barrel, typically oak, which adds tannins and vanillin, among other qualities, and is widely accessible. Some spirits utilize charred wood, which alters the nature of the encounter.
People think of aging when they think of whiskey casks and barrels. However, the kind of wood used to make the barrel is important. The amount of time the liquid spends in the barrel is critical.
When it comes to whiskey barrels, there are a variety of sizes to choose from. And since sizes aren’t conventional, they’re tough to describe. A standard butt measurement, for example, is 122 gallons. However, a butt size barrel or cask holds 132 gallons.
Whiskey is the drink of choice for the refined guy. The varied smells, diverse taste profiles, diverse origins, and rich traditions are all reasons why it is a spirit deserving of particular accessories. In a word, if you drink any kind of whiskey from conventional bar glasses, you may be doing yourself and your expensive alcohol harm.
The search for rapidly aged spirits is not a new one. Spirits that have been barrel-aged for a decade or more are not cheap for young distillers seeking to expand fast. Many people have used unconventional aging techniques to speed up the process, such as utilizing undersized barrels and ultrasonic sound waves.
For some distillers, inspiration may be found not in the barrel but in the surrounding.
The practice of keeping distilled spirits (or wines) in barrels for a certain time is known as aging. Maturation aims to eliminate harsh tastes from the raw alcohol while imparting unique flavor characteristics inherent in the barrel’s wood.
The barrels, or casks, are often constructed of wood that has been burnt. Other woods may be utilized, and the kind of wood used has a significant impact on the final taste profile of that specific spirit.
The most popular aging liquors are brandy and whiskey. Many types are required to spend a certain length of time in barrels (usually three years) before bottling.
Many rums and tequilas are also aged, but this is not required for all types of these liquors.
Higher grade spirits mature for longer and have a higher price tag to reflect this additional maturation time. A 50-year-old scotch, for example, will be more costly than a 10-year-old scotch.
The Flavor of the Barrel
The taste that is imparted to aged spirits is more significant than the color. Simultaneously, this ‘flavor improvement’ softens any harsh flavors in the distillate (liquor straight out of the still).
Whiskey reviews often mention an ‘oakiness’ or ‘undertones of burnt oak.’ When the spirit comes into touch with the wood, it extracts some of the woody flavors. It’s like cooking fish on a wood board.
You will receive various tastes depending on the wood used in the barrel. The Master Collection of bourbons from Woodford Reserve is a wonderful illustration of this. The company produces a limited edition whiskey every year, with the difference frequently being as basic as the finishing barrel.
Distilleries often experiment with the kinds of wood used in their barrels, and fans frequently look forward to the new flavors. The past usage of the barrel will also have an impact on the taste of the whiskey.
If a blended liquor (most often rums and whiskeys) has an age label, it usually shows the youngest liquor in the mix.
Bottles and Barrels
The aging canisters from Oak Bottle provide the greatest bang for your money. Each container, which comes in 150 mL, 355 mL, and 750 mL, can age any alcohol for as little as two hours or as long as three months. The bottle, which functions essentially as a small barrel, optimizes alcohol by exposing fewer amounts to comparatively more wood.
Unlike the other wooden choices, you can use Oak Bottle forever if you properly care for it between uses. This is perfect for craft beer tastes since there are various varieties to pick from and create. Those with less patience may also purchase tumblers that age the wine in five minutes.
The most popular at-home aging equipment is probably miniature oak barrels. They not only look beautiful on the shelf behind your bar, but they can also hold a gallon of spirit (or cocktail!). There are many businesses out there today that sell oak barrels, so look around the internet, and you’ll find one you like. Most businesses even provide personalized inscriptions if you truly want to up your home bar game.
Age comments may be reductive as well. Many of the bottles labeled 12 years old may contain a mix of whiskeys ranging in age from 12 to 15-16 years or more, depending on the brand. Except for single barrel or single cask whiskeys (a bottle labeled single barrel or single cask may only contain whiskey from one barrel), certain bottles result from a master blender combining many whiskeys to produce the desired final product result.